Two Notes, one reflection, and some noise

Notes from the Narrative Whiplash Wing

My brain still smarts from the gear change I put myself through in August. First I turned in a 95,000-word draft of the second novel to my editor at Del Rey, and then after WorldCon I started work on a very short story — maximum length: 2,000 words. A couple days ago I finished what I think is the final draft of “Glass”, a tale of mirror neurons, drugs, conscience, and psychopathic prisoners that squeaks in at 1,900 words. In about a month it’ll be appearing on the web and print editions of Technology Review Magazine. Not my usual venue, but I was pleased as punch that assistant editor Erica Naone invited me in. 

Oh, and my story “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” will be out next month in the original anthology Eclipse 2, edited by Jonathan Strahan. The table of contents is chock full of loveliness. 

(Cliff) Notes from the “I’ve Got Class” Department

Thanks to a connection made by My Favorite Nephew (Stephen Delafield, son of my good friend Gary, who earned that title years ago when the boy worked at Barnes & Noble and I heard that relatives could receive his employee discount), I was invited to inflict myself on a couple of creative writing classes at Penn State. So on Tuesday this week I woke up early to talk to the students of the poet Camille-Yvette Welsch. Evidently, and I’m a little shocked at how far standards have fallen since I was in school, there are college students who sign up for creative writing classes that meet at 8am—and show up for them. This just wasn’t done in my day. I excpected nothing but slack jaws, but really, the students were lovely, and asked a load of questions, from “how do you start” to “how do I find an agent” (answer: Go to a sci fi convention, kid, and walk into the hotel bar). I also read the opening scene of Pandemonium, as well as the short story “Unpossible”  — though with the second class I ran out of time before I could finish — donk. 

Noise from the Blog-Rhymes-with-Flog Echo Chamber

Reviews continue to roll in on Pandemonium, and jiminy, people are being nice. Here’s the latest from the San Francisco Chronicle, Chris Roberson, the Kansas City Star, ConNotationsMatt Stagg and the Watha T. Daniel Library (!). And for you Spanish-speaking folks, here’s a review by the coolest Colombian editor I know, Hernán Ortiz of Proyecto Liquido. 

And of course, I keep talking about myself. 

In the September edition of DRIN — the Del Rey Internet Newsletter — I opine about “plus 1” stories and why I think Pandemonium is one. On Sci-Fi Wire I talk some more about myself. More online interviews are on the way. And in October I’ll even have a radio interview to talk about.  It’s a Festival of Me. 

Daryl on WPSU's Bookmark

In the WPSU studios, avec book and cheesy smile


Reflections from the Meta Mirror Room: State College Writers on State College Writers

Finally, flogging someone else’s book.

Back in May, 2008 I recorded a review of James Morrow’s The Philosopher’s Apprentice for the Bookmarks program on my local public radio station, WPSU

You can listen to the MP3 of the review.


The Pandemonium Synopsis vs The Ruthless Red Pencil

Friend and fellow-writer Joshua Palmatier has been organizing a pretty cool series of projects that are of interest to new writers, or anyone else curious about the unseemly sausage-making process that is book selling and publishing. First there was the Plot Synopsis Project, in which Joshua invited writers to post up the synopses of their books all on the same day, followed by the Query Letter Project. Now there’s Plot Synopsis Project Part 2, which I jumped on board for.  All the posts went live on September 19.

On my main site you can find four drafts of the Pandemonium synopsis. Why four? because it took me that long to do it adequately. And the only reason I know it was adequate is that I eventually found an agent and the book sold—so at the very least, the synopsis didn’t sabotage the novel entirely. 

Other writers participating in PSP Part 2:

Signing my life away

Another one of those firsts that come along with a first novel: my first ever book signing, followed closely by my first ever book launch party. Both were a blast, and the turnout from friends and neighbors was a little mind-blowing. 

First, the signing, which was held at 3pm on Sunday, Sept. 7, and was put together by the wonderful Meredith Rogers, community relations manager at the State College Barnes & Noble. We think about a hundred people show up for my combination reading / signing / discussion. To start the Q&A, I handed out index cards with questions that Kathy had helpfully written out. Such as question #4: “There’s a steamy sex scene in chapter 14. Who were you thinking of?” And  #5, a followup to #4: “You have children who can read. They have friends who can also read. So… what were you thinking?” (Okay, I admit it was a double scam: I wrote the questions myself.)

Henry Gong took these pictures (thanks, Henry!)

We sold out of all the books B&N had on hand, as well as 19 books I’d brought from my publisher (Meredith sold those, and she paid me back in books when her next shipment arrived). Frankly, the best kind of problem to have. 

Then after 90 minutes of signing (I sign as slowly as I write fiction), it was off to the really fun part, the beer and chili party at my house. We had over a hundred people wandering through. At one point, Jim Morrow asked me, “So, all these people were strangers before now?” I said, “Yep, they were all brought together by the power of literature and a love of science fiction.”  Jim said, “Well, it looks like they’re bonding.”

Jim, his wife, Kathy, and son Chris had stopped by on their way home from Pittsburgh (they hadn’t even turned in their rental car yet or freed their dog from the kennel). And so many other friends! Our neighbors, my coworkers from Minitab, the various psychologists we hang with, various Delafields, and the random assortment of folks we’ve met over the course of 18 years in this town. I got a little verklempt. 

A shoutout to all the people who helped this thing come together. We borrowed tables and chairs from our neighbors the Heiningers (who, conveniently enough, had just rented a load of them for David Heininger’s retirement party two nights before). Altheda Hughes and Jody Crust made extra chili, Wendy Moran and Kimber Hershberger made cookies, and my mother and sisters sent an edible bouquet (but strangely, no edible underwear), my daughter’s boyfriend Mark stayed late to stack tables… and probably lots of other people I’m forgetting. Oh, my kids — they were great. But most of all, my thanks goes to my local PR agent, that Lady O’ the Lists, the supremely organized whirlwind known as Kathy Bieschke. I am stunned.

My only complaint about the whole affair is that people didn’t drink enough beer. I have enough in my house to support several more parties. Which raises an interesting question…