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Spellbound Book Tour Jul. 18th, 2011 @ 01:00 am

Dearly Beloved You Guys:

So, I’m nearly halfway through my pediatrics rotation and loving it. The kids are, as to be expected, unbelievably cute. More on that later. Possibly much later. Now I’ve very excited to announce Spellbound’s book tour. This year it’s looking like I’ll be running up and down the left side of the country; however, Stanford has graciously given me some time away from the hospital, so if you know of a bookstore, book club, or school that would be especially keen on having me come talk or read, let me know and I might be able to make it somewhere near or at least closer to you.

Meanwhile, here’s the schedule. I will be signing first editions US hardbacks at all the bookstores and most will be selling them online. Links provided. I’ll be trying to put together small get together’s before or after so that I an get a coffee/beer/sarsaparilla with anyone who wants to chat. Lemme know if you’re keen!

In other news, I did the usual requesting, charming, begging to get ARCs into the hands into as many reviewers as possible. So if you asked for one, hopefully it’s gotten there already or it’s on the way.

Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com

New Foreign Cover Art Jul. 5th, 2011 @ 06:00 am

Dearly Beloved You Guys:

By the time you read this, my week on the well-baby nursery will be afoot. Let’s hold the phone for a moment to think about well-babies. They’re cute. They pee and poop with abandon, and their physical findings are strange. Consider heart sounds. In the adult, the healthy human heart produces a lub’dub… lub’dub… lub’dub consisting for four separate, synchronized sounds –it’s like a barbershop quartet. I spent two years promoting Stanford’s attempt to revitalize the physical exam,  so I feel quite comfortable listening to adult heart sounds. In fact, I enjoy it. It’s reassuring to hear a healthy heart, and an abnormal rhythm presents a diagnostic puzzle. In the neonate…well..all four sounds are there…and, one hopes, the rhythm is regular…however…well…the rate… You see, an adult heart rate shouldn’t get much higher than 99 beats per minute. The neonate heart, however, will normally fly along at 170 beats per minute. In effect, the neonate heart is still like a barbershop quartet, but the quartet is anxious, and singing double time, and high on amphetamines.

In short, I feel completely unprepared to examine los personas muy pequeños. And yet…so it goes with medical training–read a lot; know a little; jump into the clinic; learn a bit more; repeat. So, if you have a second, wish me luck with the wee ones.

Anyway, let’s get on with the post. A few bits of news.

  • Latest I’ve heard, the pub date for the UK edition of Spellbound has been pushed back to September 29th. Why? Something to do with publishing schedules beyond my or your or any one mortal’s control. Oh, yeah, and there’s some guy named GRRM who’s got some kinda epic fantasy book, or something, that’s supposed to be soaking up all the attention. Maybe you heard of this RR guy.
  • Also, the Spanish cover! Estoy muy satisfecho con el debut de la cobertura en español de “Spellbound”. Me encanta el diseño icónico y colores vivos. Espero que los lectores en España y América Latina están de acuerdo. (Spanish speakers: if your feeling charitable, let me know how badly I screwed up the grammar there.)

  • Also, the Dutch cover art for Spellbound is out. What do I think of it? Well, you’ll have to wait until I’ve learned enough Dutch to tell you, don’t you? Why don’t you tell me what you think of it.





Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com

Hair-Raising Medical Bureaucracy Apr. 14th, 2011 @ 10:55 am

As with all other posts about medicine, the following has been altered to remove any identifying information.


Blake: Hello.

Unnamed and Really Very Nice Hospital Administrator: Hello, is this Medical Student Blake Charlton?

Blake: Yes.

Admin: This is the hospital security department. We can’t process your photo ID request because you left “hair color” blank.

Blake: That’s because I don’t have any.

Admin: Color?

Blake: Hair.

Admin: But what color is it?

Blake: No color.

Admin: So…white?

Blake: No! I mean yes. I mean I’m white, but my hair isn’t because I don’t have any.

Admin: Okay, sir, but what color would it be?


Admin: Sir?

Blake: Okay, guys ha ha. Who set this up?

Admin: What color was your hair?

Blake: Did Paolo Bacigalupi set this up like he did the WorldCon 2006 crank call?

Admin: Paul Bacigawhopi?

Blake: Or is this Morgan and Danica?

Admin: Oh! Sir, okay, can you tell me what color your eyebrows are?

Blake: Um…brown?

Admin: Thank you, Sir.

Blake: Wait, you really are—


Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com

Spellbound’s UK Cover Mar. 12th, 2011 @ 09:24 am

Gentle (or Otherwise) Readers,

This week I was very proud to see the cover for the UK edition of Spellbound debut over at The Speculative Scotsman. It’s a wonderful blog for SFF reviews and witty commentary on matters literary and cultural. In fact, given that I’m still working away in the hospital this month, why don’t we list TSS as the diversion site du jour.

Meanwhile, let’s trot out the Spellbound UK cover.

Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com

Gone Head Shrinking (Diversion Post) Feb. 28th, 2011 @ 06:49 am

Dearly Beloved You Guys:

Today starts my rotation in psychiatry. As the son of two shrinks, this day has long been anticipated by clan Charlton. A strong desire to uphold the family honor and to “not suck” (that’s a biomedical technical term) will likely keep me from much internet activity until April when I’m back to research and writing.

News wise, I’m happy to report the paperbacks of Spellwright are running loose in the British Isles and the German translations have landed on shelves in Deutschland.

But, should you feel that you need to get your SFF medical fix, I strongly recommend you visit Dr. Grasshopper over at How to Kill Your Imaginary Friends.

(P.S. Despite the suspicions of some and a few rather amusing emails attempting to “prove” otherwise, I am not Dr. Grasshopper. This is readily evident by the “Dr.” in front of Grasshopper’s name. I am merely a medical student. So, if you run across a blog run by a “Student Doctor Skitter” or “Pillbug MS3,” you should maybe grow suspicious, but not until then. Furthermore, I have had the pleasure of meeting Grasshopper MD and can report that we are different human beings. )


Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com
Other entries
» Writing Strong Women

The following is a crosspost of my contribution to  Mary Victoria’s  “Writing Strong Women” series.

Let me tell you the stories of three women.

Or, to be more precise, the stories of a dead woman, a living girl, an imaginary girl.

The dead woman’s story—as I witnessed it—starts when she was alive.

It’s my first year of medical school, and we’re learning biochemistry, the molecular basis of disease and medication. Not. so. lively. Then, one day we’re treated to an interview between Dr. Gilbert Chu, a famous oncologist, and a vivacious octogenarian, whom I’ll name Helen (not her real name).  In her late sixties, Helen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and begun on chemotherapy. At a hospital outside of my academic center, her chemotherapy regimen was confused, and she was accidentally given a medication called Cisplatin. It’s a platinum molecule turned biological weapon: it crossbinds DNA, crumpling up genes like a hand wadding up a sheet of newspaper. In very small doses, cisplatin is highly effective against certain types of cancer. Helen was supposed to receive a lot more of a milder drug, but she was given cisplatin at the dosage for a milder drug. Technically, Helen was given a ‘massive overdose.”

The horrors of routine chemotherapy are well-known: hair loss, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, etc. Cisplatin is notorious for sudden, violent side effects. So much so that oncology nurses sometimes refer to it as “cis-flatten’em.” Helen’s massive overdose pushed her beyond what was well known and into blindness, deafness, grand mal seizures, kidney failure. At this point, Helen was transferred to my hospital. Under the direction of Dr. Chu, a technological effort worthy of a medical TV drama was begun. Helen just barely survived, but she was rendered nearly deaf. Her vision was drastically decreased for more than a year, and she required a kidney transplant

And yet…and yet…her character suffered no damage. During the interview, it became apparent that she had a personality bigger than the whole hospital. She was cracking jokes with and about the famous oncologist. When she overheard a few of the female med students talking about the upcoming med student formal dance, she told a few of the male medical students in the front row (included me) that she was single. My class loved her. She was incandescent. That’s just who she was. It wasn’t surprising when we learned that one of the doctors caring for her (not Dr. Chu) fell in love with her; after her recovery, they were married and lived well until his death decades later.

It boggled my mind. Where was her anger at the medical establishment? Where was the bitterness I would have felt if I had been put through such an ordeal? When she answered questions from the audience, I asked exactly that. She grew serious and said something like, “I was angry and bitter. But when you’re alone and in the dark, and you’re blind and deaf, when you’re trapped, you have to find a way to go on. You don’t immediately realize there’s a choice of how you go on. And somehow I went on in a way so that I could talk to you all, here, much later.”

That ended Helen’s lecture. I didn’t suppose ever to see her again. A few weeks later, I encountered the story of the living girl.

I met Angela (not her real name) shortly after she lost her heart. And both her lungs. The surgeons cut down the center of her chest and took out all three of the concerned organs and replaced them with those of a donor. She had a very rare disease of unknown cause. She was 16 years old. I was assigned to her in a big sib / little sib program between medical students and children with chronic disease. This was our first meeting and she was only 5 days post op. No one yet knew if her body would reject the transplanted organs: a result that would put her in mortal danger. As I sat there, on the flimsy hospital chair, she looked me over and—in the tone unique to an exasperated young woman—said, “Well…this is awkward.” A week later, she texted me “OMG, I’m holding my heart in my hands.” I had been in histology lecture, but afterwards I stopped by her room. She was holding a dilated and plasticized bit of muscle. “Why the hell do they give us these things back?” she asked.  And, really, I don’t know why they gave her heart back to her. It’s…odd. Anyway, Angela didn’t reject her transplants. I would sit with her when she had to come into the hospital, or wait for an appointment in clinic. Sometimes she was bitter. She would wonder “why me?” Not an uncommon feeling for a 16 year old; even for those 16 year olds possessing all of their original internal organs.  But Anglia is tough. Nowadays, she’s doing well, going to college. Occasionally, she texts me during her more tedious lectures.

But before Angela got to college, there was the story of the imaginary girl.

Her name is Stephanie. That’s her real name. To the extent that she’s real. She’s a teenage brain cancer patient who discovers she’s in a hospital for the dead. Things get weirder and more science fictional as the story goes on. You can read it here. Or, if you’re the listening type, you can hear it on an Escape Pod podcast. I wrote that story briefly after meeting Helen and Angela. In fact, Stephanie is the composite of Helen and Angela’s characters jammed into a plot I dreamt up during a boring neuroscience lecture. I was also drawing upon my experiences from the year I spent with my father after his diagnosis of a very dangerous type of cancer. (Dad’s, miraculously, fine now.) When I learned that story was going to be published in the Seeds of Change anthology I was thrilled. It was my first publication.

I asked Angela if she wanted a copy of the anthology. She didn’t like sci-fi. And that’s cool. But I was pretty sure Helen would like a book. Even if she didn’t read the story; she’d like knowing she was part of the book. I kept meaning to ask our famous professor to make a book hand off to Helen. But one thing led to another. I was busy. Medical students usually are. I decided to wait until the next year; Helen would come in to give her lecture to the new class of first years. However, when I was taking a spring-quarter autopsy elective, the pathologists brought in Helen’s body. She’d died suddenly; the pathologists were supposed to find out why. It felt like a kick in the gut, like I wanted to vomit or cry. I didn’t do either. I turned away before they opened Helen up; I left the room. So far that has been the only sight in medical training I have turned away from.

And I’ll never forget Helen’s character.

And that brings me to my only contribution of advice for this wonderful series on writing strong women: Take note of extraordinary women, try to feel what about them moves you, combine aspects of different extraordinary women (if needed), and then run them through the labyrinth of your plot.

For writers, I don’t think it’s helpful to think about character. Female or male. Plot, sure, think about plot long and hard. Think about what your reader will think about the plot. The labyrinth, the puzzle, misdirect your reader so you’re always one step ahead. Cat and mouse, cloak and dagger. It’s like that.

But character is harder, in my opinion. No amount of thinking is going to get you there. You have to find the characters. Female or male.  The protagonists of my first novel, Spellwright, are lifted from the characters—mostly boys—I witnessed when I was a learning disabled student in special ed. The protag of my second novel, Spellbound, is inspired by several female surgeons. (Coincidentally, surgeons are often interesting people. It’s a male dominated field, so many of the women—especially those who broke into the field years ago—are especially interesting.)

But extraordinary patients and surgeons are just the crowd I fell in with. I’ve no doubt you find women just as extraordinary in a law firm, sandwich shop, or nuclear submarine. You just have to look for them.

So that’s it. My only bit of advice. It’s a simple idea really. If you want to write extraordinary women or men, don’t think about them, go out and talk to them.

Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com
» Writer on the Verge: Howard A. Jones

The Writers on the Verge series interviews the new faces in the fields of SFF. This one is a crosspost at Tor.com; click through to join the discussion there. Also check out past WotV interviews of Peter Orullian, Sam Sykes, Mary Victoria, and Saladin Ahmed.

* * *

As I’ve noted in past interviews, 2011 is looking like a boom year for fantasy—and not only in the ‘urban’ and ‘epic’ tradition of fantasy. This month, Howard Andrew Jones is publishing The Desert of Souls, a historical sword-and-sorcery debut novel set in eighth-century Bagdad. Jones promises a sweeping adventure, pitting his scholarly Dabir and martial Asim against murderers, Greek spies, and a search for the lost city of Ubar—the Atlantis of the sands. The adventures of Dabir and Asim have appeared in Jones’s short stories for the past ten years in publications such as Jim Baen’s Universe and Paradox. In addition to writing short stories, Jones has served as the managing editor of Black Gate magazine since 2004. In the below interview, Howard shares his thoughts on his debut, literary inspirations, and writing and editing.

Howard, welcome and thank you taking the time to chat.

Thank you for the invitation. It’s a true pleasure to be here.

To get the ball rolling, I always like to hear how authors think of their work. How would you describe Desert of Souls in your own words?

The blurb writer for The Desert of Souls actually did a far better job succinctly describing the plot than I’ve ever managed. Black Gate‘s John O’Neill once said it’s like Sherlock Holmes crossed with The Arabian Nights except Watson has a sword, which is pretty apt, although the novel’s as much an adventure as a mystery. I think if you combine that description with Kevin J. Anderson’s blurb calling it “a cross between Sindbad and Indiana Jones” you get pretty close to the feel.

It’s an origin story of how Asim and Dabir come to trust and rely upon one another to face a terrible evil. Things start small, with the discovery of a peculiar golden tablet that they’re charged with investigating, but before long they’re swept up into a dark plot that threatens not just Baghdad, but the entire caliphate. Sorcery, necromancy, sinister secrets, djinn, swordplay, they’re all in there, along with the requisite villain, who has legitimate grievances, and the clever Sabirah, who I couldn’t help but fall in love with a little myself.
What first inspired you to write a historical fantasy set in eighth-century Baghdad?

Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell took me to ancient Baghdad in issue 50 of The Sandman, but it didn’t occur to me until years later that I could take anyone there myself. I know a lot of my choice stems from immersing myself in the historicals of Harold Lamb and Robert E. Howard. Both men did an excellent job bringing their Muslim protagonists to life. Still, I can’t say it was especially careful deliberation that brought me to Baghdad — it just felt like the place Asim came from when he stalked out of my subconscious and started dictating his tales. Perhaps it all fell together when I realized that Haroun al-Rashid himself appeared in some of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.
Robert E. Howard, Harold Lamb, and Scheherazade—that sounds like three rich sources of literary inspiration. Could you tell us what about each compelled you? How you tried to emulate or adapt each?

Every adventure writer should spend some time studying the best of Robert E. Howard’s work. That man had an incredible narrative drive. And his prose is extremely vivid — he brings an entire scene to life with just a few phrases. He was so talented I could, and have, draft entire essays about his strengths as a writer, but I’ll just mention a few aspects that really impress me. For instance, I don’t know that anyone else has ever been capable of so clearly portraying the clash of entire armies as REH could, seamlessly moving his camera across the battle between knots of figures and important protagonists. When you write and edit all the time it’s hard not to turn off that “word architecture”  part of your brain where you’re constantly analyzing the words. Howard’s one of the few authors whose work can still sweep me up so completely that I fall through the words and into the story. REH could craft lovely prose poetry when he wanted, but he knew when to sharpen focus and let the verbs do the heavy lifting. He was one of the best adventure writers we have, and I wish more fantasy writers would look deeper into his canon. Some of his lesser known stories are just as good, and even better, than the best of his Conan work. We’re fortunate that the recent Del Rey books have collected so much of it.

Harold Lamb didn’t have as much natural poetry in his soul as Robert E. Howard, but he was a fine craftsman with a natural cinematic pace who was far ahead of his contemporaries. He was also quite even-handed with most foreign cultures, writing without prejudice from the viewpoints of Mongols and Cossacks and Muslims and Hindus. All of that is laudable, but there’s more — he sent his characters into real world places so fantastic and unfamiliar to westerners that they might as well have been other planets. Like Howard, he could bring a strange setting to life with just a few choice phrases. Many of his protagonists were wily, and it is delightful to see Lamb back them into a corner and watch them think their way out with unexpected solutions. The fact that there’s almost always swordplay involved in those solutions make the stories all that much more exciting. Lamb was, simply, a writer of grand adventures, one who really should be studied by all adventure writers wanting to hone their craft, and celebrated by all those who love any flavor of heroic fiction.

When it comes to the Arabian Nights, I guess I was thrilled by what most of us have always enjoyed about them, the sheer joy of adventure, fantastic places, dark magics, the clash of blades, the flash of lovely eyes. As to emulation, I’ve worked hardest to understand how Howard and Lamb could swiftly paint settings and keep the story moving forward, and how they brought unfamiliar settings to life. I studied all three sources to see how they conjured images of glittering treasure, mighty foes, and places of wonder. I gave up long ago trying to sound exactly like any of the three of them, much as I’d like to be able to draft an action scene like Howard at his savage best.

Are there other novels that inspired this series? Perhaps in unexpected ways?

Well, the books I’ve read the most times are probably Leiber’s collection of Lankhmar stories, Swords Against Death, and Zelazny’s Amber books, although it’s been years since I’ve done so. While there are other Lankhmar stories I like just as well as those in Swords Against Death, I’ve always thought that particular volume had the strongest run of tales from the Lankhmar cycle. As a teenager I probably read it seven or eight times. I was just as devoted to Roger Zelazny’s first Chronicles of Amber. Five books sounds like a lot to re-read multiple times, but all of them together are probably the size of one modern fantasy paperback.

As a result, I can’t imagine that Leiber and Zelazny haven’t had a lasting influence upon me. I love the world building and pulp noir sensibilities of Leigh Brackett, queen of space opera, who was writing of Firefly like characters twenty and thirty years before Han Solo every reached the silver screen. C. S. Forrester’s Hornblower stories were another favorite of mine, and later I fell under the spell of Jack Vance, Lord Dunsany, and Catherine Moore. All of these influenced me to greater or lesser extents, along with the original Star Trek, which I watched devotedly. I probably saw most of those episodes a dozen times. I loved the interaction between the central characters. In the best of episodes the dialogue brought them to life in a way I never really saw in the later series. Which reminds me; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of my very favorite movies. I love the interaction between the protagonists. I guess there’s a theme there…

Do you have personal connection to the Arab World?

I can’t claim to have much contact with the Arab world save for immersion in old texts. I hope to return to my study of Arabic in the next year, but I have a few books to finish before I can pretend to have any spare time.
How did you go about researching this book? Eighth-century Bagdad seems like such a rich and complex area that it’d be hard to know where to start.

I’ve been a gamer since my junior high days, and as a result, when I first began my research I already owned two nifty source books set in the era, one from GURPS (Arabian Nights, by Phil Masters) and another from Iron Crown Enterprises (also titled Arabian Nights, by John Cambias). Non-role players might not know just how much information can be packed into a setting guide. A good one has to describe daily life, information about the culture and its religion, names, maps of famous places, etcetera.

These books were excellent starting points. When I really got serious I turned to John Howe’s translation of Andre Clot’s Harun al-Rashid and the World of the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and to translations of writings from the period. The journals written by travelers and warriors were especially enlightening.

Have the current social and political dialogs regarding Islamic cultures affected how you’ve portrayed your characters and story?

Dabir and Asim have been seeing print for more than ten years in various short story venues, and they were not designed to be symbols of any particular political philosophy. They are brave and virtuous men from a culture some westerners fear and distrust, so I suppose by that fact alone I have ventured into the socio-political sphere. My intention is to tell adventure stories with compelling characters, not to lecture about morality, politics, or religion, but I suppose its inevitable that some of my own contentions will color my fiction – the simple one, say, that honorable folk can be found in the ancient middle-east.

Given that that many of your sources for inspiration come from American or European perceptions of eighth-century Bagdad, when writing this book were you concerned with issues of cultural appropriation?

It’s certainly something to be alert for. I strive to create characters, not characitures, and to portray real cultures, not idealized or villified representations of them. One of the things I admire about Lamb was the way he showed heroes and villains on both sides of cultural divides; folk from different places were human, with flaws and virtues arising from their character and upbringing rather than because of the color of their skin. I follow Lamb’s lead and work very hard to show real people, not stereotypes. I would hope that my efforts keep me from the worst excesses of cultural appropriation. I am constantly trying to learn more so I can present the people and places with greater accuracy.

How would you say your career as an editor at Black Gate has helped shape you as an author?

That’s an interesting question. I suppose it’s gotten me to think about the starts to stories even more than I was already. I see a lot more beginnings than I do endings, to be honest. That’s just the way it works when you’re reading submissions. The biggest impact, though, probably comes from the number of people I’ve had the privilege to meet thanks to Black Gate‘s John O’Neill. He’s the one who established the magazine — I didn’t come on board until issue 10. He’s opened up countless doors for me and has been extremely generous with his time and energy. I think my writing career would have had a much harder time getting launched without my work with the magazine and the Harold Lamb collections.

Huh, as a writer, I always find I’m a horrible editor; my desire to rewrite the story my way is always too strong. Do you find it difficult to switch authorial and editorial hats? Any tips for folks who are interested in both editing and writing?

Well, I was a professional editor for at least ten years before I ever joined the Black Gate staff, and that’s probably made it easier for me to switch hats. I cut my teeth editing all manner of computer books, from Idiot’s Guides to high level programming manuals (and no, I’m not particularly good with computers). To this day I still enjoy revising my work more than hammering out rough drafts. All those years playing with text, I’d guess. Tips – I suppose the best thing to do is to realize you shouldn’t attempt to make everyone sound the same. But then at Black Gate I work more as a developmental editor than a copy editor. If I like something and the pacing is off, I offer a few suggestions then toss it back to the writer rather than revising it heavily. I think that makes everyone happier, even if it sometimes takes multiple back and forth exchanges. I usually only do heavy revising with non-fiction, if I’m trying to help prop up some solid material from a less experienced writer. Anyone who’s submitting fiction needs to be able to fix the problems themselves. It’s just my job to point the way.

Howard Jones…hrmm…How often, if ever, are you—no doubt affectionately—nicknamed “HoJo?”

Almost never. I have one or two friends that occasionally refer to me that way in e-mail, but it doesn’t happen much, and I certainly haven’t encouraged it. I’ve never really had any nicknames. Only my father, one of my sisters,  and an old friend (hey Gina!) ever managed to call me “Howie” without being irritating, so I’ve discouraged that as well. I just go by Howard. Two syllables; pretty easy to say.

Well, How-ard, thank you kindly for your time and the interview!

Heh. Thank you for your time and some questions that really got me thinking. I enjoyed myself.

Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com
» Endosymbiont on the Air

Dearly Beloved You All:

As you might recall from this post, I’m very passionate about read-aloud fiction. For that reason, I’m especially proud to announce that the distinguished Escape Pod podcast has produced a performance of my novella, Endosymbiont. (If you’re a reader more than a listener you can read an online copy of the story here or pick up a hardback of the Seeds of Change anthology)

It’s the story of a very opinionated, sometimes foul-mouthed young woman who’s trying to cope with brain cancer when she discovers that she’s in a hospital for the dead. Things get stranger as the story goes one. It was inspired by two patients I encountered as a first year medical student (another post on that upcoming) and on my father’s struggle with cancer. It was also the first bit of fiction I ever published.

In a way, Endo never felt like my story; rather, it felt like the story of cancer survivors I encountered. I made up my mind then to donate any money I might make off of the story to cancer treatment and research. So the cash that Escape Pod paid to me has gone to the American Cancer Society. If you’d like to get involved, I’d encourage you to visit their website at www.cancer.org.

Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com
» Belated, Updated

Dearly Beloved You Guys:

My high school football coach was fond of the zen phrase “There are no excuses; only reasons.” Problem was, he belted out said gem of tranquility while exhorting me and other semi-armored pubescents to compromise each others’ skeletal systems. Not. So. Zen. Like.

But these days, I’ve found that phrase bouncing around in my head, not so much because I’ve been feeling the need to sprint an oblong leather ball into a wall of my peers—though there was a moment in the DMV when said action seemed rather attractive—but because there’s a lot that I’ve had to stop doing in the past two months. Chief among them, blogging. *Le sad French sigh*

Let me explain. In January, I began the clinical phase of my medical education. This consists of discreet ‘rotations’ into the major branches of medicine (surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, etc). While on a rotation, nearly all of my attention is dedicated to helping my patients, learning, and not sounding (too) dumb in front of my attending physicians. There’s also minimal progress to be made on my novels and research projects. That doesn’t leave much time for navel gazing…or sleep. So non-essential activates, such as blogging, tweeting, facebooking, plotting world domination, etc., fall by the wayside. I’m not trying to make an excuse, only supply a reason. ::Tiny gong of football coach zen::

In the future, I’ll post when I’ll be away from the blogosphere and provide a diversion link to some wonderful blogs, such as How to Kill Your Imaginary Friends, for example.

Happily, this month is a research month and so I’m able to catch up with the online world. As such, I’ve got some wonderful bits of news to share. Here they all are:

  • Yesterday, I mailed off the completed copy edit for Spellbound to my editor at Tor.
  • Presently the US publication date for Spellbound is set as September 13th 2011.
    • Caveat: Publishers often move dates around by a few weeks.
    • I should have a UK publication date (and cover art) to announce fairly soon.
  • I’m honored that Spellwright has been nominated for two awards!
  • The UK Hardbacks of Spellwright have sold out! If you’d like one, better search for a bookseller that has them on the shelves or in stock; there’s not to be another printing of the book with extra U’s until the UK paperbacks roll out in March.
  • The Dutch version of Spellwright (De Taal der Spreuken) is sold out and going into a second printing!
  • Nicodemus is now misspelling the German language! (Nicodemus Der Zauberverschreiber)
  • My novelette “Endosymbiont” is going to be translated into Polish by Nowa Fantastyka.
  • I’ve managed to make a few more posts on my research team’s website, and it might be of interest to any medical types out there.
Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com
» Blake at Writers With Drinks

Dearly Beloved Peoples,

Should you be in the Bay Area this weekend, come out to the hippest literary event in the city, Writers with Drinks, featuring famous people and (somehow) me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

At The Make-Out Room

3225 22nd. St., San Francisco CA,

From 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM, doors open at 6:30 PM.

Here’s the 411 about the other authors from the glorious hostess, Charlie Jane Anders:

About the readers/performers:

Jane Wiedlin co-founded The Go-Go’s, the first ever all-girl group to write their own songs, play their own instruments, and become immensely popular doing it. She also released six solo albums, which included the hits “Rush Hour“, “Blue Kiss” and “Tangled.” She became an ordained minister in 2009 is now performing wedding, commitment and vow reaffirmation ceremonies. She co-starred in the Women In Prison movie Stuck, and also appeared in the
films Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Clue, as well as the television series The Surreal Life. Jane is currently working on herdirectorial/screenwriting debut, the short film “THE PYREX TALES”.  Release date is set for 2011.  In addition, she has written two musicals: ‘A NIGHT WITH BETTIE PAGE” and “LADY ROBOTIKA: A SPACE OPERA.” She’s also released a Lady Robotika comic.

Ethan Watters’ latest book is Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. He’s also the author of Urban Tribes, an examination of the mores of affluent “never marrieds” and the coauthor of Making Monsters, a groundbreaking indictment of the recovered memory movement.  A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Discover, Men’s Journal, Details, Wired, and PRI’s This American Life, he has appeared on such national media as Good Morning America, Talk of the Nation, and CNN. His work has been featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series.

Jesús Ángel García is the author of badbadbad, a transmedia novel (forthcoming on the printed page in 2011) about sex, God, rock ‘n’ roll and the social web. Excerpts have appeared in MonkeyBicycle and 3:AM Magazine. “Finnegan’s Wank,” a bawdy parody of James Joyce, won HTMLGIANT’s “When Writers Get Off” contest.

Originally published at www.blakecharlton.com
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