An Early March 2021 Status Check on Scalzi

Me, sort of making a shrug at the camera.

As I’m deep in the throes of novel writing at the moment, I’ve been pretty scarce here and on other social media, so I thought I’d give you a quick update on me, you know, just in case you were worried or anything. So:

I’m fine! After a long long period in which novel writing was indistinguishable from pulling teeth, I am pretty much zooming along happily now, and (knocks on wood) expect to be done with the current novel by the end of the month. Hooray!

Also hooray: Aside from (or actually, in no small part due to) the novel writing going along congenially, I am generally in a pretty decent state of mind these days. Things that help with this: New president, vaccine distribution and application going well, spring revving up. Being immersed in novel writing and all the worldbuilding it requires also means I have less time to keep up with the outside world, and honestly less interest in doing so. Bluntly, the world I’m creating in my head for this book is so much cooler than this one. I suspect this also contributes to my generally happier demeanor.

(That said, when I do check in with the world, it’s somewhere more congenial to me now than it was even a couple of months ago. Not perfect, and of course people on social media are still very mad at and with each other. This does motivate me not to spend all that much time there at the moment. I’m feeling good about feeling better, and don’t really want to be brought down, especially as it might have an impact on my writing speed right now.)

Anything I’m less than happy about? Well, I’m sad that I’m not currently in Florida, waiting to set sail on the 2021 edition of the JoCo Cruise, which would have left port tomorrow, were it not for this whole pandemic thing. I miss the friends I get to see there, and just generally being away from the whole world for a week whilst on the seas. On one hand, as I’m waaaaaay behind on my novel, it would not have been great to basically take a week off from it to be in the Caribbean. But on the other hand I have a more than vague suspicion that had there not been a pandemic, I would not have been this late on the novel. We will never know. I just know that there’s no cruise this year, and I’m bummed at that.

Other than that, I’m feeling a little impatient. Impatient to finish this novel (in a good way — I’m enjoying writing it but I want to be done so that, among other things, you all can read it too), but mostly impatient to get a vaccine shot, and for everyone else to get theirs too, so we can again do things like, you know, see people and go places. All that’s coming, and that’s great! But it’s not here yet, and that’s unnnnnnnngh whhhhyyyyyyyy. Again, this is much better than some possible alternatives we might have had, if certain things in the recent past had gone differently. But when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you want to get to the end of the tunnel, you know?

Anyway. I’m going to be sticking to mostly working on the novel until it’s done, so that means for three or four more weeks, I’ll be mostly not here, and mostly posting cat/sunset/family pics when I am. Fortunately Athena has done a pretty great job in stepping up with posts, and it’s been fun watching how those are making their way out in the world. We make a pretty good team and I’m glad she’s here, and will be happy to have her stay as long as she wants to keep at it.

So that’s the current state of Scalzi. How are you?

— JS

Athena Scalzi

I Was Going To Title This “Mlem Monday” But Then I Remembered It’s Friday

Sugar wants you to know she is offering up the highest quality of mlem’s, just for you! So you should feel special. And give her catnip.

In other non-mlem related news, I was going to write about Fruits Basket today and talk about how incredible and amazing it is, but then it pissed me off right before the season two finale, so now I’m too miffed to talk about how great it is. I hope Sugar makes up for the lack of me gushing over an anime like a weeb.

Anyways, I hope you all have a great start to your weekend (so does Sugar, she just can’t tell you)!


Big Idea

Jane Yolen on 400 Books

In my professional writing career, I’ve had over 30 books published. That seems a reasonably impressive number — until you compare it to Jane Yolen’s output. In a decades-long publishing career, Yolen has written literally hundreds of books, with her 400th — !!!! — arriving this very week: Bear Outside, written by her and illustrated by Jen Corace. I’ve cleared out a little space for Yolen to talk about what it takes to be so prolific, and why perhaps the most impressive thing about her having written 400 books is that it’s 400 books… so far.


So, It’s just a number. 400. Big in some ways, small in others.

If all I had in my bank account was $400, I would be out of food and housing. About ready to look for a real job, Probably at Walmart since I am 82.

But if I told you that was how many different books I would have out by this March, you would think it enormous and unlikely.

Enormous for you, maybe, but I have been writing steadily since college, so I have a lot of stuff out there, and not all of it in books. I write more than 365 poems a year, because I write a poem a day for over a thousand subscribers. And then I write books of poems. And poems for posters and poems for raising money for good causes. (Good liberal causes, I am quick to add.) I write essays and stories and some get into anthologies, but those are not in separate books. I write reviews and speeches. I am very wordy.

And on March 2, my 400th book came out: Bear Outside. A picture book for children with illustrations by Jen Corace. I found her while looking for an illustrator for a different project, saw this wonderful sample illustration of a child wearing a bear, looking out of its mouth. No explanation. My book grew from that picture, and the editor loved the picture, too, and asked her to illustrate the book. It’s a book for young children about conquering one’s fears and helping others in lyrical lines — NOT a poem but certainly poetic. And the last two lines do rhyme.

I write these kinds of picture books because I find ideas everywhere. In nature, in family outings, in books I read, newspapers, song lyrics, dreams. In fact, this year, both before and after the 400th book comes out, I will probably have eleven other books published. They include two books of adult poetry – a chapbook from Scotland with my science fiction poetry, with an introduction by Jo Walton, and one from the USA with my Holocaust and Jewish poetry. Plus a bunch of picture books. Two or maybe three Easy Readers. A middle grade fantasy novel that begins where Moby Dick ended. I told you I was wordy.

But the problem is not with how many books I write. It is a reflection of how slow editors are. I write every day. Editors get back to me months and months after they have received a manuscript. Then it takes months more with revision and (if a picture book) lining up an illustrator and the illustrator getting to my work. Jen Corace got right to my book and it is getting out in fairly record time. But one of my books out this year was sold over twelve years ago, and the illustrator with whom I conceived the project was first very booked up so I was, maybe, fifth in his queue. Then he got ill, and then his wife got ill (long before Covid), and the book got shoved back and back and back again. Another of the books took extra time because the editor was searching for just the right illustrator. And I had been writing the Jewish poems up until the book was taken for some twelve years, and then kept writing more. I am to blame for the length of time it took to publication.

So, writing and editing, and publishing (not to mention illustrating) a book are all on different timelines. This year, for me, seemed to be the stopping point, or the culmination for a lot of books.

So, is 400 large amount, or a mistake? Is it a culmination of a career? Or… you tell me. I have over 30 books under contract. I have many unsold manuscripts. I am still writing. My eye is on 500!

Bear Outside: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s Web site.


A Short Wolf For Your Delight

My mother-in-law’s pups come over to the house on a regular basis to run around in our yard, and to poop on it, hopefully not exactly at the same time. Here, Roxy is running only. Just thought you might enjoy a pup-filled moment before going on with the rest of your day.

— JS

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