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Monkeys on My Back

This is for those who complain I never blog about my work. (I do, but not often. I prefer to announce when something is finally done, rather just endless reiterations of "I am working on X, I am working on Z," and I am never going to be one of those "I wrote three pages today" writers. Sorry, that's not how I roll).

One little monkey off my back:

THE LANDS OF ICE AND FIRE -- also known as "the map book" -- is now DONE AND DELIVERED, and scheduled for publication at year's end.

Monkeys remaining on my back? Lots o' them:

THE WINDS OF WINTER. Also known as "Son of Kong." Working on it. Lots to do.

THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE. The concordance. Elio and Linda are my partners on this one, a compendium of the history and legends of the world of Westeros. A coffee table book, lots of gorgeous art from such talents as Ted Nasmith, Justin Sweet, and others. Making good progress on this one of late, lots of great historical stuff that I think my readers will enjoy. Never before revealed details of Aegon's Conquest, the War With the Faith, The Dance of the Dragons, the Paramours of Aegon the Unworthy, etc.

Poul Anderson story. An original short story for the Poul Anderson tribute anthology. Way, way overdue, but I am getting to it.

Dunk & Egg #4, An original novella of Dunk & Egg. Working on it. Hope to have it done by worldcon. It's scheduled to be published in

DANGEROUS WOMEN. A huge crossgenre anthology that Gardner Dozois and I are doing for Tor. Largely complete, except for Dunk & Egg. Well, we're waiting for three rewrites, but my own story will likely be the last one in, then we can move this one to "done and delivered."

LOWBALL. Volume twenty-two in the Wild Cards series. Working on that one with Melinda Snodgrass, my co-editor. Late, but almost done, a few last sections remain to be completed.

OLD MARS. Original anthology for Bantam, coedited with Gardner Dozois. Three-quarters done, a few stories still due in, three or four rewrites in progress. Not due quite yet.

OLD VENUS. The sequel to Old Mars. Well back in the pipeline, not due for a year.

ROGUES. Big crossgenre anthology I am doing with Gardner Dozois. One story already in, several in progress, but there's lots of time on this one too.

So there we are...

No more monkeys, please. Don't write to me with any tempting offers or cool new projects. I am practicing saying No.

No, no, no, no, no. Sorry, can't, pass, no way, count me out, too busy, no, no, no, thanks but no thanks, no thanks, no thanks.

I love my monkeys, but I have enough.


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Jun. 26th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC)
This metaphor reminds me of your story of the monkey diet. Please dont end up like the little guy in the crotch of the monkey ha ha
Jun. 26th, 2012 07:03 am (UTC)
Well, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak at the ALA Annual Conference! Your program with Blake Charlton and Lois McMaster Bujold was the most packed one I attended there, and it was very enjoyable.

Looking forward to reading your upcoming projects. I certainly don't envy you your juggling act, though!

Edited at 2012-06-26 09:13 pm (UTC)
Jun. 26th, 2012 07:40 am (UTC)
You can get more done if you don't write everything yourself. Why not hire someone to do the writing based on the plot you want, and you also do the editing at the end? That way, at least you can get a product out, very close to what you want, rather than maybe never getting around to it?

Avalon seems to be on the bottom of your un-ending list. Actually, it's not on the list anymore! Same with Tuf. Better something than nothing?

There will always be something higher priority on the list, you're not getting any less busy.
Pedro Daniel
Jun. 26th, 2012 07:43 am (UTC)
Great to see those monkeys healthy and kicking! Keep 'em well fed and happy :D
Just finished the collection of short stories that you presented on your trip to Portugal and I must say it is a blast. I couldn't point a story that somehow could not be adapted to the screen or TV. "SandKings" is amazing (saw the Outer Limits version after and even that worked really well), and the "Pear Shaped Man" is superbly creepy and bizarre and AWESOME. "Skin Trade" is brilliant and WHY ISN'T THERE A TV SHOW ABOUT IT YET? etc etc etc
Would love to offer you my services for a new website, but I know you hate those things so... I'll manage.
All the best & cheers from sunny Portugal!
Jun. 26th, 2012 09:56 am (UTC)
I'm so excited for Dangerous Women! Like.. unbelievably so!
Jun. 26th, 2012 09:56 am (UTC)
Obviously, you'd rather wear out than rust out!

My daughter-in-law has been cooking out of A Feast of Ice and Fire, and we've enjoyed several recipes. I flipped through the book, and I have to say that I have rarely enjoyed a foreword as I did this one. It was a lovely bit of writing.
Jun. 26th, 2012 10:28 am (UTC)
Hi George.

We haven´t heard you (read you) talking about the series. I enjoyed the second season so much! And of course i would really like to hear your thoughts about it. I´m not sure, although, that you want to talk about it right now, but it´s been a while, and i just was wondering.

Anyway, thanks for the greatest story; nineth episode was awesome.

Thanks for all!

Jun. 26th, 2012 10:32 am (UTC)
"If I had a million dollars...
...well I'd buy you a monkey (haven't you always wanted a monkey?)"
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you take your time with your projects. It gives me a certain sense of security that the books I love are in the hands of a perfectionist who won't let deadlines compromise his work. There are too many authors out there who succumb to the bureaucratic pressure publishers impose thus hindering their own work.
So let me be one of the few to say that you should take your time. Take your time and wow us again. No pressure :).

Edited at 2012-06-26 05:30 pm (UTC)
Jun. 26th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
Still a Ravens fan
Simplify, simplify, simplify and enrich. It is interesting that you can keep this many projects going. I could not. Very cool that you shared this. Thank you.

We are getting closer to kickoff. Since the HBO series took off, you are bat-shit famous now. Are you going to take advantage of that and make any official appearances at a football game of your choice as an official guest? Why the hell not?

Has Kevin Smith asked you to make a cameo in his next movie yet? :<)
Jose Sarmento
Jun. 26th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Corn! Corn!
You need to open your Third Eye and see the monkeys overlapping in space (your desk) but not in time... as you gaze into A Dream of Spring and beyond.

Also had a "Wtf?" moment on having the World of Ice and Fire before the last two books, but that can always be solved with a Vol. #2 (aw, look at that cute little monkey...)
Jun. 26th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks god I...
Got my copy of Feast signed with a personal incsciption when GRRM came to Toronto just after Feast was released.

GRRM, you might want to know that the bookstore where you did that signing, The World's Largest Bookstore, is almost 100% shuttering it's doors in 18 months.

It's not a mom and pop bookstore, and is part of the larger chain of Chapters/Indigo so its a little hard to feel bad about... but still.

George, you should try some kind of invitational book signing. The first 100 people to donate 25$ to the wolf sanctuary gets VIP treatment at your next book signing, or something, and get to skip to the head of the line.

Jun. 26th, 2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
o_o Holy crap. That's a lot of monkeys. Color me impressed.

Wasn't aware of the Lands/World of Ice and Fire books, but they sound fascinating. I'm a sucker for books with lots of pretty art, even if I can't always afford them.

Best of luck in killing off the monkeys and in saying 'no' to future projects. As someone who vastly prefers to have only one or maybe two projects going at a time, I definitely admire anyone who can manage that kind of ridiculous workload. Bravo.
Jun. 26th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
Oh wow
I didn't realize how many projects you're a part of! I am an excited fan and can't wait for the next book like anyone else, but how do you make time for sleep?? Thank you for the little tid bits you give us though. I will wait as long as needed for the next one :)
Jun. 26th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
NO; no thank you, can be *good*
Wow George!

I though I had a lot on my plate (f-t job, the never-ending dissertation, the GRRM compleat biblio currently on the back-burner simmering, etc.). Learned the painful way (anxiety attacks, sciatica) that I couldn't do it All . . . priorities, first one then the other, the usual recommendations interspersed with exercise (ugh! but good for me) and snuggles (ummmmmmmmmmmm! very, Very, VERY good for us!)

Take care,
Leslie Kay
Jun. 26th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Hi George
Not that I have any life experience, especially with writing wildly popular books. I just noticed that you're calling Winds of Winter "son of Kong" and you called aDwD Kong which had a Meerenese knot.

I just wanted to say be careful about building things up in your mind, you'll act accordingly. If you call something a monster, you'll treat it like a monster. If you call something an untieable knot, you'll treat it like it is.

Just be careful about making things harder than they have to be, and putting stress on yourself.
Jun. 26th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
Old Mars!
You've have at least one presold fan of OLD MARS just based on the name. May I send you the payment now? I will wait patiently for the book.

John C. Wright
Jun. 26th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
Wishing you good health, good writing, and lots of friends, cohorts and business associates who take "No" gracefully. "Dangerous Women" sounds like a good time, I look forward to it.
VegaNya Lozano Martín
Jun. 26th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
Many people do not understand the complete and expensive (on a creative level) that is to continue with the books of "A Song of Ice and Fire"
I'm happy for you to have multiple projects can get out of a universe to enter an entirely different one. That must be very rewarding.
But do not forget to rest! In life you have to also enjoy the time off and relax.
Greetings from Spain!
Jun. 27th, 2012 02:52 am (UTC)
Hmm, speaking of Dunk & Egg...
I'm sure others have asked this before, but I'll ask anyway. Is there a chance in the future that all the Dunk & Egg stories could be collected into one volume? A sort of "bonus" book to your Song of Ice & Fire series? :) I'm telling you, there's a market for it!
Jun. 27th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Re: Hmm, speaking of Dunk & Egg...
The Dunk & Egg stories will be collected, yes, but given the length of them, and the number I am planning, it will require more than one volume. Probably more like three.
Re: Hmm, speaking of Dunk & Egg... - ser_gabriel - Jun. 27th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmm, speaking of Dunk & Egg... - freebeatfly - Jun. 28th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Cameron Paterson
Jun. 27th, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow...
Funnily enough, I am rapidly approaching the end of ADWD and was wondering exactly the same thing yesterday - in the shower of all places!
Jun. 27th, 2012 11:39 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks so much for the update! Glad to hear that Winds of Winter is coming along. I know it (and the book after will be large, and hence take a while to write) but i hope it's coming along easier than Feast For Crows or Dance With Dragons.

Looking forward to reading some Dunk and Egg....can we put money down on the anthology being released before Winds of Winter? Will def help with the wait, and I've been hearing great things.

Like I say, I know, understand, and respect that you are a busy man - but I hope things are going well and you take it easy ever so often.
Jun. 27th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
how much work is editing anthologies?
Do you do the same things that regular editors who work for publishing companies do when you edit anthologies? Out of curiosity, what attracts you to editing short stories? My understanding is that editing and writing are two very different skill sets. I have seen writers mention that in other blogs.

Anyway you can blog about how you divide up your work day? A few authors have done that. I think it is interesting. What they seem to say in common is I generally can write for a certain number of hours(and this varies), then the well runs dry and I just can't get anything else done. So I switch and do some editing. So do you work on writing in the morning and then switch over to editing, etc... in the afternoons? I find the creative process very interesting. I have a hunch a number of your fans would like this.

btw, I am listening to the audio of Dance with Dragons. The audio books are done very well.

oh and if any member of the Patriots (after the Jay Ballard incident) comes to your book signing, you should be like the Soup Nazi and go 'No Book for You!'
Jun. 27th, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
Re: how much work is editing anthologies?
Editing anthologies... well, there are many different sorts of anthologies, and some are more work than other.

Reprint anthologies are the easiest. Pick a theme, assemble some good stories that fit said theme, write an intro and some story notes, and there you are. Pretty easy. The exception here being the various BEST OF THE YEAR anthologies like the one my pal Gardner Dozois edits. If you're doing that right, you need to read ALL the SF and fantasy published that year. No thanks. (The easiest editing gig of all is the annual Nebula Awards anthology, FWIW.)

Original anthologies by-invitation-only are more work than reprint anthologies. You need to pick your authors, assemble your ToC, wait for the stories to come in... and some will not be as good as you had hoped, which means giving the writers editorial notes and waiting for the second draft. Plus story notes, intro, etc. Anthologies like WARRIORS and OLD MARS and the Vance book fit into this category.

Original anthologies open to general submission... meaning, you don't invite authors, you just announce the book and wait for submissions... include all that and a LOT more. Those are more like editing a magazine, and editing a magazine is a full time job. Suddenly instead of just reading and editing twenty stories, you have two hundred flooding in, many of them awful. Those need to be read, rejected, and returned. In the abstract, I like the idea of opening my anthologies to unknowns, new writers, and the like, but the reality is that I just don't have the time or energy to deal with that workload. Nor do much other anthologists, which is why the magazines like F&SF and ASIMOV'S remain the best place for new writers to make their bones.

Which leaves shared world anthologies, like WILD CARDS. Those are the toughest gig of all, in some ways. Well, they're invitation only, so you don't have to deal with a slush pile... on the other hand, you have to edit for continuity as well as quality, fitting all the stories together so the whole is more than the sum of its parts, eliminating contradictions and duplications, and that usually requires several rounds of rewrites.

All of these anthology types require writing proposals, dealing with contracts, bookkeeping, writing checks, keeping track of sales and royalties, distributing author's copies, and so on.

Fortunately, I do not have to do all of this alone. Gardner Dozois has been my partner on the theme anthologies I've been doing these past few years, and Melinda Snodgrass assists me with Wild Cards.

The money... well, there is money, but not much, especially on Wild Cards... these books are largely labors of love for me. Yes, I DO enjoy working with other writers, finding good work and making it better, and I like to think I'm a pretty good editor.

So I will likely continue to do anthologies in the future... just not so many. Right now I am dealing with the consequences of taking on too many of these puppies.
Re: how much work is editing anthologies? - croydsleeps - Jun. 27th, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Cameron Paterson
Jun. 27th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Interesting post. Yes, I can see that endless "I wrote three pages today" posts would get tedious very quickly but occasional posts on progress with your various projects will always be welcomed, I'm sure, by readers like me, waiting patiently for the next instalment in X years time. Occasional work posts would arguably also leave the so-called 'GRRMblers' with less fuel for their hysteria - some do read an awful lot (far too much) into this blog.
But of course, we all roll the way we roll :)
And as for your comment above about your plans for the Dunk & Egg series, all I've got to say is: !

Edited at 2012-06-27 04:03 pm (UTC)
Jun. 28th, 2012 01:21 pm (UTC)
As much as I adore the Ice and Fire books, I know that Winds will be here when it's here and no sooner. I've come to grips with that, it helps the sanity.

However, now I'm dying for these new anthologies and the concordance book! George, your anthologies are always top notch; I think I've read Songs of Dying Earth 3 times itself, a record for me reading an anthology.
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