Life has gotten insanely busy.  My teaching job is, to say the least, rather more time-consuming than previous ones have been, which is something I will write about another day.  My PhD is progressing, although I am not sure how to describe my progress.  There is progress, but is it fast, average, or slow?  I have no idea.  I’d like to have accomplished more (which is always the case).  At the same time, I’ve accomplished a lot more than nothing.  Anyway, enough maundering:

1. Bitter Orange has made another best-of-2013 list, this time over at Indie Reviews:

Indie also gave the book a very positive review (as may be expected when one later puts a book on her best-of list):

An excerpt from the review:

Mr. Moore writes in a literary style with a refined sophistication and a sardonic humour that I found beyond appealing. … It is always a pleasure to come across a new author. I am thrilled to have discovered the writing of Marshall Moore, who I consider a distinct and inventive voice in speculative fiction. Bitter Orange made the list of my reading best for 2013, and I plan on making my way through the author’s backlist and future releases. I cannot recommend this book enough, in particular to readers who enjoy speculative fiction and a thought-provoking, character-driven story.

What’s not to love about a review like that?

2. Another very positive review, this time at Zigzag Timeline:

An excerpt:

…Too often, characters in “superhero” type situations fall into the rut of being perfect, if tormented, people who always, always do the right thing. It gets mundane, and Bitter Orange offers an intriguing alternative to the Hollywood trope that has seeped into literature.

The story is somewhat slow-paced at the beginning, but toward the latter part of the novel, twists abound and expectations are turned on their heads. Overall, Bitter Orange is an entertaining and enjoyable read.

3. Book Six, aka The Queen of Statue Square: New Short Fiction from Hong Kong, the anthology I am co-editing with Xu Xi, is on its way, finally.  We sent the manuscript to the publisher — Critical, Cultural & Communications Press in Nottingham, UK — last week.  This has been a long time coming.  Somehow we surmounted all the obstacles (busy personal and professional lives, writers who said they would submit work and then didn’t, writers who took way too long with their revisions, and differences of opinion with another editor who is now no longer involved with the book) and ended up with what has turned out to be a surprisingly strong, readable collection of stories.  I say surprisingly because even I didn’t realize how good the result would be.  This comes as a relief, too: Xu Xi and I both know that the book will be around for a long time to come.  There’s nothing like it in print in Hong Kong at the moment, and we think we’ve struck a good balance between academic rigor and popular appeal.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.

My own contribution is an introduction (about 3000 words, for those who care), but not a short story.  We both felt it would be a bit inappropriate in this case.  Besides, it’s not as if plenty of our short fiction cannot be found elsewhere.

4. Book Seven, aka Murder in the Cabaret Sauvignon… well, I’m done, but I have not got a clue when I’m going to be able to edit it to get it ready for publication.  The original idea was to release it at the end of 2015.  I like to spend a lot of time on edits, and these days time in copious amounts is a luxury I do not have.  I’ve realized I might need to flesh it out with about a chapter’s worth of new material for the story to work.  Which is not cause for alarm: unless you’re one of those authors who’s anal about working from an intricately detailed, tightly plotted outline, you probably have to go back and tweak the beginning so that the ending won’t collapse in a souffle of unstructured sloppiness.  Since I know my plate going to be overflowing until May or thereabouts, I’m tentatively planning to set aside a couple of weeks this summer to work on it.  I still want to see it in print late next year, but if that doesn’t happen, there’s always…

5. Book Eight, aka A Garden Fed by Lightning, aka Collection Three.  I’m pretty sure the title won’t change.  The only thing is that the title story needs work.  Although I was quite happy with it when I finished, when I think about it, I know it needs an extensive rewrite.  The underlying idea is good; it’s just that the execution needs to be tighter, and there’s a balance I haven’t quite gotten right.  Other than that, I have enough short fiction that putting together a new collection will not be a problem at all.

6. On the subject of short fiction, I have not written anything new since starting work on my dissertation, aka Book Nine.  There are a couple of stories in my head, clamoring to get out, actually, and one of them has been bouncing around in there for several years now.  I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

I think that’s about it for the current update.  With luck, it won’t take me months to remember to do it again!