That's what I am. It's how Dr Nik Whitehead classified me while chairing the AI panel at Satellite 4, and she is smart so it must be true. Owning a dumbphone which is often switched off is only part of it: perhaps my woefully sparse blogging is another, along with my absence from Twitter and Facebook; and yes, if I can hack Haskell and Java, I can certainly upgrade the website to HTML5. Any year now...

I get a buzz from public speaking (who'd have guessed?), and before I'm about to start, my body fills with adrenalin and a voice in my head goes: "It's show time!" The exception was teaching in Singapore with ferocious jet lag, when I stood up to begin the first session and the inner voice said: "It's two o'clock in the morning, you bloody fool."

But when I'm not in full-on performance mode, I'm introvert and really not keen on this self-promotion stuff. Talking about work in progress doesn't help. Still, it can't do any harm to mention the work I'm not doing. There's no writing for me until October. Not serious hard-graft writing.

Veteran crime writer Lawrence Block notes that sabbaticals from writing can be necessary and beneficial to the experienced writer, even while he recommends that beginners write every day if possible. I'm in computing mode for the summer, and teaching two-not-one boot-camp grad programmes, which will be a blast. I love this stuff.

Since writing Resonance, I've written a new book and the beginning-plus-outline of a sequel. I've done this entirely on spec – no contract in advance, in other words – which is both liberating and not for the fainthearted. When I go shopping at Tesco, I have to pay for my food just like everybody else: I can't say, "It's okay, I'm a writer," and expect to get waved through. Working on spec means working without income at the time, and with no guarantee of publication when it's finished.

So why even try? I've written perhaps three different kinds of novel within SFF already, so it'll be no surprise that I'm doing Something Different. The difference this time is that the books are outside the genre – hence my needing a complete book for my agent to show to publishers.

And I can't say any more for now, because those chickens are unhatched. For the time being, I've done my part and need to let things unfold. Or hatch, with luck. I created a website (with only a teaser page) for my new pseudonym, but for now it's tucked away obscurely in cyberspace. Waiting for the shells to crack...


Eastercon was rather wonderful, and I've been putting off saying so only because I wanted time to write a long report. But since I'm busier than ever, let's go with this shorter appreciation. The committee/ops/gophers and tech were terrific, and so was everyone else. It was a particular pleasure to talk to several unpublished writers, whose books I look forward to reading in the near future.

I had fun-in-a-gi with my fellow GoH Juliet McKenna in our beat down, manfully held back tears when our Writers quiz team failed to defeat the Scientists, got technical on the AI panel (not my field, but I do know functional programming and formal methods), and had a great time on all the other panels too.

Massive, massive thanks to Drs Christine & Michael Davidson and everybody else.