“Daughter of Bótù”: Story of the Week pick and Locus review

jimhines totally made me squee the other day when he pointed me over to the Fantastic Reviews Blog where Aaron Hughes recommended my “Daughter of Bótù” (in the Aug. 2008 Realms of Fantasy) as his Story of the Week pick:

“‘Daughter of Bótù’ is a fairy tale with an Eastern flavor. It is the tale of An-ying, a rabbit transformed into a young woman, who quickly falls in love with a prince. The premise may sound routine but it soon turns into something memorable, thanks to Eugie Foster’s gorgeous prose and to the twists the story takes as the love between An-ying and her prince becomes rather complicated.”

Hungry for more reader/reviewer commentary, I engaged my Google-fu and discovered (courtesy slushmaster) that Rich Horton (ecbatan) had also given my story—as well as Jim’s fabulous “Light of a Thousand Suns”—snaps in Locus:

Realms of Fantasy’s August issue has several nice, challenging, stories, including a rather shocking look at sacrifice from James Van Pelt, ‘Light of a Thousand Suns,’ and a bittersweet Japanese fantasy, complete with fox and rabbit women, Eugie Foster’s ‘Daughter of Bótù.’”

And lo, there was verily much squeeing.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
• Contract and proof of “The Better To…” which is forthcoming in issue #37 of ASIM.

New Words:
• Around 200 on The Stupid Novel.

Tried to get back into the words-on-the-page swing by doing a read-through/editing pass on what has gone before and managed to get too bogged down in the rewriting/editing. Sigh. Hoping to regain my steam this week. Maybe this year, Dragon*Con will have only derailed me for two weeks instead of the customary month.

Been doing a lot of supplementary reading and immersive muse coaxing, particularly of translated works from Japanese manga and anime. And I think it’s done something unexpected. All this year, I feel like I’ve been stuck in writerly first gear. Even when I achieved flow, I never revved up to that easy cadence of words and imagery that punctuated some of the best stuff I’ve written to date, although the story was battering at me with the ferocity of a thousand hamsters.

I’d grasp and grope for the right word or turn of phrase, often resorting to my thesaurus when I simply couldn’t come up with the words. In the end, I had to plop down some awful, clunky prose just to get the story on the page; consoling myself that, after all, it’s hella easier to rewrite, polish, and edit than it is to create new wordage. I figured I was just getting old, that my lexical recall abilities were beginning to erode along with some other cognitive functions that I’ve noticed aren’t as acute as they were when I was fifteen. Frustrating but less than dire, big picture-wise. But as I was going through The Stupid Novel again, the words were coming back, and I was replacing the clumsy uck I had before with better words, better phrases.

I think reading the oftentimes broken translations, punctuated by some mind-blowingly lyrical-but-peculiar phrases, have helped to jostle me out of first gear. Hope it lasts. The trick is to keep from dropping back into first (or throwing a rod) and then revving up to third.

Vrooom.

Twiddling about this week

Still floating high about selling Returning My Sister’s Face to Norilana. Thanks for the deluge of congrats!

Things I’ve done this week:

• Sold my flash story “The Wiggly People” (audio reprint) to Drabblecast.
• Seen part 1 of my article, “Writing Multicultural Fiction for Children,” reprinted at Absolute Write.
• Decided that I will try out the new flexible work hours being implemented at work. Starting next week, I’m going 4×10 (10-hour days, 4-day weeks). I used to work 9×80 at my previous job (three-day weekend every other week), which was nice, but I’m wondering if a 10-hour workday might be a bit long.
• Received, signed, and sent back contracts from Norilana, the Triangulation: Taking Flight anthology, and Drabblecast and looked over galleys from the Killers anthology and Baen’s Universe.
• Broke then fixed the Daily Dragon website, giving myself a crash course in PHPMyAdmin in the process.
• Added 1 GB of RAM to my VAIO laptop, upgrading it from its original 512 MB to 1.5 GB. Very stressful, and in the end, I needed fosteronfilm to seat it properly for me; I don’t get along well with hardware. But my laptop is speedy-fast now…although the hibernation function keeps going wonky.
• Joined Facebook (friend me if you’ve got an account!).

Things I haven’t done this week:

• Write.

So yeah, not a productive week…

Session 2008 Day 37: In the homestretch and sale to Pseudopod

We’re in the final week of Session 2008. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die this Friday, barring something stupid coming up. These next few days promise to be hectic to the extreme, but I’m relieved to be so close to officially surviving my second session. Also, I’m a little nervous now that “writing season” is about to start up again. After being away from it for so long, there’s some performance anxiety about getting back into the habit of putting words on the page. Meep.

   


Writing Stuff

Saw in the Baen’s Universe e-ARC area that “A Thread of Silk” will be in their June 2008 issue. Coolness.

Received:
• Promo copies of Magic in the Mirrorstone to sign. The Mirrorstone Books folks sent several copies that they want to use as promotional giveaways ’round to all of the authors to John Hancock. The instruction letter inside said that they wanted to get the books back before February—the anthology’s release date—but, um, unless their marketing department has a time machine stashed away, that’s not going to happen. Oops. Well, I’m sending them along to the next author tomorrow. At least there are only two stopovers left.
• 60-days to a (reprint) sale of “Caesar’s Ghost” to Pseudopod. Yay!
• Contract from Aeon for “Black Swan, White Swan”…along with a request for an intro. Erg. I have a dickens of a time writing intros or synopses for my stuff. As the author, I want to come off as witty and insightful, but definitely not ostentatious or pretentious, and I want to intrigue the reader with my story’s premise without giving away too much or building false expectations.

Yeah, for my next trick, I’ll turn Kool-Aid into brandy and walk on Jell-O. Much brow furrowed lip-chewing, there. I came up with something and sent it off, but I’d rather write a whole story while aardvarks gnaw on my ankles than a one-paragraph introduction. *twitch*
• Payment from both Drabblecast (for “The Tiger Fortune Princess”) and Pseudopod. Yay²!

Session 2008 Day 31.5: Atlanta weather and return of the prodigal laptop

The tornado was a nonevent for us. Didn’t even realize one had ripped through downtown Atlanta until we got calls from fosteronfilm‘s mother worried about our safety. Up north where we are, we got dark skies and thunderstorms, but no twister action. The hail on Saturday was a bit more dramatic, but we seem to have withstood that without any damage, too.

And, my laptop’s back, my laptop’s back! Yay! It languished for over a month in the shop, and in that time my organizational system fell into total disarray. My to-do list reached profoundly scary proportions, and after I finished re-loading my system and trying to sort through my emails, I’d flagged nearly 100 emails as “needs response.”

While I had a back-up system to work on and check email from while my VAIO was gone, it’s a huge behemoth of a machine that I can’t easily transport back and forth on the train. Plus, it doesn’t have the battery life that my ultra-portable VAIO does, making it useless by midday. So I ended up leaving it at home and checking email from a browser interface at work—and therefore not having my address book or sent history or received archives at hand. And without a main system as the hub repository for all my data, I ended up accumulating duplicates and putting off items or having information scattered across multiple systems in different versions. What a mess.

But my laptop’s back home now, and I’ve been wading through the pile-up. As of this morning, I’m down to 60 emails flagged, and my files are more or less synced up. Whew. I’m worried that some stuff may have gotten lost in the cracks; I tried to err on the side of duplication rather than deletion, but then I tried to keep the duplicates manageable and…glargh. I hope to have everything shipshape by the end of this week, legislature obliging, of course.

I missed my little VAIO. A lot.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
• 125-day SALE of “The Better To…” to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, slated for #38—which I believe will be their October issue.
• 91-day very glowing and personal rejection from Space & Time. It got held until the final round, but…sigh.
• Contract from Drabblecast for “The Tiger Fortune Princess.”
• Payment from Realms of Fantasy for “Daugher of Bótù,” which I believe will be coming out in their next (June) issue.

A Tale of Two Feral Cats

I’ve been feeding a couple feral cats. Actually, at first I thought it was just one, but upon closer inspection, I realized it was two (which explains the amount of food being eaten, as I couldn’t fathom how a single kitty, even a single starving kitty, could snarf that much down). In my defense, they look pretty similar, both gray tabbies with white feet:

Kitty 1 (pictured) seems to have hurt her (his?) paw, favoring the right front one. Don’t know if it’s an old wound or a recent one. You might be able to see that she’s holding it to her chest above. She was limping a couple weeks ago, but appears to be able to walk on it now.

Kitty 2 looks almost exactly like Kitty 1 except her tail is less fluffy, and her white feet are shoes only, lacking a white sock up to her elbow that Kitty 1 has.

They’re both extremely skittish and won’t come to the bowl if either I or fosteronfilm are on the porch, although Kitty 1 will crouch beside it on the edge of the porch—just out of reach—while we’re filling it, waiting for us to go back inside before coming to eat. I’ve tried to make friends with her, but she’s not inclined to have our relationship grow any closer than it is, meowing plaintively at me if I linger, talking to her, as though asking me (politely) to please leave so she can get on with her breakfast.

My plan was to trap them both and take them into a vet’s to be fixed (and looked over) and then releasing them. They’re both very feral, and I can’t imagine either of them becoming tame enough to make the transition to being an adoptable housecat. But now I’m rethinking whether I ought to trap them or not. britzkrieg informed me that she recently trapped a feral just a few blocks away from our place (in j_hotlanta‘s yard) which ended up testing positive for FIV. It was too feral to be adoptable, and a FIV-positive kitty can’t be released back into the wild, so she had no choice but to have it put to sleep.

The odds are higher than I like contemplating that any feral in such close proximity could also have FIV, and I don’t want to have to euthanize these kitties. I know it’d be more responsible to bring them in and have them evaluated (assuming I could trap them), but the thought of my well-meaning action resulting in tragedy gives me the shudders.

Pointy-sharp quandary.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
• 13-day SALE of “Beautiful Summer” to the Killers anthology (edited by Colin Harvey, to be published by Swimming Kangaroo Books). This came last month, actually, so it’s an end-of-year hurray rather than a first-sale-of-the-year ring-in.
• Contracts for “A Thread of Silk” from Baen’s Universe and “Daughter of Bótù” from Realms of Fantasy.
• 22-day (or so) rejection from Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling for the story I submitted for their next anthology. Sigh. Disheartening and disappointing is an understatement, but I’ve been clinging to my “it was an honor to be invited” mantra.

Published:
• “When Shakko Did Not Lie” in the Jan. 2008 issue of Cricket, and it’s the lead story. Yay! “Shakko” has been awaiting an issue to be slated in for some time, and it’s been a while since I read it. Getting the contrib. copies and reading my story over was a little like seeing an old friend you’ve not heard from in ages, familiar but also new. Very pleased that it’s out now.

Shiny cover:

Post-Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving was lower key than I planned. For most of the weekend, I slumped on the couch, alternating between pitiful whimpers and pained moans. Between the little men hammering inside my skull, the sundry aches and soreness of the rest of me, and a queasy tummy from popping Tramadols*, I only managed to venture forth from the house once.

Hobkin and fosteronfilm took turns sitting with me and being comforting, of which I am verily thankful for.

I think a weather-related pressure change is the culprit. I’m better now, although my sinuses are still giving off threatening twinges, and my shoulder is one shrug away from becoming (once again) a knotwork of “ow.”


*How in the name of anything holy could anyone even consider using Tramadol recreationally? I took two 50mg pills, twice a day—less than the maximum dose specified on the bottle, let me add—and even the thought of food made me turn green(er).

   


Writing Stuff

Less writing got done than I’d hoped over the holiday weekend, but then, I usually accomplish less than I plan to over holidays. Good intentions, foo.

Received:
• Contract from Llewellyn Press for “A Nose for Magic.”
• 253-day cordial pass from Aberrant Dreams.
• Invite from squirrel_monkey to submit to a Russian themed anthology she’s editing. It’s the next (I assume) in an anthology series, forthcoming by Prime Books, each drawn from a different world mythology (the first being Japanese Dreams which includes my story, “The Tears of My Mother, the Shell of My Father”—due out this monthish). Of course I said “yes.” I love world folklore/mythology/fairy tales, and this will give me an opportunity to explore in greater depth Russian fairy tales, which I’ve always adored.

New Words/Editing:
• 1000 words on my last (*sniffle*) Writing for Young Readers column: “Happily Ever After.” I thought it fitting that the topic for the final one be “endings.” Did several clean-up passes and sent it off to the editor.

And thus, I set down another hamster and bid it a teary farewell.

Published:
• “The Raven’s Brocade” in the December issue of Cricket:

I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again. I really love seeing my stories in Cricket. The artwork which accompanies them is always so wonderful.


Illustrations for “The Raven’s Brocade” by Nicole Wong

The Fix now live!!

Sorry for the prolonged radio silence. It’s been a hella busy and very intense couple of weeks. Much hard work and not much sleep. But I’m thrilled to announce that The Fix is now live!

Featuring over twenty new reviews of print ‘zines, e-zines, anthologies, and collections; the inaugural samplings of new columns: Jennifer Mercer’s Distillations: Speculative Poetry Review, John Dodd’s Podcasts in Review, and Matthew M. Foster’s Flickers on the Wall: Reflections on Short Film, as well as the continuation of James Van Pelt’s column on the writing life, The Day Job; and an exclusive interview, our virtual pages are chock full of wonderful content. Please spread the news!

I’m so proud of the dedication and hard work The Fix‘s team of contributors put in to make this launch a success. And I’m honored to be working with them on this exciting, new venture.

I’ve also been teaching an online workshop this month, “Worldbuilding for Writers,” in addition to gearing up for The Fix‘s relaunch. Then there’s that short story I’d like to finish, and I haven’t even started on my November Writing for Young Readers column (although I may end up cannibalizing some of my class write-ups for my it), and there’s still outstanding “to do” things for The Fix.

I think my hamsters have morphed into fluffy wolverines.

   


Writing Stuff

Had a reading on the 4th at Outwrite Books with mroctober and catherineldf. And, urg. It . . . did not go well. Steve and Catherine were great. Me, not so much. In addition to having a head cold to beat all head colds (courtesy my folks who picked up something in their travels) making me nasal and hoarse, the setup totally flummoxed me.

I’ve only ever had a table and/or podium to read from, so it didn’t occur to me that things might be different. My reading copy is loose leaf. That allows me to just move a page over when I’m nearing the bottom so I can continue onto the next page without having to pause to shuffle pages. But the reading setup at Outwrite is bar stools in front of a microphone–and I’m not so good with microphones in any case. No table. No podium. Tall bar stool so my feet couldn’t touch the ground. Also, I’ve never had to worry about time before, and we each only had 15 minutes to read. I didn’t have a watch, and all the clocks on the wall displayed different (wrong) times.

So yeah, much franticness as I nearly drop my pages repeatedly. I ran overtime. Massive stress and public speaking terror. End result, my reading verily sucked. I wanted to crawl into a hole afterward.

Sigh. Well, I’d been on a good roll, starting to get my confidence up and all. The cosmos decided I was overdue for a humbling fiasco. Duly noted. Public speaking bad. I get it.

Received:
- Got a note out of the blue by new, German podcast outfit, Podgeschichten. The editor heard the Escape Pod production of “The Life and Times of Penguin” and wants to translate it into German and produce it for his publication. And they’re a paying market! Of course I said “yes.” Received the contract . . . which was in German, albeit with an English translation, and after having terracinque confirm the translation, we’re all good.

I haven’t been translated into German before. That’ll make it my fifth foreign language. I LOVE having editors solicit work from me.
- Also received word from mroctober that Magic in the Mirrorstone contrib. copies are going out. A pleasant surprise, that. The anthology is slated for a February ’08 release, so I assumed I wouldn’t be seeing it until next year. Sweet.

Published:
- In all the hubbub, I didn’t realize that Hub had published “The Music Company” in issue #26 until I got their PayPal payment. Hee!

They email each issue to me, but I’d been too busy to do anything but forward them on to reviewers. So I totally missed it! Hmm, wonder what else I’ve missed in the chaotic frenzy of the last few weeks . . . probably best not to dwell on that.

Parental visit on the horizon

My folks are coming to visit this week from China. They’re doing a coast-to-coast swing-by of the U.S., visiting my stepdad’s sons in California, spending several days in Pittsburg at the 2007 IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts–wherein my stepdad is being presented the “Ragnar Holm Scientific Achievement Award”–and then spending a few days in Atlanta before heading to the Midwest and the East Coast.

The “Ragnar Holm Scientific Achievement Award” is awarded to the “living scientist or engineer who has made significant contributions to the theory or practice of electrical contacts.” In addition to receiving the award, my stepdad’s presenting a paper on the effect of particle contamination on electrical contact failure. It’s a great honor and an impressive accomplishment, and I’m extremely proud of him.

I also find myself wondering, though, why is it I always get along better with or find it easier to establish a rapport with my male relatives? I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my stepdad, and I feel like I’ve got more in common with him than I ever had with my mom, the woman I grew up with.

Meh. My familial relationships and my associated emotions thereof have always been, are, and will always be a messy, confounding mystery. I accept that.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- 124-day SALE to Interzone of my story “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast.” Woohoo!! Much happy dancing, ye verily. Not only have I been jonsing for a juicy sale, but I’ve also been longing to break into IZ for, like, ever.

This is a science-fantasy tale, my first foray into writing a dystopia piece, which I’d been wanting to do for a while.
- Contract from Shiny for “Close to Death.”
- Contract from Hub for “The Music Company.”

And catching up on R’s received during the chaotic period of Dragon*Con prep and recovery:
- 57-day form nope from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (a long shot, but it was for a cross-genre piece that I’m having a hard time figuring out where it fits: horror, dark fantasy, or crime).
- 39-day cordial pass from Ann VanderMeer of Weird Tales with invite to submit again.
- 133-day YFoP from Realms of Fantasy.

New Words/Editing:
- A slew of editing passes–lost count of how many–and a smattering of wordage on “Requiem Duet” over the weekend. Jabbed it tentatively with my fork and fired it off to mroctober.

I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. I hit the point of going over that story so much that I couldn’t evaluate it anymore–y’know how if you stare at a word for too long, it just doesn’t look right, even if it is. Like that, but with the whole manuscript. Normally, if I hit that point in a story’s development, I step away from it for a week or so to get some perspective back, but I’ve been rather pokey on this one, and I didn’t want to hold things up any longer.

Jeff VanderMeer’s website, Paul Jessup’s online novel, and seeking a Korean translation

First off, a couple shout outs:
- Jeff VanderMeer has recently overhauled his website and blog: Ecstatic Days. It’s the place to go for folks interested in Jeff’s work.
- Paul Jessup is working on an online serial novel, Dust, with daily updates at his website. Dust is a “surrealistic, dark fantasy, about a girl searching for freedom in a graveyard town built on the ruins of war.” He’s also penning a writing journal about it. So for readers interested in the novel-writing process, it promises to be interesting.

Next, anyone reading this know Korean? Specifically written Korean?

In a nutshell, I need “Please do not remove any mugs, cups, or glasses from this desk” translated into Korean.

Outside a nutshell: Minor, ongoing saga at work. cut for folks who don’t want to read my minor office saga

Photo shoot and setting down some hamsters

The Volunteer Vixens photo shoot on Saturday went well. The swimsuit/bikini shot was done at a private residence. Our wonderful hostesses had a backyard pool/spa/waterfall–a gorgeous, decadently lush setting. Absolutely perfect. I did, however, get nailed by a couple bitey bugs within minutes of stepping outside and experienced a mild allergic reaction to an abrasion on my leg from the sand or rocks around the spa. Typical. The outdoors hates me. But, I am assured that the red welts can be PhotoShopped out.

After we broke for lunch, we met up for the cover shot, which was at the MMI warehouse. The theme, to match the charity, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation, was pink and black. Now pink is not a color found in my wardrobe, and I was at something of a loss–not wanting to buy a pink dress or somesuch that I’d never wear again. Thanks to my fellow Volunteer Vixen, Ariel, I had a fallback–a pink off-the-shoulder top, but I didn’t know what to wear with it. So on Friday, I went tearing around the house, trying to put together an outfit.

And, serendipity. I found a unitard I’d forgotten about–part of a costume for a modern dance show lo these many years ago when I was still in shape–shoved away in a drawer. The original costume was a white unitard dyed for the performances in streaks of (supposedly) purple and red, but the dye ended up mostly . . . pink. It’d also had dark, wing-like streamers of cloth sewed to shoulders, leg, and side which had been summarily removed at some point before I stored it away. But yes, there it was: a pink unitard.

La! So for the cover shot, I wore this:

   


Writing Stuff

I’ve come to the realization that I’m still juggling too many hamsters. The lil squeakers are beginning to get nippy when I drop ‘em, and I feeling more and more guilty when I can’t keep them all in the air. Therefore, sadly and with reluctance, I’ve resigned from my position as The Town Drunk‘s assistant managing editor. I enjoyed seeing that side of the publishing biz and sampling its wares (slush diving!), but there are only a finite number of hours in my week, and all my hamsters are eating into my writing time.

I’m very grateful to britzkrieg for the opportunity and experience.

I’ve also gone on hiatus at Critters. I haven’t done a crit. there in ages, and I feel too guilty to post my stuff without giving back in return. Plus, I’ve been wanting to focus more on my DC2K and Critter Litter writers group.

Received:
- Contract from Tekno Books for the electronic rights for six more stories: “The Tiger Fortune Princess,” “The Storyteller’s Wife,” “Returning My Sister’s Face,” “The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death,” “The Wizard of Eternal Watch,” and “All in My Mind.” This is for the for the project they’re doing with Sony to put together an electronic short fiction website to promote Sony’s new e-reader device. Hurray.
- Email from editor Jetse de Vries letting me know that my last submission to Interzone made the first cut and he’s holding it for a second read. Crossing my fingers.
- Payment for “Body and Soul Art” from the ASIM Best of Horror anthology.
- Payment for “The Wizard of Eternal Watch” from the Best New Romantic Fantasy 2 anthology.

Published:
- “Body and Soul Art” in the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Best of Horror.