Pain vs Productivity

Took another tramadol last night and my wingstubs feel better, but I think I have to stop taking them. While I’m not suffering from free-floating irritability this morning, I feel like my brain’s encased in a layer of mush. Adderall and caffeine are barely penetrating it. I simply cannot function like this, and I certainly can’t write.

Gargh.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Edits for “Year of the Fox” from mroctober for So Fey.
- Contrib. copy, at last, of GrendelSong #2. Yay! Most distressingly, the USPS seems to have eaten the first copy that Paul sent, but he was gracious enough to send off another. It’s puuuuurty.
- An email from Ellen Datlow inviting me to submit to the next anthology she and Terri Windling are editing in their “mythic fiction” YA series. Omigod omigod omigod! I had to restrain myself from gushing like a rabid fangirl all over my reply. I’ve got all the anthologies in their Snow White, Blood Red series, and it’s been one of my life’s writerly ambition to have a story published in one of their folklore/fairytale anthologies. *SQUEEEE!*

Now, of course, I have to come up with something worthy of the anthology. Gleep.

New Words/Editing:
- 200 on the Fox Princess novel.

Put down a good character development moment via channeling my grumpy from yesterday, but I’m still stymied on the scene. However, I do think a solution is brewing in my back brain. I’m coming up with bits and pieces of ideas that haven’t yet jelled into something usable, but it’ll all turn out well. How? It’s a mystery.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,105 / 40,000
(37.8%)

Club 100 for Writers: 9

icanhascheezburger

Had a couple good night’s sleep, and I’m recovered from Mobicon. Lots to catch up on, but, as an amusing diversion, here’s a link from elemess that made me squee: icanhascheezburger.com.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Contrib. copy of Bash Down the Door and Slice Open the Badguy. Shiny. Would’ve liked to have gotten it last week, but still. Shiny.

New Words:
- 550 on the Fox Princess novel.

I’m 750 words behind the 2500 words/week goal I set after losing a day of writing from Mobicon. Not stressing; it’s not a major deficit. I can make it up in a day if I focus and hit flow, but I do need to make a push this week to catch up. Being somewhat familiar with the vagaries of my brain, if I let myself lag too far behind, I’ll lose my incentive to maintain the pace, and I really don’t want to risk that hit to my momentum.

I also lost my place again in Club 100, even not counting Friday, as I allow myself holidays and vacations off. But I should’ve gotten something on the page Monday. And yet.

Sigh. I suck.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10,244 / 40,000
(25.6%)

Club 100 for Writers: 1

Session ’07, Day 38

We did our taxes this weekend.

Despite making significantly less than the poverty level last year–me being out of work for most of it and all–the IRS is taking a gasp-inducing chunk out of my writing income. The rest of my wages (from the OLC), we don’t owe taxes on due to our deductions and because of how meager they were. But my writing income, they still tax.

As it turns out, no matter how little I make as a self-employed freelancer, if I make any profit, I will get shafted. There is no “you made so little last year that your taxes come to zero” for the self-employed, although there is for everyone else.

Ole Uncle Sam really doesn’t like independent entrepreneurs or freelance artists. Sheesh.

And, once again, I am pondering whether making myself an LLC would be beneficial. It’s easy enough to do. I send in some paperwork to the Secretary of State and a $100 fee (with a $30 annual renewal thereafter). The virtue of working where I do, I’m a lot more familiar with Georgia state laws and how to look them up–as well as legalese in general–but I haven’t managed to wrap my mind around federal tax law. And that’s the clincher. I haven’t waded through all the IRS verbiage to get to the gist of whether I would gain any benefit and manage to avoid being double taxed if I incorporate myself.

Sigh. A fun project for after session, maybe.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Contrib. copy of Aberrant Dreams #8 with “Nobodies and Somebodies” in it. I actually forgot about this contrib. copy since it was also published online. I like nice surprises.
- 44-day cordial pass with detailed commentary from Trabuco Road after a hold request for further consideration. Drat.
- 82-day “does not meet our needs” after a hold request for further consideration from The Edge of Propinquity. Humph.
- Invite from OmegaCon, a convention in Birmingham, AL, to attend, I assume as a guest. However, as it’s slated for mid-March (2008), right in the middle of next year’s session, I’m having to pass.
- Forwarded letter from Cricket from a 9-year-old reader praising “The Snow Woman’s Daughter” in the Feb. issue. *squee!* I love hearing from readers!

Reminder:
I’m conducting an online workshop, Worldbuilding for Writers: Transporting Readers Beyond the Ordinary. Register HERE. (Deadline, May 27.)

Miss Potter

fosteronfilm and I went to see an advance screening of Miss Potter yesterday. Almost didn’t make it. Got a couple massive bills to edit plopped in my intray late yesterday afternoon, and it looked pretty likely that I’d have to stay overtime*, but the edits didn’t take as long as I’d thought. I rushed home, Matthew handed me a sandwich, fed Hobkin, and we were off to the Tara Theater.

The movie was an absolute delight; I was charmed by it from minute one. It’s the story of Beatrix Potter, the author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books, her life, how her books came to be the best selling children’s series ever, and her romance with her publisher. Renee Zellweger plays Beatrix, and Ewan McGregor plays her publisher–which is a great pairing, even if there were several Down With Love déjà vu moments and Zellweger’s accent sounded more Bridget Jones’s Diary than Jane Austen. The movie is punctuated by charming Ally McBeal-esque animations of her illustrated characters, whom Beatrix calls “her friends,” coming to life. And the countryside, where chunks of the movie is set, is a lush and gorgeous backdrop. And yes, as I demanded of Matthew, there were bunnies. The only complaint I have is that it’s going to totally perpetuate the belief that children’s writers need to illustrate their own stories, but I’ll just sweep that gripe into the “irrelevant industry minutiae” cubbyhole and pretend that I can’t see it.

I suspect it’s not going to be particularly appreciated by a male audience. My husband’s as whimsical as I could ask, and even so, the movie wasn’t to his taste, although he appreciated the beauty of the cinematography and animations. We’ve probably hit the “chick flick” barrier with this one, but I happen to like good chick flicks, and Miss Potter is one of the best. I highly recommend it.


* And so the legislative rush begins. The pace has been nonstop here all day. I expect that Miss Potter was probably the last time I’ll get to spend quality time with my husband until after the session ends.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Contrib. copies of issue #23 of Faeries with the French translation of “Of Two Minds in Lanais” in it.
- A Nice review in SF UK Review for my story, “Wanting to Want,” in Hub:

“It’s quite a brutal description of the life of a junkie. . .The narrative really gets inside the characters head. . .A very well written piece.”
– Gareth D Jones

Winter bad, writing good

Winter bad. Southbound MARTA train taken out of service, stranding me at Lindburgh station, bad. Eastbound MARTA train running late and stranding me at Five Points station, bad.

Unhappy, frozen commuter Eugie.

   


Writing Stuff

“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest etc.” is now up at Critters.org. I was pleased to see four crits in my inbox this morning. At its longer length, I didn’t expect this baby to get much lovin’.

Published:
- My December Writing for Young Readers column, “Writing Talking Animal Tales,” is now up! There was much badness with email. My first two attempts to send the editor my column vanished into the Internet ether with nary a peep–no bounce message, no nothing. My email server appears to be butting heads with cox.net. Most distressing, and VERY frustrating. But at least I was finally able to get the file to her.

Received:
- Contrib. copy and payment for Aegri Somnia. It’s puuuurty.

New Words:
- 800 on “By Oak, Bramble, and Metro.” Adderall was indeed the prod my muse needed yesterday. Although this story is going in a different direction than I’d anticipated. I somehow managed to bring the Iraq war into a story about a fairy metro train. My subconscious appears to be O.D.ing on news broadcasts.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3,676 / 4,500
(81.7%)

Hobkin: sleep aid and writing muse

My cunning plan to go easy on the caffeine yesterday worked, and lo, sleep was had. I conked out right after dinner and didn’t so much as stir when fosteronfilm flashy-thinged me with the camera. Hobkin helped. Napping skunks exude a sleepy aura that drags anyone with them into slumber mode who’s directly in contact with them, and Hobkin flopped upon me with much determination:

But this morning, I’m back to suckling at the java teat. Mmm, coffee.

   


Writing Stuff

Not much was accomplished yesterday on the writing front due to the diminished levels of caffeine in my bloodstream, but my resting subconscious did engage with the muse. I woke this morning with the realization that I need to add a scene to the last segment of “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” in order to properly “sell” the finale. Plan to get cracking on that once the caffeine molecules start with the happy bonding at my adenosine receptors.

New Words:
- A mere 300 or so on “By Oak, Bramble, and Metro,” the MARTA-inspired story I’m writing for squirrel_monkey‘s urban fantasy anthology. Thankfully, I have until the end of December to get it to her, not, as I feared, the beginning.

Received/Published:
- Got my contrib. copies of the Feb. 2007 issue of Realms of Fantasy:


I’m in awesome company! Check out the fiction ToC:

“Three Wishes” by Bruce Holland Rogers
“Looking After Family” by Carrie Vaughn
“Spare Change” by Chuck Rothman
“Syren” by Graham Edwards
“The Devil and Mrs. Comstock’s Snickerdoodles” by Eugie Foster
“Number of the Bus” by Jay Lake
“Circus Circus” by Eric M. Witchey
“In the Thicket, With Wolves” by Josh Rountree

Lori Koefoed illustrated my story:

I’m tickled. The kitty depicted was actually inspired by Hobkin, and while the resemblance is faint–different species and all–my skunk muse frequently lounges in that exact posture.

Columbus Day

I get tomorrow off! I haven’t had Columbus Day off since I was in school. My new job continues to rock my eyeballs. And how’s this for sweet, sweet icing? The Representatives and Senators left on Friday at 2:30, so us Legislative Counsel folks got to too. Half day, woot!

   


Writing Stuff

basletum interviewed me for SpecMusicMuse. Shiny!

Published:
- My October Writing for Young Readers column: “Hi/Lo Books: Writing for Reluctant Readers” is now up at Writing-World.

New Words:
- 500 on the Japanese fantasy, and I’ve come upon a plot snag. Pondering, pondering.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3,560 / 6,000
(59.3%)

Received:
- Contract from Faeries for French reprint of “Of Two Minds in Lanais.”
- Contract from Helix.
- Contrib. copy of Grendel Song. Yay!

Home Again Home Again

We’re back in Georgia after another grueling drive, and happy to be home. Hobkin’s pleased too; he spent last night cuddled up with me, and spent the first hour or so after I carried him in running around the house cheek-rubbing all the baseboard corners, re-establishing his territory (when we re-paint the interior some time in the dim and hazy future, it’s going to be a dark color) and making sure nothing had changed in his absence.

Thank you to everyone who dropped a comment with well-wishes and thoughts over this last week. Apologies that I haven’t responded individually to y’all. But you can be sure that your outpourings of concern and support were greatly appreciated.

DiL is still in the hospital but getting stronger daily. He’s eating on his own, and I believe they’ve started him on physical therapy. Still stubborn as all get out and clamoring to go home. They’ve also installed the pacemaker, a complication-free surgery. Unfortunately, the tests came back that they ran after his last fever spike and he’s got a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection, which they didn’t know before they put in the pacemaker. He’s now quarantined within ICU and people have to wear face masks when visiting him. Both fosteronfilm and MiL banned me from seeing him–over my squawked protests–once the results came in, all jumpy about my stupid compromised immune system. Grumpf. Bunch of worrywarts. You’d think with an overactive immune system I’d be less susceptible to infections instead of more. Stupid lupus.

I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye before we left. I’d be very distressed about that, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to see him again sans infection, when he’s back home.

   


Writing Stuff

Didn’t get nearly as much work done as I’d hoped last week. Not really a surprise, considering, but I’m now stretching myself full out in an effort to catch-up. My hamsters have embarked upon a breeding program while I was up north, the irksome things, and none of the new hamster-spawn appear to be aerodynamic.

The last Dragon*Con all-staff meeting is this weekend, which heralds the start of in earnest Daily Dragon prep. I’ve also been officially approved as a guest again this year. Right now, I’m scheduled to be on bevlovesbooks‘s panels “The Power of the Old Stories: Mythology and Folklore in YA” and “So, You Want to Write a Kid’s Book?” for her YA Lit track. I believe jackzodiac is hoping to put together a panel for Writers for Relief, and I’m anticipating that Ann Crispin will want me to reprise my guest lecture for her Beginning Writers Workshop. Another chock-full schedule. Much fun, but also loads of public speaking anxiety.

I saw that my other Escape Pod story, “The Life and Times of Penguin,” was also nominated for a Parsec Award. That’s both of them! Squee! Crossing my fingers that at least one of them makes the short list.

And Escape Pod now has an LJ: escapepodcast. EP was a lifesaver during the drive to and from Illinois. During David D. Levine’s “Tk’tk’tk”, I totally lost track of the miles and got swept away to an alien world . . . that was also somewhat Asiatic in feel. Very nice.

Received:
- Payment for my 2-part Multicultural Writing article from Writing-world.com.
- Contrib. copy of Apex Digest Best of 2005. Shiny!
- My taped-shut-but-empty SASE from Realms of Fantasy for “The Devil and Mrs. Comstock’s Snickerdoodles.” Erm. I expected it to contain my contract, and now I’m stressing that the contract was lost en route. Have dropped a note to Shawna to alleviate my anxiety.
- 46-day “thanks but no” from Forgotten Worlds. Bummer. But less of one now that I’ve learned that FW doesn’t include a contrib. copy with their payment. While I’d rather get money over a contrib. copy, I sort of expect both.

New Words/Editing:
- 1200 on a freelance gig. Got 300 to go and I can send this one off. This was a longish assignment.
- After 29-crits from Critters.org for “Black Swan, White Swan,” I did several editing passes and stuck a fork in. Fly, little swan story; find a good home and make me proud!
- Put together the outline for my first writers-world.com column article. Right now, the plan is to call the column: “Eugie Foster – Writing for Young Readers.” It’s not flashy or exciting, just plain jane straightforward. But I think that’s best. Plus, I couldn’t think of anything cute.

Kitchen Sink Mishap and Adventures in Banking

This week has been less than sterling. Little things and big things have conspired to irritate and infuriate.

On the little, irritating things side, the lever on the kitchen faucet broke, as in snap-holding-a-piece-in-your-hand broke. fosteronfilm was turning on the water and then . . . he wasn’t.

Fortunately, this didn’t result in a panic-inducing geyser, or even a distressing dribble, for that matter. Still, it’s awkward doing anything in the kitchen without a ready water supply. After Matthew peered at the underside of the sink for a while and determined it was out of his DIY league, we phoned several plumbers and got a vastly diverse range of estimates from “I dunno how much it’d be; we’ll have to send someone out to look” (for what ought to be a basic installation) to “prolly around $175″ to “$250 not including parts.”

Grumbling, we went to Home Depot to pick out a new faucet ensemble, and while there, I noticed that they do installations.

“How much?” we asked.

“$90,” they sez.

Still painful, but far less so. And while boggling at the wide range of faucet options available and their correspondingly wide range of prices, I mused aloud to the hubby: “I don’t understand why there’s such a huge price difference; what makes this $250 faucet better than this $69 one?” A helpful assistant person in an orange apron replied, “It’s all about the name brand and the finish. But they’ve all got lifetime warranties, so just pick one you like that fits your sink.”

Not only sage advice, but it made my brain ping. “They’ve all got lifetime warranties?” I queried, eying the Moen faucets.

“Yup, these brands always do.”

So we went home, sans faucet. I looked up the model of our broken Moen, emailed the company a “Lifetime Warranty?” note, and they got back to us the next day with a “sending you a new piece, expect delivery in 5-7 business days.” Wow! We didn’t have to mail them the broken faucet or anything. I’m not sure what exactly they’re sending us. A new handle will not be useful, as the connection is snapped through, but if they’re sending a new faucet, then we’re all good*. I am optimistic.

On the big thing, making-Eugie-livid front, trying to deposit my check from Faeries was every bit the wacky fun I’d anticipated, so much so that I still have the check.

Went to my local SunTrust branch, handed my check to the teller, and asked what the conversion rate was and if there was a fee for depositing it. After squinting at my weird money-paper with the funny words and asking what a “euro” was**, the teller looked up the conversion on her computer (bad but not unexpected), then said it would cost me a flat $25 fee to deposit it. I squawked. She called for backup, and subsequently revised the fee to $10. I asked for documentation, as the fee structure I have from both the website and the handout they gave me detailing the features and fees of my account list no such fee, and I want to know what I’m paying so I can go price compare at other banks. She referred me to their financial services rep.

Off I went to powwow with the financial services rep. This woman was equally clueless so phoned her supervisor for advice. She then said $60 and handed over a printout (hot off her laserjet), and circled a section under “Research Services” called “International Collections.” I explained that this wasn’t “research,” nor was it a “collection.” Unless they’re using new and different definitions, in banking and finance, a “collection” is when a creditor tries to recover a past-due payment, and “research” involves hunting down information that is not readily available.

She insisted she was correct.

Then Matthew pointed out that above it was a $20 fee listing for “domestic collections,” and if what she was saying was true, then it would cost everyone $20 anytime they wanted to deposit a domestic check, which was patently ridiculous.

Nevertheless, she stuck by her bogus claim.

Realizing there was no one there who knew squat and they were making it up as they went along, I retrieved my check and we went home.

Once home, I called my bank’s customer (dis)service line, and, after summoning a supervisor for assistance, the phone rep. declared “10% of the amount of the check” to deposit my French check.

That brought the total number of different fee amounts quoted to me for depositing my check to four. Spurious much? And there was no one else higher up to talk to.

So I contacted the Better Business Bureau and lodged a complaint.

Can anyone recommend a new bank?


*Well, except for installation.
**Geez, you’d think I was asking them to explain string theory. It’s a simple international transaction. I want to deposit a foreign check. A bank ought to be able to handle that, and a bank’s employees should at least be familiar with what the standard currency in Europe is.

   


Writing Stuff

I’m having a dry spell in the sales department (wah!), so feeling disheartened and needy, I did a vanity search. One of my hits was the Institute of Children’s Literature!

Deborah Vetter, my Cricket and Cicada editor, is an instructor there, and in her bio, I’m listed as one of the “distinguished writers” she’s worked with, along with Nancy Springer and Aaron Shepard. Me! A distinguished writer! *squee!*

So yeah. That helped.

New Words/Editing:
- 600 on the Swan Lake story.
- 600 on an article for Writing-World.com. Several editing passes and sent off. Waiting is.
- 1500 on the freelance gig.

Received:
- Payment and contrib. copies from Paradox for “The Archer of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon.” Huzzah!

Club 100 For Writers
      40

500/day
      50

Weekend update

Patrick and Christy are heading back to New Orleans as I type. Their apartment hunt was fruitful, job prospects looking good, and they’ve all but settled on a place close by, around eight miles from us in the Sandy Springs area. Yay! Very, very excited about them moving here!

And now I have much work to play catch-up with.

   


Writing Stuff

New Words/Editing:
- 600 on a new freelance gig. Edited, sent off, and paid.
- 1200 on another freelance gig.

Published:
- “A Patch of Jewels in the Sky” is now up at Dragonfly Spirit.

Received:
- Note from the editor of Writing-World. She liked the article, and wants to make it a two-parter, so asked me to write part two. Of course I said “yes.” Coolness.
- 30-day “not right for us” from oldcharliebrown on a submission to Fantasy Magazine, but to offset the pook, also some preliminary back-and-forth on contributing to a Prime books anthology with a Japanese mythology theme.
- Contrib. copies of #193 of Galaktika from Hungary.
- Payment from Ennea via wire transfer after I asked them not to wire the money. Not only did my bank shaft me with another $15 fee, but my payment got sent in two stages, so the Greek bank doubly-shafted me to the tune of another $9. To say that I am unhappy is much like calling Godzilla a tall lizard. ARGH! Sporksporkspork!

Club 100 For Writers
      28

500/day
      39