On shaving a skunk and Tramadol

And it’s back to the daily grind.

After hearing how much happier yukinooruoni‘s cats are in summer after being sheared, I wondered if Hobkin wouldn’t prefer to carry less fur weight around during the hot months. And then I remembered how much he hates being brushed and having his nails clipped (although, oddly, he doesn’t have a problem with me cleaning his ears), and I’m thinking we’d lose digits if we tried it. Ergo, skunk shall remain fluffy.

Wingstubs giving me some major grief, so I took a Tramadol last night. And not only didn’t it knock me out, but it seems to have given me a bit of a zing. I was up until 4AM, working. Huh.

   


Writing Stuff

In an effort to continue spring-boarding more paying work off my psych. degree, I went on a guidelines spree. And, of course, I found an ideal market right under my nose. The Cricket folks put out a Parent’s Companion publication as accompaniment to their ‘zine for 2-6 year-olds, Ladybug. They’re looking for articles written with “a thorough, up-to-date understanding of child development.” Bing!

Went through my old grad. papers for inspiration–which were stored in Lotus’s Word Pro, of all applications, and I had to scour the Internet looking for a freeware program that would let me open them before I could read them. So I spent most of last night compiling notes, references, and checking out new research, and I hope to get an article written this weekend. This one’s on spec rather than of the query–>greeen light variety, but I’m thinking the topic matter is such that it should be sellable to other venues if they turn it down. Assuming I don’t totally botch the job and write gibberish, of course.

Also put together a query/pitch for a nonfiction article for the China-themed issue of the kid ‘zine, Faces, and sent it off. They’ve got a pretty formal process for queries that includes a word count, an outline, and a reference list, with the end result being that I’ve all but written the thing by the time I finished putting together my query. It should definitely make writing it a no-brainer, should I get the green light.

Initially I hesitated about querying them because their guidelines specify that they buy all rights, and I’ve been assiduously avoiding selling all rights to my work, but I realized I’m far less possessive about my nonfic stuff. After all, I’ve been ghostwriting routinely since I started picking up more freelance work, and haven’t had any qualms about the “all rights” nature of that. Of course, they’ll probably send me a “thanks but no thanks,” which would make all this waffling moot.

Received:
- Contrib. copies of the June issue of Spider with “The Tax Collector’s Cow” in it. I was delighted to see five illustrations (by Jennifer Hewitson) for my story. Very shiny.
- Contract and payment from Best New Fantasy: 2005 for “Returning My Sister’s Face.”
- Payment for my last freelance gig.
- 1-day rejection from Escape Velocity on a reprint; they don’t take reprints. Oops.
- Comment at MySpace from the MechMuse folks that their audio production of “The Storyteller’s Wife” is proceeding apace. Quite looking forward to that, I is. I’ll be sharing a ToC with Kevin J. Anderson!

Club 100 For Writers
      23

500/day
      35

Dad-in-law update

Thank you to everyone who offered your support and sympathy about my dad-in-law yesterday. Matthew and I greatly appreciate your kind words and thoughts.

We’re still in Georgia, scrambling to get as much cleared off our respective plates as we can before heading north.

Matthew’s mom called last night. It’s hard to get a clear picture of what the situation is from here, but they have my dad-in-law heavily sedated, and it seems his kidneys have now shut down. At one point he started waking up and began fighting the respirator, and they had to up his dosage to knock him out again. I don’t know what any of that means, prognosis-wise. Is it standard procedure to keep someone sedated full time who’s on a respirator? I can’t imagine it’s comfortable having a breathing tube down your throat, but is it something you can’t be conscious during?

The specialists have him on various meds, and Mom-in-law said that they’re watching to see whether they have any effect. But she doesn’t know what effect they’re hoping for. And no one seems to know or is willing to say whether there might be a chance he’ll be able to breathe on his own when they take him off the respirator.

   


Writing Stuff

Editing:
- Many editing passes and a rewrite on a story I’ve been sitting on after its last bounce. Working does help to keep me distracted.

Received:
- Contrib. copies of Faeries #21 with French reprint “Returning My Sister’s Face.” Still awaiting payment.
- Contrib. copy of Modern Magic at long last.

Club 100 For Writers
      22

Saturday: Day of Pain

Today is going to be all about the chemicals versus the pain. Thus far, I have downed: 1 20 MG Adderall XR capsule, 2 Sudafeds, 2 Extra Strength Tylenols, and 1 pot of green tea. Hoping that the wracking headache and drooping sense of fatigue lift shortly. I think it must be something about the turning of the season. I seem to remember having similar headaches at this time last year. Unhappy sinuses, maybe? Or maybe it’s the little man with the iron club inside my skull. Ow.

Also, to my great distress (and near myocardial infarction), the smoke alarm went off a little while ago–the one right outside the library door where I’m working. Very double not good on nerves or for headaches. I’m still rather baffled as to what set it off, as well as what prompted it to cease its ear-shattering wails. I’m thinking it was a mischievous fey or ghostie. Or perhaps it was the cinnamon in my cream of wheat.

My brain hurts.

   


Writing Stuff

reddherring1955 put together three fantastic writerly “Ten Reasons” lists: “Ten Reasons Why I Write,” “Ten Negative Things I Have Learned (Mostly About Myself) from Writing Fiction,” and “Ten Positive Things I Have Learned from Writing Fiction.” I’d link to them, except the big chicken has friends-locked that post ( you know I love you, Swamp Queen).

Edit: reddherring1955 unlocked her post! Therefore, I give you listie goodness.

Received:
- My contrib. copies of April’s Cricket with my story “The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake” in it. Cricket always puts out a gorgeous publication, and this is no exception. My story has three illustrations in it (by Patrick Gannon), and I spent a chunk of yesterday afternoon squeeing over them. Actually, and I’m a little embarrassed admitting this, but every time I read “The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake,” I get teary-eyed. I feel particularly foolish when my own stories make me cry–the realization that my writing brain is manipulating the rest of me, or something–and in this case I’m weepy and sniffling like a ninny over a tale of bunnies and elephants. Still, red-rimmed eyes notwithstanding, it’s those stories that tug at my emotions that I end up loving the most. I’m so glad this one found such a good home.
- 137-day pass from Cicada. Alas, it wasn’t a good fit, falling between what they’re seeking for either Cicada or Cricket. But I also found out that my Cricket/Cicada editor is also a fan of Doctor Who, which is just way cool.
- 3-day email from the assistant editor of Baen’s Universe letting me know she’s passing my story up the line for consideration by Eric Flint. Crossing my fingers. A lot.

Returned from the Midwest and COBRA

We got home safe and sound. The snow stopped; the roads were clear. Hobkin was glad to see us and has spent the last couple days cuddled against my side–which makes it difficult to do anything but lie there being a skunk pillow. But now I’m refreshed and recuperated, and Hobkin is adhered to fosteronfilm‘s side. Time to charge back into the trenches.

Received official word that my COBRA benefits expire at the end of August–a fact I knew, but having them send me a reminder letter has ramped up the stress. I’m hoping that my HMO will be willing to continue covering us under an individual policy, but I’m not sure how likely that is, considering all my pre-existing health conditions. And if they do, I have no idea how much it’ll cost. Of course, if they don’t, I’m royally screwed. I keep wanting to go “I’ll worry about this later” but it’s almost April. Too much later and I’ll be out of time as well as medical coverage. Urk.

I could really go for a national health plan about now. Stupid country.

   


Writing Stuff

Alas, I didn’t make it onto the Campbell Award ballot, but I hadn’t really expected to. However, I have to admit being rather crestfallen that Tangent didn’t get a Hugo nod. Pook.

Crits for “A Thread of Silk” continue to trickle in (thanks aliettedb, basletum, and wbledbetter!). So far, it’s being well received. I’m seriously dwelling upon splitting the epilogue into an epilogue and prologue.

During a very long stretch on I-24, I plotted out the next couple scenes on my novel. If the muse is kind, I want to get those on the page today.

Received:
- Contrib. copy of Here & Now #7. Finally.
- Contrib. copy of Oceans of the Mind XIX.

Adderall and Chinese communique

I think I’m well and truly addicted to Adderall. I’ve skipped my last couple “weekend holidays” because I didn’t want to risk the drop in writing productivity. The resultant ramping up of tolerance has me fretting. I actually popped an extra 10mg the other day to keep me going when the 20mg wasn’t doing the trick.

(I needs me my speed.)

But I am well aware that that road can only lead to a bad place. Ergo, I’m taking today off as an overdue break to give my system a chance to detox. I suspect there will be much caffeine. Or would that defeat the purpose? Urg.

(I wants me my speed.)

I wrote before I was on Adderall; I can still do it, dammit.

   


Writing Stuff

Received a letter from my folks–my stepdad thanking me for the birthday card we sent him, and to let us know that their apartment flooded and they’re staying with his younger son until they can move into a new apartment. They also suggested that I send them some of my previously published works and they’d see if they could find a Chinese publisher to both translate and publish it, maybe as a collection or something. I have no idea how the publishing industry works in China, but that would indeed be cool.

Received:
- A note, along with contract, from Greek ‘zine Ennea (9) that “Fade to Black” appeared in issue #292 in February. Sweet.
- My contrib. copy of Sages and Swords in which I fulfill a longtime ambition: sharing a ToC with Tanith Lee. I’d squee, except I’m too logy. The anthology’s a very nice production, glossy and redolent with that “new book” smell, although I think the title font is a little utilitarian (I blame dude_the that I even noticed). Of note, it seems the title of my story was changed from “The Wizard of Eternal Watch and the Keeper of Forever” to just “The Wizard of Eternal Watch” which I’m okay with–it was, after all, a pretty unwieldy title–although I would have liked to have been notified of this alteration in advance.
- 7-day email from Jason Sizemore of Apex Digest that he liked my story, “Nothing of Me,” and wants it for the Aegri Somnia anthology. Woot!

And as a reminder, only two more days until Jason’s birthday. They still need sixteen new subscribers or renewals to make their challenge. Subscribe, pleeease?

New Words:
200 on “A Thread of Silk”
Not one of my more productive days . . .

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,597 / 7,500
(74.6%)

Club 100 For Writers
      6

Congratulations to pleroma and sruna!

A HUGE congratulations to pleroma and sruna on their New Year’s Eve engagement! I got all squeeie and gushy when I read about pleroma‘s romantic and elegant on-bended-knee proposal. fosteronfilm and I are overjoyed for you both!

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- My contrib. copies of Apex Digest #4 and payment for “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me.” Hurray! Although it looks like the post office really went to town on the poor package–maybe drove over it with those little mail golf carts or stomped on it a couple time in cleats. However, despite the fact that the envelope looks like it’s been mauled by rabid aardvarks, the contents came through mostly unscathed. There’s a slight ding on one cover and some wear on the edges and spine of another one, but nothing was torn or otherwise mangled. And Jason Sizemore very cleverly stuck my check deeply and securely into one of the copies so it neither fell out through either of the USPS-inflicted gaping tears, nor was it folded, spindled, or mutilated in the course of the rough transit. Whew.
- Payment for “Only Springtime When She’s Gone” in Neometropolis #7 made via electronic transmission of monies, so no shipping and handling wear-and-tear. Although there were PayPal fees. Urg. Trade-offs.
- Invitation from Story Station to consider submitting a non-fiction piece for their Teacher Articles. Huh. That had never occurred to me, but it might be fun, not to mention a nice addition to my writing resume. It’s not big money by a long shot, but $10 for 500-600 words is acceptable, depending on how long it takes to write those 500-600 words, of course.

New Words: 100 or so on an outline for a story idea. I will embark upon big word count productivity . . . soon. Anytime now. Yep.

Club 100 For Writers
      75

A Sunday of Writing

   


Writing Stuff

Did much writing work stuff yesterday with very little actual words happening. Caught up on some Tangent work, sundry bookkeeping, completed and sent off the answers for my Aberrant Dreams interview, and wrote several crits and thank you notes for Critters.

Received:
- Confirmation of payment (in euros) from my bank from Faeries for “The Storyteller’s Wife.” And I got my contrib. copies! It’s a lovely digest-sized, glossy publication. Very nice production values. But my French skills are balking at my efforts to read it.

- A copy of the Writers for Relief anthology. Another glossy, gorgeous product with beoootiful cover art.

- An email (214-day rt) informing me of a Greek reprint SALE and publication of “When the Lights Go Out” to Ennea (9). It was published in issue #279 (week of 11/23/2005). This story first appeared in issue #5/6 of the UK ‘zine Here & Now. It’s my second sale to Ennea, and their operating procedure is to notify authors after they publish your story, and then they email you a contract/invoice to collect your pay. It’s different, but hey, whatever. The first sale involved some oddity with their check when I tried to cash it due to a Greek bank strike. This time, I think I’ll go with the direct bank-to-bank deposit route.

I’m having a very good week. Three sales in six days! That might be a record for me.

New Words: 100ish on “Rue and Ruin” in a couple editing passes. Beginning my rewrite from Critters feedback. Overall, folks seem to like it, but want me to make my antagonist more three-dimensional–an exceedingly valid suggestion. But also something that requires serious pondering. Plus, I’m somewhat mortified at the number of typos critters have discovered in my manuscript. Doh!

Club 100 For Writers
      67

Laptop anxieties

My laptop has spontaneously turned itself off a couple times in the last few days. The first time, I thought I’d accidentally hit the little hibernation switch which activates when the lid is closed, but the second time I wasn’t anywhere near it. And even if I had toggled the switch, it ought to have put itself into hibernation, not turned itself off. Fortunately, I didn’t lose any data–I hit SAVE like someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Word’s automatic recovery snagged the files I had open both times–but my anxiety levels are spiking.

   


Writing Stuff

Got the interview questions from Aberrant Dreams. For the most part, they’re the normal fun/fluff/quirky silliness I’d expect, but there’s a couple notable exceptions. There’s one question asking my opinions on Kafka and de Maupassant with regard to their modern marketability, and one asking me to deconstruct several works with regard to the psychological impact of their literary technique. Erm. When I read those, I suddenly felt like I was back in grad. school during test time, or maybe filling out grad. applications–you know the kind where they want you to answer a couple essay questions to evaluate your knowledge and writing ability. I’m not sure if I should try to compose a treatise of “Eugie’s Literary Theories”–which I can’t imagine anyone would want to read–or blither about what I think of Kafka, the works in question, et al, or if I should just try to come up with something funny. *blink* It’s certainly an interesting set of questions.

If folks want to see what I come up with, the interview should come out in their January issue.

Received:
- Final approval from the editor on “Princess Bufo marinus, I Call Her Amy.” Woohoo!
- My contrib. copies of Fantasy Magazine #1. (Still awaiting payment, though.)
- An email from Story Station two months after I queried them, letting me know they’re still considering my submission. Going on a total of six months that they’ve held that story. Their GLs say they aim for a one month turnaround and to query after two. Grumf.

New Words:
- 200 or so on the requested editorial changes on “Princess Bufo marinus, I Call Her Amy.”
- 700 on “Rue and Ruin.” I’m beginning to get anxious about the sprawling word count on this one. I’ve still got at least two scenes to go before the end, and less than 1.5K to do them in. Miss Muse is apparently feeling verbose, the contrary floozy!

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10,659 / 12,000
(88.8%)

Club 100 For Writers
      50

500/day
      101

LJ Katrina charity

Went to the little farmer’s tent that’s set up down the road to buy fresh veggies. It’s very charming, there’s a little old man who brings out the produce from the back of his van. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that I’m supporting a little family farm. Of course, fosteronfilm then had to quip up, suggesting that the little old man is just the front to a big corporate farm masquerading as a mom ‘n pop business, and they hire friendly old men to hawk their wares. I “tbthhhed” my hubby and relished the sweet, plump goodness of the ripe tomatoes.

Check out what archer904 is doing! For every comment made to his post, he’s donating a dollar to Red Cross Katrina relief aid. A wonderful and generous gesture! Go forth and comment.

   


Writing Stuff

Received yesterday:
- My contrib. copy of the Embark to Madness anthology. My story, “Perfidious Beauty,” is the lead one. Suhweet.
- The contract from Apex for “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me.” Signed and mailed back.
- Rejection from Roaring Brook Press (via my agent) on my middle-grade novel. Sigh. I would like someone to buy that now. Yes. Publishing voodoo, do! Pleeease?

New Words: 500

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1,500 / 6,500
(23.0%)

Club 100 For Writers
      3

500/day
      68

Blood, blood, and biters

The hospital vampires took their two vials. I’m quite fond of the main technician there. She’s both extremely pleasant and speedy proficient with the sticker. fosteronfilm and I had a discussion about needle technology. He thinks they’ve improved since he was a wee bairn, smaller needles with larger openings or something like that, because overall the blood letting procedure is much less painful and arduous than it used to be. I’m not so convinced that it’s the technology and not just a run of good techs. However, we are agreed that the little plastic collection thingy that allows them to switch vials without having to withdraw the needle is a lovely invention.

In other blood-related news, the vet called with Hobkin’s blood test results. He got a clean bill of health. Hurray! In fact, the vet said that Hobkin’s numbers were VERY good, not just “acceptable” but excellent. The only exception was his calcium levels which, while in the normal range, could stand to be higher. So, more cottage cheese and instant milk for our skunk. I’m just so delighted and relieved that his blood panel came out so well. More proof positive that omnivores thrive on a vegetarian diet.

In less good news, fosteronfilm went out to mow the lawn yesterday, and while he was doing some preliminary weeding, he disturbed a nest of fire ants. They nailed him four times on his hands before he could shake them off. Man, those buggers are vicious. So my hubby spent the next hour icing his bites and the evening in a Benadryl haze. Poor Matthew! And, of course, the lawn went another day without mowing. That’s something we didn’t have in Illinois, fire ants. Scary enough to make burly contract workers scream like little girls and go running pell mell away. In our first year here, we were ye verily puzzled at the behavior of these hairy, macho, grunting men we’d hired when they were constructing our sun room and encountered a fire ant hill. We thought, “It’s just some ants, sheesh” and mocked the big, burly contractors (behind their backs, of course, because we are neither insane nor foolhardy). Since then, we have come to understand the peril and menace which are fire ants. Fortunately, I haven’t been bitten, but considering how much more sensitive I am to insect venom, and how brutal fire ant bites are, I’m hoping to continue that trend. I’ve never been stung by wasp or bee either, so I have no idea whether I’m allergic.


Writing Stuff

Ooo! I received my contrib. copies, the contract, and invoice form for “All in My Mind” that was reprinted in Polish in Nowa Fantastyka. Yay! It’s strange receiving a contract after a story has been published, but it’s not like I’m about to make a fuss. I’m just pleased that I’m going to get paid. Not to mention that I now have copies of this story in a language I can’t read. How cool is that?

And another “ooo!” The Sword Review just published my reprint “Second Daughter.” This must be my week for reprint stuff.