Deleting drama? And V for Vendetta

Erm, several people on my flist (deannahoak, nhw, neil_beren, shawn_scarber, and snurri) have suddenly deleted their LJs in the last few hours. Did I miss something?

Watched V for Vendetta yesterday. I very much liked it. I bet Hollywood was biting its nails about this one, what with the hero using terrorist tactics and all. Natalie Portman did a very convincing job of portraying Evey, a woman whose conscience and sense of moral obligation are crippled by her fear. However, there was a certain gratuitous feel to the superhero element, like it wasn’t necessary for the story. The dystopic vision and the call for the common people to rise up against a corrupt and abusive government were powerful enough without resorting to flashy fight scenes.

The mood of this movie was closer to 1984 than to Zorro, and the action elements felt a bit out of place. Still, there was a certain satisfaction to the beat-em-up parts in the opening, and the action did lighten a movie which otherwise would’ve been pretty grim. I haven’t read the comic book, so I don’t know whether the character of V was fleshed out better in the original source material.

   


Writing Stuff

Finished composing and sent off my answers to Lynne Jamneck’s interview questions.

Also put down a bid for a freelance opportunity. This whole “bid” thing is totally new to me. How much I’ve been paid as a writer has been all across the board, and I’ve never been the one to dictate how much I get.

I definitely want this job, but I don’t want to undervalue myself either. Just because I’ve accepted peanuts for writing something doesn’t mean I think my writing isn’t worth more. It’s a pragmatist thing. If I only make a pittance, it’s still a pittance more than I had.

I’ve got no idea whether my bid was competitive or not. It’s for an article-writing gig which also involves some comprehensive research, and instead of charging an hourly fee for the research and pairing that with a per-word rate for the articles, I bundled everything together into a flat rate for the articles with research included.

Was that the right thing to do? I have no idea. I’m so out of my depth.

New Words/Editing:
- 900 on the Swan Lake story that I’ve been neglecting. Very relieved to be putting some wordage down again on fiction, even if the words came out at 3AM, as in this case.
- 400 on my current freelance gig, plus editing passes on previous words. Hoping to wrap this baby up in the next day or so and get it out the door.

Club 100 For Writers
      29

500/day
      40

Wingstubs and Sister of the Hedge

Wingstubs were a searing ache all of yesterday. Realized that at some point I’ve got to let them rest. Figured it was better for me to choose my downtime rather than have my wingstubs decide for me. So I took a Tramadol and curled up with June’s Realms of Fantasy, Journey to the West, and a skunk.

dsnight‘s story in RoF, “Sister of the Hedge,” blew me away. It’s a dark re-examination of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, told via the POV of adjacent characters. Aurora, Prince Charming, and the fairies et al. are only seen through the lens of legend and superstition. This story illustrates both the best and worst aspects of religion, and combines it with some really chilling imagery. It’s exactly the sort of nouveau-classic fairy tale story that I absolutely adore. Fresh, thoughtful, and lushly told. Go. Read.

I should have some more enforced wingstub rest periods this weekend, which I hope will help. fosteronfilm and I are going to an advance screening of The Da Vinci Code tonight, yukinooruoni and I are having brunch tomorrow, and dire_epiphany is taking us to the opera to see Tosca on Sunday.

See? I’m getting out more.

   


Writing Stuff

My guest blogger post at A Writer’s Vanity, “Stuffing My Eyes with Wonder or Why I Write,” is up.

New Words:
- 200 on the YA novel. Then it just hurt too much. Decided to do the non-chronological writing thing and am hopping scenes. Hoping I won’t have to dump too many of them.

Received:
- Payment from Writing-World.com for my “10 Myths About Writing for Kids” article. Also, the editor sez she’ll probably publish this one in July.
- Payment from my researching freelance gig. Yay, money!
- Email from Surreal informing me that my manuscript is being returned unread because they’re closed to submission right now. Thank you, please come again. Doh!

Club 100 For Writers
      19

Juggling too many hamsters

Hamsters hamsters everywhere!

Between canadiansuzanne‘s son’s hamster, snarkydork_jodi‘s hamster, wicked_wish‘s posting of this adorable hamster-cupcake video, and my offhand comment likening writing fiction to washing dishes while juggling hamsters, I think the cosmos is trying to convey a hamster-illustrated message upon me. (I guess birds was too subtle.) And this metaphysical hamster-dispatch, I believe, is that I’ve got too many hamsters in the air.

Guess now would be a good time to revisit the whole “reinvention” thing. I’ve had friends who’ve “reinvented” themselves. Some have done it multiple times and afterwards they seem pretty much the same to me–maybe with a new wardrobe or new job or some-such, but fundamentally still them.

I’ve never properly understood the underlying motivation that prompts these episodes of self-overhaul. Even after major life changes–like our relocation to Georgia and the loss of my old day job–I didn’t feel like I was reinventing anything. It was the same old me, but in a new place doing different things.

I still don’t get it with regard to the nature of people and personalities, but I think I do understand the mindset and mood that drives it. Sort of. It’s a profound sense of discontent with the grounded and fundamental beliefs or assumptions about yourself, a dissatisfaction with deep underpinnings that require more than a few tweaks or a change in venue.

I’ve been feeling that way about my writing of late. With my frustration about obtaining the “next level,” and my desperation at ever breaking into the Big 3, I’m left with an overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction–and dropped hamsters. Add onto that the glaring inability to make anything remotely like a decent living on short stories (who can survive on $.05/word??), and my failure at maintaining progress on my novels, and I’m left floundering in a big ole morass of reproachful hamsters at my feet.

After wrestling with that for a bit, I think I’ve come up with a solution: I need to put down some hamsters.

What does this mean on a non-abstract, “am I putting down this Siberian hamster or that Roborovskii hamster” level? I dunno, I’m still working on that. But I do know I’m feeling pretty fragmented and way over-stressed these days.

I want to make a living doing what I love, which is writing. That hasn’t changed, nor will it. But what I write, what I focus on, and where I concentrate my efforts, I think that needs a realign. I need to reorganize my priorities or I’m going to burn out. And if I burn out on writing, well, I may as well burn out on life.
   


Writing Stuff

New Words/Editing:
- 1600 on a freelance project. Several editing passes, polished, and sent off to the client. Payment received in less than 24 hours.
- 100 on the Swan Lake story. I shouldn’t have put it down the other day. I was on the verge of hitting flow, and now I seem to have lost my place. And there’s another hamster on the rug, dammit.

Published:
- basletum‘s interview of me for his “Give it Meaning” column.

Received:
- 9-day no grabbie from JJA at F&SF.

I think that might’ve been a dwarf hamster. Tossed him too high and now he’s quivering on top of a bookshelf.

Club 100 For Writers
      16

500/day
      30

Busy busy busy

I was going to pen this rambling, meditative post on “reinventing oneself” but as it turns out, I’m too busy to give the topic the attention it needs. In a nutshell, I’ve been lurching and flailing through some fairly meaningless self-indulgent introspection and dwelling on what to do about it. Maybe I can go more in-depth into the subject tomorrow.

Anyone who knows me personally, it’s nothing to fret or freak about. No major life changes or anything, and mostly to do with my writing. And undoubtedly nothing major there either. Just your everyday angst and agitation.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- 8-hours to a SALE of my nonfiction article “When the guidelines say ‘for children 7 to 12′: An overview of children’s developmental reading stages from a writerly perspective” to Writing-World.com.

This was the article I queried, pitched, and subsequently wrote over the weekend. Plus the editor wants to see the other article I pitched to her, and she pays on acceptance! So yeah-for-sure the contract’s going out in the mail tomorrow. After all the research I did for that mongo freelance gig a few weeks back, I was pretty primed to write this. Using my Psych. degree makes for a happy Eugie. A huge thanks go out to basletum for bringing this publication to my attention!

- Email from the editor of GrendelSong that “The Goddess Queen’s Battlefield” is going to be in issue #2 not #3. Sooner publication, rah.

- 175-days YFOP from RoF, alas.

- At long last, the notes from the editor asking me to turn my middle-grade novel into a picture book. *gulp* Much sleeve rolling up to commence.

New Words/Editing:
- 500 on “When the guidelines say ‘for children 7 to 12′” and several editing passes and reference checks. Obviously, the fork’s stuck quivering up to the hilt in this one.

Club 100 For Writers
      13

500/day
      27

Aeon Flux, Final Fantasy VII, and the Hungarians like me

Thanks to everyone who offered up their insight and wisdom to answer my “what are these flowers?” inquiry yesterday. I think the consensus is that the first is a mock orange and the second some sort of azalea.

Watched Aeon Flux, and it would’ve been passable as meaningless SF fluff if it hadn’t been Aeon Flux. Some of the imagery was excellent, faithful to the weirdness and mood of the animated series, and gave the beginning of the movie an otherworldly feel. However, they emasculated Trevor Goodchild, made him an altruistic goody-good without enough common sense to anticipate a coup (or dodge a bullet). And what they did to Aeon herself! Oof. Patently, with the two main characters so distorted, their relationship lost all the kick (literally and figuratively) from the animated series. Also, none of the clever, caustic dialogue from the animated series was in evidence, and the hackneyed, cliched effort to write a SF screenplay was truly pathetic. It seems that the screenwriters had never done SF before and it shows. They were also going to make Aeon pregnant, but fortunately, saner brains in Hollywood kiboshed that abomination.

Peter Chung was pretty aghast at what they did with his creation. I hope they paid him well.

Still, Charlize Theron was impressive, even more so considering that she did most of her own stunts, even after she’d herniated a disk ten days into shooting. That woman’s got beauty and grace down pat, she does. The commentary track mentioned that she’d been classically trained in ballet, and that’s pretty obvious to anyone who has a smidgen of dance background; the series of grand jetés she does in the movie, leaping from roof to roof, were absolutely flawless. Wire work or no wire work, you don’t get that kind of turnout and extension unless you’ve had a teacher hound and harangue you about proper alignment during your formative years.

Also watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Or rather, I watched part of it and slept through the rest. Granted, I don’t play the game. Actually, I don’t play any computer games; I don’t have the time to commit to a diversion with that sort of addictive potential. I don’t really get the appeal of them–which is absolutely for the best and I’m more than content not to explore this cultural phenomenon on a personal level. But this movie utterly baffled me. The characters, their motivation, the storyline, the world, everything was one big “huh?” The animation was pretty enough, but not particularly engaging. I guess you need the background of the game in order to make sense of it. Even the battle scenes left me blinking.

fosteronfilm managed to sit through the whole thing. His review for anyone curious.

Hollywood has let me down. It’s up to V for Vendetta to restore my faith in shallow, big-budget entertainment.

   


Writing Stuff

Finished up my Apex Featured Writer interview answers and emailed them to merebrillante.

Discovered, to my great amusement, that Galaktika is doing a poll for best story in issue #193. As of this post, “All in My Mind” (or “Minden itt van a fejemben” in Hungarian) is #1, beating out offerings from both Fritz Leiber and Frank Herbert. Woot!

I took a screen shot of the poll so that even if (as I fully expect) I get knocked from the top spot, I will always have proof that once, ye verily, I beat out Fritz Leiber and Frank Herbert.

Stuck a fork in my mongo freelance research project and sent it off. A world of hurray and a continent of whew. That was some big-time brain squeezings. But hard work and stress notwithstanding, I really enjoyed it. (I shall also really enjoy getting paid.) And I’m pleased with my final product; I think I did good. Moreover, I also feel like I did something worthwhile. Helping to put together coursework that will assist teachers in effectively imparting literacy skills to young children gives me a big ole sense of glowy validation.

I guess I hadn’t realized how very much I missed being active in my academic field. I shoved all my regrets and misgivings about going into the private sector totally under the carpet of my subconscious, and they obediently stayed there for over a decade. Probably just as well. I had enough soul-sucking-induced restlessness at my day job without further dissatisfaction to gnaw at me.

Briefly, very briefly, I had a stray “maybe I should try to get my PhD” thought, but that’s really not feasible, or the least bit realistic. But at least I can hope and aspire to do more educational freelance gigs.

If I can manage to get regular work lined up–enough to pay the bills, and that’s a big if–this might be totally doable. I don’t have a problem pulling 12-14 hour days when I love the work, and while I can’t expect all gigs to be as ideal a fit with my interests and background as this one was, this is so much better than being a cubicle monkey.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

It’s our anniversary. Fourteen years ago today, fosteronfilm and I were married in a private ceremony beside a waterfall in the Pocono Mountains. Matthew is my best friend, my sweetheart, my helpmeet, my confidant, my joy, and my sanctuary; he’s my everything.

Happy Anniversary to us!

And, amusingly apropos, a link ganked from teflaime: The Kama Sutra as performed by gummi bears.

   


Writing Stuff

7 out of 7 sections on the research/writing freelance gig completed. Counting on my toes, yes, that is indeed the whole thing. Whee! Donedonedonedone.

Before sending it off, I want to do a few passes for editing and style, and make sure I didn’t contradict myself somewhere or make any embarrassing gaffes. But for the most part, it’s ready to go.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: writing nonfiction is tons easier than writing fiction.

And for my next freelance job, I’ve tentatively tossed my hat into the ring for a gig to write up wedding veil descriptions. Ah, the glamorous life of a freelance writer. Snerk. Until I get concrete specs and confirmation, it’s back to work on le fiction. Except my gears seem in need of oil. I’m having a hard time disengaging from analytical scientist mode and activating creative fantasist mode. *shakes muse*

As a serendipitous segue, I’m writing up my answers for two interviews: my Apex Digest featured writer one (psst: Buy a Best of Apex Digest 2005 chapbook, yo!), and also one from a college student who found her way to my ferret and skunk website, and is writing a paper on animal rights and how the Internet has impacted the movement. So, yeah, I need to make sure I send the right interview to the right interviewer or crazy wackiness may ensue.

Received:
- The tentative ToC from dsnight for Heroes in Training. Tentative still, so I can’t post it, but I can engage in some preliminary squeeage. *squee!*
- 111-day personal “pass” from Fantasy Magazine. They “thought the story was well-written, but . . . ” Snartleblast.

Remington Steele and Apex Digest Best of 2005 anthology

Completed five and a half out of seven sections of my research/writing freelance gig, and the 1.5 sections left are all applied, so I can lay off the theory, note taking, and brain scrunching.

Therefore, with a whole week left until my deadline, I took a little time to breathe this weekend . . . which still translated to 10-hour days working on the project. But having a few hours free in the evening felt pretty decadent to me.

Because Pierce Brosnan is teh hotness, I watched the first four episodes of season one of Remington Steele with fosteronfilm, courtesy Netflix. I didn’t see it when it first aired, but I’ve been curious about it, because, well, Pierce Brosnan and all. It was fun, not terribly well written, but not atrociously so either, but definitely somewhat time-branded. However, it did exactly what I wanted it to do, which is show lotso yummy Pierce–looking very young–albeit in three-piece suits.

So yeah, the second season one disk is going into our Netflix queue.

   


Writing Stuff

This whole writing for pay thing, I like it. It’s nice having the certainty of a paycheck as I’m working on something. It’s almost like having a job. Almost.

Published:
- “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me” in the Apex Digest Best of 2005: Volume II anthology.

Table of Contents:
“Layers” by Mike Simon
“Big Sister/Little Sister” by Jennifer Pelland (jenwrites)
“An Odd Day in I-Forgot” by Athena Workman
“Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me” by Eugie Foster

This sweet little chapbook is only $2.50, and if you buy it with Volume I, both of are only $4.00.

You know you want it. Buuuuy it . . .

Received:
- In a conjunction of timely serendipity, an email from Matthew Tait, editor/reviewer for HorrorScope, letting me know he’d reviewed “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me” in Apex #4.

Blurbage:
“It’s a well-rounded tale with appealing characters, and brushes on incestuous erotica as Sabin – the war vet – tries to veil his feelings for his twin sister who greets him upon returning. An important plot twist involves their servant, with a finale that will not be easy to deduce and is shocking in its shrewdness.”
–Matthew Tait, HorrorScope

And issue 4 of Apex is sold out, so if you want to read the story, you have to buy the anthology.

Beastie updates

Went out to feed the cat this morning, and I saw the teeniest, tiniest, adorablest snail latched onto the edge of her food dish, undoubtedly brought out by the deluge we had last night:


That’s my thumb on the left for size comparison.

I think the kitty knows I’m trying to get closer to her. She’s been visiting and chowing down on the food I set out during the wee hours of the night when I’m unlikely to be peering out the window. Getting a little anxious; I’m running out of leftover ferret food.

In other beastie-related news, Hobkin hasn’t sicked up in over a week, which makes me very, very happy.

   


Writing Stuff

I’ve hit the Eugie-overwhelmed, brain-useless-now stage of my research project, so I switched from poring over theory to writing up the applied sections. Making good progress. I’ve got three out of seven sections completed–give or take a citation or two. Hoping to have a couple more squared away by the end of this weekend.

Received:
- Preliminary sketch from Dragonfly Spirit for “A Patch of Jewels in the Sky.” I know it’s not industry practice to involve the writer in the art selection or development, so I don’t expect to be consulted, but I always really appreciate it when I am. Also, *squee!* I think it’s going to turn out to be quite spectacular.
- 91-day form “no” from Polphony. Sigh.

Back in the office chair and money angst

dude_the flew back to Illinois yesterday, and I’m now playing catch-up (again), trying to make a dent in the mountain of work that accrued when I took a measly three-day weekend off. Three days. I take off three days and I can barely breathe for all the work that’s piled up. Sheesh. I remember a time when I routinely took three-day weekends with blithe unconcern. I don’t miss the circumstances of that luxury, but I do miss the luxury itself.

Our taxes went out on Monday, right under the wire, and spurred by the state of our finances, I went casting around for other sources of income. I was investigating the possibility of writing grants and found one that catered to women writers and poets to the tune of $50K for two years.

“Huzzah,” sez I, “someone trying to help poor, starving writers! I must apply.” But upon further examination, I discover that the grant application requires a $35 application fee. So yeah, they’re supporting poor, starving writers with other poor, starving writers.

Grumble. If I had a spare $35 to toss around, I wouldn’t $@&#! need a grant.

Oh well. I probably wouldn’t have had a chance anyway, being a genre writer and all. Still, foo.

   


Writing Stuff

In better news, I managed to land a very sweet freelance research/writing gig. It’s a short-term contract job with a VERY tight deadline, but it pays nicely, and, get this–I’m still in shock over it–I’m actually getting to use my Developmental Psychology degree. *gasp* I’m researching source material and information for specific coursework on teaching educators of grades K-3.

How absolutely fabulous is that? I actually cracked open my old Child Development textbooks–including the one I worked on in graduate school!–to get me started. I knew I was keeping those around for a reason . . .

I’m so tickled to be able to use my degree, although also a little aghast at how rusty and out-of-date my knowledge base is. (And also by the fact that my APA Style Manual is so outmoded that it doesn’t even mention how to cite Internet sources! Fortunately, the APA website does give out that info.) At least there’s a certain falling-off-a-bicycle feel to it. Once I started getting in up to my elbows, it all started flooding back. And even more amusing, my adviser in grad. school literally wrote the book on the subject I’m researching, so not only is this Dev. Psych. stuff, but this is totally-up-my-alley Dev. Psych. stuff.

But as I said, the deadline’s pretty stringent, which means I’ve shoved several other projects down my Things to Do list that I was working on. I’m hoping to get some of the smaller stuff done in between research jags, ’cause as I well remember from college, if I don’t give my brain a rest when I’m going over the theoretical stuff, I hit a wall where my gray matter becomes an impenetrable chunk of overwhelmed, making it and me quite useless for anything.

I’m using my psychology degree! Squee!

Received:
- Note from Jason Sizemore asking for my Featured Writer reprint story for Apex Online. Y’know what I really like? When editors ask me to send them a story. Yay!

IgNobel and City of If

Haven’t had a drop of alcohol, but my wingstubs were bugging me, so I took a Clonazepam. Now I am loopy. When I try to walk, I stagger and stumble about with my balance all wonkified, and fosteronfilm informs me my speech is slurring. And there’s a certain mild euphoria going on. Wheeeee!

For something completely different: science is sometimes less than lofty. Check out the IgNobel awards. At last, recognition for the uninspired, pointless, and possibly profoundly underfunded scientific research studies. I’m especially amused by the Biology (“A Survey of Frog Odorous Secretions”) and Fluid Dynamics (“Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh”) winners.

   


Writing Stuff

I’m waiting on pins and needles for a couple responses from editors, and as I did my little mailbox pilgrimages yesterday, I was thinking about a a great invention: a mailbox sensor that triggers a buzzer inside the house when a delivery happens. If I had one of those, I wouldn’t have to keep running back and forth between the window and the couch (if I’m lucky and have something outgoing) to see if the flag’s been dropped, or worse, making several fruitless trips to the mailbox and undoubtedly being perceived by my neighbors as the crazy mailbox lady*. This nifty device would ensure that I’d always know exactly when the mail carrier arrived.

That’s just sad, isn’t it? And I’d probably end up like one of Pavlov’s dog and start drooling every time the buzzer went off. Yes, my patience is fractured beyond the telling of it. That muscle don’t work so good.

Thanks to this post of tiellan‘s, I applied for a fantasy writing contract job. Had a phone interview for it yesterday (I cannot stress how very much I suck at phone interviews; written correspondence or face-to-face, it’s all good, on the phone, I fall apart) and I appear to have lined myself up a tentative contract gig. Details to be hammered out in the nearish future, but the plan is that I’ll be doing 6-8 weeks of essentially work-for-hire in Dec/Jan, writing 1-2K word chapters every week for The City of If–an interactive, online RPG gaming site. There’s potential for longer-term contract work if the initial stint goes well. I’m pretty jazzed.

Thanks to a French Critter, I was able to determine that my French reprint of “The Storyteller’s Wife” is either out, or about to come out in the October 2005, (#19) issue of Faeries. On an amusing note, I’m sharing a ToC with Darrell Schweitzer. The cover art:


* Most days I’m too lazy to put on sunscreen to go check the mail because I’m outside for all of half a minute. But exposing myself to the full-on noontime sunny day Georgia UV rays, even for half a minute, is a no-no, putting me at risk for a Lupus flare-up. To solve this conundrum of laziness, I often use a (bright yellow) parasol to shade me during my extremely brief mail outings. I, in my scruffy Resident Evil t-shirt, jammy pants, and parasol, undoubtedly present a curious sight to the neighbors.