Hobkin’s health and post session productivity

The vet called yesterday with the blood panel results, and Hobkin officially has a clean bill of health. The vet used such words as “great” to describe how the fuzzwit’s numbers look and said we were doing a really good job with him. Yay!

This is a healthy skunk, so sayeth the vet:

   


Writing Stuff

Did research this weekend, lots for the novel and a little for my May Writing for Young Readers column (ack, I really need to crank that out and send it off already). Got on a roll on Saturday re: novel. My main concern is that I haven’t got a solid feel for my main character yet. I’ve been loading up on clinical descriptions and case studies of autism and Asperger’s, but I was still experiencing a sort of distance from her, when I really want to get into her head so I can understand who she is and what she’s like, not just what she’ll do.

Plus, I really want to like her too. I mean, I’ve written stories about characters who I didn’t have that rapport with, but for a longer work like this, I think I need to have it. And really, the best stories I’ve written have been ones where I completely empathize with and know my protagonist. But in order to reach that level of awareness requires a certain intimacy and a thorough understanding of what makes her tick; I gotta be able to step into her head completely and seamlessly in order to be able to show who she is to readers.

And hurray, finally, finally, I came across what I’ve been lacking, an excellent first-person account of someone who has Asperger’s–an inside look at an Aspie’s feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and insights. And y’know, it made me wonder even more whether I might fall into the autistic spectrum myself. There was so much there where I found myself nodding along going, “yep, I grok it.” It’s by no means a new speculation for me, but it made me go “hmmm” even more.

And following that bit of reading and rumination, there was cat waxing.

Sigh. Well, at least it was productive cat waxing. Since the beginning of the year, with session and all, I’ve let my files get totally out of order. Normally my organization system is meticulous, but I had four months worth of contracts, correspondences, and rejections strewn around the house, scattered in haphazard piles in my office, lying where I’d opened them in the living room, and dumped in amongst the bills and receipts by an exasperated fosteronfilm (who doesn’t know what to do with my sundry writing paperwork and is generally leery of moving it). Spent several hours sorting everything and filing documents in their proper places. Cheers for getting that taken care of. And now I have no excuse not to crank out wordage.

Published:
- “The Goddess Queen’s Battlefield” in the Spring Equinox issue (#2) of GrendelSong. Woot!


This story was inspired by the Suzanne Vega song, “The Queen and the Soldier,” which, in turn, was introduced to me by britzkrieg. So bows to both Suzanne Vega and britzkrieg for their key roles in summoning my muse.

Contents:
“The Goddess Queen’s Battlefield” by Eugie Foster
“Maixgloan” by Christopher Heath
“Pretty Mary” by Samantha Henderson
Featured Poet: Catherynne M. Valente
“Contraception throughout the ages and cultures: a short overview for a fantasy writer” by E. Sedia
“The Gods-forsaken World” by Steve Goble
“The Glaring Inaccuracies of the Bards” by Berrien C. Henderson
“By the Light of the Dark” by Stephanie Burgis

New Words:
- 1020 on The Novel: working title Fox Princess.

And so it begins.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1,020 / 40,000
(2.5%)

Sine die and Sevoflurane

The legislature adjourned sine die on Friday at midnight. elemess and terracinque escorted me to the House Gallery to witness a legislative tradition. As the session winds to an end–characterized by an auctioneer-esque introduction of bills on the calendar by the Speaker and rapid-fire voting*–the Representatives start ripping up bills until they’ve amassed big piles of confetti. When the Speaker announces sine die and thumps his gavel to adjourn the session, they toss these into the air, creating a joyful blizzard of paper. It was very festive, and I wish I’d had my camera. I’d actually brought it to the capitol with me, but in the rush to the gallery, I forgot it. But elemess went back to get his and captured the confetti flurry.

And so, in a whirlwind of fluttering paper, it’s official. I survived my first session!

To celebrate, we took Hobkin to the vet yesterday. Yah, it wasn’t so much to celebrate, but we’d been putting it off until after session to make sure I could be there.

As vet visits go, it wasn’t too bad, certainly not as traumatic as last time, thanks almost completely to Sevoflurane (Ultane). Yep, we gassed Hobkin so the vet could do the exam. fosteronfilm and I were very hesitant about it, as neither of us liked the idea of Hobkin being put under a general anesthesia. But Hobkin huffed and growled at the vet as soon as he got close to him–after letting strangers pet him in the waiting room without even blinking. It was pretty obvious the lil guy wasn’t going to let the vet touch him without a major fight. So, weighing gassing him versus totally stressing him out by having to restrain him, the gas seemed like a better idea. We didn’t like it, but, hell, animals have died from heart attacks from the stress of being restrained too. Plus, Sevoflurane is safer even than Isoflurane, which was the gold standard in safe anesthesia gases.

They rolled in a portable gas unit. I insisted upon being the one to restrain Hobkin and hold the mask over his face to put him under. Frankly, I don’t think anyone else could’ve done it as the fuzzwit didn’t like the apparatus or the sweet smell of the initial oxygen and fought it. But he’s less likely to freak out if I’m holding him, and he’ll tolerate being restrained best from me. The vet gave him the lightest dose possible, so light in fact that Hobkin woke up at the needle prick when the vet tried to draw blood (and failed). I was actually glad that Hobkin woke up, so I knew how lightly he was under. ‘Course they had to increase the concentration then to get him under again, but I knew he wasn’t out deep.

There were two vet assistants helping, one of which I really liked. He kept his hand on Hobkin the whole time he was out, with a finger right over his heart to make sure it was still going strong. And when the vet couldn’t draw blood after several tries, he handed the needle over to this assistant who got it on his first try.

Poor Hobkin. I’ve had less-than-stellar phlebotomy experiences where they’ve had to jab me multiple times and moved the needle around trying to find my vein. I suspect he’s probably sore and possibly bruised today.

The vet was able to do a complete exam while Hobkin was out, including a good look at his teeth. I peered over the vet’s shoulder so I could see them too. Normally, I’m limited to gazing into Hobkin’s mouth when he yawns and pulling his lips back when he’s asleep to check his gums. I saw tartar and a bit of redness, but the vet said that he looks pretty good, better than a lot of five-year-olds skunks he’s seen, and that he doesn’t need to have his teeth cleaned yet. He recommended we try Pounce Tartar Control cat treats since Hobkin’s ambivalent about the Greenies.

Then they switched him to oxygen, and Hobkin snapped right awake–looking quite startled, like he had no idea where he was or how he’d gotten there. I cuddled him, Matthew paid our bill, and home we went.

I think Hobkin’s a little grumpy at us. And skunks do a pretty good miffed:

After stomping at us and doing a couple skunk laps around the house, he scampered under the hutch to sulk:

But he came out later to snuggle and sleep with me after dinner, so it seems we’re forgiven. And we should get the results of his blood work back tomorrow.


* Which is amusing to listen to and watch until one realizes that nearly all the bills are passing without any sort of discussion or debate. But at least those bills should be Conference Committee substitutes which, theoretically, have been hashed out in committee.

   


Writing Stuff

Did some more novel research. Gearing up for the effort. Trying to set myself reasonable word count goals. If I can manage 500 words a day (assuming 5 days of writing a week), I should be able to complete a 40K YA novel in 4 months. Theoretically.

Received:
- Galley proofs from Darker Matter for “The End of the Universe.”
Three painfully near misses:
- 19-days to a “We really like this story, and we held it until the final cut. Typeface, however, is notoriously inelastic, which forces us to return stories we might otherwise have bought” from the Sword & Sorceress 22 anthology. Wah! I’d really thought this one was a good fit. And I would have loved to have broken into this fantasy institution anthology series.
- 7-day “This is charming, whimsical, and funny, but . . .” from Spacesuits & Sixguns with a charming, whimsical, and funny invite to submit again.
- 61-day “After a great deal of discussion, we ultimately decided to pass on it. We liked this story a lot, but . . . ” from Shiny with a “would love to see more submissions from you.”

Ouch, ouch, and ouch. While these types of rejects are far better than say-nothing forms, and I greatly appreciate the editors taking the time to give me a nod and kind word, they’re also absolutely agonizing.

Hobkin’s 5th Birthday

It’s Hobkin’s birthday! The fuzzwit is five years old today. According to American Domestic Skunk Association skunk show standards, five years qualifies as a senior skunk. So far, Hobkin doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Thankfully.

We’re baking a cherry pie for him to celebrate his birthday. He’ll get a small slice. I anticipate sticky paws . . . and nose and fur.


Big smile for the camera!

Clickie for more birthday-skunk pix

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.

4AM awake bad

Blah. Woke up at 4AM this morning. The motion detector light went off outside and made it seem like twilight to my fuddled senses, thereby rousing me. Since I was awake, I decided to check email and then go back to sleep. Big mistake. Huge. Checked email, and three hours later, I was still awake, so went upstairs to work in the library. Now the dearth of sleep is hitting me, but if I nap now, I’ll lose the day.

Should I take an Adderall and have some tea or go back to sleep? Decisions, decisions.

My brain’s too muzzy to be coherent, therefore I give you skunk pictures:


With Hobkin, it’s often a puzzle figuring out which end is the head. fosteronfilm calls him a skunk-fungus when he’s like this–striped mushroom skunk. Yep

Click for head shots:

Hobkin’s 4th B-day: tomorrow

Wingstubs hurting me a lot these last couple days. Not helping my stymied writing mindset. But, since it hurts to make words, I give you pictures!

It’s Hobkin’s birthday tomorrow. The lil guy will be four years old.


Hmm. He looks a bit depressed. Is four a big milestone year among skunks, I wonder?


I don’t think he wants a lot of fanfare for this birthday. I bet he’ll feel differently when it’s cake time.

   


Writing Stuff

Published:
I saw on the Galaktika website that #193 is out with my story “All in My Mind” in it, in Hungarian. Looking forward to getting my contrib. copies . . . and check. The cover’s very SFnal shiny:

Received:
- An editing tweak request for my Aegri Somnia story, “Nothing of Me.” Pondering.
- Note from the Modern Magic editor asking me to confirm my mailing address for my contrib. copy. Must be getting close now . . .

My inner child is indistinguishable from any other inner me

Yep, I’m a grown-up adult (so says my driver’s license and mortgage). But it’s the comforts I treasured as a child that inevitably give me peace when I’m seeking a bit of serenity, not the more sophisticated pleasures I’ve acquired a taste for–which, while enjoyable and enervating, can’t give me that tranquility I remember taking for granted as a little girl. I’m fully convinced that we are who we were, no matter how many years we rack up. It’s the folks who suppress their childhood indulgences who are deceiving themselves.

Insight brought on by a Saturday spent pandering to my inner child, starting off with a several hour marathon of Saturday morning cartoons. Ever since I was a wee girl, I have loved spending Saturday mornings camped out on the floor in front of the TV, basking in animated goodness. Sure with the cartoon network, the Disney channel, and other cable cartoon outlets, I can (and often do) watch cartoons whenever I like, but there’s something special about waking up on Saturday for them.

Netflix sent both Madagascar and MirrorMask. Perfect inner child food.

I’d heard some questionable reviews about Madagascar, and I’m way underwhelmed by Chris Rock and Ben Stiller, so I went in not expecting much, but I ended up totally charmed. The penguins were brilliant, but even the Rock/Stiller dyad was well done. And, of course, the various homages stuck in for the parents to appreciate were gigglesome. Very much enjoyed it.

MirrorMask was gorgeous. I loved the fairy tale mood, although there was a certain “This is a metaphor! *bam bam* We’re being deep! *thump*” happening too. But aside from the ham-fisted extolling to revel in the symbolism NOW, it was absolutely lovely. Reminded me of Labyrinth, which I guess is an inevitable comparison, since the hand of Henson was in both. But MirrorMask is an older, more sophisticated movie than Labyrinth, with characters that are unnerving and alluring instead of just cute and fluffy.

And I got a package in the mail from zhai, a GoPets t-shirt for Hobkin! An opportunity to inflict “dress up” upon the fuzzwit. Mega thanks, zhai!

Now Hobkin isn’t exactly receptive to the idea of wearing clothes, so my first foray into getting him into the shirt was a dismal failure:


“You want me to do what? No way.”
More pix of the epic struggle:

Hobkin squeaks, a good night’s sleep, and signs

Hobkin is a very silly animal. I went downstairs yesterday after working in the library all day to discuss and start dinner prep with fosteronfilm, then made to go back upstairs to lug down the interim desktop I was using while my laptop was in the shop. I wanted to hook it to our network and retrieve the files stranded on it, but the fuzzwit apparently thought I was going back up to work for another cluster of hours and was dismayed. The little guy started squeaking.

It’s the silliest sound I have ever heard an animal make–like a wheel in desperate need of oil on helium. Of course, I turned right around and went back to reassure and cuddle him (leaving fosteronfilm to retrieve and set up the computer). I can’t post the sound he made, but here’s a picture that illustrates how Hobkin is so not an animal of dignity and grace:


I wonder if this is the skunk equivalent of “Live long and prosper”?

   


Writing Stuff

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do to quell a minor freakout. I’m feeling much better, totally over my quakes and anxiety.

When I woke up, my head was brimming with ideas for how to simplify the opening of my novel to make it more accessible to a younger audience, as well as thoughts on how to block out the chapters I’ve currently got into panels and picture pages. It seems like my sleeping self has made my decision for me. Barring some unforeseen weirdness, I’m going to go for the picture book effort. I was pretty much headed there, but it’s reassuring to know my unconscious is in sync with my conscious.

I find I’m rather looking forward to the challenge of preparing a picture book manuscript out of my novel. At least I won’t have to wring my brain coming up with new characters or settings or story lines. It doesn’t hurt that I am utterly enchanted by the idea of having my tale accompanied by lavish, beautiful illustrations.

The editor is sending me her notes and a few examples from her publishing house of what she has in mind to give me an idea of the length, complexity, and scope I should aim for. I’m going to wait to see these before I start (and before I give them my official “I’m game”), but in the interim, I’m re-reading my novel to once again familiarize myself with the voice and mood I used, as well as any details I may have forgotten since the last time I looked it over.

In the next couple days, I’m going to try to clear off as much Tangent and The Town Drunk work from my plate as I can, as well as try to check off all the outstanding stray issues hovering about my “things to do” list. I want to be able to approach this project with focused concentration at the start. So if folks need me for something and have been holding off on dropping me a line, better do so now while I’m in rapid-fire-just-do-it mode.

I’m very glad I finished the first draft of “Honor is a Game Mortals Play” so I’m not having to ping-pong back and forth between these two projects. Barring a deluge of critiques of the “this-totally-sucks you-call-yourself-a-writer? Hah!” variety coming back on it, I anticipate the rewrite will go smoothly. I typically find rewrites fairly easy on my writer muscles . . . I say as I gear up to embark upon the biggest “rewrite” I’ve ever contemplated. Erm.

Received:
The editor of Dragonfly Spirit sent me a sneak peek of the March cover. The artwork features my story, “Kaawwa, Naagan, and the Queen’s Diamond Necklace”! She also kindly gave me permission to display it:

Isn’t it gorgeous? And again, I’m reminded how much I love seeing beautiful artwork come about as a result of the words I scribble on the page. Were I one to believe in signs and portents delivered from the Great Beyond, I would see this as a really good one.

Things that make me giggle and grin

My posts have been full of gloom and grump of late, so I wanted to make a post of airy lightness and fluffy skunks. And then my network card belly-uped, so I can no longer access the Internet on the computer upstairs, Hobkin sicked up his lunch, and HP still hasn’t shipped back my laptop.

*gurgle* Calmblueocean. Calmblueocean!

I could really use some humor. Fortunately, my flist/reading list is chock full of excellent writers, Hobkin, though ill is still undeniably cute, and the AP occasionally throws me a bone.

The bone(r): Dick Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter. Yup. Our country’s esteemed VP went quail shooting and shot a lawyer. Nope, it’s not an Onion article. This is legit.

Okay, that giggle fix was unmitigated schadenfreude. Bad me. (*snerk*) For something completely different (and wholesome), skunk pictures:


Blah . . .

Herein a shot of Hobkin displaying his disdain at being flashy-thinged, and a close-up of his nose

Lamenting the Egregiously Americentric Media

Gah! I shouldn’t be shocked or surprised when our media provides yet another example of appallingly Americentric coverage, but I am. First there was the Greek bank strike, a bit of information I discovered only because I had to contend with a returned check fee from Greece, but now it seems that our media does not deem the Basque country’s efforts to secede from Spain as worthy of coverage. Instead, we get Michelle Kwan’s groin injury. Major sociopolitical upheaval in Europe, or pulled groin muscle . . . I can see the importance o’reporting scales wobbling there.

When I happen to catch snippets like these, I have to wonder what other huge chunks of global news I’m missing out on.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- 120-day “sincerely regret that we’re unable to accept it” from my Cricket editor. Encouraging comments as ever, but a “no” is still a “no.” Pook. She did, however, mention my blog, and put in a request for more Hobkin pix. As I am never one to deny an editorial behest:


Hobkin, curled up on fosteronfilm‘s lap, being a Daddy’s skunk.