Session 2008 Day 25

This week has been incredibly grueling, and it’s not even over yet. fosteronfilm has had to drive me home twice in three days*, and Hobkin was feeling under the weather on Tuesday (he seems fine now; I think he’s stressed because I’ve been away from home so much).

Bad week, no cookie. Need. Weekend.

One of the unlooked-for silver linings of my laptop being in the shop is that I’ve been catching up on my reading on the train. On the nonfiction front, I’m reading Robert Epstein’s The Case Against Adolescence, which expounds upon a subject I’ve been soapboxing in one way or another since I was 13, which is how the infantilization of young adults and the artificial extension of childhood, as well as people’s preoccupation with ensuring that their children are insulated from anything and everything that has even an iota of hazard in the world, is incredibly dysfunctional for both young people and society as a whole.

A fascinating read, although not particularly revolutionary for me, as I already hold to the belief that young adults are much more capable than most people give them credit for. But Epstein puts it together articulately and presents some historical pretext as well as research findings and ethnographic studies that I wasn’t aware of previously. (For more information about Epstein and his book, check out this Psychology Today article.)

As an amusing cosmic synchronicity, fosteronfilm mentioned that he’d heard my advisor in graduate school, Dr. Laura Berk, on NPR the other day but couldn’t remember what the subject matter was. I continue to hold Dr. Berk in the highest of regard and esteem (I’m also co-author with her on a textbook resource on Child Development—my first taste of that oh-so-addictive “name in print” goodness). So I went out to the NPR website and discovered this article, “The Bryant Park Project,” focusing on play and child development, particularly with regard to executive function—of which a central aspect is the ability to self-regulate**. And I thought it most telling that there’s been a marked decrease in childrens’ ability to self-regulate in the last six decades or so. The fanaticism to safeguard children from the world is retarding the natural rate of maturity and creating increasingly incapable young people.

Gripping stuff (to me, at least), even if it paints a rather bleak prognosis for the state of personal accountability, sound judgment, and capability in general for present and future generations.


* We’ve agreed that if I have to stay at work past 9PM that he’ll come get me rather than me taking the train home.
**Executive function and self-regulation is a good predictor of future achievement and well-being. From the article: “Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, ‘Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain.’”

   


Writing Stuff

Got a(nother) note from a writer asking me whether a review had been published of his collection yet. Not an unusual occurrence, save that this is the third or so such note I’ve gotten from him. And also that he continues to address me as “Dear Editor.” It’s not hard to find my name on The Fix‘s website. Really, it’s not. But it is hard for me to feel disposed to respond to someone who doesn’t take the trouble to address me by name. Maybe I should reply “Dear Writer”…

Yeah, yeah. I’m feeling snarky. Blah. It’s been a taxing couple weeks.

Received:
• 76-day SALE of “Megumi’s Fire” to the Fantasist Enterprises Paper Blossoms, Sharpened Steel anthology. Woot! I lost count of how many people sent me a heads up when these GLs went up, but thankyouthankyou to each of y’all!

Welcome 2008 and Christmas catch up

Back from Christmas with the fam-in-laws. Managed to miss the truly icky weather, although driving up, the winds were fierce. When I stepped out of the car at a rest stop, it almost blew me over. I think we actually got better mileage from the tailwind.

Got much shiny stuff, including this awesome Shakespeare action figure from my brother-in-law and his wife:

A pair of fairy doors from fosteronfilm—they’re both 10″ high, the perfect size for fairy folk. (I think we’ll install the red one in Hobkin’s area so his fey visitors will have a convenient entrance):

And gadgety goodness, my hubby got me a GPS!

Aside from the convoluted, tesseract-esque confusion which are the Atlanta streets, my direction sense (or rather the lack thereof) borders on the tragic. It’s a regular occurrence for me to call home ’cause I’ve managed to get myself lost or turned around and can’t figure out where I am. Hee! Having this gizmo is downright liberating. Now if I can only figure out how to install it directly into my brain . . .

   


Writing Stuff

2007 Writing Year in Review and 2008 Resolutions

2007 was a bit of a mixed year for me. Good stuff and not-so-good, encouraging successes and disheartening rejections, and a worrisome drop in productivity overall.

Looking over 2007′s Writing Resolutions, I determined to:
Finish a novel.
Sigh. I made good progress at the beginning of the year but then was derailed when I got invited to submit to a couple anthologies.
Write 500 words a day, every day, barring weekends, holidays, and the legislative session.
Nope here as well. Again, I made a good start after session, but . . . see above re: derailed. Fooie.
Don’t stress the hamsters and don’t be afraid to turn some away.
Hamsters hamsters hamsters. Lessee, I resigned from my assistant editor position with The Town Drunk, went on hiatus at Critters, and my monthly Writing for Young Readers column ended with 2007. Tangent fell apart (much stupidity there), but within hours of that debacle, I agreed to helm and re-launch The Fix. The Fix is now to the point of taking up about the same amount of time that Tangent did, but for a couple months, it took up all my free (i.e., writing) time. And, of course, I’m still the director and editor of The Daily Dragon, which takes out about a month for prep and organizing.

So my hamsters are still a juggling act in progress.

2007′s highlights and accomplishments, I:
• Agreed to re-launch and helm TTA Press’s The Fix which went live in mid-October.
• Survived another year as The Daily Dragon‘s Editor/Director.
• Made 22 fiction sales, including repeat sales to Realms of Fantasy, Cricket, and Escape Pod, and broke into Interzone and Jim Baen’s Universe.
• Saw 24 works published, including stories in Best New Romantic Fantasy 2, OSC’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Magic in the Mirrorstone, and 3 stories in Cricket.
• Conducted an online workshop on Worldbuilding for the Carolina Romance Writers.

And herein my Writing Resolutions for 2008:
• Finish the ^#$!@# novel.
• Write 500 words a day, every day, barring weekends, holidays, and the legislative session. I really want to focus on this as my word count went way down this year. I only managed to write four new stories (although I plan to complete a 5th before session starts) and 15K words on the novel. 2007 was my least productive year since I started writing professionally. Badness badness badness!
• Be more willing to say “no” when new hamsters come a’beggin’.

Happy 2008 to all!

Skunk: 1; Christmas Tree: 0

So I got an email this morning from fosteronfilm with the subject “Famous last words” reading:

The Germans can never attack through the Arden.
The Hindenburg will work fine on hydrogen.
The Christmas tree will be perfectly safe from Hobkin on the lower speaker.

The last sentence being, of course, foolishly uttered by me this weekend as we were putting up our Xmas decorations. Seems this morning, while I was at work and Matthew was asleep, the fuzzwit pulled some ornaments down, turning one into so much Styrofoam confetti, and terrorized a wooden mouse.

We’ll be moving that tree higher . . .

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
• 619-day SALE of “A Thread of Silk” to Baen’s Universe. Woohoo! This one was definitely worth the wait! I’ve been dying to break into these folks.

New Words:
• 500 words on WiP, “Morozko.” (2785/3500)

Post-Thanksgiving 2007

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

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

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


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

   


Writing Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Pagan Fiction Award finalist – “A Nose for Magic”

So I got a phone call a couple weeks ago from the publisher of BBI Media letting me know that my story, “A Nose for Magic,” is a finalist in the Pagan Fiction Award contest and is slated for publication in their anthology. Unfortunately, I missed the call and it went to my voice mail, but she left a return number. So the next day, I called back . . . and got her voice mail. In addition to leaving a message, I sent her an email.

Several days passed as I gnawed my fingertips (as my nails have, long, long ago, been worn to nubbins). Realizing I needed my fingertips to type with, I emailed the editor.

Crickets chirping.

Agh! Had I been smited by the gods of communication? Had it been a mistake? Did my story actually suck, and they dialed my number in error? Aghhh! *twitch*

But then last night, I got the official press release:

PanGaia Magazine and Llewellyn Publications are pleased to announce the finalists from the Pagan Fiction Award contest. These thirteen stories, listed alphabetically by title, earned the top scores:

• “The Bitter Herbs of Camelot” by A.C. Fisher Aldag
• “Black Doe” by Vylar Kaftan (Yay! Another score for fellow Launchpadee and all around rawking grrl, Vy!)
• “Dead and (Mostly) Gone” by Deborah Blake
• “Draw Down” by Alex Bledsoe
• “From Our Minds to Yours” by C.S. MacCath
• “A Nose for Magic” by Eugie Foster
• “The Rune Hag’s Daughter” by Linda Steele (endelarin)
• “Seabird” by Paula R. Stiles
• “Selk River” by Melodie Bolt
• “Silkie’s Diary” by A.C. Fisher Aldag
• “Under a Double Rainbow” by Sophie Mouette (safirasilv‘s alter ego)
• “A Valkyrie Among Jews” by April
• “We Have Come Home” by A.L. Waldron

First, second, and third prize winners chosen from this list of finalists will be announced at Pantheacon, taking place in San Jose, California February 15-18, 2008.

The stories will appear in a book titled Pagan Fiction Anthology: 13 Best New Pagan Voices to be published by Llewellyn in October 2008.

I’m verily pleased that this story found a good home. It was inspired by and features Hobkin. So, herein, a couple pictures of my non-crack-whore, fuzzy muse:



A close-up of Hobkin’s inspirational nose.

   


(More) Writing Stuff

Received:
• Note from the Cricket folks letting me know that my story, “When Shakko Did Not Lie,” is slated for publication in their January 2008 issue. Woot!

New Words/Editing:
• An editing pass to get my focus back and 250 words on “White Rabbit” (4750/5500). Although the word count was pretty unimpressive, I made good headway on the story progression. I guess I should listen to my crack-whore muse when she drags her feet. I needed a scene in there to establish foreshadowing, and I didn’t realize it. Now that it’s there, I think the rest will progress at a good clip. I hope. I’d really like to get this baby to zero draft by week’s end.


Even Keel Sighted

With most of my Dragon*Con post-convention to-do items squared away, things are finally settling back into what serves as manageable routine for me. I’ve still got too many hamsters in the air, but not so many that I’m perpetually in a state of stressed out frenzy. I’d much rather be busy than bored, but another month like August would send me, twitching and whimpering, to the comforts of my very own padded cell. This year has been hella manic. And I’m still behind on a couple very outstanding projects . . .

Hobkin has started putting on his winter coat, and he’s been gaining a bit of weight. Ergo, it’s official; he’s metamorphosing from a cranky Summer Skunk into a laid back Autumn Skunk, although there’s still plenty of episodes of huffing and stomping at Chez Foster. The fuzzwit only becomes truly mellow when he’s a Winter Skunk. But his thicker, softer coat is a delight to snuggle with, and even though I get anxious about too much weight gain, the plump look suits him:

clickie for more:

Hobkin and me this week. Voices for the Cure now out

Took the MARTA this morning with fosteronfilm. He continued on to Hartsfield-Jackson while I got off at my regular stop. The hubby is heading up to Illinois for the week to visit his mom. I was going to go with, but I sort of burned up all my vacation time to do Launch Pad. Launch Pad was absolutely (incredibly, fabulously!) awesome, but it means it’s just Hobkin and me this week. Fortunately, my ankle feels much better than it did this weekend, and I don’t think I’ll have any trouble as long as I don’t do anything stupid, like re-injure it.

I am, however, a bit trepidatious about Hobkin. Normally, the fuzzwit gets lunch at noonish, fed to him by fosteronfilm. But of course, I’m at work at noon and can’t pop by the house to feed him, working as I do in the heart of Atlanta. So I’m just going to give him extra large breakfasts before I head out in the AM. Big breakfast notwithstanding, I suspect that when noon comes around, he’s still going to be looking for his meal. And this being the first day that Hobkin will have to skip lunch, I anticipate much skunky ire and associated glaring when I get home.

   


Writing Stuff

Maybe I’ll get vasty gobs of writing done this week. Maybe.

Published:
The charity anthology palmerwriter put together to benefit the American Diabetes Association, Voices for the Cure, is now available!

In addition to my story, “An Interesting Week for Emmy,” it features work by such awesome writers as Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick, Cory Doctorow, Lucy Snyder, Mur Lafferty, Davey Beauchamp, and more!

Only $9.05 for the trade paperback and $3.00 for the PDF download. Go buy, yo!


Stuff on My Skunk, or Why I Love Optical Mouses

Busy busy busy, erg. So here’s a couple pix (taken from my new-but-crappy camera phone) of Hobkin as a mouse pad. Stuff on My Skunk! And yes, an optical mouse will work atop a skunk . . . sorta.

I’m going straight to hell, aren’t I?

   


Writing Stuff

Published:
- My August Writing for Young Readers column is now up: “An Interview with Tansy Rayner Roberts of Shiny.”

New Words:
- 300 words on short story WiP, “Hollow.”


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1,980 / 4,000
(49.5%)

Launch Pad: Finis. WAH!

Astronomy camp is over and I want to go baaaaack!!

We wrapped up on Saturday with a discussion on extra solar planets, and Vonda gave all of us a yarn marine critter she’d crocheted as mementos.

Here’s mine perched on the astronomy textbook we received, waiting to be packed for the journey south:

It’s black with silver speckles (although they look purple in this picture; I think a reflection from the textbook) which makes me think of the Wyoming sky at night as I saw it on Friday. I lubs it. *sniffle* I’m in the process of finding the perfect nesting place for it in our library.

Then we went over to Mike’s house to drown our post-astronomy-workshop blues in drunken revelry* along with several of Mike’s students and university colleagues.

Riotous games of Thing were played–with Vy doing an awesome job as Thing Wrangler–as well as several hands of Once Upon A Time. Thing, for folks unfamiliar with it, is a game somewhat like Mafia, except with fewer players, and when folks are Thingafied, they don’t leave play. I haven’t actually played Mafia, so there may be other subtle differences in the rules. (ktempest and Alaya wanted to play Mafia, but we didn’t have enough players.)

samhenderson is a prodigious Thing force to be reckoned with, as she managed to convince folks for several rounds that she could not be Thing because it was simply Too Obvious. Brilliant! If I were a parasitic alien entity intent upon taking over the world, I would so totally invade her first. And, as a public service announcement for anyone who might play Thing with Tempest in the future: even if she’s not Thinged, she’s on the Thing’s side!! Run away!

My flight home on Sunday was uneventful and on time, and Hobkin was pleased to see me. After thoroughly sniffing my face, he attached himself to my hip all night while I babbled nonstop to fosteronfilm about my adventures at Launch Pad. I highly, highly recommend it for any writer even remotely interested in space and science. Go apply for next year, yo!


* Actually, while there were quite a few bottles of booze to partake of, overall, the inebriation wasn’t at the level of, say, a SF convention–that I saw at least. I actually didn’t drink anything until nearly the end of the night when Mike produced a bottle of “Chinese liquor” and foisted it upon folks. From a single sniff of it, I knew that it was potent enough to knock me flat (I believe it was something like sake, but on steroids), possibly potent enough to ignite if you coughed hard enough, so I scampered away and filled a shot glass with coffee liquor as a defensive measure.

   


Writing Stuff

Agh! So much work to catch up on! Ack!! If you’re waiting on a note from me, I’m plowing through my “to do” list as fast as I can. I had problems sending emails while in Wyoming (the university had a common email port blocked as a spam deterrent and the workaround wasn’t ideal) so my correspondences were limited.

Received:
- Payment for “The Snow Woman’s Daughter” which is slated for podcasting in either Escape Pod or the new fantasy spin-off podcast, Podcastle.
- Issue #6 of Fantasy Magazine with my interview with Andrea Kail in it.

Weekend not so productive

Slept pretty crappy last night. Don’t think I would’ve gotten to sleep at all, except fosteronfilm saw I was having a bad night and came over to cuddle me and rub my back. I lubs my hubby. Of course, then I had disturbing dreams (that I can’t remember now–which is probably just as well), and I’ve got a sinus headache. Blah. Not a good start to the week.

But, so this post isn’t just me whining, here’s a picture of Hobkin, who does not suffer from insomnia:

   


Writing Stuff

This weekend wasn’t as productive, writing-wise, as I thought it was going to be. fosteronfilm was planning on attending a director’s workshop, and I figured I’d spend the time he was gone writing. But his workshop was canceled at the last minute, and I spent my time catching up on Tangent and other outstanding writing-related tasks . . . but not actually writing. Sigh.

On an up note, my home office isn’t a safety hazard anymore, just an obstacle course. But at least all the books, magazines, and loose paper are now in tidy stacks rather than strewn in a perilous mess on the floor.

I need to get back on the words-on-the-page horse, or err, hamster.

Published:
- “Beauty’s Folly” in issue #5 of OSC’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. I’m sharing a ToC with Peter S. Beagle!
- “The Center of the Universe” in issue #5 of Helix
- “The Life and Times of Penguin” (reprint) in Part III, the Summer 2007 issue of Farrago’s Wainscot.

Received:
- Note from Aberrant Dreams that “Living with a Shoulder Monster” will be published in July. Yay!
- Email from mroctober with the preliminary cover art for the Magic in the Mirrorstone anthology. It’s puuuurty: