Things I wish I’d told myself . . .

Ganked from various folks:

10 things I would tell to my 12-year-old self:

1. DON’T take Russian in high school. Take Latin! Take LATIN!! Or, French. But by God and all that is holy, don’t take Russian! You’ll never use it and forever lament that you don’t have a solid background in Latin. You can take French, but you’ll do it in college as an easy A, so it can wait.

2. You’re intelligent and beautiful. Don’t listen to the asshats who call themselves your friends who are trying to convince you otherwise. If you do, it’ll take you years to get over their dysfunctional, passive-aggressive mind games.

3. Take the damn PSAT, you fool. You rawk at standardized tests. Is there a reason you want to throw away the opportunity for college scholarship money? And also, while we’re talking standardized tests, do a little prep for the ACT and SAT. When we prepped for the GRE, we totally blew it away. Think about how much better you’ll score if you’d just cracked a book or two.

4. When you decide in a year or so that it’d be fun to color your hair blue, don’t. Or, if you’re really intent upon blue hair, don’t let your friend who’s going through beauty school do it. Down that path lies tragedy and tears. Well, maybe not tragedy . . . or tears. But a lot of blue on everything.

5. There’s nothing you can do about your mother. Sorry. Deal with her as best as you can. But on the positive side, she becomes a non-issue as soon as you leave for college in four years. On a related note, when your mother finds out your dad is helping out with your college tuition, don’t let her go after him with her lawyers to fulfill his child support debt, because as soon as she starts legal proceedings, he’ll disappear again, and his monthly checks will too. And even though she caused your academic financial dire straits, she won’t do anything to get you out of them.

6. Quit worrying so much about what other people are thinking about you. They’re not. They’re too preoccupied worrying about what other people are thinking about them. And the ones that are spending their time judging you? They’re shallow losers who will end up as college drop-outs working pizza delivery jobs or secretaries clinging to the past in a smoky haze.

7. Revel in your health. It’s not going to last. Your body’s going to fall apart pretty quickly, so enjoy it while you can.

8. Don’t let the next four years derail your dream of being a writer. If you do, it’ll be over a decade before you pick it up again. You’ll lose years when you could have been polishing your craft, taking creative writing classes, and getting published.

9. The guy you’re going to fall in love with in the next few months? He’s a jerk. In fact, most of the guys you hook up with in the next couple years are going to be total losers. Have fun with them, but don’t take them too seriously. And y’know the guy you’ve had a crush on since first grade? He’s not for you. He’s going to grow up to be just like his parents, and you know what they’re like. Your true love is someone you don’t know yet. You’ll meet him in college. Trust me.

10. You’re a wonderful person. You’ll come to see that in time, but it would really cause a lot less heartache if you’d just accept that now.


Writing Stuff

Heard back from the editor of Apex Digest. He approved of my rewrite and wants to publish “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me” in their Winter 2005 issue, #4. Hurray!

Also saw a review from Bluejack in the July IROSF of “The Life and Times of Penguin” (in the current issue of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine) that made me grin. It’s a wry grin, but a grin nonetheless:

“Of all of the stories, only Eugie Foster’s The Life and Times of Penguin really managed to stick in my craw. But I managed to get it out, and my craw is doing fine now, thanks. (Foster trots out the usual objections to any sort of loving God, and shoots down the usual straw men. You’re either going to agree wholeheartedly, or, if you’re to my way of thinking, you’ll pound the table grumbling “That’s not the point.” But if you’ve ever talked religion with anyone, this will be nothing new. And the story’s fine.)”

Now, that makes me wonder, has Bluejack not read Candide by Voltaire? “Penguin” is as high an homage I can make to that amusing work, not to mention my salute to a balloon animal a sweet old man made me. Ah well. I am sort of disappointed, overall, with the caliber of Bluejack’s reviews in IROSF. A lot of it is how sketchy his coverage is. He only touches upon one or two of the stories in each issue of any ‘zine he reviews. I suppose it’s because of the bulk of material he has to cover, but I’ve been published in several issues that he’s “reviewed” and received nothing but a dismissive synopsis. And the one tale of mine that he does deign to give more than passing attention to, he objects to on religious principle. I end up with a dismissive “the story’s fine.” Well fooie.

New Words: 600
On a new folktale.

Club 100 For Writers
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Tagged again!

I ducked, I dodged, but amberdine tackled me, fair and square. I have been tagged.

List 5 reasons why you are a geek. And make them good reasons. Justify them. Explain them. Be loud and proud about how big of a geek you are! Then pick the 5 biggest geeks you know and have them do the meme.

1. I think men in stormtrooper uniforms, tights, cloaks, chainmail, and fangs (not necessarily all at the same time) are sexy. Even better if they can also quote scenes from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and use “grok” in a sentence. Likewise, men who can tear duct tape without using a knife, can set up a computer network from scratch, and who sew their own costumes turn me on.

2. The idea of a weekend long D&D gaming marathon makes me happy.

3. An afternoon spent at the Office Depot, spending a $20 gift card, is my idea of a fun outing. I like fondling Sharpie markers and went “squee” when fosteronfilm got me a USB flash drive for Christmas.

4. Editing is teh fun. I have grammatical pet peeves and become insufferably smug when I eradicate (someone else’s) tyops.

5. I went to a high school where the only winning teams were chess and math club. It also didn’t even have (and still doesn’t have, and probably never will have) a football team, although it routinely earns the distinction of the school with the highest class average ACT scores in the country. Go, Uni!

There are far too many geeks on my flist to pick five. Do the meme if it floats your socks, I sez.

And, for Monday fun, check out The Brick Testament, Bible stories illustrated with Legos. (Link ganked from the lovely and talented patricia_kirby.) And for something more secular, the award-winning “Blade of the Bunny” by dsnight, again illustrated with Legos. (Monday’s theme?)

Feeling much better today. Yesterday’s sale was just the thing to perk me right up. I’m such a sales junkie.


Writing Stuff

Started a new short story, a dark thing. It promises to be longer than flash, but relatively short. I’m hoping less than 4K.

New Words: 1000

Club 100 For Writers
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500/day
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Attack of the plot bunnies!

fosteronfilm is volunteering for the Atlanta Film Festival this weekend, so I’m hoping this will be a big writing time for me. At least it means I will not have to be subjected to any more short film festival entries for a couple days. The Dragon*Con office sent a HUGE box of them. Watching them is like reading slush that you have to listen to and watch. Glah. My eyes.

A couple more Poll answers:

Anne Fitten Q: “If you could have lunch with one living writer, who would it be?”
A: Ooo, that’s a hard one. My first knee jerk reflex is to exclaim “Tanith Lee!” because she’s had such a huge influence on my writing. But then when I think about it some more, I think I’d rather pick Joss Whedon’s brain. Or perhaps just worship at his feet.
dean13 Q: “Which seminars, lectures, books or websites about writing, if any, taught you the most about writing stories?”
A: Ann Crispin’s 2000 Dragon*Con writers workshop was a turning point. It’s when I started getting serious about writing, instead of just wanting to be a writer and not doing anything about it. Although I think I learned more about the business and promotion side than the actual technical skills. I picked up some good tips on writing as well of course, but it gave me some really important career advice, which is what I needed. I learned some plotting and storyline basics from kijjohnson when she ran several panels on writing at . . . I think it was GenCon. It was a convention. I don’t think it was Chicon, but my memory’s somewhat fuzzy on that specific.

In the end, though, the thing which has taught me the most about writing, aside from simply sitting down and doing it, is getting feedback from readers, as well as giving it in the form of critiques. Analyzing what works in other people’s writing, and hearing what doesn’t in my own, has really helped my writing take off. I think it’s given me confidence in my own writerly instincts, and it’s honed my ability to pick apart the works of writers I enjoy so I can grok their technique.

More questions? Get ‘em while they’re hot!


Writing Stuff

New Words: 500
Working on the WIP and I realized that I had been overrun by plot bunnies.

They bred and bred, and I ended up with too many ideas for a story of this size. So I gathered up the stray bunnies, sorted the boy bunnies from the girl bunnies, and corralled them off into a comfy MS Word file, because they were running roughshod over my story.

Then I weeded out a few more plot bunnies that had snuck back in when I wasn’t looking, cleaned up the mess they’d made.

Lo and behold, when the last tuft of plot bunny fur had been swept up, and the final bunny pellet dispensed with, I was done! Zero draft, baby! Woohoo! The story ended up being a little longer than I expected, but it’s still within “not a novelette” range. Did a couple more passes and then handed it over to fosteronfilm to first reader. He gave me his comments before going comatose last night. Going to incorporate them, do a couple more passes to bring it to first draft status, them load it up to Critters.org.

Club 100 For Writers
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Stormy Friday

I really love the stormy weather we’ve been having of late. The overcast darkness is so soothing and magical. I’ve always preferred summers over cold weather, but I’ve never liked the sun–which is good because sunlight triggers my flare-ups. This is perfect.

Poll answers:

horrordiva Q: “When will Hobkin get an LJ?”
A: Eee! No! I already spend far too much time on LiveCrack. If Hobkin had his own little blog, I’d never have time to write. I already channel him IRL. I utterly humiliated myself in front of dude_the once when I didn’t realize he was awake on our balcony while I was downstairs making breakfast. I had a whole conversation with Hobkin, complete with his vocalized replies. I do not need the public to partake of that particular facet of my madness.
jmeadows Q: “$500 and an office supply store. what do you buy?”
A: Ooh, good question. The shiny, avaricious possibilities! Okay, first for the practical stuff. I’d stock up on printer ink cartridges, blank paper, and #10 SASE and 9×12″ submission envelopes. I’d also pick up a pile of those pocket folders. They’re what I store my paper correspondences in–rejections, sales, contracts, galley proofs, etc. I use one per story, and they can be ridiculously expensive for a couple pieces of colored cardboard with inside pocket flaps. Then I’d go to the stuff which are things I can use, but are less on the “urgent” needs, like a USB optical mouse for my laptop, an ergonomic USB keyboard, and a lap desk. Then, then I’d splurge on some fun, totally frivolous stuff, like sharpies in fun colors, gel pens, trinkety organizer doodads, and silly paper clips in fun colors and shapes. I’m an office supply geek. I think markers and art supplies are fun.

Got any more? Get your questions-for-Eugie answered now!


Writing Stuff

Apex Digest #2 with the interview of me in it is out! Quite looking forward to getting my copy. Check out the pulpariffic cover art:

Received a rejection for an anthology. They thought my story had merit, but had too much sex and adult language for their collection. Oops. It was a horror anthology! I didn’t realize it was supposed to be PG.

My bank also returned my Greek check from 9 unpaid, and to add insult to injury, they charged me $6.50 in handling fees! I’ve emailed the editorial secretary of 9 to try to get this sorted out. But this is quite upsetting.

New Words: 100
Hammered out the bare minimum. Sketched out a twisty idea for the very end, but didn’t feel motivated enough to finish it.

Club 100 For Writers
7

Reassured that I’m not at death’s door

Whew. My blood test results came back normal. Apparently, my white cell count being down before was a fluke. What a relief.

My neck’s also better. fosteronfilm gave me neck rubbins and I swallowed many Aleves and a Tramadol, along with some gin (not a combination I normally either recommend or engage in, but desperate times . . . ). One drug or other, or all of them together in a synergistic whammy, succeeded in helping matters. It made it so I could tilt my head slightly and nod it before it hurt. And I’ve still got a modicum of mobility back. It’s a long way from a-ok, but any improvement is a relief. I noticed something interesting in my quest for pain relief. I got zero happy effects from the alcohol. Normally I’m an embarrassingly easy drunk. A single shot of gin, glass of wine, or bottle of wine cooler or other alchopop and I’m well on my way to unintelligible slurred speech and diminished dexterity. This time I felt the gin hit my lungs like it always does, but I didn’t get any of the cognitive effects. I think they all went to suppress my neck pain. Interesting.

While waiting for the pills and gin to kick in, we watched The Stepford Wives, the new one with Nicole Kidman. Surprising myself, I enjoyed it. They did a nice little twist with the ending that was different from the original, giving it a nice spin, and went a long way to vindicating the existence of a re-make. Many of their jokes elicited a chuckle from me. It was fun.

More poll answers:

roget Q: “Do you think of yourself as cool?”
A: I dunno. It’s not the first adjective that pops into my head when I’m being self-analytical. Sometimes, I suppose I do. Mostly I think I’m spastic or geeky, silly and sincere, periodically playful and lascivious. fosteronfilm often thinks I’m adorable and exasperating, and I see myself through his eyes more than I see myself through my own, if that makes any sense.
elmwood Q: “What was the first SF book that made you a fan?”
A: Urf. Straining to remember through the foggy miasma of time. Criminy. My first science fiction love was probably A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I had to read it for school in, I think, fourth grade, and I loved it. But I also enjoyed The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster at a young age that might have preceded it. And I was a huge fan of fantasy before then–Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Prydain Chronicles, The Wind in the Willows–plus I had an avid passion for world mythology and fairy tales. Science fiction fandom was inevitable based upon my love for all things fantastical.

Any more?


Writing Stuff

New Words: 850 new, 300+ culled in editing.
Wrote the climax, although I skipped a transition scene to get there. Need to go back and fill in that part and get down the denouement, but I’m tantalizingly close to “the end.” Hurray! Looking over it, I find myself wondering if it would be a good fit for a YA market when it’s done.

If I finish it today, I can foist it upon fosteronfilm and maybe have it in the Critter’s queue by next week.

Club 100 For Writers
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Fused spine and the Eugie-Poll answering continues

My neck has stiffened to the point where I can’t turn, lift, or lower my head without shooting pain. If I stand up, it hurts, if I bend over, it hurts. Jumbo-size, prescription-strength Motrin pills don’t even take the edge off. This is ridiculous. What the hell did I do? Just in case it’s a joint thing, and because my Rheumatologist always asks at my followups if I have neck pain, I had fosteronfilm call their office yesterday afternoon and let them know that I’m effectively fused solid from chin to collar. They didn’t call back, so I guess it’s not life threatening. Feh.

[edit: They just called back. Minor symptom of Lupus, they said. Moist heat and OTC pain meds to treat it. Reassuring that it's not a major concern, but I still can't turn my head.]

More poll answers:

jackzodiac Q: “how did you get the skunk? becuase I want one”
A: After seeing puskunk at Fantasm with a lil girl skunk up his sleeve (she was part of his costume), I became absolutely enthralled with the idea of a skunkie of my very own. I need to have a fuzzy animal in my life, but I’m allergic to cats and dogs. We’d kept ferrets, but were looking for something bigger, something more affectionate that didn’t require caging. We were researching greyhounds because of their temperament, and ’cause they were easier on my allergies than other breeds. But when we saw the skunk, we had to know more. We went to a skunk show in Florida to research them (and make very sure I wasn’t allergic to them–I picked up and hugged a LOT of skunks at that show), got information on a specialty breeder in Iowa, and when baby skunk season came around, we drove cross country to pick Hobkin up. More details, pictures, and other highlights at his website.
nhw Q: “Why Atlanta?”
A: Why not Atlanta? *ba da ching* Actually, we chose to live in Atlanta because of a myriad of factors. When we were looking to relocate from the Midwest, it was between San Francisco, London, and Atlanta. San Fran’s cost of living was too ridiculously high to consider, not to mention that California’s pet laws are way too rigid. Both ferrets and skunks are illegal to own there! London was too impractical for more reasons than I can list, a main one being citizenship and all that entails. So that left Atlanta. I love Atlanta’s climate, it’s beautiful native flora and fauna, the size of the city–not too big, not too small–and how metropolitan and diverse it is. We’re both fans of the restaurants and shops, and the mix of new and old. Also, when we moved here, the traffic situation wasn’t quite so insane.
pagmatic Q: “Hey I posted a question–where did it go?”
A: The poll gods were displeased! Note to self: next time increase the form size for open ended polls.
brother_bliss Q: “Who was your favorite villian to kill off?”
A: Hmm. Actually, I very rarely kill my villains. For that matter, I don’t typically use classic villains in my fiction. I guess my favorite kill would be the cyberstalker in “Cyberevenge Inc.” He was one of the rare “real” villains I’ve written, and I quite enjoyed his grisly and bloody demise. It was a cathartic story to write, inspired by my own rather nasty experience with a cyberstalker. Therapeutic gore. Yum.
hyperscoot Q: “What is your favorite story type to read?
A: Depends on my mood. I love the sensual, immersive tales that Tanith Lee weaves, as well as the visceral adrenalin rush that Harlan Ellison stories evoke, and the thoughtful and satisfying novels by Heinlein and Herbert. I love vampire stories and fantasy adventure, drowsy magic realism tales and humorous space opera. I adore dystopic tales of cyberspace and happily-ever-after tales where the hero wins his lady love, and I get totally enthralled by sexy thrillers. I guess my favorite story is simply a good one.
teflaime Q: “Should I learn to use the paid account features?
A: Since you’re paying for them, then yeah, you probably should. There’s a bunch of cool features paid accounts have, not the least of which is being able to personalize your layout. Personally, I’m a big fan of the extra user pictures. And I’ve been making good use of the syndication-to-LJ ability.
amberdine Q: ” Err… what exactly *are* wingstubs?”
A: I get that question a lot! I’ll just point you to the last time I answered it: HERE
fings Q: “Who would be your dream artist for your books?”
A: I’d say living artist: Ursula Vernon (ursulav). Dead: Arthur Rackham.
murasaki23 Q: “Do you have a favorite picture of yourself?”
A: Many favorites, actually. I use a couple of them as LJ icons:

and
.
clockwork_pixie Q: “How did you know Matthew was “the one”?
A: We made a connection, like the click of two pieces fitting together. It was undeniable. We stayed up the whole night just talking. It was during my sophomore finals week in college. It’s a miracle I managed to get through my exams that week, I was so distracted!

Any more questions?


Writing Stuff

New Words: 1000
On the WIP. Good progress. Hoping to finish this story this week.

Club 100 For Writers
5

500/day
47

Leeches ain’t so bad

I think it says something about the flaws in my physical construction that the people at the lab work department know me on sight. The main person there recognizes me, and we have a bit of a friendly chat every time I go in. She knows I’ve got a standing order to do blood work every six weeks, and when I come in for something that isn’t one of my regular maintenance tests, she knows to verify that it’s for something else.

Sheesh, I’m a mess.

But, on an up note, she’s really, really good at what she does. It barely hurts, and she never bruises me. I’ve had ham fists who’ve pierced the damn vein, moved the needle around in my arm in an attempt to get it properly situated, and then had to re-poke me, only to miss it completely. Ow. People like that really ought to reconsider their choice of profession. But this lady always hits the vein perfectly (and I have been informed before that I have small veins), and never has to do any adjusting once the needle’s in. Tourniquet, poke, some gauze and tape, and I’m outta there. Fast, virtually painless, and she’s a sweetheart. If I gotta be jabbed frequently, can’t ask for a better experience.

Now for the waiting to see how my white blood count is doing. And my neck’s still stiff.

Okay, poll answers:

arkhamrefugee Q: “What’s a badger gotta do to get some girlies?”
A: Never having gotten any girlies, or researched much of the obtaining thereof, I’m afraid this one is beyond my ken. Alas.
cloudscudding Q: “Best writing advice you’ve never heard?”
A: It was twofold and all about being tenacious: 1. Write often, write copiously, and keep writing. 2. Submit what you’ve written until it sells.
chrishaas Q: “Who is Chris Haas?”
A: Don’t you know?
amokk Q: “Are there any nude Ms. Fantasm photos? ;)”
A: Yes, many! Oodles of them to be found by searching the Interweb! But none of me .
raecarson Q: “Which story makes you the most proud and why?”
A: Urg. That’s a hard question. I’ve got several favorites. “Running on Two Legs” because it marked a decided “next level” jump in my writing skills. I’d been working on evoking an emotional response with my writing and not being able to manage it until “Running.” It also has a lot of personal meaning and significance to me. And it was the first story that Hobkin played a major role as fuzzy muse in. “The Storyteller’s Wife” for many of the same reasons, plus it was an outlet for a lot of stress I was experiencing at the time. Amusingly, again Hobkin gets a part, being the inspiration for one of the characters. And also “Shao Huan: The Soul of a Badger” because I think it’s simply one of the very best things I’ve written to date.
angeldove Q: “When are you gonna start a family?”
A: I have a family, fosteronfilm and Hobkin, why would I need to start another one?
keesa_renee Q: “Who is/are your favorite writer(s)?”
A: Off the top of my head: Tanith Lee, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Orson Scott Card, Roger Zelazny, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and, um, Shakespeare. That’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s what I could come up with on the fly.
marksiegal Q: “How do you get a pet skunk to not spray?”
A: That sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. The serious answer is to have him de-scented. A fully loaded skunk is not a viable pet . . . unless you don’t have a sense of smell. But a disarmed one is all cuddly, high maintenance, fuzzy joy.
horrordiva Q: “What is your favorite genre to write in?”
A: That’s a tricky one. It varies depending upon my mood and what I’m writing at the time. I’m inclined to say “Fantasy” because I’ve been doing so much of that of late. But that could change tomorrow.

That’s it for now. Keep ‘em coming!


Writing Stuff

Hurray! Received my contrib. copy of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #18. Pulpy goodness.

Also saw on the editor’s blog (newly syndicated to LJ by moi as bradanpress) that issue #7 of Here & Now (with my firmly-tongue-in-cheek story “My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie” slated for it) appears to be on track. Glad to see the publication schedule of that magazine appears to be sorting itself into a semblance of regularity.

New Words: 250. 100 culled.
The numbers aren’t impressive, but the story’s much tighter, and has a better focus. I still haven’t managed to get myself to the climax, but I’m on the way there.

Club 100 For Writers
4

New notebook and “ten things” meme

So I’ve got a new laptop on order, an HP Pavilion ze2000 to replace my IBM Thinkpad. We went out yesterday with the intention of buying a Compaq Presario from Circuit City which was having a phat sale. But when we got there, we learned they were totally sold out, with no backorder, and had been for a week. Disappointed, I went to Best Buy to see what they had, and saw a similarly phat deal on an HP machine. Since HP and Compaq merged, it didn’t take amazing powers of deduction and observation to realize that, for all intents and purposes, the Presario and the Pavilion are functionally the same. My new Pavilion should arrive next week, and will have integrated wireless LAN! Sweet. I need a laptop to write on, but I’ve putting off buying a new one while I could still use my Thinkpad. Plus I can deduct my new laptop as a business expense, which makes the splurge a bit less extravagant.

I frightened Hobkin with my big, scary coat. I wanted to give him a cookie because I felt so bad about leaving him for the afternoon to go computer shopping. But when he saw me, he fluffed up his tail and scampered under the hutch. Unfortunately, the new blanket he has (which is the nicest blanket in the house), is bulkier than he’s accustomed to, so he couldn’t get past it like he could with his old blanket. He lodged between it and the hutch opening with a *thump* and then flailed his little hind legs trying to work his way in. Eventually he managed to get under cover, but not before I got a stitch in my side from laughing so hard. The silly chicken-nose. I still gave him a cookie.

And Ten Things I’ve Done That You Might Not Have:
Click for meme-ness