Hamsters, hamsters everywhere!

Hamsters, hamsters everywhere!

Argh! Too. Many. Hamsters! Seems like no matter how hard or how far I fling the lil squeakers, I’m still eyeball deep.

Dragon*Con’s looming, and the number of items on my D*C things-to-do list gives me fits just to look at. Got a director’s meeting this weekend, need to see about setting up interviews for those of my reporters who’ve requested them, and I haven’t even started going over my guest talk for Ann’s beginner workshop yet.

I’m using Adobe’s InDesign this year instead of MS Publisher to lay the hard copy of the Daily Dragon out, which is great. Except that I’ve never used InDesign before and am having to learn it from scratch. dire-epiphany gave me a rundown of it a couple months back, but that was a couple months back, and I’ve totally blanked on what we went over since. But between the tutorials and help menu, I got over some major steepness in ye olde learning curve last night, and am now at the point where I can operate it–undoubtedly without all the bells and bling that InDesign is capable of–but I can cobble together the layout. Hoping that the new layout person will work out so that I won’t need to worry about it for at least a couple of the issues. But steep leaning curve aside, I’m really pleased not to be using Publisher anymore. Even my limited and halting grasp of InDesign shows me how much more powerful and versatile it is.

Public service announcement: the Volunteer Vixens are planning to do a couple calendar signings at the convention. We’ll be in front of the exhibit hall. Stay tuned for when.

   


Writing Stuff

Doug Cohen (slushmaster), the assistant editor of Realms of Fantasy, makes an impassioned call for a general subscription drive for the speculative fiction short story market. If y’all haven’t seen it, go read. Then subscribe to something.

Published:
- “Cyberevenge Inc.” is now out in the premiere issue of Murky Depths. Got my contrib. copies, and this magazine is really luscious. It’s got fantastic production values, feels more like a graphic novel than a literary ‘zine.

Check out matt-wallace‘s post for more pictures of the innards.

New Words:
- 3300 words on short story “Hollow” with new working title, “Change of Heart.”

After consulting with mroctober, my word count max. on this project increased, and so did the story’s scope. I wanted to write two, maybe three stories this month, before Dragon*Con, for various projects I’ve been invited to submit to, but it looks like I’ll only be able to finish one of them, and it’s been a tooth pull of a tale. Aside from the beaucoup research I needed to do for it (including a crash course on Creole–thankfully, I took French in college), midway in, I realized the story would have more resonance in first person rather than third, so I re-wrote it. Also it seems the publisher prefers lighter YA, so I also rewrote what I had to make it less gritty and dark. But I’m in the final stretch now. Had an epiphany on the drive home yesterday and plan to incorporate that today.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,301 / 6,500
(81.6%)

Post Launch Pad

Recovering from Astronomy Camp withdrawal. ktempest designed a spiffy t-shirt to commemorate the event at zazzle.com. The front is the Pelican Nebula image created at WIRO (RGBed by Jeremy Tolbert–who I also got to meet in Wyoming–and made beautiful by Jerry Oltion), and the back lists instructors and participants under the fitting banner of Space Dementia:


Can’t wait for mine to arrive!

Stephen Granade (sargent) wrote an amusing article, “Speculative Fiction Authors Considered As High School Students,” of which I’m verily tickled to have made an appearance among the poor, starving short fiction writers at their table (along with Ted Chiang, Yoon Ha Lee, Nisi Shawl, and ktempest–hmmm, pointed social commentary ?).

Also saw that joe_the_king has posted the Eugie-as-spacegirl pix he took during my Volunteer Vixens shoot to his Flickr account. I really like the one labeled “Space Eugie (2)” (note the new LJ icon). Preeetty. Also, folks can now pre-order the calendar from the VV website.

   


Writing Stuff

Mostly caught up on the amassed pile of schtuff from last week. Now to get back to pounding out words on the page screen! Completed the outline for the story I’m writing for mroctober and did some final (I hope) research. Hoping to get some major wordage on the page for it this week. Then back to the story for the Datlow/Windling anthology.

Received:
- Note from the editor of IGMS that they’ve raised their pay rates and are retroactively bumping the pay of any authors who would have made more under the new scale. “Beauty’s Folly” is one of those, and Edmund said I should expect a check shortly. Is that the coolest thing evah, or what?
- Payment from Absolute Write for my “When the guidelines say ’7 to 12′” article.
- Payment from Cricket for “The Snow Woman’s Daughter.”
- 57-day personal “well written but . . . ” from Ann VanderMeer of Weird Tales with invite to submit again.
- 291-day personal not-right-for-us from Debby Vetter of Cicada and also confirmation that they got my latest Cricket submission (after query).
- 96-day release back into the wild from ASIM after holding it for their final round.

Urg. Jonsing for a sale . . .

Friday spacegirl

This weekend was for catching up on my sleep. I’ve been struggling with insomnia this whole week, and I don’t want to get sick before (or during) my trip to Wyoming.

Friday we did my Volunteer Vixens spacegirl photo shoot. The setting was the Fernbank Science Center, which I’d never been to before. It was a fantastic backdrop! Some sneak peeks:

clickie for more

Photo shoot and setting down some hamsters

The Volunteer Vixens photo shoot on Saturday went well. The swimsuit/bikini shot was done at a private residence. Our wonderful hostesses had a backyard pool/spa/waterfall–a gorgeous, decadently lush setting. Absolutely perfect. I did, however, get nailed by a couple bitey bugs within minutes of stepping outside and experienced a mild allergic reaction to an abrasion on my leg from the sand or rocks around the spa. Typical. The outdoors hates me. But, I am assured that the red welts can be PhotoShopped out.

After we broke for lunch, we met up for the cover shot, which was at the MMI warehouse. The theme, to match the charity, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation, was pink and black. Now pink is not a color found in my wardrobe, and I was at something of a loss–not wanting to buy a pink dress or somesuch that I’d never wear again. Thanks to my fellow Volunteer Vixen, Ariel, I had a fallback–a pink off-the-shoulder top, but I didn’t know what to wear with it. So on Friday, I went tearing around the house, trying to put together an outfit.

And, serendipity. I found a unitard I’d forgotten about–part of a costume for a modern dance show lo these many years ago when I was still in shape–shoved away in a drawer. The original costume was a white unitard dyed for the performances in streaks of (supposedly) purple and red, but the dye ended up mostly . . . pink. It’d also had dark, wing-like streamers of cloth sewed to shoulders, leg, and side which had been summarily removed at some point before I stored it away. But yes, there it was: a pink unitard.

La! So for the cover shot, I wore this:

   


Writing Stuff

I’ve come to the realization that I’m still juggling too many hamsters. The lil squeakers are beginning to get nippy when I drop ‘em, and I feeling more and more guilty when I can’t keep them all in the air. Therefore, sadly and with reluctance, I’ve resigned from my position as The Town Drunk‘s assistant managing editor. I enjoyed seeing that side of the publishing biz and sampling its wares (slush diving!), but there are only a finite number of hours in my week, and all my hamsters are eating into my writing time.

I’m very grateful to britzkrieg for the opportunity and experience.

I’ve also gone on hiatus at Critters. I haven’t done a crit. there in ages, and I feel too guilty to post my stuff without giving back in return. Plus, I’ve been wanting to focus more on my DC2K and Critter Litter writers group.

Received:
- Contract from Tekno Books for the electronic rights for six more stories: “The Tiger Fortune Princess,” “The Storyteller’s Wife,” “Returning My Sister’s Face,” “The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death,” “The Wizard of Eternal Watch,” and “All in My Mind.” This is for the for the project they’re doing with Sony to put together an electronic short fiction website to promote Sony’s new e-reader device. Hurray.
- Email from editor Jetse de Vries letting me know that my last submission to Interzone made the first cut and he’s holding it for a second read. Crossing my fingers.
- Payment for “Body and Soul Art” from the ASIM Best of Horror anthology.
- Payment for “The Wizard of Eternal Watch” from the Best New Romantic Fantasy 2 anthology.

Published:
- “Body and Soul Art” in the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Best of Horror.

Photo shoot and Launch Pad squeeage

Got a photo shoot this Saturday for the Dragon*Con breast cancer research charity calendar. We’ll be doing the group bikini/swimsuit shot and the cover shot. Have to admit to being rather anxious about the bikini one. Under most circumstances, I’m pretty comfy in front of a camera, but I’ve gained a few pounds (and a few years) since the last time I’ve shown quite so much skin on film, and I have to admit being somewhat insecure about it.

Yes, I’m vain. Glargh.

Okay, moving right along. Our marvelous photographer, Dean Ansley, has been scouting for locations for my August, “Pulp SF Space Girl,” shoot. Think we might be able to use the Fernbank Science Center/Planetarium. I hope so. From the sample shots he showed me, it looks like it’ll be perfect. So I got out my space girl costume last night and tried it on. I’m thinking I’d like to put a few stitches here and there to make the lay of it smoother in a couple places. And I wish I had silver go-go boots now; I think they’d look better than black ones. But then, when would I ever wear silver boots again?

And finally, the calendar now has a website, although there’s nothing on it currently except for a flash slide show of some of the promo shots:

   


Writing Stuff

The organizers of the Launch Pad workshop put together an email list so all the attendees can communicate and introduce each other beforehand. I was delighted to learn that Josepha Sherman, who I’ve met and been on panels with at Dragon*Con, will be one of my workshop-mates. I lubs Josepha and am looking forward to getting to hang with her in Wyoming. And I had a major fangirl moment when I discovered that Vonda N. McIntyre will also be a fellow Launchpadee. I’m debating whether I should bring my copy of Dreamsnake to Wyoming and ask her to sign it, or if that would just be too squeeing fangirl. Hee!

Received:
- 126-day SALE of “The Music Company” to Hub. I subbed the story to them when they were still a print ‘zine and still paying £25/1K words. With the greatly decreased pay, I waffled a bit before giving them the go ahead. But, I figure they did right by me with “Wanting to Want” in issue #1, not to mention it feels unnatural to turn down a sale.
- 3-day reprint SALE of my article, “When the Guidelines Say ’7-12′”, to Absolute Write. I think it’ll be in their June 20 issue.
- Contract for “Li T’ien and the Dragon Nian” for the Black Dragon, White Dragon anthology. And a sneak peek of the cover art. It’s puuurty:

Published:
- My Absolute Write interview is now up.

New Words:
- 1400 on my July Writing for Young Readers column. Still working on the title, but it’s about writing humor, with highlights from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


Club 100 for Writers: 19

Weekend in Review

Weekend was hectic. Had a photo shoot on Saturday for the Dragon*Con Breast Cancer Research charity calendar (I believe the consensus is to now call the calendar “Volunteer Vixens of Dragon*Con”) at the Mindspace Tea Bar and Lounge. The venue was great. In addition to fabu tea, they also had a gorgeous Japanese garden out back with a koi pond and live bamboo wall. Looking forward to seeing how those pix turned out.

Sunday was the second Dragon*Con all-staff meeting, and we dragged Patrick along to it. fosteronfilm picked up a box of submissions for the Film Festival. Waved and chatted to several folks, and did a bit of pre-convention coordinating. Things are ramping up. And my Daily Dragon staff roster is set . . . I think.

Via the blogosphere (and especially through the efforts of frankwu), the identities of five of my Launchpad classmates has been revealed:

Samantha Henderson (samhenderson)
Michael Livingston
K. Tempest Bradford (ktempest)
Lori Ann White (shaolingrrl)
Frank Wu (frankwu)

So that’s half of us. Can’t wait to find out who the other six will be!

   


Writing Stuff

The postal rate change goes into effect today. Ugh. Have you signed the Stamp Out Postal Rate Hikes petition?

From the website :

Save Small and Independent Publishers

Postal regulators have accepted a proposal from media giant Time Warner that would stifle small and independent publishers in America. The plan unfairly burdens smaller publishers with higher postage rates while locking in special privileges for bigger media companies.

In establishing the U.S. postal system, the nation’s founders wanted to ensure that a diversity of viewpoints were available to “the whole mass of the people.” Time Warner’s rate increase reverses this egalitarian ideal and threatens the marketplace of ideas on which our democracy depends.

Received:
- 40-day form nope from Glimmer Train. Not a surprise.

Reminder:
I’m conducting an online workshop Worldbuilding for Writers: Transporting Readers Beyond the Ordinary.

Register (Deadline, May 27.)

New Words:
- 450 on the Fox Princess novel.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
7,551 / 40,000
(18.9%)

Club 100 for Writers: 3

Oakland Cemetery

The photo shoot at Oakland Cemetery went well. I’ve never been there before, and I was agog at the beauty of it. There were sculptures and a fountain and stained glass windows, bronze urns bigger than me, and beautiful mausoleums fit to make a goth cry.

And the flora! *swoon* There were these huge oak, magnolia, and dogwood trees shading the pathways, and flowers sprouting everywhere perfuming the air. There was also a small, wrought iron gazebo with climbing roses abuzz with bumblebees. Not yellow jackets or wasps, but actual bumblebees–the kind that are as big as my thumb and utterly non-aggressive. We did a few shots in the gazebo and a stray wind knocked one of the bees into my leg; didn’t faze the bee or me. He flew off, I smiled for the camera, unstung.

I’m particularly fond of those kinds of bees, actually. They’re large and fuzzy enough to trigger my “aww, cute!” proclivities. I’ve also got an admittedly cavalier attitude about bees and wasps, which occasionally freaks fosteronfilm out, because I’ve never been stung by one. Pollen collectors and I get along, unlike their blood-drinking brethren, which I kill on sight, as I appear to have a big, blinking neon sign for them which says “Bite Me, I’m YUMMY.” Plus, I’m hypersensitive to their various anticoagulants and venoms. ‘Course, I have no idea whether I’m allergic to bee and wasp stings . . .

Nevertheless, it’s a truism, if I’m outside for long enough, something that I’m allergic to will brush against me, or some blood-thirsty insect will zoom in on me. And, ye verily, I’ve got the red welt on my calf to prove it. The last shot of the day for me was when we were posing around the base of a magnolia tree with lovely ivy creeping around the ground and trunk, and something bit me. I also somehow managed to get a touch of sunburn on the back of my neck, as did dude_the.* But while I understand how dude_the got sunstruck, as his hair is short and off his neck, I’m a bit perplexed as to how I managed the feat, since my hair is well past my shoulders and I’d brought a parasol. And as much as I could, when I was in direct sunlight, I had the thing up. Weird.

Dean, the photographer, is still sorting through the pix, but got me this one as a sneak peek:


Photo by Dean Ansley

Can’t wait to see the rest of them!


* It should go without saying, considering how photosensitive I am, that the parts of me that I could reasonably expect to be exposed to sunlight were liberally coated in industrial-strength, 45 SPF, broad spectrum sunscreen.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Contract from Tekno Books for the electronic rights to “Honor is a Game Mortals Play” (forthcoming in the DAW Books anthology, Heroes In Training). They’re setting up a deal with Sony to sell electronic short fiction online from their website for Sony’s new e-reader device. Tekno also mentioned they’d be willing to consider other stories, which I took as an amazing serendipity, since I was just dwelling upon making some of my previously published fiction available electronically and pondering how to do that. So I fired off an email to the editor/director person listing some of my stories and their publication history to see if he’d be interested in considering including them. He is, with the caveat that Sony has final approval over content. So I’m sending them along and crossing my fingers.

Session ’07, Day 33

I haven’t seen fosteronfilm and dude_the at all this week. They went to an advance screening of a movie last night, leaving me to come home to, once again, a humanless house. *humph* Fine. Me and the skunk don’t need that pair of slackers anyway.

I’ve got a photo shoot tomorrow for the Girls of Dragon*Con Charity Calendar project at one of Atlanta’s cemeteries. I think I’m going to have to drag both of them along.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Payment from Helix for “Addy in My Mind.” Not pro rates, but the amount exceeded my expectations. Very nice.
- 1-day sale of “The Center of the Universe” to Helix. Publication date/issue TBD. This is the story that was orphaned when the Lesbian Sleuth anthology folded, so I’m well pleased that it was able to find a new home.

Session ’07, Languishing in Recess

Saturday night, fosteronfilm and I partook of the excellent hospitality of the Eleys (escapepodcast) in their ongoing “Single Malt Who” shindigs. We watched the season 2 finale of Doctor Who, ate veggie burgers, and sampled scotch. Well, other folks sampled the scotch. I stuck with soda. But I think I’m still zoned from session-related stimuli. My brain’s on perpetual low beam. Sigh.

As advertised, here are some of my favorite pix from the Girls of Dragon*Con charity calendar photo shoot we did at Grant Park:


(All photos by Dean Ansley)

Clickie to see a few more