Hobkin’s Not-so-big Adventure and Nov-Dec Cricket

It’s that time of the year again for flu shots, so yesterday on my day off, fosteronfilm and I bopped down to the K-P clinic. While there, I also had my bimonthly test tubes of blood extracted*. The phlebotomist was competent, but I still ended up bruising, and I’m also achy from the flu shot. Meh. I don’t have a problem with needles, but it was a bit of a pincushiony sort of day.

But, for the first time ever, we accidentally left the gate to Hobkin’s area open when we went out. When one of us is home to supervise—which is most of the time—he gets free run, but when we’re out, we lock him in his rover gated area.

We came home to discover that not only had we forgotten to lock the gate, we’d also left the doors to the master bathroom+walk-in closet open—two places where he’s not allowed to go ’cause of the various high potential skunk-induced mischief/danger items therein.

After confirming Hobkin’s whereabouts (napping peacefully in his usual place) and that he wasn’t in any distress, I began a mad-thorough search, checking to see if he’d gotten into anything scary: the sundry meds or first-aid supplies in the cabinet under the sink, the “do not injest” packets of desiccant in shoe boxes, the dental floss in the trash can, etc. And it seems that while he did indeed tip the trash can over, which fortunately had nothing more hazardous in it than a couple tissues, he didn’t riffle through anything else. He didn’t open any of the cabinets or de-box any shoes or anything. Huh. What a good boy! I mean he knows he’s not allowed in those rooms, and it’s obvious he did check them out, but he didn’t get into any of the Eugie-heart-attack-causing mayhem that he could have.

Relief-amazement-relief-amusement-relief.


*I take the immunosuppressant Imuran to keep my lupus/MCTD at bay, and it can cause a drop in white blood count as well as liver toxicity, so I have regular blood tests done to monitor those.

   


Writing Stuff

New Words:
• around 1.7K on The Stupid Novel. Momentum? What momentum?

Received:
• Payment from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Mangazine for “The Better To…”

Seems that the world’s economy is catching up to the badness of the U.S.’s. When I first made the sale, the same payment amount (in AUD) would’ve netted me about $10 USD more than it did yesterday. But that was when the U.S. dollar was tanking and other currencies were still holding steady. It seems the currency exchange rates between AUD and USD have now equalized out to close to their usual rates. Drat.

I suspect that will also be the case for whenever I get payment from Interzone (paid in GBP) for “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast.” Double drat. Although I’m gun-jumping there, as the story hasn’t even come out yet.
• Shiny contrib. copies of the Nov-Dec ’08 issue of Cricket:

There was much squeeage when I discovered that “Cuhiya’s Husband” is the lead story! As always, the Cricket folks put together a gorgeous product. Absolutely lovely.

Poll results and SFWA public service announcement: Fraudulant writing contest

Thanks to everyone who responded to my “What Generation are You?” poll. As I figured, most folks who read my LJ appear to be Gen Xers (83 responses) with only a few Boomers (4), but I was interested to see that there were more Jonesers (32) than Millenials (17). Inteerezzting.

Now for something completely different, a public service announcement from the SFWA:

A bogus contest has been advertised on craigslist and elsewhere which is supposedly being run by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. SFWA has nothing to do with it, and it has all the earmarks of fraud.

In response to a cease and desist letter, this person has apologized and says that the posts will be removed from craigslist but he/she doesn’t know how to remove them from flixer. He/she claims that he will never do it again. SFWA and Writer Beware are monitoring the situation.

SFWA never runs writing contests of this sort, and is not associated with this contest in any way. If you find any other instances of this solicitation, please contact Michael Capobianco, the President of SFWA (email address can be found at the link above).

See the press release from the SFWA for more information, and also, Victoria Strauss has blogged about this contest on the Writers Beware blog.

While most of the places advertising this have taken down the ad, it’s likely that there are still many writers who haven’t gotten the news and, attracted by the promise of big money prizes and the prospect of publication in a prestigious anthology, may be intending to submit. Please spread the word so that folks don’t get taken by this scam.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
• Galleys of “A Nose for Magic” from the Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction and “The Life and Times of Penguin” from the Triangulation: Taking Flight anthology.
• Payment from Cricket for “The Raven’s Brocade” in their December issue and from Drabblecast for “The Wiggly People.”

New Words:
• 1150 on the SF WiP.

Club 100 for Writers: 6

Writing Season Opens

It’s been eerily quiet in the office. Many folks are gone for the week, escaping on a much-needed vacation now that session is over. I’m the only editor in residence in the editor’s room today*, although the senior editor is also here in her office. One of the attorneys came in to say “hi” and fell asleep on the couch for half an hour or so—it is, admittedly, quite a comfy couch. Everyone’s in serious depressurization mode.

Beginning to make forays into my to-do list. I’ve also opened up my writing files and have started putting (or rather, trying to put) words on the page.


*Edit: elemess came back after I posted this, so I’m no longer solitary editor in residence. Whew. …Although apparently he’s rusting…

   


Writing Stuff

I was utterly delighted by the wonderful things James Patrick Kelly said ’bout The Fix in his “On the Net: Son of Gallimaufry” article in the June Asimov’s:

“Luckily for fans of the short form, a new site, The Fix, has arrived on the scene. Andy Cox, of TTA Press, publisher of Interzone and Black Static, and Eugie Foster have created a site that is visually pleasing and intellectually stimulating […] The columns are quite astute—I can particularly recommend James Van Pelt’s The Day Job and Scott Danielson’s Audiobook Fix. The Fix is one of the most promising new sites of 2007.”

*squee!*

Received:
• 7-day (reprint) sale of my nonfiction article, “Writing Multicultural Fiction for Children” (Parts 1 and 2), to Absolute Write. Yay! They’re slated to go up the end of April and beginning of May, respectively.
• Payment from Aeon for “Black Swan, White Swan.” Me likie payment on acceptance.

New Words/Editing:
• An editing pass and 300 words on my pre-session WiP, “Morozko.”

Glargh. The words, they are are not coming easily. And the ones that do come, they suck. Was feeling pretty disheartened by the end of the writing session, so I took out one of my completed (and sold) stories to read—one that I’m particularly fond of—to remind me that I am indeed capable of putting together a reasonable sentence and crafting a readable tale. ‘Cause it sure doesn’t feel like it.

My writing muscle’s gone gimpy.
• 300 words on a new story, something light and silly that came about from a conversation fosteronfilm and I had in the car. Working title (and working title only!), “Cthulhu Editing.”

Session 2008 Day 37: In the homestretch and sale to Pseudopod

We’re in the final week of Session 2008. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die this Friday, barring something stupid coming up. These next few days promise to be hectic to the extreme, but I’m relieved to be so close to officially surviving my second session. Also, I’m a little nervous now that “writing season” is about to start up again. After being away from it for so long, there’s some performance anxiety about getting back into the habit of putting words on the page. Meep.

   


Writing Stuff

Saw in the Baen’s Universe e-ARC area that “A Thread of Silk” will be in their June 2008 issue. Coolness.

Received:
• Promo copies of Magic in the Mirrorstone to sign. The Mirrorstone Books folks sent several copies that they want to use as promotional giveaways ’round to all of the authors to John Hancock. The instruction letter inside said that they wanted to get the books back before February—the anthology’s release date—but, um, unless their marketing department has a time machine stashed away, that’s not going to happen. Oops. Well, I’m sending them along to the next author tomorrow. At least there are only two stopovers left.
• 60-days to a (reprint) sale of “Caesar’s Ghost” to Pseudopod. Yay!
• Contract from Aeon for “Black Swan, White Swan”…along with a request for an intro. Erg. I have a dickens of a time writing intros or synopses for my stuff. As the author, I want to come off as witty and insightful, but definitely not ostentatious or pretentious, and I want to intrigue the reader with my story’s premise without giving away too much or building false expectations.

Yeah, for my next trick, I’ll turn Kool-Aid into brandy and walk on Jell-O. Much brow furrowed lip-chewing, there. I came up with something and sent it off, but I’d rather write a whole story while aardvarks gnaw on my ankles than a one-paragraph introduction. *twitch*
• Payment from both Drabblecast (for “The Tiger Fortune Princess”) and Pseudopod. Yay²!

Session 2008 Day 31.5: Atlanta weather and return of the prodigal laptop

The tornado was a nonevent for us. Didn’t even realize one had ripped through downtown Atlanta until we got calls from fosteronfilm‘s mother worried about our safety. Up north where we are, we got dark skies and thunderstorms, but no twister action. The hail on Saturday was a bit more dramatic, but we seem to have withstood that without any damage, too.

And, my laptop’s back, my laptop’s back! Yay! It languished for over a month in the shop, and in that time my organizational system fell into total disarray. My to-do list reached profoundly scary proportions, and after I finished re-loading my system and trying to sort through my emails, I’d flagged nearly 100 emails as “needs response.”

While I had a back-up system to work on and check email from while my VAIO was gone, it’s a huge behemoth of a machine that I can’t easily transport back and forth on the train. Plus, it doesn’t have the battery life that my ultra-portable VAIO does, making it useless by midday. So I ended up leaving it at home and checking email from a browser interface at work—and therefore not having my address book or sent history or received archives at hand. And without a main system as the hub repository for all my data, I ended up accumulating duplicates and putting off items or having information scattered across multiple systems in different versions. What a mess.

But my laptop’s back home now, and I’ve been wading through the pile-up. As of this morning, I’m down to 60 emails flagged, and my files are more or less synced up. Whew. I’m worried that some stuff may have gotten lost in the cracks; I tried to err on the side of duplication rather than deletion, but then I tried to keep the duplicates manageable and…glargh. I hope to have everything shipshape by the end of this week, legislature obliging, of course.

I missed my little VAIO. A lot.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
• 125-day SALE of “The Better To…” to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, slated for #38—which I believe will be their October issue.
• 91-day very glowing and personal rejection from Space & Time. It got held until the final round, but…sigh.
• Contract from Drabblecast for “The Tiger Fortune Princess.”
• Payment from Realms of Fantasy for “Daugher of Bótù,” which I believe will be coming out in their next (June) issue.

Session 2008: Day 11

Got up extra early this morning to vote. I voted. A less exciting undertaking in practice than theory.

So, yeah, my life = blurred frenetic haze of legislative editing punctuated by non-legislative editing for The Fix.

I’m finding the editing mindset a bit hard to break out of…in an OCD sort of way. dude_the was here* for our annual Superbowl shindig (the only football game I watch), and we were out doing the Saturday beer run at the Wine Shop. Not being much of an alcohol drinker (or buyer), I amused myself by reading the wine descriptions. Three sentences in, I found myself with pen in hand, busily adding in the missing serial commas. fosteronfilm dragged me away before I could finish (or attract the ire of the shopkeeps). *twitch*

But we’re now on Day 11, over one-quarter of the way through Session 2008. Rah.


*Actually, dude_the is still here, as his flight was cancelled last night, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to see him off from his extended stay—or at all—as I’ll probably have to work late again tonight. A bummer, as he got back from his wranglings with Hartsfield-Jackson airport last night after my bedtime.

   


Writing Stuff

Rich Horton (ecbatan) singled out my story, “Honor is a Game Mortals Play,” as one of the best in the DAW anthologies from 2007. *Squee!* (Thanks to jimhines for the heads up!)

Received:
• 23-day reprint SALE of “The Life and Times of Penguin” to the Triangulation: Taking flight anthology. My first sale of the year! And it came with an exceedingly complimentary acceptance letter from the editor, Pete Butler. It was his first acceptance letter (written) of the year, too. Hee!
• 44-day personal “not right for us” from Weird Tales with an invite to submit again. The sale gods giveth and they smacketh. Sigh.
• Payment from Llewellyn for “A Nose for Magic” after a bit of worrisome email straying. Seems they sent me a request for a W-9 for tax purposes which they wanted me to send back before they could cut my check, but I never got the email—I suspect an overzealous spam filter, paired with the lack of a subject in the original email, was the culprit, as I do check my spam folder regularly for misfiled correspondences. It was purely by luck that I saw the follow-up, recognized the “Llewellyn” in the return email addy, and fished it out.
• Note from palmerwriter letting me know that Voices for the Cure (the charity anthology to benefit the American Diabetes Association with my story, “An Interesting Week for Emmy,” in it) is now available through White Rocket Books, which means it’ll soon be available at Amazon.com and B&N.com, too. Yay!

Going into Session ’08 and Rich Horton’s end-of-year summary

The legislature convenes on the 14th, but work’s been ramping up already, even had to do some overtime last week. And I expect to have to work next weekend. It means I haven’t had as much time to write as I’d hoped.

Still, I’m looking forward to session starting. There’s a certain single-mindedness about it that’s restful, even while the work is stressful and exhausting. I mean, while session is incredibly intense, it’s also simple. The only thing I’m able to worry about during session is getting through it. I haven’t the time or energy to do anything else but throw myself into the work, so I can’t dwell on or fret about anything else.

Makes me realize that I always have a lot on my mind: that WiP I should be working on, the @#%$^% novel I haven’t written, various deadlines, projects, professional correspondences, submissions and markets, and other hamsters I’m perpetually juggling. During session, all of that has to take a distant second place, and it’s . . . liberating.

Yep, the workings of my psyche are weird and contradictory.

   


Writing Stuff

Rich Horton (ecbatan), regular reviewer for Locus and Year’s Best editor, is doing a year-end summary on his LJ of many of the publications from 2007, and I was delighted to see that he gave snaps to several of my stories that were published last year: “Beauty’s Folly” in OSC’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, “End of the Universe” in Darker Matter, and particularly “Close to Death” in Shiny, of which he says:

From the first issue my favorite was Eugie Foster’s “Close to Death”, a lighthearted piece about a literal encounter with Death on an Atlanta freeway.

Happy squeeage!

Received:
• Payment for “Beautiful Summer” in forthcoming anthology, Killers.

New Words:
• An editing pass and around 100 words on “Morozko.” Going to try to finish the final scene this week and put a fork in this one.

The Golden Compass

Caught an advance screening with fosteronfilm of The Golden Compass over the weekend. I’m not sure if it’s because I read the book so recently or whether it’s a reflection of the movie, but it felt cursory, full of narrative intrusion and lacking the depth of worldbuilding that the story has. Still, it was a beautiful film, and I enjoyed it, especially the daemons—also my favorite part of the books*—which were fabulously executed. The filmmakers managed to convey a rich expressiveness of the CGI critters through facial expressions and body language, doing total justice to the visual medium. The acting was solid, too. I was especially impressed by the lead, Dakota Blue Richards. Shiny.

(fosteronfilm wrote a more complete review for anyone interested in his take—also, he hasn’t read the book.)


*I haven’t read the third book yet, so please no spoilers!
   

Writing Stuff

Received:
• Payment from Cricket for “The Tanuki Kettle.”
• Note from basletum inviting me to contribute a nonfiction article to the book on writing he’s putting together for Double-Edged Publishing, Perspectives on Writing. Of course, I said I would.

New Words:
• 1300 words on WiP, “Morozko” (2335/3500). It’s chugging along nicely, although my day job folks keep wanting me to do work . . . sheesh, the nerve . So I haven’t had as much writing time as I expected.

Absentminded Writer

Well, on the plus side of things, the new story is going well. On the minus side, my brain’s not so much. The other day, I was deep in writer-mode as I stood on the MARTA platform, waiting for the northbound train to take me home—eager/anxious to open up my laptop so I could jot down my ideas before they slipped away. Train pulls in; I scamper to a seat and happily commence typing away.

Twenty-five or so minutes later, end of the line, everyone off. I look up and realize I’m at Doraville, not North Springs.

DOH!!

In my creative fugue, I got on the wrong train. And not only did I fail to notice that the train I was boarding was Doraville-bound, but I also totally missed all of the periodic announcements informing me of that fact—which, in my defense, were far more mumbley than usual.

Had to take the southbound back and transfer to the North Springs line, tacking on another forty-five mintues to my already hour-long, home-going commute. And since I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the transfer station, I put away my computer and twiddled my thumbs during that leg of it.

Yepper, I’m losing my mind.

   


Writing Stuff

Got in the last crits for “Biba Jibun” (oodles of thank yous to mouseferatu, mroctober, and nikwdhmos), did a final tweak and editing pass, and sent it off to the Datlow/Windling duo. Crossing everything that’s crossable (and one or two things that aren’t) that they like it.

Received:
- Payment and a Christmas bonus Amazon.com gift certificate (!) from my editor for my December (and last) Writing for Young Readers column. *sniffle* I miss that hamster already.
- Note from the CRW folks inviting me to conduct another writing workshop for them. I agreed, so I’ll be teaching an online workshop on Character Development for them next October.

That promises to be enjoyable. “Character development” is much like “adventures and discoveries in psychology” for me. Will post more details and links to register for it down the road.

New Words:
- 1000 on Russian fairy tale re-telling, “Morozko” (working title). I’m thinking this one will come in at around 3.5K, but I no longer trust my word-count-fu. It’s steered me wrong too often recently.

The Fix, Apex Raffle, Shiny

Thanks to everyone for the outpouring of support, commiseration, and congratulations on my recent masthead change. Y’all are great, and you make all the hard work worthwhile.

I’m delighted to be able to announce the forthcoming relaunch of the short fiction review publication, The Fix.

From TTA Press, the publisher of Interzone, Black Static, and Crimewave, The Fix online, like its print incarnation, will provide in-depth reviews of short fiction from the full spectrum of magazines, webzines, anthologies, and single-author collections in the industry. We’ll also bring you interviews, a range of features and columns–including the continuation of James Van Pelt’s column on writing, The Day Job–and insightful articles and observations.

URL: www.thefix-online.com
Publisher: Andy Cox
Managing Editor: Eugie Foster
Launch Date: Oct. 15, 2007

If folks could spread the word, it’d be greatly appreciated.

Doing my own part to spread the word:
Apex Digest is conducting a Halloween Grab-Bag Raffle this month. Raffle tickets are only $1, and a percentage of proceeds will go to benefit the National Center for Family Literacy. Check out the amazing collection of goodies and open up your wallets, yo!

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Payment from Helix for “The Center of the Universe.”

Published:
- “Close to Death” in the premiere issue of Shiny. Shiny is a new YA electronic short story magazine put out by the fabu folks of Twelfth Planet Press. In addition to my humble offering, Shiny #1 also has stories in it by Sue Isle and Trent Jamieson.
- My October Writing for Young Readers column, “An Interview with Author Dallas Woodburn.”

New Words:
- 3700 words on new short story, “White Rabbit” (working title). Believe it or not, I actually started a new short story. I had to put in on hold so I could work on The Fix, but I hope to get back to it after we launch.