Where do we go from here?/Why is the path unclear?

So I’m at a bothersome “what next?” juncture in my ceaseless cycle of hamster juggling.

I’ve just finished (*crossed fingers*) one story and gotten caught up with many of the outstanding tasks and correspondences which built up due to Dragon*Con. But I’m so not at leisure to twiddle my thumbs; there remain several fairly major tasks glaring at me in my “to-do” list, including the wistful hem of my languishing novel-in-progress, another couple short stories for anthologies I’ve been invited to submit to, and various and sundry writing-related projects. But I’m undecided as to which one to pick up next. And worse, I’ve got an insidious urge to procrastinate.

Sigh. When I’ve got too many items flying at me to possibly stay on top of, I don’t have to pep-talk myself into getting stuff done. I’m perpetually in full-speed-ahead triage mode. I need every minute to be productive just to avoid being overrun by a stampede of hamsters. But that’s a recipe for nervous breakdown and burnout . . . and nippy hamsters.

There’s gotta be a happy medium, dammit.

   


Writing Stuff

Publishers Weekly reviewed So Fey in their 9/17 issue:

“Despite its provocative title and aggressive opening vignette, sex and sexuality fade into the background of Berman’s quiet compilation of fantasy tales . . . Most tales also feature classic Shakespearean or Celtic-inspired faerie folk, though Eugie Foster’s ‘Year of the Fox’ and Craig Laurance Gidney’s ‘A Bird of Ice’ draw effectively on Asian motifs . . . this anthology is wholly readable and likely to engage general readers as well as its target audience.”

Not too shabby, all in all. And I’m tickled that my story got a mention, even if it’s only to say that it “draws effectively on Asian motifs.”

Received:
- Payment from Hasbro (!) for “Princess Bufo marinus, I Call Her Amy” in Magic in the Mirrorstone. Me likie payment on acceptance.
- My contrib. copy of Heroes In Training. This anthology marks another writerly milestone, my first appearance in a mass market paperback, as well as the achievement of one of my first writing goals, to be published in a DAW anthology. Much wooting and book petting.

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:

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 . . .

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.

Jeff VanderMeer’s website, Paul Jessup’s online novel, and seeking a Korean translation

First off, a couple shout outs:
- Jeff VanderMeer has recently overhauled his website and blog: Ecstatic Days. It’s the place to go for folks interested in Jeff’s work.
- Paul Jessup is working on an online serial novel, Dust, with daily updates at his website. Dust is a “surrealistic, dark fantasy, about a girl searching for freedom in a graveyard town built on the ruins of war.” He’s also penning a writing journal about it. So for readers interested in the novel-writing process, it promises to be interesting.

Next, anyone reading this know Korean? Specifically written Korean?

In a nutshell, I need “Please do not remove any mugs, cups, or glasses from this desk” translated into Korean.

Outside a nutshell: Minor, ongoing saga at work. cut for folks who don’t want to read my minor office saga

Mobicon part II

Mobicon rawked! I see now why jackzodiac always raves about it. These folks put on a first rate event. I’m low on sleep, and the neurons are verily sluggish, so this will be a cursory convention-in-review. Apologies to all the wonderful folks I will undoubtedly forget to mention.

I was a judge for the costume contest with the lovely, talented, and charming Chase Masterson; her sweetie and director, James Kerwin; and, of course, jackzodiac.

After the contest, before the winners were announced, they had a “7-Minute Costume Contest” whereupon contestants get a bag with a length of material, a roll of duct tape, aluminum foil, and scissors and have to create a costume in seven minutes. They asked if Chase, Davey, and I would like to join the fray. Who in their right mind would refuse the prospect of such silliness? So we had seven minutes to do Davey up as a “Klingon Robin Hood.”


Chase (who is, of course, the Klingon expert) decided that he needed breasts. . . and lipstick. Isn’t Davey pretty?

I was a wee bit trepidatious about the Slave Auction, although I was assured that my participation was optional. The auctioneer, Joe-Bob (Joe-Bill?), was a riot–bawdy and lighthearted–perfect for the event. And he knew how to show off his wares to their best effect. There was topless dancing . . . from the men, including a pair of marines (a matched set!), who demonstrated their physical fitness to the cheering crowd by dropping and doing 20 push-ups, and an enthusiastic young man who exhibited his lap dancing prowess with a lovely volunteer–all to benefit the Bay Area Food Bank. Chase and James also stepped up to the auction block and, after some heated bidding, went for a jaw-dropping $600. And, when Wayne asked me pretty-please to offer myself up for bidding, how could I refuse? A big “thank you!” to Bill, the very generous “master” who “purchased” me for $400(!).

After the auction was the Boobie Brigade’s Dead Debutante Ball. Dancing, drinking, and making merry in the name of charity! Got to chat and catch up a bit with yakdog (of Fantasm/Frolicon) and other convention peeps. I was formally inaugurated into the illustrious Boobie Brigade ranks by the end of the dance.

We did some wandering to room parties afterward, but my feet were hurting so much, the one with the couch seemed the most alluring. Crashed back in our room at around 3AM and set two alarms as fosteronfilm and I both had 10AM panels on Sunday. Oog. But I felt surprisingly well rested by the next morning. Not so much today, though . . .

Major snaps and kudos to Cathy Chandler, the Entertainment Chairperson of Mobicon, for her prowess in herding cats and for making sure all our needs were catered to; Don Schermerhorn and Wayne Hergenroder, for being darlings and inviting us to play at their convention, and the rest of the Directors, Governors, and staff of Mobicon for working so hard to make sure folks had a great time.

More pix: clickie

Sheepfrog and Writing

Busy with the writing, but here’s a picture fosteronfilm found online that made me giggle:

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- Payment from Pseudopod for “Wanting to Want.”
- Galley proofs for “Body and Soul Art” from the ASIM Best of Horror anthology.

Published:
- The anthology Bash Down the Door and Slice Open the Badguy with “Mistress Fortune Favors the Unlucky” is now out! I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. I anticipate many belly laughs and chuckles. Will commence staking out the mailbox for my contrib. copy . . .

New Words:
- 900 on the Fox Princess novel. And it’s a mini-milestone; I’m past “short story” length!

I’ve noticed myself doing something anomalous, writing-wise, with this novel. I’m putting down the dialogue and using it as a sort of place holder, skimming over scene, setting, and action with the intention of going back to fill those in later. I’ve never done this before.

It keeps the story moving, both in my head and on the page, but it makes for a somewhat Spartan and dialogue-heavy initial draft. I suspect that may change in my next chapter, which will involve far more action than the previous ones, which were indeed a lot of talk-talk scenes.

Makes me think, though. I’ve been asked before about my writing “style,” whether I outline, how much research I do, if I write chronologically, etc. And the more I write, the more I’m certain that I don’t have a set method, per se. I put words on the page in whatever manner I can get them down.

Are other writers more structured than I am?


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8,455 / 40,000
(21.1%)

Club 100 for Writers: 4

Launch Pad: I’m going to Laramie, Wyoming, in July!

I got notice that I’ve been accepted into the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop! It’s a one-week “NASA-funded workshop for established writers held in beautiful high-altitude Laramie, Wyoming. Launch Pad aims to provide a ‘crash course’ for twelve attendees in modern astronomy science through workshops, guest lectures, and observation through the University of Wyoming’s two large telescopes.”

It’s in mid-July, and in addition to NASA covering my room and meals (and tuition), they’re also giving me a travel stipend to cover my roundtrip flight! I’m verily jazzed, although also somewhat anxious. I don’t travel well alone, tending to get lost and thereby flustered. May there be many large signs to point my way.

teflaime is a Wyoming native, and he’s informed me that I should bring cold weather clothes and also that the air is thin, so I should take it easy. Both sage pieces of advice that I will be most diligent about adhering to. Although I don’t think there’ll be that many opportunities to exert myself. I anticipate much sitting, listening, and looking up.

I’m taking my camera and laptop, of course. Hope I’ll have WiFi access . . .

   


Writing Stuff

I checked the Mobicon website and saw that they’ve got their panel schedule up. I’m slotted to do three panels, all on Saturday:

- 10:30AM – Writers for Relief II with Davey Beauchamp in Magnolia 1.
- 4PM – Worldbuilding in Sci-Fi and Fantasy with Davey Beauchamp, Sharon Green, Chris Jackson, Debbora Wiles, & Linda Baker in Magnolia 1 & 2.
- 6PM – Editors: The Other Side of Writing with Davey Beauchamp in Panel Room 5.

I’m especially jazzed about the editors panel; I’ve never been on the talking side of the table for one of those before.

Received:
- Payment from French ‘zine, Faeries, for “Of Two Minds in Lanais.” Hurray!

New Words:
- 1750 on the Fox Princess novel in the last couple days after losing the beginning of the week to that freelance gig. I somehow managed not to fall behind this week, assuming I can crank out 500 words between today and Monday.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
7,100 / 40,000
(17.8%)

I did, however, lose my Club 100 place. Sigh.

Club 100 for Writers: 2

All about the writing

Writing Stuff

I saw that the USPS is raising postage rates, effective May 14. Sigh. This directly impacts my bottom line as a writer. Not as much as publishers and distributors, of course, but it’s still a slice out of my little pie o’proceeds.

Also they’re doing something to make calculating postage more complicated. Haven’t studied the changes in-depth, but my initial glance over them was mightily perplexing. I use a home postal scale and buy stamps in bulk to decrease the number of trips to the post office (and their interminable lines) I have to make. In addition to submitting manuscripts, I also mail a lot of magazines and books on behalf of Tangent, so being able to mail things from home is a great time saver. As such, them making the mailing process more obtuse is verily grump-making. Even the forthcoming Star Wars postage stamp doesn’t mitigate the grrr. Hmpf.

Received:
- Got a call from Ann Crispin. It’s always a pleasure hearing from her. She asked me to reprise my “Marketing Short Fiction” guest lecture for her Beginners Writers Workshop at Dragon*Con this year. Of course, I said I would. I’m still brimful with the terror of public speaking, but I think it gets better every year. And I genuinely enjoy doing it once I get past the shakes.
- Invite/request from palmerwriter to contribute a story to a charity anthology he’s editing to benefit the American Diabetes Association. I think I have a reprint that might suit, so uber coolness.
- Payment for “Mistress Fortune Favors the Unlucky” in the Bash Down the Door and Slice Open the Badguy anthology. It should be coming out any day now . . .
- Email from the editor of Faeries, letting me know that the electronic transfer of payment for “Of Two Minds in Lanais” has been made. After not hearing anything from my query in March, there’s much relief to finally get an update. He included a scan of the “Ordre de transfert de fonds international,” which my rusty-unto-iron-shavings French was mostly able to get the gist of. Waiting now with bated breath for the Show Me the Money part.
- Payment from Moira for my Writing for Young Readers May column.

Session ’07, Day 35

Chug-a-chug-a. I think I can I think I can…

Actually, whether I think I can or not, I will. Only five more days left. People are getting a little white-eyed around the office. Myself included, undoubtedly. But word on the street is that Georgia’s 2007 legislative session will most likely adjourn sine die next Friday (the 20th). Although there’s also speculation that a special session will be called immediately upon adjournment.

Gulp.

Hoping that’s just a scary rumor.

   


Writing Stuff

I hit my 100th sale today!

It’s an occasion for cake and drunken revelry, but I don’t have the time for such indulgence, alas. I’m also thinking I might wait until I’ve amassed five more sales until I ring in the “official” 100th sale milestone. According to my spreadsheet, five of the sales were for nonfiction: four articles and an interview. (I’m not counting my Writing for Young Readers columns, as those aren’t “sales” so much as an ongoing gig–which reminds me I really need to start working on my May column.)

Received:
- 36-day sale of “The End of the Universe” to the new U.K. ezine, Darker Matter. The editor sent payment immediately (pro rates+, even!). I actually received it before the contract, which followed on its heels. Such lightning-fast payment (for fiction, at least) is a first, and I’m muchly impressed.
- Confirmation & contract from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine that they want to reprint “Body and Soul Art” in their Best of Horror anthology.

New Words/Editing:
- fosteronfilm first readered my Persian fairy tale re-telling. He liked it, which is a little unusual, as he’s normally not a fan of fairy tales. So does that mean I did something right, or something wrong with this one? Normally, he’s an excellent bellwether of my fiction, able to predict which stories will get the best reception and which ones might need more work, with the exception of my fairy and folktales, which he tends not to be enamored with in general and which tend to sell well regardless.

So I did a couple editing passes, and now I’m dithering as to what to do with it. Send it out for critique? Send it out to market? Or sit on it for a week–to give myself the same distance I would’ve if I’d offered it up for crits–and give it another couple editing passes before sending it out to market. Or some other as-of-yet undetermined option.

Blah. Insecurity, doubt, and indecision is me.