Pride & Prejudice: Keira Knightly

Less hard of a crash yesterday than I expected. After a day of working in the library, I came down at the reasonable hour of 5PM, baked chocolate chip cookies and had dinner with fosteronfilm. Then we watched the Keira Knightly Pride & Prejudice, which I think pretty much wraps up my Jane Austen kick, and I flopped over with a skunk at the respectable bedtime of 10ish. And now I’m back to regular working hours. Well, almost regular working hours. I woke up this morning at 6ish, but that’s only a little early for me.

Pride & Prejudice was enjoyable, mostly because of Keira Knightly. The other actors, while adequate, didn’t particularly stand out, except for perhaps Judi Dench, who did a nice coldly intimidating and controlling Lady Catherine de Bourg. I was underwhelmed by Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy; Colin Firth he ain’t. While Firth’s Mr. Darcy pulled off sexy with aplomb, building his appeal from the character’s arrogance and pride, I couldn’t bring myself to go ga-ga over Macfadyen’s portrayal. His Mr. Darcy just came off as unlikable and awkward, which pretty much kills the romance aspect.

Still, Keira Knightly is adorable.

   


Writing Stuff

Published:
- The May Apex Online is now live with my featured writer interview and “Only Springtime When She’s Gone” for reading perusal/pleasure.

New Words/Editing:
- Did a final editing pass on the freelance project and sent it off.
- 1000 on a nonfiction article I pitched to an editor. I’m querying and pitching. Big, grown-up freelance writer me.

Received:
- Payment for my last freelance gig. Huzzah! That was nicely speedy.

Club 100 For Writers
      12

500/day
      26

Frolicon

Frolicon. Whee! *flop*

In recovery mode now. Think it’s going to be a slow, easy couple of days.

My first panel was the Writers for Relief one with jackzodiac and tstauffer. Many copies sold and good-natured jibbing and accolades at Davey for his incredible job at putting the whole project together.

Then I found out (!) that I had a reading that evening in the con suite. As anyone who reads my blog on any sort of a regular basis knows, public speaking freaks the ever-living bejeebers out of me. The idea of doing a reading, cold, was enough to turn me into a whimpering, twitching mess.

I was debating between having fosteronfilm read something for me, and simply hiding out until my time slot was over, when Matthew came up with the inspired idea of playing the Escape Pod podcast of “My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie”–it was even an appropriately-themed story for the convention. Problem: we didn’t have a sound system or a CD of the podcast. Fortunately, bamapair had swung by for my panel and very generously offered the use of their laptop to download it; the hotel had free WiFi even. And Joe had brought his kicking boom box for the con suite. Serendipity.

“Lesbian Zombie” went over well, with giggles and snarfs in the proper places, so I then put on “The Life and Times of Penguin” to more giggles. So much better than if I’d tried to muddle through a reading. Thank you Escape Pod!
The rest of my Frolicon write-up

Muse food from Lethe Press!

Lookie what mroctober gave me! Muse food from Lethe Press! Aren’t they beautiful?


From left to right: The Story of Oriental Philosophy by L. Adams Beck, Legends of the City of Mexico by Thomas A. Janvier, Shallow Empire, poetry by Sou MacMillan, Stranger Than Fiction: Welsh Ghosts and Folklore by Mary L. Lewes, and Irish Witchcraft & Demonology by St. John D. Seymour.

I’m already nose deep into The Story of Oriental Philosophy and making periodic forays into the Sou MacMillan poetry. Squee! Thank you, Steve!!

But now I really need to grow another head so I can devote one to reading full time.

   


Writing Stuff

Got an email from a fellow writer in Budapest whom I didn’t know was Hungarian. She saw that a Hungarian translation of “All in My Mind” was forthcoming in Galaktika in April and sent me snaps. I asked her if she’d be willing, if I sent her the English version, to give me a summary of how good the translation was. I’m always a bit anxious to know how my foreign language translations turn out. One of my writers group peeps is Greek, so I’ve got a thumbs up from him on the Greek translations, and I can more or less stumble through the French on my own. But for the Polish and now Hungarian translations I’ve just been crossing my fingers.

Anyone out there read Polish?

This meme has been floating around my flist, and since my muse decided to play hide-n-seek yesterday (mostly hide), here’re my 10 things:

Ten Things I Learned from Writing Fiction

1. Write. Write more. Keep writing. Then write something else. Don’t stop writing.
2. There are stories out there begging to be written. Once you start looking for them, you’ll find them everywhere. Just remember not to get so wrapped up finding the stories that you forget to write them.
3. There are no rules to writing, just guidelines. Use what works for you and don’t angst about going against the common wisdom.
4. Get other people to read and critique your work. They’ll catch things you miss, and you will miss things, no matter how vigilant you are.
5. If you want to be published, you must have a thick skin. Rejection is a part of the biz, as is criticism–and sometimes most crushing of all, indifference. Don’t snark at folks who reject your stuff; take it in stride and either learn from it or let it roll off (or both). After all, they’re not rejecting you, just that particular configuration of words you put together.
6. Trust your instincts, but be open to suggestions. No matter how good you are (or think you are), you can always be better . . . or wrong.
7. If you thought being a writer meant you’d never have to talk in public again, you were mistaken. (*sigh*)
8. Write for you. Write what you love. Write what you want to read. Be passionate about your story, your words, and your characters. Cherish what you write with a burning, fiery, obsessive madness. It’s the best (and oftentimes only) reward for writing. Anything less and you might as well be a cubicle monkey; cubicle monkeys earn a helluva lot more for their souls.
9. Writers are insane, especially if they do it full time (see #8). If you hang out with writers, expect some dementia to pop up.
10. Writing is staggeringly hard (see #9).

Received:
- Payment from Oceans of the Mind for “The Few, the Proud, the Leech Corps.” Yay!

Editing/No new words:
My muse was not kind. I did one editing pass on the second section of The Novel, tentatively titled The Goddess of Beauty and War, and then *poof* no words. Snartleblast. Since I got so many folks clamoring for that Egyptian folktale, aiming my muse that-away instead.

Also did do a couple editing passes on “A Thread of Silk” and did indeed decide to stick on an prologue.

Club 100 For Writers
      13

Heading north

Got a call from fosteronfilm‘s mom. They’re not doing the surgery today, but possibly tomorrow. Matthew and I are heading up there later today. Rushing to drop Hobkin off with his godmother, pack, and get everything organized. Not sure how much I’ll be online for the next few days.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- My check from Cricket for “Li T’ien and the Demon Nian.” Shiny.
- Email from the editor in answer to my query regarding whether he’s still interested in considering “A Thread of Silk.” His answer: yes. But he also told me that the funding for his project got slashed, so the pay I could now expect if he wanted to buy it would be significantly below “pro” rates. Hmm. That news will require some pondering. I’ll worry about it later.

Editing:
Many passes on my rewrite of “Nobodies and Somebodies.” Stuck a fork in and sent it off to my Aberrant Dreams editor. I think it’s a stronger story; here’s hoping he agrees. It’s slated for their July issue.

Club 100 For Writers
      12

More Jane Austen

Watched Emma last night. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I would have as much if I hadn’t seen Clueless–which I consider to be the superior adaptation and a straight-up excellent movie. At the beginning, I had a difficult time keeping all the characters straight, and it wasn’t until I started comparing them to their Clueless counterparts that everything gelled. Still, both Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor were pretty.

Also watched the 2003 Pride and Prejudice (it came up on TV), and while I hoped this would be like Clueless, a modern-day adaptation full of wit and cleverness, it . . . wasn’t. It had all the ingredients for something that should have been good, but it fell flat, as in thud.

I wish Netflix would hurry up and send us the rest of the Colin Firth Pride and Predjudice. They sent us disc one last week, but I don’t want to watch it until we get the second. Foo.

   


Writing Stuff

Huge congrats to dsnight for selling his two novels Goblin Quest and Goblin Hero to DAW Books!
WOOOT!

Another writer I can add to my “I knew him when . . . ” list.

Received:
Contract and check for “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” Talk about speedy! This is the first time I’ve received the check in the same envelope as the contract. Man, I wish the norm was pay on acceptance instead of pay on publication. A writer could get used to this.

New Words:
700 on “A Thread of Silk.”

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2,535 / 4,500
(56.3%)

Club 100 For Writers
      2

500/day
      10

Howl’s Moving Castle and Mary Sue

My Things To Do list is about to overflow the screen and drown me, so a very quick update:

Yesterday was the first Dragon*Con all-staff meeting. I should’ve emailed my staff before now to confirm who’s coming back; I have no idea what my numbers are currently. If any of y’all who I haven’t already heard from about working Daily Dragon staff this year are reading this, please (email me) eugie (at) eugiefoster (dot) com to lemme know your status. If you’ve already contacted me this year (amazing, wonderful people who obviously have their acts far more together than me), we’re cool.

Watched Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) last night. It was absolutely delightful. I was charmed by the incidental and secondary characters–the scarecrow, Hin, Calcifer–as well as the world and whimsical setting. And I found the love story between Sofi and Howl very satisfying. I also liked how the metaphors, what there were of them, were understated. Howl’s magical meltdown as allegory for teenage angst and insecurity was nothing short of brilliant. Very well done.

But it wasn’t Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

   


Writing Stuff

From discussions via my DC2K writers group: Are your characters suffering from an excess of author-identification? Are they thinly-veiled wish-fulfillment? In short, are they a Mary Sue (or a Gary Stus)? For fun, and maybe a bit of writerly insight, take The Writer’s Mary Sue Test and see how they score.

Received:
- Payment from Dragonfly Spirit for “Kaawwa, Naagan, and the Queen’s Diamond Necklace.”
- Contract from Faeries for “Returning My Sister’s Face.”

New Words: 400 words on a new Japanese fantasy because my muse is an unrelenting shrew who likes to torment me with ideas when I already have too much on my plate to deal with. And I, of course, cannot deny her. Gah!

Club 100 For Writers
      Erm. I lost count. But it feels like I’ve been working like a maniac. I’m calling it “10.”

Watched Inosensu: Kôkaku kidôtai (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence) last night, courtesy Netflix. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that fosteronfilm watched it, while I glanced up periodically to appreciate the shiny, cyberpunk pictures and skim the subtitles while I huddled over my laptop, writing. I’m not actually sure of the details of the plot, something to do with the examination of the nature of souls, but it was pretty.

Sometime in the future, I think I’d like to sit down and watch it properly. It seems I don’t multitask writing and subtitles well. But I was on a roll, writing-wise. Didn’t go to (that is, stagger to and flop into) bed until 6AM.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
Payment from Here & Now for “My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie.” Huzzah! Contrib. copy on the way. Although I do have a slightly reamed–”slightly reamed,” is that an oxymoron?–feeling from the PayPal fees and their conversion rate between pounds sterling and U.S. dollars. Oh well. It’s money.

Not Received:
Hmm, I still haven’t gotten paid for “Li T’ien and the Demon Nian.” I wonder if the Cricket Magazine Chicago move knocked my check into a crack somewhere . . . Query time?

New Words:
800 on “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” I’m at zero draft. Woo! “The End” – two of the most satisfying words a writer can type.

The epilogue turned into a whole ‘nuther scene and became the denouement. Um, oops. But it’s done. Done done done! Considering that I finished it at 6AM this morning–the staying up all night 6AM, not the waking up at dawn 6AM–I suspect that a great deal of ruthless editing is in order. At least I hope so. I’d like to cull at least a couple hundred words. dsnight assured me there was wiggle room, but that’s no excuse for sloppy writing. The plan is to do a few editing passes, foist it upon fosteronfilm to first reader, and then load it up to Critters to go up next week.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
6,877 / 6,000
(114.6%)

Club 100 For Writers
      3

500/day
      7

Home again, home again . . .

Full Sundance write-up tomorrow. Mundane catch-up herein:

Back from Utah. Retrieved skunk from godmother. The lil guy was pretty ecstatic to be home, and so am I. All is well, but I’m exhausted. I was napping with Hobkin–crashing really–until he got it into his wee head to run amok and wake me up. Now he’s done being amok and napping under his hutch, and I’m bleary-eyed and insomniac.

Hobkin somehow knew when we were coming to pick him up. He was busily digging at the door when we rolled into her driveway–a behavior she informed us he hadn’t engaged in at all before, and which he’d begun about two minutes prior to our arrival. There’s a lot of sense and intuition going on in that small, fuzzy head. Hobkin gave me many nose-sniff kisses as soon as I picked him up, and snuggled me all the way home. ‘Course then he went amok at 5AM . . .

My laptop powered itself down several times while we were in Utah, the same malfunction as before. Not surprised in the least. Going to have to call HP and see about sending it back again. Bastards.

   


Writing Stuff

Got an email from the Aberrant Dreams folks inviting me to dinner after the signing on Saturday. Haven’t replied yet ’cause dude_the is coming down this weekend for Superbowl Sunday, and I don’t know what our plans are. Delighted by the invite regardless. I love it when editors offer to feed me.

I have much, much Tangent work to catch up on. And I have about two dozen stories that I want to read, as well as a slew of ones I’ve already read from last year, that I need to pare down to the five best to nominate for the Sturgeon Award before the 24th of February. Urk.

Received:
Squee:
- 217-day sale of a French reprint of “Returning My Sister’s Face” to Faeries.
- Check from Ennea for the Greek reprint of “When the Lights Go Out.” And it’s in U.S. dollars and not euros, hurray!
- A status update from mroctober on a YA anthology he’s trying to sell to Mirrorstone that I wrote a story for. The Mirrorstone editor made lots of promising-sounding words, “very interested” being the main ones, but it’s still in the “maybe” category. A very positive maybe, though. Got my fingers and toes crossed. I’d love to be published by Mirrorstone.
- 24-day email from Doug Cohen, slush editor of Realms of Fantasy, informing me that he’d received my latest submission and that he’ll pass it along to Shawna in February.

Sigh:
- 106-day personal nope from Chris East of Futurismic after holding onto this story for extended consideration. Bummer. But he did invite me to try again.
- 54-day “no thanks” with invite to submit again from Lorraine and James. Eh, it was a long shot.

Rolling my eyes:
- 547-day “Despite your publication credits, we feel you need some help getting your prose skills up to a truly professional level. You may want to consider attending a Borderlands Press Writer’s Boot Camp” rejection from Borderlands 6 on a story I’d already withdrawn and sold elsewhere.

I am terribly tempted to respond with: “Despite your pay rate, I feel you need some help getting your publishing house up to a truly professional level. You may want to consider improving your response times and organization skills, as well as not including a self-serving plug in your rejections.” But I won’t. After all, two unprofessionals does not equal a professional.

New Words: 3K on a Japanese Demon Hunter short written during some down time in the condo at Utah. This one I’m intending for dsnight‘s Heroes in Training anthology.

Club 100 For Writers
      1
*sigh*

500/day
      1
It’s a new year, and the first time I’ve managed to hit 500. At least it’s not February yet.

State of the dad-in-law

Heard back from fosteronfilm‘s folks about his father’s angiogram.

The fantastic news: His dad’s okay and at home now. I’m so relieved. I absolutely adore my dad-in-law and I was stressed to the eyeballs thinking he might not pull through the procedure.

The bad news: The doctors had to keep him overnight because they had problems stopping the bleeding. My dad-in-law regularly takes blood thinners as part of his medical regimen, and apparently even though he did stop taking them several days before the angiogram, it still negatively impacted his ability to coagulate. He’s home now, but the doctors gave some rather alarming instructions to my mom-in-law with regard to looking for and what to do in case of blood clots and resumed bleeding. I think they ought to have kept him in the hospital for another day or so, especially since he’s going back for follow-up today anyway. But as long as there don’t turn out to be any complications, I shall suppress my displeasure with the doctor people.

The so-so news: They didn’t perform the valve replacement. Once they got in, they didn’t think doing it would result in improved quality-of-life, making it not worth the additional risk.

The mostly good news: After discussing things post-surgery with the in-folks, the doctors were appalled to discover that my dad-in-law wasn’t seeing a lung specialist. Hell, I’m appalled that he’s not seeing a lung specialist. I hadn’t realized he wasn’t. After my experience with going to a rheumatologist to treat my Lupus/MCTD instead of just a GP, I would’ve been badgering and pleading with him about it if I had. But at least now the in-folks are going to send him to one. Better late than not. Although it may mean some unfortunate difficulties as I don’t think there’s an appropriate pulmonologist locally for them.

Also, something that we tried to impress on them, that he ought to be on regular oxygen, was hammered home by a series of nurse-types (three cheers for the persuasive powers of pretty young women). He’s an ornery one, my dad-in-law, and doesn’t like using on oxygen tank. When his GP put him on one months back, my dad-in-law promptly sent it back. He claimed it wasn’t helping and that the tubing was bothersome and/or defective. Over the holidays, it was fairly obvious that he ought to be on oxygen therapy, so I’m extremely pleased that they’ve managed to convince him of the necessity of it.

The irksome news: Unfortunately, the medical people have only given him one tank of oxygen that he’s supposed to use for the whole house, both upstairs and down. But of course my in-folks can’t be expected to lug a heavy oxygen tank up and down the stairs, so instead of giving them a second tank, the medical folks gave them 50 feet of tubing! Like that’s going to make it easy for him to use, between it kinking up and both of them tripping over trailing tubes. He was already unhappy with how annoying the previous, shorter tubing was to deal with. While we were there, I spent some time unkinking and sorting out the length they had (something like 30 ft), and no wonder he got disgusted with it. It was a mess of twists and snarls. I can’t see how oxygen could have gotten through that chaos of tubing. And what a shocker that he said it didn’t help; it wasn’t getting to him! Grr. Now why didn’t they give him two tanks? And surely there must be a more efficient method of managing the tubing than simply handing over a fifty-foot coil. A hose reel would be an improvement. I’m very worried that he’ll get fed up again and refuse to use it after a while.

In other news:
Our lovely USPS carrier (who probably hates us because of all the magazines, books, and assorted heavy stuff we force her to lug to and from our doorstep) left me a birthday parcel the other day from dude_the: Word Menu, a reference book that I’ve been coveting since I saw pleroma‘s. Squee! Thankyouthankyou!

Checked the HP website for a status update, and my laptop is now making its way back to me from California. Thank God. Unfortunately, they don’t say what they did to it or whether they repaired it or just threw up their hands and packaged up a replacement one. I’ll find out soon enough, I figure, but I’m quite curious to know whether they were able to identify and isolate the problem.

   


Writing Stuff

Did an overdue Critters critique.

Received:
- Payment from Aberrant Dreams for “The Son that Pain Made.” Hurray!
- 3-day “we do think you’re on the right track but . . .” from Baen’s Universe. Fooie.

I’m getting a bit antsy to make my first sale of 2006. No doubt a sign of neurotic addiction after my excellent December showing, but there’s no reasoning with the anxiety monster.

New Words: 100 or so in an editing pass of “The Better To . . .”. I want to get that one out to market, but I think it needs some serious tweaking.

I’m very displeased with myself with regard to how I’m not getting back into the swing of writing after the holidays. I’m counting on the arrival of my laptop to rectify that, but I’m still miffed that I can’t seem to muster the discipline to write. The house is cleaner than it’s been in months, but it’s all cat waxing. (Or should that be skunk waxing?)

Club 100 For Writers
      76

Congratulations to pleroma and sruna!

A HUGE congratulations to pleroma and sruna on their New Year’s Eve engagement! I got all squeeie and gushy when I read about pleroma‘s romantic and elegant on-bended-knee proposal. fosteronfilm and I are overjoyed for you both!

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- My contrib. copies of Apex Digest #4 and payment for “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me.” Hurray! Although it looks like the post office really went to town on the poor package–maybe drove over it with those little mail golf carts or stomped on it a couple time in cleats. However, despite the fact that the envelope looks like it’s been mauled by rabid aardvarks, the contents came through mostly unscathed. There’s a slight ding on one cover and some wear on the edges and spine of another one, but nothing was torn or otherwise mangled. And Jason Sizemore very cleverly stuck my check deeply and securely into one of the copies so it neither fell out through either of the USPS-inflicted gaping tears, nor was it folded, spindled, or mutilated in the course of the rough transit. Whew.
- Payment for “Only Springtime When She’s Gone” in Neometropolis #7 made via electronic transmission of monies, so no shipping and handling wear-and-tear. Although there were PayPal fees. Urg. Trade-offs.
- Invitation from Story Station to consider submitting a non-fiction piece for their Teacher Articles. Huh. That had never occurred to me, but it might be fun, not to mention a nice addition to my writing resume. It’s not big money by a long shot, but $10 for 500-600 words is acceptable, depending on how long it takes to write those 500-600 words, of course.

New Words: 100 or so on an outline for a story idea. I will embark upon big word count productivity . . . soon. Anytime now. Yep.

Club 100 For Writers
      75