DIL update: much relief and happiness

Thank you to everyone who sent their support, thoughts, and well-wishes about fosteronfilm‘s dad. The news is all good. We arrived at the in-laws yesterday morning, checked in with my MIL, and then went to visit my DIL in the hospital.

He looked and sounded fantastic and was eating with appetite. The lung specialist dropped in, followed by the heart specialist, and we got the complete rundown about his condition and his prognosis, which is much better than originally thought.

He was indeed in critical condition when he came in last week, but they’re thinking that was due to an acute condition–most likely lingering effects from the infection from his earlier angiogram a couple months back–rather than a sudden worsening of his chronic heart/lung troubles. When they did an echo cardiogram of his aortic valve on Monday, it showed that what had been a critical blockage of the opening circumference on Thursdays had returned to its previous “severe” blockage–with “severe” being leaps and bounds better than critical. It’s still functioning at less than half normal, but it’s manageable and what he was at before Thursday.

It’s a degenerating condition, and they expect he’ll need to go in for the angioplasty procedure in a year or so–and it’s a variation of the standard angioplasty so needs to be done by specialist-specialists–where they’ll knock off the accumulated calcium around the valve. The procedure only has an effectiveness of about six months, due to the nature of the disease–the calcium accumulates again very rapidly–but it can be repeated. There’s 5-8% risk of stroke with the procedure due to danger of the dislodged calcium entering the bloodstream in addition to the other dangers with these sorts of procedures. But he’s holding steady now, on more meds to improve his breathing capacity, on oxygen round the clock, and they expect he should be able to maintain this level of functionality for a year, until they need to re-visit the angioplasty option.

I almost burst into tears (again) of relief when I heard the news. (I’ve been fairly useless this whole trip.) I’m so, so happy at this turnabout.

Matthew and I brought DIL home yesterday, and we all had a nice dinner together and called it an early night. Matthew’s brother swung by to get updated and caught up, and plans to come over again tonight. Matthew and I are running some chores for the in-folks today–grocery shopping and a trip to the hardware store–and we’re cooking dinner. Trying to make sure that his mom, who is intent upon bustling about and doing the attentive hostess thing, doesn’t, and instead takes it easy. And, of course, striving to ensure his DIL is comfy and doesn’t overexert himself.

I feel like the monster-beastie that’s been sitting on my chest for the last week has finally gotten off. A million hurrays.


Writing Stuff

– one no, one still pending, and one “this seems like more of a Weird Tales story so I passed it along to them” from Sean Wallace of Fantasy Magazine at 38-, 80-, and 79 days respectively.
– Contract from Jason Sizemore for “Nothing of Me” for Aegri Somnia.
– 48-day audio reprint SALE+contract of “The Storyteller’s Wife” to MechMuse. On a serendipitous note, I burned to CD the MP3s of issue #1 of MechMuse for the drive to Illinois and listened to over half the stories in the car, so now I’ve had a chance to hear what sort of publication it is. And lemme say that I am very impressed. The actors they hire are excellent, and the stories I’ve heard have been top notch, especially the two by David Barr Kirtley (who also happens to be a fellow Phobos Winner). The editor informs me that “Storyteller’s Wife” will be in the May ’06 issue alongside a story by Kevin J. Anderson. Sweet.

Adderall and Chinese communique

I think I’m well and truly addicted to Adderall. I’ve skipped my last couple “weekend holidays” because I didn’t want to risk the drop in writing productivity. The resultant ramping up of tolerance has me fretting. I actually popped an extra 10mg the other day to keep me going when the 20mg wasn’t doing the trick.

(I needs me my speed.)

But I am well aware that that road can only lead to a bad place. Ergo, I’m taking today off as an overdue break to give my system a chance to detox. I suspect there will be much caffeine. Or would that defeat the purpose? Urg.

(I wants me my speed.)

I wrote before I was on Adderall; I can still do it, dammit.


Writing Stuff

Received a letter from my folks–my stepdad thanking me for the birthday card we sent him, and to let us know that their apartment flooded and they’re staying with his younger son until they can move into a new apartment. They also suggested that I send them some of my previously published works and they’d see if they could find a Chinese publisher to both translate and publish it, maybe as a collection or something. I have no idea how the publishing industry works in China, but that would indeed be cool.

– A note, along with contract, from Greek ‘zine Ennea (9) that “Fade to Black” appeared in issue #292 in February. Sweet.
– My contrib. copy of Sages and Swords in which I fulfill a longtime ambition: sharing a ToC with Tanith Lee. I’d squee, except I’m too logy. The anthology’s a very nice production, glossy and redolent with that “new book” smell, although I think the title font is a little utilitarian (I blame dude_the that I even noticed). Of note, it seems the title of my story was changed from “The Wizard of Eternal Watch and the Keeper of Forever” to just “The Wizard of Eternal Watch” which I’m okay with–it was, after all, a pretty unwieldy title–although I would have liked to have been notified of this alteration in advance.
– 7-day email from Jason Sizemore of Apex Digest that he liked my story, “Nothing of Me,” and wants it for the Aegri Somnia anthology. Woot!

And as a reminder, only two more days until Jason’s birthday. They still need sixteen new subscribers or renewals to make their challenge. Subscribe, pleeease?

New Words:
200 on “A Thread of Silk”
Not one of my more productive days . . .

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,597 / 7,500

Club 100 For Writers

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!

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

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

Club 100 For Writers


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 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.

– 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.”

Roaches and truffles

Life is like a box of choklits . . .

AM confection: coconut crusted cricket crunch–or possibly a roach that crawled into the box.

In the shower my brain bubbled over with ideas for the WiP. So distracted was I that I couldn’t remember whether I’d brushed my teeth or not. Just-in-case brushing commenced. Dry and dressed (with minty-fresh teeth), I ran to my laptop . . . only to find that my inspiration seemed to have followed the toothpaste suds down the drain.

I tapped out a few halfhearted lines, and pondered how to waterproof my laptop.

Suddenly, my Outlook calender chimed, informing me that I had a follow-up appointment with my Pdoc . . . that I’m late for. Leaped into the car, sped down 400 and 285, sprint panting to the reception desk . . . and discover that my appointment was canceled. In January. Seems my Pdoc no longer has office hours on Wednesdays. However, my HMO had not deemed it necessary to alert me of that fact.

Now I ask you, does it seem clever to aggravate someone whom you know requires the services of a psychiatrist? Luckily for them, I restrained my urge to enter the ranks of psycho-killer and thereby earn the moniker “The Sporker.”

Drove back home, sat down to write, and realized I couldn’t remember if I took my Imuran. Unlike with dental hygiene, possible duplication is a Bad Thing. At which point, I was sorely tempted to crawl back into bed and call the day a complete loss.

PM sweet: Raspberry filled chocolate truffle, hand-dipped in heavy cream ganache

Fortunately, things Got Better.

The doorbell rang announcing a package. It’s surprise prezzies from britzkrieg! Amazon.com wishlist goodies: Ancient Egyptian Magic–an Egyptian sourcebook, at last!–and The Gathering of Spirits, by Carrie Newcomer–excellent music for the writing of folktales.

Thanks, Brit! You’re the absolute bestest!


Writing Stuff:
French chocolate lace, English toffee, vanilla caramel, and a gumball

Next up, I got word that Ellen Datlow is giving “The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death” an Honorable Mention in next year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Squee! That’s one step closer to actually having a story there.

And also, it seems (via jaylake and nihilistic_kid) that the cat is now bagfree. *insert fanfare and trumpets* Herein the Best New Fantasy: 2005 Table of Contents:

1 “My Father’s Mask,” Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts),
2 “Pip and the Fairies,” Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons),
3 “The Language of Moths,” Christopher Barzak (Realms of Fantasy),
4 “At the End of the Hall,” Nick Mamatas (Fantasy Magazine),
5 “Heads Down, Thumbs Up,” Gavin Grant (scifiction),
6 “Monster,” Kelly Link (Noisy Outlaws),
7 “The Dybbuk in Love,” Sonya Taaffe (The Dybbuk in Love),
8 “Gulls,” Tim Pratt, (Polyphony 5),
9 “Summer Ice,” Holly Phillips (In the Palace of Repose),
10 “The Maiden Tree,” Catherynne M. Valente (Cabinet des Fees),
11 “The Farmer’s Cat,” Jeff VanderMeer (Polyphony 5)
12 “A Little Madness Goes a Long Way,” M. Rickert (F&SF),
13 “Proboscis,” Laird Barron (F&SF),
14 “Dancing in the Light of Giants,” Jay Lake (Realms of Fantasy),
15 “Eating Hearts,” Yoon Ha Lee, (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction),
16 “Returning My Sister’s Face,” Eugie Foster (Realms of Fantasy).

Is that a luscious line-up or what (if I do say so myself)?

Contract from Oceans of the Mind for “The Few, the Proud, the Leech Corps.”

New Words: 500 on “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” And it ought to be done. But it’s not. It needs an epilogue. Urg. I hope that 6K maximum has some wiggle room.

Zokutou word meter
6,067 / 6,000

Club 100 For Writers


Pink Panther and Hobkin’s better

fosteronfilm went to see an advance screening of the new Pink Panther movie last night. I was planning on seeing it with him, but Hobkin sicked up his lunch yesterday, which made three meals in a row that he hadn’t held down, so I decided to stay home and see how he did with dinner.

Matthew gave the movie two reels in his Fosteronfilm review so I’m not all that disappointed to have missed it. (PSA/plug: fosteronfilm has begun doing giveaways of our spare advance screening tickets from his fosteronfilm.com site. Obviously, this is only of interest to locals, but if you’re in the Atlanta area, there are freebies to be had.)

Hobkin’s dinner went over (and stayed down) well. After a bit of minor post-meal chaos–mostly miscellaneous stomping and sporadic digging–Hobkin settled in my lap, fell asleep, and pinned me in my chair all night. I think he’s feeling better.

The prognosis on my back is less positive. My spine feels like one fused plank. Ow.


Writing Stuff

I did indeed sit on my muse (probably not what the doctor recommends for an unhappy back). Alas, the only thing I got out of her was a muffled “more weight.”

Just what I need, a cheeky muse.

Hence, I embarked upon much joyous cat-waxing. I went through my list of recently published works and picked a couple to send out to foreign markets for reprint consideration. I especially like submitting reprints this way ’cause I can sim sub like crazy as there’re no rights conflicts to fret about. Foreign markets buy their translation in their language, easy-schmeasy. It feels like such a luxury compared to the strict one-market-exclusive-consideration-no-matter-how-long-their-RL-is standard for first publication consideration. Sure, there are markets that will consider sim subs, but they’re few and far between, and it doesn’t do a sneeze worth of good if one market will look at sim subs but the other one you want to send it to won’t. It’s so not a writers’ market out there.

– Contract from Galaktika for the Hungarian reprint of “All in My Mind.”
– 2-day “very well written, but isn’t really a Baen’s Universe story” personal rejection from Baen’s Universe with lots of encouragement, an invite to submit again, and a better idea of what they’re looking for (more action).
– 30-day (!) rejection from GVG (!) of F&SF. Wowza. This is, by far, the longest response time I’ve ever had from F&SF. I thought for sure the ms had been eaten by the USPS. My perception of the world-as-I-know-it has been rocked.

New Words: 100 on “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.”
The end was so clear to me last week, so close I could almost taste it. But now I’m spinning my wheels. Wah!

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,240 / 6,000

Club 100 For Writers

Life is pain, you just get used to it

All the recent stress appears to have done in the fragile equilibrium of my human suit. Wing stubs are flaring something fierce–although that might also be due to the less-than-ergonomically-ideal temporary working setup I’ve been using. Ouch owie ow. My joints and muscles have also been so achy that it interfere with my ability to fall asleep. For a brief while, I entertained the notion of popping a Klonopin last night to knock me into sleepy-land, but then it occurred to me I’d be taking both an amphetamine and a benzodiazepine at the same time, which would be wrong. *gurgle* Too many pills.

LJ just informed me that my extra user pictures expire in ten days. Pook. I’d recently made some new ones too. But there’s simply no way I can rationalize paying for extra user pix, alas. The sad realization that I’m going to need to seriously start looking into that whole day job thing is ruthlessly clubbing me over the head. Ow.


Writing Stuff

While I did a lot of various and sundry editorial work for both Tangent and The Town Drunk yesterday, as well as a whole gob of copy editing for fosteronfilm, I did precious little writing. I have once again fallen off the 100 words/day wagon.

I suck.

– Contract from Dragonfly Spirit for “Kaawaa, Naagan, and the Queen’s Diamond Necklace.” Signing and sending out . . .

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Farewell, SCI FICTION

Watched Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy courtesy Netflix. I can see why die hard fans of the television series wouldn’t like it, and I did have the periodic urge to fill in the rest of the funny parts that they truncated–I assume to make it a reasonable length–but I quite liked their Ford Prefect and their Trillian. They played her far differently than I envisioned her in the books, but she worked for me. I also liked their Slartibartfast; I think I’m becoming a fan of Bill Nighy, and I thought Arthur and Zaphod were acceptably passable. Then again, it’s been years since I read the Hitchhiker’s “trilogy,” so I may be giving the movie higher marks on the “It Didn’t Suck” scale because the gaps in my memory keep me from being appalled at the mangling they did to it. Regardless, it wasn’t as brilliant as the books, but I still had fun watching it.


Writing Stuff

Did a couple editing passes on “Beauty’s Folly” and it’s off to the editor to pan or praise. I’m having a hard time shaking the story out of the clutches of my muse. The characters and world keep popping up in my imagination. I tell them “I wrote you! What more do you want?” but they don’t answer. I wonder if there’s enough floating around to flesh out into a novel?

Received the contract from Cricket for “The Tanuki-Kettle” and “The Raven’s Brocade.” No publication date specified for either, alas. Signing and sending those back tomorrow.

And WTF? I drop out of communication for a week and SCI FICTION announces it’s closing? How can this happen? They’re one of the best venues for short SF out there. Waaaaaah! I’m utterly depressed to see it go. Not to mention absolutely shocked at the suddenness of it. And on the purely selfish and personal side of it, I had a submission with them that I was really hoping Ellen Datlow would like. Crapitude.

Club 100 For Writers

Adventures with Adderall . . . and Effexor

Had my p-doc follow-up this morning. Initially, he suggested I increase my dosage of Adderall to 25mg/day, but after more discussion, we decided not to. When I asked him what his long-term thoughts were with regard to Adderall, that I didn’t want to be on an amphetamine for an extended time–and what about Provigil?–he said that he was hoping to wait until Provigil got added to my HMO’s approved list before switching me over. That made sense to me, so I’m content to stay with the Adderall for another month or two (or three even) until the HMO Powers That Be grind their gears. I’ll continue on 20mg/day, taking periodic day-or-two breaks once a week to keep my tolerance from ratcheting up.

He also suggested I try an NRI, Wellbutrin, in conjunction with the Prozac for an added pick-me-up. But the idea of adding more pills to my daily cocktail did not please me, so we’re compromising. I’m going to wean off the Prozac this week, and then switch to Effexor XR, which is both an NRI and an SSRI. Starting the Effexor at 37.5mg/day next week, and then the plan is to increase that weekly until I hit 150mg/day.

Fun with psychotropics. So not whee.


Writing Stuff

– Contract and final edits from Aberrant Dreams for “The Son that Pain Made.” Everything looks great and the contract’s signed and in the mail.
– 41-day “regret that we cannot use it” from Pedestal with invite to submit again.
– 14-day “Dear Author” (ouch) from LCRW.

I think I’ve noticed an odd trend with my writing. Genre markets with literary penchants don’t seem to like me. But literary publications that are receptive to genre do. I’m so confused.

New Words:
1000 words on the funny little story, and it’s at zero draft. That was gratifyingly fast. Nice muse, nice word flow. Maybe it’s all the NaNoWriMo energy radiating off my flist rubbing off.

Club 100 For Writers


GABPC overview

The GABPC was interesting. I attended a panel on the Legal Aspects of Production, A Production Assistant Overview, and a pair of seminars on film editing. Networking was pushed a huge amount, which resulted in me handing out several of my cards, and of course fosteronfilm giving out a slew of his. I also got asked what I did quite frequently, and when I said I was a writer, it was assumed I meant a screenplay writer. I found myself having to explain that no, I was a literary writer. Odd to call myself that, but in the context, it was the best way I had to differentiate. Amusingly, one aspiring film student asked me, after I told her “yes, I’d sold my work” whether I’d gotten “distribution.” Huh. Distribution. Not “where have you been published?” but if I’d gotten distribution. The film world.

As an interesting addendum, I brought my spanky new Cthulu backpack to the conference (acquired in a fit of madness at D*C). It got an amused reception by the GABPC folks, but the majority of the people there who commented upon it didn’t know it was 1. Cthulu and 2. Who this “Cthulu” was. “I haven’t seen that show” or “What movie was that from?” was the usual response. And even after I explained that Cthulu was an elder god type from H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, I still got blank looks. These folks don’t know who Lovecraft is. Guh?

Also attended the Writers Workshop, which was much more up my alley. It was, of course, focused on writing screenplays, but it was very informative. Writing for film is not actually all that similar to non-film writing. On a rudimentary level, they’re similar, but there’s a lot that’s different too. It seems like so much more of a group effort.

We didn’t stick around for the film festival or the closing ceremonies. Waking up early enough to get to the panels was exhausting for both of us. We’re such slackers, I know.

Amusing insight of the weekend: the indie film mantra sounds suspiciously like the small press one. “My films are fresh and new, not a formulaic sell-out that the big houses churn out. What’s that? Hollywood wants me? Where do I sign?” vs “What I write is too risky, unlike the uninspired pap the big presses pump out. What’s that? Harper-Collins wants to publish me? Where do I sign?”

Also, every biz has their own confounding jargon. In the first editing workshop, at the beginning I was verily perplexed as I had no idea what every other word the presenter spoke meant. After a while, the context sunk in and I was able to go with it–a bit like watching Shakespeare on the stage–something clicked after a while and it made sense on a sub-brain level. Hey, I’ve picked up the rudiments of a new, fancy lexicon. I did figure out that while film editing is very different from magazine or fiction editing, it’s still all about the cutting and tightening.


Writing Stuff

Got the contract for “The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death” for Fantasy Magazine. And FM is now available from Clarkesworld, both single issues and subscriptions. Woo.

New words: 500
After the Writers Workshop at the GABPC, I realized that the reason I was so stymied with my A Harmony of Foxes novel was because I hadn’t worked through some of the basics of my plot. So I went into my outline, did a major overhaul, and am much happier with it. My muse is engaged with it once more. I’m going to have to hack out large chunks which I wrote earlier that don’t work in the new incarnation, but hey, I’m back to work on the novel!

Club 100 For Writers