Post Launch Pad

Recovering from Astronomy Camp withdrawal. ktempest designed a spiffy t-shirt to commemorate the event at 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.

– 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.

– 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.

Launch Pad: Day 5, Friday

Urg. I accidentally set my alarm for 8AM instead of 10AM, and when it went off, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I hate me.

We had a field trip to WIRO (U of Wyoming Infrared Observatory), about 25 miles away from Laramie, up a steep and bumpy mountain road, and stayed out very late. The WIRO (2.3-meter) telescope is huge. HUGE! Like plane hanger huge. But it’s only considered a medium-sized telescope.

They don’t actually look through the telescope, but get the image via computer monitor. So we saw the ring nebula and galaxies and star clusters in pixeleted glory. Quite cool, but y’know, the best viewing for me was simply walking outside and looking up and seeing the Milky Way and the night sky in the unpolluted mountain air. The stars were so bright, so beautiful. Oooo.

WIRO pix:

I couldn’t get the whole telescope in my frame. shaolingrrl provides a scale reference.

Continue reading

Launch Pad: Day 4, Thursday

Yesterday we went over stellar evolution–white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes–and using astronomy in fiction. We also visited the university’s computer lab and discussed how Hubble pictures like this one are derived:

We also saw the planetarium and had a field trip out to the Cavalryman for dinner before heading out to Red Buttes Observatory where, unfortunately, we couldn’t open the dome due to humidity levels. But we did get to see the large telescope they had there and talk with the graduate student camped out doing research there.

Jerry Oltion gazing at the mirror.

There was evidence of quite a bit of whimsy and a healthy sense of humor in the observatory. Sheep slippers by the door!

Vonda McIntyre pointing out “telermascope” on the white board in the control center.

And we stood outside for a long time gazing up while Jerry and Mike picked out constallations with their laser pointers.

After dinner, I flashy-thinged my fellow workshopers. Um, then I turned my flash off. Left to right: Jeff, Lori, Josepha, Tempest, Vonda, Scott, Jerry (W.), Jerry (O.), Alaya

Launch Pad: Day 3, Wednesday

While it was cloudy, we were still able to see some starry matter on the roof of the astronomy building. I viewed the Moon, Venus, Jupiter (and four moons), Andromeda, a couple sets of binary stars, and a nebula (whose name I’ve forgotten). The sky was achingly beautiful.

The roof was a gorgeous viewing area.

Even with the annoying sidewalk lights below glaring light pollution, which the university didn’t see fit to shade.

I turned my flash off so as not to annoy and blind my fellow workshopees, so my pictures are somewhat blurry. Trade-offs.

Launch Pad Day 2: Tuesday

Yesterday, we reviewed the electromagnetic spectrum and made spectroscopes with which to gaze at various elements (mercury, neon, etc.) to observe their absorption line fingerprints. Astronomy is preeeetty. We also talked about telescopes, NASA missions, and amateur astronomy.

The schedule slated us to pop up to the roof of the astronomy building last night to use the university’s telescopes, but it was cloudy, so they swapped the free evening scheduled for today for last night and bumped the roof viewing for tonight. But I checked on, and it looks likely that it’ll be cloudy for the rest of the week. Pook. Hoping that Mother Nature is more obliging than says she’ll be.

Last night for our free evening, many of us sprawled/meandered between Michael Livingston’s room and ktempest‘s room for writing, chitchat, and booze. I camped out in Michael’s room with samhenderson, Vylar Kaftan, Josepha Sherman, Vonda McIntyre, and, of course, our host, Michael. Managed to get over 700 hundred words down, almost 500 of them due to a 15 minute challenge from Vylar. She also introduced me to Once Upon a Time, a storytelling card game. Vy, Sam, Jo, and I played two rounds, and it’s one of those lovely games where I’m more interested in the playing than the “winning” goal. From Vy’s comments, it sounds like the right players makes for the best gaming experience. If last night is anything to go by, four SF/F writers totally counts as “the right players.”

From left to right: samhenderson, Jerry Oltion, Josepha Sherman, Michael Livingston.

I couldn’t quite fit Vylar Kaftan into the above picture, so she gets her own.

This morning is the Vedauwoo Hike, and since three hours tramping around in the Wyoming sun in the rarefied air would likely perk my lupus/MCTD up and knock me flat, I thought the wiser course was to opt out. But I feel like that poor kid with asthma forced to sit in the back of the room watching all the other kids playing kickball. Sigh. But, as I remind myself, I’d be extremely bummed if I had to miss the rest of the workshop because of a flare up, not to mention furious with myself if it was one I could have prevented by being prudent.

This afternoon we’re talking about stars and the human element in space. Human element in space! *clamor clamor clamor*

Launch Pad: Day 1, Monday

Dear flist, Astronomy camp is a blast. Wish you were here . . .

The first day of the workshop has waxed and waned, and we discussed scales of the universe, seasons and lunar phases, common misconceptions thereof, and went over math; Jerry Oltion went over the Drake Equation and showed us how to do quick and dirty “back of the envelope” calculations. I have to admit that I wish they’d scheduled the math part earlier in the day. The benefits from the copious amount of caffeine I’d ingested in the AM had long passed by then, and I was having a hard time focusing on the numbers. But I got enough that I can do it if I need to . . . probably.

In closing, we had a sing-a-long of the “Galaxy Song” from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life before breaking for dinner. And that night, we reconvened to watch Armageddon in order to mock it mercilessly for it’s craptacular science. There will be more formal mocking this morning. (Jerry O. made up a two-page list of the things wrong with just the science as we watched, not even incorporating all the bad writing. Just the science, ma’am.)

During class, Vonda McIntyre crochets sea creatures (sea slugs? Marine flatworms?) out of yarn (see here for examples of their close relations made out of beads) which is fabulous to watch. Y’know, this is totally what happens when a brilliant science fiction writer crochets. You don’t get afghans or scarves, you get alien/marine critters. Hee!

They’re feeding us fabulously. When we broke for dinner, I wasn’t hungry at all from everything I’d eaten at breakfast and lunch (and we get snacks too!). A bunch of us hung out while Scott Humphries grilled hot dogs in the little courtyard behind the apartments and brought out his huge stash of booze to ply folks with. I didn’t partake of either the hot dogs (obviously) or the booze, but I did snarf down some potato chips. samhenderson spotted a bunny, and we admired it for quite a while. It was a very laid back bunny, not inclined to bolt away unless you approached it with a decent amount of determination. I think it might’ve been hoping for a handout.

In honor of Day 1 of the Launch Pad workshop, I give you Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song”:

Launch Pad: Day 0, Sunday

In Laramie, WY, settled in my Launch Pad digs, piggybacking on some stranger’s WiFi. Each workshop participant has their own student apartment with their own kitchenettes, bedrooms, and living rooms. But I had to rethink my “hotel” expectations when packing, and change settings to “apartment.”

Jerry Weinberg arrived on Saturday and emailed the group with a “what to expect” and informed us that there are no hangers or paper towels. So I snagged some travel hangers; not enough as it turns out, but enough to make due. There’s also no television. Not a problem on the program-watching side, but a bit perplexing at bedtime. I’m accustomed to sleeping with the sound and light of a television playing, and I had a hard time getting to sleep without one. But, then I turned to my trusty laptop, set some Enya on repeat, and turned on the Windows Media Player visualizations. Voila, sleep.

The flight in was smooth. I was nestled between an elderly lady who was grumpy because she couldn’t get a pillow (they apparently don’t have those on AirTran) and a little girl flying alone, all three of us of different races (White, Asian, Black). Looking at the row of us, I had a moment’s thought of “crone matron maiden,” but I don’t like thinking of myself as “matron,” and the little girl was too young to be what I envision as “maiden.” Perhaps “grandma, grown-up, girl” would be more accurate.

We were stuck right behind business class, so there were only two tray tables for three of us, and I was curious to see how that would resolve itself. As it turns out, none of us used them. Neither grandma nor girl put theirs down when the complimentary drink service came around, and as they didn’t, I didn’t have to choose which one to use. Interesting that we all saw the peculiar little social puzzle and simply avoided it.

Caught a little bit of turbulence heading towards Denver, which I always enjoy (as long as it doesn’t go longer than a second or two), but it freaked the little girl, who gasped in dismay every time, and grandma didn’t seem thrilled either.

Met all my Launch Pad workshop mates and instructors. Finally got to meet folks who I’ve only known as online presences, like ktempest and samhenderson. Yay! We all went out for dinner at a brew pub, and I sat with Vonda McIntryre, Jerry Oltion, and Samantha Henderson. I felt rather wide-eyed at the company I was in, not only ’cause of their amazing writerly accomplishments (and yes, the first chance I got, despite my intentions not to gush and squee, I did indeed gush and squee at Vonda, who was very gracious and warm and didn’t go running in the other direction), but I just don’t have much opportunity to hang with other writers. And, y’know, I really lubs it. Like-minded folks, ooo. Can’t wait for the workshop to begin.

The syllabus lists a “pre-test” for this morning, which has me a bit anxious. Makes me twitchy about “should I have studied up”? I actually started to brush up on some Astronomy 101, but at around Venus, I figured I’d just let the woeful state of my astronomy knowledge flap free in all its shameful glory. After all, to help rectify that is the purpose of this workshop.

On headaches and packing

Had a really terrible night due to a tension headache that’d been plaguing me for most of the day. At first, the pain wasn’t that bad, but it kept building and building. And I didn’t want to take anything because OTC analgesics inevitably make my wing stubs ache–I don’t know why–and if the headache will go away on its own, I’d rather not have to deal with backlash wing stub issues.

By bedtime, the pain had gotten so bad I was reduced to tears and couldn’t tolerate even dim light or muted sounds. So yah, at that point I gave in and popped pills. But by the time they kicked in enough so that I could sleep, it was pretty late.


However, I’m getting pretty stoked about the Launch Pad workshop, although my sense of perplexed with regard to packing is ramping up exponentially. I’ve started checking, and the 10-day forecast for Laramie, WY, lists daily highs up to 84 (Fahrenheit) and lows down to 48. Obviously, I shall be packing layers. But the trick will be not to have to bring half a dozen suitcases to transport the equivalent of a week’s worth of two or three outfits a day. Um.


Writing Stuff

I have convention envy. I wasn’t able to go to Readercon nor WisCon, and I won’t be going to WorldCon or World Fantasy neither. Don’t get me wrong, I lubs Dragon*Con, but I wish I could make it to more of the SF publishing industry conventions . I feel like I’m missing out on opportunities to meet and hang with fellow writers and editors. Problem is, I simply can’t afford to go, even with them being tax deductible and all. Sigh.

Maybe next year.

– “Living with a Shoulder Monster” in Aberrant Dreams. Free fiction, yo!

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!

– 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:

– 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