Researching, yo

Researching. Researching. Researching. fosteronfilm had to drag me out of the library last night for dinner. There’s just so many papers and articles I need to read, and those spin me off into online ad hoc research. Don’t have time to eat, dammit.

I remember why I chose this area in college; I’m finding the subject matter utterly fascinating. Although I noticed that I’m not even bothering to go over the statistics sections of research papers; I just jump to the conclusion paragraphs. I have a feeling all those advanced stats classes are well and goodly flushed out of my system. Sigh.


Writing Stuff

basletum is interviewing me for his “Giving it Meaning” column at The Sword Review. Been pondering my answers between reading Dev. Psych. articles. I’m trying to convey my philosophy that having an insightful, relevant theme is what lifts a story from the realm of entertainment into that of art without sounding all highfalutin’ and ostentatious. The thing is, I do believe there’s nothing wrong with a story just being entertainment; a lot of mine are, and I make no apologies about it. But I think I’m coming across as pretentious. Maybe I just need to embrace my inner beatnik.

– Contract from GrendelSong for “Shim Chung the Lotus Queen.”
– Reprint sale of “Only Springtime When She’s Gone” to Apex Online. This’ll go up in May to accompany my “Featured Writer” interview. Yay!

Back in the office chair and money angst

dude_the flew back to Illinois yesterday, and I’m now playing catch-up (again), trying to make a dent in the mountain of work that accrued when I took a measly three-day weekend off. Three days. I take off three days and I can barely breathe for all the work that’s piled up. Sheesh. I remember a time when I routinely took three-day weekends with blithe unconcern. I don’t miss the circumstances of that luxury, but I do miss the luxury itself.

Our taxes went out on Monday, right under the wire, and spurred by the state of our finances, I went casting around for other sources of income. I was investigating the possibility of writing grants and found one that catered to women writers and poets to the tune of $50K for two years.

“Huzzah,” sez I, “someone trying to help poor, starving writers! I must apply.” But upon further examination, I discover that the grant application requires a $35 application fee. So yeah, they’re supporting poor, starving writers with other poor, starving writers.

Grumble. If I had a spare $35 to toss around, I wouldn’t $@&#! need a grant.

Oh well. I probably wouldn’t have had a chance anyway, being a genre writer and all. Still, foo.


Writing Stuff

In better news, I managed to land a very sweet freelance research/writing gig. It’s a short-term contract job with a VERY tight deadline, but it pays nicely, and, get this–I’m still in shock over it–I’m actually getting to use my Developmental Psychology degree. *gasp* I’m researching source material and information for specific coursework on teaching educators of grades K-3.

How absolutely fabulous is that? I actually cracked open my old Child Development textbooks–including the one I worked on in graduate school!–to get me started. I knew I was keeping those around for a reason . . .

I’m so tickled to be able to use my degree, although also a little aghast at how rusty and out-of-date my knowledge base is. (And also by the fact that my APA Style Manual is so outmoded that it doesn’t even mention how to cite Internet sources! Fortunately, the APA website does give out that info.) At least there’s a certain falling-off-a-bicycle feel to it. Once I started getting in up to my elbows, it all started flooding back. And even more amusing, my adviser in grad. school literally wrote the book on the subject I’m researching, so not only is this Dev. Psych. stuff, but this is totally-up-my-alley Dev. Psych. stuff.

But as I said, the deadline’s pretty stringent, which means I’ve shoved several other projects down my Things to Do list that I was working on. I’m hoping to get some of the smaller stuff done in between research jags, ’cause as I well remember from college, if I don’t give my brain a rest when I’m going over the theoretical stuff, I hit a wall where my gray matter becomes an impenetrable chunk of overwhelmed, making it and me quite useless for anything.

I’m using my psychology degree! Squee!

– Note from Jason Sizemore asking for my Featured Writer reprint story for Apex Online. Y’know what I really like? When editors ask me to send them a story. Yay!


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!
Continue reading

dude_the is here. Yay!

Beastie updates:

Hobkin: Sicked up on Thursday, but he didn’t yesterday. We’re trying to feed him smaller, more frequent meal to see if that helps. ‘Course that means he’s getting fed something like five or six times a day. Don’t want him to get used to that. Plus we can’t keep that up over the weekend ’cause of Frolicon. Not sure if we’re going into town tonight for the convention or waiting until tomorrow to get our registration et al. taken care of.

Kitty: No cat sightings, but she’s been chowing down on the food I’ve been setting out. I’ve refilled the bowl three times in the last two days.


Writing Stuff

– Contract from Aberrant Dreams for “Nobodies and Somebodies.” My editor liked my rewrite. Huzzah!

New Words:
– 1K on the story for mroctober. Chug chug chugging along . . .

Club 100 For Writers


Pending Human/Present Cat Caller

dude_the is flying in for Frolicon tomorrow evening. Hurray! House cleaning must commenceth . . .

For the last few days we’ve had a four-legged caller, a petite, gray and white kitty, very pretty and very fluffy-looking. She’s been hanging out on our porch, lounging by our front step and bird watching among our holly trees. I managed to snap a picture of her through the window:

She’s a dainty thing. In the picture she looks rounder than she actually is. I don’t think she’s thin, just sleek, although I can’t be sure through her fur. I’m not seeing ribs, though, which is good, and her coat looks pretty healthy.

Behavior-wise, she’s not terribly skittish; when she saw me peering at her through the window, she approached–although, of course, there was still a wall between us. But when I opened the door, she bolted. I’m betting she’s someone’s outdoor cat and not a feral, but just in case, I’ve been putting food out for her. (We’ve got a bag of leftover dry ferret food that we never got around to giving away to a shelter.) She ate the first bowl of kibble I put out, but didn’t snarf down the second, so I don’t think she’s starving or anything like that. Although I do worry that she’ll get hit by a car as we’ve got a road by our house which gets fairly heavy traffic during the rush hours.

I’d like to be able to figure out whether she’s someone’s pet or if she’s feral, or perhaps if she’s someone’s ex-pet looking for a new home, but I’m not sure how to proceed. Obviously, we can’t adopt her if she’s in need of a home–between Hobkin and my cat allergies, that simply isn’t a tenable option–but we could get her to a vet, make sure she’s spayed/neutered, and make sure she’s properly looked after for the duration while we try to find a good home for her. I figured I’d keep putting food out for her and trying to get her to come to me so I can look her over better–see if she’s thin, has all her claws, determine whether “she” is actually a “he,” that sort of thing.

She’s a sweet-looking thing. I hope she doesn’t kill the birds who flit around our holly trees.


Writing Stuff

It’s my turn on a collab. story I’m doing with mtrimm1. I’ve never done a collaboration before. It’s exciting . . . and a little intimidating.

– Galley proofs for my two flash pieces, “The Wiggly People” and “Sins of the Mother,” for the Dark Cloud Press Thou Shalt Not anthology. The editor said he plans to send the finished product to the printers by early May. Rah!

New Words:
– 500 on a story for mroctober. This one’s going to be short, a one-scener. (*smacks muse* “You hear me? I said short!”)

Club 100 For Writers
      1 <--

My subwoofer is haunted

I’ve mentioned before that my house seems to be mildly haunted, especially the electrical system. Actually, it’s a tossup between ghostly activity or fey mischief, but whatever the fantastical root cause, another weirdness happened yesterday. While I was working upstairs in the library, jamming to the Opera Babes, my subwoofer suddenly blared out male voices speaking incomprehensible gibberish. Definitely not Opera Babes. Since I was doing something with IE at the time, I thought I’d accidentally stumbled upon a website with annoying sound effects* and slapped the mute button on my laptop. No more Opera Babes, but the gabblespeak kept coming out. It faded away in a couple seconds as I stared with unnerved incomprehension at my speaker.


Today I’m playing some Loreena McKennitt and Vienna Teng, a pianist/vocalist yukinooruoni recently introduced to me, to see if that mollifies or incites the fey/phantoms to repeat their auditory outburst. So far, only lilting female voices.

In other unworldly amusement news, I discovered a little bit of whimsy that has restored a smidgen of my faith in society. There’s got to be greatness in a culture that comes up with The Necronomicon as a plush book for pre-schoolers. Yep, you too can give a lucky toddler of your acquaintance a plushy book that summons Elder Gods. I totally want one.

*[rant] I hate websites that play unbidden music or have sound effects, especially ones that don’t provide me the option of turning them off. If I’ve got my speakers on, it’s because I want to hear what I’m playing, not have some noise pollution foisted on me. [/rant]


Writing Stuff

Inspired by wicked_wish‘s LJ post of her new work area in their Seattle digs, I decided to likewise post images of my writing environment. My cluttered desk:

The shelf behind my laptop is where I store all my writing paperwork–a folder for each story to hold contracts, rejections, notes, and other editorial/agent correspondences, receipts, etc. Above it are the two shelves where I keep my contrib. copies (along with various family publications–the couple mystery novels my dad-in-law wrote, the library cataloging reference books my mom wrote, etc.) and, of course, the boring-but-obligatory office supplies.

Off to the left, in the sibling bookcase, you can see in a frame my very first acceptance letter, the one from Cicada for “The Adventures of Manny the Mailmobile.” And dangling from the frame, my Phobos Award.

The pyramid painting above the printer is nice, but it’s more to fosteronfilm‘s taste. I’d like to replace it with something more Eugie-ish eventually, maybe an enlargement of one of my story illustrations.

Continue reading

Virtual relocation: packing, moving truck, and unpacking–cardboard boxes everywhere

Decided to move to a new host on Sunday for a bunch of reasons, including so I could have greater server-side control and so I wouldn’t have to use a domain mask anymore; each page now has its own URL.

For folks using my Children’s Markets Listing, you might want to update your bookmarks to: I’ve got a redirect from the previous address, but y’know, there it is.

There’s a lot of coordination involved with shunting a virtual thing from one cyberlocation to another. It reminded me a lot of a physical move–a process I absolutely abhor–with virtual parallels to packing, carting everything over to the new place, and then unpacking and deciding where everything should go. I didn’t have to fret over the burly guys in the moving trucks breaking or losing my stuff, but I did have a couple virtual “Agh! Where did I pack the can opener?” moments.

Packing–that is, informing my domain registrar of the new server locale, and sorting through/neatening up my files–went smoothly, but there was a slight holdup with the carting stuff over part. Actually, that went about as smoothly as a crocodile with a rash, resulting in mad scrambling and hair pulling. If anyone sent an email to me at my address on Sunday evening and I haven’t responded, you might want to resend it. There was a half hour to forty-five minute in there during which I fear some incoming emails may have been flung into a deep, dark cyber-oubliette.

After everything got properly relocated, as I was “unpacking,” I decided to do some structural tweaks. These “tweaks” sucked up all my attention yesterday and this morning, and they still aren’t done. However, I’ve got a backlog of writing/editing work that’s clamoring for my attention, and I’m having to back-burner it.

If you swing by my website, I hope you’ll excuse the mess. (Also, if folks not using IE as their web browser could let me know if there’s anything which looks really bizarre, that would be greatly appreciated.)


Writing Stuff

– Edits from Jason Sizemore on my Aegri Somnia story, “Nothing of Me.”
– Contract from Gisele LeBlanc for “A Patch of Jewels in the Sky.” It’s slated for publication in Dragonfly Spirit in June.
– 6-day rejection from new UK ‘zine, Forgotten Worlds, with invite to submit again. Strange wording/spelling snafu on the rejection made me do a double-take: “Thank you for your resent submission to Forgotten Worlds. We regret that it has been unsuccessful.” The misspelling of “recent” caused me to pause for a moment, wondering if they’d asked me to “resend” my story–and I had totally forgotten any such happenings–and through some electronic boo-boo, they hadn’t received it. But then I figured my memory’s not that fractured yet, and besides, how would they know it hadn’t been successful if they hadn’t received it? So yeah, it’s a rejection. Check.

Saturday: Day of Pain

Today is going to be all about the chemicals versus the pain. Thus far, I have downed: 1 20 MG Adderall XR capsule, 2 Sudafeds, 2 Extra Strength Tylenols, and 1 pot of green tea. Hoping that the wracking headache and drooping sense of fatigue lift shortly. I think it must be something about the turning of the season. I seem to remember having similar headaches at this time last year. Unhappy sinuses, maybe? Or maybe it’s the little man with the iron club inside my skull. Ow.

Also, to my great distress (and near myocardial infarction), the smoke alarm went off a little while ago–the one right outside the library door where I’m working. Very double not good on nerves or for headaches. I’m still rather baffled as to what set it off, as well as what prompted it to cease its ear-shattering wails. I’m thinking it was a mischievous fey or ghostie. Or perhaps it was the cinnamon in my cream of wheat.

My brain hurts.


Writing Stuff

reddherring1955 put together three fantastic writerly “Ten Reasons” lists: “Ten Reasons Why I Write,” “Ten Negative Things I Have Learned (Mostly About Myself) from Writing Fiction,” and “Ten Positive Things I Have Learned from Writing Fiction.” I’d link to them, except the big chicken has friends-locked that post ( you know I love you, Swamp Queen).

Edit: reddherring1955 unlocked her post! Therefore, I give you listie goodness.

– My contrib. copies of April’s Cricket with my story “The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake” in it. Cricket always puts out a gorgeous publication, and this is no exception. My story has three illustrations in it (by Patrick Gannon), and I spent a chunk of yesterday afternoon squeeing over them. Actually, and I’m a little embarrassed admitting this, but every time I read “The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake,” I get teary-eyed. I feel particularly foolish when my own stories make me cry–the realization that my writing brain is manipulating the rest of me, or something–and in this case I’m weepy and sniffling like a ninny over a tale of bunnies and elephants. Still, red-rimmed eyes notwithstanding, it’s those stories that tug at my emotions that I end up loving the most. I’m so glad this one found such a good home.
– 137-day pass from Cicada. Alas, it wasn’t a good fit, falling between what they’re seeking for either Cicada or Cricket. But I also found out that my Cricket/Cicada editor is also a fan of Doctor Who, which is just way cool.
– 3-day email from the assistant editor of Baen’s Universe letting me know she’s passing my story up the line for consideration by Eric Flint. Crossing my fingers. A lot.

Colin Firth and Big Monkey

Finally got to watch Pride and Prejudice, the mini-series with Colin Firth. Yup, there’s oodles of yumminess there. fosteronfilm was perplexed as to what it was I (and all the other Firth-fans) found so delectable about Mr. Darcy. I summed it up as “sexy-but-vulnerable-arrogance,” but I don’t think he gets it.

Also saw the new King Kong, courtesy Netflix, and I really liked it. When I saw it was 3+ hours, I thought I’d be clamoring “big monkey already, dammit!” through the whole beginning, but surprising myself, I thought it was well paced. The characters had depth, even (or perhaps especially) Jack Black’s, and I am Naomi Watts’s newest fan. Not only is she teh hotness, but I’m astonished how much emotion she managed to convey with so few lines. And, of course, there were indeed many excellent big monkey scenes. Although why anyone would ever want to go to Skull Island is beyond me. Giant leggy worms . . . *shudder*


Writing Stuff

It appears the Tangent forum has been discovered by spammers, and they are seriously ticking me off. There’s especially one repeat spammer who I’ve IDed and reported to their ISP’s abuse address, and he STILL keeps posting his stupid little spam links. I delete them as soon as they pop up, and I’ve asked our webmistress if there’s a way to block individual IP addresses but haven’t heard back from her yet. Anyone know of anything else I can do? Argh. So annoying.

– Contrib. copies of #292 of Ennea with “Fade to Black” in Greek in it. Rah.
– Galley proofs of “Souls of Living Wood” from William Horner for Modern Magic. Also got to see the full-sized artwork that’ll be accompanying my story, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t know if I’m allowed to display it, so if you’re curious, it’s the house illustration on the Fantasist Enterprises Modern Magic page. But bigger.
– 50-day “well received here, but . . . ” from Abyss & Apex with invite to submit again.

New words:
Zero. Zip. Nada. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. *twitch* There’snosuchthingaswriter’sblock! *pant pant pant*


The Heian Era is still very much at the forefront of my muse processes, and I’m wondering if I should just run with one of the stories ideas there instead of trying to force a folktale or novel chapter when those simply aren’t gelling right now.

I hate my muse.

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).

– 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