lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 I feel like I've forgotten how to write. 

Which is weird, since I wrote about 2,000+ words of fan fiction yesterday.  So, it's not the actual act of putting words to page that I've forgotten how to do, but something else.  I've got a deadline fast approaching for an author guest slot in an invite-only magazine called Boundary Shock Quarterly, my issue will be about apocalypses that I was invited to contribute to, and I've been doing a LOT of thinking about stories that feature after the fall/the end of the world and what appeals to me about them.  Shawn and I even re-watched "Logan's Run," which surprised me by mostly standing the test of time. But, Mason challenged me to put some words to paper today and I have started numerous times only to be frustrated with the results.

I've gotten some good advice about how-to write short stories from the people in my writers' group, so I'm not necessarily looking for that right now. But, you know, if you really want to point me to writing blogs or whatnot, I'll definitely read anything you link to. I'm not so proud that I'd turn away a good resource.

What I'm really stymied about right now is something different, however. I was counseled to consider writing a story within a story, where there's something else going on and the end of the world is kind of more of a backdrop. Something like what [personal profile] naomikritzer did with "So Much Cooking."  (An amazing story, if you haven't already read it, you should.) This is excellent advice because a good short story is always operating on a number of different levels, but... okay, here's the thing that's really been hitting me _today_ as I sit down to write. I'm not sure that's me, the writer who writes brilliantly about the human condition clothed in science fiction. Think it's absolutely what most people are writing write now--most successful short story writers, anyway, given what I've been reading in prep for the Nebula Award nominations. I am a gigantic fan of slice-of-life manga, butI was re-reading some of the stuff I wrote to promote the launch of Resurrection Code, which very much is my "after the fall" novel, and it's all apocalypse travelogue with action.

And I'm wondering if I'm doing a disservice to myself by not just writing an adventure?

Eh, I should just write SOMETHING and stop overthinking the whole process.

Mason's right about me. I can talk myself OUT of any idea I have... and end up with nothing.

Well, I'm picking him up at 5:15 pm tonight (unless robotics gets cancelled due to the snow), so I have time to get something down. Probably I should just start writing ANYTHING and see where that takes me.

Or... I could do the dishes... or vacuum.

See, I'm a writer. I know how to avoid writing!


UPDATE: 325 words written. Ha! It's not a lot, but I'm exceedingly happy that words made it onto page. Go me!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
 This morning I spent a fairly ridiculous amount of time preparing a side dish for dinner.

I mean... what is this, Pioneer times? Am I Amish?  No, but I swear I might as well be. Because what did I make?  Pierogis.  

Shawn found an on-line recipe from CBC Life called "Grandma Gretzky's Great Pierogis," which purport to be Wayne Gretzky's Ukrainian grandma's recipe. We'll see what they're like after I fry them up at dinner time, but, man, that filling is good!  I wouldn't dare to improve on Grandma Gretzky's recipe, but since it only called for "cheddar cheese," I decided that meant a combination of Vermont white cheddar and a moderately fancy aged cheddar that I picked up from Kowalski's fancy cheese department. (It's French, but it was six dollars a brick instead of 12.) I was right that the sharper aged stuff in moderation would really making the filling zing.

Though it may all be lost once I fry them, though. And they're tiny, so gods even know if you'll be able to taste it. 

I had a bunch of the filling leftover, however, so if the pierogi are a bust, I'm going to just pull out the mashed oniony-cheesy potatoes and serve those!

If it's yummy, I'll post the recipe.  I will note, however, that this is definitely a picky project. Not to be undertaken on a normal work night when you have to run off to your kids' recital or soccer hockey practice (see what I did there!)

I think I will be happy to have done all the boiling of the dumplings BEFORE the temperatures soar to 90 F/ 32 C. I'm actually not quite sure what I'm thinking making pierogi and pork chops on a night like tonight.  Who knows, maybe it will finally thunderstorm... *looks outside at bright hot sun* ... or not.

I guess I just wanted to say that I spent way too much time on something that's probably going to be gobbled in ten seconds.  I'm a food weirdo.  I'm not even a real foodie because all my recipes involve something someone's grandmother used to make on the regular.

lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
I had a fair number of panels this weekend, many of which went very well, but a lot of my con was plagued by me NOT KNOWING WHEN THE LIVING HELL TO SHOW UP.

For instance, Friday--for some reason I got it into my head that my first panel ("Roundtable Discussion: What are You Reading?") was at 7 pm. I got dressed and headed out around 6:30 pm. I got there with 5 minutes to spare and started freaking out because I could not find a space anywhere in the hotel parking lot. I happened to see my fellow panelist, Bryan Thao Worra, walking up the sidewalk and so I shouted to him and asked him about overflow parking. I might even have said something like, "Well, I'll see you fifteen minutes. If not, you'll know I'm still hunting up parking!" I'm surprised he didn't look at me and say, "What are you talking about?"

Because our panel didn't start until 9 pm.

Bryan said that he'd heard that it was okay to park in the lot for the Wildlife Refuge Center, so I did, despite actual posted signs that said, "NO HILTON PARKING." I decided to risk it (spoiler: I was fine) and I dashed in, figuring I'd quick stop and register, because if I was late my fellow panelist at least knew I'd be on my way shortly. I'm glad I did, because in my manilla program participant packet was my schedule. WHICH CLEARLY SAID THAT MY FIRST PANEL WAS AT 9 PM.

Suddenly, I had almost two hours to kill.

MarsCON, I have decided, is a weird con. Don't get me wrong, I like it. I go every year. I kind of consider it the opener for the con season. But, given the situation with the parking lot, you'd figure I'd have no problem finding someone with which to pass the two hours hanging out. Nope. I don't know if it's the way the hotel is laid out, or the fact that I don't do much with the extremely popular musical track, or that the party floor is nine stories removed from the paneling area, or everyone else is invited to secret parties to which I did not get the memo/invite, or what, but I would NOT have guessed that this con apparently attracted between 900-1,000 people. I would have thought it was half that. The halls seemed empty.

This is also not necessarily a down side. I mean, it's nice to have a con that is not as overwhelmingly crowed as say, CONvergence. BUT, one thing that I told Minicon when preparing for my Guest of Honor gig there this year (in a matter of weeks!!), it's actually almost better to overbook me as a panelist than to leave me with huge swaths of time with nothing to do. As an extrovert, I really do feed off the high energy of a con. If I'm sitting and staring at the wall wishing I had a book, I crash. It's a lot harder for me to ramp back up to my "performance level."

So, I can't say that, by the time I actually sat down next to Bryan in the "Eagle's Nest" conference room, I was super peppy.

I did, at least, think ahead and prepared a list of stuff I'd been reading over the past few years. Bryan recommended a number of poetry books--like, full length books. Later, when i saw Bryan again, I thought to ask him a question that I should have at our panel, which is, is there a proper way to read a book of poetry? Are you supposed to just start on page one and power through? I've never done that with the few books of poetry that I own (granted at least half of them are Shel Silverstein). Mostly, I randomly pick poems and read them. There are Marge Piercy poetry volumes I own where I'm sure there are still dozens and dozens of poems unread, because I just never hit that page when I was leafing through. Bryan confirmed that that's totally how it's done, so I guess I haven't been missing some key to appreciating poetry all these years.

Because I'm a weird combination of extrovert and morning lark (opposite of you night owls), I went home directly after my panel.... oh, right, there was another reason I did that, too. I texted home at one point to let people know I'd arrived too early and wouldn't be coming home until after 10 pm, and I got a text reply informing me that our problem kitty, Inky, had peed all over the basement floor. Everyone was apparently very upset about this because Mason didn't see the mess until he plopped our brand-new beanbag chair right into the center of it. There was worry that it was completely ruined FOREVER. Problem kitty is also usually my responsibility, so everyone was mad at me for not being around to do the clean-up on aisle 5. (Before you assume the worst from my family, my responsibilities include one that I fail all the time. I'm supposed to pill our cat, because he has fewer accidents when he's consistently on his Prozac. My family rightly surmised that if he was peeing inappropriately, it was because I had forgotten to pill him. When he pees inappropriately when I'm the one who forgot to make sure he got his daily pill, it stands to reason I should be the one to deal with the fall out, as it were.) So, I rushed home to change kitty litter and to wrestle a pill into Inky.

In the back and forth with the kitty trauma, I ran out of minutes on my phone and so I also had to problem solve THAT on the fly at the hotel (it involved finding the business center and logging into TracFone)... it was, shall we say, an inauspicious beginning to my con. My only consolation (?) was that Bryan had had to deal with a puking puppy all day, too. (I don't know that that actually made me feel BETTER, per se, but at least my misery had company, as it were.)

So, that was Friday.

Saturday... let's see, I started my day off with probably the highest energy panel of the con for me, "Marvel Cinematic Universe." We talked a lot about "Black Panther," of course. We had two PoCs on the panel--Rob Callahan and a young woman named Kianna--so we were at least spared the awkward that is a bunch of white fans yammering on. Kianna had an interesting take on Killmonger (whom, it seems, is often misread by white people) and Rob talked a lot about the Indigenous response to the movie. That was probably the best panel of the con, for me.

Oh, but I forgot that my Saturday morning actually started way before that panel, when I was at home frantically making a powerpoint presentation because I realized when I got my schedule the night before, I was still the ONLY person on the "Manhwa/Manhua Explosion," and I thought, that as hard as it was going for me to fill an hour all by myself, I thought it would be even worse if I couldn't show visual representations of what I was talking about. I want everyone reading this to know one thing. I HAVE LEGITIMATELY NEVER MADE A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION BEFORE IN MY LIFE. Yet, the program is simple enough that I managed to cobble together ten or so slides before I left for the con.

I did, however, spend some of the downtime between the MCU panel (at 11 pm) and my solo presentation (3 pm) making more slides and genuinely TRYING to prepare... Even though I had no idea whether or not the room would actually have AV equipment that I could use. (Spoiler: it did. MIRACULOUSLY.)

So, I can't say that the "Manhwa/Manhua" panel was an unmitigated disaster, because I did attempt to mitigate it, but... I mean, there's a reason I prefer panel discussions. When there's at least one other person there, you have a CHANCE at a dialogue. I did tell my audience that I was not an expert, and that I had, in fact, proposed the panel because I wanted someone ELSE to tell me more about it....the other thing I warned them is that I could only talk about what *I* was reading and, frankly, what I read is SMUT. (Did I mention they put this in the "teen" track!?) But, the audience was sympathetic and somehow we limped through it.

My last panel was at 7pm and it was called "Writing Humorous Science Fiction and Fantasy." I... might not have been in the best head space for that particular panel. For one, I had had to kill a lot of downtime. Much of which was taken up by the other problem with the MarsCON hotel, which is they are in a virtual food desert. The Mall of America is within spitting range, but to go there, one has to be willing to leave their parking spot (or, I suppose, have enough time to hop the light rail.) There is a hotel restaurant, but the restaurant seems to always been chronically understaffed (I swear the SAME surly waiter who served everyone last year, served us again this year.) The hotel also has a kind of convenience store, but it's stocked with the sort of convenience store food that we have in this part of the country.... sandwiches wrapped in plastic that are fresh, but which have clearly sat around long enough for the various condiments to have made the white bread soggy and gross, you know? The con suite serves food, but it can not feed a multitude before having only pumpernickel as a bread option in the PBJ room.

I'd had lunch with Naomi, her family, Rob Callahan and his friend Jei. We braved the restaurant and heard a lot of cool stories about Jay's students (they teach at a Native charter school). I'd kind of blown my con budget on that --not that I really had one, but the food at that restaurant is not varied enough--or cheap enough--to warrant a lot of return visits, so I ended up eating a couple of hotdogs in the con suite. I will say? That hungry, those hot dogs tasted AMAZING.

Anyway, I found myself feeling a little... professional jealousy towards MaryJanice Davidson, who was on the humor panel with me. MaryJanice Davidson was someone who was hot when I first started publishing paranormal romances as Tate, and sitting on that panel with her gave me a stab of the classic green-eyes "why is SHE still publishing, when I'm not." That kind of threw off my game. Luckily, the panel was totally ruled by Ivery Kirk (Melissa Buren) who co-wrote a book with possibly the single greatest title for an erotica ever: TIMEBANGERS:One Does Not Simply Walk Into Tudor.

I ran into a friend, Jason, after the panel and I told him that what was especially weird about my reaction to MaryJanice Davidson was that it caused me to attempt to talk seriously about the topic of humor in SF/F.  Jason looked aghast and was like, "What? You?  I would have wondered where my Lyda was and demanded a refund!"  And, yeah, see, this is my con persona... and, of course, the one of the dangers of running into someone you long considered a rival (I was told I couldn't use DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS for a book title of mine, because MaryJanice Davidson was putting out a book that same year with the same title.) I think I was thrown too because sometimes you set up in your mind this kind of rivalry and the other person LITERALLY has no idea who you are. (Davidson totally give me a blank look when i said i wrote paranormal romance as Tate Hallaway).  

Anyway, so that one was kind of a bust, despite how cute and hilarious Kirk/Buren was.

Today was another WAIT, WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO BE THERE days. Shawn told me that my first panel was at 1 pm today, and, since she'd been right about the 9 pm one on Friday, I believed her.  So, I'm sitting in my chair, cat on my lap, thinking about having a nice, relaxing morning when I decide to look at my printed schedule. Oh no! According to my sheet, I'm actually supposed to have an 11 am panel. I quick throw things together and rush out the door.  I get there, miraculously find parking in the lot, jump onto an opening elevator and arrive at Krushenko's at 11 am SHARP. Only, Eric tells me that the schedule has been changed. My 11 am panel was moved to... 2pm. 

Now, I could have stayed, but I'd already run out once to get Starbuck's so I thought, no, I'm going to go home, go grocery shopping, have a decent lunch and come back for my 1 pm panel.  That actually worked out really nicely. By chance, I even arrived at my house in time to introduce myself and Shawn to neighbors who are moving in across the street from us. I had a nice sandwich at home and headed back. Two panels in a row, in the same room, on similar topics.  The first was "Androids, AI, and Gender Theory" and the second was "Artificial People in Science Fiction."  My favorite fellow panelist (besides Naomi, of course,) was Justin Grays, who was on both.  Post panel, I instantly cyberstalked him and became FB friends, etc., like you do in this, the era of social media.

So, that was my con in a nutshell.  I think the only awfulness of the con was the audience member in the Gender Theory panel who wanted to insist on an old-fashioned and outdated (and now considered offensive) term for intersex people.  But, the panel dealt with the person quite gently, IMHO, but there are always some people who take the changing terminology as some kind of personal affront, it seems.  I mean, "Oops, my mistake, [use correct term offered]" is the easiest response. It's also okay to say, "I didn't know it had changed," once, but then go away and Google, for crying out loud. The panel is there to educate to some degree, but the topic was not changing terminology, so... time was wasted on that.

There were a few other awkward moments in the two Sunday panels, but, I think, for the most part, people were unintentionally awkward, instead of malicious... which I guess makes it a little better? I hope so, anyway. (For broad context, let's just say things get weird when white people try to explain away reasons for slavery.... even in the out of historical context and about why we might have clones.)

I dashed home after that, too, because WEATHER is supposed to be on its way.  In fact, Saint Paul schools just closed in anticipation of another afternoon storm tomorrow. (I imagine the superintendent does not want to deal with another situation like last time.) I think it's the right call, but if it ends up raining all day tomorrow and not snowing, people will no doubt say he was too hasty. Honestly, the poor guy can't win. I think it was smart to err on the side of caution this time, however.

Right, that's me to bed.  Hope you guys all had a good weekend.

Tiny Cuts

Jun. 7th, 2016 09:04 am
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
It's Tuesday and there's a joke/not joke/tradition in my family that Tuesday are actually worse than Mondays, because with Monday's you're EXPECTING things to suck. Tuesdays always blindside you.

Today is not much of an exception.

I woke up this morning sometime around 3 am and I probably lie awake for a half-hour, which doesn't seem that bad, except it was punctuated by two cat fights and Shawn having several wake-up gasping nightmares.  (Apparently, one of them involved wrestling someone to death on a highway. "Mason, too" she said, in that sleepy way that meant she was falling back to dreamland, and I wanted to say, "Wait, what? Were you wrestling Mason to death or was it that Mason also had to wrestle someone to death?  And... why was it on the highway???" But, you know, nightmares aren't nightmares because they make sense.  They're often the most terrifying because they DON'T.)

Because we are aware that Tuesdays have sneaking-suckage, we've written it into the fabric of our family life that we try to lighten the load by going to Bruegger's for bagels on Tuesday mornings.  EVEN THOUGH we know that the Breugger's on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is chronically understaffed and has fairly poor customer service.  I think we do this partly to ENSURE Tuesday will kind of suck, but also because even though it's a kind of a hassle the bagels are REALLY good.... so it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy but with bonus tastiness.

But, before we even left for Bruegger's I opened up my email and checked in on social media and discovered that on a my Facebook feed there was a couple of guys who decided they needed to jump in and comment on something I'd re-blogged.  It was just a funny little poke at the Sad Puppies that said, "Sometimes I want to go up to the people who insist that feminism and progressive values are Ruining Science Fiction and remind them that their genre exists because a teenaged girl was stuck at a house party and decided inventing science fiction sounded more appealing than yet another tiresome threesome with Lord Byron."  Which, admittedly is a very HARD poke at certain people, but yet, somehow, I didn't expect that what these guys were going to argue and get in a snit about was whether or not Mary Shelley was the first science fiction novelist.

As I said in response to their malarky, this is not a debate I usually see.  Mary Shelley is fairly well recognized as the first science fiction novelist and thus its "inventor."  (In fact, when I linked to the Wikipedia article entitled "the history of science fiction" her picture showed up!  I didn't even know it would!)  

There may be, as I said, other people who dabbled in writing science into their fiction, but who the f*ck has heard of them?  Frankenstein is a book that EVERYONE knows, to the point that they think that's the name of the monster.  Therefore, Shelley is the default inventor.  I mean, if we want to quibble then people need to stop saying that Eddison invented... well, pretty much anything people think he did, because what he did was PATENT things. To the victor go the spoils. This is, after all the argument women have to put up with all the time when there were women in the shadows or as support.

One of the commenters seemed to want to discount Shelley because he wasn't fond of Frankenstein.  That's not how it works.  

So, yeah, that rilled me up. Then I got stuck in about six different traffic jams due to construction I didn't know about, including one on Maryland Avenue where I swear to god the "go/stop" sign guys were just randomly assigning which lane of traffic got to go by some arbitrary means rather than looking at the HUGE LINE OF CARS in my direction and the fact that there WERE NO CARS COMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.  

It was, quite frankly maddening, the lot of it.  The people on my Facebook feed reminded me of climate change deniers.  They were denying something that every one else finds REALLY F*CKING OBVIOUS and not able to come up with an answer to "Okay, who then?  Who else wrote something this influential BEFORE Shelley?"  And, that's really the key.  I mean, it's a matter of influence as well.  


Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot. In preparation of our once-every-other-year (bi-annual?) trip to Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail, I took my car into Dave's. So, I'm stuck hanging out at the Dunn Bros. coffee shop in Roseville.  Again, none of these things that happened this morning were THAT big of a deal, but I kind of feel like I'm suffering from a thousand pinpricks, you know?

And... screw you deniers, Mary Shelley invented SF. Full stop.

Oh, but I was going to say, I have a couple of things I should tell folks about.  1) I will be signing books at the Mall of America's Barnes & Noble on Saturday, June 11 as part of their B-Fest Teen Book Festival.  (Here are a few more details: 2) I was gathering up things to DO while up in the land of no Internet and I discovered that I've nearly finished the PLOT part of UnJust Cause, the book I was posting as a work-in-progress on Wattpad. So, I cut and pasted all the chapters into a Google Doc and then printed it out.  My plan is to revise the book while we're up North so that I can have a really good start on finishing it and turning it into an e-book.  So, if you've been patiently waiting for the sequel to Precinct 13, it's coming very, very soon!  
lydamorehouse: (Default)
You can not even imagine the huge pile of library books on my piano. Actually, you probably can because you're probably a voracious reader. But, for me, it's almost overwhelming.

And now I have more to try to hunt down:

The Seiun Award (aka "the Japanese Hugo") for best SF in translation (I will be reading them in English.):

Pathfinder, Orson Scott Card, translated by Naoya Nakahara (Hayakawa)
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, translated by Makiko Ikeda (SB Creative)
The Dervish House, Ian McDonald, translated by Masaya Shimokusu (Tokyo Sogensha)
Redshirts, John Scalzi, translated by Masayuki Uchida (Hayakawa)
Among Others, Jo Walton, translated by Takeshi Mogi (Tokyo Sogensha)
The Martian, Andy Weir, translated by Kazuko Onoda (Hayakawa)

And the award that I would have thought that the SP/RP's would have coveted more than the Hugo, the Prometheus (The Libertarian Futurist Society award honoring pro-freedom works published in 2014. It's even handed out at WorldCON, I kid you not.)

The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin (Tor)
Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday)
A Better World, Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)
Influx, Daniel Suarez (Dutton)
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I've decided to start publishing (writing, actually,) the sequel to Precinct 13 on a new platform called WattPad.  I've already uploaded the first bit, which is only about 4,000 words long.  You can read it here:

The reason I decided to use this particular platform is that it feels like an original fiction version of AO3, the fanfic site that I really love, because it seems to be all about fostering a reader/author relationship.  It seems that a lot of the works on it are WIPs.  So, for instance, if you get into my story and you want a Certain Thing to happen, you can e-mail or leave a comment and I MIGHT ACTUALLY DO IT, since I'm not writing ahead much.  I have an extensive, detailed outline of the whole thing, but I'm really going to be writing kind of LIVE.... and by the seat of my pants.

Which could be a total blast.

And, honestly, the thing isn't writing itself.  I've had the outline for the sequel for almost three years and I've picked at starting this story a number of times.  I think jumping in like this might just be the kick in the pants I need.

So follow along, if you're so inclined.  If not, you can always check in periodically to see how it's working out.  I'll be curious if I can generate the kind of community I WANT this way... and just what comes of it all, honestly.

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