lydamorehouse: (Aizen)
I turned in my apocalypse story yesterday morning. I will let you all know what, if anything, becomes of that. It was a good story for me to write. I normally DON'T use writing as therapy, but this one was a good vehicle to work out some of my feelings about my cats' deaths. It was kind of a "the world ends, but you go on anyway" sort of apocalypse.

Now it's time to turn my attention to Unjust Cause and getting that thing in order for Wizard Tower Press.

Last night, we had a guest. Mason has several close friends on his Overwatch Team. One of them is a young person named Græ (pronounced like Gray, and might even be spelled with a 'y' also. That is their online persona, but what Mason calls them, so...), who just happened to be in town with their parents visiting Macalaster College. Mason and Græ arranged to hang out and play video games in the basement. We ordered pizza, because of course, and also Græ is a vegetarian. We got to meet Græ's parents, who I absolutely ADORED. I mean, do you ever have that experience where you start talking to someone and you think, "Oh! This is one my people!" It was like that. Græ and Mason already knew each other, so they got on like a house on fire, as well. I think Græ was here from 4 pm to almost 10 pm, and then we all stood around the living room hanging out for another half hour when it was supposed to be time to pick-up because, yeah, they were all that great.

So that was a lot of fun.

While it Mason and Græ played video games and chatted in the basement, Shawn and I went upstairs and watched "Ant-Man and Wasp," which Shawn hadn't seen before. We started watching some Hong Kong drama called "Iceman," about time traveling Chinese warriors, but Shawn found that just too silly (many wires, much weirdness) and so we switched over to the MCU. Shawn had NOT seen the first Ant-Man, but was introduced to him via "Captain America: Civil War." She really loved the character Luis, so we're going to try and hunt down that first Ant-Man, because I do think she'll like the Luis bits, if nothing else.

Speaking of the MCU, I saw "Captain Marvel" and loved it. Only really a spoiler if you are living under a cave, but I respect cave-dwellers so... )

Over the weekend, we made a double batch of fleischkeukle, which, as my parents pointed out when they called, is something we seem to be doing more often. This is true, partly because we made the decision to make smaller batches more often. Otherwise, it takes ALL DAY. It only took MOST of the day this way.

Uncooked dough meat pockets, like slightly larger pierogi lining a baking pan

People on Facebook asked me what we fill these with. Shawn's family traditionally fills them with hamburger, onions, and spices. Very simple. The dough is really only special because it's a cream-based dough. They still manage to be very delicious, IMHO, particularly when eaten, piping hot, right out of the deep-fat frier.

Same meat filled pockets only deep-fat fried to a golden brown

My D&D group got cancelled on Saturday night, for reasons of a death in the extended family of one of our members. That made me sad for a number of reasons. I really look forward to playing, if nothing else, but the situation reminded me a lot of my (still living) first lover and all those complicated feelings that I will probably carry around my whole life, much like what our member described. 

The only other news is that we moved Shawn in to her new upstairs office on Saturday, while Mason was at work. Mostly this involved carrying plants and all the delicate things not normally trusted to workplace movers. I think her new office looks very nice, very IMPORTANT, befitting a State Archivist and Director of Library and Archives. The only thing she needs more of is art for the big beige industrial walls and she'll be set.

I think that's everything I know. I mean, I could squee at you all about my fannish life, wherein I have a fan of my fan work, who happens to be an artist and who has taken it upon themselves to make a manga-esque comic book out of on of my Bleach fics. As someone who always wanted to grow up to be a comic book artist herself, it thrills me no end to see my words put to pictures in this particular way. In fact, yesterday, I finished another chapter of this work and so I made sure to send a sneak preview to my artist ahead of time in the secret hope that they will feel inspired to draw something from the upcoming action. :-) I don't expect anyone here to be all that curious, but if you are, the permalink to my reblog is: (a note for those who are regular manga readers, this one reads English-language style, left to right.) The story of mine that 'aysmiro' is illustrating is linked to at the bottom of the three page panel spread, too, if you're inspired to check out my work, as well.

So cool.

lydamorehouse: (renji has hair)
 Last night was the speculative fiction smut reading at Kieran's Pub.  I spent much of the day, yesterday, feeling very nervous about the whole thing. Nervous probably isn't the right word. I do a lot of public performance, much of it off the cuff, but I'm NOTORIOUSLY bad at reading naughty bits, out loud, in front of a crowd. I have _literally_ hired stunt readers, while rolling around in embarrassment under the table at cons during slash readings.


A friend of mine who is an actor in New York volunteered to listen to my pieces and give critique to help improve my performance. They are also a Bleach fan, so we probably spent more of our time together lamenting the ending of the manga.  But, it was really neat to finally see them in person (we did a Google hangout) and put a face and a voice to text, as it were. But, knowing I was going to read to Taylor meant that I practiced both pieces several times, even before talking to them over Hangouts. 

Then, [personal profile] naomikritzer came over and, my random luck, I made an amazing "pot roast hash" out of some leftover rump roast and some veggies.  We chatted for a bit, but both of us had errands to try to get in before the snow started, so we said goodbye early and I headed out with Mason's laptop to Computer Revolution.

I totally recommend Computer Revolution in Roseville to local folks, btw. First of all, they did what we wanted the "Genius Squad" to do at Best Buy, which was test the cord with a voltmeter. The cord, they determined, was shot.  It is, of course, still possible that there is more than one problem going on with the ROG, but we have an easy place to start. Shawn ordered the cord as soon as I told her what I'd learned, since she'd already done all the research in case we might need one. I asked the guys, though, if the cord doesn't solve the issue, are there other options that don't involve replacing the motherboard as Best Buy seemed to suggest would be the only other issue (and far too expensive a prospect). They had lots of options, several of which were very potentially reasonably priced.  So, that's a huge YAY.

Mason came home a bit early from robotics, despite it being "stop build day," the day they have to literally wrap up their robot and put it away until competition, because he was feeling kind of sick. He seems to have caught a cold.  

After picking up Mason, feeding him, etc., I got dressed and headed out.

I got lost at least twice, mostly because I don't know left from right, but I managed to get there by 7:30 pm, which was perfect, as it gave me a chance to find a place to park and get in and get the lay of the land.

Kieran's pub is kind of beautiful. The Not-So-Silent Planet folks managed to have their own private section, a part of the pub that is legit called "The Poet's Room" and it has its own doors, own bar, etc. I was really sad to hear that they will be having to move the venue next season, because it could not be a more perfect place for this kind of event.  It's both public, but very intimate and private.

interior of pub with painted mural on one wall, a small stage in the corner and a few people at tables

The structure of the show was that the first 3/4th were open mic, which... with erotica was.... kind of hoot? I mean, the first person up did two pieces, the first of which was revenge porn with implied rape and I thought "OH SH*T, MY HUMOROUS STUFF IS GOING TO BOMB" but then they did a second piece which was a clever story about an app that allowed you to experience other people's fetishes.  

The whole night was like that--some of the pieces were very INTENSE, some hilarious, several of them were body horror, a number were more traditionally romantic, and then, a few were... well, HOT.

I was horrified to discover, however, that I was scheduled to be the finale. I'm NOT finale material. So. NOT.  But, I did my best. I read a sweet/sensual piece from the sequel to Precinct 13, which is the book I just sold to Wizard Tower Press.  That seemed to go over well. I only stumbled over one line at the very beginning.  

The second piece I read (the first one clocked in at 4 and a half minutes, and I was booked for twelve, so I had to read something else) was actually bit of fan fiction of mine that involves kinbaku, the Japanese art of rope bondage. As noted at the start of this, I get very flushed and flustered reading anything erotic out loud. For a while, when I first starting writing sex scenes as part of my profession as a romance writer, I had to touch type them while LOOKING AWAY FROM THE SCREEN, I was so embarrassed. So, I decided to ask for some help from the audience--audience participation, if you will. So, I asked people to shout out a word for anatomy that starts with "c" and sort of looks like a single finger when I raised one finger, and another part of anatomy that is plural and is usually connected to the first one when I raised two fingers. The audience was very enthusiastic about this. 

But what was funny? I think they were quietly getting into the story, which was kind of unexpected?  I mean, it's out of context and there's some bits that can not possibly have made any sense, but the first time they did their bit and shouted out the words for me, I tried to make a little editorial comment about how wonderfully enthusiastic they were, but the vibe I got from the audience was very "yeah, yeah, get back to the STORY!!"

Which I mean... I guess it never occurred to me that the audience might be very _into_ the story.

I still think it worked pretty well. Having other people say the stuff that I find particularly difficult to say out loud without giggling or stammering awkwardly certainly made the reading more fun for *me.*  

But the unexpected reaction was just sort of funny.

Hopefully, it all worked, I don't know. Personally, I would not have had *me* go last, but people seem to expect great things from me. (You win one second place Dick....) In all seriousness, the other guests were much more polished and professional than I was and I was super impressed with them all. [personal profile] catherineldf read an amazing bit about being a temp worker in an office full of SUPER HOT vampires, which she delivered with her usual style and grace. Laura Packer performed (and I mean PERFORMED) this spooky, mesmerizing retelling of Snow White, where Snow White is the monster of the story. Tom S. Tea read tentacle porn to DIE for.... and then I bumbled in.  Still, the show was super. I am seriously considering making Not-So-Silent Planet a regular thing next season.

And now it is snowing buckets. 

Oh, and school was cancelled for today. Whee!
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
 I have to get up out of the warm blanket and go fetch some kitty food from Menard's. I just don't want to. Did I mention that my blanket it electric? And i had to squeeze my car into a parking space halfway up the block?  

Just another five minutes, then I'll get up.

So, what do I have to report? The most my family did for Valentine's Day was exchange a card or two. Mason had robotics until almost 5:30 pm, which meant I had time to start our "fake" naan recipe.  So, we had a favorite meal, something we call "Indian Butter Chicken" (because that might be what it's called on the box that contains the sauce I make), rice, and naan.  Then, because Mason is a teenager, somewhere around 7:30 pm, he says, "Uh... so, I'm supposed to bring some ingredients to Chinese tomorrow, because we're making dumplings again."  But AT LEAST he remembered to bring them with him this morning. The night before, he'd stayed up late to do some art-type project for AP Human Geology and then promptly forgot it at home. Luckily, I could text him a picture of it, so his teacher would know that it was, in fact, done on time, even if it didn't make it in on time.  

Because today is payday, we're hoping to all go out to Tavern on Grand tonight for fish.  Mason has to be at robotics again, because the wrap day (or whatever they call the day that they have to shrink wrap their robot) is coming up early next week. But, Shawn and I are thinking about hitting Roseville Library to browse the shelves and hang out until he's ready to join us.  When you think about it, that's pretty romantic. Looking for books together at the library?  HOT, am I right???

Also, I have to laugh at myself. You know how I've ALWAYS claimed that the reason I've been unable to write is because I can't write unless I have a contract?  THIS APPEARS TO _ACTUALLY_ BE TRUE, much to my chagrin.  I have an apocalypse story due the first of April, and, yesterday, I wrote almost 2,000 words on it. What the hell, brain. What the H.E.L.L.

One of my pen pals died. I recently acquired a pen pal in Duluth. Normally, I don't like to have pen pals that I don't know that close. (Like, you live in Minneapolis and we've met or we're on social media together and you want to be my pen pal? SURE!) However, this woman took Friend Books. Friendship Books are a very weird aspect of the pen pal subculture, that are fascinating, but also a burden. I've written about what they are here before, but a quick look at Wikipedia might help you understand how they work: The point is, I started conversing with this person, mostly so that I had someone to whom I could pass on Friendship Books when I got a bunch of them from the two other pen pals who tend to pass them on to me.  The other day, I got a letter from her daughter. This woman had some 60 pen pals by her own reckoning, but so that might explain the brevity of this note. But, it simply said, "I know you exchanged letters with my mom. I'm sorry to tell you that she and a friend were involved in a head-on collision and died instantly."

But I can't find any information about it. No obit was included. I mean, there's no reason not to believe this, but, wow, what a shock.

Anyway, my eldest cat is staring at me. I'd better get up and fetch her food from the store or she will guilt me wit that amber-eyed stare of hers.
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: (crazy eyed Renji)
 I'm NOT the best Duolingo user.

I don't always respond to guilt-trips, so their "Hey, you know you can only learn by constant practicing!" reminders get ignored by me nine times out of ten. They are also pushing me to learn new words/units, but I keep circling back to previous ones because f*ck if I can remember the kanji for 'inu' from one day to the next. 

Obviously, I'm not supposed to be using Duolingo as my sole source of language study, and, yet, I sort of am.

I mean, I legitimately have flashcards at home, but do I use them?  I bought a subscription to, but do I listen to a lesson every day, like I should?  I have Pimsler CDs in my car, but do I pop one in the player instead of listening to news that makes me want to pull my hair out?


Also, if you can't tell from the above, I am a 100% auditory learner (thank you, mild dyslexia), which may be another part of my general problem with Duolingo. However, I do need to be able to read/sound out words in Hiragana, and Duolingo is the ONLY way I have learned any of that consistently.  So, for that, Duolingo has been good.

Probably what I need is a routine. I should have some set time, every day, where I sit down and do ten minutes of study there and follow that up by listening to a podcast and make Mason do flashcards with me. My brain resists foreign languages though, I swear.

Anyway, that's just me complaining. I know what I need to do. I'm just lazy. And, it's not like I have some kind of deadline. I'm learning Japanese just because I want to.  There is no trip planned for the future. I'm sure that's a big part of why I haven't managed to actively carve out space for study.  

Today, I'm going to go to the coffee shop and hang out with a bunch of my writer friends. My friend Eleanor has been trying to get me to commit to another day during the week (Mondays?) where we get together and actually write, since Fridays have become more about socialization than actual writing.  It's a good idea. I have a project I need to start working on, as I got a invite to an apocalypse themed anthology. It's a small press deal, but an invite is still an invite, so I'll take it. My deadline is April 2019.

I've been writing a TON of fan fic, but if you're a follower of junko on AO3, you're probably thinking, "No, you haven't, you big fat liar." But, actually I HAVE. I just haven't posted anything yet, because it's a collaborative project with Josey (cestus) that's an Aizen + Ukitake/Kyouraku (Bleach) epic. Unlike me, Josey doesn't like to post WIPs while they are in progress. So, we are waiting for more to be written before we post. She has given me permission to post one of the pieces because it's nearly a standalone in that it tells some of the origin story of how Aizen discovered Kyoka Suigetsu's shikai.  But, in the last few days I've been kind of struggling to put word on paper at all, and I have no idea why.  Normally, winter is my best writing time.

Last night I went to Tumblr just to see what was happening there. I scrolled quite a ways down my feed, and my personal feed now almost entirely consists of memes about Tumblr's implosion/random explicit tagging policy AND porn bots. Seriously, I hit three porn bots with live-action porn happening right in front of me with all the female presenting nipples being groped in a way I actually don't find very hot, and YET when I go searching on the #yaoi hash tags....

Tumblr's "oops nothing is here screen"

It's possible that all the NSFW yaoi artists and reviewers and text posters decided to go through their entire user history and delete the #yaoi to preserve their work, but somehow I doubt it. I would much rather be able to read someone's review of the latest yaoi post than see an actual, real life dick on my dash, personally--not that I have anything against people who want both (or neither.)


lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
...which means I'm sitting at the coffee shop this morning, wondering exactly HOW I should structure the next three hours of my life, a.k.a, my Loft class.

Today's entry on the syllabus reads:

Day Four: Calling a Rabbit a Smeerp and Other Problems of World-Building

World-building is more than just giving things we already know weird-sounding names, because how annoying is it to be reading about something called a smeerp that looks and behaves exactly like a rabbit, even though it’s supposed to be the native life of the planet C-43? If the class is interested, we may pull out a few (and only a few, because, man, is that list extensive!) of Pat Wrede’s world-building questions to see what answers we would come up with—both as a reflection of the work we’re already doing or as story/world idea prompts. Beyond working with her thoughts, we’ll also discuss our own tricks and tips for building believable fantasy and alien worlds.

Sounds pretty good, but these students chew through material like hungry wolves.  

On the other hand, spending some time just talking about worlds that they love and why they love them--with this class--is often a gold mine.  I have to say that I've been extremely lucky. I have some of the most out-going students that I've had in a long time.  And, a really decent percentage of people who want to share. Even some of the people who won't read their writing out loud (which is... let's admit it, even *I* hate doing that from time to time) still contribute ideas to class.  

Yesterday went really very well, too. So fingers crossed that I can keep up this winning streak for another couple of days.

The last class is Friday and then I drive home, pick up my family, pack up the car, and we head to Siren, Wisconsin to hang out at a friend's cabin. Sounds like just in time, too. It's supposed to start getting warm again.

I have to say that I've been LOVING this cooler weather.  Good sleeping weather, and I think that's actually one of my concerns today. I actually got enough sleep last night and now I feel kind of... well, like I'd rather STILL be sleeping. And, my ability to roll with the class and lead them and teach, entirely depends on the energy I have to give. I got myself some food, though, and a coffee, so I should be okay.

Wish me luck again! It worked last time.
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 I've determined today to get a decent start (well, re-start after talking to Wyrdsmiths,) on my proposal for a mystery cozy that my agent was looking for. I'm a four pages in and all I want to do is... anything else.  

In fact, I just got back from running an errand and am eyeing up the dishes. I hate doing the dishes.  The only thing that makes doing the dishes bearable to me is the fact that I usually watch anime while doing it.

I even started the laundry, another job I loathe.

All to avoid writing.

I'm SUCH a stereotype.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned the cozy here before.  There's no real "interest." All that happened is that my agent was talking to an editor (as per her job) and the editor said something to the effect of, "You know what *I'd* love to see....? I'd love to see a cozy mystery set in the craft beer brewing community" and my agent, being an actual decent person who seems to legitimately have my back, passed on this bit of industry gossip. I'm probably the absolute worst person to try to write this. For one, I don't drink beer. AT. ALL.  I grew up in a brewing town and the smell of hops kind of makes me think, unpleasantly, of overly hot, swampy days. So I never bothered to acquire a taste for it.  I've done some home brewing of wines, but never (obviously, since I don't drink it) beer.

HOWEVER, the universe seems to want me to give this a try, because, by absolute chance I met a woman at Minicon who not only is a craft beer enthusiast, but ran her own craft beer brewery.  So, I contacted Kathleen on Facebook and she's agreed to be my expert advisor.  In fact, we got together a couple of weekends ago and talked about the local craft brewing scene. I learned a lot of interesting stuff and immediately got an idea of how the murder could happen.

So, I've been diligently poking at this proposal for several weeks now. I really want to get it done so that I can start on the part that's going to be the most difficult for me: writing the sample chapters.  I should probably just start writing those, too, but [insert typical writerly whine, aka "WRITING IS HARD!"].

Who thought this was a good career for me, anyway?  Oh, wait. I did.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
 I went in for my cholesterol test this morning.  The only thing I hate about that is that they won't even let you have plain black coffee anymore. It used to be that you were fine, so long as you didn't have a froo-froo latte.  Now, they're banning even a regular cup of joe.

I thought I was gonna DIE.

Especially since, I could not immediately go get coffee. Instead, I had to wait for Shawn to finish her appointment. After THAT, we drove to the DMV to get her license renewed... it was only after that that we got coffee. The nice thing, actually, is that Shawn bought me breakfast. I love breakfast out. It is one of my most favorietest things in the whole, wide world.  We went to Day by Day Cafe. Just what the doctor ordered! Oh, no, wait, that was all the blood tests.

At least that's done now.

Normally today I would be at my coffee shop with 'the ladies,' hanging out and talking writing and life, today. But, Mason woke up with the beginnings of a cold. (I think I might be getting it, too, actually.)  Since he's at home, I decided to hang close. I'd been hoping to catch the guy who wants to do an inspection of our house for our new homeowner's insurance, but he texted (of course!) while we were at the doctors' this morning, so that will now have to wait until Monday.  No biggie, and in fact, it gives me a chance to clean around where the fuse box is (he's taking interior pictures of our heating system and electrical.)  The fuse box happens to be in the coal room, which is where we have all of our kitty litter boxes.  They need changing anyway, but now I don't have to dash out to the store RIGHT NOW. 

So, that's a silver lining, I guess.

Meanwhile, I've been doing some fannish things.  There's a bit of a community among the bloggers of anime/manga on WordPress and I've been reading and commenting over there a lot more than usual. That's has, in turn, inspired me to read (and review) a lot more manga so that I can have something of interest to add to the conversation.  

Likewise, someone on Tumblr has organized a "Renji Week" where fans are encouraged to post fan works of any variety on specific themes for a week, starting on April 1.  Since I'm a writer, I've been working ahead. I've got one theme piece "in the can" already, and ideas for at least one more. Now I just have to settle in and write.  Unfortunately, my late start on caffeine has me kind of staring blankly at the wall. Weirdly, because I am such a lark (opposite of 'night owl' = 'morning lark'), I actually faired better earlier.  Now that it's my natural lull time, I'm like: Eyes.. won't... stay..... ooooopen......


*snort* Wha?  Ugh. Maybe I'll try reading for a little while.  Hopefully, that will wake me up.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
It's What Are You Reading Wednesday and I can report that I read a bit more of Scarlett (I realize that my other problem may be that I seem to have made that book into my bathtub reading book) and two Marvel comic books: Ms. Marvel (Vol.7): Damage Per Second by G. Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Mirka Andolfo and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Vol. 5): Like I'm the Only Squirrel in the World by Ryan North/Erica Henderson/Will Murray.

I got halfway through volume 3 of another Yotsuba&!. What I need to do with those is make them my car books/carry around to read when you have five minutes books, because they read really fast.  I just keep forgetting about them.

So, about writing.... I had kind of an epiphany today.  It's going to seem like a sad one, but I'm not convinced it really is, but... I'm going to let go of the idea that "I'm going to write something today."  I've been living under the hope that "any day now," I'm going to get my act together and write a novel.  It's time to accept that's not going to happen. I've gotten into a really ugly, self-destructive mental space about it all, and I need to... let go.

I would be worried that this is a sign of depression, but the thought actually makes my soul feel lighter.  

I've had plenty of interest in the things that make me happy, in fact, I've been having a RENEWED interest in the variety of things that make me happy--all my little hobbies, including pen palling and stamp collecting and reading and cooking.  I've been the opposite of lethargic since I decided to let this go a little, and I've been getting a ton of things done around the house.  So, I mean, it's a sad realization in many ways, but it doesn't feel like one motivated by any kind of medical depression.

I'm not going to give up ALL forms of writing, either. I'm still very into my reviewing, in teaching, and critiquing fiction. I think I just need to let certain expectations about what I need to be in order to be a valid and productive human being--and one of them is that I'm any kind of serious about writing a novel any time soon.  I'm not writing.  When people ask me, I'm going to be honest and say, "I've given up on that for the time being.  I'm doing teaching and non-fiction work, instead."

It's not like this decision erases 14 published novels, either.

You can be sad for me, but I think this is the right decision right now.  I think, too, that if I can let go these expectations, I might actually be able, in time, to come back around to writing fiction.

Or not, but I need to be able to be happy with who I am. Right now? I'm not really a fiction writer and that's okay.

lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
 I didn't post yesterday, because I don't think I finished reading anything and that sucks.  

I'm in the middle of reading Scarlett, a YA that's the sequel to Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I listened to and reviewed the audiobook of Cinder WAY back in 2012.  The review still exists out there, much to my surprise:  So, if you want to know what I thought of the first book, feel free to check it out.  

I apparently managed three reviews for Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys:  Cinder's audiobook, Pacific Rim (the movie), and one comic book called Haven.  I have no idea why that gig stopped (possibly I just stopped? Maybe I expected to receive more things and didn't pursue my own?), but it appears the blog hasn't been updated since 2014. So, it was only a couple of years later they stopped all together.

Review sites probably don't garner very many click-throughs to be worth the effort.  For myself, I just keep MangaKast rolling because I like to keep track of the manga I've read. (I haven't updated that in almost a month, I don't think). I can't imagine doing MangaKast as a for-profit thing or even doing it intentionally, regularly--anything other than for fun, I mean. 

I don't remember if I got paid for my work at ODDysseys or not. I think that was volunteer, actually, much like my work for Twin Cities Geeks. Paying review gigs are super hard to come by and they don't seem to last, at least not for me.  Maybe my longest run was reviewing movies for focusPOINT?  I think I did that for a whole year... probably the interviews I did for Science Fiction Chronicle were the longest running paid gig I had, though, unlike focusPOINT, that was very much a 'whenever you can swing a good one' kind of publication schedule.  My earliest review ever, anywhere was for Tangent Online, back in November of 1999. Amazingly, that one also still exists:  I think it was the only review I managed for them, though.  I apparently suck at follow-through.

Speaking of review gigs that randomly dried up, I just emailed my editor at Bitter Empire, because they stopped publishing my reviews and never really told me why.  I assumed it was because they're very focused on lawyer-y things and my odd little science fiction book reviews weren't exactly a perfect fit. I was more baffled than anything and obviously just moved on to Twin Cities Geeks when I saw the opportunity.  The only bummer, of course, is that Bitter Empire paid, and paid fairly well, at that. (I would not at all be upset if the reason they stopped publishing me was because they could no longer afford to pay me.  I totally get that.  I'm just finally curious enough to ask, I guess.  Also? I don't really want to have left there with bad feelings and I suspect just not talking about it, while very Minnesotan, could lead bad feelings later maybe?)

I dunno.  

In other news, though I have to skipped my writers' group because I have to work at the library tonight, I got a royalty check, which makes me feel like a writer (even if I haven't been able to write much of ANYTHING this past month or so.)
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Just in under the August 11 deadline, I got my proposal in to the Loft for an intermediate/advanced adult science fiction/fantasy class.  Fingers crossed that they decide to take it.  Apparently--at least according to the front matter for the submission process--the Loft is going to offer fewer classes in the hopes of promoting them better. I would feel slightly better about my chances if the Loft had any real sense of just how many science fiction/fantasy geeks live in this town and/or how to reach out to them. But, fingers crossed! I would certainly help them find folks, if they asked!

But, I feel good for having gotten that done. It's been on my to-do list for over a week. Earlier, I submitted a workshop for teen writers, at the request of my Summer Youth Class Coordinator, which HAS already been accepted into the catalogue.  So, provided that people sign-up for that, I should have work in 2018, even if the adult class doesn't make the cut.

Otherwise, I've kind of forgotten how to Monday.  Having three days up at our friends' cabin was so blissful that I've kind of lost track of all the stuff that needs doing. Let's see, tomorrow is the Twins game against the Brewers that Mason and I decided to go to. We'd actually had tickets for last Thursday, but that was the really blustery day/night AND Mason managed to get a stomach bug.  He was pretty upset having to miss it (especially since there's really no cancellation policy and we were out $$), so we went ahead and made plans for tomorrow. Should be fun... I mean, I'm not a huge sports fan, but I've learned to enjoy baseball, as it is Mason's sport, and pro games are always kind of amazing (as opposed to amateur, I mean.)  Anyway, that's one thing on the agenda this week.  

I also reserved tickets for LATE (10 pm!) Friday night to see my friend Naomi perform in her show at the Fringe Festival.  I'm only disappointed that my other Fringe performing friend, Commarrah, has a show on the same day at the EXACT same time. (Part of the deal with the Fringe is that you have to have a day pass and I was really, really hoping that Commarrah's show would be same day, only, say, _earlier_. Alas. I may still have to contrive to see it. Her show has been getting great reviews.) But, I have never done any part of the Fringe before, so this should be... interesting, as we say here in Minnesota.  We'll see how it all goes. If any of you local folks have advice, feel free to leave it in the comments.

One of my goals for this week is to write up a nice proposal for the thing I'm currently working on and send it off to Martha, my agent.  I should probably have an outline at any rate, so writing up something like that is never a bad idea.  

Mason and I are probably going to go to Whole Foods for lunch. We've been meaning to get Mason over to Whole Foods to check out their fun soaps (something he'd wanted for a stocking stuffer, but we kept forgetting to get for him....and then we decided it might be nicer for him to pick out his own scents.) The new location has a large buffet area, so we can kill two birds and all that.

Yeah... so, that's me. How's your Monday going?

lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)

 One nice thing about having old technology is that I'm not nearly as tempted by the shiny that is the interwebs.  

On a side-note, do you suppose this happens to Captain America a lot?  Tony: "Steve! Where the hell were you? We texted you a half dozen times!" Steve: *glances at iPhone* "Oh! That's what all that beeping was! I forget about this thing all the time." Because, he would. He grew up, like I did, without the internet, but he also grew up without TV, which is almost impossible for me to imagine. Captain America must have the concentration abilities of a GOD. I would also bet you money that movies give him heart palpitations and possibly motion sickness (mostly this guess is based on Mason's first reaction to a "normal speed" movie--previously, as a kid, because we didn't do TV, he liked really slow animation, like Bambi).

Anyway, the point is, and I do have one, that I've been able to get a lot of writing done. As I mentioned in passing, I have this project from my agent that I'm working on. I don't know why, but she'd really like to sell something more of mine to Tapas Media.  I'll be honest, she probably just wants to sell ANYTHING of mine to ANYONE, since it's been a long time since I've had anything to give her. I suspect that was why the idea of another trunk novel, however bad, excited her. 

It's just... this trunk novel.... it's not just "oh, I wasn't all that into it" kind of bad. It's the kind of bad where, because I was writing for a proto-NaNoWriMo type thing where I was just trying to get a certain number of words done in a day, I have actual sections that read like this: "His eyes were blue, not just a run of the mill blue, but the bluest blue like the bluest blue sky ever." That's a paraphrase, but I was basically just willing to repeat words in order to get words on the page.  On top of that, I had not done the kind of pre-planning that's required for a successful NaNoWriMo and so, when I got bored of the main love interest, I randomly replaced him with his evil twin, with no set-up or foreshadowing or anything. 

This is not a novel I want to put my name on.

I don't even think it COULD sell, even if we sent it to someone.But, Martha also handily sent me a list of "features" that Tapas found successful, and so I thought: I'm not writing anything for-profit right now. Why not just try writing something to spec?  

So far, it's working. That is, I'm feeling good about the words going on the page which is more than I can say about a lot of the writing projects I've started in the past several years.  Anyway, wish me luck.

lydamorehouse: (Default)
It might be the beans and rice I had for lunch (that's a lotta fiber!), but I actually think it's nerves. I just finished a draft of my proposal submission package for Carina Press. A friend of mine is beta reading it RIGHT NOW and I think that's part of my grumbling tummy. I mean I like this novel start. I once read it at a WorldCON reading and there's someone who heard that reading who keeps asking after it. So, I know it doesn't suck on a fundamental level, but breaking through this block I've head is... kinda a big deal, you know?

After she reads it and makes comments, I'll have a couple more days to polish it up. The proposals are due June 4, 11:59 Eastern Time!  So, an hour earlier for me, but still basically I have until late night on Sunday to get it all in working order.  


What, who me?


Anyway, I'm distracting myself from watching over her shoulder in Google Docs by writing this... and listening to my stomach gurgling like crazy!


I felt inspired to finish up and send it along to my beta reader today because I got some other good writer news. Several months ago, a friend encouraged me to send in a short flash fiction piece to a Queer SF flash anthology, (on the theme of "renewals.') I'm excited to report that I may or may not be a winner, but, regardless, they have selected my piece for inclusion in their anthology. Whoohoo! As their letter to me explains, "This does not mean you are or are not also a winner in the contest - you’ll have to wait to find out. ;) We will be announcing the honorable mentions, runners up, judges choices and winners over the next couple months." So I'm still in the running for the cash prize, too.

A red letter day, I would say if I hadn't recently realized that's a Biblical reference.

Maybe I'll still say it. I mean, I used to write religious stuff, after all.  A RED LETTER DAY.
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
That's not entirely true. I spent much of today working on an urban fantasy proposal for Carina Press, which is having a limited time offer of accepting proposal packages.  I've got until June 4th to turn it in, and I'm feeling fairly positive about it.  I managed to dig something up that had amused me in the past, and have been reworking it.  I had already written a proposal at one point and I had a fairly decent start on it. So all I really have to do between now and midnight on Sunday is write like a demon, because OF COURSE they want sample chapters.  

Ah, my old enemy, sample chapters, we met again!

The other part of the day I spent with my friend Naomi, catching up on news from WisCON. Every once and awhile I feel like I should consider going back to WisCON. I used to love it and it's probably worth my while to go again.  The big problem is that we've gotten into this lovely routine of visiting my folks over Memorial Day weekend and I would hate to break that tradition. Maybe I'll go back once Mason is in college. That's not actually that long from now. Four or five years?  (Hard to believe, but there it is!)

I'll have a lot to report tomorrow for "What Are You Reading, Wednesday" as I read a TON over the weekend.

I have to work tomorrow night, which is something I can't forget to do.  I say that because I spent much of today thinking today was either Monday or already Wednesday. 

Mason is in the basement playing video games and Shawn is down there with him, looming on a rug.  I'm upstairs contemplating a bath and writing to my Canadian pen pal, whom I owe a letter. The only reason I haven't gotten up to start either one of those is because I have TWO cats. One is sitting, warming my lap, and the other is perched on the back of the comfy chair, warming my back. It's tough to leave, but I suppose I'd best.

lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 I suspect I had other resolutions earlier this year, but I've forgotten them.  I'm certainly not doing them, unless one of them was to try to do a little bit of gardening every decent-weather day.  Yeah, so that's the thing I'm trying to do this year. I'm really hoping it will stop my gardens from becoming their usual weed-infested, overgrown disaster areas.  It would be one thing if, when I let my gardens grow wild, they would become a haven for woodland creatures.  Somehow that doesn't happen. Somehow I just end up with a mess.

To that end, so far this year, I have spent probably a total of four hours on a couple of problem areas.  One, hardly anyone will see, but we have this pathway that leads from our backyard to the front.  It's usually completely ignored by me and becomes the place the weeds with the sticky burrs live. Then every time I take the garbage out and come back again, I have to pick those little sticky bastards off my sleeves.  WELL. A couple of days ago, I dug that whole area out and transplanted some hostas and day lilies and now my fingers are crossed that the predicted snow does not kill them.   

Today I spent an hour or so on the front hill. The front hill... when we first moved into this house we had lush, green grass growing down the hillside.  It was a really big pain to mow, but it was GRASS (something, it turns out, I have no skill in growing or maintaining.)  Now... now there's a lot of dirt and weeds.  Underneath the weeds are some hosta, so pulled out a lot of the weeds today and uncovered several hosta. A few were big enough to split and a couple were in places where they were going to get smothered out--so I moved some stuff around.  I'm hoping this will help things look intentional.

The second resolution is that I'm going to try to learn more conversational Japanese.  I did NOT start this year out well in that regard as I have had to drop out of my community education class, however, I did find a REALLY GREAT set of language CDs at the library which I'm listening to while I do the dishes/make dinner/other housework.  I love these CDs because they're actually teaching me some useful phrases ("I don't understand Japanese being the FIRST THING THEY TAUGHT ME) and they keep bringing up the things you learned in earlier lessons on heavy repeat.  I actually, for once, feel like I'm retaining some of this information I'm learning.  That's a HUGE step forward in the language department for me. Because I can't otherwise seem to retain information. I told Shawn that I'm going to have to buy this particular brand of language CD.  

I should probably resolve to write fiction, too, but sometimes I feel like I should give up.  :-(
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
I guess  I taunted the weather goddesses a little too much in my blog yesterday, because I came out of Magers & Quinn last night and snapped this picture:

snow falling outside Magers & Quinn Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN April 10, 2017

Again, if you can't see it, is shows a bookstore storefront. The awnings below a lit-up "Magers & Quinn Booksellers" sign are snow-covered. You can see grainy streaks of heavy snowfall overlaying the whole shot. The cars parked in front of the bookstore are likewise covered in snow.


Apparently, when I complained about the lack of moisture falling from the skies for the past few days, the weather Powers That Be heard my taunt to 'put up or shut up' and thought, "HA. We'll show HER. How about a half inch of SNOW, huh? YOU LIKE THAT, PUNK???!!"

I did not.  

It was fairly horrific to drive home in--there were points on the highway where I was fairly certain I was making up my own lane lines, since I really couldn't see where they were supposed to be...and that's never a safe feeling.  But I made it home fine, andI am happy to report,that  the new car handles like a dream in slippery weather.  I mean, the new car is funny.  Patrick, that is.  He's like a stately, yet somewhat cranky old man. He just doesn't do fast, even when you'd really like him to have a bit more pick-up and go.  So, to say he 'handled well,' really means that he was just not fussed to go any faster than all that and so took the turns and such in his own damn good time.  That's Patrick for you. He's kind of stubborn like that.  A good car, though. I'm still very happy with it. Especially pleased to have heated seats last night. (And a heater that works!)

The reading itself could not have gone better. Remember how cranky *I* was about Magers & Quinn not being able to get any copies of Precinct 13? Well, they managed it in the end. There were several copies available for sale when I came in. I was so pleased that I decided that whatever didn't sell, I'd just buy myself, because I always need giveaway copies around. I think I ended up taking home three of them (which was about half what they ordered, I'd guess. So a good night for them, too, I'd think).

The readers were all lovely. We were gender balanced (almost exactly), though all of us were white (as far as I could tell). There was a band that played songs as intermissions, which was... fancy?  There was wine and cheap snacks on a little table. We read at a podium with a microphone. I felt like I did pretty well. The story excerpt I read was from "Everything in Its Place" a story that I significantly revamped for this anthology, but which I originally sold to Tales of the UnAnticipated back in the day. (TOTU gets first publishing credit.)  When Eric first published "Everything..." he told me he didn't like the ending, which was bleak.  I'd conceived it as a horror story, really.  But, he asked me to rework it, and so I did.  It ended up still dark, but the ending has the heroine making peace with 'the thing' that lives with her.  A good, possibly better ending, but not my original intent. For the anthology I revised it back to its original, more horrific ending

One of the many nice things about having an archivist for a wife, is that I still HAD a readable electronic copy of my original. I'd saved it as Thing One (the version I sent to Eric which eventually sold to him was labeled, naturally, Thing Two.) But, it was.. clunky. So I had to do some significant revision.  I guess now I have a Thing Three, which completely ruins the Seuss reference.

Tonight, I teach!  

lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 First, I need to kickstart my career by 2018.  I just got an invite to be one of the GoHs for Minicon next year. It would be nice if I had something to promote by then.

This summer Mason and I are planning a road trip.  Normally, we tag along to Shawn's annual COSA/NAGARA meeting (Council of State Archivists/National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators). This year, however, it's in Boise, Idaho.  Nothing against Idaho, but I'm not sure there's enough stuff there for Mason and I to entertain ourselves for 5 whole days.  So Mason had this brilliant plan.  When mom flies off for Boise, we hit the road.  We drive through the Dakotas and Montana and meet-up with her in Idaho, then we all travel back by car and see Yellowstone in Wyoming and the South Dakota badlands.  

I think this is brilliant. Shawn agrees (especially since she hates flying and this saves her a return trip).

We're going to do it!

In fact, at the library yesterday I picked up some guidebooks because I have no idea what's even in Montana. Glacier National Park is, for one, although that's at the far western end of the state--(though we are talking 5 days to get from point a to point b, and driving straight through we could make Boise in 24 hours.)  Shawn is activating our AAA membership and ordering all the road maps and AAA tourism guides to all the states we could potentially drive through.

The best part is that Shawn's conference isn't until this summer, so we have lots of time to look at maps and guidebooks and plan. I found a couple of really fun guides to interesting backroad attractions in Montana and it's been fun to page through them. A nice distraction from the political barrage. 

I've never travelled much in this direction (that I remember. My parents, of course, brought me back to Wisconsin from my birth place in Sacramento, California, but I have zero memories of any of that as I was an infant.)  I've been to visit Colorado a couple of times, but both times I flew.  I know that a lot of both Dakotas are pretty flat. We drove through some of that to see Mount Rushmore, when Shawn and I went with Karl from Czech. I'm pretty sure we're going to do South Dakota on the way back, though, ironically, all of Shawn's relatives are in North Dakota so we may have to figure out a way to reverse this while also saving Yellowstone for Shawn.  Previously, when we'd talked about road tripping while Shawn was stuck in Boise, the thing that made Shawn sad was the fact that she'd be missing experiencing some of these major landmarks with Mason, particularly Yellowstone which she hasn't seen either. She'll still miss some this way, but not all. Shawn likes traveling when it's by car, so this really is a two-fer. (This really is a brilliant solution. Go, Mason!)

And we will very likely have a new car by then.  One is in the works, in fact, though the one we're looking at has more milage than the one we're currently driving. However, it might be worth it if the price is right AND it has fewer issues. Our current car has sprung an oil leak on top of its preexisting radiator leak.  Not something you want to traverse mountain passes in. 

Doesn't this sound fun?  

Plus, as I said, the planning for it has been a welcome distraction.  It's nice to have a future thing to look forward to and be excited about.

Now I just have to figure out how to re-launch my career!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
The Internet landed on Neil Gaiman's head.

Luckily, that soft, curly mop of hair will deflect much of the impact. I'm not worried about Gaiman.  Gaiman will be fine, I'm sure.

Also, it seems very clear to most people that what Gaiman said was meant as an advert/squee/general endorsement, not Word of God.  If you don't want to read the whole article, the short of it is that, in an effort to promote the opening of enrollment of Clarion, a long-standing writers' workshop, Gaiman suggested that writers "need, NEED" to go to Clarion.  He's already answered a dozen accusations by clarifying that he didn't mean to imply that anyone who didn't go to Clarion wasn't a real writer (especially since that would include himself), he was just being an enthusiastic supporter, and that all a writer needs to do to be a writer is write.  

In fact, most of the people I'm friends with on Facebook, seem completely baffled as to why Gaiman got dumped on with such vitriol.

I'm not.

Yes, the only thing that makes you a writer is if you write.  However, writing is NOT the same as publishing.  Publishing is a for-profit business, and it is inherently unfair from start to finish.  There are thousands and thousands of excellent and talented writers out there. Conversely, there are only so many slots in traditional publishing houses for all that talent to go. 

I could go on about it, but I'm not going to waste space telling you what most of you already know: getting published is hard, often impossible.  It's heart breaking.  It's soul killing.  And, yet, other people seem to be able to do it, and so you start casting around, wondering, what the hell, how did they do it, when I can't???!!

Cue: Clarion.

Clarion is an expensive, in-person, live-in, SIX WEEK writers' workshop. There are two of them (or at least there used to be: one in the east, in Michigan, and one the west, in California, I think.)  You pay not only the attendance fee, but your own travel, board, and expenses.(There's at least one scholarship available, however.) The trade off is that you get six weeks of writing instruction (and writing time) not only with your peers in the field, but also with people like Neil Gaiman as your teachers.  Usually, also, there's at least one editor who attends, so you're guaranteed a chance to get in-person feedback from someone who could actually forward your career in one way or another.  

This is, in point of fact, a HUGE leg-up.

As I said before, publishing is a business.  In business, you need contacts, networking skills.  Clarion provides a singular opportunity for these.  In fact, I still tell my students to consider going, if they can afford it.  I feel like Clarion also gives writers and opportunity to really "level up" as the kids would say, in terms of writing craft, skill, because it is so intensive.

When Clarion would have been advantageous for me, I could have *maybe* scrapped together enough to go, but I couldn't have taken that much time off from work.  So, I didn't go, but, man, I wanted to.

Dozens of my friends went.  (That's not even hyperbole, Minneapolis/St. Paul has a huge SF/F writing community and at the time I was deep, deep into it.) I was pretty damn envious of all the war stories they told, the t-shirt they came back with, and the people I considered SF/F celebrities that they now knew when they went to WorldCons or elsewhere. It felt, from the outside, like an exclusive membership. Like they really HAD gotten VIP access badges or some secret handshake that I didn't. In a way, they did have their own language. At cons, alum would greet each other with cries of "West '92!" or "East '08!"  and I always wanted to join in with something like, "Bravo! Zulu! Charlie!" because... well, because I'm a weirdo. 

But, so the point is... I can understand why some people piled on Neil's comment.  There's lots about the unfairness of publishing to be angry about.  It's also especially painful when it feels like the barrier between getting into the cool, insider club is money.  And time.  And also: this.

I'm not saying that's the truth. Clarion is expensive, but they're not making money hand over fist either.  In fact, they've had a lot of trouble with solvency.  East may have folded. I know it was in danger of doing so a couple of years ago.

I'm just saying I can understand why people reacted the way they did.

Of course, Clarion isn't the answer any more than anything else is. I know plenty of Clarion alum who published, but I know more who didn't. I even know several alum who stopped writing entirely.

So, even this HUGE advantage isn't a guarantee of success.  In a way, that's why people are mad.  There isn't any magic entry.  Not even talent or skill. (That a lie we tell ourselves, but go read something like Fifty Shades of Gray and explain to me how talent was the key to success there.)  Some people literally luck out, and that's almost all there is to it. Persistence being the other major factor, but, on the other hand, I've known people to beat their heads bloody against that barrier to publishing, too.  So, even being persistent isn't a guarantee.  So, of course, people are angry. Of course they're mad at Neil for seeming to suggest that the magic key is to buy your way into the kingdom.  And maybe they're like I was, those years ago, staring, green-eyed, at all the Clarion alum who seem to have some advantage they don't.  That's maddening too.  The whole business is maddening.

This is why I tell my students that they'd better have a reason they write that has nothing to do with being published.  I tell them over and over, you need something to fuel your spirits and keep yourself going.  You need to love the process and celebrate it.  You need to know that you'd do it anyway, even if nothing ever comes of it.

Because you might get lucky.  I did.  
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 ...but so Shawn suggested last night, when I confessed to feeling low about my writing, that I do what I used to do... WAY back: set-aside an hour in a place that felt more like an office (a desk, the dining room chair) and just sit there with the document open for an hour.  Set a timer, if necessary.  Try to write.  Write what you can.  Then, quit and give yourself permission to do the other things that need doing.

Well, it f*cking worked.

I just wrote for an hour on the Satan novel.  (And I really enjoyed it.)

lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
That's how much science I told my students they needed to know. (Also your magic needs rules).

That pretty much summed up class. We have come to the point where it has dawned on my students that the true value of the class is in the last hour of instructor/peer critique. In fact, I'm certain they figured it out because the ones who had never volunteered previously all asked me suddenly if there was a way to slip them in to the schedule (now that we're literally at the half way point). And, the answer is, of course, yes: I will lecture less and we will critique more.

My insights into writing are just that: mine. And we all know that there are as many ways to write properly as there are writers writing.

It's so much more valuable to have people talking to you, directly, about your work and helping you do what it is you're trying to do. So much more. I'm super glad they all twigged to that. Of course, if anything, this means I'm going to be working HARDER--because critique is time consuming when done as instruction. But, I think the students are all going to come away very satisfied and feeling like class was time (and money) was well spent.

So, yay. And they all behaved admirably again too. Only once did I need to say, "Okay, but you need to say something you liked about the piece. It's part of the structure of how we do critique and one of the rules."

The problem wasn't that there weren't nice things to say to the student being critiqued last time, as I told him after class, the problem was that his prose was at such a high level that it became invisible to the reader. They fell, head first, into his story, and so they wanted to nitpick the EVENTS of the story, and had a hard time remembering that the amazing thing was that the story captured them SO PROFOUNDLY (even as they ran up against things they didn't like.) Adorably, he looked at me and asked, "So I don't suck?" I was like, "Oh, honey, no. So much no. You're writing at at a professional level." He blinked, "You mean it? I could sell this?" I said, "Yes, some day, you WILL."

I don't say this lightly. I have been wrong, of course. But, I've also been right.

Speaking of being wrong, I really didn't expect to enjoy Jeff VanderMeer's ANNIHILATION as much as I did. As I was telling Mason, it kind of reads like Myst come to life...only weirder. Normally, I'd have told you that this book reminds me of some of those trippy movies where it turns out in the end that the "hero" is a psych ward patient, but a) that's not at ALL what happens and b) while it does have that style, which I normally don't like at all, coming off PEOPLE IN THE TREES (which I hated), I found this really awesome, refreshing, and clever.

As an aside, I've noticed that women writers rarely forget women's periods, but men, even ones writing in a female p.o.v., always do. There was actually no reason for the author of THE PEOPLE IN THE TREES who was writing a faux memoir from a guy's point of view to ever mention the one female explorer's period, but she finds a way. Our doctor "hero" manages to come across the female explorer's unburied, bloodied feminine supplies and is horrified by the fact that they're just laying there, destroying the pristine jungle's greenness with their awful white and blood-red. He doesn't much like her anyway, but this kind of seals the deal.

Meanwhile, though, TBF, it's only a matter of weeks that the events of ANNIHILATION takes place in, our heroine, never even worries about what she'll do when that time comes. She doesn't even think about what supplies she might need, even though she's in the middle of an (alien) wilderness. Despite the fact, also, that the entire crew is female, periods never come up. Which only struck me because there is, in fact, a lot of discussion about supplies. A similar packing-for-a-possibly-suicidal-adventure scene in THE GIRL IN THE ROAD is all about, "I wonder how many periods I'll have, and what I should use when I have them?" Similarly, THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE could be subtitled, "F*ck, I still have to deal with my period in the apocalypse (and worse, while I'm trying to pass as a dude)." The heroine in that is always scouting for a pharmacy, not only for medicine, but also for tampons.

To be complete, periods never once came up in MEMORY OF WATER or Cherie Priest's MAPLECROFT DISPATCHES. So, it's not all women, all the time... and I'm certainly not implying that *not* mentioning a women's period is some kind of sin of omission. Certainly, I don't think about mine all the time (and I'd rather not think about yours, thank you very much, especially when there's something more interesting to talk about... which is pretty much anything.) But, I don't know. I guess I might expect it to come up when planning a trip or thinking about surviving in an unknown wilderness where there are no pharmacies to restock from... and maybe if these other women hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't notice when it's not there.

It certainly isn't this important, but I will tell you I'll be looking for it other places, gods help me. :-)

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