Levengers, I Hate You:
Yet another catalog arrived in the mail -- I think the third this month -- and like I need another fountain pen. Even if it is beautiful, 18k gold tipped and calling my name.....why are they doing this to me?
Quote for the Day:
"It is the stars as not known to science that I would know, the stars which the lonely traveler knows." -- Henry David Thoreau
I say, lobby Congress with that
ideology, next time NASA appropriations come up.
Medical Site for the Day: Sleepnet.com
-- Can't sleep? Waking yourself up snoring? If you have any type of problem sleeping, check out this site, which gives you the low-down on a variety of sleep disorders and provides a "Sleep Test" to help you pinpoint what problems you're having. I took the test and here are my results: You show symptoms of insomnia, which is defined as a persistent inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
(Not a big surprise.) Steven, if you're reading this, no luck on that term you were looking for yet. :)
Blog for the Day: Isomorphisms
(rated PG-13 for content) -- Brenda is studying mathematics, is a practicing vegan, and still has a sense of humor (the Sahara dry, snappy kind I love.) She also has plenty of opinions to offer on just about everything. Another weblog I stumbled across through cruising links and came back for the writing.
We took off on our first field trip of the summer to The Museum of Discovery and Science
in Fort Lauderdale, a perfect place to spend a rainy day. This is a hands-on museum geared toward children, with exhibits of native marine and land animals, along with all kinds of experiments and displays. Along with checking out such exotic critters as tarantulas, boas, and sharks, you can create a magnetic scuplture, generate electricity, lift a car engine with a huge lever and watch the sound waves of your own voice.
My camera won't do justice to the marine section on the first floor, but here's a shot of one of the tanks:
Mike thinks we should get a tank ourselves. I can see my cats hanging over the edge of this one, watching the fish swim and thinking, "Hmmmm, dinner."
Katherine loves snakes, and one woke up and started slithering around, following her fingers.
She didn't want fish or a snake, though -- she wanted the hornet's nest. This one was found in an abandoned home in Ft. Lauderdale, where the hornets had literally built it into the interior of an armchair:
Quote for the Day:
"The basis of optimism is sheer terror." -- Oscar Wilde
Or being newly in love, which is almost the same thing.
Medical Fact for the Day: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
manifests itself in patients who compulsively perform certain tasks, rituals or activities over and over, such as hand washing, turning lights and switches on and off, or counting objects. Some patients develop an excessive fear of contamination and germs. OCD also causes panic attacks, severe depression, and extreme phobias. Sadly most patients are aware of their condition and that their behavior is meaningless, but are unable to voluntarily escape their compulsions without medical treatment.
Doctors have discovered through extensive research that OCD is in part due to a chemical imbalance of seratonin in the brain, and that patients are born predisposed to the condition. Today OCD, which has occured in every race, gender and culture around the world, affects one in every forty adults and one in every one hundred children, and appears to be a genetically inherited trait. It has also been proven that dogs and other animals suffer from OCD.
There is no cure for OCD, but doctors are making progress with drug therapy. Antidepressant medications such as Prozac and Paxil have shown to reduce symptoms and help control anxiety attacks. Behavioral therapy can help patients learn to confront their fears. If you know someone who suffers from repeated compulsive behavior, or find yourself trapped by the same, seek medical help.
While OCD is generally not considered to be life-threatening, depression resulting from the condition can lead to more serious consequences for the patient.
Blog for the Day: The Mirror Project
isn't really a weblog, but a collection of images -- all of people taking shots of their (or someone else's) reflection. According to the site owner: "The Mirror Project is a growing community of like-minded individuals who have photographed their likenesses in a variety of reflective surfaces."
I may send in a photo I took of my little sister once, way back in '79, as she was putting on her makeup for a date with her future husband. Best picture I ever took.
Never use the Draft function of Pro Blogger. It is evil. It will drive you insane. I posted my universe-messing-with-me news to it and I think it ate it. All that typing for nothing. Bad Blogger.
Short version of the news that was consumed: Cecilia, my romance editor, has decided to leave publishing to pursue other professional avenues, and I have a new editor. I'm not sure how to spell her last name yet, but her first is Laura, just like my SF editor. Should make e-mail interesting. I'm happy for Cecilia and sad to see her go at the same time; I know she'll be a success wherever she goes but I really liked working with her, too. Still, the timing for this is pretty good for me, I just finished out my latest Onyx contract, and the new trilogy has gone into production. As long as I don't have to fly to New York, I'll be a happy camper.
Back from deadline hell and ready to rock and roll, here's the:
Quote for the Day:
"Go gcreime cúnna ifrinn do thóin bheagmhaitheasach. (May the hounds of hell gnaw at your worthless butt.)" -- Gaelic curse by yours truly.
Stunning, isn't it? (snicker) If you want to make up one of your own, check out An tInneal Mallachtaí
, a Gaelic curse generator, here.
Medical Site for the Day: American Medical Information Online:
A web site I recently found with lots of links to medical info on the internet, a search engine and news updates. A good place to visit if you're looking for links under more specific medical categories, too, like alternative medicine and pharmaceuticals.
Blog for the Day: Next-to-Last Song:
I hope I got the name of this weblog right, the author's got about twenty things at the top that might also be the title. I found this one through a rec
from Sarah Hatter's weblog, and fell for the melancholy tone and quality of the writing. One warning, if you're like me you're going to want to adopt Jason, bring him home and feed him, but otherwise worth a stop by to read.
Desperately Seeking Something:
A colleague once compared my professional attitude to a character in the fairytale "The Emperor's New Clothes." Specifically, the little boy who yells out, "Hey, he doesn't have any clothes on!" while everyone else in the kingdom is admiring the Emperor's non-existent finery. And there are times that I tend to agree with that analogy. Like NASA -- most people see scientific glory and grandeur, I see a large naked butt sticking in my face. We paid a lot of money to cover up that butt, too, and I want it back . . . but I digress.
I caught up with all my regular website stops today, and found the SF/F sharks in a frenzy over Star Wars Eppy2, Spiderman, and Scooby-Doo. SW sucks because of the computer graphics, Spiderman had a lousy ending, and poor Scooby-Doo has been crucified so many time he should be made an honorary Catholic saint. I'm sorry, I don't get it. Star Wars is a space flick. You need computer graphics, it's not like Lucas can go on location, capiche? Spiderman is based on a comic book
, for crying out loud, not the Bible. Peter and MJ are comic book characters
, not Liz and Richard.
And all this fuss about an animated dog. Yes, Scooby-Doo is silly, and kids love silly. What's sillier is the people calling Scooby an outrage. These are the same people who dress up in costumes at SF/F conventions and think Orson Scott Card is the second coming of Heinlein or whatever. Uh-huh. Get a grip, folks. It's just a cartoon.
You'll notice I'm not saying a single word about Buffy. I'm really, really, really
tempted, but I got enough hate mail the last time.
Anyway. More SF/F careers are taking a dive, our market share continues to shrink, and there are increasing, disturbing levels of desperation out there. The pros are in so many flamewars that smoke rises from my monitor whenever I access a newsgroup. Everyone has an answer (usually the product of their genius), write these essays on what the answers are (nothing that's popular), and feel publishers should subsidize True Art instead of making a profit. The few who are making considerable bucks at this game are quietly withdrawing to neutral corners and having their books marketed as other-than-SF/F. No one wants to play nice.
Then I think of this quiet little revolution we've had going on over at Holly's
for some time now, and how that could change everything for the better. We're encouraging and educating each other, sharing resources, strengths, weaknesses -- you get so much positive stuff out of our community. The Think Tank I keep bragging about is one of those revolutionary things. Instead of complaining and sniping at each other, we get together and work out our problems once a week. And we have a blast doing it.
When you want to save something, you don't whine and complain. You don't lash out at your peers. You don't try to force your ideas down an unwilling throat. You find people who want to work instead of give up. Build instead of tear down. That's what will save this genre. Workers and builders, not whiners and flamers.
Rather a lot of snail mail to catch up on, which Lee deposited on my desk in three tidy file folder boxes which he marked: "Business" "Fans" and "Criminals" (I'm a bad influence on the boy.) I sorted out all the prisoner mail, which I now return unopened, checked the nasty letters to see if any qualify as stuff to turn over to the police -- yes, I actually have to do this -- then started reading the good letters. Got five more high school graduation photos, I need to start an album now. Then I found something odd -- a gentleman sent me a credit card that had been cut up into three pieces, along with a note that indicated he was not interested and to stop bothering him.
Now, I generally don't buy
men with credit cards, so I decided to take it over to the post office and see if I could return it with a note or something along the lines of "Huh?" The counter clerk asked another worker if there were any credit card companies renting PO boxes from them. Turns out a fairly famous card company has one, and their box number is very close to mine -- the gentleman simply inverted two digits. Mystery solved, we then had to decide what to do with the letter. Since it had been opened and refused, post office policy is to return it to sender, no exceptions, but that seemed kind of dumb. Miraculously, the letter was resealed with tape and placed in the correct box. As for who did it, my lips are sealed.
I've thought about writing a cheap motel room scene for a long time, but I never could quite get a handle on how to approach it. Everyone does them, but the authors usually focus on how tawdry and depressing they are, and work in a little commentary on the dregs of humanity etc. etc. Where's the fun in that? So here's how I ended up doing mine:
Excerpt from Sean & Meko's book (Onyx Trilogy #2 Book #3), by Gena Hale
The rhythmic pounding against the wall woke him up first. From the sound of it, and the high-pitched feminine cries coming through the drywall, their neighbors were putting their bed to good use.
Kameko lifted her head. "I think they put us next to the honeymoon suite."
"Sounds that way." The room was dark, but he could see the glitter of her dark eyes watching him. "Feel better?"
"Much, thank you." She stretched like a lazy feline. "What time is it?"
He tilted his watch until the faint light from the crack in the curtains spilled over the face. "Half past midnight." When she tried to sit up, he pulled her closer. "You're exhausted, and we can't do anything until morning. Go back to sleep."
The pounding became so forceful that it sent vibrations through their bed. “I don’t think I can, at least, not until Romeo and Juliet do.” Her breath warmed his cheek. “Are you hungry?”
“Starving.” And not for food. “Though we’re probably limited to pizza or Chinese.” He reached over to turn on the lamp. “What’ll it be?”
She winced as the recipient of the pounding next door uttered a single, extended shriek of pleasure. “Um, do you mind anchovies and green peppers?”
If only she knew some of the things he’d been forced to eat in his life. “No, that’s fine.” He picked up the phone and dialed the front desk to get the number. “What pizza places are still delivering now?” He memorized the number the clerk recited, hung up, and redialed to place the order. “I’d like a large with extra anchovies and green peppers, delivered to room one-fourteen at the Surf and Sand Motel on Baker. Throw in a six pack of soda. Whatever’s cold. Thanks.”
He looked back at her. The lamp’s rosy light cast an artificial blush over her features, giving them a pretty glow. “Hmmmm?”
She jiggled their cuffs. “I’m sorry, but I have to go to the bathroom.”
That meant he had to go with her. Maybe it wasn’t the lamp light. Luckily, the bathroom was small enough to preserve her modesty. “We’ll take turns standing outside while the other goes.”
“Thanks.” She edged over the bed until she could stand, and made a face as she inspected her crumpled garments. “I wish I could take a shower.”
Not if he wanted to preserve his own sanity. “Tomorrow, after we officially break up.”
They took care of their needs as quickly as possible, but the enforced proximity made it an awkward business. By the time they had both taken a turn in the tiny bathroom, their meal arrived.
“Twenty-two fifty, please.” As he handed over the flat box and the soda cans, the skinny Latino delivery boy gave Sean a wink. “Woke you folks up, huh?” He jerked his head in the direction of the next room, where the amorous couple was now busy engaging in a noisy round two.
“As it happens” –Meko raised their hands and rattled the cuffs– “we
Sean closed the door on the wide-eyed boy and tsked. “A woman your age, corrupting a young mind that way,” he said, trying to sound stern. “For shame.”
“He was being rude.” She sniffed. “And we’re not that
“Time for pizza, I think,” he said, guiding her over to the bed, then changed his mind and decided the floor was safer. “Damn, I forgot to ask for napkins.”
“Here.” Meko opened the zippered section of her purse and produced a neat, folded stack of tissues. “Use these.”
He peered into the open flap. “What else have you got hidden away in there?”
“A woman’s purse is like a himitsu-bako
– its secrets must never be revealed.” She offered him the first slice of pizza, then selected a small triangle for herself. “Or the magic is lost forever.”
In the next room, Juliet began shrieking “Harder! Harder!”
“The magic. Right.” Sean almost choked on his soda. “What exactly is a himitsu-bako
Meko wiped her free hand before she reached into her purse to produce a small, rectangular wooden box. “This is.” She placed it in front of him. “Go ahead, try to open it.”
He picked up the box, but it was nothing more than a solid block. “With or without the tire iron?”
She grinned. “Without, of course.”
The outside was decorated with beautiful, geometrically-inlaid bits of wood in a star design. Yet when he shook it, he could hear something rattling inside.
“Wait, I think I’ve seen these before, overseas.” He checked the seams. “It’s a trick box, isn’t it?”
Something fell over in the next room and shattered, but the pounding didn’t stop.
“A puzzle box,” she corrected, her face red as she took it from him. “Himitsu-bako
are made in the Hakone-Odawara mountain region of Japan.”
Juliet told Romeo how well-endowed he was. At the top of her lungs.
“Are they?” Sean kept his expression blank. “How interesting.”
“Yes. The process is quite involved. The mosaic woodwork is called yosegi-zaiku
, a marquetry technique that originated in the late Edo Period.” Meko took a sip of her soda. “Actually, there are only about thirty people in the world who know how to make these boxes.”
Romeo began praising Juliet’s endowments, his voice deeper but equally as loud.
“Thirty.” Sean used a tissue to wipe the sweat from his brow. “Imagine that.”
Meko nodded and cleared her throat. “The youngest of them is about sixty years old.”
The pounding picked up speed.
He stared at her hands, remembering how they felt on him. If the serenading next door didn’t soon stop, he’d be all over her. “So how do you open it?”
“There are twenty-seven steps that have to be followed in order. Watch.” She pressed her thumb against one of the stars, and a seamless thin sliver of wood slid up. Then she did the same to a side panel, then another sliver, and kept sliding out otherwise-invisible pieces until the box looked as if it might fall apart. Finally she pushed back the top, revealing the contents – a small hollowed cache, with two keys, a photograph, and a folded piece of note paper.
"I think I’d have to take the tire iron to it," he muttered, shaking his head, then reached for the box.
"The keys aren't for the cuffs," she said as he examined them. "That's my spare house and car key."
"They're safe enough in that thing.” He took out the photo and the note paper. “What’s this?"
"I've never seen the old black and white photo before. A woman in New Orleans thought it was one of the Nagatoki."
She took the paper and unfolded it. "This is what he wrote: `Use this historic evidence to identify. Good example rank sword, the real evidence as specified under research. Everyone is skeptical, guarded. Until a representative delivers everything, don't betray your dear relatives.'
" She paused, then read the last line. "`All goodness only needs someone to find it.'
"What does that mean to you?"
"Nothing, I'm afraid." She turned to look at the wall as their neighbors at last reached a noisy mutual climax and the pounding came to an abrupt halt. "Thank goodness."
"Do you think they've killed each other by now?"
She cocked her head. "No, but the bed is probably in critical condition."
The way she said it, with her prim-and-proper voice coming from that sinful mouth finally did him in. "And the wall." He chuckled. "The wall's definitely taken a beating."
"Twice." A giggle escaped her before she quickly regained her composure. However, a mischievous light entered her dark eyes. "But considering that he’s the greatest lover
that she's ever had
. . . ."
Her diplomatic paraphrasing did him in, and he began to laugh, harder than he had in years. He watched her eyes light up as she joined him, until they were holding each other up and gasping for breath.
"Oh . . . I needed that," she said, and reached for her soda. "This is wonderful, by the way. Thank you."
Never let e-mail slide when you have six different accounts, particularly if you subscribed to a newsgroup, you will regret it (voice of experience here with 12668 messages to read.) I've found some very weird questions, too, which leads me to believe some online speculation has been misinterpreted as fact. So to clear up a few things, here's:
The Top Ten Things I Will Not Be Doing in 2002
1. Going to Worldcon.
I don't attend SF conventions for the same reasons I don't hang out at bars. Not my thing, I don't drink, and the people scare me.
2. Getting Married.
Who started this one? Aren't two ex-husbands enough? Sheesh, I'm not even dating.
3. Having Open Heart Surgery.
This is my own fault, for not updating Star Lines. Yes, I do have a mild heart defect, but it's not large enough to be life-threatening or require any major surgery. I will be going in for a cardiac cath sometime in the near future so we can get a good look at it and decide how to adjust/alter my other meds, but that's all.
4. Having My Leg Amputated.
So far the leg is holding together and, barring reinjury, I have no plans to have it cut off. I like my leg. If it does happen, it will be much later on -- like when the kids graduate college -- and it won't be the end of the world. No amputation is. Plus I'll get all the best parking spaces for life. Not a bad trade.
5. Having More Children.
I think I made a silly joke about this and someone read into it. Ah, no, three is plenty.
6. Writing My Autobiography.
Hadn't even thought of this one. Would make an excellent non-prescription sleeping aid, maybe, but I don't think I can work that into the schedule.
7. Moving to Another Country.
Why? What's wrong with this one? I mean, other than it keeps getting attacked by religious extremist fanatics whose pissant country we should just nuke until it glows?
8. Getting a Tattoo.
My mother would kill me. You don't want me to die, do you?
9. Writing A Novel Featuring A Gay Protagonist:
This was another rather poor joke I made back on April Fool's Day. I don't discriminate when it comes to characters, but -- seriously -- I have no plans to write a novel featuring Hawk as the MC at this time.
10. Getting My Head Shaved.
Lily, my hair is really not that bad. I promise. Kinda fluffy.
If you go to the grocery store at 7 am on a weekday, you'll notice that the store is nearly deserted. All the people with regular day jobs are dragging themselves to work, and the senior citizens are home working on their morning cup of Sanka. The only people who shop are young mothers with children 2 or under who have to be up at the crack of dawn to feed Junior and see the spouse out the door, or insomniacs like me who just pulled an all-nighter and haven't been to bed yet. None of the cashiers are tired, and most are stocking end chips or cleaning their work area with those opaque spray bottles of mystery fluid. The rows of carts extend past the automatic door and none of them wobble, shake or screech when you push them.
As you shop, you notice the store is usually sparkling clean, free of clutter, and there are no lines anywhere. The ladies at the deli counter don't make you take a number and the bakery ovens are pouring out all kinds of lovely aromas. All the stock on the shelves have been moved to the front, creating the impression that the store is literally packed to the seams with food. Walking through the aisles isn't like playing bumper cars, it's almost like being in church -- you feel like you should whisper when you ask the stock guy, "Where are those Bounty paper towels that are on sale?"
My favorite part is a cruise through the produce section. Inevitably there is a very large man arranging the new shipments of bananas or grapefruit, and he's in a good mood so he'll tell you that strawberries are a bargain this week or that those mangos over there are a little sour. Everything has been piled in pyramids and misted and looks like Farmer John just brought it in from the fields. You almost don't want to buy anything so you don't mess it up.
Bananas were very green this morning but corn on the cob was cheap and beautiful. I bought both, along with some dense broccoli, fresh ginger and garlic to go into my stir-fry concoctions this week. The bananas will ripen for Kathy's breakfast and the corn will be consumed with some black bean burgers and macaroni salad tonight. I have no appetite now -- too tired/wired -- but my stomach will wake up around 3pm, look around the kitchen, and say, "Hey, let's cook."
Sean and Meko's book has Left The Building
On it's way to New York, bon voyage, so long, farewell, auf weiderzen and whatever. Best romance I've ever written, I think. And if I never have to read it again, aside from revisions and galleys, I will be a happy girl. Such is the love-hate relationship of an author and the work. That's book #41, on to #42.
The kids are home for the summer now, btw, just to add another interesting nuance to life at Chez Viehl. Today I was Bad Nutrition Mother, threw everyone in the truck and went to pick up some fast food for lunch. On the way we encountered a bit of a traffic snarl due to some men digging up something in the road. One older gentleman in a Lincoln Towncar got impatient and began to lay into his horn, and as we passed the road workers, one of them (a New Yorker) shouted "Hey, blow me!" at the guy.
The beautiful, precise contempt made me grin. My daughter, who has extensive natural radar for this kind of thing, immediately turned to me and asked, "Mommy, why does that man want him to blow on him?"
"Gee, baby, I don't know," I said, somehow keeping my face straight. "Maybe he's hot."
Besides the computer woes, I've been wrestling with the final edit on Sean's book all weekend. Yes, I know I said it was going out on Friday, but that didn't happen. There was still something wrong with it, and I didn't know what until about 3:30 am on Saturday. Remember that loud shrill scream you heard coming from the southern U.S.? That was me.
I thought it was this one minor character who kept bugging me, but I couldn't figure out why. He worked well in the story and contributed exactly what I needed to the plot -- without getting too interesting, no less -- and wasn't really anything special. Then it hit me right in the face and all the light bulbs went off -- I'd been working so hard on finessing and balancing the elements that I'd missed a huge gaping yawning maw of a hole in my backstory.
And guess who fixed it? Yep. Mr. Not Too Special.
So now I am rewriting at the speed of light. Three chapters were affected, including the end, but it ties up the story beautifully and slays the last of my dragons of doubt. Sean and Meko will be off to New York by tomorrow afternoon, and I will be able to collapse for a few days before I regroup for the next big contract pitch. Writing is not for wimpy of heart, that's for sure.
Happy Father's Day
Something an Excellent Father Sent Me:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?'
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. It's not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Kinda Sorta Maybe . . .Never:
From the Blogs of Note list, I checked out The Date Project
thinking it was about history or something. Yes, well, you will forget that date
means something other than "block on the calendar" and "thing like prune" when you get to be my age, too.
The Date Project's author is obviously very serious about his objectives, but the stuff he wants to do, I don't know . . .
1. Strike up a conversation with three different people I do not know each day.
I don't like talking to people I know.
I have three or four very close friends I hang with and they have to kick me to get some decent conversation out of me. Exception: my online writing clan (aka everyone from Forward Motion and the Think Tank) but that's talking shop.
2. Attend activities, events, or other situations where I can meet new people at least twice a week.
Sorry, not enough pantyhose or tranquilizers in the world to make me to do that. If you could somehow combine it with grocery shopping, though . . . would I have to wear makeup?
3. Ask out at least one woman each week:
Since I'm hetero, we'll make that men for me. I dated pretty regularly for ten years between marriages and decided toward the end that a pet probably would have been a wiser investment of my time and efforts. Also, I don't have a lot of practice at this. Men have always been good sports and asked me out, while I've only asked one
man for a date in my entire life. And I married him. Um, no, thank you.