That and This:
YACCS, who kindly (and freely, I might add) provides the comments feature for Star Lines, has a server down. It'll probably be a day or two before the comments reappear, so I'll try not to be too interesting or controversial in the meantime.
I spent the last twenty hours not writing. I'm going to spend the next twenty not writing, too. Feels weird but my internal editor assures me that if I even think
about plotting a scene before Monday that she'll knock me through a wall. I think my internal editor needs anger management therapy.
I'm really cooking tonight; habichuelas y arroz, platanos, and some tres leche with cinnamon and sugar (for you white people, that's beans and rice, cooked bananas, and three-milk cake.) I love Cuban food and I don't make it enough. Tomorrow night I'm going to make a big pot of cabbage carrots & potatoes (New England boiled dinner, minus the ham) because I miss that too.
Reading: Nothing. Watching: Nothing. I might mozey on out and pick up a video tonight but I'm really having fun just listening to music and relaxing and quilting. I actually meditated for two hours uninterrupted today, and I can't remember the last time I did that. So I'm all Zen now too. :)
I forgot to mention that my darling daughter caught a snake at school today and brought it home. I was relieved to see it was only a little baby black climber, about six inches long and completely harmless. That she is being allowed time and opportunity to catch snakes at school will be a topic I bring up with the administrator next week.
After we secured the reptile, I had to deliver my stern "if you don't know what it is, you can't catch it" talk again. There are plenty of pygmy rattlesnakes down here and I don't want Kath's endless love for animals putting her in the hospital. She said yes in all the right places but I think she knows I love snakes as much as she does. Follow up will be me and her hitting the poisonous critter books so she can learn more about what not to catch, because as all parents know, talk goes in one ear and out the other, but pictures of serious snake bite wounds stick to the brain.
The cats were utterly mesmerized during our temporary guest's visit. I swear, Rush started to drool. But happily the snake has relocated to Dad's house and will be taking up residence in an aquarium. Next week I don't think I'll be surprised if this kid catches and brings home a baby wild boar on a leash.
And Zee Book Ees...
As I packed up the ms. to haul it off to the shippers, I glanced at my AOL homepage to see Britney Spears and Madonna pictured together. With the contrast of the nubile young BS, I immediately realized that Madonna has become the very image of Rhoda from the MTM show. You youngsters won't understand that prehistoric reference but for yours truly it was a strange and startling moment.
And now that the ex has picked up the kiddies, I am off to wallow in a hot bath, chocolate, analgesics, my quilt rack, Mozart and peace.
Bring It On:
In a few hours, this book will be out of here, and after I finish up something else for another editor I plan to give myself the weekend off. After that, one more book to write, two or three new contract talks (all coming together next week, oh joy) and then I'm pretty much done for the year.
Six of the seven books I had scheduled for this year are finished and, counting today's, turned in. Next week I could theoretically add two more to that figure. That means I'd write nine books in a single calendar year. Six, no problem, seven, okay, eight, in a pinch, but nine? It's a number that makes even me pause.
Writing nine books would shave five days off my already insane per-book work schedule. For each of the remaining novels, I'd have forty days to write, edit and turn in. Forget vacation. Forget my nice ten hour work day; nine books = twelve to sixteen hours seven days a week through the end of the year. Forget pretty much everything until the books are done.
And then there are the private demons. Nine books brings me within 100K of reaching a personal and rather mythical goal of selling and producing ten books in a single year. Very tempting. I know of only three writers in the industry who have actually done a ten book year and shoving all modesty side I wouldn't mind being number four. I might even be the only published author who has ever written ten books in four different
genres in a single year.
Alas, at the moment, it is still the stuff of dreams. Have to sell the books first. Thus I resist my personal demons, herd the kiddies off to school and then dive back into the edit. And if I hum the theme to Rocky underneath my breath now and then, I know you'll forgive me.
Evidently ten thousand plus fans rallied together to vote for
David Brin's novel in the unofficial SF Weekly's "Hugo Poll." Obviously DB is the sure bet to win the real thing as
his dedicated fans will no doubt cast another ten thousand votes to make sure he wins. Congrats on your fair and impartial victory, Mr. Brin.
Author Jeff Vandermeer now has a weblog where he talks at length
about the "physicality" of books. He also conducted a two-year survey in his spare time and got seventy other editors and writers to do the same. And I am now firmly shutting my mouth and not making any snide remarks. See? I can be nice.
In honor of Toronto hosting WorldCon, the evidently cranky Cheryl Morgan has everything you wanted to know about Canadian SF/F writers but were afraid to ask up over at Emerald City.
Nicely-done insults throughout. I'll have to start reading this e-zine or whatever it is regularly; this lady is meaner than I am.
The Pros and the Cons:
(PG-13 for language, kids, go do your homework.) It seems that someone is harassing my pal Sarah
about her going to Worldcon and cons in general, perhaps because of some of my opinions stated here.
Star Lines readers should be advised that this is really
pissing me off, so if it's you doing it, cut it out.
Let me dispell some of the ill-feeling I've apparently generated toward conventions. I think they're great places for fans and readers who want to see their idols in action. If you belong to an online writing community or fandom group, they provide fun opportunities to meet in the flesh. If you're published and into the whole self-promo deal, they can give you a nice self-esteem boost, a chance to schmooze with editors and other genre fixtures, and maybe snag you a few new fans.
Attending cons does not make anyone who chooses to do so a twit, just as refusing to attend them does not make me a snob. We should all do what makes us happy and contented human beings, as long as it doesn't break the law or harm anyone else. We should try very hard not to pass judgement on others based on our personal preferences and prejudices. Behaving otherwise is defensive bullshit herd mentality, and we have enough dumbass herds out there to contend with, don't we?
Get your forks ready 'cause:
The book is done.
Now, for the world's fastest final read-through and edit, and this deadline will be dust.
Remainders: What happens
to the published books that don't sell through 100%. (link via Surreality Check
SFBC, Take 2:
E-mail from an editor of some sort at SFBC this morning, in response to my polite request to remove the "Seven from Heaven" cover art from their listing
of Blade Dancer, which I whined about
Hello, I'm very sorry about the mix-up. I just made the change and the current bookshot should be reflected tomorrow. Thanks!
bookshot? How about the correct
one, pal? And the two hundred plus e-mails I've received from your club members and various other concerned individuals telling me how you screwed up and asking me if I'm also the author of this baby book you dropped in my listing? Want to answer those?
I probably wouldn't be this annoyed if I hadn't had to go through this with B&N and Amazon, who by the way basically ignored my correction requests and shuffled me off to another department that ultimately also did nothing about the errors. But you never know, maybe these people will stun me and actually make the correction before I turn 50.
This and That:
Booksellers are crediting the phenomenal Harry Potter book sales
for a nice second quarter performance, which according to the article is "igniting optimism that the momentum will carry over into the rest of the year."
A little more handselling wouldn't hurt, either.
PLos (the Public Library of Science) has a sneak preview of their first print/online journal here.
Beautiful job; the kids and I will definitely be checking out this one. (Link via Library Journal
Self-pubbed author Laurie Notaro evidently thinks
that receiving a whopping total of 70 rejection letters in seven years is a horrible ordeal. My sympathy is relative, I'm afraid -- try to handle getting 143 of them in single year, babe, then come talk to me.
Finally, ladies, when we start feeling grumpy and put-upon by the many stresses of female life, let's just be happy that we don't live in Swaziland.
And if any of you girls feel like breaking into a ceremonial Reed Dance, don't let anyone videotape you, okay?
Things I Don't Do:
This might have been a Top Ten but I'm brain dead and I can't think of six more.
My SF editor sent me a copy of the little freebie excerpt book Roc is handing out at WorldCon this week, and turns out I'm the only one of the six authors who didn't write a paragraph-long cutesy bio for my intro page. My excerpt is the first one in the book, though, so I'd rather have people read that.
Without fail every year fans e-mail me to ask what my schedule is and why I'm not on the program. This year a reporter also made an inquiry (I have lots of nice readers in Canada) so I couldn't do the ebola joke again. Sorry folks, I don't do any cons anymore.
Booksignings and Readings.
I do sign books for friends, a few fellow writers, poor people I give books to, hospital workers, fire rescue personnel and cops. I just don't do it in bookstores, malls, cons, or anywhere public. Hey, at least I don't do this.
I don't read my work out loud for reasons other authors will find extremely insulting so let's just skip that.
Third attempt at 3:30 am, utter failure. 4:03 am now and going to give it one more shot before I give up. I'm just wired different, I have to stop expecting to be like the 8-hour-a-night people and settle for three or four.
The kids got off to school on time, thanks to my new banshee alarm clock and the usual, first-day-back panic/excitement. A new crop of mothers herding their little ones into kindergarten gawked at me out in the parking lot (I am arguably the most famous parent at the school) but I was sternly instructed by my progeny not to walk them in as they are too old for that Mom.
Summer vacation is officially over, and I'm on my own five days a week again. Having them home wasn't easy at times -- made writing a real challenge -- but it spoiled me. Now I have to get used to working in a silent house again.
When I came home, all three cats emerged from my bedroom and came to greet me at the door, which hasn't happened in two and a half months. I suspected they were relieved, but then watched them pad off to the kids' bedrooms, where Jak curled up on Kath's bed and Rush and Jeri burrowed under Mike's covers. Yeah, guys, I miss them already too.
As my work day officially ends (the author says, peering at the computer clock that reads 3:17 am) I'm bordering on that lovely line between hyper-writer mode and fried. My old pal acid reflux has returned to make things interesting in the esophogial department (no more cooking with jalapeno until that
clears up.) Thanks for perking up my night, Nico -- I though I was the only one on earth up at this hour. :)
I'm getting there. This book's final chapters, the first draft of which I trashed out last week, are finally coming together. Jadaira (the protagonist of said novel) keeps looking out from the page and rolling her hand at me: Come on, come on, you know this part better than I do; spit it out.
The book feels right now, so we're okay. I just can't have anymore second thoughts whatsoever.
Waiting in the wings is the last book I'm writing this summer. It's a Christmas story I've been working on at the same time as this SF, and it's been like a little weekend cottage kind of book. Each week I wreck things in the StarDoc universe, then I go hang out with the ladies at Grace Chapel Inn and bake things and plan holiday surprises. I just have to remember not to have the Hsktskt invade Acorn Hill and blow up the church, is all.
Today the kids and I finished buying and packing up their new supplies for school tomorrow. Both of them were too excited to go to sleep right away. They decided on their own to get matching lunch boxes (unisex blue ones with clip-on water bottles) which made me get all teary-eyed. They may have their squabbles, but they're really devoted to each other, and show it with little things like this.
After the kids are down for the night, I've been taking an hour break to quilt. I really should be working, given the time squeeze, and usually I don't sew during a deadline week, but I've found I really need that 60 minutes of not-writing/not-editing. It unravels all the internal knots and sets my head straight for the next foray into the zone. I'm nearly finished hand quilting the QIP. Next project is a hand-pieced queen size satin quilt top which I'm going to marry to some nice thick batting and a hand-dyed muslin back (satin on both sides makes it no good for use on a bed unless you want to slide all over the place.)
3:23 am, and I have to get up in three hours. The acid meds just quieted down my stomach, so I'm going horizontal. Night all.
Spam e-mail subject line:
A larger manhood is less expensive than a sports car!
This poses a very tough choice for us gals -- which would you rather have? I mean, you can brag about both of them to your friends, spend your weekends having fun with them, and both are a delight to, um, drive.
But consider the trade-in value involved in one of them. You never get back what you invested in them. No matter how devoted you are, when the time comes to part ways, it's going to cost you. Then there's the whole headache of finding an adequate replacement. Especially when your tastes run to fire engine red with an automatic retractable hood . . . Nasty people will say you're too old for it and you only got one because you're having a mid-life crisis, right?
We won't even get into the issues you face with the sports car . . .
Internet Lawyer John Savage, who I should point out is not
the Lone SFWAnnabee Ranger, takes issue
with SFWA membership requirements (no link available but scroll down to the 15 August "Rosebush" entry.)
Given that there are probably less than 100 actively published* science fiction novelists in the world, it might be time to open up the doors to the temple and let the rabble in, before the whole genre goes belly-up. But then, what do I know? I'm just one of those less than 100 pro SF novelists.
**Actively published = a novelist who has at least one new SF novel released every calendar year by a major publisher, and who has a backlist with a major publisher of at least 5 SF novels.