“Ladies. Has it ever occurred to you that fairy tales aren't easy on the feet?”
Kelly Link

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Ain't No Rumpelstiltskin
Tue 2008-08-26 06:38:41 (single post)
  • 3,891 words (if poetry, lines) long

Well, and I did go spin yarn. For several hours. I now have all three singles of my Cloud City "Primrose" (some dyed merino I picked up at the wool market) all spun and ready to ply. (If you're on Ravelry, I'm NicoleJLeBoeuf and it's in my Stash. Link will probably only work if you're logged in.)

These several hours at the spinning wheel did wonders for unwinding my naturally high-strung temperment, but did not work any weird supernatural charm on certain anthology editors. I mean, not that I expected it to--I'm superstitious, sure, but not that superstitious--but it didn't. "A Surfeit of Turnips" will not grace the pages of the Haunted Legends collection. Ah well.

So I'll give the story a gentle once-over (I can't believe I turned it in with "momento" where "memento" should have been! also, some lumps remain) and then send it Right Back Out Again.

You know the adage: "Never let a manuscript sleep over!" Because, I swear, you let 'em sleep over, they take over the couch, throw trash in the floor, and, before you work up the guts to evict them, they've burned cigarette holes in the carpet and uphostery. And you never know when and where you'll find their discarded underclothes a year later. So. Best not to go there.

After that, I think I have a date with some knitting. I mean, fictional knitting. With demons or something. No, of course I didn't mean real-life knitting--the singles aren't even plied yet. Duh. And, unlike the characters in this story I'm thinking of, I always bind off before summoning.

(I know, I know. But I only put that joke here to prevent myself giving in to the temptation to put it in my story.)

Live From Procrastination Station
Thu 2007-08-02 12:42:39 (single post)
  • 585 words (if poetry, lines) long

I have Good News. The article about the hand-knit bikini experiment? It really really will be published. At any rate, I was recently asked to turn in a slight (very slight) revision to it along with a bio and a nice headshot of me. And money arrived in my PayPal account. So it all looks like getting published. Hurrah!

However, the publisher has started sending me emails with strangely spam-like rhetoric. "Nicole Do you know the TRUTH about knitting?" "The insider secrets that you should know before you even THINK of starting a knitting piece!" Fear! Feeear the knitting! Without our help the knitting will surely defeat you! It's like the headlines from a cover of Reader's Digest. Should I be worried?

Meanwhile, I'm under a deadline that is two days gone, and two more deadlines have sprung up looking scary in the distance, and I haven't touched any fiction in almost a month. This makes me cranky.

However! There is extracurricular good news. I am this close to being able to legally act as Pilot in Command again--it's likely that after tomorrow's lesson the instructor will sign off on my flight review (he did! Yay! I can has endorsement!)--and John and I have been taking beginner rock-climbing classes at the neighborhood gym. Both of these do wonders for one's sense of competence. Yesterday I walked into the gym in a tank top and ill-fitting shorts, horribly self-conscious about being short and pudgy and hairy and a total n00b. (Shut up. I know.) Then I started climbing, and then I got to the top of the route, and then all I could think was "Ha! Who cares how I look? I don't care how I look. Ain't nobody gonna talk to me about how I look. I look bad ass." Bad ass for a n00b, sure, the route was only labeled 5.8, but still. A highly recommended experience.

No, really. Getting back to work now. Laters.

Sometimes You Don't Get a Pattern
Wed 2007-06-13 21:34:45 (single post)
  • 701 words (if poetry, lines) long

Sometimes what you get is a blog post.

Which is to say, the answer to "how do you get a bikini top knit pattern down to 600 words" is the same as the answer to "how do you write a pattern for something as custom-fit as a bikini top?" The answer is, you don't. You turn back to your favorite sock knitting book and you write a mathematical method.

Gee I'm clever. I knit the dang thing with Gibson-Roberts' "C"s and "L"s in mind, and it takes me until two days before deadline to realize that's the way I'll have to approach writing about it.

But once I figured that out (which epiphany occurred over a scrumptious fish dinner at Pappadeaux, the relation of which to Highway 36 is a blog post all on its own), it got much easier. I realized what I was really writing was a blog post about how I overcame the challenges inherent in knitting functional swim wear. And I can do blog posts. Only, I usually get to break them up into two blog posts if they get too long. This one I can't, not really. If there's going to be a second article, it'll have to be accepted separately by the editor, and it's going to have to be about knitting the bikini bottom.

...which I haven't knit yet.

Well, we all know what I'm going to be doing in July!

O Hai! This R Blog Post
Mon 2007-06-11 22:25:41 (single post)
  • 521 words (if poetry, lines) long

Why yes, I've been lolcatting around lately. How can you tell? It's gotten really bad around here, to the point that, at Water World Saturday, stuff like "Can we has go faster, plz?" and "We can has acceleration!" started coming out of my mouth whenever John 'n me 'n Taylor got stuck and came loose again in one of the tube slide rides. "We're in ur tube slide, causin bottlenecks" was another favorite. As was the observation that we must have somehow gotten onto the internet because this ride was obviously a series of tubes.

John tells me I owe him a dollar for the bad joke jar for that last one, and I don't even work at the office where the bad joke jar resides. Funny, that.

That aside, my current-most writing project, aside from keeping up with the blogzes, is to somehow usefully describe the knitting of my bikini top in 600 words or less. This may or may not work. We Shall See.

I've also finished re-reading Dorothea Brande's 1934 classic, Becoming A Writer, which is oodles more useful than I remembered. Somehow all I recalled from last read-through was the "wake to write" and "schedule writing dates with yourself" advice, and I'd forgotten all about the story incubation meditation techniques. And it's been fun speculating on whether Ms. Brande would have adored laptops or despised them, based on what she says about the importance of typing and having a travel typewriter but doing nothing other than writing at the typewriter. I think she would have recommended using the laptop only for writing and acquiring a desktop computer for things like email and video games.

But that's enough of that for now. I don't want to steal the thunder from a series of blog posts on the subject of that book which I'm planning on uploading to Burnzpost.

Of late, most of my writing has been unpublishable journal entries and, like I said, keeping up with the blogging gigs. But this is in keeping with my temporary solution for the single project form of the Block. If a have a particular project I have to work on, one short story rewrite or freelance deadline that gets top priority over everything else, and inability to get started on that project causes a total writing bottleneck--then write something else. Every day. Reliably. It's the daily act of writing and not the daily product that's important in breaking through the Block.

Of course, that in and of itself won't get deadlines met. But I find that the journaling can help me ease into the high-priority project, especially if my journal entry segues into a bout of talking to myself about that project. And if something that happened the day before keeps me from concentrating on the serious work, journaling about the event or fictionalizing it into a new story draft can sometimes satisfy whatever annoying part of my brain insists on chewing on it.

In the interest of not increasing this post's category count, I'll put off talking about the ongoing behind-the-scenes website redesign (still in progress) or my new flying lessons schedule (i r gonna b legal pilot agin lolz) for another post. And maybe I'll rethink the current category list, 'cause I don't have one for flying or for The Block or... right. Later.

More later, then.

Bikini whilst dry
Bikini after a thorough wetting
Aerial view of a sacred site near Hana
The daily afternoon rainbow east of Ka'anapali
What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Sun 2006-09-10 22:02:00 (single post)

Also, the satisfactory conclusion of the bikini experiment.

Saturday: John and I discovered Maui Public Transit. We also discovered that the Westin staff are somewhat reticent about this. "No, we don't have a schedule for the bus--but we have a great free shuttle!" Thank you, but we're hoping to actually get out of Ka'anapali. Ka'anapali is beautiful, but I am told there is more to Maui than the various hotels and timeshare resorts lined up along the beach here.

In fact, there's the town of Lahaina. John and I spent some time wandering up and down Front Street. It's a bit touristy, but we managed to find the Old Lahaina Bookstore. Also the library.

Sunday: We woke up at 1:30 AM and stumbled downstairs to await the Maui Downhill van. Today was our day to view sunrise from atop Mt. Haleakala and then coast all the way down! Alas, when Maui Downhill hears "Westin Ka'anapali" they think, for some reason, we mean the Westin Maui Spa & Resort rather than the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. This should have been trivial to correct, but what with the ongoing brush fire outside Ma'alaea and all the attendant smoke, radio communication was futzed. And the drivers don't have cell phones. Why don't the drivers have cell phones?!

We rescheduled for Monday and went back to sleep. We managed to sleep through the very thing we'd lamented scheduling the Maui Downhill trip against: the weekly Lahaina Craft Fair. Dammit.

Later that afternoon: More wandering about Lahaina. The discovery that Cheeseburger In Paradise does gardenburgers. Also, a visit to the Chinese Museum and Taoist Temple on Front Street.

Monday: Another 1:30 AM wake-up. And the van showed up this time! Yay! Our driver and our tour guide were both absolutely wonderful, but they insisted on playing Sheryl Crow on the drive up to the top of the mountain. Discovering the rest of the album was detrimental to my already minimal appreciation of the artist. I'd have preferred that Presidents Of The United States Of America album that the tour guide had on him.

We were about an hour atop the mountain. Stargazing was excellent; a breathtaking amount of twinklies were visible, and we even got a shooting star. Sunrise was just as lovely as advertised. The crater is just as immense. And the summit just as cold.

We got to check out the observatory higher up the mountain and admire the rare spectacle of a Silversword plant in bloom. Those things live anywhere between 2 and 50 years, and they bloom only once. They have very shallow root systems, too; we were told not to walk off the path for fear of unknowingly damaging them.

Our tour guide told us all sorts of interesting things about Maui. For instance, pineapple farming is a dying art on that island because, apparently, Del Monte and Dole are taking their operations off to the Philippines. They don't like the expense of paying their workers a fair wage under U. S. labor laws, see. What they have to pay hourly in Hawaii they would only have to pay daily elsewhere.

/me makes mental note not to buy Del Monte or Dole pineapples ever again; from now on it's Maui Gold if I can get it.

Also, sugar cane. It's a grass. They plant it any which way, no walkable rows necessary, and then when it's time to harvest, they set it on fire. "That fire you see off to the left," our tour guide told us in the pre-dawn hours, "it's not the brush fire you've been hearing about. It's a sugar cane field, and the burn is planned and controlled." Apparently, the fire causes the sugar cane to pull up all its juices from the roots and into the stalks as a defense mechanism--the wetter it is, the less it burns. So there's more sugar in the stalks, and what's more, the fire causes it all to get a little carmelized, giving it a texture akin to molasses. Then the stalks are sent to the one remaining sugar mill on Maui (another dying agricultural art there), where "sugar in the raw" type stuff is produced. To get white sugar, this raw output is sent to the mainland and milled further and bleached and sent back to Maui to sell at about $1.50 extra per pound over mainland prices. Yay commerce!

Apparently the reason Maui has remained so agricultural, instead of going all condo, is the Baldwin Piano Company. The Baldwin family/estate consider Maui their pet project. Viva.

The ride down the mountain took us through several different environments. At one point there was cloud on the road--the peak of Mt. Haleakala is above the clouds. At another, there were cattle practically on the road, making a very irritated "muuaaaawww!" noise. Our noses got treated to the scents of eucalyptus groves, a lavender farm, and white ginger flowers. Finally we ended up at a little roadside cafe and general store for breakfast. John had french toast, I had a breakfast burrito, and for later I bought a jar of mango chutney and a bag of handmade coconut candy. That coconut candy was good.

Back at the hotel, we napped a lot, getting up in time to go to a luau at the resort two doors down--"Myths and Legends," I think it was called, hosted by the Royal Lahaina. We got in kinda cheap by reserving with Boss Frog's, but when offered an even deeper discount if we agreed to attend a timeshare salesman's presentation, we demurred. Time is precious, after all. An hour and a half spent listening to a sales pitch is an hour and a half not doing something delightful and vacation-y. Like, say, sleeping, or playing another round or two of "The Mysteries Of Horus" on my computer.

We walked along the beach until we got to what looked like the right resort, and then squiggled a bit to find our way to the proper entrance. The band was playing ukelele-and-yodelling music--I had thought ukeleles and yodelling were just an unfair stereotype, but no, this is actual Hawaiian music. "On the Island," sang the band, "we do it Island Style, from the mountains to the beaches, from the windward to the leeward side." They sang the words in something remarkably like an Irish accent, and the tune was suspiciously similar to the Kinks' "Come Dancing."

The buffet was yummy. I had extra helpings of all the meat items: coconut-crusted mahi mahi, teriyaki-style steak, and the traditional pulled "Kalua Pork" which was ready far too soon after the men displayed the pit-smoked pig carcass for all to see. I suspect they serve today's pig tomorrow. There were also complimentary drinks of both the soft and mixed variety, which the nice man gave us each two of after we'd made our selections. I only drank one of my Mai-Tais, though. After that I switched to coffee.

The hostess was lovely, but would have fit in equally well at a Las Vegas lounge or on a cruise-ship. "A-loooooooooooow-ha!" she sighed at the audience, and waited for us to holler it back. ("When she says 'Aloha' that way," I wondered to John, "is it Hawaiian for the Animaniacs' trademark 'Helloooooooo Nurse'?") When she sang traditional songs she sounded lovely; when she sang lounge lizard songs, she got all hoarse and breathy and sounded like she oughtn't to sing at all. She led an extremely Protestant Christian style prayer before the buffet ("this we pray in Your Precious Name, Amen") as though to ask Yahweh forgiveness ahead of time for the glorifying of the heathen traditions of the Tahitian, Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Samoan cultures that was to come, and she described every dance and song whether modern or traditional in terms of love and romance and whatnot. But the dances were worth watching, and I could kind of imagine what actual religious or ceremonial function some of them might have served.

/me makes mental note to better plan visits to sacred sites and exploration of pre-Christian island religious practices next visit.

At long last, at the end of the luau, there were fire dances. John specifically wanted to see fire dances. Aside from the one man performing Samoan-style with the double-ended staff, all the fire dancing was a little pedestrian compared to some of the really spectacular stuff I'd seen at my sister-in-law's housewarming party the other month (and no doubt compared to what was going on this past weekend at Burning Man), but the fact that just about every dancer in the luau cast was doing something fiery was worth applauding.

Tuesday: Recovering from yesterday. Sleeping late, playing more computer games. John decided that what he needed was a manicure, so we sought the concierge's assistance in acquiring this. There was no salon at the Villas, but we were welcome to go to the Westin Maui. Which we did. John went to his 3:45 appointment while I lounged in the courtyard with a pineapple ice and teased the parrots. Both the cockatoo and the blue-and-yellow macaw named Bob could say "Hello!" "Hi!" and "Aloha!" Bob also knew how to wave hello, but I'm afraid that, with his left wing bobbing about above his head, he looked like a particularly uncoordinated person patting his head and trying hard to figure out where, in that rhythm, to fit in the tummy-rubbing.

The lady from the cafe who had turned pineapple chunks into the icecream-like substance I'd just eaten picked a macaw feather out of the bushes and handed it to me. "So are you waiting on a room?"

"No, on my husband. He's in the salon having a manicure."

This made her laugh, a bit too much I thought. You know, the way people laugh a little too big when you've just said something that made them uncomfortable? It had something in common with the doubletake the salon staff gave us when we assured them that yes, it was just him, not me, nothing for me, thanks, I'll be in the bar.

Around that time the swan came up to me and warbled like a puppy, or like one of the Three Stooges ("woo-woo-woo-woo!"), in hopes that I'd throw her some bread. And a flamingo, deciding it was on the wrong side of the lagoon, ran across the water with its wings flapping madly to get to the other side.

John came swimming with me today. Yay! I'd been trying to get a little ocean dipping in every sundown, but this was his first time joining me. We swam a little off the beach outside the Westin Maui, and then a little bit more back at the Villas, "because," as I told him, "you've got to check out these neat weird fingers of volcanic rock that start just a few feet out there. You can stand on them and everything."

(Those of you who know Ka'anapali Beach can stop laughing now. I hadn't bought goggles yet, what did I know?)

Wednesday: Lahaina again. Labor Day weekend done, the library would be open. Also, there's this century-old banyan tree in the Courthouse yard that's worth seeing. It looks like a forest, but it is, in fact, one tree. Banyans have a similar problem to live oaks: they make very big, very heavy branches that need support. Live oaks solve this by letting the branches dip until they rest on the ground before reaching upwards again. Banyans, apparently, solve this instead by sending down liana-like roots to form a supporting column that looks like a brand new tree, especially when the roots come down from a higher tier of branches and totally engulf a section of branch below. And, as branches do when you tie a rope around them, the banyan branches below grow into and around the roots coming down from above until it's just one solid mass of tree.

The sign said "No climbing." Dammit.

Also, lunch at The Blue Lagoon, whose pineapple fried rice has won an award at the Taste of Lahaina event, which we were one weekend too early to attend. Great stuff. But by now I was starting to get sores in the corners of my mouth from all the unaccustomed tropical fruit.

Today we wandered off of Front Street and through the residential neighborhoods, and found ourselves at the historic old fort/jail at Prison and Waine'e Streets. Outside the huge coral wall, an ancient Model-T and an iron cooking vat have been left to rust away to nothing, but signs posted next to them invite passers-by to appreciate them while they remain in recognizeable shape. The huge ship's anchor was doing better, having been built to withstand the sea water. Inside the courtyard was a mango tree, with ripe mangos just lying all about the place. I picked one up. Bird noises that were not myna birds or doves were emanating from behind the tree, so I headed back there and discovered the jail birds. Four parrots--one green and three gray--in a big cage, all of them yelling "Hello!" at us and squawking. After watching them for a bit, I started slicing up the mango and handing them slices, which they accepted gravely and with great decorum. When the mango was all done, I tossed the seed into the cage and we started to leave.

"BYE!" yelled the parrots. "BYE!"

Thursday: Today we left our habitual stomping grounds and caught an extra bus into Ma'alaea so we could visit the Aquarium. The Aquarium has an awesome reef exhibit with lots of neat fish in it and all sorts of educational plaques. It has a shark exhibit, too, and a guy who swims with the sharks. There's a tide pool exhibit where you can touch, gently, the starfish and the sea urchins. And there's an expensive but delicious restaurant with a kick-ass seafood salad and a signiture bloody mary mix that involves at least half a bottle of tobasco per glass.

We let one bus go because we wanted to bop around the harbor shops for a bit. Five minutes later we had seen it all and regretted letting the bus go. An hour later, we realized that there is no bus back to Lahaina at 1:50 and we'd have to wait another hour. During that time, I finally finished knitting the top half of my bikini experiment, which you can see in the pictures above. I am happy to say that once we got back to the Villas and I surf-tested the bikini top, it withstood everything from freestroke to being dragged across the sand by a particularly violent wave without ever baring my boobies (such as they are). Next time I try out this pattern, I might increase a bit more from the bra line to the bust, and I'll probably use #3 needles for a tighter guage to better avoid nipples peeking through. But, imperfections regardless, I've still got a functional bikini top. Yay!

We got a rainbow that afternoon. We got rainbows practically every afternoon. "Tuesdays, Thursdays, and some Saturdays," John had joked when we saw our first one on Saturday while riding the bus home from Lahaina. Thanks to the near-constant low-lying clouds over the western mountain, which seem the reason for the rainforest in the 'Iao Valley, he turned out to be 100% correct.

The day before, John and I had bought goggles from the general store. After the photo shoot with the bikini top, I put those goggles on and took a closer look at what I'd thought were "fingers of volcanic rock." They turned out to be actual living coral reef, complete with all the little bright-colored fishies from the Aquarium's "upper reef" exhibit. Including the round brown one with the bright blue snout and the orange bands around his lower half. And there were anemonae in the cracks! I am never stepping on those "rocks" with my bare feet again!

Friday: Up at 4:00. Why? Because the moon was full. Beautiful time to go swimming.

Rented a car. Drove up to 'Iao Valley State Park. Saw the 'Iao Needle, the botanical gardens, the exhibits commemorating the different peoples to immigrate to Maui, and a heck-a-lot of highway. Had lunch at Marco's, the very place we had dinner while waiting for Highway 30 to open up a week ago. And had a flight lesson which involved four touch-and-gos at Hana and a lot of picture taking.

With a few more hours to kill before our flight off the island, we took the flight instructor's advice and wandered off to Pa'ia... where we just happened to bump into a high school classmate of mine: Daniel Sullivan. Last I heard, he was being a professional photographer in Afghanistan. Now he owns a shop called Indigo, which specializes in Indian imports and displays a wall full of his photography. Apparantly, if you own a shop on Maui, the world comes to you; a couple months ago, another of our classmates, Geoffery, wandered through, too. We exchanged highly summarized versions of what we'd been up to since graduating Country Day in '94; we exchanged Katrina stories (another one of our classmates, Warren, whose mother keeps in better touch with a lot of the class of '94 than its actual students do, only discovered that someone had been camped out in his house when he saw the "squatter" wearing Warren's football shirt on the National Geographic documentary); we exchanged web page addresses.

So that was extremely cool.

We also got propositioned by a marijuana salesman on Baldwin Beach, and we had tofu stir-fry and excellent sushi at a bistro a couple of blocks down.

And then we headed to the airport, where I had to give up the mango and dragonfruit I'd hoped to eat on the plane, because agricultural restrictions go both ways.

/me makes mental note to chop the fruit up and put it in a jar next time, as canned fruit appears to be A-OK.

From da front... (click: 141 kb)
From da side... (click: 129 kb)
I Distract You With Socks Again
Sat 2006-08-26 09:30:44 (single post)
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Look! They're finished! The "Margaritaville Parrot Knee Socks" are finished! And they fit, and they stay up, and they look awesome.

Tree is leaving for Burning Man today. I gave the socks to her yesterday after finally grafting off the last cuff, sewing in the elastic, and basting on the bows. They really aren't graduation presents anymore. They're "My First Burning Man" presents. Tree will be the envy of the playa.

And now I can proceed to my Handknit Bikini Experiment.

Of course I can't just blog about knitting. That's not Actually Writing. Besides, these so-called "thumbnails" (click for full-sized, high-quality JPEGs) are too big for such a short blog entry. They'll hang down and stomp all over my blog entry about Nice Surprises. So, without further ado, Other Stuff that Isn't Knitting.

More Freelance Deadlines! Got another StyleCareer eGuide to complete for August 31. What is this one about? Wouldn't you like to know!

Short Story Revisions! I have two to do. As I've said, "Putting Down Roots" needs to be rewritten and submitted ASAP. However, between freelance gigs and knitting, life continues to happen. So I've slated it for the first week of September, which is A) after the eGuide deadline, and B) to take place in Hawaii. Not that John and I don't plan on doing Hawaii things while being in Hawaii, of course. But I do have a tendency to treat vacations as writing workshops, even when they aren't actual formal writing workshops. This is a good thing.

The other short story needing revision is "Snowflakes." Yeah, that still. I may have mentioned earlier that the webzine Firefox News publishes fiction? Yes. Themed fiction. For $.01/word up to $100. Submission guidelines are this-a-way. The current submission period calls for stories appropriate to the theme "It's the End of the World As We Know It," which is obviously perfect. Well, obviously to those who have read it (Critique Circle) or heard me read it (Borderlands Boot Camp Summer '06, Nancy Kilpatrick's Self-Editing Workshop at World Horror '06). Yes, it's not usually best practice to submit first to a lower-paying market, but in the case of synchronicity I will make an exception. Deadline: September 1.

Next: How I will manage to do 3000 words per day on the freelance gig and spend at least an hour a day on revising a short story until it's ready, every day until August 31. Hint: With much difficulty, stress, and pulling out of eyelashes.

But! Socks! So there.

The sock! It fits!
Tools of the trade
Confession; and Sock, Take One
Tue 2006-05-23 08:16:30 (single post)
  • 6,708 words (if poetry, lines) long

Behold! Sock. Sock on foot of newly graduated and duly celebrated Tree. It fits! And it is both rainbow and sparkly, as requested by its recipient. I call it "The Margaritaville Parrot". It is made with two different skeins of Sockotta to achieve the rainbow color sequence, red and blue reinforcement thread, and Trendsetter Yarn's "Spruce" added in every fifth row or so in the cuff.

In this picture the sock is only crew length. I've got it off the needles on a bit of string for the sake of letting Tree try it on. I am now extended it to knee length. There will be more pictures when the sock is done.

So, I am a good knitter.

But I am a bad, bad writer-wife.

Back in 2002, I dug up an old science fiction cum horror story called, at the time, "Quiet In The Night" (after a line from Yeats's "The Two Trees", stuck in my head thanks to Loreena McKennitt), and gave it a thorough revision in preparation for the Weird Tales Short Story Contest--winners to be announced at that year's World Horror Convention in Chicago. It was my first year attending, and it only occurred to me to go because Neil Gaiman was a guest of honor that year.

At the time, my husband was living temporarily in Las Vegas for reasons to do with work. I sent him a copy, now entitled "Putting Down Roots", after I submitted the story to the contest. And for months and months, he didn't read it, also for reasons to do with work. He was working from home when he wasn't in the office, and falling asleep at the keyboard was a daily occurrence. He did not have a lot of time to read fiction, not even his wife's fiction, and this was a story he'd already expressed some dislike for.

A brief pause for synchronicity: In Chicago, across from the Airport Radisson, there was a Mediterranean restaurant that served gyros and falafel and the like. They also served fried perch. I had not hitherto associated fried perch with Mediterranean cuisine. I associated it with summer weekends at my Dad's friend's fishing camp on Lac Des Allemands, upon which memories I had based the setting of "Putting Down Roots". There's a scene in there in which perch are caught and fried and eaten. Although I didn't even place in the contest, and Weird Tales decided not to publish the story, I couldn't help but interpret the odd menu item as one of the ways the Universe has of patting me on the back. "Good job, Niki. You wrote it, you finished it, you submitted it. You went to a convention and met people in the industry, too. You, my dear, are on the right path."

And then months went by, and John didn't find time to read the story. Finally I morphed into my Mr. Hyde phase and began badgering, pestering, and guilt-tripping him until he finally agreed to read it and call me back with comments. I am not proud of myself as Mr. Hyde. It isn't the best side of me, and it makes me wonder why this man continues to stay married to me. I can be a real bitch.

Well, in spite of or because of my bitchiness, he read it. And he called me back. And he gave me a lot of good critique. I mean, a lot. Better than I deserved. I took notes all over the back couple of pages of my current writing notebook, and I resolved to do a new rewrite on the strength of my husband's comments.

Flash forward to today. This is the story I want to bring to the Borderlands Press Writer's Boot Camp to workshop. But since I haven't touched it in four years, I want to do the rewrite I promised myself and my husband that I would do.

And I can't find those notes.

I've flipped through every notebook I've filled since WHC02. And they just aren't there--or else I'm too blind to see them.

I'm deeply ashamed. John was exceedingly patient with me in spite of my Mr. Hyde phase; he took the time out of an exceedingly busy working life to read the story; his critique was exceedingly thorough. And I can't find the notes. I wasted all that generosity. All I remember of his comments is a vague sense of the expository bits being long and boring.

So... I guess I'll just be rewriting the story from my own current reread, with only my own 4-year-detached eyes and instincts to go on. And although he's heard this several times already, in person, I'm just going to continue apologizing to my long-suffering husband for having lost the notes.

And when I have time I'm going to read every effin' page of those notebooks until I find those notes. Dammit.

Wrapping Up A Few More Ventures
Fri 2006-05-19 09:07:37 (single post)
  • 1,900 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 6,708 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 5,000 words (if poetry, lines) long

Heyo. Long week of recovering from after-travel. This happens. You'd think there's nothing to do on a train but relax, y'know, sleep and eat and knit and read and sleep some more? But maybe I suppose the train is stressier than it looks: what stop are we at? how long do we stop there? is there wi-fi nearby? how long until Denver? how far behind schedule are we now? is it dinner-time yet? Sort of a low-grade undercurrent of time awareness and schedule anxiety that makes real relaxation an impossibility. Possibly. In any case, on my first day back home I didn't manage to do anything more than lump.

Got a bit more news about stuff. Fantasy Magazine will not be publishing "Heroes To Believe In", for one thing. Sadness. On the other hand, I got good news from Borderlands Press, regarding my submission of "The Impact of Snowflakes"; I will be attending their "boot camp." Interestingly, one of the instructors who'll be there that weekend was in fact on the judges panel at the Flash Fiction contest: F. Paul Wilson. I am, shamefully, unfamiliar with his writing, which is why I didn't think to mention him in my big "Squeeee!" post, but I aim to rectify that matter shortly.

So I have plane tickets to buy, and I need to submit the story I actually want workshopped. I'll be sending them "Putting Down Roots" after digging up my husband's thoughtful comments on it for a brief rewrite. I haven't looked at that story in almost 4 years now; I need to make sure it isn't embarrassing. (Embarrassing from a craft point of view, OK, it's already embarrassing from the "OMG there's sex in it!" point of view, and I just need to get over that.) I also need to bring it down to under 5,000 words for the purposes of the workshop guidelines. If I can't, well, I guess they'll be critiquing "Heroes" instead.

And that's all I know for now. Lots of work to do over the weekend. Look for revisions to the stories mentioned above, further work on The Golden Bridle so that the next two chapters can be ready for review after the first two get crittered, and the completion and presentation of Tree's Graduation Socks. Busy busy busy! No lumping allowed! Busy-busy!

On Vacation
Sat 2005-12-10 09:49:36 (single post)
  • 52,314 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 56.00 hrs. revised

Once again, I have overestimated my relative productivity while travelling.

Number of socks returned to functionality from the darning sack: One. The blue Encore DK Colorspun cable knits only had one hole to darn. I did that at the IHOP Wednesday evening while waiting for my computer to deal with the wi-fi situation. The dusty-rose Encore DK Colorspun lace socks both had holes, one of which I darned Thursday morning in the C Terminal of the Denver International Airport; the other is still waiting. (Encore DK is not a sock yarn. Guess which of my socks are frequent visitors to the darning sack? Go on. Guess.) I also knitted two inches last night on the mate to the double-knit gray Kroy sock with the white diamonds on top, but did not finish it. Damn. It's all cold here and I want to wear double-knit socks.

Number of hours spent working on the novel: Zero point Five. Result: One conversation in flashback rewritten. The hour count doesn't include all the staring at the work so far, all the cups of tea, and all the "just one more" games of Alchemy played after a few more minutes of staring.

Not a heck of a lot of progress in either court, I'm afraid.

But! Number of yarn-cutter pendants confiscated by DIA security: Zero. Not even a comment from the guard or a beep out of the metal-detector arch. So that's OK.

And. Number of Narnia-related movies to be watched by the end of today: One. I'll probably have a few words to say about that later. But only if I also get a bit more work done on the novel. Stay tuned.

OK, how about a Montblanc Kafka?
Wed 2005-12-07 23:22:22 (single post)
  • 52,074 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 55.50 hrs. revised

Why not. It looks nice, after all. I think we'll say that Uncle Matt bought it here.

Chapter outline is mostly done. Between that and my markups on the previous draft, I'm really ready for a type-in. I spent part of tonight dashing back into the three and a half rewritten chapters and seeding them with foreshadowy things and subplot arc beginnings. Hopefully things will sew up as nicely as I go.

Tomorrow morning John and I leave for Bloomington, Indiana, to see Cate. Yay, Cate! I am going to spend much of the plane ride darning socks. To that end, I am testing the waters of airport security by bringing my little wooden container of darning needles and my Christmas present from Sarah, a yarn-cutting pendant. It's awesome. It's not only a useful craft implement; it's totally goth. Well, aside from the cute little Clover logo.

The blade is totally protected so that this thing is dangerous only to yarn, but maybe the good folks at the metal detector arches will mistake it for a ninja throwing star and freak out. We'll have to see. Hopefully, by the time we land in Indianapolis, I'll have put three more of my handknit wool socks back into service. And that'll be a good thing, because it's freakin' cold in that part of the country. Even more so than here.

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