2850 words long
Things That Got Done Last Week
So today was kinda worthless on the writing front. This was mostly because Sunday was roller derby from early morning 'til night, and Monday was a pretty awesomely productive but exhausting volunteering-at-the-farm morning, so Tuesday was "I get to sleep in and be worthless guilt-free for once" day.
(You'd think that leaving the farm at lunch and napping in the afternoon would count towards the sleep-in-and-be-worthless-guilt-free requirement. Except the nap in the afternoon is never long enough nor uninterrupted. And it's never guilt-free. I can't entirely forget that the guys who work on the farm as their actual jobs not only start two hours earlier than I do in the mornings, they also don't get the afternoons off. So I'm a lazy wimp who if I really wanted to be helpful would stay until sundown just like everyone else... I never said the voices in my head were helpful or rational, but they're there and they're loud.)
I think that weekends, rather than always occurring on Saturday and Sunday, should be invoked as needed. I'm declaring Tuesday to have been my honorary Saturday.
Meanwhile, last week I Got Stuff Done.
I did indeed submit the one about the space glue snow apocalypse (now with Brand! New! Title!) to The First Line on deadline day. It required a stupid amount of wrestling with Microsoft Word over formatting styles it insisted on applying to my imported WordPerfect 5.1 DOS document. How did it know to apply "Normal (Web)" to all my paragraphs? I do not know. I mean, yes, I composed the story in HTML code and copied the web output into Word, I'll admit to that, but then I saved as WP51, opened it in WP51, and resaved it in WP51. WP51 format doesn't save Word or RTF formatting styles. To my knowledge, WordPerfect doesn't even know about formatting styles until you get into the WYSIWYG versions for Windows and Mac. Version 5.1 is a DOS program. Plus, look -- if you hit F11 to "Reveal Codes," you can see there's absolutely nothing but the usual hard line break plus tab at every new paragraph. Look! This file is clean! So when I then freshly boot up Word to open this WP51 document, how can Word still detect the former presence of HMTL paragraph tags? How? HOW?! THIS IS NOT HOW THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK!!!
Yeah, I'm a little bitter about this. Also about the way I couldn't change the style of the biography paragraph at the end without changing the style of the entire manuscript. WTF, Word?
Thereafter followed a lot of cursing and brute-forcing and frustration, but eventually everything looked acceptable and I sent the dang thing off. Immediately enough to possibly be an auto-reply, I got an email confirming receipt of my submission. So I guess that was a success.
I also finally got my butt in gear and submitted "First Breath" to a reprint anthology on almost the last day of their reading period. Go me. And frankly I'll be shocked if they accept it. I'm not anywhere near certain that it's a good fit for the anthology, or, if it is a good fit, whether it's good enough.
But I keep reminding myself of two things. First, this is a story that was already published at professional rates. Clearly it's "good enough" for some value of the term. Secondly, even if I'm not certain it's a good fit, I'm not certain that it isn't, which puts the dilemma squarely in the category of Don't Reject Yourself; There Are Editors To Do That For You.
So I sent it.
Next on my plate is "It's For You," a.k.a. the one about the phone that isn't there. My plan is to get that revised over the next few days and submitted over the weekend. Because the next few days are not about sleeping in and being worthless. They are about Getting Stuff Done. DO NOT SCOFF AT MY OPTIMISM BECAUSE IT IS INVINCIBLE.
Stop poking it with pointy sticks! Do not test the invincibility!
NO, REALLY. INVINCIBLE.
Assembling Fiction and Other Stories (Also, Loons)
First off: A new review of Blood and Other Cravings has hit the internet this week. Reviewer Deirdre Murphy at Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys made me grin like a loon three paragraphs into the review. (Do loons, in fact, grin? They're birds. They have beaks. How do you grin with a beak?) LIKE A LOON, I SAID! DOWN WITH LOGIC! UP WITH GRINNING!
(There are many loons at this website. They are damn well grinning.)
Secondly: New story. Not the phone story. The other new story, the one I intend to submit to The First Line tomorrow. The due date is tomorrow, so I have to submit it tomorrow.
Is it done yet? Is even a single draft of it done yet? Well... no. Not unless you count the freewriting babble draft I did, using the appropriate first line as a prompt, at the laundromat back in mid-June.
But I have been assembling it. In my head.
So one of those beginning writer rules -- that is, the rules you're told to follow when you begin to write, which you continue to follow until you discover what your own personal rules are -- is "Thinking About Writing Isn't Writing." But staring at the word processor screen, moving a block of text from one place in the partial draft to another, editing the segue sentence yet again, then staring at the screen some more... that isn't writing either.
So I took a walk. Walks always help.
Walking the three miles home from downtown Boulder, I reexamined the pieces of scenes -- scenelets, if you will -- that make up this story. The story follows a structure that's sort of like this:
- Right now
- Teaser flashback
- Continue from right now
- More from the flashback
- Either back to present time, or else the rest of the flashback, I'm not sure
- Lather, rinse, repeat
- Finish up story in present time
You can probably figure out where I keep getting bogged down. And when I get bogged down in the structure, I start to wallow in details that don't really belong in the story. So the pacing gets bogged down too.
So during my walk I imagined writing each scenelet onto index cards. Not all of the text; just the first couple sentences and the last, in order to give myself an idea of where the segues are. This story is going to be all about the segues. Like, "This bit ends with the first mention of the umbrella. So the next bit begins with a flashback to the outerspace salesmen giving him the umbrella."
Yes, I said outerspace salesmen. Also, the umbrella is pink with silver letters that can only be read from very high up, and the silver letters say "KICK ME." The snow isn't really snow. It's outerspace gluey tar stuff that causes the end of the world as we know it. WHAT IS MY BRAIN.
(I suspect The First Line does not get a heck of a lot of science fantasy apocalyptic humor. But they do welcome all genres. Who knows? Maybe everyone is writing stories about space glue snow apocalypses.)
So now I'm home, and my feet hurt. In addition to new skating blisters from Sunday, I have sandal blisters. Blisters on top of blisters. Ow. (Next time I think "Oh, I'll only be walking a few blocks. I'll be busing home. Sandals are fine," it will trigger an autohypnotic safety mechanism that will not allow me out the house until I've wised up and put my running shoes on.) But I also have a story written on index cards in my head. The structure now makes sense. And in mulling over the structure on my walk home, I discovered that the protagonist is an entirely different character than I'd thought. The things I now know about him are the key to getting both structure and pacing deboggified. Hooray for deboggification!
And tomorrow morning early, I shall wake up and transfer the story from mental index cards to WP51 file to paper. And there shall be a proofreading and a "final" revision. And lo, it shall be good.
Or at least it shall be submitted.
Then I'll be free to revise the phone story.
Spit That Out RIGHT NOW.
Includes: A stunning review of Blood and Other Cravings with the best one-liner describing my story that I've seen so far. Getting to that in a few paragraphs. Hold on.
So, roller derby. It eats your life right up. It's a sport that involves a lot of practice, a lot of camaraderie that develops into full-blown sisterhood in no time at all, and a side-helping of obsession. Also major and minor injuries that remind you all day long where you got 'em (at derby) and what those injuries won't let you do (derby).
(Note: No major injuries yet. But you can add to the previous entry's list a sore, sometime-swollen knee that's being infuriatingly slow to recover its last tiny bit of functionality since taking a bad fall a week ago Monday. Not from a tomahawk stop this time. It happened during a practice scrimmage. I was blocking. I think I got sandwiched. Anyway, I blame that knee for my inability to perform a decent two-knee fall lately.)
End of February, I tested up from Phase 1 to Phase 2 practice with the Boulder County Bombers. This past Friday night, I went through WFTDA minimum skills assessments (results: I'm this close, but no candy cigarette just yet. Next month for sure!). The weeks in between, I went to practice three times a
dayweek, finally bought derby-quality skates (though I'll always love my first pair), practiced a little on my own just to get used to the new skates, studied for the written WFTDA rules test, and, because that isn't enough, also helped distribute fliers for BCB's March 2012 New Recruit Night, which I then helped host.
And I haven't been writing at all. Or nearly not, anyway.
One of the BCB skaters, upon hearing me gripe about this today, said, "Do you know, since this league began nine months ago, I haven't managed to write a single word?"
This made me somewhat scared, no lie. This despite knowing how very much this particular skater does for the league compared to me. I mean, I'm only a member of one committee.
On the other hand, Ellen Datlow forwarded a link to this gorgeous review of Blood and Other Cravings tonight. It's not just a review. It's a complete short story in and of itself. Along the way it imbues the anthology with an almost magic realism sensibility:
Datlow has adroitly blended the traditional with the extrapolative in her selection of stories, suggesting that just as vampires and other blood-suckers may perhaps best be interpreted as metaphors for desperation, so otherwise ordinary-seeming human lives may equally become metaphors.
See what I mean? Or maybe not? Maybe it's just my own weird filters that connect this idea -- that of vampire-as-metaphor causing the reader to thereafter see the metaphor capability of ordinary lives -- with the idea that in magic realism the presence of an element of the fantastic transforms the mundane into another kind of fantastic.
I'm also wildly appreciative of the one-liner Collings uses to describe "First Breath":
A creature of mist whose desperate craving for a physical body does not take into account that most terrifying of human emotions... love.
I'm too new at this Getting Published thing to go splitting the world into "readers that get me" and "readers that don't get me." Besides, I suspect such divisions smack of Golden World Syndrome. To the extent that I have readers, my readers have the experience of my stories that they do have; I don't get to say which is right or wrong. It's their experience. But I think it's safe to say this reviewer falls strongly in the "gets me" category -- or, more accurately, what he gets from the story matches well with what I intended to put in. And then he gets a shade more out of it than I think I realized I'd put in, pleasantly surprising me with what he found. And then he manages to convey all that in a single sentence.
I hope the other authors whose stories he references here are as well pleased.
(Oh, I could quibble about how that sentence implies that the creature is unique and deviant in her craving, rather than being quite normal for her species in having a particular need at a particular time in her life. But that would be silly of me. Besides, I'm too won over by the way the sentence ends.)
So this is very self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing of me, fixating on the one sentence in the review that pertains to Me! Me! Me! ... but then this is my blog. I get to do that.
But seriously, go read the whole review. It is a tiny work of art with the scintillating facets of a jewel. And now "jellybean" is my favorite replacement for "vanilla" now when describing a thing that is boring in its ordinariness (a practice unfair both to the so-called "ordinary" and the much maligned yet highly magical vanilla bean). For instance, "There was a lot more to AnomalyCon 2012 than jellybeans. A lot more."
So. Derby's been eating my writing, but this timely and lovely review puts me in a mind to tickle Derby's tummy until Derby damn well regurgitates. (And then I will put Derby on a healthy diet of "not everything in sight, OK? Like, not my fountain pens or my printer ink. You can eat some of my Spiral Knights time and all my TV-watching time and maybe some of my knitting-and-spinning time. But not my copy of WordPerfect 5.1! And not my novel revision! I need that!")
But most likely this will happen on Tuesday. Monday is booked. With... other things. One of which is roller derby.
I Show Up on Other Blogs. Also, Roller Derby.
So, remember when I said something about author Diane Dooley soliciting authors to interview on her blog? (This was in the context of Bram Stoker Award Recommended Reading List WHAT?! Oh, and, by the way, the Stoker nominations are out, and Blood and Other Cravings is a nominee in the anthology category; Kaaron Warren's "All You Can Do Is Breathe," which kicks off the anthology, is nominated for a short fiction Stoker. This is very very cool.)
O HAI THERE RUNAWAY PARENTHESEES! U R IN MY SENTENCE STEALIN MY TRAIN-O-THOUGHT.
In any case, I volunteered to be interviewed, and so Diane Dooley interviewed me. You can read it here. It appears as part of her series of posts celebrating Women in Horror Recognition Month, which you should read, every bit of it, because it is awesome. Pro-tip: Follow ALL the links!
So there's that. Also, today, I wrote sort of a love letter to my roller skates. It will show up real soon now in the blog section of the Boulder County Bombers' new and improved website, when said website goes from being just a glimmer in the Website Committee's collective eye and becomes reality. In the meantime, if you're interested, you can visit the Boulder County Bombers on Facebook. And here's a direct link to the photo that esteemed ref "Shutter Up" took of us during endurance practice on Saturday the 25th. I'm in the middle row, towards the left, black T-shirt with white printing, red belt, and a black helmet that looks weirdly gold/copper in the camera flash.
Speaking of roller derby: I'm skating with the Boulder County Bombers. I'm officially a member and everything. I'd been skating Sundays with the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, and they are exceedingly awesome! I was going to join them and everything! But they practice in Commerce City. This requires a route from Boulder involving Highway 36, I-270, Highway 2, and I-70. On a Sunday afternoon, that's about 30 to 45 minutes. I hate to think what it would be like for Tuesday and Thursday evening practices. And the bus ride is two hours. Each way. Once I became aware of the existence of a league that practiced in the same county I live in, it was a no-brainer. Weeknight practices still involve rush hour traffic, but rush hour traffic to Longmont is oodles less soul-crushing. And the bus ride is under an hour, if you don't mind a 10 to 15-minute bike ride to/from the bus stop. Which I don't, at least not when the wind isn't 80 freakin' miles an hour (this is me glaring meaningfully at last week), especially since that bike ride takes me past a burger joint, two coffee shops with wi-fi, and several sit-down restaurants which I can enjoy if I take an early bus.
But then I don't often have to bus, because A) John now works in Boulder, so he can leave me the car most days, and B) three or four other BCB skaters live within a half-mile of me and like to carpool. Life is good.
It's no secret -- in fact, it's probably the sport's best-known feature -- that roller derby is bad-ass. Skaters take pride in their injuries, 'cause we get 'em being PHEARLESS!!!! Here's my running injury report thus far. See if you can spot the common thread.
Tue. Feb. 14 @ BCB Phase 1 practice: Fell on my face during tomahawk-stop/toe-stop running drill. Injury: Split lip. Symptom: a fantastic bruise like an off-center soul patch for about a week.
(Interestingly, if someone does a horrified double-take and gasps, "What happened to you?!" saying "Roller derby! It was awesome!" puts them immediately at their ease. I've gotten very good at saying that. Possibly too good. Not everyone wants to hear the entire Tale Of The Faceplant in second-by-second detail, despite what an entertaining story it does make. But better to risk TMI than being all self-consciously mumbly and accidentally communicating the wrong thing thereby. It is all too easy for well-meaning acquaintances to mistake "Meh, fell down, no big deal, let's talk about something more interesting" for a situation requiring immediate attention and possibly phone numbers of Places That Can Help.)
Sun. Feb. 19 @ RMRG tryouts: Fell on my butt while practicing turnarounds (step one in a tomahawk stop) before try-outs began. Pretty much sat down hard on a wheel. Injury: Bruised tailbone. Symptom: I'm still occasionally yelping if I sit down on the ground and then shift wrong. Sit-ups suck.
(But I did pass try-outs! Evaluation only, since I had decided by then to join BCB, but still, very cool.)
Tue. Feb. 23 @ BCB Phase 1 assessments: Fell sort of backwards and sideways while trying to hold the toe-stop stance after completing a tomahawk stop. The evaluators wanted to see us hold for 3 seconds. On that particular try, I failed miserably. Injury: Jammed three fingers on my left hand. Symptom: Stiff, sore, swollen fingers. The segments of the middle and ring finger especially look like the first stages of making a balloon animal. On the middle finger there's some really artful blue blushing, too. Last night I could barely tie on my tennis shoes, had to use my teeth to get my mouthguard case open, and I almost needed to ask a fellow skater to help me button my jeans. I wimped out entirely on making the bed. I just couldn't grip anything. Today I'm doing much better, but I still can't lift a tea-cup with the left hand. Interestingly, my ability to play Spiral Knights, or indeed type, has not been affected.
(I passed assessment and will begin attending Phase 2 practices starting tomorrow. My evaluator told me I'll need to work on smoother turnarounds. I was not surprised.)
So that's the news, and I'm off to bed. Tomorrow: March 1! Day one of NaNoEdMo! Will I be logging hours? I don't know! Will I be editing a novel? Damn straight!
In Which the Author Dies and Is Ded Yay
So. Um. Bram Stoker Award Reading List. ...Eeek?
Back up back up back. The story starts here:
New Year's Eve, blogger Diane Dooley starts a thread on the Absolute Write Water Cooler forums soliciting AW authors to interview about their recent or very-soon-now publications. (The first interview is already up. Go read it! Then, go read Lavender Ironside's The Sekhmet Bed.) So I sidle in and I'm all, "Just novelists, or would you be interested in hearing from authors with sorta-recent short story releases?" You know, blinking innocently and giving my most winning grin. Or the internet equivalent thereof.
She very kindly shoots me a private message to talk about that. In the course of which, she asks me, "Weren't you just long-listed for the Stoker?"
*Blink blink blink* I -- what? No no no no. Surely not. Surely we must be thinking of someone else here. I thank her for the kind spot of confusion, but I concede that Blood and Other Cravings has indeed received some nice reviews, some of them making flattering mention of my story. (Also, one of those stories -- Margo Lanagan's "Mulberry Boys" -- is going into The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Four. Ellen just announced the table of contents today.)
Oh, by the way, since we're talking about reviews, and since I was reading a lively discussion about Amazon.com reviews and the tragic tendency to commit the ABM: This evening I decided, what the heck. I toddled on over to Amazon.com, looked up Blood and Other Cravings, and I read the reviews. Then I nodded to myself. "All right," says I, "I've got that out of my system and need never do it again." It's not like I've been avoiding reading the reviews of the anthology. It's not even like any reviews, including those at Amazon, have been less than mildly favorable. It's just that Amazon.com makes it so easy to give into temptation and snap off a quick reply that it's best for an author to just never go there. I hope that when I have a novel of my own out, I remember this decision and stick to it.
Anyway, Dooley wrote me back, saying as how she did make a slight oopsie. In fact it was the Bram Stoker Award Reading List she saw me on. (The list was just released Monday.)
My response was basically to drop my jaw and fall over on the floor, temporarily dead. When I picked myself back up, I communicated this to Dooley, along with my appreciation for letting me know.
So, this reading list is not, N O T not, a long list for the awards. Nor is it the guaranteed source of all of the 2011 Stoker nominees. What it is, is a way for the Horror Writers Association to draw attention to what they feel is some of the best horror fiction of the year. Yes, this is partially for the benefit of those who do select Stoker nominees ("You might find these worthy of your consideration"), but it's also for the benefit of the general public ("Go read this stuff! It's good stuff!").
Out of the 85 titles listed in the short fiction catgory, seven of them are from Blood and Other Cravings. And one of those seven titles is "First Breath."
It's an honor.
...And now it would appear I've a lot of horror reading to do.
World Fantasy Interlude: That Whole Flying Thing
OK, so. World Fantasy. A day late, and, as it turns out, a good deal short, because there is no way I'm typing up the entire contents of my head to do with WFC in a single blog post. Let's just pretend I was blogging the con as I went, and my blog posts simply showed up just under a week late. Or something like that.
The first part of any trip is getting there. I got there on a plane.
This was my first time flying commercially since, quite possibly, the North Devon countryside vacation. Certainly it was my first time through the TSA/DHS ritual since the implementation of the notorious "naked or groped" measures. I wasn't particularly worried about either of those options in particular -- which is not to say that concerns about these unnecessary violations of privacy and bodily integrity, not to mention the potential PTSD trigger for sexual assault survivors, aren't absolutely valid; I'm just lucky enough to generally arouse little-to-none TSA suspicion (i.e. I'm small, white, and cisgendered female) and to not be an assault survivor myself; o hai there privilege! this R me, checkin U. No, rather, I was nervous and unhappy about the whole process: take off your shoes, take your laptop out of your bag, do whatever the people in uniform demand, don't protest as possessions are confiscated, don't protest if they tell you they're going to touch your privates, don't demand to know how any of this is serving to make air travel safer, why do you hate America?
I resent the whole circus. I take trains when I can partially in protest of security theater. Unfortunately, between my Dad's visit before the trip and NaNoWriMo afterwards, I couldn't take an extra four days for travel this time around. So I screwed up my resentment and bought round trip airfare via Southwest.
And I did in fact encounter a little hiccup going through the full-body scanner on the way through Denver International. Thankfully, there was no trauma nor any confiscation. When I came out of the round scanning chamber, the image on the screen -- just a childlike outline of a generic female body, since TSA is phasing out the naked pics -- superimposed a square outline over my head area. The security officer, a woman -- they seem to match officer and passenger genders when touching the body is deemed necessary -- asked me to bow my head so she could investigate my hair. Lo! It was my wooden hair pin, by which my hair stays up and out of the way so I don't sit on it or get it caught it doors. She allowed it through, though I suspect that if I'd taken the pin out of my hair so she could see the sharp ends, or simply if another agent who'd been having a bad day was on shift instead, I might have lost it after all.
I resolved to put my hair pin in checked luggage on my return trip and just deal with sitting-on-hair and hair-in-doors problems as they arose. And I resent having to do so. I resent being subject to this behavioral conditioning. I resent that it's working.
By the by, apparently the TSA claims that the new full-body scanners have increased their success. But they quantify their success by how many "illegal or prohibited items" they can find now that they couldn't before. Sure, this includes illegal drugs, but it also includes bamboo knitting needles (and wooden hair pins) depending on how the agent on duty interprets the prohibition on "sharp objects." I think claiming a higher success rate based on detecting "prohibited items" is a lot like claiming higher success for the local police force by counting convictions: you can artificially raise the rate just by prohibiting more items or criminalizing more actions. (Note, meanwhile, that to date no explosives have been detected.)
Anyways. Thence to gate C39 for the Southwest Airline flight to San Diego. I chose Southwest because, like their advertisements say, "Bags fly free!" Because another thing I resent deeply about post-9/11 airport security theater is the paired impact of A) more things you can't take aboard the aircraft, and B) charging $50+ per checked bag. I cynically suspect that some of the major airlines are helping TSA come up with their list of "prohibited items," specifically suggesting dangerous uses for items many passengers won't travel without, to increase the number of bags getting checked at $50 a pop.
I also chose Southwest for their sense of humor. I find their ads utterly charming. And when I arrived at C39, I saw other evidences of fun. For starters, they had decorated the gate desk for Halloween in a Wild West Saloon motif. On the return trip, I'd see even the ticketing desk dressed up for the holiday, but that being San Diego, they went with a pirate theme.
At their gate were some awesome amenities for the electronic generation. Lots of A/C outlets, both at a tall bar-stool-outfitted countertop and between the new comfy-looking armchairs. USB outlets, too, presumably for charging phones. I looked up and down the terminal and did not see similar furniture at other airlines' gates. As I would learn later, Southwest even makes wi-fi available aboard some flights. Just fire up your computer, connect, and pay $5 where prompted at the network gateway. If my flight had been longer, I might have tried it out.
Another features unique to Southwest gates: a series of numerical posts to facilitate passengers lining up in order. Boarding passes come printed with a section letter and position number, which is essentially your place in the first-come-first-served line. I assume the sooner you check in, the forward-er in line you get, and thus the more choice you have in where to sit. They do open seating, see; whatever seat is still open when you get to it, window aisle or middle, is fair game. And here's where Southwest do make a little extra money: for $10 extra, you can do "early-bird check-in", whereas for free you get checked in automatically up to 36 hours before the flight, rather than checking in online up to 24 hours ahead of time like non-fee-paying schmoes do. Or, Gods forfend, an hour ahead of time at the airport, which is what I did. (It wasn't so bad.)
Later, a friend asked me if the flight attendants "sang a little song" for us on landing. Apparently that's what they did last time she flew. On my flight, we just got a little casual humor inserted into the passenger briefing. Also life-size images of Southwest staff members waving us goodbye all up and down the ramp to the plane. These were cheerful, if slightly creepy.
The one thing I regret about my transportation choices, though, was flying home on October 30th rather than on Halloween itself. Southwest apparently gives you complimentary treats (with an alcoholic component for those over 21) on certain holidays, Halloween being one of them. But I really didn't want to have to skip out on another Monday morning at Abbondanza, seeing as how I'd missed so many since August already, so I did not get to sample these treats.
All in all, the flying-between-Denver-and-San-Diego portion of my World Fantasy experience was remarkably pleasant. I would definitely fly Southwest again. Next time I can't take the train, that is.
(One day I will fly myself everywhere. But for that I would have to first A) own an aircraft, because overnight rental hours add up in an expensive way, and B) start practicing again. I haven't been in the cockpit for more than two years, and I'm feeling it.)
Reading Today from BLOOD AND OTHER CRAVINGS at #WFC #WFC2011
Oh, hey there, social media. You have corrupted me into putting Twitter hashtags in my blog post titles. Because the blog post title will show up on Twitter. Logical, isn't it?
Anyway. I'm in San Diego. It's Friday, Day 2 of the World Fantasy Convention. Today at 3:00 PM there will be a group reading from the vampirism anthology Blood and Other Cravings; it will take place in the Tor Suite. The Tor Suite will be somewhere in the Royal Palm Towers, the big tall U-shaped building at the end of the property nearest the mall. We don't have a room number yet. But whichever room it'll be in, I'll be there, reading my story "First Breath" and attempting not to stutter from nervousness. Steve Rasnic Tem will also be reading, as will I think three other anthology contributors. And of course Ellen Datlow will be there. Big thanks to her for organizing the reading!
I'll leave it at that for now, and blog more about the convention later on today. At least, that's the intention. I am so very full of good intentions.
Release Day for "Blood and Other Cravings"
I always miss you when I am on trains. And I am fabulously jealous of everyone who takes the Coast Starlight up and down the Pacific coastline as often as I take the California Zephyr or City of New Orleans, because they get to be in on Amtrak's onboard wi-fi pilot program and I don't.
I am currently between trains, sitting back and relaxing in Chicago Union Station's Metropolitan Lounge. I'll be boarding my next train in about 2 hours -- this, dear Chicago-based friends (hi Raj! hi Chip!), is why I am not currently pestering your cell phones with last-minute get-together proposals. (It is possible you find this more of a relief than a disappointment. I can be a very pesty person.) Two hours isn't really enough time to race around, rendezvous, and attempt to do all the beween-trains stuff I wanted to do.
All of which, of course, got upstaged because today is September 13th. It's the official release date for Blood and Other Cravings. Which means I went straight to Twitter and into an orgy of retweeting any mention of the book I could find. This is what passes for "promotion" in my world. I am stunningly not good at promotion. (I am also failtastic at "networking." When I finally write about Renovation -- and I still plan to! despite that I'm about to wind up at another convention! -- you will see what I mean.) But hey, look! Another review!
Anyway, I haven't much to say beyond "It's out! Go buy it! Go request that your library stock it!" And possibly also "Sorry for cluttering up your Twitter feed." So I'll say that and sign off.
P.S. Talked to Mom from the train about an hour ago. Turns out that she thinks this book is the best birthday present evar. "But, Mom, I feel like I ought to get you something that's... well... less me-centric. It's your birthday." "Yes, but you're my daughter. And I love good news!" Well. It is good news.
Now. Here. In My Hot Little Hands.
I got my author copies of Blood and Other Cravings Friday afternoon. They arrived by FedEx, accompanied by the cheerful FedEx delivery driver within whose beat I reside. "Been a while," we said to each other as I scribbled the stylus up and down the handheld's screen in a messy attempt at my signature. "How've you been? How's the weather out there? Still cool, or warming up yet?"
Once I got the package inside, I was all, What the heck is this? It's addressed to me. I didn't order anything.
Then I saw the Tor Books return address, and I was all, I know what this is! Squeeeeeeee!
So here it is. Here they are. Two lovely copies of a lovely hardback, as pictured here. That's one reason to have two author copies: so you can pose them for the camera like this. (Although you could probably do a better job than I did. Gah, that weird foreshortened angle.)
And there was a very lovely surprise waiting for me when I opened the book for the first time so I could do the foolish happy writer-mamma dance. You know how that dance goes? It's accompanied by a song: Look how lovely the paper is! What a beautiful title font! It's a book! It's really a book! Anyway, I turned back the front cover, and there was my name, right there on the book jacket inner flap. In the nature of anthologies, there's a brief summary of each of a sample several of the stories within, the better to snag the attention of random bookstore browsers; and one of the stories so summarized there is mine. How cool is that? That is way cool.
Tomorrow morning at what my husband calls "ass-o-clock" ('cause it's a vantage point from which you can see the crack of dawn, get it? get it? See, it's funny 'cause...) he's going to drive me down to the Amtrak Station for that motorcoach to Raton NM, where I'll board the Southwest Chief train to Chicago, where I'll board the train to New Orleans. And going with me is one of those author copies. Another reason to have two of 'em? So I can keep one, and, according to a tradition started with my very first published stories, give the other to Mom.
The official release date for this book? September 13th. Mom's birthday. Which I suppose makes this a sort of birthday present. I hope she likes it. It's not exactly her favorite kind of fiction. But I suspect that's not going to be the point as far as she's concerned. Heh.
A Handful of Anthology Reviews and Related News
I'm getting mentions in reviews. It's surreal.
Blood and Other Cravings is getting reviewed. It's getting quite nice reviews. And the surreal thing is when one of them mentions my story specifically. And favorably. With complimentary adjectives. Wow.
Here's a handful of reviews and/or reader responses that are online right now:
- Shroud Magazine
- The Tomb of Dark Delights (No permalink; review may drift downward the page over time)
- The first review from Publisher's Weekly
Pretty much all of these made me grin foolishly and sort of float about for the rest of the day. And beyond the immediate happiness of "They like me! They said so! They mentioned me by name!" there's the simple pride in knowing I got to be part of a book that reviewers agree is full of wonderful stories.
Another awesome thing that's up: The Vampire Book Club is giving away a copy of Blood and Other Cravings to one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment in response to the post describing "what draws you to vampires." To kick things off, they first posed the question to the anthology's contributors, and the answers some of us came up with are published there for your reading pleasure.
It was a weird question for me. I'm not actually aware of being drawn to vampire stories, and I certainly didn't set out to write one. And yet in a way that's what I ended up doing. Why? "Because I had this weird dream" sort of lacks something as an answer. I hope the answer I finally came up with is interesting, or at least doesn't sound gawdawfully pretentious.
(I have no idea where the paragraph breaks came from. No one else seems to have them, and I'm pretty sure I didn't put them there.)
The last bit of news concerning this anthology is that there may be certain anthology-promoting activities at World Fantasy 2011 should enough contributors be around to participate. I'm hoping to be part of that. It depends on if I make it off the wait list and into actual attending membership; WFC sold out this year because, I think, of its all-star Guest of Honor list. (WFC, what were you thinking? You are small. Why are you fielding a World Con-sized GoH docket?) It also depends on if I just go "F*&# it" and head over to San Diego for the weekend regardless.
So there were email communications about that this morning. Then, because apparently driving around Denver and bussing back up to Boulder is the Most Exhausting Thing Evar, I wound up hard asleep for a few hours this afternoon and dreamt that I suddenly remembered I was supposed to send Ellen a recording of me reading my story by today at 5:35 PM, and it was 5:30 PM now, but I was going to record it anyway, but John was sitting next to me making a lot of noise on his computer so I couldn't. As it happens, 5:35 AM is when my bus leaves the Amtrak station Monday morning, which because the Amtrak station only opens at 5:30 is why I was in Denver picking up my tickets ahead of time. O HAI THER BRAIN I C WUT U DID THER
Er. About that bus. The bus goes to Raton, New Mexico, whence my train to Chicago, whence my train to New Orleans. Yes, this is more complicated than it ought to be. The California Zephyr is not running between Denver and Chicago during the month of September because what with flooding in Omaha and track damage and freight traffic bottlenecks, there was so much constant lateness they just gave up. It seems I've been negotiating non-standard Amtrak accommodations all year. This appears to be what happens to rail travel when every waterway in the US appears eager to flood at the slightest provocation. Please to stop that, US waterways! Also, please to reverse global climate change and stop messing with weather systems. Please?
I suppose I could just break down and get airfare. But I'm out of practice putting up with airport TSA stupidity. It's been so nice not having to worry over whether some bully in a uniform is going to make an issue over my knitting needles, fountain pens, or electronic accessories. And I'm kind of looking forward to riding the Southwest Chief for the first time.