“The Internet is 55% porn, and 45% writers.”
Chuck Wendig

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

I iz graduamated!
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-SNOW.
Tue 2006-10-17 16:22:47 (single post)
  • 59,193 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 128.50 hrs. revised
  • 5,000 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hurrah! In addition to being a newly minted Viable Paradise graduate, I have also survived the journey home. All the trains were hyper-fast this time around, so I ended up puttering around stations a lot (when I wasn't hiking around downtown Chicago). And I got home just in time to catch the winter's first snow on the valley floor.

Me, during the ride home: "Wow, look at all those low-lying gray clouds over the mountains. Think it might snow today?"

John: "Maybe."

Me, some 4 hours later: "Definitely."

I have mixed feelings about coming home to snow. I was pretty much done with appreciating the mystic beauty of snow since March '00. Since then my attitude ranges between tedium ("Oh, Gods, more snow") and guilt ("Don't bad-mouth it, we need the moisture"). But at least I wasn't somewhere warm like Maui or New Orleans this time, for the climate contrast to really rub in that vacation is over. New England was pretty blustery; the instructors, particulary Jim Macdonald and Teresa, were commenting on this being the coldest VP yet.

So I have a lot of work to do this week. I have the final (for now) StyleCareer.com eGuide to complete and turn in; I have comments on The Drowning Boy to compile and compost; and I have a revision of "Putting Down Roots" that really has to happen, like, now. MacAllister has threatened me with dire abuses should I fail to send a copy to Ellen Datlow by November. And Mac knows her stuff. Do not cross that lady.

But right now I am enjoying being back in my own house, napping in my own bed, and having a long, guilt-free soak in the bathtub. Work can happen later on tonight. Thththbbbp.

Not Dead. Quite The Contrary.
Tue 2006-10-10 21:28:26 (single post)
  • 59,193 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 128.50 hrs. revised

I am in fact on Martha's Vineyard, in the middle of the Viable Paradise, and things are splendid. The latest freelance deadline has been met, albeit less satisfactorily than I would like. I have taken a flight lesson out of the Katama Airporrt in a red Citabria--taildraggers are fun! I have biked all over most of the east end of the island. I've seen glowing jellyfish. And the first three chapters of Drowning Boy have been critqued by four different instructors and five different students, and I am simultaneously encouraged to stick with the story and disappointed in my draft so far.

Summary of average verdict: Beginning moves too slowly, main character's too passive, mermaid worldbuilding is just fine but author needs to trust it more and not be so cagey about it, and don't wreck it by overdoing the whole Descent of Inanna thing--oh, and medical emergency airplane diversions don't in and of themselves cause media frenzy, but medical emergencies mistaken for terrorist scares might.

Today, Tuesday, I had my second one-on-one critique. With Teresa Nielsen Hayden. (Pause for fangirl *gasp* and *wheeze*) I told her how I feel embarrased by the synopsis of my novel--"makes me realize I've written something I can't show my mother, at least not until it's published." She just smiled, flipped over page 1 of the synopsis, and wrote on the back, "CERTIFICATE: That's OK, it's Art." And she signed it. "You are officially given permission," she said.

That piece of paper is totally going up on the file cabinet next to my writing desk.

Also, she wants me to try, just as an excercise, using the Evil Overlord button to liven up my synopsis. I told her I'll turn it in tomorrow. ("You fool!" said my roommate. "Aren't I," said I.)

What else? Oh. Right. OK, so, in addition to being in the middle of the best writing workshop I have ever attended in my life, and being in awe at conversing daily with people who publish short stories in F&SF and people who edit for Tor and people who inspire reverence everywhere they turn up online--in addition to all that, I say, as though all that needed adding too--I have a new blog.

That's right! One I get paid to do! And one which it won't turn out the editor wants me to pretend to be a porn star at! Bonus!

It's over here.

Right. That's all I've got for now. I should sleep. I consumed far more alcohol than is my norm this evening, between James D. Macdonald's Maker's Mark and extra special rum and Bill Boyke's stash of Glenmorangie and super-fine potato vodka and Teresa Nielsen Hayden's so-called "scurvy cure" which also involves vodka... Two ibuprofin and a tall glass of water better be enough, that's all I'm saying.

It's Going To Be Another Novel. Dammit.
Wed 2006-09-13 22:44:34 (single post)
  • 2,770 words (if poetry, lines) long

As I may or may not have mentioned, I attend a writing class, hosted by Melanie Tem, every second and fourth Wednesday down in Denver. Melanie gives us homework assignments--and if there are enough people new to the group, she explains that the assignments are to inspire, not to burden. "No, you don't have to do it." Doing it is mainly why I've written so many new drafts since I began attending in May of 2004.

The most recent homework assignment was this: Write a 10 page (2500 word) piece. Of whatever. In other words, "Oh, just write a brand new short story."

O.... K.


This would be why, with two short story rewrites pending, another 30K-word freelance deadline looming, and several critiques owing, I did none of those things today but instead wrote some brand new fiction.

It started out with Tarot cards, because that's what I do when I have no idea what to write. I favor the Vertigo Tarot, and I drew the Three of Swords, the High Priestess (a.k.a. Mad Hettie), and the Page of Swords. I spent a good 300 words just describing what was on the cards, but after that things sorta took off. All of my manuscripts acquire shorthand references, like "Ragnarok comes to Boulder" ("Snowflakes") or "the mermaid novel" (Drowning Boy) or "the one where people turn into plants" ("Putting Down Roots"). I think this new piece is going to get referred to as "The one with the prostitute who teleports her pimp into Alpha Centauri."

Yeah. I like it.

Its current working title, "Knowing the Territory," comes from my interpretation of Rachel Pollack's interpretation of the Vertigo Tarot's Page of Swords. And I would definitely argue that someone who is oddly gifted with the ability to, at times, apprehend the entire universe as a singularity--well, she knows the territory very well indeed.

But. Gods damn it. The Muse pulled another bait-and-switch on me. When the main character hands in her catastrophic resignation letter, that isn't the end of a short story. That's the end of chapter one. Of a brand new novel. (Everyone sing it with me now: "Like I didn't already have enough to do!")

Well. With this out of my system for the moment, tomorrow I'm going to be good and dutiful. I will plod through my checklist: Contact interview subjects for freelance projects and log 1500 words thereto. Do one of the critiques I owe. Begin reading through critiques of "Roots." But sometime in the near future there will be a rewrite of Chapter One of Territory and a plotting out of what comes next. Because this wants writing. When the Muse gets in touch, She means it.

What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation
Mon 2006-09-11 00:00:52 (single post)


I didn't. Not a single word. All week.

...Shut up! I was on vacation!

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.

In Maui. Not On Fire.
Sat 2006-09-02 19:37:31 (single post)
  • 5,000 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,900 words (if poetry, lines) long

John and I are on Maui. To be precise, we're in the town of Ka'anapali, just north along the shore from Lahaina. To get here, you follow highway 30 (the Honoapi'ilani Highway) clockwise around the south shore from the bay. This can be complicated if, for instance, the mountain is on fire. We arrived at Kaluhui Airport at 6:30 PM yesterday afternoon to find the highway had been closed; we had dinner and then found the highway had been reopened--partially; and we sat in a taxi in traffic for 3 hours before checking into the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Villas at, depending on which of us two you ask, 12:30 or 1:00 AM.

Someone on the radio said of the fire, "They're saying it looks like you're on the big island watching the lava come down the mountain." It did. The entire edge of mountain was glowing with flames and embers. Burning trees looked like being lit up for Christmas. We got a nice long look at the devastation, waiting in traffic to reach the partially blocked stretch of Hwy 30.

So it will probably surprise no one that I did not, in fact, finish and submit a rewrite of "Snowflakes". I meant to finish the rewrite on the plane and then submit it from the hotel, but the story needs a lot more work than I had time to give it, and I wasn't up for anything this morning other than staggering to the bed and falling unconscious.

The freelance gig did get completed, though, so that's good.

Right now, all John and I have planned is sunrise on Mt. Haleakala tomorrow morning and a luau Monday night. I intend to get rewrites of "Snowflakes" and the soon-to-be-renamed "Putting Down Roots" while I'm here, as well as do some read-throughs and critiques I've promised. Which should be very easily accomplished, as we don't plan to overstuff our week on Maui with stress and events.

Vacation rocks. So long as the rock isn't on fire.

There's a Time and a Place...
Wed 2006-08-30 12:53:07 (single post)

And sometimes that time and place are never and nowhere. Quoth PNH:

Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis on stage at the Hugos wasn't funny and it wasn't okay. I understand (from third parties; I haven't spoken to her about it) that Connie Willis's position is that Ellison has done worse and she can handle him, but I really didn't want to watch it and neither, I think, did a lot of other people in the audience. Up to then the comedic schtick aspects of the Hugo presentation had been genuinely funny. After that, I think, many of us just wanted it all to stop.

Just as with George W. Bush's now-famous uninvited shoulder-rub of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the basic message of Ellison's tit-grab is this: "Remember, you may think you have standing, status, and normal, everyday adult dignity, but we can take it back at any time. If you are female, you'll never be safe. You can be the political leader of the most powerful country in Europe. You can be the most honored female writer in modern science fiction. We can still demean you, if we feel like it, and at random intervals, just to keep you in line, we will."

It's not okay. It's not funny. It wasn't a blow against bourgeois pieties or political correctness. It was just pathetic and nasty and sad and most of us didn't want to watch it. It's another thing that's going to stop.

I have pathetic fantasies of having been in the audience--which I wasn't--and yelling, "Shame on you, Mr. Ellison!"--which I don't think anyone did--and having there been a standing ovation in response--which is nice to dream about, but, in absence of the action having occurred, who can say how the rest of the audience would have reacted?

Knowing me, had I actually been there, I would have blushed with rage and said not a word, for fear of being smacked down by Mr. Ellison's clever tongue and a roomful of acquiescing silence. Then I'd've gone looking for a knot of attendees to gripe with at the bar afterwards.

But I can fantasize. And I am in good company in the fantasizing, apparently.

And Patrick is absolutely right about what this kind of behavior, from Bush or Ellison, is intended to communicate. And that it has got to stop. And it is going to stop.

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)
  • 1,900 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 5,000 words (if poetry, lines) long

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 World Is Full Of Nice Surprises
Sun 2006-08-13 19:49:44 (single post)

Sweet! Another Constant-Content sale. Somebody else decided they were willing to pay money to put my words on their website. In this case, it's a cute little trivia list about the ten dollar bill. I know, I know, not exactly inspiring stuff, but trivia lists were selling at the time, so I wrote one. Again, the purchase was anonymous, so until Google finds it I won't know where or whether you can read it. I'll link it when I know. If you're feeling watch-doggy, the title is "Ten Surprising Facts About Ten U.S. Dollars." The purchaser paid for exclusive rights to use it, so it should only appear in one place with my byline intact.

Thank you, anonymous purchaser!

In other news, there's a familiar name in Heliotrope Issue 1. Heliotrope is a professionally paying ezine (pays $.05/word for short fiction) that I just came across via their submissions call thread at Absolute Write (submission guidelines here). They ought to have sounded familiar to me, because during the live reading Saturday night at the Borderlands workshop, one of the students read this story of his, or as much of it as would fit in 10 minutes. Then Elizabeth Monteleone called "Time!" and he had to stop. I wanted intensely to know how it ended. Now I get to find out! Yay! Congrats, Mr. Colangelo!

Bloggity Continueth (with thoughts of revisions ahead)
Sat 2006-08-12 16:58:24 (single post)
  • 5,000 words (if poetry, lines) long

Wearing my Metroblogging hat and back-filling my New Orleans visit, I've gotten as far as... Day 1 of the Habitat work week. But in my defense, it's a long damn post. So there. I think the rest of them will be somewhat shorter, having gotten some of the "how ESTHFH works" stuff out of the way.

[back of hand to forehead, eyes rolled heavenward] On I slog.

Meanwhile, rather than getting stuck in the past, I have put up a post at Denver Metblogs celebrating the annual corn harvest in Longmont. The recipe is tried and true as of early this afternoon, so if you are not averse to dairy products or foods with a high glycemic index (SugarBusters need not apply), have at it and enjoy.

Meanmeanwhile (is that a word?), thoughts are straying towards the inevitable revision of the soon-to-be-retitled "Putting Down Roots". As usual, I'm squeamish about reading all those comments everyone wrote in the margins. I don't think that ever gets any easier; pushing the fear aside and reading the critiques anyway, it only becomes habitual, not easy. But I can't put it off. A golden opportunity for an editorial audience opened up for me at the writing workshop, and I can neither run the risk of letting it go stale or submitting anything less than the best this story can be.

Some thoughts to incorporate in the revision, culled at random from my memory of the past weekend:

  • People don't talk to bananas, at least not in a serious horror/SF story; and
  • People don't go from worrying that their spouse might be deathly ill to pressuring said spouse for sex in the space of a paragraph; and
  • If a character is going to be more ignorant than the reader, he needs a good excuse; and finally
  • If you're going to have aliens in a story, you'd better damn well mean it.
But about all that... more later.