Sunday, May 31, 2009

End of May round-up

Actually, May went pretty well. I think it's my positive attitude, although at times I had to grit my teeth to get a smile out. While I am an optimist, I'm also a grouch, which is an odd combination. I'm also getting grouchier every year that goes by.

I received about 10,000 rejections this month, but I also got two acceptances. "Orcs and Trolls" will hit Every Day Fiction on June 12 and "Long Way Home" will appear in the June issue of Semaphore magazine. Actually, the June issue is already up (actually, that makes sense--it's a New Zealand magazine so it's tomorrow there already, right?), so you can go read "Long Way Home" now if the mood strikes you. The cover of the June issue is amazing; I love it so much I really wish this was a print magazine instead of online.

Also, my story "The King's Messenger," the one with Kristof the weredeer in it (his first print appearance, which is why I'm so pleased with the story despite the fact that it is, hmm, possibly not my best ever), is now available at I updated it just a little before sending it in, and changed the title to "Kristof and the King's New Car." Yes, I know. Worst title ever. I don't know what I was thinking.

Also in writing news this month, I got a partial request from an agent for The Taste of Magic, and I actually wrote a flash story! I've also been working on the fourth Weredeer book, now tentatively titled Stag in Ruin, and the new project that still doesn't have a name. Little Sparrow hasn't had any lovin' this month, but that's only because it needs a little more simmering time.

I have so many books I want to write that they're practically stacked up in a holding pattern waiting to land. Never mind Stag in Ruin, which is after all a sequel; after the untitled project, I've got Little Sparrow, Tiger (what is this, a zoo?), an untitled YA book about a girl who learns she has inherited her estranged father's gift for charming animals, and Charmed Circle, which I think is going to be a sort-of-sequel to Evil Outfitters, Ltd. At least Evil Outfitters is already written.

Onward into June!

Friday, May 29, 2009

UP!=best movie of 2009

Whoa. UP! is the best movie I've seen all year, flat out. Bring Kleenex. This is mandatory. The guy two seats down from me--a grown man, about my age, with a wife and kids and all, was sniffling. But it's a good hurt, and balanced perfectly by the laugh-out-loudness of most of the movie.

The animation is brilliant, and I must say that I have never seen a more perfect dog character in any movie ever, even live-action dog movies. Doug is the very essence of dogdom.

The short in front of the movie (I can't remember the title--something like "Partly Cloudy" or "Chance of Rain" or something similar) was also brilliant. In fact, I really wish they'd expand it into a full-length film.

Tomorrow I have to work (the summer semester's started, so I'm back on my regular schedule), but after work I'm meeting Mom at the movie theater.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things to be happy about

I only have to work until 1pm tomorrow. And after that I'm going to see UP!, the new Pixar movie.

I have not received even one single rejection so far today.

The new untitled project is going very well. Also, my plan for this evening is to relax, surf the internet, and come up with a title.

There's a brand new carton of ice cream in the freezer. I am a grown-up and can go help myself to a bowlful any time I like.

It might storm tonight.

I just got paid. Woohoo! I'm tempted to hop on over to Amazon and click "check out," since I've had a full cart waiting for weeks now. Maybe I will.

Just watched the second disk of the 4th season of Ghost Hunters, and I am so very glad I don't live in a haunted house.

My brother's birthday is coming up and I'm going to buy him a book. Hey, now I have to go to Amazon and place an order! I don't know what to get him, but I'll have fun deciding.

Did I mention I get off work at 1pm tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stoppit, world! Stop throwin things!

Okay, so in the last week I've received nine rejections. Nine. Not a record, alas (I think my record is ten), but enough that I'm feeling very grouchy and woe-is-me this morning. I mean, even Thaumatrope rejected a twitter story. It wasn't SF/F enough for them--which had me sputtering incoherently, since what's not SF/F enough about Sleeping Beauty getting wrapped up in vines that love her? I guess I didn't get the concept across well enough. The Price of Justice got rejected with a very good but very painful critique, and an invitation to revise and resub. I'm not sure if I want to keep going with that project; it sort of bores me now, and if I address all of the critique's issues and suggestions, it'll turn into a novel.

Thank gawd for Every Day Fiction, which actually sent an acceptance among all the sharp-and-pointy rejects. At least I know I do not suck 100%. Just 99%, or at least it seems that way this week.

Suck it up, me. At least you're getting responses.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Publish or perish. Also update or die.

Since May is whine-free month, I'm trying to figure out how to put a positive spin on this. I don't know that there's anything positive about trying to find a good market that pays a decent amount for reprint rights. Writers are clamoring to all but give away fresh new stories; why would anyone want to bother with reprints?

Specifically, the problem is my story "Snow Magic" that appeared in Fictitious Force #6; note that their website has not been updated since issue #3. As far as I'm concerned, the publisher did a great disservice to all the writers in issue 6. Instead of waffling around saying, "We're on hiatus and we're not sure we'll come back, but we're going to publish these last stories anyway but not bother to advertise the issue," they should have just released all subs.

But I'm being positive here, so I'll tie this back to Aaron Polson's post today about the internet and how writers (and publishers) use/need/relate to it. When I subbed to Fictitious Force back in March of 2008, the magazine was one of the big semi-pros. They'd published writers like Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Alliete de Bodard, Jay Lake, and lots of other up-and-coming/semi-big-names; they routinely got mentions and reviews in Locus, SF Site, and the other biggies. By the time I received my contributor's copy in February of this year, though, they hadn't put out an issue in about a year (at least, I think so; it's hard to tell because their website hasn't been updated in so long) and the only mentions I find of issue 6 are from contributors blogging that they got their copy.

That's how fast the internet moves. Go on hiatus for a few months and it's like you've dropped off a cliff. For writers, a few months can mean the difference between bragging that you've been published in such-and-such magazine and getting an "oooh, jealous" in response, or getting a blank look. What magazine? Are they still around? I thought they folded in, like, 2008.

The flip side of that isn't just that a magazine needs to release good issues--because issue 6 of Fictitious Force was heartbreakingly good, with excellent, fascinating stories that practically no one will ever read. A magazine has to have a web presence too, and they need to keep it updated. Blog it, add new content, archive old issues online, whatever, but keep the site updated or everyone assumes you are dead.

And going back to Aaron's post again, a lot of publishers--especially the old guard print magazines--just don't get this. Take Locus, for instance. They've got a great website (well, I find it hard to navigate, but at least it's updated), but you can't buy and download an electronic version of the magazine. I ordered the March issue this year, partly for the 2009 book release list and partly because I'd heard they mentioned BCS #5 and I wanted to know if they'd mentioned my story (they hadn't). It cost me $10 with shipping, which was ridiculous to start with, and I had to wait two freaking months to get the issue. Will I ever subscribe? Hell no, dawg, not until it's available as a cheap pdf download.

Fictitious Force is/was print-only as well. I don't think it's a coincidence that they're dead. Sorry, on hiatus.

I like having my stories archived online so people can read them; I think it's good for me as a writer--a great way to attract new readers and hopefully keep them. So I guess I'll head back to Duotrope to see if anyone wants a slightly used "Snow Magic" for their ezine.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Filling in gaps

Last year I started writing the fourth book in the Kristof and Gabe series--or, rather, the third sequel to The Weredeer, because maybe some day it'll be published. I cheated, though, skipping from scene to scene to keep myself interested.

Well, this morning and partly this afternoon, I sat down and wrote all the missing scenes between the ones I'd already written. I don't know why I decided to do it now, when I've got Little Sparrow on the back burner and the new-untitled project on the front burner. But I'm glad I did.

I'm almost 15,000 words into this fourth book (working title: "four"), a lot more than I realized. Now when I'm ready to come back and finish it, it's ready for me. No gaps.

Friday, May 22, 2009

In the mail

Since Monday's a holiday and the post office is closed, I went ahead and mailed my partial off today to the agent who requested it. Through the mail! So totally oldschool! That meant I had to revise the synopsis without outside input, but I got it to where I was pretty happy with it. I figure the agent will look at my pages first; if he likes them, he'll read the synopsis to make sure the book doesn't fizzle or go off in a weird direction or whatever. If he doesn't like my pages, the best-written synopsis in the world won't help.

So cross your fingers that he likes it. And the couch moving men are here, which means *sigh* I've got to get up and herd the cats away from the open door.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Instead of synopsis revising.

I meant to spend the day, or at least part of it, working on my Taste of Magic synopsis. Instead, I went through my contracts file and sent out two stories whose reprint rights are free. Hey, at least I'm submitting!

Also, I mowed the lawn, got the oil changed in my car, and hiked several miles on a very boring trail out at Clear Creek. Up for tomorrow: furniture moving, since my mom is getting a new couch and it may need to come in through the window. Gawd help us all.

Query, check. Synopsis...uh.

I got my first partial request for the new query that Carrie Harris, Query Ninja helped me with. It's already working! And the agent who wants to see the partial is an agent I would very much like to have.

So I'm all excited, except that now I have to work on my synopsis. My synopsis currently sucks so much that I've deliberately only queried agents who don't ask for synopses with the query. Fortunately, I'm taking today and tomorrow off work and Monday is a holiday, so I have five days to pummel the synopsis into shape. I suspect I'll need all five days.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Step one to broaden my scope

With racefail '09 surging back into life again (if it ever really died) with MammothFail (I link to Leigh Dragoon's blog because she's keeping up with the whole thing and adding links to that post), I've noticed something happening in my writing.

When I describe a new character, quite often now I mention their shade of skin. As in these two lines from the new project: "A small, round woman with brown skin appeared from behind a rack of coats" and "Justin was talking to someone new, a slender man with pale skin and dark hair." The second I do that, I signal the reader (and me, the writer) that this is not a world in which everyone has the same color skin. And hurrah for that!

For me, this actually started with my in-depth revision of The Weredeer. I'd always imagined Kristof as having brown skin (to me he looks sort of Greek), but somehow I'd never put that into the book. I guess I never thought of it until the whole racefail issue came up, and when I went back in to revise, it was on my mind. That book's told in first person, so Kristof started describing people who didn't look like him as having either lighter or darker skin than he does. I guess I just got in the habit of thinking about it.

I'm really happy about this turn of events. For one thing, I feel oddly that I've made Kristof's voice truer with that one little change, and for another, my fantasy worlds are now that much richer. In Little Sparrow, for instance, I know why Hildy is very pale-skinned while most of the people in her city are either mid-brown or dark brown (it's because there are three different regions people immigrated from in the recent past), and although that detail may never come up in my writing, it subtly influences me as I write. Anything that makes worldbuilding stronger, and characters more interesting, is a good thing.

I'm not saying this is a solution to racefail, but it's got to be a step in the right direction.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Just write! Doesn't matter what!

Little Sparrow is on the back burner for now. It's missing an element, but I'm not sure what. I've already had to trash and rewrite part of it and I'm only a few chapters in, so it obviously needs more background work before I go on.

In the meantime, I've started a silly new project to entertain me and basically just get me writing again. I'm used to having a few fallow periods each year after I finish big projects, but this fallow period has been going on since February. I can no longer blame the time travel story; now it's just me being lazy and out of the habit of writing daily.

The new project grew out of that post a few weeks ago about what I'd take with me if I had half an hour to pack for a trip to fantasyland. I kept coming back to it, trying to figure out how to make that scenario work and not make it corny. I've settled on a world similar to ours but one in which magic works, where there are natural portals to a connected world that's not as technologically advanced. The advanced world sends expeditions to the other world to study it. Our Heroine, a zoologist named Theresa, has been on a waiting list for years to go on an expedition, and finally she gets the call. Now the fun begins! I think it'll keep me writing until I'm ready to work on Little Sparrow again, and it might even turn out pretty good.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hanging out with the cool kids makes me cool too

Aaron Polson has a new (and amazingly, wonderfully creepy) story up at Every Day Fiction today, plus an interview with him. I recommend both if you haven't already read them!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Spelling Bee Zombie

So I hardly got any sleep last night--I think I was worried about the spelling bee tonight. I mean, I hadn't actually studied for more than about ten or fifteen minutes. Because that's the way I go through life, haphazardly.

Anyway, Catherine J. Gardner wrote me a story today on her blog, which is truly awesome and has tickled me completely. As it happens, I neither fell asleep fatally during the bee, nor did my team win. Out of six teams, we were the third out, but that wasn't until round 17 and we had a truly godawful word--something Dutch that I can't remember, except that it has a Y in it where no Y should be. But we did get T-shirts, and I won a mini cooler as a door prize.

Since we're between semesters and the testing center's closed, I'm on a regular workweek with regular weekends until the end of the month. Last year at this time I was bored, so I expected to be bored this year--but I'm swamped with work and sort of tearing my hair out trying to get it all done. And of course I'm short on sleep. I just got home from the spelling bee and now I'm going to take a shower and go straight to bed. I have to catch some zombies. I mean Z's.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May sale!

So far my one-sale-a-month streak has continued all year! My story "Long Way Home" will appear in the June issue of Semaphore. I really didn't expect them to like the story, plus I'm thrilled that I can move it into my "sold" folder where I don't have to notice the title all the time. Because I get the Norah Jones song in my head every time, that's why.

It's pretty cool that I've managed one sale a month for five months straight now. Not that I'd be upset to mess up the pattern with, say, two sales in May.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Coca-Cola Man

I know, I know--just shut up about Clear Creek already! Sorry. I just wanted to share with everyone that A) it doesn't count as being lost if I know which direction I should be going, and B) I hit the trail today at noon exactly (I know because Sound & Spirit had just come on the radio when I parked and I was annoyed that I was going to miss it) and didn't get back to my car until 4:30 pm. My feet hurt.

While I was hiking up the last muddy trail to the top of the ridge, I kept myself going by pretending that at the top I'd find a man with one of those taco-cart thingies, only instead of tacos it would be full of cokes in old-fashioned glass bottles, packed in ice. And he'd be giving them away. I'd reach the top of the ridge and he'd say, "You look like you could use an ice cold Coca-Cola. Sit down on that stump there and rest while you drink it." Then he'd pop the cap off with that marvelous little shhhht sound, and I'd rest and drink the coke and listen to the Coca-Cola Man talk about all the places he'd been and the marvelous things he'd seen. He wouldn't expect me to keep up my end of the conversation, and when I finished the coke, he'd offer me another.

Of course there was no Coca-Cola Man waiting at the top of the ridge, but I had some iced tea in the car left over from lunch. It was warm, of course, but I drank it anyway. And then I stopped by the store on the way home and got a canned coke, and slammed it back in about five minutes. I needed it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2 out of 3 ain't bad

This week my plan was to rewrite the query for The Taste of Magic, and revise two stories and send them out. I made it 2/3 of the way through. The query is rewritten, and in fact I sent it out to five agents today. One of the stories is revised and submitted; "Never Be Alone" is going to take more work than I expected to get it to 15,000 words.

So I feel pretty good about the week. I also got a small idea for a short story on Thursday and wrote part of it; I don't know if I'll finish it, but at least I'm writing.

Oh, and to change the subject completely, I saw the new Star Trek movie today and it's completely awesome. And I'm not a big Trek fan.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Cemetery at Clear Creek

I took a bunch of pictures at Clear Creek yesterday, mostly of the old cemetery I found a week or two ago. I was going to post one here and stick the rest on my old LJ (which I no longer use), but apparently you can't upload pictures to LJ anymore unless you give them some cash--sorry, "upgrade your account."

So here are just a few pictures:

This one's a handcarved gravestone. I don't know if you can see it well enough to see that the N's are all backwards, but I found it sort of poignant.

I spent half an hour or so exploring the graveyard, which is off a dirt road that's still drivable, although I wouldn't want to take my car up it. From a little marker I found, there used to be a church on the spot in the late 19th and early 20th century. I didn't see any gravestones later than 1931, although a few of the older stones have been replaced with new ones and one or two even had some faded plastic flowers decorating them.

We've had rain for a solid week, and the lower trails are soggy. At one point the trail crosses Clear Creek, but the creek is so high that the stepping stones were almost covered. I took my boots and socks off and waded across, and then walked barefoot for a while--watching out that I didn't step on anything that might object, like the millipede in this picture. That's about as close as I want my bare foot (or any part of me) to get to a millipede. I do not like things with that many legs.

And lastly, here's a picture of the trail at the top of the ridge. I didn't shop it at all--it really is this green here.

I love East Tennessee.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I know I said I wouldn't, but I lied

Okay, I've read the Query Ninja's suggestions (it's no coincidence that Query sort of rhymes with Carrie) and, once I was done genuflecting in awe, I rewrote The Taste of Magic's query again. And I really, really promise this is the last time I'll post it! Really! Not a lie this time!

I don't know if it's getting any better. I'm so bad at this, and I've sweated over it so long now, that I feel like I'm just stringing words together at random at this point. At least I'm down to just two names now.

Analefa Miradwen is being pulled in different directions by people she's not sure she can trust.

After a vampire mage tries to abduct Ana, she finds out that her blood enhances a mage's spells. Vincent Ondarr, the king's enforcer, thinks he knows why: her mother was a werepanther, and the shape-shifting magic Ana should have been born with is instead concentrated in her blood.

Ana's never told anyone about her parentage and she's furious with Vincent for prying into her secrets. When Ana meets a group of amateur mages agitating for half-breed rights, she offers to help them--even if it means offering them her blood as well.

But the vampire mage is still after Ana, and he seems to have a connection with the half-breed rights group. And while Vincent wants to keep Ana locked in the Tower of Justice for her own safety, his interest in her goes beyond simple protection. If she's going to survive, Ana needs to decide who's really on her side.

Query Hell 2: Return to Query Hell

Okay, here's an updated version of the query. I think it's better. It comes closer to actually describing the book than the previous versions of the query did. And I swear this is the last version I'll post!

Analefa Miradwen has spent the last ten years avoiding vampires and the city guard. She's not happy to learn she's attracted the attention of both, though, when a vampire mage named Magnus tries to abduct her. Magnus wants Ana's blood for its rare magic-enhancing properties, while the king's enforcer, Vincent Ondarr, wants to lock Ana in the Tower of Justice for her own protection.

Vincent suspects Magnus is trying to assassinate the king. With Ana's blood, he could do that and more. But when Vincent starts asking questions about Ana's parentage and brings in a werewolf to sniff out her secret, that her mother wasn't a human but a werepanther, Ana wonders if
Vincent's interest in her goes beyond simple protection.

Then Ana meets Rafael, leader of a group of amateur mages agitating for half-breed rights. Rafael's enthusiasm is exciting, but one of his group members may have a connection to Magnus. If she's going to stay out of Magnus's clutches, Ana needs to decide who she can trust.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My query is drowning in suck

It doesn't matter how I change it at this point, my query for The Taste of Magic still reads like one of the fake plots over at Evil Editor. Its suckiness is compounded by the fact that I left my writing notebook at work this afternoon, so below is the typed-from-memory updated version of the query. Please tell me what the hell I can do to make it less sucky. I'm trying to downplay the vampires, without much luck since the whole plot revolves around them.

Analefa Miradwen has spent the last ten years avoiding vampires and the Carafell city guard. She's not happy to learn she's attracted the attention of both, though, when a vampire mage named Magnus tries to abduct her. Magnus wants Ana's blood for its rare magic-enhancing properties, while the king's enforcer, Vincent Ondarr, wants to lock Ana in the Tower of Justice for her own protection.

Since Ana can't abide enclosed spaces--like jail cells--she takes refuge with her troll friend Ash. She figures no one will look for her in the troll section of Carafell, leaving her free to investigate the strange dormant spell in a friend's new tattoo. But when she meets Rafael, leader of a group of half-breed mages who all have the same tattoo, Ana realizes there's more going on in her city than even Vincent knows.

If Ana wants a normal life again, she's going to have to deal with Magnus herself. To do so, she needs the help of Ash, Rafael, and even Vincent--and she's not sure who she can really trust.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Genderfail, otherfail

Aaron Polson posted about genderfail recently, counting up the protagonists in his stories and making a spreadsheet to see how he did with male vs. female vs. neuter/other protags. That made me think even more about my own writing. I'm not as thorough as Aaron, but I took a look through my stories this evening (published, unpublished, novels, shorts, and works in progress) and I think I'm going to have a long talk with myself.

Going by viewpoint characters alone--that is, the main character through whom we see the story events unfold--I came out about even, with 24 male and 23 female. That's good, especially since if a character appeared in more than one story, I counted him/her more than once.

But if I break this down further and look at non-human characters by gender (counting were-creatures and trolls as non-human but elves as human), 14 were male and only 3 were female. Even taking into account that weredeer Kristof Hart appears five times in the male side (one short story, three completed novels, one novel-in-progress), that's still a big disparity. I can count him only once and still get 10 male, 3 female.

I mentioned in my reply to Aaron's post that I found male characters more interesting (and challenging) to write because I have to work harder to see things through their POV. Apparently I like to take that to extremes. I'm not sure why I think maleness is more challenging to write than alien-ness.

On the other hand, I'm not writing about, say, weredeer just because weredeer are cool (weredeer are by definition uncool); I'm approaching human problems from a fresh perspective. How does a weredeer fit in among a society that is mostly human? Kristof's not always comfortable, even when he's at home. One of the issues I address over and over in my writing is belonging: as a family member, as a friend, as a part of society, and so forth; and one of the big issues that keeps coming up lately in my writing is the idea of race (and, since I write fantasy, species) and how that affects belonging. In The Taste of Magic, for instance, Ana (female!) is a half-breed elf in a society that considers half-breeds second-class citizens--but even half-breeds have things good compared to trolls; I got so into that aspect of the plot that I made it a big focus in the sequel, Blood and Taxes, where Ana and her friend Ash (male troll) keep having to face their society's assumptions and prejudices. I find this fascinating.

And yet, apparently, I also find it overwhelmingly male. Those three non-human females are two dragons and another weredeer, Rose of White Rose, and if you are playing along at home you may remember that White Rose isn't even a real project--it's just an exercise in writing a bad epic fantasy (the one where the elf lord mage has a foot fetish, because I got bored with him and decided to spice things up a little). I actually address gay issues more than I do women's issues even though all those main characters are straight too, since Kristof has to come to terms with his best friend (male human) being gay.

I'm not sure why this is. I have to think about it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the issue of otherness and character gender.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New room, not enough words

We had a spell of hot weather last week, and my mom discovered that her bedroom gets so much sun that it's sort of like a greenhouse. She doesn't like the heat, so she asked if I would change bedrooms with her. Her bedroom is twice the size of mine, with four windows and three closets, a windowseat, and her computer and TV and DVD player in it. Twist my arm!

Mostly we just moved our clothes and swapped mattresses (since I like my hard-as-a-rock mattress and Mom likes her saggy poofy one). It didn't take long. It's rained all weekend long, and the greenish light filtering through the trees just outside makes my new bedroom cool and inviting. I may feel differently in July and August, but for now it's quite pleasant.

My goal today is to finish revising "Never Be Alone," the 13,000 word SF story that made it to the WOTF semi-finals, got interest from pro markets, but ultimately has exhausted pretty much every paying market that will look at stories that long. I plan to send it to Panverse Publishing, a new publisher specializing in novellas. But to do that, I have to add to the story and make it at least 15,000 words! After all that work I did to get it under 13,000! That's okay, since I have an idea for a good scene or two, and I want to change the ending quite a bit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hurry up! The portal's about to close! has a post up about what you'd bring if you had half an hour to pack for a trip to fantasyland. It's a fun little exercise, and the comments are especially fun to read. Here's my take on it.

Okay, so first of all, I never can find anything when I need it. I also no longer have any camping gear, so no frame packs or sleeping bags or the like for me. I've got a black leather backpack I've had since college, and I know where it is. So everything I take with me would have to fit in that backpack.

First step, then: find the backpack and dump out all the stuff that's probably in it now. Second step: rush around in a tizzy yelling "fugfugfug don't I own a pocketknife?" No, I don't own a pocketknife. So you already know I'm screwed. Third step: dig around in the boxes under my bed, where I'm pretty sure I have a compass. Yes, it's a compass set in the back of a wooden crab with boingy legs, but a compass is a compass.

After that, clothes. I'm wearing jeans and a big green T-shirt right now, not exactly period clothing for Fantasyland, not for a woman. I'd better shuck the jeans and T-shirt and put on my white cotton nightgown, which will do as a chemise and doubles as a, well, nightgown. Then the longest skirt I own, a pretty green and black one made of some sort of polyblend fabric, which at least will keep it from being all wrinkly. No, wait, I have nothing that goes with it (which is why I never wear that skirt). Okay, I'll change into the long black dress I haven't worn in a few years--oof, it's a little small these days, and hard to zip up by myself, and the nightgown shows at the collar (yes, I'm actually changing clothes here--why not?). On the other hand, it does look good. So I'll pack the nightgown instead of wearing it, wear the dress and black leather ballet flats, and tie my hiking boots to the outside of my backpack.

That took about ten minutes, and I'm overdressed for fantasyland.

So, okay, I'll tell everyone I'm the widow of a lord from a faraway land, and I was only able to grab a few fripperies on my escape from the marauding orc hordes storming the keep. Or whatever. That'll explain my lack of a knife and the fact that I'm wearing a dress that really requires a lady's maid to get on. Oh, and my husband's name was Jansport. I have his backpack, obviously.

I plan to ditch the dress for something more comfortable at the first market I come to.

I'm a widow, so I need to cover my hair. The silk scarf my grandmother gave me will work great, and I can sell it if I have to. Empty the jewelry box into the pocket of the backpack, check. Grab that nice bar of oatmeal soap I found while looking for a knife, also grab a hairbrush, antibiotic ointment, toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons (gonna miss those when I run out), facecloth, small towel, wool socks, the wool Shaw tartan scarf on my dresser, underclothes.

Now I've only got fifteen minutes left max and my backpack is getting full. I don't know where my Schacht two-ounce drop spindle is, and even if I could find it I don't think it would be very useful (I'm a lady, supposedly, so what am I doing spinning on a drop spindle like a peasant?), but I'll grab my cloth penroll full of crochet hooks and knitting needles! There's a new pair of scissors in there too. I can sell the scissors, and teaching people to crochet will make me useful--crocheting is a fairly recent art, so fantasyland residents aren't likely to know how. Gotta grab some wool yarn from the living room too.

Ten minutes left. Raid the spice cabinet. Pepper, IODIZED SALT because lordie, no one wants a goiter, paprika, cloves, and all that other good stuff that'll help make fantasyland stew palatable or will be worth good money. Grab anything edible without cooking that's in a package I can get into without special utensils--crackers, almonds if there are any left, and so forth. Let's hope the portal takes me to a town, because otherwise I'll starve.

Only a few minutes left, just enough time to rush back upstairs and grab one or two paperbacks, ones I love and don't mind rereading a lot. And a notebook and a few pens, since of course I want to record my experiences in fantasyland. And after that I'm out the door and through the portal to fantasyland!

Where I will immediately be eaten by a grue.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Covered in Ink

My take-May-by-the-horns-and-smile policy has already paid off. Thaumatrope has accepted a tweet I subbed to them a few weeks ago and forgot about. It'll run on Halloween!

I managed somehow to arrive home from work with ink all over me. I think my slacks are ruined, and it took considerable scrubbing in the shower to get all the ink off my right arm and both my hands. And get this: it wasn't all the same pen, nor were any pens leaking. I'm just messy.

Over at OF Blog of the Fallen, Larry posted about noticing he's reading more and more books by male authors. As it happens, just the other day I noticed most of my "recommended" books are by female authors--in fact, of the 16 books I've read this year (not counting re-reads), only two are written by men. So I went over to my LibraryThing list and looked at books by gender. I didn't count nonfiction, anthologies by more than one author, YA horse books, or books by Terry Pratchett or Diana Wynne Jones (because I own and love so many of those authors' books). Since I only put books on LibraryThing that I both own and really like, I figured it was a good cross-section of my reading preferences. The results: 31 books my men, 43 by women, which is not too bad a split. I guess it's just a coincidence that I've read so many lady authors this year so far.

Whine-free zone starts now!

New resolution for May and beyond: I am going to try being cheerful and optimistic. I know, I know--crazy. But it will certainly make reading my blog a little less painful.

Also, this week will be revise and submit week. I've got two stories I need to make fairly minor changes to so I can send them out again. I'll do that, and I'll also update my query letter for The Taste of Magic and post it for shredding--I mean critiquing. Once those things are done, I'm going back to working on Little Sparrow, which is far too much fun (and too much of a challenge) to let languish like it has been.