Monday, August 31, 2009

embarrassing lines

I'm writing again. Thank goodness! The in-desperate-need-of-a-title adventure fantasy is taking shape. I added just a little under 3,000 words today (part of them written Saturday, but not typed up) and plot bunnies are running everywhere! It's nice to be working again, particularly after the last two weeks. Angel's illness and subsequent death knocked me sideways, so that for two weeks now I've done pretty much nothing except read other people's books, mostly rereads--four books in five days last week. Now I can concentrate on things again.

And it's the end of August! I made one sale and Jack of All Trades was released in August, which is pretty good. Oh, and I got the contract back, so I'll announce it officially: Double Dragon will be publishing Weaver's Shroud next year!

I had my notebook out at work today, and I really ought to be more careful what I've written and left lying around. Here's the half-sentence that was staring up at any interested parties this morning from the top of the page: "butt, and even got a tantalizing glimpse of what he carried in front." Yes, gentle reader, that means precisely what it sounds like. But here's another top-of-the-page sentence that I'm pretty sure actually got read by a student a few weeks ago--I saw her poking around in my stuff, and couldn't get the notebook moved in time: "Captivated by the taste, she swallowed and swallowed and swallowed." That doesn't mean anything bad, but it sure sounds naughty.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Roadtrip music

On Friday I'm leaving for Atlanta and a long weekend of DragonCon, woot! It's a four-hour drive if I don't speed (and of course I would never, ever speed--not on Labor Day weekend when all the cops are out looking for speeders especially). Obviously, I need a couple of CDs worth of music to keep me entertained while I drive.

So hit me with some suggestions for road songs! I've got eclectic tastes in music--I like bluegrass and hip-hop, opera and metal, 80s pop and scratchy old 30s blues--and I want these CDs to be fun, fresh, and interesting to listen to.

Here are some songs I'm definitely burning on CD, to give you an idea:

"Where There's a Road" by Blue Moon Rising
"You're Gonna Go Far, Kid" by The Offspring
"Disturbia" by Rihanna
"Shut Up and Drive" by Rihanna
"Into the Night" by Santana
"I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas
"Wichita Skyline" by Shawn Colvin
"Nothin' on Me" by Shawn Colvin
"Another White Dash" by Butterfly Boucher
"Me and the Boys" by Slade
"Long Way Home" by Norah Jones
"Orinoco Flow" by Enya

So what other music should I take with me?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Drumroll please...

I just had my mom draw names out of a hat (okay, a green cereal bowl) to see who wins a signed copy of Jack of All Trades and who gets homemade bookmarks and stickers. I was only going to give away one copy of the book, but I decided to do two and then have three bookmark-and-sticker winners.

So here are the winners:
Signed book: Ibid
Signed book: barbarakelley
bookmarks and stickers: Cate Gardner
bookmarks and stickers: ikkinlala
bookmarks and stickers: Jamie Eyberg

A big round of applause for the winnahs! I've emailed or messaged all the winners except for Ibid--Ibid, drop me an email at kcshaw123 [at] with your mailing address so I can send your book out to you Monday!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yes, we have stickers!

Look! Look what I made! Stickers!

They look like this, and I'll throw some in with the bookmarks to the folks who win the contest. I've decided to extend the contest through tomorrow night, incidentally, mostly because I have to work tomorrow so I wouldn't be able to mail the winners' loot until Monday anyway. Remember, if you haven't already entered the contest, just post a response in the contest thread and you'll be entered!

I found the stickers at Staples this morning, much to my surprise. They're Avery #8293 labels with 20 per sheet, each sticker 1 1/2" across, and even my crappy printer can print them pretty well. I'll be taking some with me to DragonCon next week (next week, jehosephat! when did that happen?) for the free table. Who can resist a sticker? They stick on stuff!

If anyone out there has promo stuff they want me to put on the DragonCon free table, drop me an email at kcshaw123 [at] and I'll send you my address so you can send me your promo stuff. I need to get it by Friday morning when I'll be leaving.

Holy cow, I only have one week to pack and unpack and pack and unpack and pack!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

+1 for August

You remember that time travel story I complained about more or less constantly from about February to end of April this year? The one I wrote for the Time in a Bottle anthology that I figured they would reject, at which point I intended to delete the story from my hard drive forever? The one I sweated over and hated so much that once it was done, I swore off writing short stories for all eternity (which lasted about six weeks)?

I just got an acceptance for it. I am once again reminded that I'm completely incapable of judging my own work.

(It's a story set in the same world as Jack of All Trades, with Jack, Helen, and Pepper as the main characters, so I'm especially pleased. And if you haven't already, don't forget to post a comment here to enter the Jack of All Trades contest.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stickers and Tears

I got paid for a story today, which has made me reckless with money. I went out to Walmart to buy the sticker-maker I saw this weekend, and while I was standing there reading the back of the box, I thought, "Wait, all I really need is a box of round sticky labels that I can use in my printer. Duh."

So I didn't get the $20 sticker-maker. But despite a whole five minutes searching the web, I can't find any round white adhesive labels about 2" across that come on sheets that can be put in the printer. Anyone have any ideas? It seems like that would be a pretty common thing to use in craft projects, but I thought the same about blank bookmarks and they were A) really hard to find and B) cost $4 for 20, which is just ridiculous for die-cut white cardstock.

The new Ghost Hunters starts soon, and I'm unexpectedly emotional as a result. For the last several months, every Wednesday night me, my mom, and my cat Angel (and my other cat Vincent too, although he wasn't as interested) would sit down together and watch Ghost Hunters. Now Angel is gone, and I am crying over a stupid TV show that my cat did not really watch, she just wanted to hang out with the people eating snack food. I've been hugging Vincent a lot and sniffling.

No ghost cat jokes, I mean it. Emo sticker-less person here ready to snap back.

(Oh yeah, if you haven't already, don't forget to post a comment here to enter the Jack of All Trades contest.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's a contest!

Yes, finally, I got my sh--stuff together enough to start the contest.

Because I am the least organized person in the world, and more to the point didn't expect Jack of All Trades to be released until next month, I didn't have any bookmarks or anything printed up ahead of time. So I made some! Well, okay, I've made two so far, out of 20 planned (because I only have 20 blank bookmarks). Each one will be unique and numbered, so they're collectible! Yeah, collectible. Also, the lettering is by my mom, who letters much better than me, and the dragon artwork is by the awesome Richard Svensson, taken from the book, printed on my crappy printer, and glued down with artist's glue (not Elmer's). The yarn is handspun by me! My goodness, how exciting can you get? Also, the bookmarks are 100% guaranteed to mark your place in any book you choose. Except ebooks.

So anyway, the contest. All you have to do is reply to this blog post and you're entered. But you can't reply anonymously, because how do I know which anonymous person you are? At the end of the week (Saturday night), I'll put all the names in a hat and pick one, and that lucky person will win a signed copy of Jack of All Trades and a bookmark! Two other not-quite-so-lucky people will win bookmarks. I'll probably throw in some other little things too, although I don't know what yet. I've got my eye on a sticker-maker, but they're not cheap.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lots of links, and a One Lovely Blog Award

I've posted the first chapter of Jack of All Trades as a pdf file, which you can read here. Let me know if it doesn't work or you can't read it or something. The book is now also available for order through Amazon and B&N! That's pretty cool, although I do get a higher royalty from orders directly from my publisher, and of course you can order the book (and read most of the first chapter online, with illustrations) here.

Starting tomorrow I'll be running a contest throughout the week. Winner will receive a signed copy of Jack of All Trades and some other loot, although I don't know what loot yet since I haven't yet bought any. That's what Sunday afternoons are for.

Jameson T. Caine has awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, which is sweet of him. It must be all the pink on his website. :) Despite the pink--or maybe because of it--Jameson writes creepy and fascinating horror stories, many of which you can read online, just check the links on the sidebar of his blog.

Now it's time to pass the award along to some worthy blogger. I choose Samantha Sterner, another horror writer whose blog is always interesting, entertaining, and often just plain funny.

The rules for the award:

1. Accept the award, and don't forget to post a link back to the awarding person.

2. Pass the award on.

3. Notify the award winner(s).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Spoilers ahead

I've debated writing this post since I finished reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I really liked the book except for one thing. It's a minor issue, not important to the plot, just a revelation at the very end that a character we think of as one thing is actually another thing. It's the equivalent of the stupid joke at the end of the sitcom, the one that makes everyone laugh.

Except that it's more than that, and it really bothered me. A lot. I can't explain without spoilering the whole issue, so proceed at your own risk.

Spoiler below, okay?

Okay, so the book is about a group of four kids who are recruited by the kindly Mr. Benedict to infiltrate a private school. The school is the cover for a mad scientist's plan to control the world by broadcasting subliminal messages through radio and TV signals. It's fun and the characters are interesting: Reynie the puzzle-solver, who becomes the group's informal leader; nervous and brilliant Sticky, a black boy with an eidetic memory; Kate, energetic and spunky--she ran away to join the circus so many times they let her stay; and Constance, who expresses her crankiness by making up silly rhymes.

It's Constance that's the problem. She's described as a little person, and I kept thinking about it all through the book because I've never read a kid's book with a little person as the main character. I kept thinking about how important it would be for a kid with dwarfism or some other related issue to pick up this book and find someone like him, who's part of an adventurous team of kids and treated just like everyone else.

Except that at the end, Constance is revealed to be not a little person at all, but an especially precocious three-year-old.

Leaving aside the fact that NO ONE would mistake a three-year-old--no matter how precocious--for a ten-year-old little person, certainly not the three-year-old's best friends, the real little person reading this book suddenly gets a punch in the gut. Constance wasn't just like him after all. In fact, it's an insult: little people are indistinguishable from small children, and oh no, I'm sure they never get treated like that at all ever, right?

It left a really bad taste in my mouth. I just had to vent about it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Thursday edition

Since Angel got sick, I haven't done any writing at all. No, wait, I did write a little bit yesterday morning. I believe it was about one and a half sentences.

So yeah, basically I'm totally stressed out and can't concentrate on much of anything. I've decided to just allow myself to read other people's books until the issue with Angel is resolved one way or another. She's improved from Monday, but she's not better by any means and she's not really eating. I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and see if her lack of appetite might be due to the steroids and if the steroids are important enough to keep giving them to her. I plan to do a lot of cooking this weekend for her, to see if I can tempt her appetite. I resorted to giving her ham soaked in milk this evening. She drank the milk but hardly touched the ham.

I need comfort reading. Maybe I'll reread Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, one of my favorite books.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good and bad

I got the email from my editor this morning: Jack of All Trades is now available from Ancient Tomes! I thought it was an ebook download available, but it looks like you can go ahead and order the print copy.

I made a trailer for it that you can watch, although mostly I suspect people who watch it will think, "That's a terrible trailer." At least it has good music (by the awesome Danny Birt) and illustrations (by the equally awesome Richard Svensson; the illustrations are from the book).

All this is good, of course. The bad is that my cat has picked up something that's affected her neurologically. She's a lot better than yesterday, when she couldn't stop turning in circles, but apparently this is not uncommon in cats and there are umpteen things that could cause it, from a brain tumor or head trauma to an ear infection or lung cancer. I declined to take her to the UT Vet Hospital for Every Test Known to Man and instead brought her home from the vet's with four medications: an antibiotic, a steroid, an ear flush, and ear drops. She's still wobbly; I think she may actually have vertigo, poor thing.

So in between getting the email from my editor and writing up this post, I had to stop and give Angel her morning meds, and she bit my finger. Which makes it hard to type. But I'd rather she bite my finger than turn in circles incessantly.

[I have no idea what I did to the font in this post.]

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Introducing the Vampirometer

I've been reading a lot of urban fantasy lately, and they all contain vampires. It seems to be a basic requirement of the subgenre. I'm going to start rating urban fantasies with the Vampirometer. Here's how it works:

Choose one of the following:
Anne Rice-esque vampires: sexy, decadent, and well-dressed. (1 point)
Dracula-esque vampires: powerful, horrific, and fascinating. (1 point)
Nosferatu-esque vampires: grotesque, scary, and non-sexy. (1 point)
Pratchett-esque vampires: driven, unhappy, and really just regular guys despite the blood-drinking thing. (1 point)

Additional points gained or lost from the following list:
  • Vampires are undead (no pulse or breathing) and act undead (no food, no sex, may smell kinda bad, etc.). (+1 point)
  • Vampires are undead (no pulse or breathing) but act more like goth kids who are pretending to be vampires. (-1 point)
  • Vampires are not undead (they have a disease that renders them vampiric, are a separate species, are aliens/ghosts/from another dimension, etc.). (+1 point)
  • Vampires are considered alive rather than undead, but they gain all their nourishment from blood and do not eat. (-1 point)
  • All vampires are evil except the one the heroine/hero interacts with most. (-1 point)
  • Vampires have a complex and hidden hierarchical society with elaborate rules, frequent gatherings of powerful members, and members who are businessmen or nobles, but somehow no one except the heroine/hero has ever figured out that vampires exist. (-1 point)
  • Vampires can transform into bats, wolves, rats etc. at will. (+1 point)
  • Individual vampires may have different talents. (+1 point)
  • Vampires consider humans as prey animals barely worthy of any compassion, even though vampires are former humans. (-1 point)
  • Vampires consider humans as prey animals barely worthy of any compassion, but a vampire falls in love with the heroine/hero, who is human. (-1 point)
  • The viewpoint character is a vampire and is cool with that. (+1 point)
  • The viewpoint character is a vampire and angsts about it all the time. (-1 point)
  • Vampires are immortal and nigh-invulnerable except for a secret vulnerability the main characters learn over the course of the story; this secret is not known to anyone else. (-1 point)
  • Vampires are immortal and nigh-invulnerable, but ways to destroy them are common knowledge, or at least not secret. (+1 point)
  • Vampires are magical beings that cannot be harmed physically under ordinary circumstances. (+1 point)
  • Vampires are magical beings that cannot be harmed physically, but they still have sex with physical beings. (-1 point)
  • Vampires absorb energy instead of drinking blood. (+1 point)
  • Vampires are all about the blood. (+1 point)
  • Vampires seem to be vampires in name only, without any apparent need for blood/life force/etc. (-1 point)
  • The heroine/hero falls for the vampire even though he/she is a real dick/has no personality/is portrayed as repugnant or evil, etc., and this seems out of character for the heroine/hero. (-1 point)
So, using this scale, Dracula scores a 6. However, the Vampirometer does not imply whether the book in question is any good, just whether the author did a good job with the vampires. For instance, the vampires in Charlaine Harris's first book, Dead Until Dark, score a 4 (I haven't read the other books in that series). The vampires in Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series (which I love) score a 1. I don't think it's a coincidence that Charlaine Harris's books focus on the vampires, while Patricia Briggs's books focus on the werewolves. (But I'm not doing a Werewolfometer. That would just be silly.)

Here are Vampirometer ratings for the two urban fantasies I read last week:
Maria Lima's Matters of the Blood Vampirometer rating: 2
Kat Richardson's Greywalker Vampirometer rating: 1

So what did I miss? How can I improve the Vampirometer?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Four reviews

I got my copy of Catherine J. Gardner's chapbook "The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon" yesterday and read it today. It's brilliant! Her writing is surreal and full of amazing imagery and wordplay; her brain must be full of interesting thoughts. I can't tell too much about it without giving away some of the plot, so I'll just say that Olive Lemon lives in a town without a name. If you haven't already ordered your copy, I highly recommend it!

I saw Ponyo today at the theater. There's another surreal story, but in this case it's also charming, sweet, and gentle. It's about a little boy who lives at the top of a cliff above the sea, and a goldfish whose father is a strange sort of magician who used to be human. After the fish gets stuck in a jar and is saved by the little boy, she wants to become human herself. I haven't seen such gorgeous animation in years--it's old-fashioned hand-drawn animation, and I'd forgotten how organic and alive that feels. The story itself reminds me a lot of My Neighbor Totoro.

Yesterday I had to have a tire repaired, with a ridiculous two and a half hour wait. I didn't have a book with me so I bought one, Kat Richardson's Greywalker, and ended up staying up till 1am this morning to finish it. I liked the main character, Harper Blaine, who after a terrible accident discovers she can see and interact with a realm of spirits that she calls the Grey. The plot was solid and interesting, although I was disappointed that the romantic subplot was given so little emphasis. I liked the way Harper's relationship with the Interesting Guy was progressing, and then boom, it was the morning after with no transition. I really thought my copy of the book was missing a chapter or something. Other than that, I liked the book pretty well.

I also read Maria Lima's Matters of the Blood this week, another urban fantasy. This one was good too, if a little too dependent on coincidences to move the plot forward. I kept wondering when the main character, Keira Kelly, was going to open up and whoop some ass. This book was published by Juno Books, which focuses on urban fantasy with strong female main characters, but Keira basically never whoops anything. She just gets hit in the head a lot and has to be rescued. I liked her, but she needed to stop telling us she's been trained in kicking butt and just show us.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ew what am I drinking?

I've gone through like a gallon of lemonade in the last two days. I poured the last half-glassful tonight and looked in the fridge to see if we had anything to top it off with. My mom, who's one of those people who buys icky flavors of food that no one actually likes, had brought home blueberry-acai juice. I topped off my lemonade with that, and of course it tastes (and smells) sort of like I'm drinking medicine. Ew. Eww. Gag. I don't like to throw out food (or lemonade), so I'm making myself drink it. It also seems to be giving me a headache. Maybe I'm allergic to acai, whatever it is. I thought it was something spammers had made up.

As for writing, I got the outline sort of written for the new untitled project. It's going to change a lot. If it doesn't, it will suck as badly as my lemonade-blueberry-acai concoction. But I suspect it'll end up pretty good--or if not good, at least it'll be fun to drink. I mean write.

But Iron Chef is on so I'm going to forget about outlining and lie back to watch people cook.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WIP Wednesday: still no title

No title yet, and no words written, but I did read over what I've already written on the new untitled project today. It's good! The first chapter needs work--I wasn't sure what tone the main character's voice would take, and I didn't settle into it until the second chapter. Then again, the first chapter is only 500 words long so it won't be hard to rewrite.

In the first five chapters that are already written, I've introduced all the main characters along with the first broad strokes of their personalities and interactions, I've introduced the main themes of the book, given the main character some issues to work through, and hinted at some plot complications that are going to show up real soon. At the end of chapter five, one of the characters has just shot a spy (with an arrow, and he's not dead).

I'm dangerously attracted to the title Adventures in Zoology. If I was browsing the SF/fantasy shelves in B&N and saw a paperback with that title, I know I'd pick it up.

Tomorrow I'm going to rough out an outline--just a sketchy one, not a jot-and-tiddle everything-plotted-out one. I think this book will work out best if I write it fast and throw in all the ideas that pop up as I write. It's got some serious themes, but I want it to be fast-paced, fun, light, and as inventive as I can manage. If I pre-plot too much, I'll lose the spontaneity.

Friday I'm going to start writing, whether or not the outline is done and whether or not I've settled on a title.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Title help needed!

I had some downtime this evening while I was waiting for slowpoke testers #1 and #2 to finish their freaking stupid math tests. Um, anyway, I spent the time brainstorming title ideas for my new project that I'm about to jump back into. Then I went and left the list at work, where it will confuse my coworkers utterly if I don't get at it before they do in the morning.

This is the book that's going to be a fun swashbuckling adventure, about a woman who's invited on an expedition to another world. The working title is--ick--Elfland by Accident, which isn't even accurate.

I think I can remember some of the better titles I came up with. I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions. For some reason, I got stuck on using Gray Dancer as part of the title--the gray dancer in question is a horse the main character is going to end up with, although it's not very important to the plot. Although I could make it important.

Possible titles:
Adventures in Zoology
A Land of Rain and Daggers
Gray Dancer and Dagger
Gray Dancer and Dragon

Hmm, I had a ton more than that. I don't remember any of the others. Obviously, I need a lot of help. Once I get a title, I'm going to finish the rough outline I've already started.

What do you expect from a swashbuckling adventure? The main character is a zoologist, but she's going to end up a lot more than that. I know I want her to rescue someone from a dungeon, although I'm not entirely sure how the someone gets into the dungeon in the first place, or why. Details, details.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Title goes here.

Look at me! I'm revising!

I realized a few days ago that the reason I'm not really happy with Blood and Taxes is because the ending is all wrong. Or rather, the ending is right, but the build-up to the ending is wrong. Someone locks Ana in a closet. Someone else helps her escape. Whee!

So I'm rewriting it and I'm mostly done already. Ana takes a much more active role (which is something I was concerned about from the start) and it's also much shorter. Hurrah for brevity!

I think I'm ready to plunge deeply into my next project. I've been picking and pecking for months and months, thinking I was just being lazy. I think I was just recharging. I mean, I wrote two full-length novels and a novella between September of last year and February of this year; I think I'm allowed some recharge time. But now I've got that itch to really jump in and write write write. Thank goodness!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yay for Olive Lemon!

Catherine J. Gardner's chapbook "The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon" is now on sale at Bucket O' Guts Press! I can't wait till I get my copy! Of course, I just ordered it like ten minutes ago so it'll be a few days.

Look, here's the awesome cover, which I totally stole off her blog:

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Jim Baen's Universe is closing. Geez. The SFWA Pro markets list was small enough already; now a fantasy writer is down to five markets that accept fantasy and are open to submissions. Five!

Not that I'm particularly keen to join SFWA. But I'd like the option, so I can sneer and refuse to join.

Look, here's the list, with my notes in bold. The italicized markets are ones that are open and accept fantasy. Note also that even if all these markets were accepting subs, there are still just seven that accept fantasy (although several of them say they accept dark fantasy, which means they're horror markets).

Analog Science Fiction and Fact [sf]
Asimov’s Science Fiction [sf]
Apex (starting with June 2008 issue) — NEW Added July 7, 2009 [sf]
Baen’s Universe [closing permanently]
Brutarian [horror]
Cemetery Dance [horror; closed to subs]
Clarkesworld Magazine
Chizine [horror; closed to subs]
Cosmos [sf; closed to subs]
Dark Wisdom [horror; on indefinite hiatus]
Dragon [takes all rights; I'm frankly shocked they're considered a pro market]
Fantasy Magazine [closed to subs]
Flash Fiction Online NEW added Feb 2009
Grantville Gazette (starting with May 2007 issue) NEW added Feb 2009 [specific alt-hist world]
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Odyssey – Adventures in Science [sf; for children]
Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
Pedestal Magazine [lit magazine, will accept genre work if it meets their criteria for lit]
Realms of Fantasy [closed to subs]
Strange Horizons
Subterranean Magazine [invite only] — NEW Added July 27, 2009 [invite only]
Writers of the Future Anthology [contest]

The sad fact is that very few markets can pay pro rates--set by SFWA currently at 5 cents a word, minimum $50--because they're just not getting enough subscribers. Jim Baen's Universe is closing for that very reason. Sometimes I wonder if non-writers even read these magazines anyway. I think they continue to exist largely because wannabe pro writers buy them to study the stories, in hopes that one day they too can be published in a pro market, at which time they'll be read by a new generation of wannabe writers.... Not that they don't publish good stories, but the audience seems kind of limited.

I dunno, I've had a cruddy day--one of those "if anything can go wrong, it will" days, and tomorrow isn't going to be any funner. I'm being even more cynical than usual. BUT! I did get my comp copies of two magazines that I have stories in: New Fables #3 and Beyond Centauri #25, both of them very pretty magazines produced for people who buy them to read for enjoyment. I know because New Fables is a furry magazine (they pay 1/2 cent a word) and Beyond Centauri is for kids (they pay a flat fee of $2, $3, or $6 depending on story length), and both furries and kids are sincere consumers of fiction. It's sort of refreshing, although it's not exactly paying for my trip to DragonCon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Comfort reading

August is probably the most stressful and exhausting time of the year if you work at a college, which I do. Today I got growled at by a student when I told her she had to put her cell phone up in a locker or her car before she could take her placement test.

If you think growling is an appropriate response to having to follow testing center policies, maybe you are not quite ready for college.

Also, I was so tempted to growl back.

When I sat down to lunch today and realized all I had to entertain me for the next hour was an overpriced Subway club and a notebook that was all sticky with peach juice (I forgot the peach was even in my bag, okay?), I could have cried. I would have done just about anything to have my battered old copy of Watership Down in front of me. Man, I need comfort reading in the worst way this week. Preferably the type of book where if someone growls at another character, that character beats the shit out of the growler.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Care and feeding of hiking boots

My poor hiking boots have been sadly neglected of late. I'd been wearing them hiking in Clear Creek all year, but I hadn't cleaned them up the way they need cleaning. The leather had gotten dry and scratched, and when I noticed the right upper had started to separate from the sole a few weeks ago, I stopped wearing them and stuck them in a corner.

Poor boots. I've owned them for over ten years and up until this year I kept good care of them. So this weekend I went to the farmer's co-op and bought a quart of neatsfoot oil and applied it carefully, then once they were dry I went over with spit and saddle soap and cleaned and shined them up. I took out the old worn laces, which I'll replace. This morning--because I have a weird work schedule today and don't have to be at work until noon--I'm going by Pendergrass Family Shoe Repair to drop them off. Pendergrass has repaired my boots several times over the years and do a great job. I just hope they're still in business.

Because this post has absolutely nothing to do with writing, I am now going to talk about writing. Um, I didn't get anything written this weekend. How about you?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Emerald Tales #1 available

The first issue of Emerald Tales is available for order here. I got my contributor's copy yesterday. Usually I only read my story in any given contributor's copy, and sometimes one or two others if they look interesting--short stories aren't my favorite--but I read all of Emerald Tales. I wanted to see how the other authors handled the "follow the butterflies" theme.

The issue starts off with Erika Tracy's beautifully written "A Search Dog's Tryptych," which made me cry. It's my favorite story in the whole issue, worth the price of admission on its own if you ask me. My next favorite is Catherine J. Gardner's surreal "Empty Box Motel." Both those stories actually take the same approach to the theme, and they're both full of brilliant imagery--lush and earthy in Tracy's case, bright and sharp in Gardner's--but they could not possibly be more different.

Most of the stories contain literal butterflies, except for Arthur Carey's "Wedding Present" (a darkly funny story) and my own SF story "Cult of the Butterfly" (where the butterflies are aliens). I was a little disappointed by that, but each author used their butterflies a little differently. I didn't love all of the stories, but most of them aren't speculative in nature and that lowers my interest level right there. I'm looking forward the next issue in a few months; its theme is "masks, or things are not what they seem."

Wow, look at that. I actually reviewed something in more than three words.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July's gone already?

I just realized it's August. Let's see, how did I do in July?

Well, I sold a book to a small press (still don't have the contract back, so it's not official), I sold a story to Emerald Tales--and the issue should be up for sale either tonight or tomorrow--and another to the It Was a Dark and Stormy Halloween antho. And my Thaumatrope Twitter serial "Unicorn Chase" ran throughout the month.

I also wrote a flash story and a regular short story during July, which is practically a record. That's about all the writing I did last month, but at least I wrote something.

The verdict: July was a total win. My goal for August is to name my unnamed new project and get back to work on it. I reread what I have of Little Sparrow the other night and it's not as good as I was thinking, so it's definitely on the back burner for a little longer.