Monday, October 30, 2006

It's almost November. . . .

That means two things: Nanowrimo is looming, and it's all Halloween songs on the radio.

We held our Nano kickoff meeting yesterday - about 35 people showed up for pizza. Overall, it seemed like a more confident group than usual. At least, they looked less apprehensive as they approached us, and all settled down for a jolly afternoon of pizza, novel talk, and door prizes.

I think I've got my Nano project picked out. I'd hoped to have a detailed outline and such - but no, it appears that I will be winging it again this year.

I'd hoped that I would be the kind of blogger who could come up with something entertaining every day - but alas. No doubt I will have more to say in November, as I am diligently procrastinating on my nano project.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rough Week

This has been a tricky week. My head feels like it's full of pudding, and all I want to do is sleep. Getting out of bed has required heroic efforts this week - waking up when the alarm goes off has never been one of my strong points, but this week, it's been nearly impossible. And once I did get up, the next steps seemed way beyond me: making coffee, getting dressed, etc. I probably would have called in sick at work a few times, but god, I hate phones, and it was easier to just get dressed and go in to the office.

Good things have happened this week, too, and some awareness of them has even trickled through the pudding in my brain. Some interesting possibilities developed career-wise (though it may take months for anything to be decided). I got a nice letter from a reader who liked The Minotaur's Rabbit in the latest Apex. (Read something you've liked lately? Send the author a message. Make someone's day.) Sean, who is turning out to be the nicest person in the whole world, sent me a bunch of music and an IGMS gift certificate. Despite myself, I made good progress on my mountainous pile of Stuff To Do, both for Shimmer and at work. And it's a lovely crisp fall out there.

Life's good. I just need to stay awake long enough to notice.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Today I started out by making a list of everything I need to do today. This was very easy, because I mostly copied over yesterday's list, and added a few things that came up last night and this morning. Last night, not so productive, except in the taking a nap and watching TV kind of way.

More interestingly, today I received my contributor copies of Apex Science Fiction and Horror, #7. You can grab a copy from the Apex web site, or keep an eye out in your local bookstore. It's got some lovely art by Sandro Castelli (we love his stuff over at Shimmer, too!), and plenty of stories and interviews. I'm looking forward to settling in to read it, once I've made a sizeable dent in my List.

My story is The Minotaur's Rabbit, which was written for the Apex contest at Liberty Hall. It is a jolly tale about a bunny, and I hope you like it.

It's one of those stories that I wrote for my own reasons, and never really expected anyone else to like or even pay much attention to. In part, it was an exercise: I wanted to see if I could Apex up a story but still have it be mine. I almost never write SF or horror, so I was skeptical, but the experiment went well, I think. It was also part therapy story; let's just say that the week I wrote that was a very bad week for one of my cats.

So I wrote it for those reasons and a few more besides, and did my best with it. And I was content that I'd done with it what I set out to do. But I truly never expected other people to like it so much; it's a wonderful bonus.

Seems that I have more and more stories like this - things that I write as an exercise or a game or therapy and never intend to think about again - but people keep liking them. I think I'm going to start trusting my readers more, and sending more of these odd bits out.

And now, back to the List. No matter what else I get done this weekend, I swear I'm going to get the laundry out of the dryer and put away. No Matter What.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Halloween Songs? Bah, humbug.

So it seems some readers of this blog love their Halloween songs. All I can do is shake my head and make myself another olivetini.

Every Halloween, at our independent radio staton (KRCL, which is very cool), the programmers indulge in themed shows and play plenty of Halloween songs. It's better than Christmas music, I guess, but let me tell you: "Werewolves of London," not fun on endless eternal repeat.

Why are some holidays celebrated (overcelebrated) with music? Seems like the programmers throw together themed shows for all possible holidays. Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Election Day, Valentines Day.

And is it any coincidence that the holidays with the most songs are also the most commercial? Nothing says "I love you, Dad!" like a new weed whacker. Nothing tells your mom how much you care like a blender. And what better way to tell your brother you love him than by buying him the election in Florida? Ho, ho, ho.

There are a few holidays associated with big sales at discount furniture stores. Want to remember Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington? Celebrate Memorial Day? Relax on Labor Day? Buy a new couch. But at least there aren't very many songs for those days.

Columbus Day, now that's a holiday. No songs, no Columbus Day decorations in the stores for two months before the big day. No need to buy a gift, and Hallmark doesn't make much money off Columbus. I just get the day off from work to peacefully contemplate European imperialism and the devastation wrought upon native populations.

That's my kind of holiday.

When I go home to New York for Christmas, my sister and her husband usually come, too. They bring a puzzle with them, a giant difficult 1,000 piece monster. While my father's in the kitchen drunkenly roasting a goose and preparing six other exquisite dishes for our feast, the rest of us hide out in the living room and work on the puzzle and listen to Christmas music and try to think of errands that will get us out of the house for a while. Finishing a puzzle means we can go buy another one, so we work fast.

It's taught me a lot about teamwork.

Speaking of puzzles, here's a terrific one. It's the cover of the Autumn Shimmer. Keep an eye on Mary's blog; she's got lots of goodies up her sleeve.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ho ho ho

Shimmer's fabulous art director, Mary Robinette Kowal, has set up a wordsearch using words from the Autumn issue. Check it out!

Then I found out that a friend of mine is listening to Christmas music. Already. It's not enough that Christmas is inescapable from November 1 on? It's not enough that some stores already have Christmas merchandise up, even if they haven't switched over to the Christmas muzak yet, or put up the giant animatronic reindeer that sings "Jingle Bells" every time you walk by?

It's just a matter of time. Christmas will be here soon enough, and then all you Christmas-music lovers can just wallow in it full-time.

In my family, when we all get together (which isn't very often), we do a traditional Polish Christmas. Christmas Eve, there's a traditional meal, served when the first star comes out; there's a ceremony where we go around and wish each other well; there's lots and lots and lots of good food.

And there's Christmas music. We've got a CD or two of Polish Christmas carols - they're lovely, really, the first several hundred times you hear them. It doesn't take as long as you might think to hear a song a hundred times - just put the CD player on endless eternal repeat, crank up the volume, and settle back to enjoy your holidays.

Christmas music. I feel so betrayed to learn that this friend has such unspeakable interests.

Busy Sunday

I spent a lot of time today proofing the Autumn issue of Shimmer. I really love this issue. I mean, I love all of our issues, but I really love this one. I'm looking forward to the day when I get the copies back from the printer; I will probably just sit and admire it for a while.

Then I did the flash challenge at Liberty Hall. Good luck recognizing me, my LH friends; this one is not like anything I've ever written before.

Beautiful fall day, good for raking leaves and snuggling with cats.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The List

...of what I should do today:
  • Read 6 slush stories and decide whether to reject or pass on to the board for further consideration
  • Read or reread the 9 stories already before the board and figure out what to do with them
  • Obsessively proof the Autumn issue
  • Sign contracts for the Winter issue and pay the authors
  • Catch up on accounting and other record-keeping
  • Catch up on miscellaneous e-mail
  • Do a revision pass on a story
  • Laundry and miscellaneous other domesticities - at least it is raining, so I don't feel obligated to put any yard work on the list
  • Read a few books and magazines from my looming "to read right now" pile
  • Return library books
  • Go to Ben Bova's reading
If I were superhuman, I'd also be trying to do some edits on the Winter issue stories, so that I'm not frantically doing those at the last minute - but I think the list is long enough already. And I have to do it all with a kitten on my lap or sitting on the desk in front of me - she's fascinated by the monitor and the way text scrolls, and keeps trying to swat at the cursor.

Reading the slush stories is pretty easy; all I have to decide is if the story merits another look. Making final decisions, though, is tougher. The stories that make it to the board all have some really good parts, and usually some weaknesses; it's a matter of deciding if the weaknesses are fixable, and if they are fixable, is it a story that we'll love?

Maybe I'll get lucky and find something in my slush or in the board stories that I just love unconditionally. It happens.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lazy evening

Today's a rainy fall day, orange leaves against a gray sky. So after work I ignored the large piles of work I need to do for Shimmer (catching up on my slush pile, making decisions about the stories that have cleared the first reader, proofreading the Autumn issue) and the large piles of work I need to do at home, and just curled up in bed with a book and the cats and fell asleep.

Now I'm half-awake and stupid with sleep. Trying to figure out what to have for dinner, something easy enough to make without thinking. Too hungry to go back to sleep, too slow and thick to put any energy into food.

Well. Tomorrow I'll wake up and be frighteningly productive. Just you watch.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sonnets and Toe Stands

First, from the Department of Shameless Self-Promotion, check out the latest issue of Ray Gun Revival. Why? Because they published my sonnet, "The Evil Robot Monkey Chronicles: Sonnet XII." The issue's a free PDF, so take a moment and download.

What, you didn't know I wrote poetry? Either did I. It started as a complete joke, but the Evil Overlords liked it, and presto. I've had a lot of fun with it, and hope you enjoy it too.

The most fun pose we worked on in yoga tonight is the toe stand, padagustasana. Here's a picture if you're not familiar with it. I was very wobbly. We also did kurmasana for the first time in months; felt great.

And now, I think I'll go watch tv.