Wednesday, June 27, 2007


There's a big old apricot tree in the back yard, and this year it has a fair amount of fruit, some of which we can even reach.

Next step: jam.

Bad Joke: A Selkie Story

In my last post, I challenged y'all to write a nun-selkie crossover story. Faithful reader Skipper Rocket took up the challenge, though apparently she can't tell her nuns from her gnomes. Let the International Selkie Month festivities continue! And maybe y'all will see what I mean about gnomes....


by Skipper Rocket

A selkie and a gnome walk into a bar within minutes of each other. It’s a warm night. A horse is behind the bar, wiping off the countertop with a bar rag.

SELKIE: (wipes perspiration from her face with a kerchief) A Cosmo, please.

HORSE: Certainly, Miss.

GNOME: Excuse me, gorgeous, but that’s not my beard you’re steppin’ on. Hehehe.

The selkie moves her foot disdainfully.

SELKIE: It is too your beard. Ew, ew, ew, gnome germs!

The gnome follows, caresses the selkie’s calf, which is the highest he can reach.

GNOME: I bet you work out.

SELKIE: Would someone get this creep away from me?

The horse trots around the bar and comes to the selkie’s side. He’s got beer on his breath, and hay in his teeth, but the selkie does a double take on his nether regions. At second glance that’s not a fifth leg at all …

SELKIE: Well, hellooo.

HORSE: Is this …

He looks down, way down.

HORSE: … guy bugging you, miss?

SELKIE: (pouting) Why yes he is. Just look!

She points at her calf.

SELKIE: Gnome germies. And I left my Nair at home.

The gnome kisses the selkie’s ankle, and coos at it.

HORSE: That’s okay, Miss. I’ll take care of you.

The selkie bats her lashes meaningfully.

SELKIE: Oh, I hope so.

The sound of ceramic crunching underhoof (yes, I said it, so sue me) is barely audible above the jukebox, which plays only television theme songs. The Family Ties theme currently plays.

GNOME: (muffled) I’m Norm, the Ravelocity Gnome, and you can’t do this to meeeeeeeeeee!

The little red cap floats atop a small expanding pool of blood. (It’s stinky blood.) The Selkie mounts the horse and hugs onto his neck.

HORSE: (under his breath) Oh yeah, chicks looove horseback rides.


About the Author:
Skipper Rocket lives in Salt Lake City, UT, and recently gave me a statue of a gnome humping a mushroom.


And if you'd like to be part of the International Selkie Month festivities, just send me e-mail.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

International Selkie Month?

Sure seems like Shimmer's getting a lot of selkie stories lately. What's up with that? I read three just this afternoon, and I spotted a few others in our slush pile (they were assigned to other editors). Getting that many stories of one type makes it tougher for any of them to succeed with us - even the most genius selkie story tends to seem tired when it's the fifth one you've read in a few days. I'm not saying I'm anti-selkie - just a little weary.

And even if I were anti-selkie, that wouldn't mean much. I was and remain firmly anti-gnome - yet we published Michael Livingston's "Gnome Season" in Issue 4 (this would be a fine time to buy an electronic copy of that issue, don't you think?).

So is there a moral here? I guess so, but it's a weak and slippery one. Don't submit stories that are similar to dozens of other stories in the editor's pile. How are you supposed to know what's in the editor's pile? You can't. You can, though, read widely in the field and get a sense of what's been done already, and what's fresh ground. How are you supposed to know what an editor's getting tired of? You can't, beyond the standard lists of What's Tired (for example, Strange Horizons has a fine list) and the occasional editorial blog post.

But what makes this such a treacherous moral is that there are always exceptions - even vehemently anti-gnome editors run gnome stories once in a while. It happens.

So I'll let you all draw your own conclusions about what to do with your selkie stories.

Mostly, I'm curious about why there are so many selkie stories in my slush pile right now. Was there a selkie anthology that recently closed to submissions? Did the Association for Selkie Pride start a grassroots campaign to raise awareness for selkie-Americans? Or is it just one of those random things, like the month back in the fall of 2005 when I kept getting nun stories?

Now all I need is a selkie-nun crossover story. C'mon, who's game?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A little haircut...

Yesterday we went to my young friend Allie's 13th birthday party. To commemorate the occasion, Wendy and I cut off our hair and sent it to Locks of Love. They make wigs for kids who need 'em - a worthy cause.

Plus, it was time to cut my hair anyway. I had a lot:

Sean graciously agreed to whack it all off for me. It took a while, but eventually he triumphed:

Here's a picture after a little more work on evening it out:

Wendy went a little further with her haircut than I did:

I'm really happy with how it turned out.
Happy birthday, Allie!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trip's End

Tonight's my last night in Florida.

It's been a pretty good trip. The class has been good - I must confess that I still love the SAPI voices, esp. the one with the British accent - it just makes everything sound so smart. I also, because I am secretly a 13-year-old boy, enjoy fiddling with the vocabulary, and making it play sounds instead of speaking particular words. For example, I might decide to have it read all my slush out loud to me while I learn needlepoint or something (ahaha, just kidding), and have it replace the abominable word "alright" with the sound of a rabbit screaming, which is pretty much how I hear it anyway.

I have to say, this trip has been a lot more pleasant because of Google Maps. I've used them to find hotels and bookstores and grocery stores near my hotel, and get directions. I'm not sure what I would have done pre-Google - well, I guess I would have just asked the front desk or other people in my class - but Google makes it all so easy. Yay, Google!

I finished the Kiernan book, and started in on Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, but I am afraid I am not nearly smart enough to read that. That left me with only 1 fiction book for the whole rest of the week and the trip home, so I went out hunting books. I ended up with Gibson's "Pattern Recognition," Triptree's "Brightness Falls From the Air," John Connolly's "Bad Men," and James Lee Burke's "Last Car to Elysian Fields." A goodly number of pages, and a goodly variety; I should make it home without having to read the SkyMall catalogue. Yay!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pho in Florida

The first day of class went pretty well. Mostly we covered familiar ground. The new thing I learned was about the SAPI voices this software can use - they sound really great. They're more resource-intensive and not very good for things like quickly hopping through a bunch of menus - but they're really impressive. So if you are a JAWS user, check out the SAPI voices!

After class and a nap, I headed out into the swampy air to find dinner. I navigated to a pho shop, and had a yummy dinner. My book today is Caitlin Kiernan's "Threshold," which I'm liking a lot (though I'm about ready to get to the main action - lots of setup so far, it seems). The waiter noticed I was reading it, and told me his sister's been bugging him to read it. Too bad he hasn't started it yet, or we could have compared notes.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oh, Florida

Today I flew to Florida for work - I'll be taking a week-long training class about some assistive technology that makes it possible for blind users to work with our software.

The trip went about as well as can be expected. It was lovely to get some time to just read - I plowed through Joe Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" and "The Demon and the City," by Liz Williams. They're both very enjoyable, and you should run out and read them right now, if you haven't already. It sucked that I finished them both with an hour left of plane trip, and nothing left to read but the Sky Mall catalog, but hey! the reading I did do was great. I'll be sure to pack 3 or 4 books for the return trip.

I'm not enjoying the weather here too much - it feels grossly hot and humid, though I'm told it's only 81 degrees, and 82% humidity. I know it can be much worse. But now I know why Sean was so eager to get the hell out of Florida and move in with me...

Thursday, June 07, 2007


It was a long and annoying day at work, so I decided to set everything else aside and declared this bacon cheeseburger and a movie night. Yum.

We went to see Pirates III, which I thought was lovely and a great deal of fun. I really enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, back to work.