Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day Three. . .

So I'm on Day Three of being sick. I'm exhausted, my brain is full of pudding, I'm achey, and my throat is raspy. I spend most of my time reading or napping or just sitting stupidly and watching TV.

I think it's the pudding-head that bothers me the most. I'm happy to spend the weekend curled up in bed with a book - I just wish I had the brains available to enjoy it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yarr! A Piratical Cover!

Check out the lovely cover to Shimmer's Pirate issue (release date: Nov. 1).
James Owen, the very talented artist, also did the interior art for the issue, which really ties everything together beautifully. Head on over to his LiveJournal, where he's posted images of the cover as it came together, from initial sketch to final image.
Better than a bucket o' chum!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's not a blog without a cat post

Abby (short for Anklebiter) spent this summer sleeping curled around the base of the toilet. But check out her new fall sleeping space. It's just the right size for her.

Today will be spent proofing the Pirate Issue so that we can get it out to the printers next week. It's amazing how many typos you find. This issue has been edited, copy edited, had the edited text approved by authors, had the galley proofs approved by authors - and still, there's a ton of stuff to catch. Moral of the story: proof early and often - but accept that despite your best efforts, errors will slip through.

And check out Apex's Halloween raffle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yarr! The Pirate Issue!

Avast! It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

We be celebrating by sharing our Shimmery treasure with ye landlubbers. Set your sails for and watch our trailer. Then pour yerself a fresh mug o' grog and settle down to read a story from the issue: The Sweet Realm, by Jill Snider Lum.
You can also pre-order the pirate issue: a special double-length issue, guest-edited by Cap'n John Joseph Adams of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Release date: November 1, 2007.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Busy weekend!

We've had a nice productive weekend here. Sean's busy working on the music for the trailer for Shimmer's Pirate issue (you should be able to see something fabulous on Talk Like A Pirate Day, Sept. 19th). It's lovely to see him so engaged in something. He's enthusiastic about his writing and about his classes and about his future in teaching - but none of those things absorbs him quite the way music does.

And I've gotten a lot done this weekend, too. It's good to be productive instead of overwhelmed. I continue to put a lot of energy towards figuring out the best way for me to work; I think this is highly individual. Everyone has overcrowded lives; everyone needs to balance their home and their day job and their relationships and their creative life and their other interests and their recreation activities. It takes some experimenting to find the best approach. For me, it seems that breaking every activity into bite-sized tasks ("read 1 chapter of 'War and Peace'" vs "read 'War and Peace'"), combined with limiting each day's To Do list to a manageable size, is the way to go.

I'm also focusing on one area of my life at a time. For a while, it seemed like the aspect that had most of my attention was my house: creating new systems to keep us clean and fed was more consuming than I expected it would be. But that phase is settling down, and the house stays clean and we have yummy meals every night and life is good. It's remarkable how happy it makes me to have a clean and organized home; it just seems to make everything else flow better. (Time committment: 5 minutes/day to pick up crap, 10 minutes to deal with dishes and etc after dinner, 45 minutes a week to do a thorough cleaning of the whole house, 2 hrs per month on special cleaning/decluttering projects.) But now, finally, that's almost under control, and I can focus more on Shimmer and my own writing.

btw, if you have any interest in the workings of a small press magazine, read John Klima's series on starting a zine. He's the editor of Electric Velocipede, one of my favorites, and he's offering lots of good information; read it!

He does mention how much effort goes into a magazine, but I don't think you can really understand it until you're waist-deep in it. And for me, more than the sheer amount of work, it's the relentlessness of it: today I can read 10 slush stories and get caught up; tomorrow there will be another 10. And that's just the slush pile: every other aspect is just as continual. The work never stops.

Which brings me back to figuring out how you work. How much can you do in a day, realistically? Where's the boundary between "protecting your free time" and "procrastinating"? What's the most effective way to get magazine work done, get the day job done, keep your life running, and be with your loved ones?

It evolves slowly, this productivity thing; but I know this: I'm happy when I've had a full and productive day, doing work I love. It really makes me feel I've earned my olivetini.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Over the holiday weekend, Sean and I took a mini-vacation. We headed to Brigham City, about an hour north of Salt Lake, and checked out the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Verdict: neat.

To reach the refuge, you drive about 10 miles down a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere. There's an Education Center just off the highway, but it was closed for the holiday, so we weren't all that sure we were headed in the right direction. Soon enough we started seeing bird refuge signs, though, so we figured we were ok.

Once you reach the refuge, there's a 12-mile car path with frequent parking spots to stop and look at the birds (and those wacky carp). We weren't smart enough to bring a book to help us identify all the birds we saw, but I know we saw white pelicans, ibises, cranes, herons, and other shore birds. We took a lot of pictures, but none that do it justice. It's a lovely and remote area, full of birds. Check it out if you're in the area.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, #10

Have you been reading Apex? If not, you're missing out. I've been reading Apex since the first issue, and it's been really interesting to watch the magazine grow and improve. It seems to me that there's been a particularly noticable shift in quality in the last two issues: the stories are more mature, more subtle, more challenging; the horror is less intestine-based, and more deeply creepy. Editor Jason Sizemore is exploring a more nuanced approach, and I'm enjoying it.

Bad Sushi, by Cherie Priest, is a nicely atmospheric Lovcraftian sushi story. It's a solid start to the issue: Priest's skill at evoking her characters and world bodes well for the rest of Issue 10.

Daydreams, by Lavie Tidhar, perhaps best represents the direction Apex is going now. It's smart and challenging. The story takes a bit more work than the rest of the pieces in this issue, but for many readers, it is sure to be a favorite. Fans of Tidhar will also want to grab a copy of Hebrew Punk, his short story collection, published by Apex.

Memories of the Knacker's Yard, by Ian Creasey, is perhaps my favorite in this issue. It's a delightfully noir ghost story which completely lives up to the promise of its opening.

If a ghost complains that it's just been murdered, it can help us by describing the killer, or at least telling us about its enemies. Investigating a murder without a ghost is much harder. the slashing was the third this month, all without ghosts, and the eight this year. Or was it the ninth?

Hell, when you lose count of the corpses, you know you're losing.

It's got some neat worldbuilding, a familiar but fresh protagonist, and a satisfying conclusion.

Pigs and Feaches, by Patrice Sarath, is another favorite; it's an emotionally horrifying story that remained with me long after I read it. I love short-short stories that are done well.

Cain Xp11, by Geoffrey Girard, continues Girard's cloned serial killer serial. I know I've read a cloned serial killer story or two, but I'm really enjoying Girard's take on it, and looking forward to the other installments.

Monument, by Nancy Fulda, this issue's Parting Shot, is a wistful elegy that ends the issue on a strong and intelligent note.

Dust stirs around my tennis shoes as I walk. I realize with sudden vertigo that I am tramping through their ashes, disturbing a crematorium, traversing a mass grave. I step carefully.

Well done, Apex. I can't wait for #11.