Sunday, March 30, 2008

Restorative Saturday

Yesterday was a good day. We slept in, then spent the afternoon wandering around at the zoo. I think my favorite this time was the Eastern Black and White Colobus monkeys--they have this lovely long hair, sort of like Afghan hounds. I also was also taken with the ginormous African porcupines.

In the evening, we had dinner with Shimmer author John Mantooth, in town for WHC. And we got to meet his writing group: Kurt, Petra, Kim, and Sam. They're sound on "all right," and are really fun; it was a terrific evening.

Today will be about being productive: cleaning the house, editing the stories, doing some writing, etc.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No World Horror for us

WHC is in SLC this year, and it seems silly not to go, eh? We'd been looking into helping out as volunteers for the con, but last weekend realized that we haven't had a "normal" weekend since early February. We had our trip to Radcon, and one or the other of us has been sick every weekend since; it's just ridiculous.

So no WHC for us; we're just going to kick back and enjoy not being sick.

But I'd love to have coffee or dinner with anyone who's in town for WHC.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Fix review of The Art Issue

See what The Fix has to say about the Art issue.

J.C. Runolfson had some concerns about how we printed the art (Mary, our Art Director, has a few more thoughts about that), but mostly liked the stories. I think reviews that point out both strengths and weaknesses are more interesting to read than reviews which are either all glowing, or merely summarize a story without taking a stand.

Nevertheless, I'm very pleased by the positive comments. Overall, "this is a solid example of good fantastical short fiction, and an issue of Shimmer well worth acquiring." Runolfson compares Aliette de Bodard to Patricia McKillip, admires Michael Livingston's "lyrically understated" writing which "conjures fully realized characters and a strong sense of place." And regarding Kuzhali Manickavel's "Flying and Falling":

That extra layer of doubt takes a beautiful magic realist story and gives
it extra bite, a perfect note on which to end an issue with such strong
themes of hope and the loss of it.

Lots of other interesting comments; go read the whole thing!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

So tired of being sick . . .

I'm recovering from, I think, my 5th round of illness so far this year, and it's only March. WTF? We're both really ready to be healthy again.

On the plus side, I've managed to get a lot of reading done--that part, at least, is nice. But c'mon. Gimme a break. Enough with the stupid colds and flus already.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Angela Slatter on Pseudopod!

Angela Slatter's story "The Little Match Girl," published in Shimmer's Spring 2006 issue, is now up on Pseudopod. It's read by Dani Cutler. Go listen!

"The Little Match Girl" is one of my favorite Slatter stories; I'm really happy to see it get a new life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stories That Fail

I see this particular story structure fairly often, and it never works for me. Here's a completely made-up excerpt:

The demonic alien waved his tentacles at Roger. He screamed helplessly, but
there was nothing he could do: the alien's mind control held him completely
motionless. Then the alien forced him to pick up the gun and press it against
his temple. "You must die so that we can complete our plan to take over Earth,"
the alien said inside his skull. Roger wept silently as the alien made him
pull the trigger.


The sheriff looked down at Roger's body. "Sure is a shame when a nice young
man like that kills himself," he mused.

"Sheriff," said the young deputy. "What are these marks? It kind of looks like someone dragged a tentacle through the blood!"

"Son," said the sheriff, "you see all kinds of crazy things in this
business. Sure is a shame."


The biggest problem (among several) is that the author isn't trusting the reader. If the author has done his job in the first 4,000 words, we don't need another 500 words to let us know that Roger's dead, and that humanity has no idea about the impending alien threat. The author may think she's adding extra drama by showing the scene: but sometimes, letting us imagine the scene is even more powerful.

In other news from the slush mines, if the cover letter starts out "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To whom it may concern," the story is not going to be good.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jane Goodall!

Tonight we went to see Jane Goodall. She was speaking as part of an environmental studies lecture program at the University of Utah; Terry Tempest Williams was the other speaker.

And, well, she was pretty awesome. I've read most of her books, and am pretty familiar with her research and her more recent work with conservation and Roots and Shoots--but seeing her tell her stories in person is terrific. She has an amazing presence.

Eh, nothing I can say will convey what it was like--but if you get the chance, go see her sometime.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sock Zombie Is My Co-pilot

On the way to RadCon.

Still suffering from the devil-cold; this damn thing will not go away.

I spent a lot of time yesterday wading through Clockwork Jungle submissions. I've sent some really terrific ones on to George Mann. I can't wait to see which stories he picks, and read 'em all.

70 days of sweat: did 1000 words yesterday, despite having no brains; expect to do the same today, perhaps after a nap. So far, so good.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

70 Days of Sweat

So, my whole plan for February did not really work out. I did get some writing done on a few days, and managed to get exercise in on a few days, but overall: pathetic in terms of those objectives! It was a crazy month, though: dealing with the car, going to Radcon, getting sick AGAIN (I am tired of getting sick!). On the plus side, I got to go to Radcon, and Shimmer released the much-delayed Art issue, and best of all, this sucky month is OVER.

Onward, March!

I've signed up for 70 Days of Sweat, a nano-like challenge. Your objective is to write a few pages every day (with a few days off built in) for 70 days--so it's a longer course than Nano, and as far as I can see, the focus is a bit more serious (though it's hard to be less serious than the Nano folks!). I figure it'll take me at least 70k more words to finish off my Nano novel, so that's what I'm aiming for here. That means about 1,000 words a day. Perfectly possible, if I can just get off my ass and do it.

Well, that's what March is for.