Tags: droppin' usernames like hamiltons

Plot? OK!

a weekend, or something like

But first, the edit letter:

I have reached peace with my edit letter. I have read it four times, and I finally see how little work there actually is in it. It seems like a lot? But the concepts are broad, and the bits that need to be tweaked are actually quite minor.

I will be measuring my editing time down to the second, including my "thinking about it" time. Because I know how fast I write, and I know how fast I edit when I direct the editing. But I don't know how fast I do anything else. So, back to my magic calendar, my stop-watch, and all of that. Starting tonight, after I finish cleaning up my office. It's a physical ritual, the Clearing of the Office, before one can embark on a new stage of the project. I don't have much left to do--the big stuff has been sorted. Maybe an hour of that work, before I can move on...

The weekend...

I had a bit of a weekend planned. Head out to the lake Friday afternoon. Go see my stepdaughter's horse show at the end of camp. Spend Saturday with joytulip and her son, Xavier, who come to Michigan every summer; then have daveamongus and tappu's kids over to swim with Xavier.

Then, I realized Mary Robinette Kowal was in town (what's "in town" for Michigan? Anywhere within a hundred miles, basically), recording at Brilliance in Grand Haven. So, I extended the invite to her to hang at the cottage Friday night, and I'd take her to the airport on Saturday before joytulip arrived. It'd be a crowded weekend, but so worth it, and when she took me up on the offer, I was excited to have a writing buddy for an evening and part of a day. Mary was wrapping up her edit letter for Glamour and Glass, and I was still trying not to hyperventilate every time I looked at mine for The Herbalist's Apprentice The Princess Curse the book with the herbs and the Underworld. It was really helpful to examine her process--I'm pretty sure I had a breakthrough during it--even though I was ostensibly working on "Currer Bell Comes to America."

After a leisurely Saturday morning and lunch, I took Mary to the airport, came back, and had a nap, waiting for joytulip and Xavier--and then got the news that Mary's flights were delayed. Selfishly delighted, we invited her back to the cottage. My father-in-law went to get her, while I greeted Tami and X. Full house! Every bedroom taken! The cottage is the most fun that way.

Mary managed to finish her edits that evening, after a dinner under the animal heads at Sam's Joint, while the rest of us took a boat ride. After Xavier and my in-laws went to bed, Mary, Tami and I drank my brother-in-law's gin (sorry, Barry!) with tonic and lime on the porch until the wee hours. A very nice conversation, about language and literature.

In the morning, I got up way too early (relatively) to hit up the store for brats and buns and chips and things before the West Michigan Klechas showed. There was eating, then swimming... then departures. Dave and Tarri took Mary up to the airport on their way home, and I took a nap before heading back to get my stepdaughter from her mom's, and taking us home.

One of those weekends that lasts a week, the kind you need every once in a while just to remind yourself how much living you can fit between breaths.
Happiness (Scrubs)


Got two doses of awesome news when the wonderful Anna Schwind accepted my story, "Sun's East, Moon's West" for Podcastle--the first is the obvious one (sale). The second is--Anna's an editor! At Podcastle! Anna was pretty much the first person I didn't know personally to write me about a story of mine and say she liked it.

That's so cool!

Then, I got another dose of news, this by way of tinaconnolly, who has been doing a much better job tracking the progress of the cute robot book, Unplugged [Amazon] than I have. First, there was the starred review in Publisher's Weekly, which I may have mentioned before (and Tina herself is name-checked)--but then there's the Booklist review, which I haven't seen all of, yet, but in which I am name-checked as having written a "genuinely delightful tale." (They're talking about "The Girl-Prince," which sartorias first bought like a year and a half ago for Coyote Wild.) We love being geuninely delightful!

And even more awesome, I got email from Neil Clarke saying that my copies of the Cute Robot Book should be here on Wednesday, which is really cool, except for that my ego-shelf really doesn't have room. (Woe.) But maybe I should stop using a magazine file and get a real shelf. Hm? Or keep the magazine file for magazines, and get a shelf for books. Something like that. (WOOOE!)

And, and, have I mentioned that sarah_prineas is totally the best? Because she is. If it wouldn't get reverted, I would go put it in her Wikipedia page right now. (It would get reverted because they would be all, "You have to cite your sources," and I would have to confess, "It's primary source material," and hang my head in shame.)

I think that's it for now. (Considers.) Yep.
Alice in Wonderland

Conventions, Conventions, Conventions

Or, rather, just one convention: WindyCon.

The theme this year is steampunk, and the costumes are pretty fantabulous. I'm going to just go on a tour with my camera at some point, should I ever achieve any real downtime. Of course, my perceived lack of downtime has absolutely nothing to do with my schedule. It's personal choice, and shiny people.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to a single panel yet. There is an interesting one I'm missing right now, in fact, but the lure of the internet was too strong to allow me to go see if Baen really is for boys and if DAW is really for girls. (I think I know the answer, see, so watching other people debate it is slightly less interesting to me than it would otherwise be. Plus, we sort of pre-had the panel last night, hanging out in the lobby.)

This is not unrelated to the fact that I frequently find myself at panels and having the rude awakening that not everyone realized that my corner of the internet reached a consensus on something a few years ago, so why are we even debating this? And this is simple stuff, like how to deal with some minute technical aspect of writing, and not important stuff like how to be a socially responsible writer/fan with regard to feminism, violence against women, women in the military, racism, anti-racism, etc. But I also run into that, too. "How can you be so uninformed?" I marvel. "Don't you read ktempest? Or jimhines? Or at least Scalzi's blog, which I thought everyone read?"

But, in fact, my tendency to frequent saner places on the internet means that I forget there's a lot of insanity out there. And because I have a modicum of awareness on certain topics, I forget that there are people out there who don't even really know what the implications of colonialism really are. And don't care how you're problematizing post-colonialism in your alien invaders story. Which is also a rude thing to realize, in a way, even though you freaking knew that when you wrote the story, because that's why you put that entertaining stuff in it. You know. The Story part.


Ran into Rich Horton in the Green Room while getting my panelist sticker and ribbon, and offered to buy him a drink. We'll see if he takes me up on that. I thanked him profusely for liking my fiction, which is a strange thing to thank someone for, because it's essentially a visceral reaction, isn't it? But nonetheless. He swears Unplugged is coming out by the first of December, and I have to decide on the politics of giving anthologies containing one's own work out for presents.

I found dendrophilous, and had dinner with her and Erika... Found some really nice Thai. Remembered that I love coconut milk because it's like milk, but no lactose intolerance! I mean, I had that visceral "uh, oh, and me without my lactaid" reaction to the sauce on my Pa-naeng, but then remembered nothing bad was going to happen. Happy day.

Spent some good time in the lobby chatting with Elizabeth (dendrophilous and jimhines, and everyone who passed by. Jim knows a lot of people. I'm not surprised, I guess, since he's been doing this for a while. Met the archivist for SFWA, Lynne Thomas, and her daughter Katie, and her husband who I am ashamed to admit that I don't remember the name of. (Chris? But there was another Chris (Gerrib) last night, so clearly, there can't have been two! These things Just Don't Happen.) Also met Kerrie Hughes and John Helfers, which was cool. I learned an incredible amount about anthologizing just from random asides they both made.

Now, I'm spending my last nine minutes before kelly_swails comes to find me. I have had to drop the logline for my book on people about three times, which makes me glad I finally figured it out, even though I think the hook is too much of a spoiler. The logline, btw, is "An herbalist's apprentice in 15th century Romania becomes queen of the Underworld." This is a semi-problematic logline--there was no actual Romania in 1489--and at least one person asked if I meant the criminal underwold, and not, you know, Hades. But it works. Everyone looks vaguely intrigued when they hear it. Good enough.

In completely un-convention news, I got to visit my friends Elena and Stefano yesterday, and meet their little boy, Luca. They live in faculty housing for University of Chicago in Hyde Park, and their apartment is absolutely fantastic. Location, size, general niceness... all just wonderful. Elena and Stefano took a cat that dannimal and I rescued at the cottage a few years ago, and with them, the cat (Tina) has lived in Ann Arbor, Santa Barbara, and now Chicago. Tina is plump and happy, and absolutely adores Luca (and vice versa). I love a happy ending. Anyway, it's really nice to have my friends so much closer than California.
Beasts & Demi-Gods (King Arthur)

Ah, writers

After huddling with my book solo for so long that I am beginning to feel like a pathetic chicken who has only managed to lay one egg, and an egg that won't hatch at that, I have finally remembered (I think I may have mentioned) that hanging out with other writers now and then can be of benefit.

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I've gotten a decent bit of work done; it helps to have an actual goal and stuff. I failed on bringing my headphones, which are kind of necessary (even with 7 participants instead of 9) to block out random chatting on occasion. But Dave is going to loan me a pair of headphones tomorrow, and regardless, I've already gotten more work done today than I've gotten done in the last week, or even at the last retreat. Hopefully, I'll be able to sustain the momentum--though maybe not tonight, since I've spent the last half hour looking for the photo of Ralph Lauren made skinny in photoshop... and sleepy time is coming.

Anyway, the writerly company I've been keeping of late has been very good for me--splash_the_cat and I even started up Write Club again--if only because it is only other writers who understand that, for example, 500 words is a pretty good day, and 2,000 words is an amazing day. And why staring into space or playing a game actually counts as work, no really, I swear.

One last thing. I forgot to post this before (I think): albogdan pointed a camera at jimhines (Jim C. Hines) and me at ConClave, and this video was the result. I only cringed 48.2% of the time while watching it. YMMV.
if I were me


I am in the Dayton area to partake of some writerly company. Some fellow Codexians are having a bit of a retreat (which we are calling LonCon after the host, lonfiction). I'm hoping to hit up some attractions I found on Roadside America on the way home, which I meant to hit up on the way here, but I ran into the trifecta of lateness, detours, and go-back-for-left-behind cell phone yesterday.

So far, the food has been great, and I've gotten a very little bit of writing done, in between petting the awesomely friendly sphinx cat Howard and chatting with the other writers. Also, the misery of my memory key not working, so I don't actually have the most recent draft of my novel with me, as a result. I think. At least, I haven't found it yet.

So, I'm working on new something instead. Which is totally okay with me, even though I really wanted to be done with this novel (again).

Anyway, Danielle and Hel and Lon and I are sitting around writing, while we wait for kelly_swails and kosmo34 to arrive, and for lunch to cook. Lon's other half, Shelley, has recruited a neighbor (JJ), and they are performing magic in the kitchen. There's going to be bastilla for dinner, which I've only eaten once, and failed to make another time.

PS, I love Howard the sphinx beyond all reason.
Writing (Dark and Stormy Night)



We are on Hastings Point, workshopping novels. The weather the first day was great, and we all went on a nature walk (except for steve_buccheit, who was still en route when we went) down around Elmwood Beach, saw wild ladyslippers, unfurling ferns, trillium, dogwood, and skunk cabbage. And lilies of the valley, which were the whole goal. Mayflies and gnats are everywhere, but at least it was very windy a few days.... and rained a lot... anyway, we got a nice afternoon yesterday, but we were trapped inside critting. Today looks good. The lake is blue, and the sun is bright.


Critiques are done, and life is good. We crammed four crits in yesterday, rather than leaving one isolated on its own for this morning. Should we do this format of critique again (which I'm still debating), or even really any other format, I don't think I'll plan in an iso-crit again. Maybe leave Sunday as a buffer zone for spillage? Or just leave it open for the travelers. We'll see.

Critiques in general seemed to be successful/helpful/satisfying for people. I think blood was let, but it all seemed productive blood, and no one had to jump in the lake, which I believe people had to do at Milford the year I was there... I amused myself by guessing how kaiweilau writes novels, and being validated. (I guessed she was a non-sequential writer. She is. Though my guess was more lengthy and detailed than that.)

I, of course, did not have That Brilliant Revelation on my novel, but that probably wasn't going to happen anyway, and hey, I sort of had That Brilliant Revelation a few weeks ago, anyway. It's really a matter of putting it into action. Or words.


toriw7 has been aiming cameras at us on the sly throughout the event, and kaiweilau has taken up residence as our chef. dendrophilous, who brought sylvrilyn up from IL with her, steve_buchheit, and Larry of No Known LJ, round out the group. kaiweilau is conducting an anthropological study of the Midwest, and we have taught her how to collect kindling, how to build a fire, and how to toast marshmallows. (This seems fair payment for her excellent culinary skills: last night she created a French/Italian cassoulet for us, and the night before we got a Thai/Indian curry. Both full of vegetables and served over brown rice, which allowed us to feel virtuous when we scarfed down s'mores later.)

For non-critique group events, we went with three rounds of Cranium, which resulted in some pretty good moments. Larry of No Known LJ, for example, did a stunning rendition of Dances with Wolves in charades. steve_buccheit and I proved to be an excellent team, so much so that they forcibly split us up later.


We are about to hit up Sandy's for breakfast.


For we are hungry.
Princess, Apple

Dinner of Awesome

Just came back from some SERIOUS DINING with a suite of LJ users: colomon, a2macgeek, mandolinjen, matociquala, green_key, jillfelice, (ETA) a2gemma(end edit), THE CONFUSION PRINCESS, the infamous pirate king, and the Kitchen Chick herself. (And. Uhm. I'm forgetting someone(s).) Here's the Kitchen Chick's rundown of Chia Shiang, which is where we ate. It is foodie heaven.

I liked and even loved, most of what we ate, which was a Chinese banquet. Some of the dishes were so complex and arresting that I couldn't outright love them--it was good to sample, and not have a whole meal of them. I could contemplate eating a full meal of the, uhm... pineapple fish, I think; certainly the chicken and chestnuts, which is featured in the above review; the lamb with cumin; and maybe two or three other things that I munched on as they went past and I've now forgotten. But the most impressive things on the menu would be hard for me to contemplate as a whole meal. Mainly, the fish stew and the spicy chicken we ate were so intense and multi-flavored that I kind of went on culinary overload, and it was hard to cleanse my palate afterward. In fact, bizarrely, my tongue and whole mouth kind of went numb while eating them, which I'm told was due to Sichuan peppercorns. The ConFusion Princess actually wondered aloud if she were having a neurological event. That was a good question.

I ended up "cleansing" my palate at one point with... Duck Stuffed with Everything. Eight Treasures Duck? It was ah-mazing. I would get that again. In a heartbeat. In fact, this duck may be why civilization must continue to function at current levels.

I have been experiencing a weird kind of synesthesia lately, where tastes read in my mind as experiences. "This tastes like stepping out of a hot tub onto cold decking" was a recent experience--tonight I had "This is like driving toward Estes Park on a chilly summer day, with the windows cracked and the heat on." (I think I said, "Tastes like Colorado," when trying to explain it tonight, but that was inadequate.)

Anyway. Good times, catching up with folks I don't often catch, and meeting new folks.

PS See you at Penguicon?
Cool (Jim)

I guess the query letter is okay, then.

Thanks to dendrophilous, gwynnega, ktsparrow, fiction_theory, tinaconnelly, sartorias and stillnotbored, I managed to get together a query letter that has, apparently, done at least part of its job at least once. An agent emailed me to ask for a partial last night.

I'm stoked, obviously, and for the obvious reasons, because as far as I've yet to go, it means I've come far already. And because, as I said, it means the query works okay. It could probably be better. But it's at least good enough to get the door wedged open enough so that the actual book can do some of the talking. Which is kind of important.

(I was pretty worried that I'd only be able to write "gaugh" queries and that my work would remain unseen forever.)

So. One hurdle cleared. Onward. Thanks again, folks.
Awesome/Crabman (My Name is Earl)


I'm terrible sleepsity right now, but I must post my ConFusion schedule (ConFusion: http://www.stilyagi.org/cons/confusion.html), where I anticipate meeting catrambo and buying jimhines some sort of beverage to say, "Thanks for being The Awesome Guy on the Internets Who Gives Me Hope for Humanity." And such things of that nature.

I will also be there with the usual suspects... the splash_the_cat, the daveamongus, the vidensadastra, the iuliamentis, of course (three of these come with the hotel room!), and hope to see the becoming-usual steve_buchheit, jeffreyab... and many more! (Is this a tappu year? I will find out shortly!)

My panels this year:

Smut and Nothing but Smut 10:00 PM Friday Dennison III
David Rozian, Kelley Armstrong, Anne Harris, Merrie Haskell, and Violette Malan
A discussion of sex scenes in genre fiction and whether they have any redeeming literary value or are they just inserted for prurient interest to sell the book.
I'm not afraid of this one. I have... Opinions.

The Short Story 12:00 PM Saturday Salon E
Cat Rambo, William Jones, Merrie Haskell, Jim Hines [M], and Steve Buchheit
The best of these are an art form unto themselves. Where can we find them? How has the electronic age affected them? Selling short stories -- aimed at telling people how to submit short stories, how to get started and keep it up.
Can do this one in my sleep at this point, which is fortunate, because I'm going to need sleep.

Paranormal Romance: Meet the New Boss 3:00 PM Saturday Salon H
Kelley Armstrong, Melody Barker, Merrie Haskell [M], Steven Harper Piziks
Meet the New Boss about love, vampires and werewolves is the new economic engine of the genre. Where did it come from? Who writes it? Who reads it?
I'm glad I'm moderating, because the sudden appearance of Kelley Armstrong has sort of awed me. Shockingly, I'm much less opinionated in front of persons with more experience and authority than me. However, if you have any advice--or better, questions--about Paranormal Romance, comment with them! I'll attempt to write a semi-decent panel report in return.

Gadgetering 12:00 PM Sunday Dennison I/II
Cory Doctorow, David Rozian, Merrie Haskell, Philip Edward Kaldon and Freon
Creating gadgets in SCIENCE fiction
I'm not sure why SCIENCE is all capitalized like that? But I'm not sure that this is a *hard* topic? Just writers saying, "Well, I do thus and such?" and "Boy howdy, I like Q." Am I underthinking this? Why am I the only woman? Am I doing gadgets wrong in my fiction? Am I undergadgety to be on this panel, or am I overgadgety for my gender? I'll let you know next week, I guess.

Anyway, I'll be around. Comment if you want to meet up. Pop me an email if you want my cell number. (mythos (at) merrie haskell (dot) com)