Paradise Icon 4

I know, I know. You don't believe me, posting again this week. Well. Take that.

I wanted to post briefly about Paradise Icon 4, which takes place at Icon 40 in Cedar Rapids on October 15-18 of this year. We have quite a line up of speakers: Joe Haldeman, Ann Leckie, and Tamar Siler Jones.

Unfortunately, we only have ONE SEAT LEFT now that the dust has settled.

So, Let me know if you're interested. Remember, you need to be a neo-pro to qualify, or have your work cleared by me.

The Shores of Spain by J. Kathleen Cheney

The final book of the Golden City series, J. Kathleen Cheney finishes a perfect blend of historical fiction with believable fantasy elements in combining Portugal at the turn of the 20th century with myths about sirens, selkies, and other sea creatures. This book finds Oriana and her husband Dulio living among the sereina as diplomats in a sticky political situation.

What is interesting about the society is that the sereina society is one where men are the repressed sex. Cheney uses this societal aspect as a strong counterpoint to the gender roles in the first two books of her series, which take place in Portugal. The book focuses on Joaquim, Dulio's brother, and Oriana's sister Marina as their romance blossoms against a background of investigating sereina influence in Spain.

As usual, Cheney's writing is full of imagery, strong and tight. The characters are well-painted and different, believable as multi-faceted human beings, rather than just token male and female characters. Gender is well explored in the book, as well as issues of class and parenthood.

It's easy to be swept up in Cheney's world. Her writing seems effortless, and her research is impeccable. I strongly encourage you to check out all 3 of the Golden City books.

4th Street Fantasy Convention

Poor, neglected blog. Let me wipe away some of these cobwebs...oh. There you are!

My apologies. There's been travel. There's been the death of the most beloved Queen of Cats. There's been one kick ass acid reflux attack that took me to a foreign emergency room (love you, Minneapolis! Your emergency room is the fastest I've ever been in). And...there's been this book I'm finishing.

It's a mixed bag, that stuff. Some really, really good. This book, I like this book. It's getting good feedback from the fine folks reading it for me. I am in the final editing stage. It's solid. I have hopes for it.

I can't say enough good things about 4th Street Fantasy in Minneapolis, usually the last weekend in June. Elizabeth Bear has been trying to get me to go ever since I met her in 2009, and I kept having things come up. Schools in Viet Nam, other conferences, fake family reunions, cruises... Plus, there's it's proximity to Convergence, which is the main venue I play geek at with Bryon and some geeky friends. However, I finally decided enough is enough and that I was going this year.

And what a trip! I drove up to Minneapolis all by myself (I have great friends, but I'm not sure any of them would have really appreciated this unique alchemy of creation convention and full hall discussion), and then stayed at the hotel. Before festivities began on Friday, the wonderful Caroline Stevermer took me around Minneapolis and showed me some beautiful natural spaces that I'd never been to. Plus, she could be a real tour guide if she needed to be. I learned a lot. I had the opportunity to hang out with Caroline a lot at 4th Street and she is just as wonderful for a whole weekend as she is for a get together.

A real treat was the number of folks I'd met before at Paradise Lost or at Viable Paradise, or because of Viable Paradise. Man, it was wonderful getting to see folks and talk to them. There was dinner and good conversation, so even though none of the rest of the fighting 13 were there, still it felt like coming home.

And you kind of got to hang out with every one. I had breakfast with Beth Meacham two days in a row. That's a Tor editor, and we were just hanging out. And no one was schmoozing. We were eating oatmeal.

I met some wonderful new people as well, and I hope they stay in touch. Sherri in particular comes to mind. She got my email, but because of cat worries, I was not cognizant enough to get hers.

Cat worries. It was no secret that Bastet was ill, and that I might have to leave. As fate would have it, at that first breakfast, we had all been talking about our wonderful pets. Then I took a voice message from Bryon and had to tell a table full of cat enthusiasts that the cat I had just talked about was very ill. So, many, many people were very supportive at the con.

I will be going back next year. I will be making room for it. I loved it. And if you're a writer, and you're not going, trust me, you might want to rethink that. These are amazingly friendly, smart, literate writers and readers who are exceeding friendly.

Okay. Next time. Convergence. Yeah.

The Great Queen of Cats

While I was at Fourth Street Fantasy over the weekend, Bryon called me to let me know that Bastet had become very ill. Her deterioration was very fast. We had some blood tests done on her for fear it was her kidneys. It was not. The last three days, however, she had not been eating or drinking, and had a great many mobility problems.

We made the responsible decision and put her down today. She died an old lady, loved and spoiled.

Since she had been part of our life for 15 years, we have very few words. I want to tell you all about the terrific convention 4th Street is, but that will have to wait a while.

Here are some pictures of the mighty Bastet, Queen of Cats. Her like will never come again. My heart is broken.

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Traveling Cath

I'm about to hit the road again. This is a day at work, as my boss and one of our office assistance are leaving us for retirement, and I wanted to work with them one last day.

Tomorrow, I'm off to 4th Street in Minnesota. Bryon will remain at home with the cat. Maybe I will see some of you at 4th Street? Next week is Convergence. Maybe I will see some of you at Convergence?

There has been much red-penning of the last read through of the novel. The middle doesn't seem slow and saggy. Good sign.

And that's a wrap for status.

Finishing The Vessel of Ra

Once upon a time, in 2001, a young professor, fresh out of graduate school, decided to see if she could still write fiction.

She could, and the writing that resulted from her experiment then grew into a very large, very elongated, very complicated story. She wrote one of the middle ones first, but she didn't do it quite right. This wise man on top of a mountain told her to write the first one first. She stammered and stuttered a bit, but realized that there was wisdom in this. So she did.

Because writers are what they are, she had another couple of projects to finish, and a novella to take yet another crack at, and some short stories to make her feel less of a hermit to write and send out. She did these things too, and maybe that's why she took 3 years from the time of the wise man's words to the time she had actually finished the first book, almost exactly three years to the day she received that advice.

Today, I finished The Vessel of Ra, which is the first book of the Klaereon series. Oh, there's still work to be done. Tomorrow I begin an out loud reading, followed by an application of the 10 percent solution, all the while looking for as many mistakes as I can. The book is there, finally, and I can make these kinds of changes.

Today, after 1:30, I took the rest of the day to walk and reflect. I've finished books before, but this book? These characters twisted me in all sorts of ways, and made me work hard. I am proud of this book. It is Gothic and the mythology is interesting. This is a story I wanted to tell, in my own voice. I am proud to put my name on this book.

Today, I am a satisfied and happy writer.

Writing FYI

Closing in on finishing that novel, if you've been wondering.

Too hot on the trail to write much of anything here at the moment. Details to come soon.

Summer Vacation

Today is my last day at Kirkwood. Tomorrow begins my summer vacation.

Yes, teachers do get a summer vacation. It's the nature of our biz. No students=no work. Technically, it could also mean no pay, but most of us are wise enough to divvy up our salaries over the entire year. There are pros and cons to this system. I mean, we get a lot of vacation, unlike most of you. Unfortunately, we do not command corporate salaries, and we cannot vacation when we want to. It's all about the tradeoffs.

Unlike most teachers, I have an additional six weeks in my contract, due to the nature of my administrative position. We need someone to orient and organize our classes for the upcoming semesters. That's me. So, most of my college colleagues have already been on vacation since mid-May. I have more vacation this summer than I usually do, because Christmas break is now five weeks, and I have to work all of it save the 10 or so days the college is closed for everyone. So, I get 8 weeks off this year. This is unprecedented since I've become coordinator.

And you know what I'm gonna do with those 8 weeks. I'm gonna travel like a world class Type A workaholic. AND I'm gonna finish Klaereon #1. For you, Walter Jon Williams. Because you told me to. And not just for Walter, of course. For many, many supportive readers and friends and most importantly, for myself. A complete Klaereon book, which I hope publishers will love, but if not so, then which will be self-published when I am retired and can do that sort of thing.

There are a lot of Klaereon books, and they are not all interconnected, but kind of independent beings that exist alone, so I will write them as long as I have life and breath. But after this book, I'm going to try to fix my flawed werewolf novella. If I can't get it to work this time, I trunk the beast. Too bad too, because it's got some beautiful Southern Iowa decay in it. But if I can make it work, I think I'll get a writer merit badge.

And then, a brief stop to create Abigail Rath into an Oni Press comics proposal. She might work well that way and she hasn't received any lasting agent love. Yet. There's still a handful of agents that I want to look at her.

And then, the question is: do I write the next Klaereon book, or do I go back to Grant, David, and Hild in Decorah? Let's just see what I feel like. And if the aforementioned publishers like that first demon binding book.

Wow. Look I've put all the horses at the back of that cart there. You see what I just did?

Anyway, I gotta get some work done today. This week's been kind of a bust. If you don't know why, see yesterday's post. Nothing says goodbye to Kirkwood like trying to get hold of an ACT testing rep. Go, me.

Two Days Like These Days

Hey. As soon as I finished writing yesterday, my life became someone else's, as I assisted one of our new students with a sexual assault case. That was 5 hours yesterday, and looks to be a couple more today. Yesterday was about reporting the incident and helping the victim. Today is about clarifying issues with the alleged assaulter. I say alleged not because we don't believe yesterday's student. Rather, that's the official term we use at the college until a decision is made by the Dean of Students.

This is the first one of these I've had to do in 10 years of being a coordinator. I have worked on sexual harassment before, as well as a domestic situation when a wife wanted to leave her home. But this is new turf.

Last night I was empty like a vacuum jar. Not angry, not sad, but empty. I slept a lot and stared at the ceiling a lot. Apparently, it takes a lot out of you to be moral and language support in this kind of case.

The people involved were older people, not traditional college age students. This situation is everywhere, in every culture. I was very impressed with my college's machine for dealing with such things. Within minutes, this student had a counselor, a dean of students, a safety office and a police officer working on her case. And everything was brilliantly handled. Color me impressed. Good job, college of mine.

AND somewhere out there are two Sudanese men who approached the woman after the incident to try to take care of her. When she wanted nothing to do with them, they went and found a female friend of theirs who talked the woman into spending the night with her, not outside. These Samaritans' names were forgotten in the wake of shock, but I am so proud of them, and grateful.

So, listen up. You've heard me rant about abuse and sexual violence. Take all those things I've said before as given. Realize that no woman is immune. This woman was staying with trusted friends and things went pear-shaped. Shame on any of you who try to minimize the issue of harassment and assault. You can pretend to yourself that reality is different than it is. Those of you, men and women, who minimize it are as bad as the criminals that commit these offenses, because you enable them to exist. This is everyone's issue, my brothers and sisters who are victims, my brothers and sisters who are allies, my brothers and sisters from all over the world.

Get with the program, people. I really, really don't ever want to do this again.

Awake! Asleep! (cramps…)

I need to grind me some stones on the day job this morning, so this will be brief. Did some med shuffling recently, and thought I would write about it in the interest of science.

CPAP: I think, after about 6 months of CPAP action, I am finally able to sleep through the night with it. For the last 4 days, I've managed to keep it on all night. The secret seems to be me taking that second Xanax I am allowed to take, but generally don't. Seems to make me not want to claw it off my face when I'm half asleep, and seems to make it okay to slow breath once I get up at night and disrupt my sleep. Yeah.

In spite of the CPAP, I'm still a pretty sleep person. I score a 13 out of 20 on that sleepiness scale. If I'm not driving, I am very likely to fall asleep in your car (as Skipper Dee can attest to, recently). At movies, in front of the television, and sometimes while reading. The neurologist offered me medicine for it.

Sleep Doc: I can give you some medicine for that.
Me: No, I'm on two depression meds. That might counteract their purposes.
Sleep Doc: I don't think so, unless you are Manic Depressive or are on NSAIDs.
Me: No, I'm already putting a lot of drugs in my body.
Sleep Doc: Okay. Well, the CPAP doesn't seem to be helping you enough.
Me: We can talk about it next time, right? When I get my life transforming CPAP under control!
Sleep Doc: Okay. We'll do that. Do you have energy to do anything at night? Work out? Things you want to do that aren't your job?
Me: Oh. (cue lightbulb) Okay, I'll try it.
Sleep Doc: Here are some samples. We'll call them in if you like it.

First day, I tried the new awake pill without Xanax. Wow. No one told me that the new pill would give Catherine Tourette's! I curbed my not quite safe for work vocabulary, and things went fine for most of the day. In the evening, I was really jumpy, paranoid, and full of anxiety, SO the next day I started taking a xanax.

I am currently not falling asleep in the car. That's pretty amazing. I had a little bit of trouble this morning, but that was the first incident in 3 days, and I believe that has more to do with the issues below. So, I'll finish off my samples, and if it works, I'll probably add a new pill to my repertoire.

Wimmin's stuff below.

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Wiscon 39

If you read through all of the following essay, you'll see how I got to this point. Think about what I'm saying here, you writer types who used to go to Wiscon. Just sayin'.

And a final note to the folks who have left Wiscon: we talk A LOT about supporting diversity in fiction on the Internet. A LOT. Hell, entire Hugo slates have been jiggered because of this subject. If you are one of those people who support diversity, and you're an author, why aren't you there? Sure, the con comm fumbled. I almost didn't go because of that, because I would have been a conscientious objector, but new people picked up the ball and did the right things in the end. Some other folks on the con comm reformed, and learned something new.

This con needs your help if it going to live up to its potential, a place where ideas of the newest sort can take seed, a place where authors, both women and men, can discuss intersectionality and improve their speculative fiction, a place where you can learn and grow, a proving field for new ideas regarding what the nature of SF/F is for fans of all sorts.

Okay. I see I that I should put this first. I also see that I've answered my own question. The issues isn't that I shouldn't go to Wiscon next year. The issue is that I should get more of you to go. Let me cut this, move it up, and get on with my work day.

Now, the rest of the story.

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