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 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.



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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Between Gigs

This week I am traveling Catherine!

I had a weekend in Minneapolis with the gaming crew and some friends, and then left Monday for an overnight with students from the SEED program in Chicago. After a whirlwind tour and a very long bus trip, I am back at work for two days, at which point I head out for the usual sojourn at Wiscon with Dan, Lisa, and Yolanda.

If you're going to Wiscon, you can catch me for sure in three places: I read Sunday morning at Michelangelo's, 10 am. I'm on a Penny Dreadful panel Monday morning, and I'll be at the sign out Monday mid morning.

Of course, I'll be about doing about things. I hope to see you there.

Perfectionism: So Why Do I Write?

Wow. We end up here after all this.

I've been thinking about my psychology, but never in my (almost) 50 years have I thought about my psychology in terms of perfectionism. Which is amazing, because if you are my friend, you know it, don't you? Especially if you are my friend and you have weathered several years of me, my high standards, my gruff demeanor and my attempt to alter your behavior, sometimes without being conscious of it, and sometimes cruelly on purpose, because I like to pretend I know what's best for you.

You've noticed me not being happy with myself and trying to show that I am worthwhile by pulling stunts. I have always started out these stunts in an origin of desire. I wanted to get my PhD, for example, but by the time I finished it, I had managed to turn it into this mighty effort that I did not much enjoy. I often say that I enjoy having my PhD. That's classic perfectionist. Shoot for the destination. Don't enjoy the journey. The ends justify the means.

It's the same with my weight. Even though I have slimmed down somewhat, I am inching my way back up. I want to be healthier, but what that means is eating good food and working out. However, the perfectionist says that life doesn't start with fashion until you have reached that perfect weight. Again, I've improved, but you know, why am I waiting to enjoy something when I can enjoy it now? Why, when I look at a picture do I see all the flaws? Why can I not activate the content circuit?

These are rhetorical questions. You don't have to answer them. I am very aware of my background and my genetic heritage. Like it or not, this is my battle. I need to work on these issues for all of you, but I also need to work on these issues for me.

Okay, so here's this question: why do I write? Do I want to enter the published author industry? I'm knocking on the door, and people are letting me see in at this point. It's just a matter of time if I keep doing what I'm doing, but I know people find this industry frustrating and high stress. Hey, I can make taking a bubble bath frustrating and high stress, so I wonder, is this a wise path for my sanity?

The biggest reason I started writing when I was a kid was because I wanted to submerge myself in story. I wanted to play. I enjoy video stories and written stories, and I live for those moments when characters laugh, cry and are triumphant, when emotion transcends their beings and they become more than themselves. I love story.

I love story whether I am orchestrating many characters, or I am acting as one. I love gaming, I love gming, I love writing, I love dressing up. I love story.

To make a book good, you revisit, refine and shape a story so that it is more of those incredible moments that you can live. I am in story telling because I'm looking for that story high. I watch Dead Like Me over once a year because I can find that story high. I game with my talented ensemble of actor friends because sometimes we stumble on that story high.

Of course, plotting the game can be a chore. Revision and proofread can be a chore. I can make this all one bleak, gray job. Another thing in my long list of things that I have to do. Not living in the moment of the thing, but being frustrated by the thing not being done.

You know, like exercising every day and not cracking the 200 pound barrier. Like feeling guilty about the ice cream cone rather than choosing to enjoy one every now and then because I like ice cream. The damned goal, over and over and over.

I will say something dramatic, like I'm done with it, but I am so not. It'll come up again. It always does. Heck, this year was the biggest Type A train wreck I've had in a while, and that was just because of destabilizing change. And my first instinct? Run away, find a new job, and start fresh, which isn't necessarily bad, but is a classic perfectionist technique.

That's the thing about perfectionism. It's a double-sided coin. I mean, I need a new job in Florida. Absolutely. But right now? Three years before Bryon's ready to go? What about enjoying the ride? Living for the moment? Dick move, perfectionism. I see what you're doing there.

So, back to writing. The journey is the important thing. The journey is the important thing Falling into the characters, loving what I'm writing, and doing the rest as part of a long stream of doing my art. Worry, angst, sadness, depression, procrastination, the illusion of no time, NONE of this helps me in any way. None of this produces results. It just wears me out so I can write less.

I write because I want to enjoy my life, and this is one of the ways I do it. I don't care about the rest. This is vital for my health and well-being, and my sense of joy.

And that's all I got to say about that.