Archive | June 2011

Convergence

I should add that I will be at Convergence this weekend. We'll be leaving any time now. (Kind of hanging around for Fed Ex because my 25 anniversary wedding ring upgrade is supposed to be arriving. Husbands care, it seems.)

Most of the time I'll be taking it easy, because Convergence is generally my con to be a geek with my geeky friends, not a writer. However, I'll certainly say hello to the writers I know who will be there.

And I do have one writerly thing scheduled. Along with Kathy Sullivan, I'll be at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading (only two of us, so it's not terribly rapid). That'll be Friday at 12:30-1:30. I'll be reading the newly edited, not so spicy, but still pretty spicy version of "Turtle of the Earth" which will be published in Cucurbital 2 sometime this fall.

If you see me there, say hello.

Back on Monday.

Catherine

Customer Service

Oslo. The name says it all. Doesn't the word Oslo conjure up...um...images of romance? adventure? How about expensive? I would contend that if Oslo isn't the most expensive city in the world, it's in the top five. I can now say I've had a $4 bottle of diet Coke at a convenience store.

Oslo turned out to be a bit more spread out than I bargained for. We stayed in a hotel that was supposed to be in Oslo, according to our travel information, but instead was in Hovik, which was a bit down the road. It didn't matter in the long run. The room was good, the hotel breakfast was pleasant, and we were a short distance from both a grocery store and a bus stop.

If you ever find yourself in Oslo, as people do, and you're there to tour, my advice is get the Oslo pass. We had 48 hour Oslo passes. They initially seem like a chunk of change, but by the time you've figured out all the bus trips, the museum entries, and even the discounts you can potentially get, the pass is a steal for touring Oslo.

Catrina and I picked up our Oslo passes our second day in town, and then we were off to the Folklore Museum (museums next entry). To get to the Folklore Museum, one takes a beautiful little ferry ride out over the water to Bygdoy. We got in line for the ride, and I pulled my Oslo pass out of my wallet...

...exactly as a breeze fluttered up and pulled it right out of my hands. It flittered into the water and floated on the surface.

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Turku 2

Before too much writing, I'd like to thank Shannon Ryan, Aric Stewart, and Diana Nevins for donations to the write-a-thon. You guys have all been added to the writing blog, and thanks for helping to support the burgeoning talent of new writers who might receive these scholarship funds.

***

I have a few more thoughts on Finland that I'd like to share before I begin on my reflections of Oslo. Overall, I found the Finns to be very polite and friendly. With the exception of our friend Marcu, who is painstakingly lambasted in our last entry, most of the folks in Helsinki and Turku were pretty great. In Helsinki, all I had to do was stop to look at my map, and someone helpful asked me if I knew where I was. Turku wasn't quite that attentive, but it still had a friendly vibe.

There were some things about Finland that seem to be super cool. Both our hotels had saunas. Well, yeah, you might not want one every night. But on vacation, saunas are a treat.

Cider made from many fruits is apparently a way in which Europe is superior to us. Strawberry cider appears to be a Swedish thing, but the Finns were very helpful in helping us get our fix. It became the drink of choice on the trip.

I don't understand the decision to sell hot dogs and sausages without a bun. I take that back. Food is very expensive, so I get it. I'm just saying that you might want to bring special gloves for those times you don't have bread assist, because them piggies is greasy.

***

The reason we journeyed to Turku is so Catrina could get a good look at the castle. I was fairly impressed by the vaulted ceilings and the interesting architecture. This castle had a load of old wooden religious relics, some of which reminded me of the many I saw in Russia a few years back. There were some other objects kept in the castle as a sort of historical museum which were also interesting. Rick Steve's won't recommend Turku for a trip in his guide book, but if you like castles, I wouldn't miss it.

***

Oslo's coming. Next up: the exciting story of the Oslo pass.

Catherine

An Open Letter to Mrs. Marcu

(The next two entries in the journal will discuss our time in Turku, Finland.)

***

Dear Mrs. Marcu:

My apologies in writing to you if you don't exist. Since I'm a writer of fiction, that doesn't bother me as much as it might bother some. I also know your last name wouldn't be Marcu, because your alleged husband's first name is Marcu, but it's better than calling you woman who doesn't necessarily exist who may or may not be attached to the man that tried to pick Catrina and myself up in a bar in Turku, after we made it very clear that his attentions weren't wanted.

The day before I found out how sick my husband's father was, I came back from a day of sight-seeing with the declaration that I wanted to karaoke, as I had heard it was big in Finland. Catrina, trooper that she is, researched a great place in Turku, so we were ready for Tuesday night karaoke fever. Honestly, Mrs. Marcu, we wanted to play glow in the dark mini-golf, which was across from the hotel, but they had moved downtown, and then they were on vacation when we located their new location. It was just not meant to be.

So, we went to karaoke. The bar was kind of dead, but hey, it was Tuesday. We were in there, a couple of young women were in there, a folk singer was doing an interesting mix of English songs and English songs in Finnish. It's all good. We forked over two euros each, cozied up with a couple of strawberry ciders and waited until the karaoke started around ten.

Now, Mrs. Marcu, let me make this clear. Neither Catrina nor I were dressed very provocatively. Not that that matters, but you should know we weren't screaming available. Catrina looked nice, and I would go so far to say that I looked...frumpy that day. But Marcu gave us the eye across the room. I leaned over to Catrina and asked if she had activated her plus one ring of protection (the wedding ring) because I thought we were going to have company.

Marcu asked if he could join us.

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Clarion Write-a-Thon Begins!

And so it begins!!!

Please think about donating. Because then you can read my writing blog, which is only for contributors. A mere $10, a free live journal sign up, and you're in.

If you're a $25 or more contributor, I'll critique up to 20 pages of work for 3 of you. If you're not a writer, you might be thinking, what's in it for me? Non-writers will be entered in a drawing for a copy of Hulk Hercules, which is a great gift for kids going through Percy Jackson withdrawal!

I'd like to thank my first sponsor, Ferrett Steinmetz, who, by the way, is the originator of the Clarion Write-a-Thon blog. You might check out his donation page as well.

At any rate, come and see me write for food a good cause. Live vicariously through me if you don't have time this year to do it yourself.

FYI, today's blog topic is the origin story of the Klarion series.

Catherine

VP Profile #16: Robyn Hamilton

Yes! Just in time before the write-a-thon begins! It's another VP XIII Profile! This time I'm lucky enough to talk to Robyn Hamilton, and I think her picture speaks for itself.

***
Tamago: Why do you write?

Robyn: Really, I can’t imagine not writing. It’s what I do. Editing isn’t nearly as natural; I have to force myself, plan it, make time. But even when I get really depressed and defeated and everything sucks, I can’t figure out what I’d do with my time if I wasn’t writing, so I do it anyway. It’s the best way to make the voices in my head calm down, to write them down.

Tamago: What kind of genre do you like to write best in?

Robyn: The story I took to VP was an urban fantasy, but I didn’t really know that until I read it after it was done. The novels I’ve got lying around (I produce a lot of first drafts) are probably more Young Adult or Middle Years than anything else, though I know that’s not genre. I’ve got the karate zombie novel, which I sort of think of as science fiction (though my beta readers think I’m a bit light on the science), “Pampelmouse”, which is a Watership Down of feral parrots, “Toothbrushing Club” which has fairies, “St. Praxis” is steampunk(ish). I guess I haven’t really chosen.

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Be It Ever So Humble

Letting you all know that I am here, stateside, safe and sound.

I will be attending to post funeral things tomorrow, and should be back to a relatively normal posting schedule thereafter, trying to post about the trip and so on.

The majority of my work this next month will be for the Clarion Write-a-thon. Yes, I will try to motivate you into donating.

Best not write more. Jet lagging is killing me, but I think I can make it the 40 remaining minutes before bed.

Catherine

Unextreme Make-over: Make Up Tips for Older Women

And here's another blog post into the future from me. Today I should be driving back from Minnesota, reunited with Bryon. I wanted to finish up the posts I had promised before the trip.

Earlier, I talked about skin care. I am not an expert, but I did work with a cosmetologist recently, so I could revise the make-up routine I learned as a young ingenue. Here's what she said. Remember, you're always starting with a clean, well-moisturized face.

1. Primer is an excellent tool for older women as they work with make-up. It allows for much more coverage than a cover up, and fills in gaps of wrinkles, enlarged pores, and so on. It also makes your skin feel soft and smooth. I use the Mirabella primer.

2. An older woman wants to use a light liquid make-up preferably one that moisturizes and has a sunscreen. Light refers to weight, not coloration.

3. Powder can really show age. Using a powder only where it is needed is wise. I use powder to cover red cheeks, sun damage on my forehead, and occasionally on my chin and nose. Only where it is needed to even out skin tone.

4. Another recommendation is keeping make-up eye emphasis and lip emphasis closer to natural palette. It seems to work in de-emphasizing age. Since I will be playing with vintage make-up styles, I suspect I will be deliberately not keeping with this tip, although I have no intention of looking like clown princess.

5. This time around, I'm using a bronzer instead of a blush most of the time. I do occasionally still use blush, but the bronzer is more modern and it looks again like that more natural palette.

While make-up will make my skin look more even, making it possible for me to draw attention to lips, mouth, and brows, it will not get rid of my wrinkles. I don't expect it to. I'm okay with that.

***

When I return to my regular routine, it sounds like Margot my hairdresser and I will be playing with some hair and make-up styles. I'll see what I can do about getting some pictures up as we play around.

Catherine

X-Men First Class

While I am winging my way home over the Atlantic, I thought I would test out the travel to the future technology of my blog.

This is a small review of X-Men: First Class.

So...the first thing I've got to say is that the film isn't as good as many of the critics have been saying. It's not bad. However, like it's predecessors, it's really uneven.

Like a James Bond film, this film has very little to do with the X-Men movies that have gone before. The premise is that Charles Xavier (portrayed by James McAvoy with hair) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) meet up in the 60s. They decide to find and help young mutants. You can see where this is going. There is an opposing set of mutants (a sort of amalgam of the Hellfire Club and random mutants from nowhere.) who are the threat, and our mutants go out to fight them.

What is good? Even though the Mystique plot has absolutely nothing to do with the comics or the previous movies, it is an interesting study in being oneself, and is well acted. If young actress Jennifer Lawrence acts this well in The Hunger Games, I'm looking forward to her portrayal of Catniss Everdeen.

I should also say that I would totally stand in line to watch a movie called Magneto: Nazi Hunter. That part of the plot is flawless.

What is iffy? Besides the cheesy young X-Men interactions, I find the idea of Kevin Bacon's plot a bit problematic, and I can't tell you why without spoiling the movie. The portrayal of Emma Frost is sort of frivolous and doesn't do the character justice. Why is Moira MacTaggart a CIA agent? Because, you know, she was a scientist. One and on.

What is weird? Get this. I am not a shipper or a slasher, and yet, I could see Xavier/Magneto slash fiction. There's some pretty good subtext in there that would indicate more than meets the eye. Eyebrow raises, playful attitudes, double entendre, tender moments that could be read with that subtext.

I dunno. Been hanging out with fans too long, I guess. Don't expect me to be writing any slash, but I just had to say I was tickled to see it.

I have no plans to see the new Green Lantern film, but I think I will see the new Captain America film that comes out over July 4th weekend. I hear it's better than Thor. Well, we'll see about that.

Catherine

The End; the Beginning; the Klarions

Eleven hours remain until I head for the airport.

I slept something like 12 hours yesterday, and felt pretty good this morning. But grief, he is a sneaky devil. We went into St. Johann's Church, and that's all it took to wear me out. I lit a candle for Neal, and tried not to lose it. Proud to say I didn't lose it, and we carried on with the rest of our afternoon.

But I am bushed now, and I will probably spend the evening being very low key and resty. Well, it wasn't like I was going to go out and disco the day after Neal's funeral, anyway.

The vacation has not been without features of interest and merit, but it goes without saying that this time I will be glad to get home.

Let's talk about something else.

***

I did mention, some time ago, that I will be participating in the Clarion UCSD writing write-a-thon. Here's my page for your donation consideration. There are several writers I know participating in both Clarion and the Clarion West write-a-thons this year, and I'd like to encourage you to give to any of them. It's not who you give to, but rather that you support the efforts of young writers by donating to those of us slogging it out for them.

That said, if you do donate to me, a $10 donation will enable you to see the writing blog that I will be keeping over the course of the write-a-thon. It will be called Klarion/Clarion and will have insights about what I'm doing in a variety of scenes. All contributors who donate $25 or over will be eligible for a drawing in which they will receive a free story critique (3 winners, and a max of 20 pages each).

So think about donating, if not to me, then one of the many other worthy writers on these lists.

Yes, you will be seeing a lot of pimpage for the write-a-thon for the next six weeks. Because that's the way we roll.

***

Just in time for the write-a-thon, I mentioned that I had a trance sort of night about the Klarion series a couple of nights before I found out about Neal's decline. My last night in Helsinki belonged to a fever dream about the major antagonist in the series, and how everything fits into the overarching plot. I took some notes the next day so I wouldn't lose everything. It's nice to see how everything fits together. It does make book 3 problematic inasmuch as it no longer can stand alone, but that's a problem that we can work with.

The gift of time for a writer can not be overstated in the case of the Klarions. The embryonic version of the third book was written in 2002-2003 and I would guess that around 20K of that book will be useable, if that much. As I have worked on this series in the intervening times, I've learned a lot about the style, the characterizations, and the tensions of the series, my strange love child of Edward Gorey and the Addams family.

I would never have heard from Lucia if I'd never heard from Errol. And I would never have heard from Errol if J.K. Rowling hadn't made me ask the question, "How do you build a Snape?" Stephanus has come a long way from his build-a-Snape origins. Always believe that other writers can influence your work in the best way.

The next time I talk to you all, I will be stateside. Until then, keep well.

Catherine