Archive | November 2013

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

There are several authorly things that I need to do some closure on for you.

I believe I mentioned that I was speaking to a class for a colleague about writing for his creative writing class. They read my short story Turtle of the Earth and we tossed around that in a literary fashion for a while, and then I sort of told them about how many thorns you will find in your efforts to get published, but how perseverance was key. It was a good session.

***

Then we had Icon. The first event was that I was included in a mass author book signing before the con. I got to sit next to Jim Hines, and frankly, I suspect that this had something to do with the fact that I sold out of all the books that Barnes and Noble had ordered for me. That was heady. I am supposed to go back as soon as they've ordered more and sign some for in store. Still, cool and groovy. When I had one copy of Cucurbital 3 left, Jim stood up and put it over his head, and began to draw attention...and I shut him down. Can't take him anywhere. But then the book did sell. So there you go.

***

Paradise Icon 2 was a total success this year. We had 8 neo-pro writers. Friday was a day of intense workshopping on our stories, and Saturday Greg Frost and Nancy Kress lectured for us. Our event was topped off by a reading Friday night. There was much good food and much bar con. I had a couple of wrinkles that pretty much kept me busier than I should have been: a sick cat and Icon's treasury. With luck next year, it'll just be the workshop at the con, and believe me, that's enough.

***

Signing up for NaNoWriMo this month, as well as the Codex novel contest seemed to be more wishful thinking than reality interfaces this year. The Codex contest I should have been able to pull off, but if I had really thought about November, I would have seen that after the first week, I'd be pretty busy. I'm watching my food, exercising, relaxing, but I'm not really writing. Okay, to be honest with you, I'm not really relaxing. I'm doing the treasury books. So, it's a lesson in learning to say no,and blocking out time.

***

Speaking of blocking out time, I will fall short on my writing hours this year. Looking at my year, I see that I believed in the concept of magical time. I travelled to Las Vegas, Wiscon, Colorado, Viet Nam, Convergence, several trips to Minneapolis, a Ren Faire, and Icon. So...there you go. Throw in April lost to bronchitis, and I can see why I didn't measure up. I need to slow down. Huh...seems I've heard that before. 🙂

***

Let me link you to a couple of commentaries about the convention. I am glad that it was so well-received.

Chris Cornell's Wrap Up of the Event

Shannon Ryan's Comments

Ransom Noble

Timothy Ward

Lauren Teffeau also did a private write up, so alas, but the comments were good.

If anymore show up, I'll post 'em.

We're going to limit to 10 next year. I should be updating the website around the turn of the year.

***

I promise! Next time, and I freakin' mean it, the first of many Venice posts.

Getting in Shape: End of Week 4

Help me! Icon treasury is eating my soul! Um...I'm balancing the books, and I think I'll have most of the information handled by today, but I won't be totally done until I get a couple of numbers and requests from others. Anyway, that's where I've been, instead of writing beautiful posts for you. But...I know you're curious about last week's fitness effort, so here we go.

Exercise Points Goal: 14
Achieved Points: 13

What's happening here: I worked out on Tuesday and Wednesday. I did not plan to work out on Thursday and Friday due to Icon and time commitments there. BUT I did plan to work out Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A sick cat pretty much ate my work out and rest time as we had to go home to her twice a day. And Monday I was just exhausted after...everything. I am still pretty tired.

This week I ate many, many extra points. There was leftover Chocolate Halloween candy, trips to caloric restaurants, and booze. By all rights, I should have gained about 3 pounds. I lucked out, and gained about 1.3 pounds after the convention, which quickly came off. Perhaps what saved me was that I did make an effort for some of the weekend.

Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.)
Wii Weight on 11-20-13: 214.3
Total: 9.5 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 11-19-13: 217.6
Total: 6.4 pounds LOST

Why didn't you report your Wii weight yesterday? Well, it was about 0.9 higher yesterday, which meant that the convention only netted me a 0.2 pound gain. After all that food and wine, I was blessed and astounded. But I thought that today's weight was more a reflection of yesterday's WW Weigh In.

What I learned: I eat to try to stay awake. Several points this weekend, I was exhausted, and I thought food would help. Sleep should have been my alternative, or rest, but it just didn't work out like that. Up through Friday night I was pretty legal, but I really needed to have just the workshop going on, and I probably could have managed my food. With the cat and the treasury, I stopped talking care of my needs, and being a food vacuum was the result.

What I will do differently next time: Not be treasurer at the convention. I've already had a talk with the staff of next year's convention, and told them I would do it before and after the con, but not during. I also expect that our cat will not be sick next year, God willing. That means I can follow through on my plan to exercise, rather than sitting in the car for two hours a day. In short, in order to think about food and fitness, you have to give yourself time to think. 🙂

This week: The challenges are not last week's! We are going to Des Moines to see Bryon's mom for Thanksgiving, and visit our friend Ken to get comics. However, that's one day, and I can manage that.

Next week: Our vacation to Disney. Again, I'm pretty much on task. I will be adding up points and monitoring food carefully.

Interesting observation: I really need new pants. We're skirting the dangerzone with pants bagginess. In another 5 pounds, I'm buying.

Back from the Convention Post

Paradise Icon 2 went as well as I could have hoped for. We had a group of 8 writers who were topnotch. Nancy Kress and Greg Frost delivered terrific lectures. It was wonderful.

Of course, I had a few things to do today in the office, so you only get this very short, gushing post about how cool it was, and I'll try to let you know more about the entire event as I can. Since I'm trying to re-plan my next semester and getting Icon's treasury put to bed, it might not be an immediate thing.

But here are some happy pictures. The first is all of us VP XIIIers who were there reunioning. From left to right, Chris Cornell, Cath Schaff-Stump, Brent Bowen, and George Galuschak

photo

And the second is the entire workshop at Napoli's. Going up the right side and down the left: Shannon Ryan, Stephanie Ryan, Lauren Teffeau, Cath Schaff-Stump, Brent Bowen, Chris Cornell, Ransom Noble, George Galuschak, Tim Ward

BZPDH5zIMAAWBPt

Stay tuned tomorrow for a report on why I gained weight this weekend. But it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Did I mention Napoli's? 🙂

Laughter

Instead of embracing all that drama I internalized from Thursday until today, I have thought this whole thing over. Rather than being a turtle and pulling into my shell when things are not under my control (because that's what this is about, control and how I despise and fear chaos), I should continue to realize that so much of life is out of my control and control is an illusion.

This weekend I will respond to any crises and stressful situations by doing two things.

1. Laugh. Laughter reduces stress instantly. I've been doing it at work a lot, and it helps. It gives me breathing space to get my head around destressing too. And, it might make people wonder what I'm up to.

2. Ask the person who's approaching me, "What's your (our) plan?" depending on the sit. These aren't my problems, so I'm not taking responsibility for them.

Look, I think that last post was overreactive, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't think I was too emo. It's the same thing that happened to me on tree guy day, and I'm just having to revise my thinking.

I'm going to try this out and report to David. And no more worrying about the future. Gots me some now to do first.

This entry was posted on 11/13/2013, in General.

Writing Myself Off the Ledge

I should be working on my novel right now, and instead, I'm here, writing myself off the ledge.

It is...interesting as I try to fight the kinds of reactions that my body has been having to stress over the years. I would say that everything was pretty much on target until Thursday, when I had a stress attack about how much I was doing at work. THAT was progress, because normally I embrace registration week with the fervor of a drama junkie, and I didn't.

Oh the whining! It burns!

Continue reading

Getting in Shape: End of Week 3

Hey guys! Had a total relapse into workaholic mode Thursday through Monday, and I can feel it. I know now that I am not going to complete NaNoWriMo, given what I've got going on this month, and when I next talk to David, we're going to look at November and figure out what I can do with the way it's stacked up and what I'm learning about myself.

Meanwhile, I have Paradise Icon 2 this weekend. I'm ready, and I've got that in hand. I have most things at work in hand. My dining room is being worked on, but hey, I think that it's kind of fun to have my dining room table in my living room. No, that's whimsy.

Yet, my chest is tight, and something isn't quite right. I need to relax. I'll be working on that over the next two days. I have some off time tomorrow.

***

Here's your fitness report for this week

Here are some statistics for you. I'll complete these after today's Weight Watchers Meeting.

Exercise Points Goal: 14
Achieved Points: 31

What's happening here: I worked out while I traveled, and while I couldn't exercise every day, I worked out for 4 days, usually around an hour a day, but sometimes with small bursts elsewhere. Not too shabby.

This week I ate 8 more points than I had allocated. Travel, hunger. So there's that.

Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.
Wii Weight on 11-5-13: 215
Total: 8.8 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 11-5-13: 218.4
Total: 5.6 pounds LOST

Why the discrepancy? Someone switched over to winter clothes, and it cost her 0.6 pounds at this afternoon's weigh in.

Interesting things this week: I took treats to Minneapolis and managed to avoid...lots of sugar. I walked while we were gaming for 90 minutes (pacing on a stair stepper). I found that in the gravied German Amana food paradise that someone is making a great grilled chicken and a vegetarian orzo.

Next week: OMG, a convention! As one gets tired, one's judgment gets worse, so I have to stay on task. I plan to not work out Thursday and Friday (really just can't find the time), but will work out Saturday and Sunday. I expect Sunday will be re-establishing my dining room as an independent entity.

Food? What I will do is stay out of the con suite (or if I do go in, the rule is water, veg, or fruit). And I will eat Power Foods as much as I can. I will also make an effort to save most of my point pool for this weekend, just in case. If it turns out that I don't need them, I will have something nice on Sunday and Monday, my indulgence for the week. I expect, however, that I will need them, and should have them.

Okay, I'm off for some dinner and a friend's birthday party. Have a great evening.

Wasting a Year: Novels and Rejection

I recently saw some tweets from some writers I know who suggested that when your novel came back with a rejection, that was a year of your life wasted. Another writer I know suggested that was why she didn't write novels. Of course, I thought about that, and it all comes down to why you're in the game, doesn't it?

Scenario One: Immediate gratification and/or approval from others It is NOT easier to write a good short story. Some people can't write short stories at all. NOR is it necessarily faster to write a publishable short story. But in general turn around is faster, rejections are faster, and the opportunities for acceptances are greater. You can maybe turn around anywhere from 5-20 short stories in a year if you work at it, considering variation of speed. The odds (not calculated mathematically) mean you have a higher chance of acceptance on short stories.

The above scenario assumes you are in the game pretty much for ACCEPTANCE. For whatever reason. Publication is the end all, be all for your writing. Perhaps you crave attention. Perhaps you have a message Perhaps you want money. Because if a rejection means you've wasted your time, then it logically follows that an acceptance means you haven't.

Of course, this can also lead to scenario 2: My novel is good enough. Screw you, publishing industry. I will strike out on my own. Which people do for a variety of reasons, but one of which might be the immediate gratification and/or approval from others scenario. And that's frustrating, because in most cases, when you hear crickets, that's worse.

Go on, ask Hugh Howey how long it took him to cultivate a readership. I'll be here when you get back. That's work too, and not wasted work. It's another kind of rejection and I would suggest, not a waste.

This takes a while. So are rejections of your work, whether self published or submitted indicative of time wasted because you don't get the result you want immediately. I will use a very strong British word: Tosh. That's just tosh.

***

That seems a rather bleak reason to write. It seems to imply that the only reason to write is publication and money and acceptance and maybe even immediate gratification, and that if you don't get it, you've wasted your time. You may agree, and I don't want to judge or diss you. As a matter of fact, a cut is called for. Peace. Off you go. Good luck with those acceptances. Hopefully, you'll stop wasting years of your life soon.

Continue reading

Getting in Shape: End of Week 2

Here are some statistics for you. I'll complete these after today's Weight Watchers Meeting.

Exercise Points Goal: 14
Achieved Points: 37

What's happening here: I had quite a stair stepping routine in my office one day for a total of 12 points. You see, I compute and step at the same time, and I had a lot of computing that day. I find, however, that if I overdo, I do hurt myself. Today, for example, after stepping for an hour yesterday (watching tv at home stepping), my foot is sleeping and my shoulder hurts. So today will be a day of gentle stretching, and I will try to rope in the marathon sessions to avoid injury. You may well see less exercise next week.

Also, you should know that I ate 5 points more than I exercised last week. The result was no big deal, as the weight loss will tell you. I had a harder time with sweets last week, but I managed, and this week's rule is only one major indulgence. I need the rest of those flex points for just coping with real food, especially since I plan to exercise less this week to avoid injury.

Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.
Wii Weight on 11-5-13: 215.8
Total: 8 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 11-5-13: 218.6
Total: 5.4 pounds LOST (and that's a sticker, for those of you who remember elementary school fondly. 🙂 )

What's working: This is counter-intuitive, but I eat every exercise point I earn, and every point in my saved points pool. I don't usually do this, and I think my body sees this as reduction without starvation, so it is dropping weight.

What's working 2: Less worry I think translates into more weight loss. This is a hard week, with registration, NaNo, social issues, a con coming up, and a ceiling repair to prepare for. Through it all, I am trying to just focus on one thing at a time. I didn't sleep well last night. I suspect it was caffeine, as I did all my relaxation techniques. But we will see how this week goes. Stress reduction is very important to weight loss.

I am pretty done in today. I plan to track today, but not exercise, unless I am overtaken with the urge to stretch for a while at home. We'll see.

Back next week. See how I weather my trip to Minnesota for gaming this weekend. I have already purchased some low cal healthy snacks for the trip.

Checking In

It's official. I like in a snowglobe now, except instead of snow, little pieces of plastic shaped like autumn leaves fall. It's really beautiful right now. The wind causes leaves of yellow, orange, and red to lazily spin toward the ground like a rainbow is raining. Yeah, I could do this. Autumn is definitely not why we're leaving autumn in retirement. Nah, that'd be winter. It makes me cranky, winter, especially because of the commute.

But autumn is beautiful outside my window RIGHT NOW.

***

This week I will be registering students, and I am working very hard to keep this from being a source of stress. It's a very busy week, and of course, I have thing to do, but I'm trying to keep my eyes on the road in front of me and not get distracted. And then, all the work stays here at night, unless it's due the next day. Look at the leaves and take a lot of deep breaths.

***

The writing for NaNoWriMo continues, and yes, it is a great way to get some words down, if not the best way to get some quality words down. From time to time, I'll post excerpts.

The next time I post here, it is my hope to post a little bit about Venice. I've been reading up.

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney

First of all, I have to tell you...when you get to the end of this book, insider knowledge tells me that there will be a second book. And you need to know that, because when you do get to the end of this book, it will go hard for you if you don't know that.

***

But I am ahead of myself. One of the advantages of being a cuspy writer such as myself is that you get to know other writers. Eventually, those writers get published, and those excellent writers are willing to send you copies of their excellent debut novels. J. Kathleen Cheney has been nominated for a Nebula for her novella Iron Shoes. In that piece, Cheney shows her deft hand at mixing fantasy, history, and romance, and you can see the expertise that will ultimately bring The Golden City to fruition.

Here is where I seemingly deviate, but bear with me. Not as trendy or flashy as, say, zombie fiction, the latest urban fantasy monster mash, or even another high-flying, anachronistic pair in a dirigible, the sub-genre of historical fantasy has been slowly, steadily, and stealthily been growing while you weren't looking. One can gather quite a group of authors in it now: not only Clarke, but Kowal and Moyer, to name just a few. Instead of talking about this sub-genre (I know, you double-dog-dare me), I'd like to focus on Cheney's new contribution to it.

Cheney adds her sophisticated voice to historical fantasy. This book is impeccably researched. The history, fantasy, and romance of this story are well-balanced, no one thing overshadowing another. I applaud the lack of anachronism, and the use of native fantasy elements appropriate to the setting and time, because, you know, I'm a smart reader who knows a lot about folklore and history.

The book focuses on Oriana Paredas, sereia spy, in an alternative history Portugal. She meets Dulio Ferreira, both of them intersecting on the same investigation involving political plots, death, and intrigue. But...and this pregnant pause should emphasize my point...the plot is slippery, like an eel, not predictable. Worse (better!) than the plot is the romantic tension. But...and here again, the pregnant pause...Cheney understands that the tension is the thing that keeps the reader reading. You know you want the characters to kiss, but the longer I wait to see them kiss, the better that kiss is going to be. A few obstacles to a happy culmination of the relationship never hurt a reader either.

So...the plot is unpredictable, the characters interesting and real to the time, and the relationship tension is as activated as the plot. I approve of this book on many fronts, as a reader of adventure literature (think Dumas, think Orczy), spy novels, historical romance, and historical fantasy. If you find any of those genres to suit, or, like me, many of those genres to suit, you should pick up this book.

That's The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney. Which comes out THIS TUESDAY, November 5th. Be the first on your block.