One of the Guys

caveat: I’m not a guy. Nor am I trying to be sexist by using the term “one of the guys.” I’m using a term from our culture than indicates a casual sense of belonging. And that’s all. –CMSS

How big was the town you grew up in? I come from third-world Iowa, a town of (then 703) people. And frankly, I was the weird kid. Weird for lots of reasons. Rest assured, this isn’t an essay about my family dysfunction or my backwardness. What this is about is my writing. You knew it would be.

If you come from a small town, and you are mildly talented, I think your talent may well be blown out of proportion. I was bright, but I thought I was a genius because we didn’t have a lot of bright hanging around in third-world Iowa. I was multi-talented, but, depending on the day, I thought I was a diva, an Academy award winner, or even Dostoyevsky. There are people in the world that have more talent than me. I’m willing to concede that now. Even in writing.

My ego was bolstered by a lot of fake A’s from high school English teachers who were happy anyone would write in abundance at all, grammatically or otherwise. Luckily, my high school started sending me to the local community college once a week. I was bored and there was no TAG in rural Iowa then. There I met George, who taught me that red marks on my stories were a valuable thing.

But this isn’t about my mentor George. God bless George, but no. It’s about the fact that deep down, I think many writers believe that our writing is special and unique. This may be peculiar to me, because I was bought up in the small town of Ignorant Conceit (which is on the map in Iowa, really).

Continue reading “One of the Guys”

Weekend Update

Just taking a break from some design work to suggest that you might not want to send anything off to the Axelrod Agency, which seems to be too busy with its current clients.

I’m thinking of jazzing things up around the ole Tamago a bit by reflecting on how it’s going at this stage of the writing career. Why do I think my musings might be more interesting than another writers? Vanity, baybee, vanity! Really, it’s because I have some things to say, and it’s my journal. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Up next for queries.

Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown
Kirsten Wolf of Jill Grinberg
Kate Scherler of Fletcher and Perry LLC
Krista Goering of Krista Goering of LLC
Sheldon Fogelman of Sheldon Fogelman

Prospect Agency

This changes nothing. I still think they’d be cool for representation.

Here’s the letter I received this morning from Becca Stumpf.

Thank you for giving me and Prospect Agency the opportunity to consider SUBSTANCE OF SHADOWS. You are clearly a talented writer, but I’m afraid this story just didn’t grab me enough to offer representation. Of course, this is only one opinion in a highly subjective field, and another agent
will likely feel differently; I encourage you to solicit additional

It contains the usual ending of course, but it’s nice to have an agent re-inforce the quality of your work. I’m not insecure about that, but it’s nice to hear it.

Of course, I’ll keep sending it out, but I do keep getting the message. It’s not you, Catherine. It’s the book. Cool. However, until I have time to whip out another book, might as well keep giving it a go!

So, my Russian lesson was cancelled today, regrettably. Olga’s mother fell and they’re at the emergency room. I’m killing just a wee bit of time until the bank opens, and then I will use the extra time at work appropriately.

Hope you all have good weekends.


Crickets Chirp

The ever present philosophical question: is hearing nothing better than getting rejections? My writing mailbox is pretty quiet right now.

Work still continues comparing English teaching in Japan and in the US. What I’m learning right now is that Japanese students prefer adhering to the native speaker model, at least in one pilot study done in Nagoya.

Nativism seems to run counter to embracing World English. Depending on the purpose of English, say, for example, to succeed in a US classroom, nativism may be a preferred model. What generally occurs in any given communication is a negotiation between accuracy and comprehensibility, and I wonder if the Nativists are too much in the former camp, and the proponents of World English are too much in the other.

Enough of that. I’ll get you back to faerie princesses as soon as I can. However, if any of you closet linguist eggheads want to weigh in, I’m here for you.

Professionally yours,

Book Club Alert


Our local SF/F group is going to actually have a book club. You know, where we all decide to read something together, and talk about it once a month? Yup, pretty old skool.

So…I was thinking, what would YOU recommend if you were suggesting books to read? I’m not the only one suggesting books, but I wanted to go in armed with some good ideas (TM) as well as some classics.

One thing I thought might be cool is if we could get an author to come in and discuss their book with us once every few months. You know, deep and philosophical discussions of, I don’t know, Love Bites or something. With the author. Our SF club might be able to shell out some meager money for the kerosene that fueled author’s cars or something

More on that speculation later. What books do you think that a group of people who like the speculative fiction genre should read? We’ll take suggestions in SF, Fantasy, YA, Spec Fic, Horror, Mythic, Faerie Tale Re-tellings, Urban Fantasy, stuff like that.

Also, how close are y’all to Eastern Iowa? Who’d be willing to come discuss their book with a group of fans (who would talk to local bookstores about having them sign?) Don’t be modest or shy in your response. We’d be lucky to get you. 🙂

Grammar tests? Oh. Darned.


Nikki Van Der Carr rejection.

Right now, the students are testing, and I’m writing just a bit. I don’t know about you, but do you ever discover that during those times you’re not writing creatively, lots of creative bits keep leaking out into your every day life. Right now, I’m deep into a costume and an academic paper, and I want to be writing about rainbows and unicorns. I know I’m happier when I write too, and yes, right now, I’m not very happy. It’s that restlessness that comes without a proper outlet for creativity.

So, mebbe I should just buckle down and get these other tasks done! Well, I am going pretty flat out. Let me assure you, I’ll be happy to get back to the ability to play in a fantasy place.


I also want to mention that I’m reading Gary Braunbeck’s e-chapbook at the moment. Gary is a distinctive and interesting horror writer. Yup. Horror. I don’t usually read horror, but I’m reading these stories. Here’s where you can find out more about Gary. Like what he’s written that has won the Brahm Stoker award, stuff like that.

Right. So. Another day at the races. Another night at the…eye doctor.



Yeah, well, you wouldn’t want to start the research section on your highly academic comparative pedagogy paper that had to integrate information on lingua franca and World Englishes. Nah, you’d much rather revise that YA scene you’re reading at Wiscon this year. Remind me. I became a Second Language specialist why? Oh yeah. Pays the bills. That old thing.

Screw it. It’s time for sushi. Then an errand in Targetland.

Then no recourse but to write.