I’m trying to clear off my work desk a bit before I’m off on my first trip to Vegas. Yup, it’s romantic getaway weekend with the hubs, who really needs it, with all the drama concerning his father’s cancer. I won’t mind it too much either.

And it looks like I won’t have to order the high roller oatmeal through room service. The gastroenterologist is letting me eat normal (still staying away mostly from vice foods and spicy stuff on my own–don’t want to get TOO crazy), so travel becomes much easier.

I have a voyage to the bottom of my esophagus (gastroscopy) scheduled for February 9th, after all this Vegas traveling is done. I enjoyed dumbfounding the doctor with yesterday’s mutant belching power. Interesting that I have a good day, a bad day, a good day, a bad day. This is a good day.


Right. So, I’m going to try to get some responses written to these workshop stories before the meetings and teaching begin. I’ll be back sometime next week. There will be much writing and flying tonight.


Links and Stuff Like That

Here’s an interesting article on writing groups from Miranda Suri that you should chew on.

And here’s a little reality shock for writers of all flavors from Jim Hines.

Five Things We Learned at Clarion, a collection of writing advice from former Klarionites. Ferrett Steinmetz is the collector.

And from Jim Van Pelt, a link to this interesting article on how a Florida lawmaker would like teachers to grade parents. Could it be that a politician finally gets it?


In my personal life, I received word today that my new reflux meds have been approved by my insurance. Thank you, insurance. The past week has shown that this is definitely not a luxury item.


Vegas Critique Stories

I’ve just completed my reading for the Las Vegas writer’s retreat I’m going to next week. (Since I couldn’t work out because of some serious heartburn, I distracted myself by putting the time to good use)

Maybe you’d like to hear what I’m reading for the workshop? Okay. Here are some brief summaries…

Immersion by Lou J. Berger. A premise sort of like Facebook on steroids, Berger writes a future noir about the Meld, the ultimate Hive mind, is a standard practice for society. Discontented Otis Decker works to find an individualist who is engaging in terrorist activities during the Meld.

Doc Johnson’s Thunderstones by Sean Craven: In this screen play, Gene Skinner and Randall Duke hunt aphrodisiac dino anatomy on the Jurassic frontier of Morrison 7. When they are set up by their evolved dinosaur boss, they become involved with revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces. Someone has to clean up Copeville.

Counting Cracks by George Galuschak: Four people in a post-apocalyptic setting endeavor to destroy the Hum, a mysterious vibration that wipes out life by misfiring central nervous systems.

The Wanting Game by George Galuschak: In a surprisingly mystic offering, Galuschak explores a brother and a sister’s emotions as they visit a midnight carnival.

The Atlantean by E.F. Kelley: Officer Theodore Marshall and his partner police dog Brock end up passing into Utopia, a troubled magical world that has, until recently, severed ties with Atlantis, or Earth. While Marshall and Brock explore Utopia, the sorcerer Telvir crosses to Earth on his quest to bring science to his world.

The Chimera and the Physica by Danielle M. LeFevre: Everly and Theodore heal the sick in the troubled times of chimera attacks. Explored here are the juxtapositions between life and death, healing and sickness, and want and duty.

Book One of the Blackthorn FilesM by Hallie Rulnick: A half-fey vet tech wrestles with her ability to see into the future as she encounters a series of mysterious animal killings.

Absent by Miranda Suri: Emily Blake, part-time archaeology teacher, is the primary suspect in the disappearance of five students from her classes. When Emily discovers that her colleague and boyfriend Reid Rencher has cursed her with an ancient Macedonian spell of transport, the two and investigating detective Nick Martin journey back to the Ice Age on a rescue mission.

What have I learned? Well, that I should write copy for the back of books. Oh yeah, and retreats are excellent ways to read some pretty good material that is not yet on the shelves.

Time to knock off for the night.


Laying Down Pipe

Here’s an interesting post from Joshua Palmatier about his composing process, harkening back to a conversation we were having here at the Tamago a few entries back. I found it interesting. I too have been in that blank spot.

Here’s another interesting post from Ferrett Steinmetz on what he learned at Clarion, just in case you’re thinking of applying.


This time, however, I’m doing it differently. I’m a pantser who is becoming an outliner and planner. Why would I do that? It’s time to learn out to plan out a book before I write it, as some day, I plan to have to do this to sell books. Also, the project I started on this weekend is a 5-book family saga that spans 100 years. I need to know how it all fits together over the entire series.

For the foreseeable future, barring revisions of The Were-humans and line edits on O-Taga-San, I will be planning to write this series. Book 4 needs book 3 to make sense, but the rest of the books stand alone, so it’s a good time investiture for the beginning writer.

I may write some scenes and key pieces to keep myself from going through complete writing withdrawal, but I need diagrams and relationship charts. I need rules for the Binder trials and magic. I need a synopsis of the world and how it functions. In short, I need to lay pipe.

I’m going to put all thisinformation in folders and call them something clever, like the–er–Binder Binders. Well, something more clever than that.

Yesterday I made a birth, death, trial, marriage outline, with a few key plot points around the trials thrown in. I took the sketchy genealogy chart from my writer’s notebook, and I transformed it into a time line. Thanks to Mark McKibben, my web guy, we found a time line software. Right now I have the sample of Bee Docs Timeline 3D, and I plan to buy version 3. It runs about $65. How do I find it?

Continue reading “Laying Down Pipe”

Encyclopedia Brown Diagnoses the Case and Readers?

It turns out that my reflux medicine was no longer working. Which would explain a lot. I may also be allergic to lactose, sucrose, and fructose. Or it may just be a vast conspiracy to eliminate all of my beverage options but water and fake milk.

The new medicine makes me feel a lot better. The new diet, well, let’s say I’m not enthused. I am now soliciting lots of nice ways to cook veggies, so feel free to let me know. That said, I can’t have dairy or fruit, and I can’t eat anything spicy.


The Were-humans is finished. It comes in at the awkward size of 13,900, which makes it a good size for Writers of the Future. I’m getting the first 10K workshopped in Vegas, but I could use folks to look at the entirety of it as well.

So, if you’d like to read about a wild dog pack, a veterinarian, and a grade-school teacher in a town that is a thinly disguised version of where I grew up, I’d love to send this out to you. Just let me know.

AND I’ll be happy to return the favor. Just not right now. Besides workshop materials for Vegas (which I will tell you about anon), I have to finish the English edits on Marion Engelke’s Masks of Dying Warriors and dive happily into the second version of Matt Hughes’ Genie Memories that I’ve had the privilege to see. Love it when people send me their stuff!

Okay. Have to finish the olive oil and lettuce salad. No, really. It works. No one is more surprised than me.


Back Stock and Studio Time

Snow? *sputter* Look, weather guys, could you warn us? This is no flurry! Oh, right, the journal is on. Nevermind, New Yorkers, nothing to see here. Just a little Midwestern snow. Not 20 inches.


So, Catherine, how is the New Year’s writing resolution going? Glad you asked! After today’s morning session, I have written 49 hours so far toward the goal. (Only 5951 more expertise hours to go!) Have I learned anything cool? Why, yes I have!

To start with, I think of myself as working more on back stock at the moment. And I’m discovering the fun of studio time. Let me explain.

Continue reading “Back Stock and Studio Time”

Traveling Schaff-Stump

Just like a solar flare, my acid reflux occasionally tries to burn out my mid-section for no very good reason at all. My ph started going down since a fateful night at Fazioli’s two weeks ago until we reached this point. Tonight you could launch me at skyscrapers and I would burn holes in steel and metal. On occasions like this, I find the thing to do is have Bryon make me his signature oatmeal, and have the occasional cup of tapioca pudding. In a couple of days, it’ll blow over. Or I’ll be talking to my doctor.

Happy this isn’t the Vegas week. ‘Twould be sad to go to Vegas twice in one week and have to eat high roller oatmeal.


Oh, yeah. I’m going to Vegas twice in one week.

The first time, Bryon and I are going to have a little winter get away. He really needs it after all the stress with his dad (who at this moment is enjoying the radiation experience. No really. He likes getting zapped and going to lunch every day. A change of scene and scenery. This week, we’ll find out how he’s doing, so things can change.) Bryon and I will be seeing two Cirque du Soleil shows: Zoomanity and O. Then I’ll be back for three days, and off I go to Vegas to a writing workshop.

Also, right now, Catrina and I are making plans for our research trip to Finland and Norway. I’m getting close to the ticket buying stage. It really looks like she has some wonderful things to show me in Finland, and I am very excited about seeing Folk museums and fjords. But I’m not trying lutefisk for anyone. Let’s make that clear right now.

Additionally, the cons I plan to attend are on the appropriate Tamago page. I’m going to my first ever White Privilege conference, Demicon (where Sarah Prineas will be guesting this year!), Wiscon (the usual bonding trip with Lisa and Dan), CONvergence, North American Discworld, and AnimeIowa. I’ll link to Icon, as usual, once their site goes live for this year. This year is pretty sewn up, and with the family reunion, summer will go by in a blink.

What am I thinking about for 2012? First of all, it’s the summer of love our 25th wedding anniversary. Bryon and I will be visiting Disneyland Paris, perhaps other parts of Paris, London, and maybe Bath and Stonehenge. We’ll have to get some anniversary pictures taken as well.

Conventions: I always go to Wiscon, CONvergence, AnimeIowa, and Icon, so no doubt those. I’m thinking seriously about Worldcon 2012 in Chicago. There may well be TESOL, wherever that is next year. I’d like to have another small writing retreat with friends.

In 2013, I am toying with the idea of doing another workshop–like applying to Taos Toolbox, or maybe even Clarion. I dunno. These are germs of ideas. Whatever you can tell me about your experiences in these workshops would be great to hear about.

Well, acid bomb or not, I still need to get some writing time in tonight. I’ll sign off here.

I have a couple of VP Interviews out there which I will post as soon as they come home to roost. I also want to write a post about Stephen Krashen’s i+1 language learning theory and how it also applies to art.


My Fantasy Life

A few days ago, Sean Craven wrote his Malcolm Gladwell post. And what struck me about it was that while I do not grapple with some of the same issues that Sean does, I struggle with Gladwell’s comments on class. Gladwell suggests that one of the main issues that separate us from one another is class, and it makes a huge difference on who we are and what we can become.

Well, yeah.

When I initially instigated the conversation about Outliers and expertise, Sean seemed to have almost a visceral reaction. I actually find myself reacting a little viscerally about this point, but then I sort of take a couple of deep breaths, and I realize not everyone has come to this realization by hard work, trial, and error, and everyone’s epiphanies are a little different.

Hello. My name is Catherine. I come from the class commonly known as white trash, although I think that term is on the way out. I am the poster child for recovery and faking it until you make it. But sometimes you all say something, do something, or engage in cultural mores that make me realize I am actually a Martian child not of your suburban world.

Continue reading “My Fantasy Life”

Woah, Busy! and Review of Hulk Hercules

I have fallen off the edge of the world, and I can’t get up. I think that’s vaguely mythological.

Here’s what’s happening, people! I want to write a thoughtful post in reaction to Sean Craven’s recent Renaissance Oaf post on Martin Gladwell. I can’t right now because the day job and the writing and the ill father-in-law are devouring my time resource.

All to the good. While I have to scramble to teach a phonetics class I hadn’t planned on, I think I’m really going to enjoy doing it. While the FiL has been roller-coastering, the current prognosis is on a hill. (He didn’t have cancer in his lymph nodes. Did you even know about that? And they’re starting to irradiate that bad boy tumor.) And the writing, well, so far 28 hours in two weeks. I’ve got half an hour in tonight, and I’ll get back to the editing for the Vegas workshop very shortly.

All that said, I will be back. Freakin’ Phew, but I will be back.


Meanwhile, since things are so hectic right now, I have to credit Matt Hughes for making my day. My week. Currently, maybe even my month.

Matt has written a review of Hulk Hercules over at Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing that makes me both elated and embarrassed, which means I am a total noob still, at heart. Thanks, Matt!

Right. Time to edit the donuts. I edited the donuts.


Peppity Pep Talk from Pepville

I’m hitching my horse up to the rebellion wagon. My brain is day-job tired, and I need a break. There’s a task before me on my desk that I pulled out to start at 10:30. In the intervening time, I have counseled, cajoled, congratulated, re-hired, sent out feelers for new employees, diplomatized, and eaten my lunch in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Honestly, who’d want to quit a day job like that? *blink*

Now, normally, I’d go home, put my feet up and watch the latest in the Netflix hit parade (“The Big Lebowski” for the curious.) But I’ve made this New Year’s resolution about writing 12 hours a week, you see, and by damn, tonight’s 1.5 hours are going down!!!

Some people find that it’s not helpful to tell other people about their resolutions. I disagree. I have broadcasted all over the Internet and creation that I’m doing this, and the world is watching. My boss knows. My spouse knows. My co-workers know. Everyone thinks it’s cool. *

*transcript of two real co-worker conversations follows (yes, they remarkably similar):

“Oh,” they said. “That’s interesting. What are you writing?”
“Whatever comes out,” I said. “The point is that I’m working on something, that I’m putting in the time.”
*Gears turn.* “Oh,” they said. “That’s really cool.”
“Yes,” I said. “I’m trying to be a writer by making it part of my life and committing to it.”
“That’s really cool,” they said.

Later, one of those co-workers stopped by to say something like, “You’ve really inspired me. I’m going to see if I can find a project I can work on like that.”

So you see why I can’t let those people down. I can’t let you all down either. I can’t let me down either. And yes, this has turned into a pep talk about how I need to do this after a long, tiring day of having my extrovert batteries drained.

I knew there were times when this would be a struggle. But I’m not giving in, even if tonight I end up just going through the motions. And if I can do this, you can do this. Really! Never surrender! Dr. Writer is in the house!

Or she will be, as soon as she gets out of the office. Oh look, ANOTHER student!