Second day of most horrible influenza. Happy to have about a week of writing time built up, because that’s not happening for a bit. Hope to be better soon, but hear from others it takes about four days.

Hope your weeks are going well. I’ll see you when I’m valid again.


Civil Liberty and Civil Disobedience

I’m kind of bottled up at the moment. The stories are flowing fine. I work my twelve hours a week, and I’m thrilled with what I’m doing. I am feeling like a writer and moving forward. My job is also a good job. Personal life going well for now.

It’s at this point I get political, so I’m putting this under a cut for those of you who don’t want to see this in a journal that’s about writing. But I just can’t not write about it at the moment. It’s on my mind.

Continue reading “Civil Liberty and Civil Disobedience”


Life is interesting.

Back in 2007, when I decided to get serious about writing, there was a lot I didn’t know about how this all worked. But I started hanging out on disreputable corners on line and meeting a variety of people. And now, thanks to the miraculous powers of the Internet, I “know” people who are nominated for the Nebulas. Who have been on the New York Times Best Seller list. Who have been asked to speak at the NASA Ted conference. Who are very savvy about the business of writing, are successful, and thoughtful and insightful.

People who go on tour world-wide. People who have been kind enough to teach me, both formally and informally. Who have been convention guests. What’s interesting about that is all of these writers were just like me at one time. And most of them still take the time to talk to me. Which is nice of them, given my struggling to publish status. Hell, I’ve sang karaoke with a couple of them. I meet one periodically for coffee, and I’m never quite sure what’s in it for her.

Almost every writer I’ve talked to–on-line and off–will answer questions and share their experience. They really are a friendly bunch, if you don’t present yourself as a total dork. Even on those occasions you fan all over them, they’ll treat you pretty well.

I’m finding that if you stick with writing, and you write, and you don’t present yourself as “that guy,” other writers, editors and agents will talk to you, and in the course of that conversation, teach you what they know. You can say things like, “I think Jig the Goblin represents every man,” and they still take you seriously. (Jig does, you know.)

There are also opportunities for these folks to teach you. I’m treating the pursuit of my writing education like the new grad school. Clearly I can get only so far on my own. Practice improves me, but education changes what I do. So, formal and informal–I’m keeping my ears open. And again, other writers will be there to scaffold me.

I’m also finding that you meet lots of peers who support you, who haven’t spoken at NASA…yet. These people you see the potential in. If you think of the journey to good writing as a bus trip, some of them get off at different stops, in different places, but when you’re on the bus together, you can have a pretty good conversation.

So. This isn’t an entry about where I’m going or where I’ve been. I’m surprised that writers of all levels are just so darned friendly and helpful. Even if you don’t pay them money. I’m liking that.

I’ve got to start thinking of ways to pay that forward.



Yesterday I managed to see every kind of precipitation conceivable as we drove home from Minneapolis. It’s weird when your day begins in a major blizzard and finishes in a sort of warm rain.


Items of Interest

Expertise hours: Just hit 104. Down: 4104. Remaining: 5894.
Ticket to Norway: Bought. As soon as friend Catrina expresses approval the proposed one, hotels. Then, it’s on to in country transportation.
Donald Maass workshop/Nalo Hopkinson master class: Homework completed. Trying to decide which manuscript to take. Substance makes the most sense, except the pieces are laying all over the garage floor. Do I just throw all the pieces into a big bag or what?
Diet: No sorbitol (fruit) for the next two weeks. Today is burpy anyway. Link between stress and condition obvious! In addition to diet changes, I’ll see what I can do with stress management.

Which means I put this link here, and I follow up on it:

Stress management

That’s all today.


Unions and You

Ah, Wisconsin!

Well, this wouldn’t be the first time you’ve ever engaged in active union busting! Or the first time the Republican party has supported your efforts!

Speaking of which,
John Boehner! doesn’t disappoint us in his reaction.

I know we should trust our benevolent employers, who would never do anything to take advantage of us as workers. There is no need for us to organize. Who wouldn’t want a return to the 11-hour day? Or child labor? Or no health insurance? You pansies!

Never mind the following list o’ shame when we have placed our faith in the corporate establishment to take care of us, notably

Continue reading “Unions and You”

Useful Links for Writers: Plotting, Trimming, Fighting, and F***ing

Some Viable Paradise classmates talking about critiquing lately.

Miranda Suri

Ferrett Steinmetz


And here are some things that might be handy for writers who are doing a variety of things writers do.

Adding tension to your work and trimming it down: The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Framing your plot with a structure: The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker (with many thanks to George Galuschak)

Reducing your verbage: The 10% Solution by Ken Rand

Writing sex scenes: Stacia Kane’s 26-part series (Thanks to George and Miranda)

Writing fight scenes: Marie Brennan’s multi-part series

Hope these come in handy.

Aggravated Teacher is Aggravated

Well, my journal WAS going to be cool links to help you with writing today. Instead, I’ve had to get grouchy.

One of the women on the creative writing scholarship we are setting up annoyed me today. The organization in Iowa that puts on science fiction conventions, the Mindbridge Foundation has generously agreed to fund one of the five scholarships, as long as the applicant is a speculative fiction writer. That’s what Mindbridge does–we have a mission to support speculative fiction in all its forms.

Enter Poet Woman. Poet Woman works part-time here at Kirkwood. She wrote an email that I would be remiss to reproduce, but essentially the implication is that spec fic writers are not as good as other writers, that they are not interested in learning what a “normal” writer is interested in learning, and that using the elements of spec fiction produce sub-standard work. The snobbish implication is that literary writing is somehow superior and less academic than good spec fiction.

Luckily, I do not believe that any of my other colleagues on this committee believe similarly, or as Mindbridge Board president, I’d suggest we take our offer of funding a scholarship back. Poet Woman asks if we will fund an inferior spec fiction writer over a better “literary” writer. The answer is no. I believe that there will be a good speculative fiction entry out there. If we don’t have a good speculative fiction candidate, we’ll hold the funds back.

At any rate, I present my letter to the committee. There is an attempt to educate, and I hope Poet Woman takes the time to expand her horizons and work with her misconceptions.

Continue reading “Aggravated Teacher is Aggravated”

Keeping the Romance Alive

Well, I may have to eat my hat. Slowly and thoroughly, without talking. Because I have noticed a HUGE difference in belching since I started following the doctor’s instructions. That’ll teach me to be skeptical about a medical diagnosis! I am still going to experiment with foods and see if that affects things, but I am pleased that with the new meds that crisis seems to be over.


It’s Thursday. It’s time to talk about love. I tried to start a relationship on Valentine’s Day. In 1984, a nervous young woman took a Valentine’s Day card to her friend, one of the guys in her gaming group who was funny, smart, and great to be around. She proposed dating, and he said since he was relatively new to having female friends, he wanted to keep things as they were. She was disappointed, but she sucked it up, and started to get on with things.

Three days later, February 17th, he showed up and said he wondered if he could still apply for the position of boyfriend. With her smart kid connections, they took the key for the Honors Cottage out from the campus hotel, went to the upstairs room of pillows, and worked out all the contractual details.

I’m grateful to Bryon for delaying our getting together just that little bit. Every year we celebrate this dating anniversary. We have been together for 28 years (we will be married 24 in July). Sometimes we’ll go out for Valentine’s. Sometimes we’ll go out for this. Sometimes…we’ll just stay home.

A good romantic partnership ain’t easy. People change. A lot. If you’re in a good relationship, you change each other in interesting ways. People grow and stretch and develop new interests. How have we stayed together 28 years? Here are Catherine and Bryon’s hot relationship tips, in a rather random order.

Continue reading “Keeping the Romance Alive”

Sen. Scott Brown Reveals Being Sexually Abused

Part of the reason I talk openly about my abuse is because I want this sort of thing to be out in the open. I want kids to know this is wrong, and there are adults who will listen, as it seems that often adults involved with the abuser aren’t ready to listen.

And today, Senator Scott Brown, Republican from Massachusetts, does a great thing. He tells 60 Minutes about his own abuse as a boy.

Today, Scott Brown, I respect you, and I salute you. Good job.