Not just my age, but well, it’s a big number today.


I just had an interesting exchange on Twitter, not so much with a Romney supporter, but with an Obama non-supporter. There were a lot of interesting things said. At first he thought maybe I was trying to disprove what he thought, but no, I was interested to see what he thought. I carpooled to Worldcon with a guy in the back seat who thought much the same.

One hundred and forty characters per message is no way to find out about anyone’s basis for an ideology. And the guy was really convinced of the truth of what he was saying, which did sound a lot like what you heard at the Republican National Convention. If he were a composition student, I’d ask him to get some facts and counterarguments. I figured it was more important to be civil, and perhaps create the image that all we liberals are not delusional. I’m pretty sure I didn’t create that image, but I was polite. And he was informative, which I appreciated. And we disagree heartily, which I have to respect, even though you know, I think differently and I wouldn’t be happy in his version of America.


So, I would have written a post about Romney’s “private” statement, but instead, let me help you a little with some of those facts and counterarguments written by other logical, eloquent people.

First of all, direct from Scalzi’s Whatever, Misconceptions and Realities about Who Pays Taxes. What this article does is look at the demographic of taxes, and who pays what. A really salient fact from this article:

When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account, the bottom fifth of households pays about 16 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average. The second-poorest fifth pays about 21 percent.

It’s a good article, and it really breaks the number 47 down in interesting ways.


Next up, John Scalzi writes more or less the post that I would write myself, except you know, I overpay my taxes every year because I live in fear that my deductions will shift in a less friendly America. Usually I get a nice return as a result, but better safe than sorry.

And finally, from Jay Lake and the Daily Beast (truly your liberal media), some speculation on what Romney’s campaign may mean for the Republican party.

I’ve actually wondered about this for sometime, as I’ve had a lot of conversations with really conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans and RiNOs, and there seems to be a real lack of unity here. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.


Let’s try to remember there’s a campaign on out there. Remember, what you say does count.

Arthritis, Body Image, and that Health Thing

I am sorry for being Spammy McSpamerston today. Last one. Promise.


When I was a girl, I had a friend at school whose grandfather was dying because he was diabetic and he couldn’t change his eating habits. He would do okay for a bit, but the family always had to ride him hard, and he would decide to go off his diet. By the time he died, he was wheel chair bound and had seriously impaired vision.

I remember thinking that I would never jeopardize my health like that.


About my 45th birthday, I had a talk with my doctor about how I wasn’t losing weight, and how she was okay if I was eating well and exercising. At that time, I began to pursue vintage clothing and try to enjoy my body as I thought it would be. I freely admit that I am not comfortable wearing this much weight. It slows me up when I travel, and I can’t do the things I used to, but I figured that this was the way it was going to be, because I hadn’t been having success.


And now I have osteoarthritis. A good friend of mine sent me some very good information about arthritis. It is all about joints. My swelling is in my right ankle and right knee, both of which I injured when I was younger. I am to lay off exercise for two weeks, keep liberally applying ice, and ease back into physical activities.

Another thing that helps people with arthritis is losing weight.


So, here I am again. You may know that I’ve been part of Weight Watchers, more or less maintaining my weight while eating better. But at this point, I’m willing to do something that isn’t easy because I’m in a great deal of pain right now.

So, it’s going to come down to the big three again: 1. Drink your water. 2. Eat your veggies. 3. Avoid sweets. While I eat healthy, I need to now think about doing things to take this weight off my defective joints.

The other thing I have to do is keep moving. Tonight Bryon and I will play some Wii kayak. You sit, you row. As long as it doesn’t use the legs, I can do it. And then, gradually and slowly, I will work my walking back up to snuff.

So, now it’s not just about body image. It’s about health. And yeah, logically, weighing about 70 pounds less would be less pressure on my knee and ankle.

Feh. I wish this were easy.


Cucurbital 3

Courtesy of Lawrence Schoen at Paper Golem:

Cucurbital 3 is the seventh work published by Paper Golem, and continues the series of mini-anthologies that provide a peek into the writing process itself. Authors are always asked two questions: “where did you get the idea for your story?” and “how do you go from idea to finished tale?” This series offers insight into the second question by handing the book’s authors the answer to the first one. Here are nine short stories that began with the same three prompts: madness, darkness, mattress. They cover the spectra from comic to mythic, absurd to poignant, pragmatic to breathtaking.

Nine Authors • Three Prompts • One Anthology

Edited by Campbell and Hugo Award nominee Lawrence M. Schoen, Cucurbital 3 is distributed by Ingram.


This is the book that Mark Twain’s Daughter is appearing in. For ordering information, go here. While you are waiting for Cucurbital 3, you can buy some of these other awesome books as well.



You know the problem with being social? Well, even blog entries don’t write themselves, although sometimes they seem to.

So…had a brainstorm over the weekend for a new idea for the blog. Since friends are kind enough to send me manuscripts to critique from time to time, I thought that I would start a new feature called “The Phantom Book Shelf” where I talked about their manuscripts. Sure, it’s kind of a “see what cool thing I’m reading that you don’t get to” kind of thing, but not always. I also hope to ask the author some questions about the work. At any rate, I’ll be having fun. In addition to the Writers and Their Process interviews and the Taos Toolbox collection, at least my interview and reviewing skills should remain in tact.


I mentioned waaaayyy back that I wanted to talk more about World Con. I do. I thought I might write up some of the more interesting panels, and talk about what I thought was very effective regarding the con. It is no understatement to suggest that it was one of the best conventions I’ve been to. Your mileage would vary, of course, as would any given World Con, hosted by a wide variety of people.


Today’s big project is writing an essay for a scholarship I’ve applying for to accompany some students to VietNam next summer. It’s an apply for thing, so I am in competition with others, including the very competent young man who is the new ELA teacher, but I’m giving it a whirl.


Should mention that I am now arthritic. It’s osteoarthristis, which means I did something stupid to both my ankle and my knee in my youth, and now I am paying for it. I was trying to hit the fitness hard, and apparently my right leg does not care much for the stair climbing thing in large amounts. Right now, just not exercising it. I do have a date with some Wii kayaking tonight, because I can use my upper body no problem, and not exercising is getting old and costly.

Celebrex–nice drug. Awful side effects. I’m liking my Advil and my pain, thanks. The moral of this story? EASE into things. You aren’t young any more. You’re not thin either.


Have a good day, and more to come soon.


Haunted Mansion

Setting: La Tavernita in Chicago in full tilt, Friday night. Our heroine is out to dinner with a variety of people from Paper Golem press, Taos Toolbox, and Codex. The din is deafening. The drinks are excellent. In a momentary lull in the conversation, our heroine checks her phone to see that she has missed a call from her husband.

Caveat: Husband swears that the call did not go like this. Heroine cannot hear very well, but what she heard does makes for a better story.

(ring, ring)

Bryon: Hello?
Cath: Hello? I’m sorry I missed your call. I’m out to dinner.
Bryon: That’s okay. I’m with Mark and Michelle. (pause) Um…there’s been a bit of a catastrophe.


At this moment, our heroine worries that there has been something terrible, like a house fire, or a car crash. Could something have happened to the hero’s mother? Or one of our cats?


Cath: Okay. Let me go some place quieter so I can hear better. (Removes to slightly less noisy but still pretty damn noisy room.) Okay. Go ahead.
Bryon: Well, I got home yesterday after ticket taking, and UPS had been out, trying to deliver the package.
Cath: Right.
Bryon: So after school today, I went over there and picked up the box.
Cath: Good. Right.
Bryon: And I opened it. And Cath, THEY SENT THE WRONG HAUNTED MANSION!


Editor’s Note: Bryon saw this beautiful Olzewski Collectible Haunted Mansion while we were at the Disney Parks, and would not buy it then. I persuaded him to buy it later, because I like to spoil him. It’s going to be a while before he gets a Lost in Space robot, after all. 🙂 Anyway, there are two Haunted Mansion collectibles: the Liberty Square version, which is the Disney World version and the New Orleans version, which is the Disneyland version. In order for this story to make any sense, you must know that.


Cath: What?
Bryon: It’s the New Orleans Mansion, not the Liberty Square mansion! And they’ve charged us for the Liberty Square Mansion.


Our heroine is relieved and amused at what constitutes a catastrophe.


Cath: Don’t worry about it. I’ll get home on Tuesday and kick ass and take names. You will get the right mansion.


Various other pleasantries ensue.

Disney customer service is great to work with. They called me yesterday and let me know that the right mansion is on its way. It turns out that it was CHEAPER than the New Orleans version (which we think is wrong, but they assure me is right), so we should have it soon.

Otherwise, you will get a sequel entry. 🙂

The Writing Process and Nancy Kress

Nancy Kress, one of my teachers from Taos Toolbox, has graciously taken the time out to answer some questions about the writing process.

Tamago: Do you have a regular drafting process, or does your drafting process vary from book to book. Can you describe it to us generally, or at least for one project?

Nancy: I do have a regular process. For the first draft, I write non-stop, ignoring mistakes and changes of heart and general inconsistencies, just trying to get the story down. The second draft is a major rewrite: moving, eliminating, or adding scenes. Fixing major inconsistencies. Sharpening the foreshadowing, since now that I have an ending, I know what it is I am trying to foreshadow. Draft three is a clean-up, addressing minor inconsistencies and fiddling with word choice. Then I give the ms. to my husband to read. If he has suggestions–and he usually has good ones–my fourth and final draft is to incorporate those. Then the story or novel gets sent off.

Tamago: I remember at Toolbox you suggested that you could see about two scenes ahead when you wrote. What sorts of methods do you use to plot a story?

Nancy: Two main methods. First, I try to become my characters, feeling my way from the inside about what they might do in the situations I’ve put them in. Second, I use two questions to create the incidents that make up a plot: What does my protagonist (and also all the other characters) want now, at this point in the story? What can go wrong now, at this point in the story?

Continue reading “The Writing Process and Nancy Kress”

Three Reviews


The Serpent’s Egg by Caroline Stevermer: I am working on another read all the books project, this time Caroline Stevermer. Happily, Caroline was kind enough to send me some books I had a harder time tracking down, and The Serpent’s Egg is one of them.

If this book were written in the 1940s, Caroline would have been able to cash in on that Ivanhoe vibe, and probably would have made a serious chunk of change off of this book! The book is courtly intrigue at its best, with a healthy dose of magic thrown in. No one does historical fantasy like Caroline Stevermer.

So, to say I liked it would be entirely appropriate.

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews: Like returning to a favorite sweater, I enjoying slipping into a Kate Daniels book. This is the fifth in the series, and it’s interesting to see Kate’s life regularize as the overarching plot thickens. High drama, lots of romance, and solid urban fantasy make this a great romp for people who enjoy women and the beast lords who love them.

Movies and Television

Pirates!: If you missed Ardman’s Pirates earlier this year, do yourself a favor and get the DVD. It’s claymated, and it’s full of quotable humor (“Makes electricity look like a pile of crap!”), plus tons of the absurd. (“What do we like most about being a pirate? Is it the cutlasses? Is it the booty? No, it’s ham night!” I recommend watching it with kids. They’ll get it, and you’ll get it on a while different level, making it an awesome parent-child bonding experience.


Tomorrow is a big medical day at the Stump home. I get to have the doctor check out my defective right leg? Why is Cath’s ankle swelling up each night? Oh the drama! And we’ll get Sekhmet’s new lump examined at the vet.

But…interviews tomorrow, and then I’ll be starting in on some World Con things.

Heartache, Analytical Style

I so seldom talk about my own bad behavior. It’s embarrassing to do so, but you’ve got to figure that if my background is as dysfunctional as it is, I must have some crummy dysfunctional traits. And you’d be right. I fight them all the time, but it never fails. There comes a point in almost every relationship I have where people “notice” my biggest flaw, because I fail to be on my guard. And it causes some sort of break down. And I have to step back and declare myself a jerk, and the whole cycle begins of me trying to be a reasonable human being begins again.

And you don’t need to read this, because it’s not upbeat or about writing. I’m just thinking things through.

Continue reading “Heartache, Analytical Style”