12 December 2011

"But here you are in the ninth, two men out and three men on..."

Photo from here, via here.
The rumors of my death have only been a teeny bit exaggerated.  My face has cycled through each of the faces of the eggs up there about five or six times.  Even the one in the pan.  If the past few weeks of my life had a theme song, it's been Billy Joel's "Pressure."

31 October 2011

Incomplete Review

The Robert Sheckley Omnibus (Penguin Science Fiction)  The Robert Sheckley Omnibus by Robert Sheckley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I skipped the longer works in the Omnibus, the novel Immortality Inc and the story "A Ticket to Tranai," and focused on the shorter pieces.  I'll come back to them eventually.  Here are some brief thoughts on everything else...

30 October 2011

"Who ever told you that you could work with men?"

I need to read more fiction by men.  There, I said it.

I know how it sounds, what with all the stuff going on at DC Comics these days, to say nothing about the general He-Man-Woman-Hater's club vibe that some parts of genre-dom still have (even in writing circles).  Hell, anyone who doesn't know me and sees The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy in my goodreads "currently reading" list might well roll their eyes and write me off as a toolbag.  But I have a good reason.

Everyone who does know me as a writer, or has read this blog, knows of my love of M. Rickert, Aimee Bender, Carol Emshwiller, Karen Joy Fowler (her short work, at least), and Kelly Link.  I've recently acquired and devoured collections by Joan Aiken and Margaret St. Clair.  My favorite issue of Tin House thus far is 33: Fantastic Women.  The only novel I've really, truly enjoyed in the past few years was Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's Madeline is Sleeping.  I wish I could write like Lydia Davis, Ann Beattie, and Amy Hempel.  I also wish I had Fran Lebowitz's brain.  These writers have really sort of set the bar as far as what I look for in a story.

Sure, there are male writers who do that for me, too.  Etgar Keret, Ray Vukcevich, Howard Waldrop, Peter S. Beagle, Harlan Ellison, Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, and... um... and... and...

See, therein lies the problem.

19 October 2011

The Green Flash

The Green Flash and Other Tales of Horror, Suspense, and FantasyThe Green Flash and Other Tales of Horror, Suspense, and Fantasy by Joan Aiken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn't believe my luck when I found this collection at a local used book store! It didn't finish quite as strongly as it started, but there are pieces that were clinics on short-story writing. Here's how I thought of each story...

18 October 2011

Mabuhay ng Pilipinas, Motherf--kers! (Part 2)

It's true that a good offense is the best defense.

In Filipino Martial Arts, a good offense sometimes involves taking your attacker and "picking the eyes out, and of course, let him eat it."


Well, of course.  Because why stop at taking out the kidney when you can FEED YOUR ATTACKER HIS OWN EYEBALLS!!

16 October 2011

Confession (or, Sorry, M.)

I picked up the latest issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction because it had M. Rickert's new story "The Corpse Painter's Masterpiece."  I'll buy anything with M. Rickert's name on it.  I wish F&SF had a "Just the Issues with M. Rickert in It" subscription option.  I have every issue with her stories since 2006 (except for one I've misplaced somehow).  I have both her collections, Map of Dreams and Holiday, and copies of her stories in Ideomancer and Interfictions 2.  I've spoken about my love of her writing here, and other places.  Yes, on my list of Favorite Writers, she is #1.  The very top.

I say all this so that you can have of sense of just how much it really and truly pains me to say: I wasn't that into "The Corpse Painter's Masterpiece."

12 October 2011

Mabuhay ng Pilipinas, Motherf--kers!

Just three of the reasons I'm proud to be Filipino:

1
Toadies of Filipino martial arts practitioners talk the best smack...


2
We take Good Friday really fucking seriously...


3
We... uhh... apparently also take cosplay really fucking seriously...
(The video's in Tagalog, but you'll get the gist.)


Reminds me of what Dad always used to say: "Aba!"

10 October 2011

"Something tells me I'm into something good..."

I'm not complaining, but I'm just stating the fact that 2011 hasn't been a very productive year.  Oh, I've produced things.  I pulled off my first academic presentation and am still awaiting word of what could be a huge publication score.  I have things coming down the pike in the next couple of months.  But you know, I think part of my damage is that for a couple of years now, I've been writing "made-to-order" stuff.  I think I need to write something for me.  But what?

I don't know a lot about the Brill Building.  I have a sense about its place in musical history.  I have a vague notion of what they talk about when they talk about the "Brill Building Sound" (and of the controversy behind that term).  I kinda know some of the big names involved.

But here's the thing: I know is that it's the place where I want to set my next short story. 

08 October 2011

Rod Serling Conference 2011

Sorry for the unimaginative title, but it was taking me too long to come up with something other than "Submitted For Your Approval."  Tell me that's not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Rod Serling.  But aside from being lame, my presentation at the 2011 Rod Serling Conference last month** wasn't about The Twilight Zone, but about Rod Serling's Night Gallery.  Specifically, H.P. Lovecraft Adapted for Rod Serling's Night Gallery.

I pulled the presentation off, despite massive tech fail (thanks to help from the conference's tech crew), but here's the play by play of the shindig...

19 September 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

No, hell hasn't frozen over. I'm still missing self-imposed blogging deadlines.  I'd intended to kill two birds with one stone and doing something for Speak Out With Your Geek Out.  And, what could possibly be more geeky than going to the 25th Dragon*Con?  So, rather than consider myself two weeks overdue, I can imagine I'm only two days. ;)

Anyway... William Shatner, Martin Landau, Sylvester McCoy, Mark Sheppard, celebrity run-ins, awesome costumes, and Jefferson Starship--yes, I had an absolute total fucking blast!!

15 September 2011

Day Late, Dollar Short

I know I know... it's been months, now.  And since Readercon, I've been to Dragon*Con and have given my presentation at the 2011 Rod Serling Conference.  But this unfinished post has been in my queue forever and my brain just won't let me move on until I've finished this one.

It's the proverbial dollar short and day late, and it's pretty long.  Here goes...

17 August 2011

"I've been one poor correspondent, and I've been too, too hard to find..."

Once again, I've let the good and the not-so-good (okay, mostly not-so-good) pummel me into radio silence.  It's all kept me from Tweeting, blogging, and yes, even writing.  And I have deadlines, too!  Anyway, if I owe you a tweet or an email or (gulp!) a story, it's on its way. 

I've at least worked my way up to "fake it 'til you make it" mode.  One way or another, though, you all knew I couldn't shut up for long. :)

31 July 2011

"I am dressed as the woman of the opposite sex"

The line's from the BritCom 'Allo 'Allo, which was on my mind.  Anyway... wow, I'm way, way behind on these.  Well, two weeks, actually, since ReaderCon.  I'm skipping ahead to Saturday for now.  I'll come back to Friday night after a few posts.

My first panel that day was "Daughters of the Female Man" with Elizabeth Hand, Chris Moriarty, Barbara Krasnoff, Gwendolyn Clare, and Matt Cheney.


I'd gotten there 15 minutes late because I was in line getting Claude to autograph some books for me.  Again, them's the breaks of the arrangement of con panels.

Here's what I took away (directly or indirectly)...
  • Sorry, but I couldn't help but pat myself on the back when shout-outs were given to Maureen McHugh and L. Timmel Duchamp, and folks in the audience were going, "Who?" and making the panelists repeat the names.
  • Discussed was, to my delight, another instance--a real live instance that didn't take place back in the "Golden Age of Science Fiction"--where a speculative fiction writer was ahead of the curve.
  • A whole host of books I need to check out, which I tried to note for myself rather than, as one audience member sort of suggested, relying on the panelists to spoon-feed me an annotated bibliography.

And these are my notes...

24 July 2011

Feeling Very Fuzzy

I really wished the panels "Surrealism and Strong Emotion" (with Caitlyn Kiernan, Michael Cisko, Peter Dubé, and John Lawson) and "Feeling Very Post-Slipstream" (Leah Bobet, Paul DiFilippo, Elizabeth Hand, Chris Brown, and F. Brett Cox) weren't held as late in the day as they were on Friday.  Hey, them's the breaks of a con, I know.

"Surrealism and Strong Emotion"
"Feeling Very Post-Slipstream"
I did make it to both panels and as you can see, I have the pictures to prove it.  But they were just a little too heady for me.  I'm not even going to post my notes--they're too few and make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Plus, I was still a little nervous as the time approached for the Broken Slate release/Crossed Genres reading party.

Hey, I don't suppose anyone can point me to any write-ups?  I know about one for "Slipstream."  Anyone do one for "Surrealism?"

Foreign Deviltry

I'll just come out and say it: I come from a people who know a li'l sumpin' sumpin' about the Colonial Encounter, so yeah, I wanted to see this.  Not exactly sure what I expected, but what I didn't want (and what I didn't get, thankfully) from the panel "Complicating Colonial Encounters" with JoSelle Vanderhooft, Vandana Singh, Robert Redick, Craig Gidney, and Anil Menon was a simple list of writers and books and how they just failed, or a discourse on how Avatar sucked.  I can get those on any random sampling of blog posts in a given day.


I was a bit late getting there and I left during the Q&A 'cos I was feeling a bit punchy and hungry by that point. Still, I managed to take away some cool stuff...
  • There's a school of thought that says that science-fiction essentially came from the colonial encounter.  Think Kipling, Wells, etc.  I can see it when I think of Tarzan.
  • There were definite historical instances where, at least initially, the relationship between colonizer and the colonized was somewhat of a flirtatious love affair where both saw parts of the other that were exotic and something to be explored.  And even colonizers "going native."
  • That there is more to the issue than just the obvious power differential.  The question was asked (by Redick, according to my notes), how can we complicate our understanding of the colonial encounter?

Speaking of notes...

23 July 2011

Know Your Limit

I knew before I got to Readercon that I was going to attend "Writing Within Constraints" with Scott Edelman, Elaine Isaak, Michael Aondo-verr Kombol, David Malki !, John Langan, and Madeleine Robins. 


I was anxious to go since Malki ! was moderating the panel.  He's one of the editors of the Machine of Death anthology, which had a very narrow theme.  Having submitted a few stories to other, similarly tightly-themed anthologies, I wanted to see if the panel could provide any insights as to how I'd succeeded and failed.

A few ways I'd never looked at this issue before the panel...
  • The many ways we writers sometimes impose constraints on ourselves.  Sometimes, by avoiding the subconscious places we just won't go.
  • Sometimes, repulsion to an idea can be a constraint.  Edelman gave an example off the top of his head based on his years working in comics in the '70s: Metamorpho vs. Daredevil
  • Another thought from Edelman: Instead of writing "in the tradition of Frank Herbert," try writing "in the tradition of you."
  • It's best to keep in mind that writing for an editor is not the same as writing for the reader.
  • I need to stop taking cool-sounding panel notes unless I can remember the f'ing context.
Speaking of panel notes...

"Sooner or later, it comes down to you and the paper."

So, here's how I'm going to do this: write about a panel I went to, with brief impressions and takeaways.

My first Friday ReaderCon panel was "What Writing Workshops Do and Don't Offer" with Geoff Ryman, Barry Longyear, Kenneth Schneyer, Eileen Gunn, Leah Bobet, and Michael J. DeLuca (who I seem to have cut out of the picture--sorry).


The panel compared and contrasted different Milford-style workshops (Clarion, Odyssey, et al.), talked about some alternatives (Online Writing Workshop), and discussed which sorts of folks probably would or would not benefit from the Milford model.

What I learned that day (directly or indirectly):
  • I probably really do need a regular Milford-model ass-whipping for my writing to improve.
  • A better sense of some things I'd already kinda/sorta knew, namely the take-home benefits of a critique that go beyond "how to fix this story."
  • My main take-away was a quote from Mr. Longyear (who confessed that although he's taught at workshops which use the Milford model, the model itself probably wouldn't have worked for him starting out) said, "Sooner or later, it comes down to you and the paper."  Amen.
For the interested, here are my panel notes. 

21 July 2011

"He held the Beast of the Apocalypse by its tail, the stupid kid!"

Okay, here is, my first in a line of ReaderCon blog snippets.  I figure rather than long posts about how I spent entire days, I'd do it panel by panel. 

First panel of my ReaderCon: Mike Allen's "Speculative Poetry Workshop."  My memory could be faulty, but it seemed a bit smaller than it did last year, which was a good thing.  Allen was pleased at the small size of the audience and pretty much got right to an exercise, after having us all introduce ourselves.  Also unlike last year, I was actually pleased with the piece I wrote for the exercise enough to read it aloud.  And while it sits with the rest of my Vogon poetry for right now, it may not stay there forever.

I also got to name check my favorite speculative poet (who likely doesn't consider himself to be one), former Poet Laureate Charles Simic.  You don't agree?  Check out the piece from which the title of this post is taken.

Next time: my first full panel and maybe my panel notes, too!  Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? :)

20 July 2011

ReaderCon Shout-Outs

We played the pier on Venice beach
The crowd called out for more
Zappa and the Mothers next
We finished with a roar
Jimi was so kind to us
Had us on the tour
We got some education
Like we never got before

Chicago, "Scrapbook"
I promised myself I wasn't going to put off blogging about ReaderCon for weeks like I did last year.  So, like Chicago did in this song, I'm gonna start with some shout-outs!

12 July 2011

ReaderCon or Bust!

After tomorrow, I will be in-between jobs.  And during that in-between time, I'll be at one of my favorite places on earth, ReaderCon!  I'll be at the July 15th release party for the novel Broken Slate by Kelly Jennings, which is brought to you by the fine folks at Crossed Genres.

The party will also feature readings by folks who've published stories in Crossed Genres, such as Camille Alexa, Barbara Krasnoff and, yes, yours truly

The price of admission is a tweet, blog post, or Facebook update about Broken Slate.  I'm five chapters in, myself, and I'm finding myself slowly riveted by the main character and his world.  So, if you're there, click the link for details and come say hi.

03 July 2011

Chapter XXXVIII

Today, Chapter XXXVIII of my life began.

After having survived past the midpoint of a year that's really been more bad than good so far, I got to spend some time with some good friends, and had a chance to take a good look at some stuff on the horizon that makes me smile...

26 June 2011

One of These Is Not Like the Others

I was doing research down a line similar to this--I guess you could call it music video anthropology--and I stumbled on some live performances from the Tower of Power of their classic song "So Very Hard To Go," performed by various line-ups of the band over 35 or so years.

Now, I'm not saying anything about quality.  Just that one of these is not like the others.

06 June 2011

"Funny days in the park. Every day's the Fourth of July."

More pics from this year's Ithaca Festival at Stewart Park.  The weather was beautiful, so it was pretty crowded.  I didn't stay long and didn't really pay as much attention to individuals as I did the other day.  I visited the drum circle and saw a smattering of bands, but I spent most of my time watching the Ithaca Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I'm sure you'll be able to suss out those pics.

04 June 2011

"People talking, people laughing. A man selling ice cream, singing Italian songs..."

The weather might've slowed the Ithaca Festival down a bit, but once the sun came out, so did most of the people.  The only things missing were some of the bands I'd seen on the Saturday part of the Ithaca Festival for years.  They either just aren't on the schedule or were playing on different days.  But still, I had my camera, and therefore, more potential story prompts.  More importantly, I ran into some cool folks!

"I am an artist. I LOVE a good party. So, truce. Commence au festival!"

Summer in Ithaca has officially started, with the Ithaca Festival Parade, after which will follow three days of some of the best people-watching a writer could ask for!  I realize how prickish that must sound, and I'll cop to saying/feeling that in a prickish manner when I experienced my first Ithaca Festival.  I'm not sure what changed, but I feel like it was something more than a mere moment of clarity. Anywho, the fact remains that every parade, I get a bunch of potential new story ideas, which is why my camera is my best friend this time of year...

01 June 2011

"I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain..."

All I can say is, never say never... :(


I can say, though that May does look a bit better than April, which looks a damn sight better than March.

09 May 2011

The Seekrit Nonfic WIP -- Revealed!

I'll be giving my first academic presentation ever at Ithaca College's 2011 Rod Serling Conference in September.  The conference is "an interdisciplinary academic conference dedicated to the works of Rod Serling."


08 May 2011

Nope, Still No Damn Jet Packs

(via Paleofuture)
This year's local Spring (W)rites literary festival snuck up on me this year. Like last year, I made it to a single event.  Yesterday, I attended a panel on "Sci-Fi vs. Sci-Fact" with local authors Nick Sagan (yes, Carl's boy) and Paul McEuen.  I almost didn't come, because I've been to this panel at sci-fi cons before.  But the names drew me.  

05 May 2011

"Traffic was slow for the crash years/ There's no other show like it 'round here"

I promised weekly writing progress reports, and I've fallen through.  On several levels.  So, here it is.  No excuses, no explanations, other than to say that my personal life has taken quite a few hits and it hasn't stopped.

Prepare to be underwhelmed...

28 April 2011

"...because I must climb the mast to see what kind of weather we're going to have tomorrow."

At the 11th hour, despite a long evening of roller derby NSOing already planned, I decided to attend what I could of the first annual Pippi to Ripley: Heroines of Fantasy and Science Fiction conference.  I'd seen the flyer at my local comic book shop and was intrigued.  I figure I've read enough blogs from my favorite SF&F writers on these issues that it was long past time I educated myself at a deeper level than "GenderFail is bad."

I was only there for half of it, but I think what I saw merits at least the sort of write-up I do for conventions.

31 March 2011

Reading Is Fundamental

A lot of my reading last week, when I've gotten to it, has been a lot of non-fiction.  But that's not why you're here.   You want to know what fiction I've read.  Basically, I let myself get carried away with the remainder of Objects of Worship by Claude Lalumière...

29 March 2011

"The pain will be written on every page in tears..."

I rarely engage in these writerly literary debates you see on just about every damn social network a writer can be on.  You know the ones: Outlining vs. pantsing.  Writing for money or writing for "Art?"  Literary vs. genre.  Start your online author platform now or later?  Great taste!  Less filling!

Only two of these sorts of issues have gotten me thinking.  I've settled one of them, at least in my mind: I'll never feel sorry for anyone who got skewered on QueryFail and Slushpile Hell. Because (a) I'm more than happy to learn from their mistakes and (b) You want to NOT be skewered on there?  Then STFU and read submission guidelines, you f**king child!

Whew.  Now that's out of the way, I can move on to the second thing...
And when I write the book about my love
It'll be a pop publication, tougher than tough
When I get down on the pages all I missed
It will shoot to the top of the best-sellers list
When I write the book about my love

-Nick Lowe, "When I Write the Book

But when I write the book... where will I be able to sell it?

25 March 2011

Reading Is Fundamental

I know I read a few things since the last entry, but I lost track. I have no other excuses--just saying that life happens and is actually continuing to happen.  (Cryptic, I know.  Sorry.)  Still, the only way out is through, and I need to get back on track with things like writing and reading, and talking about what I'm reading.

From the 14th through the 20th, I actually read quite a bit...

20 March 2011

"Going the Distance"

I've missed a few writing- and reading-progress posts lately.  No excuses.  Just an explanation: Life, quite simply, happened.  There were happy- and not-so-happy things that led to exhaustion, a near-breakdown, and almost total radio- (read: internet) silence. 



I'm a bit better, now.  I'm limping along.  My frustration tolerance is severely fried.  The slightest life setbacks--and there have been at least 2 per day, every day, for the past two weeks now--make me want to curl up into a ball. 

But today, not so much.  Enough is enough.  I'm getting back on the horse.  Gotta go the distance, just like Rocky.  Although I'm doing it to a laid-back Menahan Street Band groove, rather than the full-on Bill Conti one.

15 March 2011

My Face Is Made for Podcasting

Out today: the 49th episode of The Functional Nerds podcast, hosted by Patrick Hester and John Anealio , featuring Carrie Cuinn and me talking about Cthulhurotica, which of course degenerated, uh, led to discussions of tentacle pr0n, plushie C'thulhus, and Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend.

Thanks again to Patrick and John for having us!

Listen | Download

23 February 2011

"I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain..."


I could also call this entry, like the last one, "a dollar short and a day late."   More like, two weeks late.

22 February 2011

Reading is Fundamental

Yes, it's sad.  I missed a week of posting what I've read and how my writing has progressed.  What can I say?  It's been one busy blur... lots to talk about about, and actually one or two things I can't just yet.

But, 'til then, back to business.  Here's what I've read over a fortnight.  It wasn't much...

15 February 2011

"Going back to Cali, stylin', profilin'..."

Layna Pimentel gave me one of these, so I'm stylin' and profilin'!  Personally, it reminds me how I really need to spruce the place up a bit.  I mean, I guess it's stylish in a retro, used Salvo thrift store outfit kinda way.  Yeah, or not.  But anyway, I won and I'm grateful!

The rules of the Stylish Blogger Award call for me to tell seven things about myself.  I'll give it a shot, trying not to repeat anything I might've said before.

14 February 2011

"What is this thing called love?"

I've joked before about how I look at my last two publications of 2010, which fall under the umbrella of "weird erotica," and think to myself, as David Byrne sang, "My God! What have I done?"

Pulling double duty, Harry Markov reviews both of the anthologies in which I've appeared recently, and he does so on Valentine's Day, no less.  Because nothing says Valentine's Day like zombie sex and tentacle pr0n...

07 February 2011

Reading is Fundamental

I spent last week with the rest of Karen Joy Fowler's new collection What I Didn't See and Other Stories.
[Edited to add: My Working Writer's Daily Planner says it's KJF's birthday today--Happy Birthday!!]

"Familiar Birds."  It's funny how I keep coming across these "Back when I was a kid" stories lately.  I liked this one even better than I liked Mark Rigney's "Portfolio" from LCRW 22.  5 out of 5.

"Private Grave 9."  A detailed account of a character's slow almost(?)-descent into... something.  5 out of 5.

"The Marianas Islands."  It had my favorite passage in the book so far, and one of the more interesting main characters.  The ending was a little too abrupt for me.  4 out of 5.
"Once when I was four or five I asked my grandmother to tell me a secret, some secret things only grown-ups knew.  She thought a moment, then leaned down close to me and whispered.  'There are no grown-ups,' she said."

"Halfway People."  Probably has my second-favorite line in the collection, but I'm pretty sure it's my favorite story overall.  5 out of 5.
"But a story never told is also a danger, particularly to the people in it."

"Standing Room Only."  One story with John Wilkes Booth, dancing around his most infamous performance in the Ford Theater?  Okay.  Two?  I don't know. 3 out of 5.

"What I Didn't See."  Loved the ending, but it just took a little too long to get there for me.  3.5 out of 5.

"King Rat."  This was in the Trampoline anthology, but I hadn't gotten that far yet.  A nicely solemn riff on the Pied Piper story.  5 out of 5.

05 February 2011

"They're doin' the Bump N Touch. They're doin' the Dap-Dip. EVERYthing."

I'd been looking forward to seeing Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings since they were here two years ago.  It was less of a straight-up concert than it was a real soul/R&B revue.  It was a party!

Two nights ago, my evening started a bit early in a new(-ish) bar and on Facebook with my new "friend," Binky Griptite...

02 February 2011

"Chain, chain, chaaaaaain..."


I didn't get much done last weekend.  It was pointed out to me that I do tend to overdo it a bit during the week, and that maybe it's worth taking a night off during the week.  I'm starting to agree--better to lose an evening or two rather than two whole fucking weekend days!  And I gotta tell you, as evidenced by the fact that I'm not going to be able to check off yesterday and probably not tomorrow, this week isn't looking so good, either.

Although I'm willing to cut myself a break tomorrow.  Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings are coming to town!

30 January 2011

Reading is Fundamental

For starters, I finally got around to those last two stories in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 22:

"Portfolio" by Mark Rigney. In the continuum of "when I was a boy..." stories from Steven Millhauser and Peter S. Beagle's "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel" this one was (thankfully) closer to Beagle. Rigney's & Beagle's stories both involved painting. Hmm. 5 out of 5.

"Dearest Cecily" by Kristine Dikeman. The narrative got me over my initial "Oh god, not another story told in letters!" reaction PDQ! 4 out of 5.

Next up was something that caught my eye in my RSS feed. "Taking Flight" by Ben Tanzer at Metazen. I've introduced you to Ben before. I dug Ben's narrative of what future generations from the late 21st century onward will eventually call "the same old story." 4 out of 5.

The rest are from Karen Joy Fowler's collection What I Didn't See and Other Stories.

"Booth's Ghost." John Wilkes is in it, but he's not the main character. Brilliant. 5 out of 5.

"Last Worders." Nice story with great setting description. The end was a little telegraphed for me, though--maybe not the detail, but the fact of it. 4 out of 5.

"The Dark." Great story but with too many narrative threads that left me unsure which character or situation to really invest in. 4 out of 5.

"Always." This one was more my speed--a character I could sympathize with in a situation, while weird, I could still understand. 5 out of 5.

25 January 2011

"I can STILL hear you saying you would NEVER break the chain"

As I said last time, I've had my head up a project, so this is a day late.  I think I've made up for being sick a couple of weeks ago.  Just gotta keep the chain going, right?  Or at least try to, what with the beginning of the semester at the dayjob.


I've promised that I'd actually go into what it takes for me to put an X through a day.  Well, here it is...

24 January 2011

Reading is Fundamental

I've had my head up my seekrit nonfiction work-in-progress this week, so most of my reading has been devoted to that.  But, I've resolved to make room for the fiction.  I tried to make time for the rest of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 22, but I ended up two stories shy. 

"Vinegar and Brown Paper" by Becca De La Rosa.  I thought this piece was going to be completely predictable, if quirky, until about halfway through.  I love it whenever a story takes me by surprise.  4 out of 5.

"Self Story" by Carol Emshwiller.  You know why they say writers should never write stories about being a writer?  It's because you won't write one as good as this. 5 out of 5.

"Snowdrops" by Alex Dally MacFarlane.  Very nice wintry fairy tale.  5 out of 5.

"The Honeymoon Suite" by Jodi Lynn Villers. Great flash fiction piece!  5 out of 5.

"To a Child Who Is Still a FAQ" by Miriam Allred.  A touch too experimental for me.  3 out of 5.

I'm sure I'll finish the 'zine this week.  After that, I dunno... maybe some of Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others and a bit of Karen Joy Fowler's What I Didn't See.

20 January 2011

"Maltz! Jol yIchu'!"

I spent an evening with a Klingon (not Maltz) and a Sagan!  Actor/writer J.G. Hertzler (aka Klingon General Martok on ST:DS9, and Ithaca resident apparently) and author Nick Sagan (The Idlewild trilogy) spoke at a local Science Cabaret presentation.

18 January 2011

"That's the sound of the men working on the chain gang"


Well, thanks to my sick days, the writing chain was broken.  As you can see from last week's progress, I'm a couple of days behind.  I'm off to a good start this week, though.  I've made some major breakthroughs with my seekrit nonfiction project--in fact, that's going to be my main focus this week, and next week as well, more than likely.  I don't want to let the progress I've made with my fiction slide, but one deadline is a month before the other.

I have to say that I'm only recently getting over how ticked I am at missing two days of progress, sickness aside.  But all I can do is keep calm and carry on, right?

17 January 2011

Reading is Fundamental

Unless otherwise indicated, the fiction I read this week came from Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 22.

"Love Might Be Too Strong a Word" by Charlie Anders.  This is the best alien interspecies love-story I've ever read. Ever. EVER. 5 out of 5.

"Going to France" by Maureen F. McHugh. Great story but I'll be honest--I didn't quite get the end. 4 out of 5.

"Getting Closer" by Steven Millhauser. (THE NEW YORKER, January 3, 2011). Sorry, but there's no way I'll ever buy that any nine year-old is as contemplative as the one in the story.  2.5 out of 5.

"American Dreamers" by Caleb Wilson.  Very intricate character studies.  Just not enough for me narratively.  3 out of 5.

"Mike's Place" by David J. Schwartz.  Nice, tight story.  Has a similar atmosphere to one of my favorites, Keret's "Kneller's Happy Campers."  4 out of 5.

"The Camera & the Octopus" by Jeremie McKnight.  A wonderful grown-up bedtime story.  4 out of 5.

"Escape" by Cara Spindler. I was turned off by the structure of the piece initially, but I was glad I stuck with it.  4 out of 5.

"Away" by William Alexander. Very nice story about an almost-stranger in an almost-strange land.  5 out of 5.

10 January 2011

"I can STILL hear you saying you would NEVER break the chain"


I'm taking productivity advice from Jerry Seinfeld that came to me via Lifehacker, with a few changes.  What he does in order to write every day is to take a monthly wall calendar and mark a big red X on every day he writes. 
"After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

I'm doing the same thing, except I'll be using the calendar at the front of my Working Writer's Daily Planner from Small Beer Press (which can currently be had for $7.95).  I've decided to use my planner as a log, listing 3-4 tasks minimum for each day (which could be anything: a minimum word count, so many pages of MS edits, a particular research goal, submitting a story, whatever) and then marking off the day Seinfeld-style if and when I complete them.. 

And I think I'm going to keep posting this, every Monday, for the rest of the year.  Here's how I did last week.  Tune in next Monday, and we'll see if I did any better.

09 January 2011

Reading Is Fundamental

One disadvantage of my newfound love of reading on my Nook is that I'm unable to accurately reflect my reading progress on goodreads, which does so by page numbers of print editions. No such tracking exists as of now for ebook editions, so I'm going old school and talk about the short stories I read this past week here on the blog.

The fiction I read this week came from one of the back issues of various 'zines I purchased over the holiday, in this case, from Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet 19.

04 January 2011

"...when we made our plans and played the cards the way they fell"

Lest anyone misunderstand my last entry, I wasn't knocking anyone who does make New Year's resolutions.  I wasn't even making a comment on whether or not they were effective or not, for me or for anyone.  I guess it sort of just reflects my view on the holidays and "holiday spirit."

I'm not a Scrooge who goes "Bah, humbug" at Christmas.  I don't complain (too much) about Valentine's Day being a Hallmark Holiday.  And I get warm and fuzzy for Auld Lang Syne.  But basically, I don't try to treat people or things any differently than I should have been treating them all along, no matter what holiday it is.  Basically, I like enjoying those feelings more than once a year.  I might fail at consistently doing right, but I certainly don't start acting like Ghandi after Thanksgiving to people whom I might not give the time of day otherwise.

So as far as New Year's resolutions go, I find that rather than making a list of goals and giving myself arbitrary start and end dates (January 1st to December 31st), only to forget about that list by March, I'd rather do the same planning, executing, (re-)evaluating, rinse-and-repeat that I've been doing all along.

01 January 2011

"We must set brand new goals. We must not lose control."


I spent about five minutes struggling a cool way to blog about the end of 2010, whether by meme or by digging through my year's worth of blog or twitter posts.  But this year, I'm just looking forward.