Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Helpful Holiday Hints

So today, whilst waiting for my car to be lubed, oiled, and filtered (and shoed--the last original tire was shot), I was subjected to daytime TV. A strange show called Dr. Oz was running a segment on How Not To Poison Your Holiday Guests. His hints were helpful: don't feed guests raw eggs, avoid cross-contamination, etc. However, I feel he left out some salient points.

1. Lead crystal should be clear, not opaque, gray, and easily melted if left by the stove. (If you're serving chilled heavy water alongside the wine, feel free to ignore this advice.)
2. Broccoli and rice casserole is good. Broccoli and ricin casserole is good if you're Jim Jones.
3. Green dye or not, arsenic is not a good all-natural candy additive.
4. Just because it smells like almonds doesn't make it marzipan.
5. Though grenades are colloquially referred to as "potatoes" in some regions, turning them into latkes is not recommended.
6. Though they both belong to the Fungi kingdom, Aspergillus is not a suitable substitute for yeast. Similarly, death cap mushrooms may be attractive, but their culinary uses are limited.
7. Italian Cooking with Cesare Borgia should probably remain on the shelf.
8. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to share a meal made with the Yersinia pestis Yogurt Kit.
9. Wash out the lye before you serve the lutefisk.
10. Despite the charming and artistic effect, silver candy balls should rarely, if ever, be replaced with mercury.

Follow these simple rules, and your guests will be joyful and breathing. Happy Holidays, folks!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Quick thought on American society

This will be brief, as I just took my chemo and expect to be woozy and useless in a few minutes.

Something I've noticed about American society--and something I don't necessarily agree with--is that, as a culture, we value potential more than anything else. The starkest point I've noticed is that, when a child dies, it's treated as the ultimate tragedy; on the other hand, if someone elderly dies, it passes with resolution and sometimes a sense of relief. (I understand relief if the person suffered from some prolonged illness, like Alzheimer's or severe arthritis. That's not what this comment is about. That same relief can be applied to a younger person.) What is the greatest commodity lost if a child dies? The potential to be something great. However, when someone in their 80s or such dies, with them goes a bounty of knowledge and experience.

I've thought about this off and on for a long time, but recently, I had the privilege to talk to a woman just short of her 97th birthday, who has been sewing since she was a small girl. She's been sewing, a learned and valuable skill, for nearly a century. How often do you meet someone who's been doing something, anything (apart from, say, breathing), for very close to a hundred years? There is so much to learn from her, and so much fulfillment. Potential just doesn't come close.

Feel free to disagree with me. This is just how I see the world. YMMV.

I feel chemo brain setting in. Time to let my IQ drop by half in private.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Frustration is a frustrating mistress.

I'm frustrated right now. It's taking WAY too long to get a copyedited ms back from Yon Agent, and I'm starting to fear that it'll never get published. It's a tough sell to start with, but it's got to be ready to go. I'm supposed to be working on other books, but, I dunno. I have no time, my energy is all wrapped up in other projects (nearly finished, thank Elvis), and I'm generally just ready to rip my hair out and scream.

Compounding this is a medically necessary decision to get healthier. I've started seeing a pain specialist, and she told me to start exercising regularly or else. My weight isn't good for my joints OR muscles, both of which are damaged by SLE and/or FMS, and I need to simply move more. Hence, I've joined a gym near my day job. It's a nice place with a varied clientèle, one of my best friends is a member, and a few of my coworkers joined, so I've got people to work out with. I feel better for it and (an increase in my Lyrica dosage), but, well, my diet has to change, too. Aye, there's the rub.

I was vegan for seven years. Apart from a general lack of EFA's, it was the best eating plan for my body, and it worked wonders on my health AND my weight. (For me, a US size 10 is scrawny. I have a frame like a linebacker and the muscles to match. If I were an athlete, I'd totally be a power lifter.) Wasband (the ex) pressured me to relax to lacto-ovo/pescetarianism. The added fish was a good thing, and the eggs were neutral. The milk, though.... Cow's milk does a number on me. We don't know why, but it makes me hurt liek woah and feel like I'm thinking through wet cotton. Hence, I'm moving to primary veganism, which means that I'll occasionally hit the sushi bar or order an omelet when I'm out.

I'm on day three. My body is fiercely unhappy. Veganism is often a low-fat diet, and my body demands fat. Not saturated, but mono- and polyunsaturated. I could probably live on avocados, given my weird metabolism. Alas, I have very little vegan fat in the house, and I'm not about to chug a bottle of olive oil. Part of me is simply pondering the possibility of a parve diet--vegetables, grains, legumes, fruit, eggs, and fish (plus shellfish, 'cause I'm totally not kosher), but no dairy or meat. I might end up relaxing to that at some point in future. For now, though, I'm mostly vegan.

Blah. Going to lay down with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for a while. I'm just past the part where Daddy Clidell's friends were teaching Maya/Marguerite how not to get taken, and the long con with the jerk in Tulsa. I can't help but think that, given their target, that group of men were a collective Robin Hood. Granted, they didn't say anything about giving to the poor, but they certainly showed a racist twit the other end of the con game.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick Post

Just a quick heads up (again) to say that I'm still alive. RL is going well--I'm happy in my personal life for the first time in many, many years, and my gallbladder (aka The Beast) is now floating in a jar of formaldehyde somewhere--and I'm hoping to formally get writing back on track again soon.

It's still suffering somewhat from the upset my life took in February. However, I've been meeting people in the profession, and I'm actually working with a good friend from Texas, helping him copy-edit a nonfiction book, which is pretty kickass. There's nothing in it save thanks and maybe a professional leg up (and, I'm promised, a roof and a bed whenever I'm out that way), but I enjoy the work and I very much enjoy the chance to work with someone like this. (Colleen, Linda, you know who I'm talking about.)

On the actual writing front, the book should be ready to market within a month or two, Elvis willing, and I'm finally revamping a novelette that's in dire need of attention. It's got a lot of potential, but it needs serious work. At least I've got people who can help me with the finer aspects of librarianship. (I not-so-secretly refer to the story as my librarians-as-gods story. You have no idea how happy this makes the librarians in my life.) Other than that, I'm just working on getting properly geared up again. No idea what I'll be doing or where I'll be ten years from now, but I'll be writing. Unless I've kicked it, which probably means I won't be doing much of anything. :P

Am loosely playing with the idea of going back to school for Fashion Design, of all things. It's something I'd enjoy, though, and there's no way in HELL I could stand four years of academics. Let me get my hands on something, and I'll be happy as a clam in silt. And if there's one thing I know my way around, it's a sewing machine.

Erk. Is midnight. I'm due up in seven hours. First day back post-op. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Still alive.

Sorry for the extended blackout period. The last few weeks have been far too exciting. This excitement has included:

- Gallbladder FAIL. Little bastard is still installed, but I'm seeing a service tech in a few days.
- A week of teaching some awesome kids to sew. They did a great job, and much fun was had.
- Deciding that I'm just about ready to start dating again. There are some interesting people out there. That's not always a compliment.
- Not enough writing, though I've got my FINAL EVER Writers of the Future entry ready to be mailed. Final, that is, unless my RoF publication date is pushed back again.
- Neil Gaiman is off the market. This seems to be huge news on the Internets. Eh, I'm just happy for him and Miss AFP, and I hope my luck is as good as theirs was.
- A neck rash. Yes, a neck rash. I tried to see if shorts + sunblock = jeans in the coverage department, and, yeah. WTF, immune system?

Gotta jet in a minute. Things to do tonight, and I need to start getting them done. Will post again soon, promise!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I got caught up in reading and forgot I'm supposed to be editing and making notes. I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not.

Out with the old, in with the headache.

It's time for me to write two-page synopses of Books 2 and 3. Book 1 is nearly ready to stop around, and I've got to get my ass in gear on the other that I finished (in my bull-headed way--common sense does not compute). I'm going through with major changes needed to make the books fall in line with the revised Book 1, and I'm doing something actually fairly clever: at the end of each chapter, I'm rewriting the whole thing in one sentence. That lets me keep note of the important bits. Hence, I won't have to boil down any more 16-page synopses.

What? My fingers don't know when to shut up.

In other news, I have today off. Tomorrow is moving, Tuesday will involve taking my Conestoga costume to work so I can finish sewing it before going shopping for the last piece I need, Wednesday and Thursday are work and packing, and Friday starts the con. Going to be a VERY busy week, so I'm doing nothing today but editing, laundry, and hopefully a little exercise. (Believe it or not, all of these things are relaxing.) I should probably find room for food in there, too, but that's not such an issue. Worst case scenario, I have tofu and stir-fry frozen veggies. And frozen edamame. Mmm, edamame.

Okay, off to do some chores, take a shower, and get back to work! My life is so exciting. Indeed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Amazon clusterfuck

Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard all about the Amazon clusterfuck, in which pretty much every GLBT book they sell has been declared "adult" material (ie, explicit) and been stripped of ranking AND availability on Amazon searches. To give an indication of what's considered explicit, Heather Has Two Mommies was included. Amazon says it was a glitch, but this is one hell of a glitch. It's more on level of a site hack.

In any case, I'm pissed off. On the off chance that this thing stays put, that's my bread and butter they're fucking with (to quote Metalocalypse). Most of my writing has GLBT characters and deals with GLBT issues. The main character in the series Colleen is working with me on? Gay as a treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide (to quote Good Omens). The novel I started for fun a couple of weeks ago? MC is a 6'2" muscular bull dyke.

Me? I'm a 5'4" pudgy lipstick bi chick. (Why can't I have a cool term like "lipstick lesbian?") I don't appreciate being told--whether by glitch, hack, or executive decision--that I'm offensive, and I'm sure no-one else on the queer spectrum does, either. It's not exactly fun to grow up this way, and a lot of the books currently being censored are intended to help kids through the horrible "why am I this way, and how do I fix it?" phase that so commonly hits about the time you realise the captain of the girls' basketball team is way hotter than the guys' captain. That this could, if not fixed, impact my future income adds injury to insult.

In short, I'm angry. If it's deliberate, I'm angry that anyone could stoop to such a level. If it's accidental, I'm angry that Amazon's systems were so vulnerable to such a glitch. Whatever it is, they need to fix it. If nothing else, the amount of business they'll lose for the sake of alienating the queer community and its straight allies is far greater than what they'd bring in from opposing groups.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Aldous, the cat in my icon, died today. He was four years old. I found his body. We don't know what happened, but he's going to the animal hospital at Stillwater for autopsy, just in case it's something that might affect the other cats.

I loved him more than anyone or anything.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

That time of year again.

I've been dreading this event: the first bout of my biannual allergy-induced insomnia. The trees are mating left and right, and the mould spore is skyrocketing. It's not as bad as most years, but I'm putting that down to my lovely, lovely chemo. (No, seriously. Apart from a few side effects, I don't know how I ever lived without it.) I'd take a Lunesta, but they tend to just make me hallucinate.

On the writing front, I'm about 50 pages into a new novel. It's only being written for fun, so I don't know if it'll ever see print. Time and Colleen will probably determine that, though. I'm really enjoying it--I actually remember, for the first time in months, why I started writing in the first place. (It's been a rough few months, in case you couldn't tell. That's what happens when an undeserving oaf breathes down your neck, demanding to know why you haven't sold any books yet.) I'm at a point where I need to just go back and re-read from the start to figure out what happens next. I should probably do some actual plotting, too. Like I said, I'm writing it for fun. I love plotting by the seat of my pants.

I'm going to stick Neil Gaiman on for a while and see if it helps me sleep. Let's hear it for The Graveyard Book!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Writing Romance

I'm working on a Just For Fun novel to clear my mind of Larger Things. It's reminding me of why I never got into Romance. A lot of my writing includes romances, some of which could be described as epic. However, the romance novels I've read tend to focus on the sappy parts of epic love.

I'm more interested in the body count.

Maybe it's a good thing I'm going to be single for at least a while. When your ideal romantic movie is Bram Stoker's Dracula simply because (not enough) people die and there's blood everywhere, it might be best to keep to oneself in that respect.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Well, fuck" has now become "WTF?"

Not in a bad way, mind. I've just found out (late, as usual) that RoF is coming back, hopefully starting in May, which means that "Nell and the Devil" will make an appearance at, um, some point. This is a very, very good thing, not only for the sake of my fledgling pro status (woo, SFWA membership qualification!), but for my pocketbook. I'm not getting a hell of a lot of money, according to the real world, but I'll be damned if I forget about it.

Three cheers for RoF! Huzzah! =)

This totally selfish post has been brought to you by My Feet Hurt And I Want Sleep.

ETA: Make that July. I don't mind. That's another period or two of WotF qualification.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Why do I have so much more difficulty with short stories than novels? Short stories feel like diet cheesecake: I know it's supposed to be good for me (or at least better than the real stuff), but, c'mon. Really?

This post brought to you by a story that's been through at least three versions in as many years, and writing on a shitty mattress because my desk and fancy ergonomic chair are still at the house.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Well, fuck.

Looks like "Nell and the Devil" won't be appearing in Realms of Fantasy this April. I have no idea what the situation is, but it's not on the ToC for the final issue.

Sigh. Story of my life, I guess.

Brief Update

The long and short of my month of silence pretty much comes down to one thing: due to his own chronic depression and my chronic illnesses, my husband dumped me at the start of February. I'm convinced he's going through a mid-life crisis--the words "Florida" and "sports car" came up--and he can have it. I'm doing well and renting a room from a friend right now, though it'll be nice when my computer desk is here so I can write without tearing up my back. I'm starting to slink from a nasty creativity crimp. Mostly, I'm just working on getting my life in order.

That's pretty much it. Taking the day to try and write, so I'm going to get back to that. It's slow going, but it will be for a few weeks yet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well, I'm cursed.

Last year, a story of mine was published in City Slab. A couple of months later, CS was sadly no more. Now, one of my stories will appear in the very last issue ever of the already missed and wonderful Realms of Fantasy.

Editors, please take note. My writing may be good, but there's a chance it will be the kiss of death. I can only take heart that ChiZine and Baen's UNIVERSE are still going strong.

While waiting for AAA....

I'm waiting for AAA to tow my car to the auto shop up the road. We're at the end of an ice storm, and my gas tank (damn ethanol's hygroscopic properties!) is frozen. I think I just need them to thaw it out. It's got a fresh two gallons already.

Anyway. Things are looking up on all fronts, thanks to something of a last-ditch resort: Vitamin D. I started taking 1000 IU the other day when I realised that I was only at about 800 IU daily intake, and my doctor gave me strict instructions to get more. From the first day, I've been more energetic and in less pain. Who'd'a thunk?

Yesterday was my birthday (HELLO! I AM 2^5 TODAY!), and in true birthday tradition, I took a nap, then stayed up until 5:00 in the freakin' morning. (Hence, why it's 11:00 and I've just now called AAA on the busiest tow-truck day of the year.) What did I stay up doing? Writing story notes for an idea that's been stuck in my craw for months. Not a short story, either; novel. Maybe series, if things go well. There's certainly enough material. I need to do some research, though. Anyone got any particularly good references regarding New York City and Connecticut in the 1880s? Information on what happened to the Patroon families and how they coped with the fallout from the Anti-Rent War would be appreciated, too.

Going to try and get some more work done before the truck gets here. I've only got, oh, an hour and 45 minutes. Barely enough time to bake a cake from scratch. :P Next time there's going to be an ice storm, someone remind me to fill up the car on the way home from work? "Tired" is not an excuse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Writer's block, or, The downside of winter (and lupus)

I'm writing this mostly because I need to write something today. I'm dealing with... well, it's closer to writer's exhaustion than writer's block. I've got plenty of ideas, including some damned good ones, but I'm unable to sit down and execute them right now. It's due to a combination of factors, including day job overwork, either lupus or FMS flaring (signs point toward both or the latter), and seasonal depression. The seasonal depression is compounded by the knowledge that it's probably going to be a permanent thing; sunlight does bad, bad things to me, and I really need to avoid all common types of light more than I currently do. Vampires are only cool and creepy night dwellers until you learn first-hand what it really means to live in the dark. (Yes, this means I'll probably write a vampire novel one of these days. Don't worry; I do anger better than angst.)

I'm actually not feeling sorry for myself, believe it or not. I'm just frustrated and angry and in dire need of some overtly creative activity. As I've said, writing is out because I'm too tired to concentrate, and I really pour my energy into it. Sewing is out because I don't have all the tools I need. I'll probably sit down with some knitting in a few minutes. Or, because I think I can do it, I might write a brief synopsis for a holiday comedy I want to write. That, at least, would be something.

Right. Going to write that synopsis, and then I'm going to eat something other than a banana. It may be another banana, but it'll be food. I have to remind myself sometimes that writing is just one work after another. If I can write one word, I can write another. That helps a lot.

Monday, January 19, 2009


(I'm home sick today--stupid lupus and/or FMS--so I'm posting things until I go lay down. Which is right now.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Because someone asked today.

No, I did not write the sequel-thingy to Pride and Prejudice currently available on Amazon. That was another S. E. Ward.

That is all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Dude, Ricardo Montalban is dead. That is NOT COOL. Star Trek II was a major part of my childhood, and it's carried on for a long, long time. (We won't even get into Freakazoid. "Laugh with meeeeeee!") The man was one hell of an actor and a major icon. I'm going to miss knowing he's in the world.

ETA: And Patrick McGoohan. Seriously, today was a shitty, shitty day to be a sci-fi icon.

New blog ahoy!

As this blog was meant to be writing-related and has turned into a big lump of knitting and sewing, I've set up another blog, Seward's Folly, to take up that slack. Writing, editing, cats, bitching, and general collapsing into a ball of sobs and dough will remain here, never fear.

Some things to update on the writing front, btw. I just need resolution on one. The other is that I've submitted my final ever entry to the Writers of the Future Contest. Wish me luck!

Now, I find dinner!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Strange New Experiences

Yesterday at work, I did something I'd never done before: almost single-handedly, I stretched a king-sized quilting frame. It took seven hours, but apparently, it never takes that long again. Really, it's just a puzzle based on how a quilt fits together (backing, batting, top), and one HELL of a lot of pinning. I think after a few more tries, I'll be able to do it in about an hour--less on a smaller quilt. No, it wasn't for a quilt. We keep one stretched to demo the long-arm quilting machine, and stretching plain fabric was trying enough. Maybe next time I'll be ready to try on a quilt top.

In other news, I've got some actual time off (apart from a vet appointment, a doc appointment, an emergency run to work to fix something I forgot about yesterday, and a work meeting at the crack of dawn on Wednesday). Hence, I'm going to finish editing a story (I hope), get a LOT of sleep, maybe play some computer games, and try one more time to cast on a new knitting project. I have a sneaking feeling I'm going to get at least one cortisone shot on Tuesday, which will probably floor my chances of doing anything productive, but until then, I'm goofing my butt off. Mmm, goofing off. These 40-hour-plus weeks? Not exactly conducive to creativity.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's reading rant

I know this is an old argument, but how come of the last ten books I read, only one major character was anything but white? That, btw, was Shadow from American Gods. Seriously, people, there are other colours, cultures, and socioeconomic situations out there. Not everyone is a lightly tanned noble running from his European duties.

Okay, that's the end of this New Year's rant. May your hangovers be merciful, and your inboxes free from spam!

ETA: If anyone's interested in a fantastic series that breaks the traditional mould, check out Elizabeth E. Wein's Arthurian/Aksumite books. A realistic Camelot, a major female character with real sense and power, and a wonderful YA protagonist in the later books, Telemakos. I highly, highly recommend the books to anyone between the ages of 10 (or a mature 8) and 1,000.