Yes, It’s Stupid, but It’s My Stupid

Today I traveled all the way across London to get my paws on a couple of reams of 8.5 x 11 paper, and paid 4 cents a sheet for the privilege (that would be versus 1 cent at home). Why? Because I had the fetishistic need to see my novel manuscript printed out on the familiar blockiness of US Letter before sending it off to the agent who responded to my query with a request for the ms. I could have sent it on A4, the paper with the Mac-clever design and PC market share. Or I could have asked S to print and mail it from the States (as indeed I did, until my inner control freak put the kibosh on what would have been a smart and economical move).

But no. It was just too weird. I wanted to sign the cover letter, and print the SASE, and slip the chunky little manuscript into the envelope myself. And if that meant crossing this town to cradle a thousand sheets of quirky paper in my arms, then so be it. Piss-poor aspect ratios be damned.

Even Quickier / D’Oh! / Announcements

What I wrote last Thursday night:

The vegetative state persisted, but the Fierce Week is over and now I’m running off to what may very well be woods. At least there’s a tent involved. And fleece. And waterproof jackets. It’ll be just like camping at home, although perhaps with more instant coffee and less Sasquatch dander.

More when I’m back on Monday, claims the Blog Tease.

Then I forgot to post it.

No woods, but a beautiful valley. And sheep. And mud. Magic, light-shedding mud that taught me more about English colonialism in one squelchy weekend than a shelf of books and many days of reading. Also, good music, good food, giant tents. One bout of annoyance with academic colonialism (can you throw a rock at an animist and just claim to be making an introduction?), but even that was without regret.

So yes, a good head-clearing weekend.

And now a couple of writing related things I’ve been meaning to announce:

  • My story “Atalanta Loses at the Interpantheonic Trivia Bee” is in the September issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and — thanks to newsstand time dilation — is available now.

  • “Just Do It” will appear in the upcoming Polish anthology KROKI W NIEZNANE edited by Konrad Walewski. This will be the first published translation of one of my stories, so it’s especially exciting.

Must sleep now…after I actually post this.


It’s 5:40 a.m in London and the sun is just about halfway over the horizon. I’m almost entirely ready to head out to work (everything but the suit jacket), which explains a thing or two about the recent silence. More explanation to follow, maybe around sunset (8:30 p.m.), provided I’m not vegetative. Or rather not too vegetative, since it’s really just a question of degree at this point.

In the meantime, via Defective Yeti, here is some of the coolest visual world-building I’ve seen since La Planete Sauvage. Motor proteins rock.

Proof That the Web Is Self-aware

So hey, I was writing a semi-whiny blog entry last night, and apparently it was not only semi-whiny but also fully dull, because I fell asleep while working on it. The only part worth salvaging is the very beginning:

I just had a major discovery in the realm of What Makes Me Cranky and/or Blue (and at this point I encourage you to imagine an odd table-top machine with a bellows and gears and ratchets and a morning glory phonograph horn, with all the bits coated in camp-dish blue enamel — you know, the kind with little white flecks). It’s nice to know what I can expect when I turn the handle of the machine.

The epiphany itself had to do with predicting bouts of frustration and self-recrimination and various other unpleasant things that end with shun.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning my internet access was kaput, so I wasn’t able to post the entry. And now my better judgement has been restored along with my access to teh intarweb.


After a quiet weekend I’ve just about kicked the bug — down to a bit of coughing and a tendency to tire out which I ought to shake in the next day or two.

The Write-a-thon update: I did get some work done on the Week 3 & 4 story, but I’m still not satisfied with the ending. I’ll keep at it, but the main focus this week will be “Maura Makes Circuits”. This was originally a failed attempt at NaNoWriMo 2004, abandoned after 11K words for an overhaul of what is now The Goddess of Nothing in Particular. I picked up “Maura” again during my third week at Clarion West, when, due the vagaries of scheduling, I only had a few days to submit a story and I felt justified in pulling something out of the trunk. That version had around the same net word count after around 3K words in and out.

I still think it could be a novel someday, but the goal this week is to create a tight 7- or 8K-word story using the Aristotlean Now. Bye bye flashbacks. Most of them, anyway.

The opening section is actually excerpted here. Sorry if the entry brings back unpleasant electoral memories (I’m looking at you, Ohio).

Bubble and Squeak

I’m just about recovered from a nasty set of flu-like symptoms. I’m being cautious with the descriptor because the symptoms came on so strangely it could have been laryngitis followed by food poisoning. On Saturday I lost most of my voice over the course of three hours, which was an especially odd experience because I also happened to be in the Steward’s Enclosure at the Henley Royal Regatta. I didn’t lose my voice hootin’ and hollerin’ for the Harvard crew (tut), although there was a gravelly “Go, Crimson!” or two. Henley — a time machine with canvas walls and mud floors and perhaps the most champagne-endowed parking lot in the world — deserves its own entry, but at the moment I don’t have the coherence to do justice to an event with insanely stripy blazers, delicious oysters, and guards posted to make sure my mandatory skirt didn’t reveal my knees.

I spent Sunday raspy and squeaky and tired but well supplied by A with broth and Chloraseptic. I didn’t have any reason to expect the dramatic involvement of my gastrointestinal system on Monday night (“Hi, Carrot Soup! Bye, Carrot Soup!). That kept me up until 3:00 a.m., but I still managed a fairly heavy-duty conference call the next afternoon. I was supposed to go up north for the meeting, but I don’t like the Virgin Train bathrooms under the best of circumstances, so yeah, no travel. Plus I was starting to crave brains and I thought I would do my part to keep the zombie virus confined to Canary Wharf (like that ever works).

This morning was all about the hacking cough and inability to focus for more than three seconds, but I expect the latter was just an after effect of my stomach’s No Soup for You policy. I ate with more determination this afternoon (BRRRAAAIIIINNNSSSS), and although my throat is still clearing itself I have every reason to believe I’ll be up and at ’em tomorrow morning.

By the way, the UK equivalent of NyQuil is Night Nurse, which makes it ever so much easier to personify the comforting cuddly oblivion of the Other Green Fairy.

Of course none of this helped my Write-a-thon stats: didn’t wrap up the Week 3 story, and I haven’t picked up anything for Week 4. I’m going to renew plugging away at the Week 3 story and write off (ahem) Week Four. Official Reason: Debilitating Zombie Virus.

The British Are Coming

Busy week, although I did manage to celebrate the 4th after work with steak soft tacos and Mexican beer graciously carted up to my apartment by A, because that’s part of edible America I miss. Then we watched Hot Fuzz followed by several episodes of the Venture Brothers (“Hot dolphin!”).

Also, I believe I’ve stumbled upon a conspiracy:

Any day now George Bush will rip through his ConTexasicut accent and dipshit syntax like an alien emerging from John Hurt’s belly and suddenly begin speaking the Queen’s English as well as HRH. And he will immediately use his newly-exposed erudition to announce the official return of the monarchy. And that’s when we all notice that “W” is just a pair of Vs, an “X” with training wheels, and George the Tenth will continuing doing as he damn well pleases.

At which point we’ll have to take our powder, take our guns, and report to General Washington all over again.

One request for Constitution 2.0, though: can we please please please leave out the Electoral College?


A quick Write-a-thon update:

I did finish revisions to “The Last Taste” so off it goes to Weird Tales. “The Diplomat’s Holiday” is still under construction, but again I’m keeping to the schedule and switching to the next revision candidate, “Where the Time Goes”. The opening:

“I’m gonna kill you.” Chambers stalked up to Martin and dropped a crusty sock on his console. “Maybe a little death will keep you from leaving your stuff all over the ship.”

“We have a salvage run today,” Martin told her.

She flopped into the chair next to him. “Tomorrow, then. I’ll kill you tomorrow.”

“Okey doke.”

“So when’s our launch slot?”

Martin pushed the sock aside and checked the monitor. “15:05,” he said, but his answer was drowned out by the sudden noisy declaration that girls just wanted to have fuh-un.

“What the hell is that?”

“The new commtone,” Martin said. “I pulled it from the music archives in honor of today’s run. What do you think?”

“I think you should answer the comm and delete that tone,” Chambers said, adding too late, “Wait, who is it?”

Can’t you just feel the swash about to buckle?

Techno Cherries

Cherry season is here at last (I heart cherry season)! Even now that I’m lucky enough to be able to get cherries just about any time of the year, I wait. I started eyeing them last month, when they first turned up at £6 for a half a kilo (around 12 sad pathetic weak dollars a pound). But I waited, less out a sensible frugality than for the same reason that I don’t celebrate Christmas in November, no matter how damn early the stores drag out the decorations.

Instead I watched and waited for the price drop that swings open the door of cherry season like the fiscal Advent calendar.

So how appropriate that my mom sent this just days before my first cherry acquisition of the year:

Meet your Great Grandpa James! He loved cherries. I have fond memories of him piling us into the car and driving to the cherry orchards every weekend during cherry season. All of us (including him) would pick/eat as many cherries as we could. He always had a big smile in a cherry orchard. He died when you were 8 months old.

She attached two pictures, and noted that she’d used her new computer, its Comic Life program, and the scanner “to tweak the original photo enough to finally see his happy face.” Behold:


Hey, I finished that thing at work that was taking up more than a reasonable amount of time. It went well. Yay. But it also means that I’m spuh-ent (sorry, having Sesame Street Electric Company flashbacks now…the bit with the two mouths on opposite sides, like a late Beckett play on TV only more cheerful).

So without further ado or parenthetical references to educational children’s programming and Irish playwrights (unless I can’t help it: Electric Company Sesame Street! Sean O’Casey! Schoolhouse Rock! Oscar Wilde!), here is my Week 2 story excerpt:

After another late night at the office she stood in a grocery store, listlessly considering her frozen vegetable options. She didn’t see the vampire reflected in the freezer door, but she felt her, standing behind and to the right.

“Chocolate,” the vampire said, leaning close. “Bring the cart.”

Mariah followed her to the baking aisle. The vampire watched in silence as Mariah selected chocolate, mostly dark and bitter.

“Spices,” the vampire said.

“Which ones?”

“All of them.”

In the dim light of the bar the vampire had looked almost ordinary, not so different from any other object of desire sitting on a barstool. But the bright light of the grocery store slid off the vampire’s waxy skin, and Mariah understood that the fluorescent fixtures in a grocery store could just as easily hang from the ceiling of a morgue.

The story is on track to go out tomorrow, by the way — I just need to make one last pass through it. Hooray! Reading Rainbow! Brian Friel!