Mar 24 2017

Emerging to socialize soon, because damn

Rosemary

I’ve sort of been keeping  myself incommunicado (more or less), on the assumption that now that I’ve solved that particular plot problem, writing this book should be a piece of cake!  Smooth sailing, rolling along, easy-peasy, right?  Just kick back and let ‘er rip!

Well.  As a strategy, this has been less than blindingly successful.

Although, not entirely unsuccessful, either.    More like: yes this is a job and yes, you have to do the work.

The view most days.

Anyway, I’ll be taking a few days off to hang with pals.  Because the outside world does exist, and there are people in it I kind of would like to see now and again.   Social media can fill some of the gaps, or at least keep you up to date on specific events in the lives of your friends, but you have to refresh it with real-life contact sometimes, right?

Much of my social contact tends to be convention-related, but I skipped Arisia and Boskone.  So… I have no conventions lined up until Readercon in July.

I’ve been planning on Worldcon in Helsinki in August, but some costly but needed car expenses may have taken that off the table.   I’ll know better in a few weeks, when different revenue streams make their contributions, and I can better evaluate my spending limits.

Of course, whenever the Worldcon takes place overseas, there’s a North American Science Fiction Convention held  that one can attend instead, if one is of a mind.  And hey, I just got an official invitation to be on the program at this year’s NASFIC!

Which this year is in… San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Alas, also an expensive proposition.  So, we’ll see.

In other news:

Ada Palmer’s latest is now available:  Seven Surrenders, being the next installment in her Terra Ignota Series.  I’d tell you all about it, but I can’t because I am SO BEHIND in all my reading!

Seriously, I’ve got books stacked up like planes circling in a holding pattern over an airport: physical, ebook, and audiobook  versions, all waiting for my attention.  And most of them are just going to have to wait a bit longer.

This is somewhat exacerbated by Open Road Media’s recent ebook sale (now over, sadly), during which I splurged and got an insane number of books that filled many gaps in my collection.   And some gaps in my education, as well.

Currently managing to occasionally read some pages of John Brunner’s The Whole Man (via Amazon here) which was originally published when I was all of eleven years old, so I think I can be forgiven for missing it the first time around.

In physical books, I’m finding myself simultaneously inspired, appalled, and fascinated by Marina Abramovic’s autobiography, Walk Through Walls.


Whatever one might feel about her work (or avant-garde performance art in general), you can’t fault her for dedication…

In audiobooks, I listen to one sort of thing when I’m lulling myself to sleep, and much more interesting stuff when I’m trying to divert myself at the gym or on a particularly boring walk.  Right now, Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala is breaking my heart and making me angry.

I am also way behind on my guitar practice.

And laundry; have to do some more laundry…

But I did get to see Laurie and Delia at the Genrettes meeting on Sunday.  Always delightful.

Which reminds me — next time, I’m in the hot-seat again.

 


Mar 12 2017

Stuff. Plus: other stuff.

Rosemary

I’ve been spending a lot of time sorting through the discussions and insights from the most recent meeting of my writer’s group.  I was in the hot-seat that time, with the current version of Book 5 (of which there is now about 25,000 words, since I had already surgically excised  a bunch of crap that Did Not Belong).

A lot of good and useful stuff was said,  and it all made sense at the time.  I certainly agreed with most of it, and it ought to have been very helpful indeed.

And yet…

I found myself dithering,  a lot.   It seemed that something was missing.

I tried hitting the new scenes from different angles, and got nowhere; then tried to get myself moving by all sorts of methods, eventually including sheer dogged determination — and I still just kept getting stuck.

Absolutely, something was missing, and it was something that, apparently, I could not do without.   And I had no idea what the hell it was.  Largely, I suspect, because it wasn’t there, and I therefore could not actually look at it.  Right?

In fact, (rather like Rowan in the dragon fields) I was looking for a hole.  And since a hole is only visible when the system is in motion, I had to make things move.

So, in sheer frustration I threw together a slap-dash of a scene (which I will not actually use in the book), in which three characters just argued with each other.   I just wound ’em up and let ’em go at it.

Eventually, one of them won the argument.

But it wasn’t the one I expected.

And that fact was the missing piece.   It made things so much more interesting…

So, now I’m all smugly self-satisfied, and sort of rubbing my hands together, gloating.  Heh.

You know, my sister once said to me, after reading something I’d written: “You don’t plot — you scheme.

Yep.

In other news:

The temperature got up to, what, 60 some-odd last week?  (That’s 15 Celsius.)   Until it suddenly snowed.

 

A stream off of the mighty Quinnipiac, just outside my office.

Now it’s 17 F (-8.3C) outside.

And they’re saying another 8 to 10 inches on Wednesday.  Yow.

Fortunately, I live exactly two miles from my office.


Feb 25 2017

Two years later

Rosemary

This morning, Facebook reminded me that it’s been two years since my last chemotherapy session.

And how am I doing now?  Fine, just fine, medically speaking.

Well, I’ve got the scars.  And a sort of… call it a divot.  Because the chemo was so successful, I didn’t need the full mastectomy that we all expected at first.  They ended up removing so little tissue that under most circumstances the divot isn’t even noticeable at all.   The site aches a bit when I move in certain ways, but not enough to limit my motion at all.

I’ve been lactose-intolerant as a result of chemo for the last two years or so, but it actually seems like that’s starting to back off.  I might be free of it, soon.

I have some residual numbness in my fingers and feet, also a known side-effect of the really aggressive course of chemo we took.  It’s weird, but manageable: sometimes things can slip from my grip, especially very smooth things.  I just have to pay closer attention than I used to.  I have to watch out for bruises and cuts on my feet in places I can’t feel, and be careful of over-flexing.  (Which always reminds me of Cordwainer Smith’s story, “Scanners Live in Vain.”  I have to scan.)

And I have periodic check-ups from my oncologist and surgeon.  But these are being scheduled at longer and longer intervals.

So… No problems.  Two years later, no real problems.

When I reread the blog posts from the time of my treatment, it seems as if I was perky and cheerful for most of the experience — but I know that much of that is illusion, caused by the facts that a) I used my blogging to cheer myself up and stay positive, and b) when I felt really unhappy, I just didn’t blog at all.   But trust me: I experienced the full range of possible emotions during that time.  Including some that defy description.

I got a lot of support and encouragement from the comments and emails from all of you, by the way.  I can’t express how much it helped me to know you were out there rooting for me.

Of course, my sister Sabine was my main support person, and I was so lucky to have her.  Still am, generally, by the way — but especially during that time.  I can’t say enough good things about her and how she helped.

I had many things planned for that time, most of which had to be abandoned, or changed, or  postponed.  I was barely able to write during that period.  Some  writers and artists actually manage to maintain (or even increase!) their creative output during cancer treatments.  I was  not one of those.  The emotional limbo interspersed with  periods of stabbing angst were not, I found, particularly conducive to maintaining the clarity of thought and steadiness of imagination I needed to make serious progress.  I had some spurts, but nothing I could maintain for long.

However, one thing that I did manage during all that was the publication of the ebooks.  For the most part,  the process was straightforward dog-work — tedious, but doable.  And with no set schedule and no deadline, I could do as much as my strength and mental acuity allowed at any particular time, and set it aside whenever I wasn’t up to the effort.

Below: Links to the posts I made during my whole cancer experience.  I just reviewed them myself, and found it pretty interesting…

12/23/2013: breaking the news

Sometimes the wind comes out of nowhere and knocks you sideways.

12/30/2013: First chemo

Quick post.

01/08/2014: A rant on pseudo-scientific bullshit included here

Amazon emails! Plus: here come the loonies

01/13/2014: losing my hair, but I don’t care…

Abandon ship!

 

01/19/2014: missing out on Boskone that year

As I feared, no Boskone for me.

01/28/2014: in the chemo suite

Three down, five to go

 

02/05/2014: health update inside ebook update

Predictably… Plus: ebook update

 

02/13/14: at the halfway point.

Snow day! Plus: halfway through chemo. Extra flash: Delia Sherman’s Con or Bust offering!

02/27/14 :  one way you  know you’re using the right chemo

You know what? This stuff actually works.

 

03/12/14: Cumulative effects of chemo, including no guitar-playing

Still here…

 

03/24/14: Just another day in the chemo suite

Use it when you’ve got it

04/01/14: Chemo continues, despite blizzard

Many thanks! Plus: Bumped by the blizzard

04/04/14: A hat.  I wore a hats a lot during my treatment

Delia Sherman knitted me a little hat.

 

04/07/14: Numbness side-effects of chemo, with drawings!

Annoyances and updates

 

04/25/14: Gaining strength once the heavy-duty part of chemo is done

Still here…

 

05/09/14: Surgery had to be postponed…

Surgery postponed

05/13/14: The body has a mind of its own

Foiled again.

 

05/21/14: results of that biopsy

About that biopsy…

 

06/01/14: More delays

Wait, what? Postponed AGAIN?

 

06/06/14: Just an update to say all went well

Quick update

 

06/07/14: What the surgery entailed

Two days later

 

06/15/14: Could not ask for a better outcome

And the official pathology report says…

 

06/24/14: Radiation therapy meant no WorldCon in London for me

Well, about WorldCon in London…

 

07/08/14: Prepping for radiation therapy

Hey, I got a tattoo!

 

07/17/14: Echocardiogram, because of Herceptin

Briefly ….

 

08/28/14: A post mostly about a poll, but including info about radiation side-effects

Poll reports. Plus: Ow.

 

09/07/14: And heading back to the day-job

Inching my way back into the Day Job

 

12/29/14: An essay on radiation therapy

Radiation therapy and me

 

02/25/2015:  Herceptin isn’t killer chemical like most chemo, so at some places they call a patient’s official Last Chemo the last of the heavy-duty chemo…. but at my hospital, they declared my chemo over with my final Herceptin infusion.

Last chemo

And that’s it.

Sometimes, looking back, it all seems sort of unreal.   I remember it all quite clearly — but heck, I have a writer’s imagination.  There are plenty of things entirely imaginary that exist in my mind just as clearly as if they happened.

I do know how to tell the difference, however.  This was real.  And… seems to be over.

In other news: Hey, I’m alive!

 


Feb 22 2017

News, but not about Planet Earth, so that’s a relief.

Rosemary

Certified non-fake.

 

 

These are the most non-gas-giant exoplanets identified so far in one system.   And, only forty light-years away?  Hey, we could get there, couldn’t we?


Feb 17 2017

Skipping Boskone

Rosemary

Yep, I’m skipping Boskone this weekend, reasons being twofold:

  1. I am scrimping and saving and economizing like mad,  hoping to get to the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki in August.  This is a pricey endeavor.   Planefare, hotels, food, weeks away from home in foreign countries.  My current plan is: Yes! I will go!  To accomplish this, other things have to fall by the wayside.
  2. I am in a broody, antisocial mood, brought on by story woes. I am still struggling to sort this book out into decent order.  Willing to see small groups of people, yes; grumbly-grumble, lemme-alone-dammit at very large groups of people.

But just because I’m not there, no reason you shouldn’t go!  Boskone is a blast. Here’s their website.  And here’s the list of program events.  (If you click on the list-view selection, you can see who’s on which panels and events.)  People you might like who are attending:  Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, Brian Sanderson, Ken McLeod, A.C. Ambrose, Bruce Coville, Craig Shaw Gardner, Patrick and Teresa Neilsen Hayden, Walter Jon Williams, Jane Yolen, and plenty more.

Seriously, you should go.  You don’t get out enough.

Despite missing Boskone, I will still be attending Readercon, July13-16.  I’ve been going to Readercon for ages, and I’ve been invited back this year.  (There was a snafu one year; I’ll be sure to follow up and make certain they’re keeping me on the list.)

In other random news: My car is having its clutch replaced.  Not cheap; but my mechanic is convinced that this will give the old crate five more years of life.  Amortized across five years, and eliminating the need for a new car, this works out pretty well.

We are painting various odd corners of the condo.  Furniture gets moved, a thing gets painted, furniture gets moved back.  It’s a process.

I have decided to learn as many songs about stories as I can.  Not songs that are stories; songs that refer to the existence of stories, or mention story-telling, inside the song.  I already have Patty Larkin’s “The Book I’m Not Reading” under my belt.  I have recently added Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer’s “The Mountain” (which begins: “I was born in a fork-tongued story”).   Now working on Deb Talan’s “Tell Your Story Walking,” which is much trickier than it sounds.

I am open to suggestions…


Feb 11 2017

Website is stable once more.

Rosemary

Turned out that a bit of updating that didn’t happen automatically had to be taken care of.  My wonderful sister went ahead and took care of it, while I was still trying to decide when to fit it in to my busy schedule.   All is well now.

The snow storm took a serious bite out of my week.  I could not get to my office!   I had to stay home and deal with moving cars for the plow guy, and shoveling out the basement door, which is basically my escape route if the house burns down.  It’s good to have that cleared out.   And then a couple of days of early-rising — I feel sort of off-balance and dithery.  And the low barometric pressure makes my ears pop; I feel like I’m in a descending airplane.

The Genrettes meeting was pushed back to this weekend, and now they’re predicting more snow for Sunday!   I fear there may be yet another delay.   Aside from being in the hotseat for this session, to which I actually look forward,  I just want to see Laurie & Delia!  But getting to New Haven is  a haul for both of them; bad weather would make it that much worse.  I’ll just have to hope for the best, and see what transpires.

 

 

 

 


Feb 8 2017

It’s 60 degrees out today…

Rosemary

… And they’re predicting 10 inches of snow starting after midnight.

Rendezvous weather, as they say in the Outskirts.

 


Jan 28 2017

Random nice things

Rosemary

Oh, I’m so tired of the news… And I’m also tired of so many celebrities passing away.   The War Doctor?  Laura Petrie?  Damn.

I’m looking for things to make me feel better for a while.  I’d post cat pictures if I had any, but alas.  No cats.

So, here are some things that amused and diverted me, for a bit:

As I found out on Facebook, NASA has made all of the scientific research it funds available online, for free, for everyone.   This is excellent.   I approve!

But a very interesting thing about this, that I did not realize until I followed the link to the database: they are using PubMed Central to do it.

PMC is a database of biomedical and life-sciences articles.  It’s the contents of the  US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine  — full text, full access.  So… what is the NASA research doing there?

It’s not just the NASA-funded biomedical research they’ve uploaded (like this one about cardiovascular disease in Lunar astronauts); it’s also non-medical articles (like this one about how closely-orbiting super-earth exoplanets can lose their atmospheres).  They’ve put it all up on PubMed.

Why? As I see it, possibilities are two:

  1.  “Why make our own public access database?  Look, here’s one that already exists.  Let’s save the taxpayers some bucks!”
  2.  “Make our own database?  How long would that take?  No. Let’s get this out there now.  As in Now.  Like, immediately. “

Select the explanation that seems most likely to you… Personally, I’m leaning toward number 2.

But, result: absolute treasure trove for SF writers!

In fact, wait a minute — why am I telling you about this?   Some of you are my competition!

Yeah, well: still a steerswoman at heart.

And speaking of exoplanets, Jason Wang of the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science ( a NASA-sponsored group), and Christian Marois of the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics put together a video of four exoplanets orbiting HR8799.

This is from direct observation, folks.   Yes, we have come that far.  You should head over to the Many Worlds website and check out their story.

And in the field of Fine Arts, artist “breath-art” over at Deviant Arts has created portraits of our local planets, in a lovely stained-glass style:

Prints are for sale through Deviant Arts… And the prices are reasonable, too.  (I’m eyeing them, and trying to decide which one I like best… I don’t have room for all of them.)

Of course, nothing can beat the real thing….

Juno looks at the Red Spot.

Well.  Back to Book 5.  And chores.

Yeah, I have to clean up the house a bit, before my sister gets back from Florida.


Jan 21 2017

I didn’t get to the march.

Rosemary

But some other people did.


Leading the singers is songwriter MILCK, as captured by marcher Alma Har’el (@Almaharel)

 

The New York Times has a collection of images from demonstrations around the country, and the world.

 


Jan 18 2017

Brain-fried!

Rosemary
Bushnell ceiling.

Bushnell ceiling.

Well, I managed to get my stuff organized (more or less, and more less than more) for the Genrettes.  We’ll meet over the weekend.

You’d think I could chill for a bit, but nope.

I’ve now just completed one of those evil Chores of Officaldom, this one relating to my ACA-provided health insurance, and the need to prove that I actually am self-employed and thus cannot prove my income with paycheck stubs because, hey, I don’t get those.  Therefore; Spreadsheets!  Calculations!   Tracking down records of payments and expenses…  Tedious and nerve-wracking, but done now.

Unless they contact me and request more proof.  Well.

I’d love to tell you how much I enjoyed Beautiful: the Carole King Musical, but: brain-fried.

Short version: Yes, excellent!  But I do want to write a longer version.   King’s music was a significant presence in the soundtrack of my youth, and seeing it transformed into a stage show was both inspiring and analytically interesting.

So… more later.