Oct 12 2014

Them Ol’ Day Job Blues

Rosemary

Last week, on Monday and Tuesday I did lots of writing!  It was wonderful.   Best days in a long time!  Great to be back.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday:  Day Job.

Yeah, I know it’s necessary.  But wow – instant flip from euphoria to deep blue blues.

It’s a clerical/accounting job, and it involves exactly the opposite type of thinking from what is needed for the creative act.   So… kind of hard to take… But I got through it.  Sometimes you just have to hunker down, hang on, do what’s needed,  and get through.   A lesson I learned and applied under different circumstances this year.   Works for this, too.

Still… I do sort of feel like a deep-sea diver brought to the surface too fast.   Trying hard not to go boom.

Anyway, I have Monday and Tuesday again this week, so: more writing!

And on the up side, that post-radiation therapy fatigue is fading away.   Now, when I get tired, it’s usually clearly attributable to being way out of shape from ten months of almost zero activity.  Solution: Activity!  Still walking, and now adding some weights to my weekly routine.   I am cleared to go back to the gym.

More news about Writers Who Are Not Me:  Delia Sherman (fellow Genrette) has a new book coming out on November 1.  It’s a collection of her short stories: Young Woman in a Garden, for which I have already plunked down my hard-earned cash as a pre-order.  You could do that too!   You can get it directly from the publisher, Small Beer Press , or, as ever, through Amazon.   And you can actually read one of the stories, “Miss Carstairs and the Merman” for free,  right now,  online at  Fantasy Magazine, as part of their “Women Destroy Fantasy” special issue.

 

Okay, have to turn in early enough to get up early enough to use what I can of the non-day-job day, so…

More later.

 


Sep 24 2014

News about writers who are not me.

Rosemary

Remember me saying how much I enjoyed the audiobook of Ellen Kushner’s and Delia Sherman’s The Fall of the Kings?  Here’s something cool: Audible has combined all three of the Riverside audiobooks –  Kushner’s Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword, and Kushner & Sherman’s The Fall of the Kings — into one big omnibus audiobook called The Swords of Riverside.  

If you already have an Audible account, please notice you can get this omnibus for just one credit.   This is a fantastic bargain.  And if you don’t have an Audible account, they love to tempt you by offering you your first book free when you sign up, and that’s even more of a bargain.  And if you’re not interested in committing to a membership you can always buy the audiobook at the non-member price which is still a bargain, as you’re getting all three for the price of one audiobook.

It’s over 45 hours of pure immersion in the wonderful, mysterious city of Riverside and its denizens.  You can lose yourself in a whole other world for days on end!  If I didn’t already have all three audiobooks, I’d be doing this immediately.

(Please note: The Riverside books contain same-sex romance, so if that puts you off — then heck, why not try something else by Ellen and/or  Delia, like Ellen’s Thomas the Rhymer – sadly, only in print version and not audiobook — or the excellent audiobook of Delia’s YA novel, The Freedom Maze?)

Other news: Jo Walton’s The Just City is available for pre-order at Amazon — and likely also at your favorite non-Amazonian book-buying site, not to mention pre-ordering  from actual bookstores.  Release date is January, but that’s not as far away as it looks, trust me.  And I know she’s finished writing the sequel, The Philosopher Kings, so I can see there won’t be much of a wait between volumes.

I pre-ordered it in the Kindle version, so that when it comes out it will instantly show up on my Kindle.  I love pre-ordering.   I order, then basically forget about it, so it’s like buying a surprise present for myself.  I’m always surprised!

Other other news, being actually about me:  Still worn down, and hauling myself to three days a week of the Day Job.  My boss is deeply happy to have me back. Much has gotten tangled there which now I am laboriously untangling.

And I actually braved New Haven one day, and stopped off  at Hull’s Art Supply to buy a bunch of bookbinding supplies, since I suddenly realized that the supplies I had on hand were Not Right, Not Right At All, and that I wanted a new journal/workbook Immediately If Not Sooner, and that to accomplish this Steps Must Be Taken.  And so I took them.  (Quite soon I must make a trek to Boston to visit the Paper Source in Somerville MA.    Hull’s just doesn’t have the hand-marbled one-of-a-kind papers that the Paper Source carries, although it has everything else I need. )

Simple cover, classy innards.

Simple cover, classy innards.

I also treated myself to a late lunch at the Booktrader Cafe, where once in the misty depths of time, the Fabulous Genrettes used to meet.  The main room at Booktrader seems once to have been some sort of greenhouse or solarium, and so is entirely constructed of glass, including the roof, which fact I love beyond all reason.   I’m always happiest when I can see the sky.


Jul 16 2014

Readercon weekend

Rosemary

My first actual out-and-about public appearance since — well, since the diagnosis in December.

Everyone was perfectly lovely to me.  Most people had heard about what’s been going on in my life, and were glad to see me, and welcoming.  And those who didn’t know me at all did not look askance at my odd hairdo.  Because that’s how we roll in SF/F.   I’ve given up wearing hats because: hair coming back in!  Plus: summer.  Hats are far too hot.

I did have some trouble with my energy levels.   I seem to have two settings: 1) Perfectly fine, let’s chat! 2) Okay, I go lie down now.  These alternate at apparently random intervals.

I skipped all the usual huge group dinners in favor of room service.    Because, even if I felt good at the start of the dinner, I might suddenly not — so I played it safe.

I only had the one panel, on why schools and the education experience show up so much in SF/F literature (with Greer Gilman, Lev Grossman, Faye Ringel, Delia Sherman, Rick Wilber).   I think I wasn’t my sharpest, having just fought my way through stop-and-go traffic on the Mass Pike, followed by more stop-and-go traffic  on route 95, arriving at the hotel exactly one hour before the panel, and discovering that valet parking was not an option in my case because the valet could not drive a manual shift car!  Which mine is.  Because I like it.  And all the nearby parking spots were taken — but after much explaining on my part, hotel security said that I could leave my car out front until after my panel.  Which was nice of them.

Oh, and my car’s air conditioning is broken.  Did I mention that?  Yeah.

So, I arrived already exhausted, and I feel I could have done much better on that panel…  I could have said quite a lot about the Steerswomen’s Academy, but didn’t quite have the nimbleness of mind to insert my counterpoints at the right moments.   Because, of course, the Steerswomen’s Academy is so very different from other school experiences presented in literature.

At the Meet the Schmoes Pros Party, James Patrick Kelly had the misfortune of being the first person I ran into.  Since I haven’t really seen many people other than Sabine and some close friends  for the last four months, I had to say All the Things!  Right Away!  Non-Stop!  He endured it bravely and graciously.   What a sweetie.    And of course, Ellen, and Delia, and Elaine Isaacs.  Oh, and Yves Meynard, who is such a dear.  And newly married!

And not to forget mad book collector and pal Michael Tallin, who lives on the opposite side of the country, and I only see at conventions.   His book-and-autograph fever often sends him to Readercon, and I get the pleasure of his conversation and company, without actually having to foot the bill for a flight to California!

It was lovely to be out in a social situation again, with people who are of My Tribe.

But it did wear me out.  I did not rush to get up the next day.   And rested often.

I managed to catch a couple of panels on Saturday.  When the Other Is You, where the panelists, all members of minorities or marginalized groups,  spoke of the difficulties and pitfalls in writing about their experiences.   (That was Chesya Burke, Samuel Delaney, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, Vendana Singh and Sabrina Vourvoulias.)  Later, I caught New Models of Masculinity,(Erik Amundsen, John Benson, Kameron Hurley, Catt Kingsgrave and Bart Leib)  wherein the panelists discussed the fact that SF/F too often uses the default cliche version of the manly man, and what are the other options?  And how does it operate in the real world today?  Fascinating.

I also caught great readings by Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Daryl Gregory.

There was no Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Science Fiction and Fantasy Competition — and that’s okay.  Kirk Poland was a brilliant, hilarious idea, and thrived for many years — but it has basically run its course, and is best retired.   We shall remember it fondly.  Time to do something else.

The something else was A Most Readerconnish Miscellany: readings, music, poetry, by all sorts of people, as part of a fundraiser for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and Operation   Hammond, which teaches convention runners and volunteers about first aid, both worthy causes.   I arrived late, and left early, later discovering that I’d missed a performance by Ellen Kushner!  but I caught a vivid, rousing poetry recitation by C.S.E. Cooney.   I had heard her do “The Sea King’s Second Bride” in the past and was blown away; this time I arrived partway through her poem, which involved a woman, a double-bass, and the Devil.  It was awesome.

A reading by one of  the guests of honor, Andrea Hairston, also included a banjo-player who had put some of the song lyrics in Hairston’s work to actual music with actual banjo.  Excellent.

And Daniel Jose Older did an excerpt from his work — completely amazing.   A true performer and storyteller, with this brilliant, crazy urban edge. After his bit, I waved over the person collecting the donations and handed over forty bucks, because damn! I now have to run out and get everything available by Older.

Then my Kaffeeklatsch, which I think went well.  We merged the the other person klatsching, one Adrienne J. Odasso, a poet new to me.   I bought one of her chap-books, but haven’t delved into it yet…

Oh, look!  My indicator just flipped over from Perfectly Fine! to I Go Lie Down Now.  I shall do that, soon.

I do regret that I wasn’t able to meet & greet and hang with all the people I’d hoped to… but my on again/off again energy level kept me from being as social as I’d have liked, and from seeing as many panels as I wished I could have seen.  I passed people in the halls who I wanted to talk to, or hang with… but I just couldn’t do all I wanted.

So if I missed you, I do apologize (looking at you, Kate Nepveu!).

But I was so glad to finally get out into the real (as in SF/F fan and writers’) world again.

In other news: Radiation is going well. About which, more later.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jun 7 2014

Two days later

Rosemary

I feel pretty good, actually.

At this point, I only feel any actual pain when I lift my right arm, or use it for something involving carrying weight.  And I seem to have a bit of a rash on my chest  from the surgical tape, which is something that sometimes happens to me.

It’s hard right now for me to tell how much tissue was removed, because there’s  a certain amount of swelling in the general area, after the surgery.  But I can tell this: not a whole lot.   I’ll probably end up with a dent or divot of some sort, but right now the only visible sign of surgery is the great big incision.   I’ll get the official word on what was what and what it means next week, but it’s clear to see that what was removed was nowhere near as much as I expected.

Also: only one lymph node was removed, under my arm, and that’s great news.   And that’s actually where most of my pain comes from.

And the dreaded needle localization, performed via x-rays this time instead of MRI, was no problem whatsoever!  Other than the usual bizzarro Egyptian-hieroglyph postures that accompany every mammogram.  Those are always at least perplexing.

After the needle loc, they set me up for a sentinel node biopsy, which is a very clever procedure indeed.  What they do is inject a brightly-colored radioactive dye into the tumor area (that was actually pretty painful, but was over quickly), wait a bit, and take some x-rays.  The dye heads over to the lymph nodes that drain the area of the tumor, which then show up clearly on the images.  So, what the surgeon does later is remove the first lymph node in line (the “sentinel”), and quickly send that out to be tested, while-u-wait.   If there’s any cancer in that lymph node, then they know they have to remove a bunch of nodes, all along the area; but if not, then no more lymph nodes are removed.

And I clearly do remember, later, being told that the sentinel node had zero cancer.   So nice to hear.  Thus: only one lymph node removed.

They didn’t use general anesthesia, just a deep version of local, plus a sedative.  I remember them wheeling me out of the prep room, and I think I remember arriving in the operating room.  I’m pretty sure the usual words were exchanged (where they ask you to describe the procedure you’re about to undergo, so everyone’s on the same page), but I can’t clearly recall it.   And then they applied their drugs, and I slept, and it was all sentinel node biopsy, and the lumpectomy, while I was in la-la land.

I don’t recall arriving back in prep room post-op.  Sabine tells me that my first words to her when she saw me were “Piece of cake,” but I’ll have to take her word on that.   But it does sound like something I’d say.

So, right now: well, I don’t feel 100%, that’s sure.  I’m tired, I get exhausted easily and often.  What I do about it: nap.  Works for me.

I took pain pills religiously for two days, then forgot and find I don’t need them.  I might take one at bedtime, to help me sleep.   I’d heard that it’s not uncommon to not need much in the way of pain meds for this type of surgery.

So… all is well.  Now I just have to heal up so that they can start the radiation therapy.

Oh, and at some point I’ll be going back to the dreaded day job… darn it.

Oh, and Welcome to Night Vale’s live show the night before surgery?  Totally worth it!  I’ll tell you more about it later, but now I’m getting worn down.

But I do have to say that what made it possible for me to even consider going to that show was having a place to crash for a while after the train trip in to New York, before the show itself.  For that I thank Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, who kindly lent me their guest room for the afternoon.   Lovely and peaceful.  Plus: wifi!

(And by the way:  Ellen and Delia are involved in the Interstitial Arts Foundation, and are currently raising money for Interfictions, the online interstitial arts magazine.  You want to know what “interstitial” means now, don’t you?  Of course you do. Click to check it out.)

I’ll fill you in on the Night Vale details later (for those of you who are interested).  Right now: time for zz’s.

 

 

 


Apr 4 2014

Delia Sherman knitted me a little hat.

Rosemary

Because bald=cold.

I want to wear it all the time.

Slightly large, but she told me how to shrink it…

It’s comfy, warm, and my favorite color!

Gosh, thanks!

(Okay, back to the ebook conversions… I have 3 days before the next chemo, when I will be knocked flat again.)


Dec 15 2013

Always the last to join the pack…

Rosemary

After being told many times, by many sources, that I should be listening to the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale” I finally decided that I wanted something new, interesting and amusing to listen to, and thought to myself, Hey, what about that Night Vale thing people keep mentioning?

Well. Silly me. I should listen to all those people and sources. Because, see what I’ve been missing?

I spent my entire weekly housecleaning laughing like a loon, with my iPod loaded with Night Vale episodes, and a bluetooth earphone plugged in my ear. I didn’t want to turn on the vacuum cleaner, because I wouldn’t be able to hear over it, and I didn’t want to stop. So I did that part really fast. Then I did some extra housework, just so I could keep listening. Then I cleaned the snow off our cars and shoveled the entrance walk. Still listening.

I finally stopped in order to actually produce some art of my own, instead of merely consuming other people’s art.

If you don’t know about Welcome to Night Vale, you really ought to check it out. Don’t listen to just one episode — stay for the first three (and do them in order). They’re about 20 minutes each, and if you end up liking it you’ll have another glorious 33 episodes waiting for you. One of the advantages of getting to things late — you don’t have to wait 2 weeks for the next episode.

The easiest way to listen is on your computer at SoundCloud’s NightValeRadio page. Or follow the links on their main site to download from various other sources.

For the cautious who want some warning about what they’re getting into, let’s just say it’s a spooky comedy. Here’s their own description:

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
Turn on your radio and hide.

I did so love the episodes I’ve heard so far. I’m up to number 6: History Week.

Meanwhile: Snowstorm not as bad as predicted. Yet.

Also meanwhile: Hey, remember how I mentioned how much I enjoyed the audiobook version of Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman’s The Fall of the Kings ?  Well, it was just selected as one of the top ten best audiobooks, by AudioFile magazine. And so I remind you of it again.   Excellent book, lovely performances, not the least of which was by Ellen herself.  This is yet another wonderful thing to listen to on your iPod, iPad, tablet, mp3 player, music device, or actual computer!


Aug 21 2013

Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner need your recipes.

Rosemary

The audiobook version of Ellen & Delia’s collaboration of The Fall of the Kings is going on sale August 27th, but you can get a copy for free!

They’ve come up with a promotional contest that looks like a lot of fun: Swordspoint Cuisine. Deadline is 5PM EST on Friday, August 23rd.

They want recipes.

The Fall of the Kings takes place in Ellen’s “Swordspoint” world, and the city of Riverside, a locale much loved by her readers. If you’ve read any of those books, or the print version of The Fall of The Kings, then you surely have a sense of the deliciousness found in Riverside — so, invent!

Best 10 recipes get a free download of the audiobook. Go to this site for info on how to participate.

And I must say: I’ve already plunked down my monthly Audible 1-book credit in order to pre-order this audiobook for myself. I really like the Swordspoint books, and I’ve especially loved the audiobook versions. Ellen does most of the reading herself, and she’s excellent at it – but there’s more!

These versions are called “illuminated”, which in an audio sense means that selected scenes are rendered with a full cast. It’s a fascinating idea, and works really well. It’s analogous to an illustrated version of a print book, where for most of it you’re picturing things in your own mind — but then, to your delight, you’re gifted with an artist’s vision of the scene, or portrait of a character.

In the same way, Ellen Kushner’s voice is the voice of the story, until suddenly: Everyone’s really there! It’s a lovely effect.

Having Ellen and Delia writing together in one book is a treat, too. And I remember when sections of this book were in their early stages, as Delia was a fellow member of the Fabulous Genrettes, and Ellen was an honorary member for the duration.

So, even if you don’t take part in the contest, check out the audiobook, or the print version, or the previous Riverside audiobooks.

These are all part of the “Neil Gaiman Presents” series. And an extra benefit of that is that Gaiman always has a cameo role. So, if you’re also a wild Neil Gaiman fan, add this to your collection! Who will he play? Don’t know… it’s a mystery.

FAIR WARNING: All the Swordspoint books include same-sex romance, but the guy&guy love scenes in The Fall of the Kings are especially spicy! So, if you’re not up to it, pass this one by.

As for me — I shall be listening to this with nice silk folding fan on hand, to gracefully and fashionably cool myself during those “Oh, my!” moments …


Nov 20 2011

Delia Sherman’s Freedom Maze

Rosemary

Hey, the latest novel by Delia Sherman (of the Fabulous Genrettes) is out!

cover by Kathleen Jennings

cover by Kathleen Jennings

The Freedom Maze is a book for Young Adults, and it’s getting rave reviews all over, as well it should. I remember reading it in manuscript, through various iterations, with the writer’s group.

It is lovely and rich, and never takes the easy way out. And it deals with race — which is possibly why finding a welcoming publisher took some time.

Check out the reviews!

From Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing. (Slight spoilers for early parts of the book.)


Or you can go to Tor.com, everybody’s go-to site for what’s what in SF and Fantasy.
(Also spoilers, but they warn you!)

And here’s the publisher’s own site.

If you have a young reader in your life, or like to read YA books yourself (as I sometimes do), you should pick up this book.

And actually, you can read the first chapter free on Delia’s website.

I am definitely going to buy it.

In fact, wait a sec….

Yep. Just got the Kindle version. Right there. Twenty-first century, see?

Now, you would think that I’d already know all about the book, from when Delia brought it to the Genrettes, over many sessions. But the fact is, it’s gone through some rewrites and editing post-Genrettes, and I’m yearning to know what remains of what I read before, and what has changed. Plus: it was long enough ago that even the material I saw before will feel fresh. And Delia is really such a lovely writer. Can’t wait.

(Just read the acknowledgements at the end, because I had a suspicion, and yep — I’m listed. Aw, that’s nice!)

Oh, and there’s a party.

Here’s the announcement on Facebook.

But if you don’t want to log on to Facebook to read it (for which I don’t blame you, as Facebook is a bully about such things), here’s the info:

When: Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 6:30 to 9:30.

Where: The Center for Fiction, 17 West 47th Street, New York, NY 10017

The party will have music, from both time periods of the book. And punch! And a cake-baking contest (no, you don’t have to bake, if you’re not so inclined).

(I don’t see how I could possibly manage to go, darnit. Unless Evil Dayjob were to magically let me out early. It’d take me a couple of hours to get there from here… I’ll see, I’ll try, but alas, I doubt it…)


Oct 2 2011

The door is opened.

Rosemary

I mentioned this on Facebook, but completely forgot to put it here —

I wanted to remind people that Ellen Kushner (famous author, and wife of other famous author and Genrette Delia Sherman) wrote a radio program called “The Door is Opened,” which I heard many years ago, before I actually met her.

It’s about Yom Kuppur and Rosh Hashana, and as a non-Jewish person I knew next to nothing about those holidays. People tend to assume I’m Jewish because of the last name, but nope.

(If you’re curious: I’m an atheist. But as a writer and student of human nature, I’m interested in what makes people tick. The cultural content and context of the Jewish traditions interest me much more than any religious aspects.)

The show was gorgeous, deep, and moving. It totally swept me away. It really is worth hearing, and I urge you to do so because (ta-da!) it’s available to listen to online for free. And while you’re there, you can peruse the other episodes of Sound and Spirit. They’re all excellent, and they’re all hosted by and written by Ellen Kushner.

Meanwhile, Delia Sherman‘s Young Adult novel The Freedom Maze is coming out soon, and you can read the first chapters online for free.

Also cool: My pal Ann Tonsor Zeddies has a story appearing in a YA anthology called Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up. I haven’t read the story yet, but shall be laying my money down for a copy of the book real soon.

Other news: I have not fallen off the face of the earth, contrary to appearances. But ever since Labor Day I’ve had not a minute to spare from an avalanche of overtime at the DayJob. Or rather, what minutes I do have to spare are spent either a) writing, b) going to the gym so my body doesn’t disintegrate from the overtime, or c) complaining. These are my main pastimes lately. Hoping for things to ease up soon.

Latest audiobook I’m working out to: Scott Westerfeld‘s Goliath, the third volume of his YA steampunk trilogy. I love Westerfeld, and I love this trilogy, which I’ve “read” completely in audiobook form. There’s nothing like a good YA when you’re feeling blue.


Jun 25 2011

The Remarkable Ms. Sherman.

Rosemary

Wednesday was the birthday of pal and fellow member of the Fabulous Genrettes, Delia Sherman.

I could not actually drop by to celebrate as she and Ellen Kushner are down in Roanoke Virginia, where Ellen is the Writer in Residence for the Children’s Literature Graduate program, and Delia is on the faculty, teaching creative writing.

So I sent flowers. Which, after some adventures, actually arrived.

Oh, look there they are!

At Hollins University, hard at work..

Mine are the ones in front!

I love this picture because:

a) it’s of my pal Delia,
b) one day after her 60th birthday,
c) in the actual act of writing,
d) in a lovely, Delia-esque room,
e) at a place where people appreciate her talents, intelligence, wisdom and overall specialness.

I’ll catch up with her and Ellen at Readercon.

Meanwhile:

Overloaded at the DayJob, writing every day, going to the gym, etc.

When I feel brain-fried, I’ll just head off to my little leafy corner…