Jul 30 2011

Now I know what it looks like.


Or at least one version of it. I was guessing before.


(I’d post the pic, but I think there are copyright issues… you’ll just have to go there.)

Luwa would be outraged! The spider-wife’s secrets are her own!

Jul 29 2011

Surviving overtime by reading good fiction


Here’s an email I just sent to Amazon Customer Service:

Please reset the “furthest location read” on my copy of the ebook “Among Others” by Jo Walton. I’ve finished the book and am reading it again. It’s inconvenient, when I switch devices, that the “furthest location read” is stuck at the END of the book. I have to manually find my last location each time I switch devices, which I do often.

I love Kindle, and use it constantly! What a great product, and a great company! But it seems that Amazon assumes that people read each book one time only and never again. And it’s very odd that I need to contact Amazon Customer Service when I want to reset the “furthest location”. Why is this not an option available to the user directly?

You know what’s especially annoying? That I meant to say Tooth and Claw, not Among Others. I’ve already finished re-reading Among Others, and had to have more Jo Walton RIGHT NOW, so I went into Tooth and Claw for the second time.

Seriously. I switch devices lots because I can use my little iPod to read during my breaks at work. Fits right in my pocket. Ha.  Stealth SF.

Also just bought this. 99 cents.

Ack!  Must run now…

Jul 26 2011

I’ve been doing it wrong


Jul 25 2011

True Fact


Eighty hours of work cannot be accomplished in 40 hours.

Thus: overtime.

Expect only random one-liners, cris des coeurs, and compressed informational squirts until the weekend.

Jul 23 2011

Plus: masks


I’ve successfully accomplished Readercon, or at least my part of it. The panel discussion on the phenomenon of the book size inflation was seriously excellent, with me,the lovely and talented Walter H. Hunt; the always-edifying Tom Easton; the multiply-skilled teacher/writer/reviewer Leigh Grossman; and the ever-remarkable and estimable Howard Waldrop.

Upshot? It’s caused by:

a) the fact that overworked editors rarely have the time to do much real editing these days, and do not always encourage authors to choose the one right word when a paragraph or two will accomplish the same thing
b) the phenomenon of the author who is so successful that whatever they write will sell, so why edit it at all?
c) changes in technology that make it easier and cheaper to print big fat books, so there’s little pressure not to do so
e) other changes in technology that make it easier for the author to get the words on the page quickly and painlessly (I’m talking word processors, here), so there’s more impulse to just keep on writing
f) still other changes in technology (talking E-books here), that make it just as easy to lug around a 1,000 page tome as it is to carry around a magazine,

And my personal favorite:

g) the desire or the reader to immerse in the imagined world, and stay there as long as possible, and return in subsequent volumes as often as possible, because it’s fun there and we like it.

All of these things operating simultaneously, see.

Other highlights:

My signing, where actual persons actually asked for my autograph, with entertaining conversation during the slow times with Alex Jablokov and the perennial Walter H Hunt, who were sharing the autograph table with me.

My Kaffeeklatsch, where two small klatsches were merged into one reasonable sized one, and I ended up sharing space, fans, and quips with some guy named — what was it again? Oh, yeah, Walter Hunt

After Readercon, it was off to my usual post-con gathering with Ann Tonsor Zeddies and Geary Gravel, where we discuss and examine art, life, humanity, technology, science, truth, beauty, fate, love, longing, literature, dogs, two-sided sticky tape, champagne, local restaurants, and the heat death of the universe. Plus: arts and crafts

Usually, we do collages. Like this one:

From last time

From last time

This time Ann had the brilliant idea of doing masks instead! After much struggling with the materials (we now know how to do it so it’ll be better next time) we came up with these:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Here they are closer, but not as clear as I hoped they’d come out. The titles (in hovertext) are my own, and if Ann & Geary disagree, they are free to correct me. If They Dare!


the jewel-eyed moth finds light


aztec queen

These are Geary’s:

in demonstration of the quantum nature of consciousness


some guys just have great hair

And my two:

the abyss looks back but does not speak


birds of the world

It was fun. Messy, but fun — I mean: Messy PLUS fun.

Many thanks to Geary (and Berry) for hosting the event.

Jul 14 2011



No time, ZERO! Working overtime at the DayJob so as to pre-catch up for being away all next week. Strained my back a bit, as sometimes happens when I forget to take breaks, so I now move more slowly exactly when I need to be moving faster.

Trying to prepare for a trip that includes: attending a convention where I must dress not like a slob, and be able to speak intelligently on a writerly subject; hanging out with writer pals, where I can wear any ol’ thing, but must read stuff out loud, provide beverages, and prepare to do arts & crafts; and day-hiking in the White Mountains, where I must somehow also appear with at least 3 cakes in hand.

I am NOT baking those cakes. I will buy pre-baked.

I managed to squeeze in some good writing time on Monday, plus the gym — then it was bye-bye to all that, and hello prep-chaos.

Although, on Monday I did drive all the way to the Funky Monkey and only remembered when I got there that it’s closed on Mondays. Had to do Panera’s instead.

Where I wanted to be vs. where I was

Where I wanted to be vs. where I was

Time’s up! Hit the ground running!

Jul 9 2011

My Readercon Schedule


Going to Readercon next weekend!

Readercon is really my favorite convention. It’s not overwhelmingly huge, it’s focused on literature instead of TV/Movies, and it’s near enough that I don’t have to shell out $$$! for plane fare.

And of course, there’s the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Science Fiction and Fantasy Prose Competition extravaganza, which is always a hoot.

I’ve just learned that the Thursday evening events are free and open to the public! So if you want a free taste (said the pusher), come on by.

Thursday’s program is short, with only two hours of programming. However, get this, there are 7 panels to choose from in that time, and 7 different author readings

That’s a lot.

Alas, I am:

a) not coming until Friday
b) annoyed to discover that 4 events that I really, really want to see all take place simultaneously at 8PM on Thursday.

Even if I were to drive up after the Dayjob on Thursday, I’d be able to see only ONE of those presentations, as I am — so far, at least — only one person. And then have to drive back home so’s I can get up for the DayJob on Friday. This frustrates me no end.

Plus: I’ll miss all the programming on Friday until 7ish. But after that, I’m golden.

Here’s the program grid, showing when everything is.

And here are panel descriptions, since you can’t always tell what a panel’s about from the title.

I have exactly one panel myself:

Saturday July 16
10:00 AM F Book Inflation. Tom Easton, Leigh Grossman (leader), Walter H. Hunt, Rosemary Kirstein, Howard Waldrop. For decades, SF novels had an average length of about 200 pages, and to write an SF novel of 450 pages was exceptional and A Statement. Now, 450 pages seems average. What are the forces that caused this change? Why, in an era when attention spans are supposedly shorter than ever, are big books the norm? What are the effects of longer books (and longer sequences of books) on our experience as readers? Have writers lost the art of economy? Is there more immersive pleasure in long books than short?

I also have an autograph session:

Sunday July 17
11:00 AM E Autographs. Walter H. Hunt, Alexander Jablokov, Rosemary Kirstein.

And there’s a Kaffeeklatsch (this is where you and other fans sign up to just hang out with a writer, drinking coffee, eating cookies — I’ll bring some!– and discussing whatever happens to come up):

2:00 PM Vin. Kaffeeklatsch. Scott Edelman, Walter H. Hunt, Rosemary Kirstein, Joan Slonczewski.

That’s a pretty light schedule for me — but it gives me a chance to see other presentations. I always find the Readercon panels enlightening and inspiring. I feel invigorated, ready to take on the world!

And frankly, I could really use some inspiration. Overtime at the DayJob’s been kinda heavy lately…

Jul 4 2011

Life by the pond


Back catsitting/housesitting/hiding out in New Hampshire again, at my friends’ lovely house by the pond.

Writing. Hurrah!

But of course, can’t discuss the content…

The drive up was killer –apparently every human being in Connecticut needed to take the Mass Pike east toward Boston. Hooray for 3-day weekends. Once I got through the ticket booth, traffic stopped immediately. There we were, all backed up, already, two feet past the ticket booths.

Except… the turnoff to go west on the Mass Pike was clear. So I went that way.

Yep. About an hour and a half out of my way, what with turning off at the next exit and beating my way cross country winding north on 32 and east on 9 and north on 190. On slow roads.

But ended up here with the ever-entertaining Ming the King, William and Kate the geese, and these guys:

I wrote out on the porch all day Saturday and inside all day Sunday (it rained). I love being outside to write…

Add one computer, and that's all I need

Add one computer, and that's all I need

Although you can hear the highway perfectly clearly, it’s distant enough that it’s really just white noise, and fades into the background under constant — and I mean constant– birdsong.

Of course, it can get a little noisy when Mom or Dad comes home with the bacon:

I still couldn’t believe that I can get those pictures of the heron nest just by holding my digital camera up to the eyepiece — so I wondered: What about astronomical photos?

Alas. When viewing something that distant, the mere click of the shutter-switch made the camera wobble too much.

Still, I’m surprised I got anything at all. Can you tell which planet I caught, below, with four blurry images and smears between?

Unfortunately, yeah, pretty much time to pack it in now. Home tomorrow — I mean, home today, it being 2AM.