a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
27 July 2014 22:16 - "Get me off this crazy thing!"
rosefox: A clock with pills instead of numbers. (drugs)
Zoloft taper time! The plan:

Day 0 (today): 12.5 mg/day (the dosage I've been on for the last 18 months)
Days 1-14: 6.25 mg/day
Days 15-28: alternate 6.25 mg/day and 0 mg/day
Day 29: fully discontinue

The last time I went off Zoloft I dropped it cold turkey because I was at much too high a dose for me and it was making me suicidal, manic, and possibly psychotic. (As indicated above, my therapeutic dose is below most people's starting dose, and my psychiatrist at the time had no idea how to dose someone like me.) I don't recall experiencing any adverse effects from the abrupt stop, but I wasn't really paying much attention at the time, and I'm not sure I would have noticed anything unless it was worse than the effects of the Zoloft itself. That said, I don't expect to have any problems, especially since I'm tapering this gradually.

I wasn't expecting to be able to cut my half-pills in half again, but J keeps our kitchen knives nice and sharp, so that makes life easier. I could possibly cut them even smaller but I think that's probably unnecessary.

I cannot wait to be off this stuff. Cannot. Wait.

Usual rules for comments about medical stuff: no advice unless I specifically ask (which I'm not) or you think I'm about to inadvertently harm myself.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
Bel Kaufman has died. Her maternal grandfather was Sholem Aleichem. Her other grandfather was my great-great-uncle—my great-grandfather's older brother, Jacob Kaufman. She was still teaching at 100, writing at 101. I grew up knowing about her, but I never read any of her Yiddish stories, only the famous novel. It's a good novel.
27 July 2014 20:50 - end of an era
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
No, not Readercon; my ancient extremely-dumb phone (picture).

I'd been doing pay-as-you for voice and texts, since most of my life is in spaces with WiFi and I didn't feel the need for a monthly payment. But then I refilled my account and realized that I was spending about $20/month as our text messaging use increased, so it would only be another $25/month for Verizon's no-contract plan with a hundred-buck phone. And the prospect of never having to do a text message by cycling through all the button presses, let alone the security of Internet access more places, well.

So: the low-end 3G Moto G, because it's for backup stuff, checking email in emergencies and getting directions, and not streaming media. It fits nicely in my hand [*], though the grippy sides of this cheap case plus belt holster are welcome, and it runs stock Android and basically does what I need it to without fuss.

Here are some apps I've found useful specifically for the phone:

Widgetsoid (with donate add-on). This does two things: (1) it lets me toggle certain things directly from the lock screen (I use it for WiFi, mobile data, Bluetooth, and ringer status) and (2) on a home screen, it lets me fit more stuff in the same space—I have seven app shortcuts or toggles in a 4x1 widget on my main screen, for instance. (The donate version lets you save widgets to edit them, among other things.)

DashClock with DashClock Gmail+ Extension and DashClock SMS viewer [**]. This lets me see multiple things on the same lock screen: the number of new GMail messages (plus the subject and sender name if there's only one new message—it's supposed to show sender names for multiple messages, but it's not for me); new text messages with their text; plus time, weather, and my next calender appointment within a certain time. There are default lock screen widgets for GMail and messaging, but they're on separate screens, and if I'm stopped at a red light, it's nice to get everything in one place.

(There are a million extensions for DashClock, but skip the toggle ones: all of them require unlocking the phone, not just the app-launch ones like in Widgetsoid.)

Moon Reader. Syncs reading position across devices with Dropbox, very customizable. The Pro version has more fonts and things, and I bought it to support the developer, but I don't actually depend on any of the pro features, I think.

[*] But though I loathe the idea, I can definitely see that when my Nexus 7 dies, I'm probably replacing it and this phone with a bigger-screened phone. I like the size of this, being able to fit it into pockets and hold it very comfortably, but the convenience of a single device is hard to beat. I already gave away my beloved Sony eInk reader, because I was hardly using it with the tablet always to hand, and I can definitely see the same fate coming for the phone+tablet combo.

[**] Before you download it, you'll probably need to go into Settings/Security and check "Unknown sources."

What about you? What handy little apps or tricks have you found for your Android smartphone?

Edit: I forgot, Verizon gave me a free Bluetooth car speakerphone, which works fine, though I don't use my phone in the car enough to bother with buying one for myself.
27 July 2014 14:27 - Readercon: very short report
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
This was another split Readercon for me. The hotel situation . . . was better than last year, but still not good, because after I called twice to emphasize how important it was that we get a connecting door and how they messed it up last time, the hotel set aside two rooms with a connecting door for us . . . and then gave one of those rooms away. And apparently didn't notice or care until they handed me the keys for rooms 20-odd numbers apart and my face crumpled.

Eventually they found us two adjacent rooms without a connecting door, and I'd bought a baby monitor out of anxiety about the situation, so it was workable, but GAH. The hotel sent me a "give us feedback!" email, and I gave them feedback, you bet; the manager-type who wrote back said that I should contact them next year, but honestly I don't know. The split thing is increasingly unsatisfying, and I think I might leave the family at home next year and do a proper New England vacation with them separately.

Anyway. One panel, notes of which were just posted; one panel of my own, notes on which forthcoming. Bake sale did well. Pleasant lunch with [personal profile] yhlee and spouse; pleasant conversations with people for a bit on Saturday night. And the kids had fun at Boston museums and in the hotel pool—SteelyKid made fast friends with a kid in the pool on Saturday afternoon, who turned out to be Gavin Grant and Kelly Link's daughter, which amused me for some reason. Things went okay strictly-con-wise for me, but I was hardly there, so, you know, that take with a grain of salt.
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
It just occurred to me that some of you may have never experienced possibly the most amazing song in existence, MacArthur Park. I refreshed my memory of it yesterday. It's not a parody song - I think - but appears to be very serious. Which makes it much more hilarious. Go on, check it out. At least the first minute or so.

Here, have the Donna "17-minute orgasm" Summer cover. I think I left the cake out in the rain. OH NOOOOOOOOOOO!
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Panel notes, belatedly but whatever! Tidying while on Readercon conference call, actually.

Description:

When the Other Is You
Being part of an underrepresented group and trying to write our experience into our work can be tricky. We might have internalized some prejudice about ourselves, we might not have the craft to get our meaning across perfectly, and even if we depict our own experience totally accurately (as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie observed in her TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story"), we do so while struggling against the expectation that our experience is or isn't "representative" or "authentic." How do we navigate the pitfalls and responsibilities of being perceived as spokespeople? What potentially pernicious dynamics allow us that dubious privilege in the first place? Which works make us cringe with their representations of us, and which make us sigh with relief and recognition?
Chesya Burke, Samuel ("Chip") Delany, Peter Dubé, Mikki Kendall, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias (leader).

(My standard note on accuracy and names.)

notes )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

We have several announcements to make as updates to our previous post:

1) In light of the intense community response to the Frenkel subcommittee's decision, and the concom's own concern about the "provisional ban," the WisCon concom is itself currently appealing the subcommittee's decision and will vote on the matter this week.

2) Debbie Notkin has resigned as Member Advocate, effective immediately.

3) The Bergmann subcommittee is assessing if they can continue given the valid concerns about Wiscon's existing process.

4) Regarding refunds of registrations for WisCon 39, we received this question via Twitter: "Will there be a policy for refunds for those of us who are against the con's current harassment actions?"

WisCon has traditionally had a fairly free refund policy for any registered members who are unable to attend. Anyone who has registered for WisCon 39 and would like a refund for any reason can request one by emailing registration@wiscon.info.
26 July 2014 20:33 - Enlisted 1.3-1.4
yhlee: recreational (peaceful) tank (recreational tank)
I CRACKED I HAD TO WATCH MORE

Why did I buy this to watch before Orphan Black S2? Orphan Black is definitely the smarter show...but goddammit, I don't have clone nostalgia. I do have Army family nostalgia. I get so homesick watching Enlisted.

Enlisted 1.3. Read more... )

Today is TV binge day because Melaka the Car is in the shop for repairs until Monday evening.

Enlisted 1.4. Read more... )
26 July 2014 21:29 - Writer’s Ink: Nnedi Okorafor
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Nnedi Okorafor - TattooWhile I was at Detcon1, I noticed how many of my writing buddies had tattoos, and an idea was born…

Introducing Writer’s Ink, a feature I’ll be running more or less weekly for a while, until such time as I stop doing it. (How’s that for specific?)

I’m going to start with Nnedi Okorafor, who was the YA Guest of Honor at Detcon1. Her novels include Who Fears Death (winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (winner of the CBS Parallax Award). Her short story collection Kabu Kabu was released in October, and her science fiction novel Lagoon was released in April, 2014. Her young adult novel Akata Witch 2: Breaking Kola is scheduled for release in 2015. She has a daughter named Anyaugo and is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York.

I asked Nnedi to tell us a little about her tattoo:

It’s an illustration from my first novel Zahrah the Windseeker [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] (found on page 63 of the paperback). My character Nsibidi was a windseeker (a person who can fly) who worked with fortune-telling baboons. She had this drawing tattooed on her chest; it means “storyteller.” The drawing combines the Nigerian writing script called nsibidi and the creative ideas that I gave the book’s spot artist. My tattoo artist was Chicago-based artist Ryan Henry. I learned about him in a documentary about Black tattoo artists called Color Outside the Lines. It was screened at a conference to which I was also and invited guest. I love how everything is connected.

Thank you, Nnedi, for letting me show off your art! Click the photo to embiggen and get a better look at the tattoo. I also snapped a pic of page 63 for comparison, since I just happened to have the book sitting on my shelf…

Zahrah the Windseeker, Page 63

The only danger I see with this series is that by the time I’m done, I may need to get a tattoo of my own. Because there are some writers out there with seriously cool ink.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
I woke up early this morning to catch a double feature of Don KnottsThe Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) and The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)—at the Somerville Theatre with [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel.

I am staying up late tonight to catch Hausu (1977) at the Brattle with [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks.

I don't know what I'm doing with my life, but I think it's the right thing.
ceciliatan: (default)

Reviews: Reaching, Receiving, and Reacting to Them
Sarah Wendell, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I wish I could have stayed to the very end of Sarah Wendell’s fantastic, funny, and much-needed talk on book reviews at RWA. Unfortunately, my publisher’s big book signing overlapped it, so I had to sneak out three quarters of the way through and sprint down to the next ballroom. (Signing went great, for 30 straight minutes I was mobbed and then I had given away all 50 books! Whoosh!) But I thoroughly enjoyed the candor, humor, and common sense presented in the 40 minutes I was able to stay.

“Reviews are something writers talk about a lot,” she began, “but it’s not common to talk to a reviewer about it.” The website she runs, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, is one of the top romance blogs. The site turns 10 years old this coming January. The popularity of the site (and Sarah) was reflected in the packed room, every seat taken and some sitting on the floor and standing in the back.

The first common sense point was that nowadays you can review everything you buy. Shoes, appliances, restaurants you eat in: everything is reviewable. “They’ve become an essential part of every transaction,” she said, “And books are no different.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ceciliatan: (default)

Paranormal Romance: Dead, Soft, or Rearing Up to Bite?
With Kate Douglas, Rebecca Zanetti, and Cynthia Eden
RWA 2014 Panel

So one thing I think I’ve learned about panels and workshops at RWA. Very often the people teaching them are not just “bestselling authors.” Very often they’ve got book sales in the millions, and the number of novels they have published is 50, 100, 200… These are not lightweights.

On this panel alone, which intrigued me because the rumor that “Paranormal is dead” has been going around New York publishing for a while now, we had Kate Douglas, author of 53 paranormals, 38 with New York publishers, but also some with Ellora’s Cave and some self-published, Rebecca Zanetti, a multi-bestseller with Grand Central, Entangled and Kensington, and Cynthia Eden, a two-time Rita award finalist who has been on the NYT, USA Today, and Digital Book World bestseller lists.

Here are just a few of the pithy and relevant things they said that I noted for myself. They began by explaining that they put the panel together because they were at a previous conference where there was a panel that said paranormal is over, you should run away from it as fast as you can. All the paranormal authors were talking afterward and saying to each other, are you doing okay? And they found out that actually they were all doing pretty well.

“Look how crowded this session is,” Cynthia Eden pointed out. “I think that’s a sign how much interest there is in this genre. There is still a market.”

Kate Douglas put the rumors of demise in perspective this way: “I had 31 [paranormals] with Kensington and sales suddenly tanked. But now there are so many successful self-published ones. I did a series with Kensington where they did one, I did one, then did the third, I did the fourth. And sales are comparable.” (Speaking of the Dark Wolf series.)

Rebecca Zanetti: “I heard yesterday that you ‘had to’ self-publish if you do PNR. But I have two friends who just sold PNR debuts to major publishers. Those readers are out there.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

26 July 2014 12:58 - Good news for SUV drivers
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
There's at least one Mini driver out there who seems determined to create as much havoc as any SUV. First they pulled a U turn on Charles (coming close to cutting off a bus while also flirting with coming up onto the sidewalk where I was), then acting as though they had right of way turning right through a pedestrian filled crosswalk.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Men and women who have been in a warzone describe it as long stretches of boredom punctured by short bursts of action. Ford Fest 2014 was hardly Da Nang, but it was slow, it was hot, it was tense, and it was confusing. It was sometimes pitiful and largely absurd. It was a lot of waiting broken up by emotion and violence. It was a whole lot of ordinary people looking for a free burger, undercut by an angry, pushed-to-the-edge faction.
26 July 2014 09:39 - Most obnoxious song of all time
rachelmanija: (Godchild: flapping embryo)
Please nominate the most irritating, ear-grating, vomitously sappy, wildly offensive, or otherwise horrifying song, of any era, in any language. Ideally, with a youtube link. (If the horror is partly due to lyrics and they're not in English, please tell me what they mean.)

This is open to anything, including joke songs, avant-garde songs that might secretly be jokes, etc. The only nominees I don't want are songs that you only dislike because you have completely personal bad associations, like that it was playing when your true love dumped you. They should be annoying because of inherent qualities in the song itself. Though being relentlessly over-played can add to the horror. You may make several nominations.

Yes, I am aware of Dave Barry's "Bad Songs" column. It's one of my all-time favorites.

I will start off the race to the bottom with a song that makes me want to rip my ears off every year, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Also They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha, which I believe has been scientifically proven to induce psychosis. In me, anyway.

ETA: This may be a case of "personal bad associations," but I had a much-loathed roommate whose alarm clock was John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane. She always played the entire song, so every morning I was forced to listen to John Denver leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaving on a jet plane. Go on! LEAVE.
26 July 2014 10:30 - Latest enthusiasm
wcg: (Default)
Seeking to expand my dance horizons, I signed up for the eight week introductory Lindy Hop class at Mobtown Ballroom in Baltimore. Three weeks in, I'm liking it. Not only is it good aerobic exercise, it's also a dance style with interesting history. I've been geeking over stories of the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where Lindy was invented in 1927, and watching videos of Frankie Manning -- one of the original Whitey's Lindy Hoppers -- teaching Lindy Hop in his 80s. The man was in better shape than a lot of 20-somethings.

I doubt I'll get into the competitive side of this. My interest is in the social dance community and the connections to be made. Swing dance is a happening thing in a lot of places right now, and I think I'm going to like it. I don't see it drawing me away from the Contra Dance/English Country Dance community that's my regular dance "home," but it should be a nice place to visit sometimes.
26 July 2014 09:38 - List of Sponsered Reviews
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Book                                      Sponsor    Review      Status
Max Gladstone's Trilogy                   Kithrup/      S         Foraging* 
                                          Seth Ellis
                                          icecreamempress
?                                         melita66
The Long Run.                             melita66      R          Acquired                                          
Riddlemaster of Hed                       Tavella       T         Acquired 
KJ Parker's Scavenger                     Connatic      S         Acquired
                                           ?
Geraldine Harris's Seven Citadels quartet Yhlee         T         Foraging



Tentative schedule


Book                                      Status            date
The Long Run                              Acquired          Monday                                    
Riddlemaster of Hed                       Acquired          Wednesday 
KJ Parker's Scavenger                     Acquired          Thursday - Saturday 
A Martha Wells novel.                     Hard to say       um
Max Gladstone's Trilogy                   Foraging*         Tuesday August 5
Geraldine Harris's Seven Citadels quartet Foraging          um


A memory jog now might an idea

* The handy "check to see if a store in your area has a copy" button on the Chapters site is no longer visible but as it turns out no local store has it.


S = Sponsored
T = Tears
R = Rediscovery
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Want a Parabolan Kitten? They're the offspring of the Parabolan Panther, a backer-only reward, and can be used in both FL and SS. (FL stats are Persuasive +3, Bizarre +1; not sure about SS. Plus, cute.)

Leave me a FL username in comments; I have five now and will have more in a week (Panthers who gestate in dreams have very short pregnancies).
sovay: (Default)
1. So today's attempt to clear up my insurance was a bust: I went to the office [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel has been dealing with (which seemed like the right one to both of us!) and they were very sympathetic, but referred me to another office which closed at five o'clock. I will try it on Monday. After that, there was really nothing to do with the evening but drink a lot of alcoholic ginger beer at the Squealing Pig and see the Magna Carta at the MFA. It is actually extremely neat to look at, especially since it's housed in the same exhibit as John Adams' manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence. There are two portraits relating to a Massachusetts abolition case I'd never heard of and contemporary newspapers with marginal annotations by their collectors. All of this is next to the room of maritime art, filled with eighteenth-century models of cutters and clippers and ships of the line and figureheads and scrimshaw and random bits of wood from famous naval engagements; we were substantially delayed on our way in. We didn't get to Jamie Wyeth, [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo, but I recommend the Pictorialists (my favorite portrait of W.B. Yeats! Aubrey Beardsley looking exactly like one of his own drawings!) and the Meroitic gold and jewelry to anyone who can get to them. I am a little sad that we missed the exhibit of avant-garde photography, but it's not like I've never seen Man Ray before.

2. My back is in absolutely terrible shape. We need a new bedframe. Where does a person buy a queen-sized futon frame in this city? Dream On Futon in Inman is no longer an option; we tried them right after Readercon only to discover they had flown by night without alerting the majority of the internet or altering any of their signage—they left their name lettered on the storefront glass along with the website and hours of operation, but the showroom was dark, locked, and empty, occupied only by a motorcycle and an Oldsmobile. Rob took some pictures and it was absurdist, but not actually helpful. Boston Bedworks is expensive. I am taking recommendations; I need not to be in this amount of pain every day. It's like all the physical therapy I practiced from January to April never happened.

3. I had no idea goat towers were a thing. I'm so happy to know they are.
25 July 2014 22:40 - "Go kitty go!"
rosefox: A black cat happily hugs a denim bolster (cat)
Kitty micturition TMI--all good news )

Other than that, it's been a very lovely day. My mother came over for lunch and was thrilled by the new place and impressed by our kitchen layout and equipment. Always nice when an FCI-trained chef is happy to cook in your kitchen. :) After she left, X came home early from work and I sobbed all over them for about an hour--going to the vet's office is very hard on me, plus it's just generally been a rough week--and then wiped my face and declared myself done with crying. We spent the rest of the evening snuggling and knitting and attempting to make gluten-free bread in the bread machine (the dough was too wet, so it overflowed and scorched on the heating element; I'm letting it dry out overnight in hopes of that making it easier to clean up, since right now it's basically yeasty glue).

Pre-pregnancy things have shifted X's sleep schedule around a lot. We used to have tea five nights a week from ~10 to ~midnight, but now they're exhausted and ready for bed by 10 or 10:30. This is our first time trying a weeknight date, on the theory that one long date a week could replace shorter but more frequent teatimes. I had been very very reluctant to delete the "time for tea!" alarm from my phone because it felt like such a loss, but if all our dates are as good as this one was, I'll feel a lot better about the change.
25 July 2014 18:58 - I'm okay (but my car isn't)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Last weekend I tried to get my car inspected, but the gas station 'round the corner discovered that the hood wouldn't open. So this week I brought it to my dealership for a diagnosis, they ordered the necessary parts, and today I left it there and took their shuttle down to work. At lunchtime they called to say it was ready, and I took a cab up.

I picked up my car, left the dealership to run an errand and then head back to work, and then two businesses away from my dealership, *bam* suddenly there's a big pickup truck smashed into the driver's side of the front of my car.

That road is two lanes in each direction plus a turning lane, you see, and I was in the outside lane. The person on my left, in the inside lane, waved the pickup across to turn into the Wendy's (at least that's what the pickup driver said, and it does make sense), but the pickup driver didn't see me in the next lane over.

I'm fine—it was a low-speed collision since the pickup driver was starting from a stop and I wasn't going that fast because there was traffic on the road. No airbag deployment, no bruises, though I'm feeling a bit achy (this is doubtless exacerbated by the stress). Hell of an adrenaline comedown, though.

After the police came to fill out an accident report, I managed to get my car back down the street to my dealer's—just barely, as it turns out, because when the people at the dealership started it up again to put it where they needed it, they had a lot of trouble keeping it running. (The pickup driver followed me to make sure I got there okay. They were driving a work vehicle and I hope they don't get in too much trouble solely over this—they made a mistake, no question, but for me it's a very "there but for the grace of something" kind of mistake, and they were very polite to me.) And hey, at least I didn't need a tow since I was so close . . . though you bet I regret the money spent on the hood, now.

So it's in the hands of the insurance companies, now. I strongly suspect it's going to be totaled, because it's a 2003 Prius with 138,000 miles on it, and, well, take a look:

my poor smashed car )

I'm honestly a little bummed at the prospect. We've been putting money away for a new car, because mine's old and Chad's has had persistent electrical problems, so financially we'll be okay, but darn it, I was hoping to get at least 150K out of it just to say I had, you know? It's my first car, it fits me like a glove, and I think it probably could've gone for considerably longer if it weren't for this.

Anyway. If it's fixable, great, and if it's not, then I'll get a shiny Prius C out of it.
25 July 2014 14:12 - [ObMeme]
yhlee: a plush raven on a plush fox (hxx Cheris Jedao)
By way of [personal profile] likeadeuce:
Pick any paragraph or any passage less than 500 words [or more if you really feel like it] from any fanfic I've written and comment to this post with that selection. I will then give you a DVD commentary on that snippet of what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it, what's going on in the characters' heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the context of the fic, and anything else you'd expect to find on a DVD commentary track. [Link to AO3 account here]

Hell, it's not even 2:30 p.m. I'm off to write foxboy crackfic. Bye!
25 July 2014 13:51 - a moment of enlightenment
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
Kate Elliott on killing characters:
When killing characters I try to balance my understanding of world's brutality w/ my sense of the compassion due to human life
but sometimes I find that it is far more cruel not to kill a character

That is both really beautiful and completely opposite the way I do things; it would never have occurred to me to frame things this way. (I'm not saying she's wrong! I suspect it is far likelier that she's right.) When I kill characters, I'm specifically out to stab the reader. But then, I don't really see characters as people, which is why my villains and I are in alliance: we have a common goal.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
But I am so stressed out I can't feel my fingertips and I can't see a way out of the corner I am boxed into:

A: Work has dramatically slowed down in the last year.

B: For reasons I am going assume for the moment are not due to deliberate choice on the part of the companies I freelance for, none of checks I've expected this month have materialized (if I am not stress-confused, I think at this point the most recent invoice that has been paid is about 2 months old); when companies were actually issuing checks they were irregular and unpredictable. This isn't specific to one company: nobody is paying me. Nobody. And even if all the money I am owed showed up today, I'd just be treading water.

UPDATE IN MID POST: in fact I just got email assuring me at least one check will definitely not be showing up for at least a week thanks to the new system (another company told me privately my checks might be cut in a week and then sent out a public email telling freelancers to expect the delay to be a month). I'd walk away from book reviewing at this point if there was anywhere to walk to.

Actually, the above is not quite true: while Romantic Times pays very, very little they have never promised to pay any more than that and they do pay on time. So kudos to them; they are the one bright spot.

[I spend a lot of my time telling myself that this is not a repeat of what Guardians of Order did to me, even though a lot of the same notes are in this tune]

C: There are bills I have been deferring for as long as I can and expenses I have cut to the bone as far as I can but I'm pretty sure all the plates I have in the air are about to come crashing down.

D: Can't afford to create the Millennium Reviews book and frankly I don't understand a lot of what people are telling me how to create it.

(That said, editing all the reviews and adding new commentary for all 35 essays would take me two weeks to a month)

E: Review site ditto: I know how to create content for it but I can't see how to create it and the advice I am seeing doesn't mean anything to me.

Open to suggestions here.
25 July 2014 12:28 - Enlisted 1.2
yhlee: two kittens side by side (kitty 2 (evil_little_dog))
This is the most appropriate icon for this ep, I think.

Enlisted 1.2. Read more... )
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
I can't seem to find the real early draft, in which Iseul's name was Subtle Fox. Which Oyceter, being much smarter than I am, talked me out of. THANK GOD.

cut to save your bleeding eyes )

As ever, I'm happy to take questions.
ceciliatan: (default)

Passionate Plume Winner!

Passionate Plume Winner!

(San Antonio, TX) — Here at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Convention we have exciting news! At last night’s Passionate Ink party, HOUSE OF SABLE LOCKS by Elizabeth Schechter won the Passionate Plume Award in the Fantasy/SF category!

The book was up against some tough competition. Finalists in the category were:

Something New Under the Sun by L.A. Witt
House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter
Glory Dogs: Forged Through Glory by Dezré Storm
Fueled By Lust: Drusus by Celeste Prater
Legend Beyond the Stars by S. E. Gilchrist

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

ceciliatan: (default)

I hurried out of the room this morning to try to get to Nalini Singh’s workshop on Writing Paranormal Romance after hearing tales of how some other workshops were so full that there wasn’t even standing room: people were standing out in the hallway trying to hear them. (The one on “How to Write Faster” was one of them: glad I slept in a little bit instead of trying to get there only to be shut out. Fortunately all RWA members can download the handouts from that class and many others through the conference app! Win!) Funny how the threads tie together in life: two weeks ago I was on a panel at Readercon on recommending romances to sf/fantasy readers, and of course Nalini’s praises were sung. Now here I am at a romance convention and I get to hear the woman herself impart wisdom. I love my life, did I mention that?

First, a little note about diversity. Yes, this conference is notably “whiter” than a lot of the conferences I attend. Many of the science fiction conventions I go to have actively recruited writers of color as speakers and fans of color as attendees. It’s really noticeable to me to go somewhere now where the small percentage of people of color stick out like sore thumbs. I don’t know if that’s part of RWA demographics or the fact that we’re in San Antonio (where I’ve never been) or that the hotel convention rate was a whopping $229 a night and maybe that skews the attendees base toward the most privileged. All I can say is this con seems very white. So it was interesting that at Nalini Singh’s talk, I felt like there were more people of color in the audience. I counted: out of 62 attendees in the workshop, 12 were visibly women of color. (There were only 4 men in the room, all white.) That seemed like a higher percentage than in the general population here, and I wondered if that was because Nalini herself is a person of color, leading to a greater comfort level? Or because paranormal itself so often deals with themes of integrating the “other” or embracing the “other”? I can only speculate, but diversity and representation are issues that come up again and again in my activist work and in the fandom communities I am part of, so it’s on my mind.

But now to the actual subject of the workshop, Writing Paranormal Romance. Nalini is witty, fun, and smart, and I didn’t write down even half of what she said, so let me assure you if you think you can just read my blog instead of attending a conference like this one and still get all the good stuff: you’re wrong. Here’s a tiny fraction of the wisdom imparted:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

swan_tower: (Default)

Colosseum Edge
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Colosseum is one of those buildings that’s difficult to photograph, because it’s just too big. Picking one edge of it and focusing on that turned out better than any of my whole-site shots.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

25 July 2014 01:43 - "A wide variety"
rosefox: A woman with words running through her head nonstop. (noisy brain)
Good things:

The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.

This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.

X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.

I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo"). They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared.

Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently scolded challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.

After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.

Annoying things:

Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."

Can't foresee everything, I suppose.

The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)

Sad things:

My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.

Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.

One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.

Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.

I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.

Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.
25 July 2014 01:18 - on "Swanwatch"
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
Swanwatch rough draft hilarity

cut to save your bleeding eyes )

I'm happy to answer questions about this one too. :)
24 July 2014 23:24 - halp!
yhlee: (Eyeshield 21 Hiruma)
Would anyone be willing to make me a tank-not-in-actual-combat-but-sitting-peacefully-on-pedestal-or-whatever icon with the text RECREATIONAL TANK ? USAn tank preferred. I presume public domain tank images must exist out there somewhere. Here's a public domain one from Wikimedia Commons? I would make it myself but I have never been real good at making text look right on an icon.

Happy to do favor in return of Yoonishness; just ask!
24 July 2014 22:44 - The Great Queen Seondeok ep. 3
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
The Great Queen Seondeok ep. 3. I wrote my mom asking for a little information but God knows if I managed to be comprehensible because household Korean is not really well-suited to inquiries about the historicity of palace coups.

BTW, folks who have watched this: how were the Mandarin, Cantonese, and Latin? I don't know any of the first two (except recognizing xie xie, sorry I don't know how to get the tone marks), and while I took the equivalent of first-year Latin, it was a basically textual approach so even if the Latin was real non-church Latin I wouldn't have been able to understand it. And does anyone have screencaps of that page allegedly from Plutarch's Lives because I would love to know what name Deokman was supposedly pointing to as inspirational. I can recognize Greek letters from ObMathEducation but I can't actually read them at speed.

spoilers )

Are there icons for this show lurking about? Esp. one prominently displaying one of those over-the-top antlered Silla crowns? :D
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
I am getting very little sleep lately. "Lately" means at least since May. My insomnia is the worst it's been since 2006. I am trying not to talk about it all the time here because it's not very interesting and I don't want medical advice. I had a voice lesson this afternoon; I met Matthew at J.P. Licks and brought him back to meet the cats: Autolycus rode around on his shoulder and was confused by his sandals and Hestia hunted his feet. After he left, I finished some work and fell over sideways on the couch with a cat curled up against my stomach and didn't so much doze for an hour as lay there listening to traffic noises for forty-five minutes and then suddenly blacked out. I was woken by a call center wanting my statistics on grocery shopping. I said I'd really rather not and hung up.

I was asleep just long enough to dream: a scene like a page from a book or five minutes from a movie. I tried to think after I was awake if it was something I'd read or seen, but I'm not coming up with anything. The clothes and the cars look like Britain in the 1940's, perhaps just after the war. There are no barrage balloons or signs stenciled on the streets; I don't see rubble everywhere or so many vacant lots, so we're well after the Blitz. A girl is walking up the steps of a theater. There's a man sitting at the top, sharp-kneed, hands braced on the dirty stone behind him. From outside the dream, I can tell he's younger than I am, but to the girl he looks formidably adult and impressively dissipated, like all the worst rumors about actors. His dark hair is stickily uncombed; he's got his shirt buttoned straight, but hastily. He looks like he just fell out of someone else's bed. They might have been using his jacket for a pillow. You can see her trying not to wonder if he's drunk; not to wonder what else she wouldn't know how to recognize. Before she can decide between saying something or stepping past him, he jerks his head at her and says without greeting or preface, "You can go in." His tone is malicious; she almost looks behind her to see if there's someone else he's choosing between. He has a skeptical, tight-angled face, not handsome; he must know he's making her uncomfortable. As she takes the top step, he leans back a little to toss the words after her: "Radley likes them young." As if he himself doesn't. An encouragement that's intended to unsettle. She walks faster because of him and he doesn't look satisfied with himself. He isn't drunk: he's just been fucking the director, ten minutes before auditions, and he's tired of being hustled offstage to make room for the ingenues. (Nothing in the scene said what he did, but I thought it was set design. They have worked together since school. My opinion of the director, in the dream and after it, is low.) He's being deliberately offensive, making himself look worse than he is—an impulse rather than a habitual behavior, but the impression will stick with her. She'll get a part. That's all there was. I can't even remember if it was in color.

So I don't know who that was meant for and I don't know what I'll do with it—I do not write historical fiction easily and I feel there's no shortage of stories about the theater, especially about sexuality and secrets; I wouldn't give it to Mary Renault to write (she would not be sympathetic to either of them and something stupidly melodramatic would happen in the last chapter), but she feels like the right era. There's nothing fantastic in that scene at all and the only realist fiction I can remember finishing right now was a fairy tale retelling. On other hand, I have had dreams turn into stories before (sometimes years after the fact: I wrote "The Clock House" because of a dream in 2008), so I am not going to throw it out. But it was a strange vivid little fragment and I can't help feeling the rest of the story was going on somewhere else; I just tuned in. I could have kept watching if it were on TCM.
24 July 2014 22:05
omnia_mutantur: (Default)
Day One (again).

Today, I finished both Salsa Nocturna by Daniel Jose Older which was freaking amazing (and I can imagine all of it being read in his butterysmooth voice) and Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way,  an anthology also from Crossed Genres.    There's something kind of wonderful about going up to a dealers' table and being able to buy the three books in their catalog you don't already have.

I also saw Only Lovers Left Alive at the Brattle.  More importantly than what I saw is that I went by myself, I didn't let inertia keep me home, even though I was tired and feeling kind of hermity.

Abundance was here this morning, which was absolutely lovely to wake up to, and then I got emotionally flustered and cried.  But I decided that I didn't want to cry very much, so the whole day felt a little bit like a stuck sneeze.   My feelings feel all over the place, and I keep explaining them badly, in pretty much every format to every audience.

Yesterday, I bought all the berries from Bug Hill Farm.   It was an unequivocally good decision.  In the fridge right now, I have cherries and strawberries and raspberries and gooseberries and red currants and blueberries, and there used to be black raspberries but I ate them all.

yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
I finished my hard sf (?) rough draft so I might as well go with the YOONMILIATINGLY AWFUL ROUGH DRAFT EXCERPT that has the most votes right now! :D

Ghostweight

[You can see me flailing around a lot with a lot of dead-end starts trying to get a fix on the doggone thing. Disregard typos; I'm typing this from longhand in one of those ickle Moleskine notebooks.]

[For the curious, this story was commissioned by [personal profile] mechacharibdys with the prompt "origami and consequences."]

cut to spare your poor, poor eyes )

The published version keeps a version of that origami meditation whatchamacallit, which I must have revised a couple dozen times trying to get it right. Those three opening paragraphs were MURDER.

The good thing was, I knew that the point of doing an opening thingamabob like this (is there some kind of official litcrit word for this???) is that it made the ending obvious, in that I would be doing some kind of variation of the opening as the ending, so if I nailed the opening the ending would take care of itself.

But after that, I screwed around setting up the situation by explaining Lisse's past, the devastation of Rhaion, Lisse deciding to desert, blah blah blah, and it became clear that this wasn't where the story should start. The story should start when she takes action. After a zillion attempts trying to set up her escape, I realized that no one cares HOW she gets out of the barracks. So why not skip over the boring logistics *hollow laughter* and just start out with her IN the war-kite as an axiom and proceed from there. That worked much better. But it's embarrassing how long it took me to figure that out, because I kept trying all these wrong things and they felt wrong but I kept having difficulty articulating why they felt wrong, even if it seems so obvious in retrospect.

I'm happy to answer any questions folks might have.
swan_tower: (Default)

Memorial in the Wake
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The next time I take a picture like this one, I’ll have an easier time of it.

Hawaii was one of the last trips I took before I was in the habit of using Lightroom to edit my photos, which means I didn’t plan for the editing process in taking the shot. Which means I took about twenty-seven of these shots, trying to get one where the horizon was actually level — that wake you see is from the ferry I was riding in, so I kept being rolled in one direction or the other. In the future I can just take a wider shot without worrying as much about the framing, and then straighten it out in post.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

ceciliatan: (default)

At today’s general meeting of the RWA membership, taking place at the RWA national convention, changes were announced, revamping the rules for the RITA Awards once again.

The changes are in response to a kerfuffle this year, when some categories had ridiculously few books make it to “finalist” status: in particular erotic romance had only 3, which seemed ridiculous given how large the number of books published in that category was, and inspirational romance had only 2. Meanwhile historical romance had 17 finalists. That seemed out of whack even to people not deeply steeped in romance.

The surmise was that this imbalance was caused by the structure of the scoring, in which any book that got 90% or above in its average score was automatically a finalist. Each book was read by multiple judges (I don’t know how many), and each judge assigned a number of points to each book based on certain criteria (prose quality, etc). On the face of it that sounds reasonable, but the category of “how romance-y is this romance” was worth 20 points, while everything else was worth only 10. (Full disclosure: yes, I judged, because in order to guarantee that a book you enter into the contest makes it into the list of 2000 that are included before the cutoff, you had to agree to judge.) The speculation is that because historical romance was considered more “romance-y” by the RWA members judging than either erotic romance or inspirational romance, these categories were unfairly marked down.

The new rules can be found in full on the RWA Website here: http://www.rwa.org/p/bl/et/blogid=20&blogaid=795

The main changes I noted:
• Entrants are required to judge. (Before, it was only those who volunteered.)
• Entrants will not judge in a category in which they are entered. (I received 2 books that were in the category my book was in.)
• The top 4% of each category’s entries (based on the number of qualified entries received) will advance to the final round, except each category will have no fewer than 4 finalists or more than 10 finalists.
• All entrants are required to judge the preliminary round. Others eligible to judge are authors who are PAN-eligible. The final round will be judged by PAN members.

Of course one of the things brought up at the meeting is that PRO and PAN membership may be changing in the future, but the board is still looking into that. They acknowledged that the categories of PAN and PRO were created back when traditional print publishing dominated. (I’m not a PAN member because I’m prohibited from being one. Why? Because even though I’m traditionally published at Hachette/Grand Central/Forever, I am an acquiring editor for Circlet Press, and that disqualifies me.)

A few other notes on the Rita Awards:
Last year 1400 entries were received.
Golden Heart entry fees are dropping to $30.

There are probably some more things to note, but this is what jumped out at me right away. I’m sure more debate will follow.

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

yhlee: Night Vale clock (Night Vale (credit: <user name="busaikko)
Hi! I need a humiliating fox-waxing exercise to distract myself with as a reward for chugging through this damn story draft right now.

This occurred to me because at the kaffeeklatsch someone said, I hope jokingly, that my rough drafts must come out perfectly. Actually, most of my rough drafts are hilariously awful!

Poll #15728 fox-waxing
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 4


Which hilariously awful rough draft excerpt should I post:

View Answers

"Ghostweight" (opening) (EPIC AWFUL)
3 (75.0%)

"Iseul's Lexicon" (one of several discarded openings) (EPIC AWFUL)
2 (50.0%)

"Swanwatch"
0 (0.0%)

"The Battle of Candle Arc" (don't have the original 10,000-word version, heh, but I do have a rough)
1 (25.0%)

"Notes on the Necromantic Symphony"
0 (0.0%)

something else I will name in comments [1]
0 (0.0%)



[1] Because I've switched OSes, word processors, computers, etc., and have a habit of recycling old notebooks and printouts, I may not actually have rough drafts of some stories. But it never hurts to ask! Personally, I think "Ghostweight" has the most dreadful rough draft excerpts, if you want to zero in on MAXIMUM YOONMILIATION. =) Writing that story damn near killed me.
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