Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

While Ken and I may or may not go shopping later, we have another reason to dread today. We're taking three of the four cats to the vet at the same time. It sounded like a good idea when I made the appointment--'oh, Ken's off, so he'll help me, and one trip instead of three is always good'--but, damn. Let me give you a rundown of what the half-hour before the vet visit will entail.

Clean the cat carriers. Do this outside so the cats don't know what's coming.

Warm up the car.

Close all bedroom and basement doors so that there are no escape routes.

Bailey will be under the bed, so run vacuum in the bedroom so she'll shoot out from underneath before she knows what's coming.

Stuff Bailey in one box.

Get clean towel and go after Kahlua, who by this point knows what's coming and wants no part of the nonsense. He's fat, though, so he's easy to catch. However, he's got a defense mechanism.

Wrap towel around Kahlua, making sure to cover both his eyes and his tail end. Hold him away from yourself so that when he pees out of fright (this is the said defense mechanism) it doesn't go on you. If you've done your wrapping job right, it'll go on the towel. Stuff Kahlua into the other box.

Go after Moonshine. She is skittish, but she's only been in the cat carriers once or twice, and she didn't seem to mind the vet the few times she's been, so her curiousity about the rucus might make your job easier. Stuff her into box with Bailey. Bailey might be bitchy, but she's more calm that Kahlua in this situation and Kahlua's fear might transfer to Moonshine if they're in the same box.

Shove Morgan out of the way when you leave. You see that Morgan is quite pleased with himself because he is not a part of this circus side show. Tell him to wipe the smug look off his face or he'll be next. Tell him you'll find a reason to take him to the vet, and then won't he be sorry. Shut the door and wonder if Morgan is on the counters out of spite yet.

This is the basic script for any trip to the vet. Once we get home, Bailey will hiss at all the others--they'll each get their own customized hiss--because she will be convinced it's their fault she has had to suffer such indignities. Kahlua will roll into a ball on the couch and not move until nightfall, while I'm not entirely certain what Moonshine will do. Morgan will prance around and generally make an ass of himself, gloating because he didn't have to go.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Eat More Chicken!

Happy Thanksgiving! Ken and I stayed home today and cooked a little feast. It was good except for the turkey breast--we didn't cook it long enough and so it was still pink in the middle. We picked at it but ultimately threw it out because we were both paranoid about food poisoning. It was good to stay home, though, because we don't have headaches from family stress and we haven't been overfed.
It feels more like Christmas than Thanksgiving in our house because Ken stood in line outside of best buy on Tuesday and scored himself and XBOX360, so we've been playing with the new toy all day. Even I have to admit it's pretty fucking cool. The graphics are awesome, and because we have it hooked up to our projector, the screen is like six feet wide. When I watch or play Call of Duty 2, though, I get motion sick. It's weird. But I'm sorta getting the hang of the racing game, though, so it's okay. I'd like to have a poker game for it, and I'll be buying Ken and game for Christmas, so we'll have a collection in no time.

Called Dad today. Almost told him about the short-story thing, but didn't. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm afraid to tell him it didn't work out if it doesn't, or maybe I'm afraid if I tell too many people it won't happen, or ... I don't know. I think it has something more to do with fucked up parental relationships, because I haven't told mom, either. This is all beginning to sound Freudian and so I'm stopping now.
Tomorrow we may actually go out and brave the crowds. There are actually a few gifts I could buy, but mostly I like to watch all the people and feed off their energy. Does that make me some sort of freaky Christmas Vampire?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Even better news (I think)

It turns out that the anthology I'm submitting to is invitation-only. I think that means this: the author is gathering 15-18 submissions, and unless mine is unacceptable in some way, it'll be published. Holy fucking shit! It goes without saying I had an anxiety attack when I read that e-mail. There are a few authors she's invited that are widely published in the genre (Mike Stackpole and Chris Peirson). Their name on the cover will ensure that more people will buy the book and so more people will potentially read my story. Anthologies really aren't big sellers, but who gives a shit? My name will be in print! That is, if I don't fuck this up somehow. People I've told are already clamoring for autographed copies. I say, don't jinx me. I'll believe it actually happened when I have a copy of the book in my hands.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

exciting news

Today I got an email that made my heart race and my hands shake.

No, it wasn't porn. Get your mind outta the gutter.

The author I sent my manuscript to invited me to send a story to her for an anthology she's editing. She hasn't read much of my book yet--she's got about a thousand irons in the fire and, let's face it, I'm a guppy in the fiction ocean--but she has read the first four or five chapters. That she's invited me to send in a story tells me that she doesn't think my writing sucks. If I was crap she wouldn't have given me this opportunity, right? The deadline's not until April, so idealy I'd like to write a couple of stories and submit the best one. Just sending it in doesn't mean I'll actually be published. I don't know how many spots she's trying to fill, but I believe she gets hundreds of submissions for her anthologies, so the odds aren't in my favor. I say, experience counts, and if I don't get this anthology I'll get the next one, or the one after that.

I have Friday night off. I feel a celebration coming on.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

fun with chemistry

Today I performed a chemistry experiment I like to call "making chocolate-oatmeal no-bake cookies." If I do say so myself, the experiment was a smashing success. To me, cooking is like following a laboratory procedure ... if you can do one, you can do the other. Give me a recipe and I can follow it. Ken, however, follows the "a dash of this and a smidge of that, taste it, add a bit of this" school of cookery. It goes without saying that we don't usually cook together.

Submitting a short story today. A few weeks ago I received a rejection for something I had forgotten I had submitted. I've been working on the third book and a really rough outline for a new book. I'm reading "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. It's really good--last night I stayed up until 0230 reading and bawling like a baby. If you've ever lived with anyone who's had a serious illness, you'll totally relate. As a writer, it's good to read, too, because each chapter is a different character's POV.

Monday, November 07, 2005

all the dirt from Madison

I woke up at, like, 0430 and couldn't get back to sleep. We left town at around 0915 and two discussions about my driving and one pee break later, made it into Madison at around 1330. Our hotel sucked--it wasn't the convention hotel but one about three blocks away--and apparently hadn't been updated since the 1930's or so. We couldn't control the heat, the smoke alarm would go off when we showered, and the toilet would sometimes keep running. Luckily, we didn't spend too much time there. Once we got food in our tummies we were in a much brighter frame of mind.

We checked into the convention and got our swag bag. I'm here to say the goodies are worth the price of admission (which is a steep $135 apiece). Ken and I each received a bag full of books. Unfortunatley, two of the books we already owned, but fortunately, there was a 'book swap' table were you put duplicates and pick up books you wanted. The dealer's room was basically jewelery and books, and you guys know me and bookstores. I held myself to one book, though.

The panel discussions were good. That first afternoon I met Holly Black, who has published something like seven ya books in the past five years. I immediately wanted to be her friend because she had cool hair and could do that cool liquid-eyeliner-sixties-cat-eyes thing with her makeup. She introduced me to her agent, who invited me to send him a query. Whee-hee! That night we attended a few readings, as well, and decided that readings were a lot of fun. The two authors we saw first changed their voices for each character and read with alot of expression, much like an audiobook. The whole point of the reading is to make people want to buy the book the story is in or the book that is coming out, and these two accomplished that. There are unpublished authors that do readings, as well, so maybe I'll try to get a slot next year. It made me think I should maybe take an acting class or something so I could be more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd and getting into the reading.

Another bonus of WFC: free food and drinks. There's a 'consuite' room with freebie soda, beer, and hot and cold food to eat and drink whenever you want. Also, every evening different groups host parties that are on the same floor of the consuite. Once again, free drinks flow. The first night it was austrailian wines (it was an aussie party), and I had to consciously remind myself I was here to meet people, not to become drunk and stupid on free liquor. That first night Ken and I met two guys from Arkansas--Jon and Jeremy--who had written a few books and were stumping them around. We actually hit if off right away and kept meeting up with them throughout the con.

I met a children's/ya editor from Viking--she was on a panel and the first words out of her mouth were "I fucking hate morning people," and so I knew she was one chick I had to meet. After speaking with her for a bit she told me to send her my manuscript, and if it wasn't for her, she'd maybe pass it on to someone who could work with it. Apparently this woman is a biggish name in the children's/ya publishing realm because her name kept popping up over the course of the weekend. She said she seemed to like contemporary fantasy more, so I have a feeling she'll reject my book, but maybe she'll like the next one. I could have that one done next summer, maybe.

In the early evening Ken and I played a time-wasting but highly-addictive game with a group of writers from Minneanapolis. They seemed like a group of peeps I could hang with alot. One of them has a PhD in physics, and somehow we got onto the subject of marshmellows in the microwave. Apparently, if you make a grid of minimarshmellows in the microwave and you zap them, you see the microwaves in the pattern of swelling. You can measure it and somehow calculate the speed of light. This chick says this--I think it was Laura--and immediately I feel like a complete dumbass. This is what they do for fun???? Dude, I watch E! and read Instyle for fun. Of course, I kept that information to myself. See, sometimes I can keep my mouth shut.

More parties in the evening. Met up with some people Ken and I had met at Gen Con in July. One is the author that I gave my manuscript to. She was only on page sixty or so, but she said so far she was enjoying it and she would email her comments soon. I found out she has two deadlines before the end of the year and one in February, so it might be awhile. I say, we should all be so lucky.

Ken and I join Jon, Jeremy, and the gen conners for breakfast. I'm beginning to feel less like an imposterish hack and more like I belong. I'm already looking forward to next year. We do panels and readings all day, but skip the parties that night. We're not young anymore, after all, and can only drink so many woodchuck ciders and microbrews, even if they are free.

Ken and I talk with Marissa Lingen for a bit. I had spoken with her briefly throughout the con, but she had had a bout of food poisoning and wasn't up for much. She was still sick on Sunday, and I felt bad for her. She seemed like a sweetie, though, and if she spent too much time with me I would surely corrupt her. After a few panels and another free book we left.

Basically, the moral is in the beginning I felt like a nervous, incompetant, and talentless hack, and in the end I felt like a semi-competant hack with a smidgen of talent.

Gotta jet. I'm meeting a friend for a belated-birthday lunch, and I have to go make myself beautiful. That could take awhile.