matociquala: (sf star trek horta/spock)
Hey, look what came in the mail! It's a copy of Old Venus, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. This awesome anthology is a followup to last year's Old Mars, and it's made of Eleanor Arnason, David Brin, Tobias S. Buckell, Michael Cassutt, Joe Haldeman, Matthew Hughes, Gwyneth Jones, Joe R. Landsdale, Stephen Leigh, Paul McAuley, Ian McDOnald, Garth Nyx, Mike Resnick, Allen M. Steele, Lavie Tidhar, and meeeeee.

Yeah, I'll never be over typing lists like that.



(Tea today: Stash Sunny Orange Ginger
Teacup today: Still White Nile, but I might change later.)

Old Venus goes on sale March 3rd, but you can pre-order now. As you can probably guess, it's tales of a classic SF swampy Venus, reimagined through a modern lens. I chose to do my story, "The Heart's Filthy Lesson," as if the Venera probes had borne out a living Venus with a rich atmosphere, but with as much reinforcing actual modern science as possible otherwise.

(The art that's serving as my desktop is copyright Dan Zollinger--it's the banner for my Gotham Jazz Storium world.)

And now, before I go off to the gym to run on the treadmill, because I'm being a wimp about the snow, some pretty pictures of sunrise yesterday:





And the verrrry impressive icicles at my vet:



Now, to exercise, and then I have more guest blogging and interview questions to do, and a plot problem to solve so I can finish this post-apocalyptic sargasso lighthouse story tomorrow.
matociquala: (writing sf starwars wookiee stet)
Book week continues!

I'm in this week's Mind Meld over at SF Signal, talking about gaming influence on fiction and verse vica.

Karen's getting piles of fabulous reviews. You can check out the ones I've found over here at my Pinterest brag page.

Also, a Big Idea over here, and a guest blog at Charlie's Diary over here.

Here's my Goodreads article on some of my favorite Steampunk works. Here's a guest blog at D. Franklin's place on Strong Female Characters. Here's one at Aidan Moher's place on prostitute stereotypes. Here's an interview at Suvudu. Here I am interviewed by Fran Wilde at SF Signal.

...I forgot something, I know.

In the mean time, check out this gorgeous banner art by the inimitable Dan Zollinger for my Gotham Jazz world for the Storium roleplaying engine (still in gamma, but coming RSN!). (Click image to ennoirify at a higher pixel density!)




And then, have a nice cup of tea.



(I'm still drinking out of the White Nile cup, because it has an appealingly wintry color scheme that matches the  light and heavy snow outside, and what's in it is a second steeping of the Stash Portland blend.)

Now I have blogged dutifully, and I must
matociquala: (froud magician)

So I flew down to Galveston to run in the Galveston half-marathon with [livejournal.com profile] stillsostrange on Sunday, and also to do Writer Things and confab with her and several other colleagues about Writer Stuff. Many plots were discussed.

On the way down, I caught this amazing triple rainbow over Chicago:



This is what the sky over Galveston looked like at sunset on January 31st:



The day of the race was supposed to be rainy, but instead it was mostly quite sunny, and around 70 degrees. Which is a little on the hot side when you are running 13 miles.

These are our before faces:



And this is the view of the beach along the race course:

 


Doesn't look quite real, does it? The water and sky were the most amazing hazy agate colors. Absolutely breathtaking in a subtle sort of way. We ran through several old Victorian neighborhoods too, and the houses were lovely. A half-marathon is a great way to tourist!

And these are our "after" faces:



Yeah, it got hot. We were delighted to find a kind guy handing out handfuls of ice to runners at the 11 mile mark. We filled up our hats, and it was a serious relief.

Then I came home to this:



...got some snow.

Here's some tea! Before I left, I was drinking from the Royal Albert morning glories:



And the tea on Thursday was Constant Comment. Because I like it, and I'm not too much of a tea snob to say so.

Today, I lifted--I'm starting a new powerlifting program, and I'm getting serious about the self-discipline, because honestly that half marathon was a LOT harder than such a flat course needed to be, and all my clothes seem to have shrunk--and grocery shopped, and cleaned the kitchen, and made dinner for the house. And then I wrote a bunch of words on the micro robot story, which still has no title but which I think I will finish tomorrow.

Today's first pot of tea was Stash's Portland blend, and the second pot was Stash's Wedding Tea. I have a new teacup! It's a Royal Doulton pattern called White Nile, and though it's not eggshell-amazing translucent like my other Royal Doulton cup, it's very understated and pretty.



Now I'm going to practice some guitar and read for a while before bed.

But before I go--for your delectation, a selection of Galveston signage! Texas never disappoints.



Cthulhu runs a restaurant. Sorry it's blurry, but there's an octopus with an Illuminati eye on that sign, and the text below OLYMPIA GRILL reads, "Since 1500 B.C."

...all right then.

Then there was this one:



You don't say.

matociquala: (muppetology animal deadlines)

Apparently I am in the middle of a cycle of stories taking the piss out of academia. I finished one already this year--"The Bone War"--and it's a central theme of the thing I'm contributing to Worldspinner. And I'm finally getting some traction on "On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera," a story I have been working on literally since 1989.

I also have a thing called "And The Balance in Blood," that'll be finished as soon as I think of a climax, and a snarky-ass library story that has no title yet, but it does have an epigraph: 

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

? Jorge Luis Borges

Of course, none of these are the things that are due in January and February.

Of course not. Those are still looking for plots.

(I've been cooking a bunch too, as writing breaks--tomato soup and purple sweet potato biscuits yesterday, green tea agar (it's delicious with rosemary simple syrup), and today a batch of [livejournal.com profile] standuponit's root veggie muffins and some tangerine cream cheese spread to go on them.)

Here, have some pictures of tea. I've been using my beloved and cracked Royal Doulton irises teacup for days, for the moral support, so there's not going to be a lot of variation. *g*

  

  

And here, have a bonus picture of my dog.



matociquala: (criminal minds jj hit what she aimed at)
Autocorrect does not believe in padparadschas, and suspects they should be pachysandras. These are not even remotely similar, autocorrect

Also, I should probably stop using the word vermilion every again.

But I won't.

I got a bunch done on the Worldspinners stuff today, and 700 words of The Stone in the Skull that I am very proud of. Also, ran two miles, attended a yoga class, and climbed. And met my new doctor.

And a nice big box of trade paperback copies of Shattered Pillars arrived on my porch, courtesy of the UPS ninja! Look!



Teacup today: My grandmother's yellow one.
Tea today: Christmas blend


Bed now, I think. Yes.
matociquala: (writing eternal sky gage)
I found the first line for The Stone in the Skull, also occasionally known as "Eternal Sky #4", today. Up until now, it was [Find a better opening line.] But now it has been upgraded to:

The mountain wore a mirrored mask.

And look, an icon.

I also wrote this, which amused me:

"Once we drop the package off," the Gage asked, "have you given some thought to what we might do next?"

The Dead Man scuffed his hands together in their mittens, then stuffed them back in the pockets of his coat. "I'm waiting for God to tell me what to do. You know, send a sign or something."

The mountain wind whipped the Gage's hood back from the smooth mirror of his mask. "Having any luck with that?"

The Dead Man turned at the creak of traces, but the ice boats were still being rehitched. He turned back and shook his head behind the veils. "Not so far. She seems to believe that I ought to be old enough to look it up by now."


***
I'm at that portion of the book that involves stopping to name everything every five minutes, or at least putting a lot of stuff in [brackets] that means "think up a good name later." And honestly, I'm only working on the novel today because I am stuck on two, no, three different short stories, and waiting for an editor to get back to me on a fourth.

I should also stop listing names for the Eternal Sky world's Ganges equivalent at nine. (It's also the Tsarethi, but people here don't call it that.)

So, here's some pictures of tea, for the last few days, because I have been lax.



Teacup: Royal Albert, with roses.
Tea: Sakura, which is to say salted cherry blossom, from Kyoto Obubu



Teacup: same
Tea: Genmaicha, from Kyoto Obubu



Teacup: Grace preppy roses (pink and green)
Tea: Upton Christmas blend.

And here's dawn, yesterday, because it was lovely:

matociquala: (hustle ash dickhead)

1274 words of guest blog posts today, which is like productivity while I look for the end of this story. And I have some other work to do while it computes, too, so that's all beneficial.

And since it was nonfiction, I mostly did it at my standing desk. (I mostly have a hard time writing fiction standing up.) Also, I could listen to music. (Which is hard with fiction, again, except sometimes when it's mandatory, because brains are dicks.)

I enjoy the standing desk, because it also functions as a dancing desk, and I like that.

All in all, a productive use for a day that was a pile of wintry mix outdoors.



Tea today: Stash White Christmas. (I'm in a rut.)
Teacup today: confetti roses

matociquala: (writing karen memory)
Get out your notebooks, guys, I've got a lot of news.

Save the date-type object! I will be appearing at Pandemonium Books in Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts at 7 pm on THURSDAY FEBRUARY 12th (That's Boskone Eve) for a Karen Memory book launch! My beloved Scott Lynch will be with me, shilling his own stuff!

There will be cookies!

Also, Cynthia Sheppard, my awesome cover artist, just won the IBA Grand Prize for her cover art for said Karen Memory! Not bad, not bad at all!

Also, I finished a draft of "The Bone War" today and wrote nearly 3,000 words doing it. My butt hurts. But I'm very pleased with how it seems to be coming out/shaping up. It's a Bijou story, it involves paleontologists and making fun of academics, and I'll let you know when you can read it somewhere!

Here is the tea that helped:



It's Upton gen mai cha, and I bought the teacup in Iceland. Because I'm somebody who has been to Iceland now.

Winter is finally here, speaking of ice (see what a good segue that was?!), and the cold made the windows pretty last night, I brought some proof.



 
matociquala: (holmes confidence)
1400 words today on "The Bone War." Which gets me to the primary conflict, and I should have another day or two of writing to finish a draft, if everything goes as planned. Then I can go back to the interrupted "And the Balance in Blood," which still needs a climax. Now that I'm not trying to cram it into a too-small space, I can even go back and put some more conflict at the beginning.

In other news, I'm engaged in making ghost chili vodka, which is largely the fault of [livejournal.com profile] ursulav and her spouse, and their habanero vodka. Right now, it looks like this:



And here's today's tea, which is Upton's Yamato sencha, in today's teacup, which is the Frankencup. (The cup and saucer don't actually match, but they're learning to cohabitate pretty well.)

matociquala: (criminal minds pentiss and reid back)
Words to live by, that. It's amazing how much one can actually accomplish by applying that as a metaphor for life.

So yesterday I did not blog my progress, for various reasons that mostly amount to absolutely everything taking longer than it needed to. But I got about three pages on the replacement story, and my plan for today is to get even more.

I also did a bunch of research on north African dinosaurs. Which led inevitably, and with a kind of terrible logic, to watching Jurassic Park III so I could make fun of it on twitter. (I also watched Agent Carter and surprised myself by quite liking the first half, which was stylish and had great dialogue. I only half-engaged with the second half, though--somehow it lost tension for me, which may have had more to do with losing the plot when I went to forage for cheese and crackers than any failing of the show.)

I seem to have a mild bug, so I have an excuse to curl up with the dog and not do much else but write. And convert some leftovers into pot pie for dinner.

I did have an interesting conversation with [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat earlier this week regarding writing plot, which I wanted to write down for posterity.

I was arguing that plot is the easy part, because plot is a machine. (Okay, #NotAllPlots, but three act structure is pretty much a thing where you can put a quarter in the slot and get a plot out the end, once you know how to turn the cranks.)

Basically, the most common forms of working with plot are a science. The hard part is the parts of story that are arts--character development, theme, emotional resonance--the things that work in more mysterious ways. The things that are emergent properties of other things, basically.

But plot, and to an extent language--in the sense of rhetoric--are pretty well defined and well discussed in various places. One still must practice, of course, but there's not a lot of mystery in how they work.

The tricky bit is that some of us come in with a set of skills in one of the more mysterious aspects--so characterization, say, is easy for us. But at some point, we're probably going to have to up our game on that front too. And because it's been instinctive up to that point, we have a hell of a time learning how to learn.

Tea yesterday: Caribbean blue lady
Teacup yesterday: Dragonfly tea bowl

matociquala: (criminal minds reid airquotes)
The single thing I see most journeyman writers do that impedes their careers is overthinking.

I spent a lot of my apprentice and journeyman time doing the same thing, honestly. And then I realized how much better off I would be if I took all that emotional energy spent comma-fucking and worrying about where and whether to submit things and put it into telling stories. Overthinking, it turns out, is a form of self-sabotage.

It's okay for things we write not to be perfect. It's okay for us to look at something we've done, declare it practice, and toss it in a folder. I give you permission!

It's not okay to do that to everything. Rejection never actually caused cancer. Get some stuff out there and let it get handed back to you, and learn it's not personal.

I suspect there are those who underthink, too. I probably just don't hang around with as many of those. I suspect, honestly, that there's a socialized-in gender divide. Women are socialized to second-guess and diminish everything, and men are socialized to never admit doubt or failure, and really, neither extreme makes for a healthy attitude towards a career in the arts.

Oh look, a fence. I'll straddle it.

Winter is finally here for reals, and the wind is rattling the windows in their panes and making a howling noise in the chimney that I forget about every summer. Today may be more of a problem-solving day than a wordcount day. That's also fine. We don't have to rush through things, as long as we're making forward progress. As long as our deadlines allow (Yes, I am the writer who cares about deadlines) sometimes it makes for a better story in the long run to stop and work stuff out instead of pushing ahead when you're not quite sure you're headed in the right direction.

So I have to work out the climactic conflict in "And the Balance in Blood," and I have to figure out how to justify the title, which isn't quite owning the story yet.

And, today on The Thrilling True Tale of a Professional Writer, I have to Name That Dwarf.

In the meantime, here's a photo of my workspace today. I can't believe how big that African violet has gotten: it needs repotting again. And the Christmas cactus is a cutting provided by an acquaintance (it's a bit off the giant 70-year-old Christmas cactus at a local yarn store!) and that's it's first blossom here. The color is outstanding, a translucent fuchsia. It washed out in the sun, but the sun was pretty, so I used the photo anyway.

Tea today: Holy basil with lime syrup
Teacup today: by Jon Singer, a gift from the artist.
The mug is by Heather Fachen (?sp on the last name), bought in Madison.


matociquala: (spies mfu goodliest outside napoleon)

"One thing you could say for the Council of Elders: it wasn't a misnomer."

Snarky old lady saint with no fucks to give is the best protag. And I am really enjoying the opportunity to write some unabashed Generic Fantasy Role-Playing Universe Satirical Fanfic. Yes.

1800 words, and I am having fun.

Tea today is Upton's Mélange de Chamonix. Teacup is Queen Anne Black Magic.

matociquala: (lion in winter broken because you're bri)


As I mentioned on twitter, I see it's the season of the inevitable lists of Best Fantasy Novels Mostly By White Men of 2014, and also of Most Anticipated Fantasy Novels Mostly By White Men Forthcoming in 2015. Excelsior, I guess.

As for me? The best revenge is writing more and better stories. I've got a little over 2000 words of the projected 8000 in "And the Balance in Blood." Still haven't quite figured out how the terrible thing that has to happen is going to happen, but I believe I have tomorrow's slapstick sorted, so that will carry me through at least to Monday. And I'm still enjoying it rather a lot.

And today's teacup is new! Or new to me, anyway--a neighbor picked it up at the Give And Take at the transfer station, and thought of me. It's a holiday poinsettia and spruce pattern from Royal Albert that is called, for some reason, "South Pacific." The tea today was Stash's White Christmas, which I love all year 'round.



And... it's snowing.



I'm about to celebrate having finished a reasonable amount of work at a reasonable hour by going to watch some Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries while stretching out, and then making meatloaf for dinner. (Insert Rocky Horror joke here.)

These are all manageable deadlines if I work steadily and my brain cooperates with good ideas.

It's a weird feeling, manageable deadlines.

matociquala: (criminal minds gideon murder before coff)

Productive day, more or less. Three pages on The Stone in the Skull and a page and a few critical decisions on "And the Balance in Blood." As of tomorrow, The Stone in the Skull is going to have to wait, because the other thing is on a deadline.

I love the voice of the protagonist in this. She's an elderly AD&D style cleric with an attitude problem, and the voice I am aiming for is sort of one part K.J. Parker, one part Avram Davidson, and one part L. Sprague de Camp.

Sister Scholastique rolled onto her back, pulled the hard, sawdust-stuffed pillow over her head, and reflected on the sure and certain hope for peace and for virtue rewarded in the next world. She had determined that there was little enough of either in this one.

The dogs had been barking for half an hour at least, and the Sister was wondering if it would be selfish misuse of divine Grace to do something about the too-loud-for-midnight conversation below the narrow window of her narrow cell which was so inspiring them. She had all but convinced herself that, on the contrary, a small silencing would be in the service of the Gods and the slumber of decent people, when a phrase of conversation somehow floated between canine choruses and made itself audible to her.


This is my story for the Worldspinner kickstarter.

Whatever else is going on, she's delighting me. I just hope the plot engine starts spinning the wheels on its own soon, because right now I'm out there working the propeller for all I'm worth.

tea today: Russian caravan
teacup today: Irises


matociquala: (wicked fairy bowie)
I think I might have tired this dog out.



Tea today: Stash White Christmas
Teacup today: Queen Anne "Marilyn," which is snowdrops. Snowdrops, and not, as some misguided ebay seller recently claimed for a similar cup, lily-of-the-valley. Botany is not an ebay teacup seller strong point.



We did some decorating last night. I present the Christmas cactus!

matociquala: (muppetology floyd pepper groovy)
Wow. I'm really tired tonight. What is with that?

In any case, today I did a bunch of award reading, and I made scones. And Karen Memory is a Romantic Times top pick!



Today's teacup is a Royal Doulton iris motif that looks like it comes from the 20s, but is actually about twenty years newer than that.

Today's tea is not enough of it.



Also, today I got the cover flats for the long-delayed trade paperback of Shattered Pillars, which comes out next month!
matociquala: (writing whiskey devil)



My goodness, I'm tired. Although it turns out that I like Whiskey and Water better than I expected. Ten years after writing it, it's a pretty good book. So now I know what the half-life for novel trauma is...

Once I do a little work on copy and the cover, we may even find it up on Amazon and B&N and such. But that will not happen tonight. Tonight I am just happy the proofreading is done.

All that's going to happen tonight is me falling over.

Tea today: Upton gen mai cha, which is my favorite tea in the world right now.
Teacup today: The cup is Westbrook, bought at a local barn sale, and the saucer is Wedgewood, off ebay. They match pretty good, I think. In direct sunlight, you can see a slight difference in the shades of the green.

Florence + the Machine make everything better.

matociquala: (phil ochs troubador)

Okay, the last iceberg for December is in my sights. I've actually seriously got my teeth into this trawl through the Whiskey and Water ebook for OCR artifacts. And yeah, they're everywhere. Sorry guys: fix coming soon.



tea today: Upton Mango Indica
teacup today: Royal Albert confetti roses, which is my girliest teacup. The one behind it, which currently holds water with lemon, was bought on Martha's Vineyard from a local potter in Oak Bluffs.

I also finished the orange peel today and mailed a bunch off to a fairly random list of people (It came out delicious--even my mom liked it, and she is not into candied peel of any kind)

Weather continues [X] frightful, which is wreaking havoc with my outdoor exercise. Supposed to be nicer Friday and Saturday, though. 

And the other day I finally went back and beat the Portal bossfight, because I had bailed on it years ago and just watched it on Youtube. Apparently I've gotten better at hitting that E key, because I actually got the damned hovercore on the seventy-eleventh attempt. Now I never have to do that again.

And now, back to picking through Whiskey and Water and listening to Leonard Cohen.

matociquala: (criminal minds elle lucky)
I may have eaten entirely too much candied orange peel today. And the syrup. I'm not sure I'm EXACTLY regretting my choices, however.

I crossed so much administrivia off my to-do list today. Not all of it, but a great deal. And for one brief, shining moment my inbox was at 1, and the thing it was waiting for was somebody else.

I feel like I should document these candied peels for posterity, as they are in honor of my boyfriend's character, Doña Sofia, and are therefor infused with brandy.

 Doña Sofia's Candied Alchemical Orange Rinds

So you do it like this.

Get your thick-rinded oranges such as a navel, and peel them. Slice the rinds into convenient chunks or strips. (eat the insides.)

Submerge the rinds in cold salted water and bring it to a boil. Boil hard for a minute or so, and drain. Then submerge them in cold water again and again bring them to a boil this time for five minutes. Drain once more, and then return to the pot with:

(This is for five or six oranges)

equal parts sugar and water, about two cups of each
2 cinnamon sticks
6 crushed cardamom pods
2 dried piquin chili peppers
a quarter of a vanilla bean
2 star anise heads
5 slices of fresh ginger

Bring all this to a boil, stir it, and simmer it very softly, stirring occasionally, until the rind is translucent--about three or five hours. Then pour in a half cup of brandy, stir, and simmer again for an hour or so.

At this point, use a slotted spoon to lay the candied rind on racks to dry (over parchment paper, newspaper, or baking sheets) and ignore them until tomorrow.



Tomorrow, you will toss them in sugar (possibly into which has been grated some orange zest) and then, if you like, swirl them in melted chocolate.

Nom.

Meanwhile, back in the tea--

Today's tea: Upton gen mai cha
Today's teacup: Queen Anne "Black Magic"




Today's tea snack... purple sweet potato scones.



And lunch was garlic soup with a poached egg, after the Yoga Journal recipe here. I also put some avocado slices in mine. It's delicious, eat it.

Photo evidence!

matociquala: (criminal minds garcia plan b)

Well, absolutely no writing has gotten done since I handed the welves off to the truepenny. And I am, quite frankly, okay with that. I've been catching up on reading and playing Portal and watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix. (Spoiler, I love it.)

Also, finally got around to replacing my dead desktop, two and a half years later. Let's hear it for pre-holiday sales. So there was two days of computer setting up. Because that's how these things go. And that necessitated rearranging the office a little.

Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems is looking to be the theme album for The Stone in the Skull. Or at the very least, for the Gage.

I had to leave
My life behind
I dug some graves
You’ll never find

The story’s told
With facts and lies
I had a name
But never mind





Here's what my corner of the office looks like now.



And here's today's teacup, which is a Royal Albert morning glory cup from the "Friendship" series that I found on eBay. (My favorite flowers: morning glories, iris, lilacs, crocus.)

Tea today: Upton's Yamato sencha.

Bonus: Saturday's teacup, which is a Queen Anne decorated with violets that I inherited from a family friend. It's full of Upton's Assam-based Irish Breakfast with milk and sugar.



I do need to start fighting back from the post-novel ennui and whatever mild crud I've been fighting off. I apparently have some OCR issues to fix in the ebook version of Whiskey and Water, and I have some kickstarter stuff for Worldspinners due in January, and there's Tiptree reading to get done. And I have all this email to answer. And a secret santa gift to make, and some holiday baking to do. And trying to reconnect with friends after a year of hard travel and long absences, and the attendant loss of fitness and extra weight I'm carrying. And I need to get serious about my training for the half marathon in February, in related news.

I'm just so damned stupid tired. I've been turning down and bowing out of projects left and right, and I'm still booked up for 2015 already. Which is a good problem to have, but also, wow. Tired.

There is so much constant damn maintenance in this life.





My father says I'm chosen. My mother says I'm not.

March 2017

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