Thursday, February 24, 2011

I can't comment there, so I'll comment here

Over at Ilona Andrews' blog, they've got a lively though closed discussion in the comments about the boy who wouldn't wrestle the girl in Iowa. I'd just like to say, hitting a girl is not the same as having a wrestling match with a girl, and it's pretty messed up when someone confuses them. I am here to learn, and if someone won't punch me because I'm a girl, then they've just taken that learning opportunity away from me.

That's all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Word of the day: Reach out

Not really a word, more of a phrase or a clause. But all of a sudden, I keep seeing it used all over the place. Maybe it started when one of my colleagues asked me to "reach out" to another colleague for information on a project I'd been supposed to be working on, but in fact knew nothing about. And the other person replied "It's too late to be reaching out," which I thought was a totally appropriate response.

Now I'm seeing it everywhere, and I wonder, what does it mean? I don't want any colleague I've never actually met "reaching out" to me. Just send me an email. Please.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A message to my teenaged self

Back when I was in high school, I practiced my musical instruments. One of the ones I played, hammered dulcimer, sounded good even when I was just banging on the strings. Sometimes when I would play a piece (and I remember myself being pretty good) weird, accidental, awesomely cool things would happen. And I was concerned that when I got really good, those amazing accidents, the ones where I made a change in a piece by accident that made it "my own" wouldn't happen anymore.


I needn't have worried.

Also, today on Salon there's an article about Apophis (not sure how long that link will last...) so I guess I should work on that story. (ETA: you must watch the video there. The wailing shrieking music is awesome.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Why I never finish things

I started this post in January, time for new beginnings. But I'm not starting new things just yet. I've got all these old things I just want done:
  • Anhinga
  • Morrigan
  • Rabbits
  • Bezoar
  • Apophis

I'm going back to them, and looking at them, and trying to make them work, rather than just make them done.


Take, for example, the socks I knit Ed for Christmas. I finished the first one on the 24th of December at about 8 pm. There was no way I was going to get the second one done in time -- I'd started it, but I was maybe six inches down the leg, and those (click the link!) are some long socks.


And then it was Christmas morning, and my brother-in-law was gloating about his new handknit socks, so I gave Ed his one wrapped sock. But it was too long in the foot, so I knit the second one shorter. But it was too short. So I ripped out both toes and made them right. I finished these socks at like midnight on Jan 3.


And now, with my Christmas knitting finally done (I also had to do ones for my sister - sorry, Ravelry link), I can return to Anhinga and Morrigan. Now, Morrigan I freely admit has some issues. It's still in its box... though not for long. It will probably come out next week. But Anhinga? It's stocking stitch! how could it go wrong? Well, it's got some funky shaping. I'm using yarn at a much different gauge. In October, before NaNoWriMo started and I abandoned all non-christmas knitting, I got the back, all three front pieces (seamed even!) and one sleeve done. And then I put it in a bag.


Sometimes that's what you have to do. When I took it out on Tuesday, I looked at that one sewn-in shoulder. When I seamed it, I knew there was a problem. My row gauge is way low. The schematic says the cap should be 5", and this one was way puckered inside the armscye. I don't know what happened with the picked-up stitches across the diagonal slope, but well, they were pulling weirdly. I unseamed the sleeve and measured it, and my cap was 3.75" which explains a lot. And then, while I was at it, I unseamed the front diagonal slope where I'd picked up the stitches, then picked up new stitches and three-needle-bind-off'd the slope. You can see. You'll always be able to see. But it looks better now.


When this sucker is done, I can start something new!


I set a goal for myself of sending out a story per month in 2011. But I think I need to take these stories out of the boxes I've banished them to, and read them before I send them on their ways. It won't be so bad.


Maybe I'm just using this to rationalize the great Dan debacle of 2010/2011, and say I can make it right for 2012. I don't know.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Out there -- Jan, 2011

Not much changing here...

"Unicorn". Still at market #7.

"Dolphin". Still at market #1.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

What I read -- Jan 2011

"Spiral Hunt" by Margaret Ronald. I read a lot of nonfiction last month and really needed a novel. This book was not perfect – it had an early, very long and seemingly pointless scene in a magic shop (that did, to be fair, turn out to be important later on). I didn’t feel like the cop character acted like a cop all the time, but then I don’t know any actual cops, so I’m basing that totally on cop TV shows, which are probably not accurate, either. The magic system was very complicated and took a while to get into. It had a likeable, complicated protagonist and an excellent sense of place. Boston is very much a character in this novel.

“My Misspent Youth” by Meghan Daum. I requested this from the library because somewhere I saw mention that it had an essay about playing oboe. And then, on the first page of the title essay, I thought to myself, “she’s going to move to Omaha,” and knew I’d read that one before, online, a couple of years ago. But I was wrong, she actually moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. So close!

In the Polyamory essay, what was sad was that I knew exactly what the “Winter is coming” t-shirt was referring to, and in fact have coveted that t-shirt. That indelibly marked me as not the audience for this book. And then I thought to myself, there must be a connection between polyamory and consumerism, but I can’t guess what it is.

The oboe essay resonated when I was at band practice– about the breathing, especially the thing about exhaling, which is something non-oboists don’t understand. And about being tuned to, which is something my band doesn’t do. But maybe should. It would maybe be a good step for me to push the issue. Perhaps I should at least start carrying a tuner (as if I don’t carry enough junk already...)

“The Ammonite Violin and Others” by Caitlin R. Kiernan. Wish I could do the accents required in her name. It would be nice. I read her blog, and her fiction style is very similar at least to my ear. Also I read her novel “silk” a couple of years ago, and this is part of my short stories thing... since I’m writing a lot of them. Not that I’m not reading a lot of shorter stuff, with OWW.

In general I loved the details, and the risks she took. “The Hole with a Girl in its Heart” particularly stood out. A while back (years not months) I tried to write a story about someone swallowing a black hole, but I could never make it work. It was nice to see it executed. What she got that I didn’t with that one was the POV. I always tried to write it from the POV of the person with the black hole in them, which I guess is the obvious choice, and never really worked.

Now that I’m writing this down, I want to go back and study her use of POV more closely, in the various stories. Wonder when I’ll find time for that.

“Farthing” by Jo Walton. I sat behind her at a panel at Contario. My sister gave this to me for Christmas (because I asked for it), and of all the books she’d given me, she thought this one was good. It doesn’t look on the outside like something she’d like, being parahistory and all, but I guess Jo can tell a story. OMG I have this urge to order a whole bunch of copies of this book and give them to people I know.

“Unusual Suspects” edited by Dana Stabenow. Ed got this out of the library, I have no idea why. It’s a collection of short fantasy mystery stories. I picked it up and read it because I suppose I’ve sent stories or will send stories to similar anthologies. One of the stories was a Sookie Stackhouse, and since I’ve read three of those books, it was interesting to see how the world worked in a short. I thought the author explained more background than was necessary – I’ve written a story that tries to work in the universe of “Apocryphal” while giving as little as possible explanatory information about the characters and world. It’s a neat puzzle to try to do that.

Some of the stories were good, and some were not so good. Mostly it seems that trying to pack too much world-building into a story is the bad. A lot of these authors are award-winning novelists according to their bios, so the varying quality was surprising. Most of the short story reading I do is by authors who have put out a complete collection, like the Caitlin Kiernan above, so it’s good to read some variety. I probably ought to read more magazines. Maybe I’ll subscribe to Weird Tales...

OWW: 6.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In process: Jan 2011

First Draft

“Imp Face”. Short story, about 5000 words. Because if I don’t mine my family history, someone else will...
“In a Nutshell”. Four hand-written pages of a start that I add to the thousand words I wrote last year.

Editing

"The Rabbits". Short story; working on 3rd draft. It’s down about 3500 words.
Karate Zombies. Still percolating on rewriting the first chapter. This post http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/10/all-important-first-chapter.html is making me worry.
“Bezoar”. Read it, revised it, read the comments I got on it last August (why is this so hard for me?) Though it’s funny what I did. I’d read the comments initially when I printed them out. Then I guess I let them process for four or five months, then implemented most of them, then read them and got to feel self-satisfied. It’s a better story now than it was before. Good enough? I don’t know. But it’s better than it was before. One more draft, I think, and it might be done.

Ignoring

“Succubus”. Short story; working on 2nd draft
Troll.
Apophis.
Working on third draft
Pampelmouse.
“Dowsing”.
I want to try something different with this one – retype it, with the theme that I forgot overlaid on every line.

Being reviewed

Nothing. Doesn’t bode well for having something to ship out in February, does it?

Knitting

Morrigan. Started the first sleeve again. 1”.
Anhinga. Took apart front to reseam, took off first sleeve and made cap taller. Finished second sleeve. Realized the problem with the front was even greater than I’d thought, took it off and did it again. Working on neck and seaming, and it will be done.
Ed's socks. Finished!
Doubleknit Fair Isle shawl. Started, got into trouble reading the charts. Among other things, I had completely ignored the first row of the colorwork. Don’t know what I was thinking! Started again, got the first three stripes done. It will be my focus project when Anhinga is done.
Doubleknit ski band. Start to finish! Started, in order to get a handle on reading doubleknit charts. Got about halfway through and realized I’d totally done it wrong and no way was this little thing going to fit around my head. Had to rip back to the ribbing.