Have somehow been in meetings all day


Oof, tired. Have somehow been in meetings or running pretty much all day, and pretty soon I fall down go boom. But I did another round of edits on Feast and Jeremy implemented them and Heather is uploading it so that as soon as they approve it we can order ARCS, whee! getting very very close to done, and I got the kids to the new dentist that they really like and there’s nothing actually wrong with their teeth which is good, and we got lots done for Maram, including starting on our next grant application, and I had a library board meeting where we also got lots done, and I managed to post SOME of the photos that have been backlogged on which was bugging me and I didn’t write any fiction but I read some more feedback from beta readers who are loving the draft so feeling enthused about going back to it tomorrow and I cleaned up and organized the guest room and answered a bunch of e-mail and now I just have a few more things to do before sleep — start the Kickstarter conversation with the SLF volunteers, hang up some saris, and post a reminder about tomorrow’s writing retreat.

Sitting in a chair tomorrow for 4 hours and writing fiction sounds perfect.

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Plan for today: Novel revisions

Plan for today — I’m mostly hoping to get back to novel revisions. Some more beta-reader feedback came in over the weekend, and they are loving it, which is really very encouraging.

I admit, there’s part of me that thinks I should be focusing on getting back to the more hopefully commercial epic space opera project (set in the same Jump Space universe) that I promised my agent, but I don’t think I can settle to it until I finish this novel revision.

I don’t know if he’ll be able to sell it — this is a quiet family story in a lot of ways, and it might take a quirky press to take it on? I’m not sure. But I think I love it, and I think readers will too, so if Russ decides it’s not commercial enough to try to shop around, or if he tries and no one bites, I’m pretty sure I’ll just go ahead and shop it to small presses myself, and if THAT fails, indie publish it. Because I think it’s actually quite good, dammit.

It honestly feels a little nerve-wracking saying that, but after all the travail I’ve gone through on this particular novel (I started it, gosh, almost five years ago? before the cancer diangosis), it feels important to have it finally be something I’m proud of. A long, slow road.

I didn’t write at all this weekend — lots of gaming instead, which is also good; I think I needed to decompress. Though I got a little angry with myself late Sunday night, because all I did yesterday was gardening (major peach tree pruning, finally reorganizing the back deck and making it usable after we had it painted) and board gaming (taught some friends Terraforming Mars). But then I went and did a load of laundry and cleaned off the countertop in the bathroom, which has never quite gotten unpacked properly after the Boston trip, and then I felt better and could go to sleep with a peaceful heart.

(I feel like SUCH a New Englander sometimes; I may have left CT at 18, but those Puritan work values are embedded deep. Or maybe those are merging with South Asian immigrant values? No fun. Or at least no fun unless you’ve earned it with plenty of work!)

Okay. Plan is:

– spend the next 45 minutes working on a comic project that Margaret Treanor Frey and I are playing with — we have a meeting at 11, and I’m supposed to have some work done before that, gah. I should’ve done the work last week, so she could look at it over the weekend, but time got away from me, sigh.

– I also need to talk to Kel Bachus and schedule some time to review Sigiriya dialogue, I think? (Kel, remind me that we have to talk about the names thing.)

– Revise my bio for Feast and send that to Jeremy John Parker — check if he needs anything else from me before we order ARCs, hopefully TODAY, eep.

– Check in with Pem Hessing on rescheduling of our Feast publicity meeting — one thing I should definitely do today is get her contact info for where we submit things to the big 4 review sites (Heather, can you work on that? Um, I need to remind myself what the big 4 are…Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly….gah, blanking. Some of them will have a separate path for indie-published books). We also need to start sketching out the fall local calendar more seriously; she’ll be meeting with various people this week, and hopefully we’ll lock that down soon.

– Set up Maram writing workshops and classes with Alec Nevala-Lee and Deborah Jian Lee — I think we can do that via FB messenger. I think I’m going to offer a six-week Fiction / Nonfiction Writing Workshop, 2.5 hrs / class on Saturday mornings, suitable for beginners or intermediate prose writers; I keep meeting people in the community who are asking for that class. This will focus on elements of craft that are applicable both to fiction and creative nonfiction, such as memoir. If you’re someone who wants to reserve a spot in it, let me know — I’m probably going to cap the class at 15. It’ll be in Sept / Oct, dates to be finalized very shortly, and will probably take place at the co-working space, Oak Park Works. Tuition will be $375.

Also thinking of doing two accompanying workshops, 2.5 hrs each, one on Worldbuilding (appropriate to SF/F writers, but also surprisingly applicable to historical fiction / travel writing), one on publishing, both indie and traditional. Those’ll be $75 each, and I’m hoping to do them more panel-style, and have Alec Nevala-Lee teach them with me, if I can get the schedules to mesh. If you take both the six-week workshop and the two accompanying ones, it’ll be $475, so a $50 discount. Coffee / tea / continental breakfast will be included.

Tentative goal for this week for Maram — actually schedule out fall and spring calendar? We might not know exactly which workshops will go in where, but we can pencil in dates / times at least.

– And along with all that, revise the novel. I think I can revise chapter 4 this afternoon; we’ll see. 

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Both kids curled up with their devices

Came home from rehearsal on Tues evening, and found both kids curled up outside with electronics — Anand on the back porch, Kavi in the front. It’s funny how they’ve staked out their particular spots. Particularly like that photo of Anand, with the egg chair (his favorite) and the light from his device. 🙂

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So proud of Anand

Anand is getting suddenly so grown up. We got into O’Hare around 11 p.m. on Sunday, and everyone was tired, but Kavi was particularly crashing; she’d fallen asleep hard on the plane, and was having a tough time coming out of it. Anand saw that she was tired, and he just went over and got her suitcase and started pulling it for her, without needing to be asked. Proud of my baby. 🙂

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Sketching out a MakerFaire

Does it look like the beginning of a MakerFaire? It does!

Maram is going to be hosting a set of demos at the OP Main Library August 25, 2-5 — save the date! 3D printing, an embroidery machine, a poetry booth, spice grinding, and more… Free and open to the public. 🙂

A picture of a piece of white paper. There is a sketch of a table layout, with a large central table labeled ‘writing’, surrounded on three sides with additional smaller tables, labeled with various crafts, with a large walkway between the inner and outer table.
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I was in heavy revision mode yesterday

I was heavy in revision mode yesterday, and revised an entire chapter, which is great, but pretty much neglected all paperwork, and as a result, am drowning in paperwork today. But getting through. It helps that we have Maram retreat today, and Julie has come over and is steadily working on her novel, which is helping me keep on track.

The day started with trying something new with the kids — we sketched out some tasks they need to do before having access to electronics. The goals were very small to start out with, and they knocked them out in about two hours, but we’re planning to increase that. We typed it up and added their regular family chores too; as they get older, we’re trying to have them take on more of those.

To help motivate, I added some of my own for checking off, and Kevin is going to do the same. We’ll see how it goes! I’m hoping this will help give them the tools for them to be able to manage the temptations of electronics on their own, once they leave home, along with household management skills. We’ll see!

Other than that, leaving message for plumber (leaks, sigh), asking around to try to find a good dentist for the kids who takes Delta Dental (any tips welcome — I’m having a hard time finding anyone in Oak Park), reviewing tasks with Heather, planning things for Maram and the SLF. If you’d like to help out with the upcoming Kickstarter, leave your e-mail below, please! I’m going to e-mail all the volunteers tomorrow morning, and set things in motion. Eep.

Now I need to contact Pem re: Feast publicity plan, and then type up Maram notes before our 3 p.m. meeting. First, coffee, though. Definitely need coffee.

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Timelines and autonomy

Part of what I’m thinking about this morning is why it was relatively easy to set up volunteers that put in a lot of consistent work at the various magazines, and why that’s been more challenging with the non-profit orgs. Lots of reasons, but I think two of them have to do with timelines and autonomy. Specifically:

TIMELINES: For the magazines, having a regular publishing schedule kept things on track; deadlines are motivating. Surprisingly, I think in some ways it was easier to do that with Clean Sheets & Strange Horizons publishing weekly, as opposed to Jaggery, coming out 2-3 times / year, because the weekly schedule, despite being more demanding, stayed very present in peoples’ minds, and you also quickly learned who actually was willing to commit the time to the project or not.

For the SLF, the grants have annual deadlines and internal schedules for juries, etc., and even though we slip those sometimes a bit (juries require some wrangling), overall, I think the schedule helps keep it on track. I need to figure out similar schedules for the more amorphous parts of SLF administration, I think — for the operating work, such as outreach, memberships, fundraising, general organizational.

We’ve talked about a monthly meeting, but maybe I need to get on organizing that (or even weekly? joint work session on Discord, rather than a meeting?). And / or set up annual calendars for each aspects, so that people have a better sense of goals / progress.

AUTONOMY: For the magazines, I set it up so that the various departments (fiction, poetry, art, etc., including copyediting & website management) had autonomy within themselves; they were responsible for shaping the direction of their section, setting up workflows, etc. I tried to only step in if they blew a deadline, or asked for my help. I think that helped a lot with motivating them to take ownership of their areas, and responsibility for getting things done.

I feel like I haven’t done as well with that with either the SLF or Maram. The big success with the SLF is the grants, which is mostly all due to Malon Edwards taking charge of them and administering them — he puts in so much time and work, and I barely remember to thank him, gah. We need a Malon Edwards appreciation day, folks. Go read his fiction, at least!

But I need to do that for the SLF with the small press co-op, the local chapters, the international translation project if it happens, the archive of teaching / oral history material, etc. Also, if we can, with the admin sections, though I’m not sure if that’s as feasible?

And then the same thing with Maram. The latter is starting to shake out into departments for tech (KurtKentVanessa), textile (MargaretPamelaCarollinaAngela), writing (me, AlecDeborah), and cooking / gardening (PamEulàliaPetia, me). I think those will be really helpful, and I need to formalize them a bit, put everyone organizing on the masthead, and then set up a calendar and deadlines and the like. (Heather, can you put the latter on my to-do list on Trello, please, and remind me if I haven’t done it by the end of the week?)

It’s all a little amorphous still, but we’re getting there.

TIMELINES / AUTONOMY are my watchwords for the next phase. 

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Throwing oneself in, again

Wake up, check FB and e-mail, dress, breakfast, meds, coffee, not necessarily in that order. Say good morning to Anand and see if he needs help with breakfast; Kavi won’t be awake for a while. And all the while, the book is LOOMING, and finally, there are no more preparations to make, and you have to face it.

It’s swimming when you know the water’s cold, colder than you’d like it, and you ought to just fling yourself in, but it’s been a while. Instead you’re inching in, bit by bit, and that is self-inflicted torture and you know it, but you can’t seem to help yourself. Tomorrow, maybe, you’ll fling yourself into the ocean as if to a lover, one you can trust to catch you, but today you are suspicious, and anxiety is palpable, something you must fight through. It would be so much easier to weed the garden instead, and it needs it…

…but you’ve been clearing the decks for weeks now, and the truth is that the garden is weeded enough to get by, the house isn’t exactly clean, but it is no longer an utter disaster, the most urgent financial and other business matters have been dealt with (or are on this week’s schedule at various pre-determined points), and there is nothing actually screaming at you now, finally, nothing else that needs doing. In this next half hour, at least.

‘But half an hour isn’t enough time,’ you cry! That’s fear too. And yes, later you’ll have a four-hour stretch cleared away, which is better for the deep work; this morning, a doctor’s appointment and a trip to the DMV intervene. But something useful can still be accomplished in half an hour, even if it’s only reading over yesterday’s new scene, re-reading the next one. Setting the day’s writing wheels in motion so that the back of your brain will work while you are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, in line at the DMV.

Soon, you are more than knee-deep. Soon, the shock of cold hitting a new inch of naked skin will become routine — you have done this before, after all, and you know it will not actually hurt you. Soon you will be waist-deep, chest-deep.

Then you will take a deep breath and throw yourself forward, submerged. A moment of shock, but then the cold forgotten in the movement of strong limbs. The water welcoming you, beloved, once again.

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Publicist for Feast

I’m hiring a local friend with marketing background to serve as a publicist for Feast, but of course, I’m not a publicist, and she hasn’t worked as a book publicist. She asked me to put together a bullet-point list, and this is what I came up with — anything I’m missing? Thoughts?

– put together timeline for release (most urgent) — ARC (advance review copies) are ready now, and need to be shipped 2-3 months in advance of launch to big review sites like Publisher’s Weekly. So tentatively, launch can happen anytime after mid-September

– schedule local launch events, coordinating with Eastgate (if doing), Book Table / Beer Shop, Jake’s Place, SugarBeet, MA’s own party

– help brainstorm, plan, and host local events

– draft press release

– research and send out press releases to other relevant venues, like food magazines, shelter magazines that might feature it as fall reading, etc.

– work with MA to have her pitch articles she’d write to those same magazines; she has a list, just needs prodding to brainstorm article topics, and actually draft and pitch them

– brainstorm other publicity possibilities, such as blog tour, online giveaways for launch week, etc.

– schedule out of town events, sending press release to relevant venues (MA will help put together list of venues to contact) and following up to see if interested; make sure MA gets travel plans into calendar. Will mostly try to coordinate with other travel she’s already doing for work, but may add in a few more stops, if it makes sense budget-wise; may also do some road-tripping next summer with Ben Rosenbaum for joint event (possibly coordinating this piece with Heather)

– draft publicity flyer, coordinate with MA’s daughter’s friends for posting around town

– look at the PR materials MA already has, think about how best to use them — there’s a big stack of book promo postcards, book stickers, plus greeting cards and postcards that can be used for giveaways or for sale cheaply

How is that? I’m not sure of everything that goes into a publicity plan! But this seems like a lot. 

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Stayed up late writing

Stayed up late writing, so slept late and woke up late, so had to postpone this morning’s run — summer schedule is more complicated than one might think. But I’ve had breakfast and coffee and am settled in the shed for hopefully a day of novel-writing.

I’ve heard back from one of the people who read the newest version of the “Skin Deep” story, and she loved it, so I am feeling pleased and also with renewed confidence in the value of my revisions. H/t to Jenn Reese who told me that my main problem was that I was reluctant to revise; I think she was actually right, and I may have to buy her several drinks at the next con we’re at together… Inspiration and coherent beauty can come in the fourth draft, truly. I don’t know why I lost confidence in that.

The kids are making banana bread, the bit of the garden I can see from the shed is finally mulched, and I got the fountain properly up and running last night, so all’s well here. A garden should have water, ideally running water. The shady corner, newly-planted, finally, did come out v. nicely, with the hosta and purple heuchera and Jacob’s ladder and bleeding heart. Sometimes, your visions work, for gardens and for stories.

Feeling serene, for a change.

Not for shade, but I think getting enough sun there (it’s sort of a weird combo area, with close to full sun in a little bit and close to deep shade in a different bit), we also have baby dogwood tree, Sweet Summer Love clematis just starting to bloom (soon that fence will be covered in tiny wine-red flowers), and orange daylily, also blooming soon.

I’m delighting in the drumstick alliums with the purple veronica spikes — they seem very Seussian, somehow.

Turning off FB shortly, for a few hours, at least.

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