Well, I’m a little…

Well, I'm a little annoyed. PayPal has come out with a new fee structure, as is their right, and one change they've made is that instead of taking a clean 1.9% cut from everything, they now take .25 if it's under $10. Which makes is a lot harder to do micropayments on stories (relevant both for my site and possible for the magazines). Grumble grumble. You remember I went through and put little .25 buttons after each of my stories a few weeks ago? It took some time. Someone even sent me a quarter. :-) But now I either have to take them down (because PayPal will just get the .25, which I'm not inclined to have them do) or raise the amount (and even if I raise it to .50, so I'm still getting .25, it'll bug me that PayPal is getting half of a readers' donation). Just too much nuisance. I'll probably just take 'em all down once I get around to it.

In other news -- well, I was a lazy bum last night. I watched tv from 6-11, and I didn't feel guilty at all. Okay, a little. More than a little. But I did it anyway, and only did e-mail work on commercial breaks. And not even all of those. (When did I become such a workaholic, anyway? I bet it was less than five years ago. If I go back and read through the journal, I wonder if I can find the transition...)

Today I work 'til dinner; then dinner with Prakash and possibly going to a reading in the evening. I also clean up my damn apartment; it hasn't really recovered from the camping trip and dinner afterwards. It's a bit weird how much it bugs me to have it messy. I've gotten so compulsive. Let it go, let it go...

Ah well. In the good news, the new issue of Clean Sheets is up, and looking lovely. I really owe a huge debt to Susannah Indigo and Brian Peters; they've been keeping CS running smoothly while I've been all caught up in start of grad school and Strange Horizons and Aqua Erotica stuff. Dolls. Sweethearts. Incredibly competent. Have you ever noticed that competence is really sexy?

(Brian has also been my managing editor at SH, and is astonishingly competent there too. I need to create a special Brian Award or something...)

CS is going to be hitting its two-year anniversary soon! We're still on a bit of a wobbly financial footing, but I have to say that I'm really proud of baby. Not a baby anymore! She'll be a toddler. (In my head, I think of CS as a girl and SH as a boy -- how weird is that?) I go back through the archives occasionally and I'm really astonished at how much is there, how much we've published. It was just a whim, really, when we got started. I had no idea how much work it would be, or what it would turn into. And to think that in October, it'll be two years old...ah, it makes a mother proud. (And from what I hear, we have a truly fabulous staff issue coming up. :-)

I've been thinking that maybe I should organize my week better -- right now it's sort of haphazard, do what needs to be done at any given time. I could set aside Saturday for magazine work, for example. Sunday and Monday for class work. Wednesday for bill paying and catch-up. Friday for writing. (Tuesday and Thursday I'm booked all day, usually). It sounds like a nice plan, but I think it would totally not work in actual fact. Oh well.

Anyway, I'm just avoiding work right now (this morning is clearing desk and bill paying, not my favorite thing, followed by empty out e-mail and do more dishes, with perhaps a dash of cleaning bedroom and/or doing homework -- plus I need to call Bob, which makes me nervous), so I'd better go. By the way -- if you're one of the people who posted some more positive reviews to Amazon for AE lately -- thanks a lot. The star average is still at 3 (which still seems odd to me, since I do think it's a better book than my own, which is at 4.5), but the reviews are looking better than they were. I don't get as depressed when I read them all over (which I do about daily -- did I mention being compulsive?). Thanks.

Hey, guys. Sleepy…

Hey, guys. Sleepy morning; after class last night (I have workshop from 7-10 Mondays this semester) I ended up going out to B&N for tea with a classmate; it was fun, but I didn't get to sleep 'til midnight, and I had to get up early to work. I haven't managed to work yet, but I'm getting there. Tea water boiling, candles lit, diary entry being typed. I haven't been lighting candles all summer -- this is the first day in months when I'm up before the sun. It's nice, in an odd sort of way.

We put up a counter on Strange Horizons, and now I'm compulsively checking it. The numbers are still pretty darn low -- something like 100 people a day right now. But that's not surprising, since we've done almost no advertising and aren't listed in Yahoo yet or on other sf sites. It'll be a while before it reaches CS's 2000/day, or even my home page's 1000 or so a day -- but of course, it doesn't have the immediate sex pull to it. On the other hand, it may have a larger audience in the long run just because so many more people seem to read sf/f than erotica. At least publically. Hard to tell what people are reading at home on their computers, of course. We do need to get the SH numbers up to 300/day as quickly as possible, because that's what we need to get 2000/issue, which is a minimum for pro publication (if I understood Jed correctly when he was explaining it to my foggy brain last night). So read it, love it, link to it! :-)

I was supposed to talk to Bob at Crown yesterday about the CS book, but didn't manage to get in touch. I'm booked 'til after 5 NY time today, so I'll try him again tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

I'd like to go on a long rant about the stuff Columbine was talking about recently -- minimum standards of education and such. But I'm too tired. So I'll content myself with noting that I *had* one of those core curriculums -- I have learned almost everything on that list at one point or another...and I remember almost none of it. So what? I can look it up if I need it, and I rarely need. I agree that it's important to be exposed to it once, so you understand the concept. That broadens your mind and gives you a framework on which you can build your specialized knowledge, the stuff you actually use. But remembering the general stuff from day to day -- pfagh.

One of the phrases I use most often when talking to Kevin or Jed is 'remind me' -- because they do remember all that stuff. And so they remind me, or explain it briefly, and I understand it and go on with the conversation. The only reason I can think that that would be a problem would be if you were so invested in your own intelligence and education that you couldn't bear to admit that you didn't remember how to do something, or had never learned it. I know people too embarrassed to ask for the definitions of words they don't know -- not me.

That was the short version of the rant. :-)

Sleepy sleepy. Don't wanna write a response paper on Haggard, and another on Achebe. Don't wanna grade 50 quizzes. Wanna go back to bed. Oh well...

Well, the rest of the…

Well, the rest of the trip was lovely; yesterday was not.

We spent Friday evening just chatting in front of the fire; very satisfying. Saturday we drove to Bryce Canyon (elevation 8500 ft) and hiked the spectacular Navaho Trail-Queen's Garden Loop, about 3 hours, almost a thousand feet down and a thousand feet back up. Drove back to Salt Lake, had dinner with Paul and Marcia, watched some of _The Return of the King_ because Alex had been quoting from Tolkien all through the trip (and I admit to chanting a bit of "Where there's a whip, there's a way..." on the last leg of the hike), fell asleep. Alex left early Sunday morning, I worked steadily through the morning until around 2, at which point I got miserably ill and stayed so until around 11 at night.

As far as I can tell from symptoms and pattern of incidence, it's altitude sickness. What a nuisance!

I seem to be fine now, if a bit weak (unsurprising, since I essentially had no food yesterday). I'm going to be daring and try some food this morning and see what happens. Though I may work for a while first, just in case. I have a lot to get done!

Two notes before I go -- the second issue of Strange Horizons is up, tell your friends. :-) I really like the short fiction story we have this week. And on a totally different note, I'm teaching an online course in erotica writing this fall, six weeks, $95 -- if you're interested, stop by this site for details.

That's all, folks. Talk to ya later...

Kevin’s birthday I do…

Kevin's birthday

I do not think I know how to capture the way I feel right now. The best way I can think to attempt it is to start at the beginning.

On Thursday, I woke up to an alarm at five, exhausted. I had so much work to do, and because my old friend Alex had unexpectedly arrived in town, wanting to go camping, I kew I wouldn't have time enough. Lately, I have been feeling that there is never time enough, that I am not able enough to do everything I ought to be able to do, or at least not as well as it should be done. Don't ask me where my expectations come from.

So I got up and worked, getting as much done as I could, packing up, taught two classes and took one for which I was barely prepared. Felt ill and feverish, but I couldn't disappoint Alex after he'd flown out. Besides, I would probably be fine once I got some sleep.

I dozed in the car, but mostly we talked, of inconsequential things. It was just that kind of ride, and besides, we'd had a long, serious conversation about our lives, on the phone, less than two weeks before. Five hours to Zion and now I felt pretty bad. But we got a campsite and I set up my beloved tent, and we went out for dinner because I just couldn't cope with cold sandwiches. I was so exhausted, but trying not to show it because I didn't want to ruin Alex's vacation.

We rode the shuttle up to the lodge, me falling asleep on his shoulder, when suddenly the driver slowed down -- she'd spotted a coyote. A coyote! We watched the small grey creature for a while; it seemed utterly fearless, yet still wild. Eventually it moved on, and we did too.

I got very chilled over dinner until Alex made me order tea -- that helped, and the food was delicious and comforting. Afterwards I got chilled again; we had to walk through light drizzle to the shuttle stop and I was wearing a thin shirt, but Alex rubbed my arms until they warmed a little and we sat on the ground and sang songs we'd each written until the shuttle arrived, so being cold was okay. I could handle it.

We got back to camp and tumbled into bed. It was so nice being in my tent with an old friend, the kind of friend who dated you once and now knows you so well that you can say or do almost anything. We talked a little and then fell asleep. It was a little cramped in my tiny tent, but I woke up happy.

That morning we fired up the Coleman and made tea; oddly and immensely satisfying. We ate some fruit and bread and then set out on a moderately strenuous trail, up to the upper emerald pool with only a few complaints. It was lovely. Most visitors only went to the middle pool, so there were just a few of us, very quiet at the upper pool, which stretched clear and clean at the base of an immense cliff. I was parched for the sight of water.

Then back down by way of middle and lower pools, a few waterfalls. A shuttle ride to another trail, lunch of bread and cheddar and tomatoes. A mild trail to weeping rock, an overhang which constantly dripped water from the sandstone, so that even in the desert climate, the wall was covered with small plants and lichen. We missed the flowering season, but still. I put my hand on the wall and got it thoroughly muddy (they encouraged touching the wall) and then held it out to rinse under the dripping water.

I was tired then, and while Alex took on a massive hike, I went back to camp. I slept for two hours, then woke and read Fanon's _The Wretched of the Earth_ for class, plus Achebe's criticism of Conrad's _Heart of Darkness_, and two short stories to be critiqued on Monday. I made more tea around four, drank it while writing this, with the sun shafting down through the trees and a light breeze blowing, with my muscles just slightly sore and my body pleasantly used, but also rested. And even the discovery that the batteries on my Visor had somehow died and I had lost everything I'd written before (not so much, don't worry), even the fact that it meant that I couldn't use the keyboard and had to tip-tap all of these letters in one-by-one with the stylus...even with that, I was okay. I was good.

I left for this trip rather suddenly, I know. Just before I left, Chip sent me e-mail asking if I was taking an "Esthely Blue" break. I thought then that he had misunderstood -- I was just obliging a friend, doing what I needed to do to spend time with him. I thought that I really wanted to stay and finish working, that I didn't have the time to take a break.

Chip was right.

I feel better.

Alex is here! (Russian…

Alex is here! (Russian Alex). This is wholly delightful, though startling. Apparently, he quit his old job, doesn't start the new one until Monday, and decided to visit Utah. (He did call yesterday afternoon and warn me). He wants to go camping, so I'm going to pack up all my work and hit the road with him Thursday afternoon, going to Zion National Park. We'll be back Saturday, so if you need me before then...well, if you have my cell phone number, you can try it; I'll check voicemail periodically. If I just leave it on, I'll run out of juice.

Nobody have any crises between now and Saturday, okay?

Yesterday’s quote…

Yesterday's quote provided by Chip, who has chided me for not giving him due credit. Thank you, Chip. :-) Just too apropos.

Well, I'm feeling a little more human. I didn't sleep Sunday night -- up playing Mafia and then talking to people (because it was so late at that point that it seemed best to just stay up and wait for breakfast to be available). Monday was rather surreal as a result. I left the Con, got on a plane, actually wrote a short sf story (3000 words) on the plane, came home, caught up on the most urgent of e-mail, made dinner, watched five hours of tv -- all in a sort of exhausted haze, which got more pronounced as the day went on, to the point where I dissolved into trembling and tears around 10 p.m. At which point David, who I had called for some reason, told me firmly to go to sleep. Which I did. I don't really know why I hadn't earlier...just seemed too weird to go to sleep at 7, which is when I first really felt like it.

Now I've slept nine hours -- I could have used a few more, I think, but I'm feeling much better. I'll try to sleep in tomorrow. I have to go teach in a few minutes; I think I'm prepared, but I'm honestly still slightly dazed. Hopefully the kids won't notice. I've decided to delay their quiz 'til Thursday, so that should make them happy.

Btw, if you're on the readers list and took a look at "Ship's Bride", let me know what you think. I was trying to write the story for a market that wanted a 1-2K story; it ended up 3000 words, and I'm not sure if I can shrink it for that market...or if it's already too condensed, and I should slow it down a bit. It feels a bit like all the action takes place at the end...and I'm not sure it feels active, since it's told in retrospective. Ugh. I need to go look at some of Michael Swanwick's short-shorts -- I think I really don't know how to write a sf/f one. It feels like you need to do so much setup...

Hey -- none of you have said a peep about Strange Horizons -- don't you like it? I know it's a very little baby right now -- it'll be up to a full issue by the end of the month, but still...didja like it? What do you like? What don't you like? Now's the time to let me know, because everything is very flexible at the moment -- later things will harden into rigidity (like it feels my muscles are doing currently).

Okay -- I think I'm going to try to grab a danish at Cucina on the walk in, so I'd best run. I'll be in class 'til 2, then home for a nap or some work, then workshop tonight. Talk to y'all later...

Strange Horizons…

Strange Horizons launches!

Hey, munchkins! So go look, go look! It's here, it's really here! Oh, there's plenty of tweaking to be done, but thanks to the good offices of my fabulous staff, there's the beginnings of a magazine!

Oh...I'm nervous. Really really nervous. I hope people like it...

I am still bewildered by people's reactions to Aqua Erotica, btw. The Amazon reviews have been almost evenly split between 5's and 1's (4 5-star reviews, 1 2-star review, 3 1-star reviews). Weird. I guess this is one of those books you either love or hate...not sure I understand why. The best guess I can make based on the reviews is that people were expecting something much lighter, considering it was a 'bathtub' book -- that seems to conjure up images of light, frothy stuff. And I guess if you buy the book through Amazon, you don't get a chance to read the intro that warns you that a lot of the stories in the book are on the serious side. So I'll warn you guys right now -- a lot of the stories are serious, not fluffy. But I do think they're good...

Sorry -- trying not to take the reviews to heart. But it's sad hearing my baby called a 'dud'.

Anyway, had a nice day at the con yesterday. Stopped in on a panel on teaching sf writing, which was interesting, then had lunch with Suzy Charnas; yummy food at Heaven on Seven (Cajun/Creole/Chicago). Good talking to her again -- she was one of my Clarion teachers. Then more panels -- I went to one on different art markets 'cause I'm trying to educate myself, and met Margaret Organ-Kean, who I know slightly from a mailing list. Nice to meet her in person. After that I went to one on focal-point fanzines, again, to educate myself. There's a whole world of Fandom that I know very little about. Interesting.

After that was Todd and Debby! Met them at registration; so nice to see them again. We eventually decided on Papagus -- I think it's pretty tasty Greek food, even if Tasos (old roommate) sniffed at it as not authentic. Garlicky potatoes, taramosalata, spicy feta, spanakopita, and a little shared rice pudding with sultanas for dessert. Yum yum.

After dinner was starting to get tired -- stopped in at a few parties, then called Kevin to come get me. When we got back to Hyde Park, we watched a little tv while I was checking mail and tweaking site, then I crashed hard. Sleepy me! We talked a little this morning; after today I'll be staying at the con with Jed (who arrives this evening). Will be nice to see Jed, and it'll be better to be up at the con rather than down in Hyde Park...but will miss Kev. Ah well -- he's in full math mode these days, which makes it a little difficult to talk to him anyway -- very abstracted. We may coax him out to have dinner with us on the weekend.

Well, I should shower and dress and head up there. Fingers crossed -- I hope you all like Strange Horizons. :-)

In Chicago. It’s humid;…

In Chicago. It's humid; the air is thick. I love it. Not that I'm normally a big fan of humidity, but after Salt Lake dryness....well, it's just nice to be elsewhere for a bit.

Got in last night, Kevin was making dinner. :-) After dinner, I think we just hung out for a while -- he eventually started working and I watched some tv. Brain was feeling definitely fried. I eventually went to bed and read for a bit, then fell asleep. He woke me when he came to bed, which was fine, but then I couldn't fall asleep afterwards for about an hour. Started to feel really claustrophobic. I'm not sure whether it was having someone else in the bed, or the fact that there wasn't a fan on...I'm used to sleeping with a little fan blowing air. Anyway, it ended up being something like a panic attack -- eventually I got up and got the fan from the living room and Kevin woke up and calmed me down until I felt okay again. Maybe just stress. Who knows?

Today was fine -- slept late, then he went into the department for some meetings and I started working on SH stuff -- two days to launch! Worked for some hours, finishing up the editorial and some other bits and bobs. It's all really starting to come together -- very exciting. Worked until about five, then Kev came home and we had dinner at Medici, which was fine, but I was in the mood for a Himbeersaft float and now I want one. But I'm too lazy to go out again -- ah well. Stopped at 57th St on the way and found that they have 3 copies of Aqua Erotica, which I talked them into letting me sign! :-) Also bought a copy of Nancy Kress's _Beggars in Spain_; I have a workshop with her on Friday, so I thought I should familiarize myself. (Also Sasha Miller and James Patrick Kelly, but I didn't see any of their work at the store). Bought cookies and tea for the SH party on Saturday.

Then, basically, I came home and read _Beggars in Spain_. Still reading it; just took a break to see if there were any SH crises in the making. Doesn't look like it, so I guess I'll go back to my reading. I'm trying to trust in Sean's ability to get everything done, but it is definitely driving me a little crazy not to have the reins in my hands. When did I turn into such a control freak?

Hey, munchkins. I’ve…

Hey, munchkins. I've calmed down a little, after absolutely pounding through my work yesterday. There's very little left to do before I go to campus, which is good. I also finally have some other customer reviews at Amazon for AE! Two five-star reviews, which brings the average up to 3.5, which is comforting. Still not entirely uncritical, nor as exuberantly positive as I might have hoped, but if they're willing to give it five stars, I'm not going to complain. :-)

I want people to think this is the best thing since sliced bread. :-)

The rest of this week is largely devoted to launching Strange Horizons on Friday, on time! Which means for me that I'd really like to have it done by Thursday night, because that's the last chance I'll have to look at it before I become totally immersed in Con -- and Wednesday night would be better. Sean, my webmaster, is frantically working to get all the material integrated with the web design. Once that happens, I'll be better able to see what's missing. Cross your fingers for us, okay?

Hmm...nothing else deep or profound to say, and I have an editorial to revise, so I'd best get to it. Talk to y'all later...