mer: (if I were me)
Kicking the tires. I think it might be time to come back to the long form.

Step 1: think really long and hard about an entry that would be a worthy restart to your LJ

Step 2: write a Twitter-length announcement of restarting your LJ

Step 3: doctor up the existing announcement with a three-part list because you need time to clear your throat before you dive right back into this whole thing, amirite?
mer: (if I were me)
I have read not much this year that was not for an awards jury, and it to me seems like spoiling the pool to say what I liked juuuuust yet. Of the things that are unrelated to awards juries, I prooooobably need some recommendations. And also, I don't have time to read much else right now.

SO if you have a short story recommendation--short stories only at this point--here is the place to make it! Please make it?

(I will note for the audience that I have published a whopping 2 things this year which I would like to remind you exist, regardless of awards, because I like my work to be read: Handbook for Dragon Slayers and "Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love" (audio version here).)
mer: (Default)
Published this year:

new fiction:
* "Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love" in Apex (and also in audio reprint with Escape Pod)
* Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Total submissions this year (short stories):
Gosh, I've mostly stopped counting. It can't have been more than 4?

Finished short stories (novellas, novelettes):
I started one, does that count? (It does not.) (It will be pretty boss if it ever gets finished, though.)

Finished novels:
The Castle Behind Thorns (hooray!)

Looking back, did you write more than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you'd predicted?
Well, it's always less. I always underestimate how much attention revisions, copyedits, and galleys will take from me.

My favorite story written this year (of my own):
My best story this year:
Most fun story:
Hardest story to write:

Some year, I'll complete enough different things to answer these again.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?
Oh yes. Writing The Castle Behind Thorns in THIRD PERSON?!?! OMG. Also? I rewrote the first 10k words that I had been stumbling through for a year, and then boom, laid down the remaining book in about... 2 months. And it was good.

Do you have any goals for the New Year?
Sure. Oh, wait, did you mean this other than as a yes/no?

How did you do on last year's goals?
Poorly. I always think I can write more than I do.

What else?
As ever, I'm astonished by how much work I did this year, and how little I feel I have to show for it.
mer: (if I were me)
Anyone who has followed this journal (remember when we all used to post multiple times a day!?), you know I am Not Friends with Fall. I'm a spring baby, I grew up in a softer climate than the one I was born and returned to, and it gets darker, and I just, well, NEH. NEH, I DON'T LIKE FALL.

(I don't like winter, either, but that's out of respect for it wanting to kill me. Fall is just a jerky harbinger of the death season, as far as I'm concerned.)

I have duked it out--verbally, textually--many times with the fall and winter lovers, and I am old enough to know it's just how you feel. Just as there are morning people and night people, there are fall people and spring people.

I have started to come to some slightly better terms with fall now that I've realized: the fall equinox is a good time to take stock of the year. I might not love fall, but you can't ignore it; you can't look up and go, "Oh, my, how the fall has passed!" With every shorter day and falling leaf, it ticks down the clock of one's mortality and reminds one of the procrastinations of summer.

So. Let's take stock.

I wrote out some goals -- not ones that made it to the journal, I don't think -- earlier this year.

-find and apply for 3 grants by June 1
-set up 1-2 speaking engagements/workshops/classes/school visits, just to get them under my belt
-write proposals for ten books/projects
-devise, with agent, a strategy for JE
-make sure to at least remind people that one's work exists, come awards season

-find and apply for 3 grants by June 1
...So. Grants for early-career but already published, slightly more commercial than literary, non-MFA holding, genre writers? Hardish to find. I found one and applied for it, and that was by June 1. I have looked since then, and have missed the mark on the criteria in numerous ways. I even broadened my definition of "grant" to "residencies with a stipend" and there are many more of those, but none that didn't cost what I decided was too much money to merely apply to, and also would take too much time away from the dayjob if I did secure them.

So, this won't be making it onto next year's goal list--what will make it on is "quarterly, look for and apply for as many grants as one is eligible for." I'll set aside 4 afternoons a year to do it. That's a better goal.

-set up 1-2 speaking engagements/workshops/classes/school visits, just to get them under my belt
This one sort of just happened. I taught a workshop at Ann Arbor Book Festival, and was the author in residence at a young writers' conference. I consider this goal thoroughly met, and almost through no action of my own other than saying yes when someone asked. Next year's goal? Will probably be something like, "Earn $xxx from speaking engagements." Maybe even $xxxx!

-write proposals for ten books/projects
Um. I'm tardy on this, but that's what this last quarter is for? I've written the most of five? Six? I need to sit down and look. My contract with HarperCollins is winding up with the June 2014 publication of The Castle Behind Thorns, but there's the option clause in my contract, and I am super-happy with my editor, so... But I still want to write 10 proposals because that would be good for me to be thinking that broadly, I think.

-devise, with agent, a strategy for JE
Currently, the strategy is "We don't have time for that one..."

-make sure to at least remind people that one's work exists, come awards season
This had to be a goal because I'm terrible at this game. I did get "Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love" over to Escape Pod, which, as far as I'm concerned, is about the single best thing a gal with no big blog following can do to remind people one exists. I'm the chair of the jury that would have probably been my best bet to remind about Handbook for Dragon Slayers, so that's right out. But mostly, just remembering to cough politely and do my own write-up of my picks for awards season would accomplish this goal.

In an ideal world, I would write another book this year. I have only three months and change to do it, however, but one of those months is NaNoWriMo. But--yes. That would be nice.

But either way, I have to finish my galleys for Castle right now. And that's the goal for today.
mer: (if I were me)
I realized I hadn't addressed my short story sales spreadsheet since I sold a book, basically; it came to me as I was working over two story contracts (reprints both).

sales and such

Basically, after a quick perusal of my website and my PayPal account, I got my sheet back in order, completed the first of the above two graphs--and remembered that one of the reasons that I've stopped writing short stories (beyond that they are not my natural length and I find them four to eight times as time-consuming as a comparable length of a novel) is that they are remuneratively poor.

Case in point, I pitted my book incomes versus short story incomes against each other in the second graph as a percentage of total income.  From 2010-2013 you can just barely make out the little shifting line of red.

A good reminder for me not to futz overmuch with short stories. It's one thing to write one if it jumps in and wants to be written in a couple of hours.  It's quite another if I have to agonize over it for three months.
mer: (if I were me)
Syndrome: A group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.

One does not merely walk into a publishing contract without seeing at least a few of the signs of impostor syndrome in oneself.  I've been declaring many of my symptoms not to be emblematic of the syndrome, because, well, I think one has to have some sort of Emperor's New Clothes feeling about the whole thing in order to get the firm diagnosis on the impostor syndrome.  All things considered, I have largely not felt that anyone was particularly looking at me, nor have I secretly felt that other people could see my clothes while I could not.

If anything, she grumbled to herself on occasion, I felt that people weren't taking me seriously enough: because I write kidlit, because I'm a gurl, because I'm not conventionally attractive, because I still work my dayjob, because whatever.  But they are rarely, if ever, people who actually matter to the course of my career.  Not really.  Does it matter if a mil-SF writer doesn't give me the time of day at a convention? No, it does not. I don't write mil-SF, and I never will.

Plus, at the heart of it, I have all the girls and women who write me the letters and let me know I made their lives better--or that they were at least a little bit in love with Dragos, whatever--and that is enough to keep me going.  (Yes, girls and women. I haven't gotten one fan letter from a boy or man.)  And when I started this endeavor to become a published writer of novels, that was the plan, see? To make people feel as great as my favorite writers made me feel.

So, when impostor syndrome is brought up, I usually go, "Hm, no, I'm fine."

But then I notice something--stuff like what provoked my last entry here, in fact, or finding oneself/one's work in a random list, casually mentioned, as if one had written something that everyone knew about (not the case)--and I blink and go, "Oooooh.  Impostor syndrome."

It's all those little moments working together that make the syndrome for me.  I never have moments of "I shouldn't be here" or "They're all going to find out, soon."  That's not how it works for me.  It never has.

I have the blessing and the curse of being an only child who is both a first-born and last-born grandchild, and I have a full repertoire of coping mechanisms for dealing with the real world not particularly thinking I'm as special as my family always made it out to be--one of those coping mechanisms is never believing that I'm less than anyone else thinks.  Haha, no.

So anyway. Call me a late bloomer.  I finally get why it's a syndrome, because it seeps into the cracks and gets you, rather than throwing you down the rabbit hole with something you could see on an MRI.  I get it now.

Drat it all.
mer: (if I were me)
1) I am NOT halfway, but I FEEL halfway through the crush of events of this summer.  Two down, two to go, except there are really more than two left.  The lies we tell ourselves?  But attending Mythcon won't require any real preparation.

2) Of course, I have copyedits now, so the hustle gets going now for reals, and also I have to weed my garden.

3) My cats are getting old.  The Maine coon clings like a colicky baby sometimes.

4) I worry about how Handbook is selling, because the Bookscan numbers do not look good compared to TPC, which in turn was not in best-seller land.  I try to tell myself Bookscan doesn't actually know anything.  Then I try to stop worrying because, boy, talk about things that are FAR out of my hands.

5) Is Winnie the Pooh a Hufflepuff or a Gryffindor? Discuss.

Heave Ho

May. 20th, 2013 08:04 pm
mer: (Apple)
My second book is out in a week, which kicks off a very busy summer--after Memorial weekend, which I'll spend with my mom.  Then, in order:

  • Stepdaughter's high school graduation weekend

  • A breathing weekend (I think). AKA gardening

  • A week in North Carolina -- for a mini-20 year reunion, a reading at a local bookstore, and assorted fun, PLUS my ten-year anniversary with le husband

  • Ann Arbor Bookfest (where I'm teaching a class)

  • Book launch/reading/signing at the Library

  • The Michigan State Young Author's Conference, where I'm the...  whatsit...  featured presenter?

  • Independence Day weekend

  • An actual breathing weekend, but by then I'll need to see my mom probably. If not, I'm sure my neglected garden will be interested in seeing me.

  • Then the Mythcon 44 weekend, since The Princess Curse is up for a Mythopoeic award

Since I'm coming down with a cold right now, this sounds dreadfully busy.  It also doesn't pack in copyedits for the third book, proposals for my option book, or any other promotional work I should do for the book.  Or anything I might be doing for SFWA in my doughty volunteer roles.

It also doesn't mention the, you know, day job, which is 40-hours-a-weekish per usual, though hey, at least there are 2 paid holidays in there, plus a handful of vacation days.

So, if I don't want to DO anything this summer? Or fall? This eight-week stretch is why.
mer: (if I were me)
I have a giveaway package up over at Con or Bust.

Ze package includes: An ARC o Handbook for Dragon Slayers; a hardcover of The Princess Curse; and a goatskin bookmark inscribed with Carolingian Miniscule. 

All as personalized as you'd like.

It's my first real chance to provide something for a fundraiser.  Well, it's the first time I've felt I might have something someone wants, anyway. Same diff! 

2013 Goals

Jan. 17th, 2013 11:20 am
mer: (if I were me)
I don't have them.  But I think I should make them. In public. And have some accountability, like, for every goal segment not reached I have to donate a dollar to a charity I hate.  The Tea Party?  And what's a hurtful number of goal segments? $100 isn't enough. I'm thinking $250.

More later, as I figure this all out. Suggestions for figuring this out welcome!


Jan. 7th, 2013 01:30 pm
mer: (if I were me)
This was the ad on Facebook... it's a real robot, that does surgery on prostates and uteri:

Da vinci

But of course I thought of THIS robot:

da vinci bot
mer: (Absurd (Arrested Development)) I have decluttering on my mind.
Bold the ones you have and use at least once a year, italicize the ones you have and don't use, strike through the ones you have had but got rid of. (Raye's addenum: things in plain text with no change are things I simply don't have and never did.) (Mer's addendum: offset with asterixes are 'broken and no longer functioning and we should get rid of)

"I wonder how many *pasta machines*, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese boards, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, ice cream makers, fondue sets, healthy-grills, home smokers, tempura sets, tortilla presses, electric whisks, cherry stoners, sugar thermometers, food processors, bacon presses, bacon slicers, mouli mills, cake testers, pestle-and-mortars, and sets of kebab skewers languish dustily at the back of the nation's cupboards."

What of Dutch ovens, *immersion blenders*, pizza cookers, comals, stand mixers, handheld mixers...?
We have a lot of stuff, but we use most of it. As for the broken pasta machine, it's in the garage; I believe I could get the part for it made on a 3D printer, and it would function just fine, but we have since gotten the pasta attachment for our stand mixer, and it's pointless. So. Anyone want a totally awesome pasta machine that needs a replacement part? Yours for the price of shipping.

I have never used the bamboo steamers, but I store garlic and onions in them, so no biggie. And I MIGHT. I do not actually use the fondue set once a year, per the requirements, but I have used it so often at parties that I consider it a must keep.

The immersion blender was a hand-me-down from my mom; it's slightly cracked, and it doesn't work that great. Should get rid of.

But for the most part, I use stuff. I go on tears and use certain things a lot for a week or a month, then cycle into something else before coming back around--the unlisted waffle iron being an example of that--sometime last year, I tried to cook everything on it (verdict? leave your cinnamon rolls as cinnamon rolls, and it's no substitute for a panini press if you're just trying to make a hot sandwich; cookie dough sticks; waffles work best). The slow cooker sees nearly weekly use. The melon baller gets appropriated to a lot of other tasks. The deep fryer is maybe once a month, but when you want tasty fries, it's the go-to.

I will note that of the other unused items, they were items my husband brought to the relationship.
mer: (Default)
Life seems to be one long string of attempts to get on track. I suppose there have been periods where I have stayed on track, but right now those feel distant and not frequent. The times I've been off track? So legion.

In other words, I went back to the gym this morning, with the intent that I should not stop going at any point unless it is a reason of impossibility and not merely inconvenience. (I now have to think through: is it impossible or inconvenient to figure out how to exercise before leaving for WorldCon on Friday? I do have to BE somewhere, after all, by a certain time, and it's more on the impossible side.)

I had been doing *some* exercise--a power walk here when running failed me, a stint in the garden there (and there, and there), painting the laundry room, cleaning the house--and I managed to bruise the crap out of my foot while standing on a ladder with no shoes while painting, so hey, adults, don't DO that (kids, I guess, can, 'cuz I used to... 25 years ago...).

But I was exercising half-assedly, and eating well half-assedly, since I got back from Wyoming, and that just can't keep flying. So. Saddle, I am in you.

The exciting news is, I timed my gym visit perfectly and had 10 minutes to soften my feet up in the whirlpool. Bruise aside, my feet have been tired for weeks, and a little hot bubble action worked wonders.
mer: (Default)
Not my own cancer, but my dad's.

It was my 11th birthday card in which my father informed me he had cancer, couched in terms of "You've probably heard by now I have Hodgkin's."

I hadn't heard, btw. My mother had only heard rumors, and one does not inform their only child a parent is ill based on rumor; one waits for facts. (One might go and seek facts, if one were a different person, but my mother is not me.)

Of course, I remember lots of life events prior to age 11, but so much happens in that tween range, those 10-12 years that set your personality like an aspic sets in the icebox, that I honestly do not think about my life in terms of pre-Dad's cancer and post-Dad's cancer, as people do who come to cancer later. I grew up with a sick dad. I also grew up with an absent dad. He was fairly absent before cancer, and he was way more absent after, but it wasn't like the illness was the tipping point--but I forget, sometimes, that as he was going in and out of remission, and I wasn't being told about these changes until months later, that he was battling something huge.

Sometime in there, my mother went to work on an experimental cancer ward (it was supposed to be an easier kind of nursing than the ER, ha ha), and I spent a lot of time around her patients and their families. Most of the patients died. (You don't go experimental on a curable cancer.) We kept in contact with their families for years afterward. One year, when Mom and I both had pneumonia over Christmas, the only thing that fed us was the cheese gift basket sent by a family of a patient--we were too sick to go to the store.

So when I say I grew up with cancer, I really grew up with it.

As a result, I UNDERreact about cancer. I never have anything useful to say when people get diagnosed, because I'm too busy feeling my own feelings. I know how meaningless the word is, in terms of how someone's life can change. I also know how meaningful the word CAN be. So mostly, when I hear about cancer, I'm frozen like a rabbit, trying to figure out what's going on, just like I froze all those years ago and tried to figure out what was going on, and all the other times I froze when I heard remission was over. (Twice, I think, but I seriously can't remember. I remember so many things, but there are some empty spots around this subject in particular.)

Cancer stole a lot of things from me. It stole my 11th birthday (the card) and my 26th (when I learned my father had died), and in some ways, stole my dad and a lot of the years in between. I've often wondered why my dad didn't try harder to parent me, and I often erase from my memory that he was seriously ill most of my life. It's not an excuse, of course, but it could be a reason, or part of it. How he chose to "tell" me was also a theft. He only ever addressed the subject directly with me once, in that card; other people told me stuff about his cancer AROUND him, the rest of his life, sometimes through layers of three or six people. A game of telephone about my father's health.

So. Growing up with cancer. I remember watching Dad light up a cigarette when I was 13 or so, and wanting to jerk it out of his mouth and stomp it into the dust, and I swear, every time I see anyone smoking, that's my reaction. I watch my lymph nodes hawkishly with a combination of anger and fear. And I underreact, frozenly, to other people's major illnesses.

That's the legacy.

Well. Something else to take to therapy, I guess. Something else to work through.


Aug. 13th, 2012 10:34 am
mer: (Adam Lambert II)
I'll be at WorldCon in Chicago this year.

I roll into town shortly before running a writing workshop with Morgan Keyes from 12-2:30 on Friday. Hopefully I will get to Chicago early enough to get my badge and meet with Morgan first, but I wouldn't anticipate much other pre-workshop activity. Maybe checking into the hotel if I'm lucky.

Post that, however, I only have a small handful of things going on. I'm booked like... Saturday breakfast and Sunday from 3-5. Almost no bookings!

So if you are going to be there and want to hang, let's do! And if you think I'm putting the burden on you for deciding whether we should hang, that's only because I don't know if you're coming. If you say in the comments you're coming and you aren't averse to my company, I could probably be counted on to shooting you an email and organizing something!


Aug. 13th, 2012 10:28 am
mer: (Default)
Just performed a trim of the list. I can't pretend this journal is not asymptotically approaching defunct, so I cut judiciously.

If it turns out I deleted you--largely because I didn't think you were reading and I didn't think you were posting--and it has materially affected your life for the worse, do let me know and I'll rectify. But I wouldn't expect there to be a ton of content interesting to anyone other than the people who really care about my specific mundanity.


Jun. 13th, 2012 02:13 pm
mer: (Writing Bosoms)
Via [ profile] beth_bernobich:

Post your work in progress, page 77 or page 7, lines 7-14, no cheating.

Here is mine, from page 77 of the current draft for HANDBOOK:

"Just east of here... About a mile... There's a dragon's hold."
"A dragon?" Judith shrieked.
"A small dragon!" Parz said, making a calming gesture I'd seen him use on his horse.
"A small dragon?" Judith shrieked.
"It will be fine!" Parz said. "I learned about it back in King's Winter. It's a young beast we can take with just swords and these makeshift spears. It'll be good practice."
mer: (Writing Bosoms)
And now that Handbook for Dragon Slayers is delivered and accepted, and I have a bit of time on my hands until copyedits come back, I get to play around in my sadly neglected New Words Sandbox.

So. This meme!

Fairer (MG fairy book)

fairer, not fairest
wiser, not wisest
kinder, not kindest
better, not best

Queen of Thonos

I hadn't been married three months before my husband got himself kidnaped by a demon.

The Courts of Arcanum

I was drowning.

"The Spell-Hedge" or maybe The Spell-Hedge, I just don't know

The Infant Orphling Home of Condolence Falls had one child left, and that was a boy the monks had named Billy Bays.

The 64 Kingdoms book

"You aren't really inviting sixty-three princesses, are you?" I asked Mom, dropping to the chair beside her desk and mopping the sweat from my nose with my sleeve.

untitled YA comedy of manners

"No one wants to go to college a virgin," Lexa said, jamming her fork into a crouton. She pointed the crouton at me. "Not even you, Taylor."

"Madison Schofield's Annotated Wicked Fairy Peerage"

This is a wicked fairy peerage. This is my updated and revised version of the famous DeLong's Wicked Fairy Peerage that was supposed to keep me safe from wicked fairy peers. Mostly, that one worked? But kind of not really, because here I am, as you see me.

"The Kindest Month"

One time we celebrated the New Year in April because we were being medieval. We reversed the dates, too, so all throughout the night of December 31st instead of wearing sparkling doodads on our heads and breathing into noisemakers, we played pranks. When the Times Square Ball dropped on TV and everyone else in our time zone counted and kissed, we shouted "APRIL FOOLS!" and taped paper fish to each other's backs.


On the first day, I woke up in the great hall's hearth, curled in the warm ashes of the fireplace.

Last Girl on Earth

Every time I wake up, but before I open my eyes, I think: it didn't really happen.

But it did.


May. 1st, 2012 10:54 pm
mer: (Default)
-I'm grateful for my wordcloud art that [ profile] splash_the_cat made for my birthday with keywords from TPC

-I'm grateful for the short story submission opportunity that mugged me into rewriting the Robot!Ophelia story so that it is much, much closer to the story I had in my head

-I'm grateful that HANDBOOK is going to copyediting next week

-I'm grateful that my husband just fed the guinea pigs

-I'm grateful that I found an amaaazing birthday present for him -- no gift inadequacy fear this year!

-I'm grateful for my friends, and if I were a Klingon, I'd be grateful for my enemeies, I SUPPOSE.

-I'm grateful for the internet, which insists that one way to boost happiness is to weekly catalogue your gratitude (but much more than that, apparently, is just a waste of time).

Too fast

Apr. 22nd, 2012 12:53 pm
mer: (Default)
April is a landmark month for me.

April 10th--my birthday, of course--but April 9th is my dad's deathday, and April 9th is also the landmark of the first time I sent a submission off to a reputable magazine whilst possessing an actual clue about how publishing worked. April is also when I got an agent, and my first advance.

This year isn't the "ending in zero" year on any of those. Last year was the 10th anniversary of Dad's death. I don't really recall marking it on the day, not really; I fell apart on his birthday, but not because of the years that had passed but because of something else entirely, which triggered a torrent of grief and unhappiness that in some ways, I'm just now seeing the end of. I haven't been talking about it. I haven't been able to talk about it. But it's there.

This year: I turned 37. My writing career turned 9. My agent and I passed the 3 year mark. And Dad's been gone 11 years. I was 11 when he first told me he had cancer. I was 17 the last time I saw him. I was 26 when I found out he'd died, on my birthday.

No April has been as bad as April 2001, and many Aprils since then have been nearly as good as the ones I remember from my childhood. Even prior to the big writing career moments: we went on our honeymoon in April 2004 (almost a year after we got married), for example.

But I'm not so much dwelling on the highs and lows of Aprils past as I am remarking to myself how fast they keep coming. My editor and my agent both remarked on it when I saw them at the end of last month: "Seems like I just saw you!" "Once a year is actually pretty often!"

Given how fast the last ten years went, how fresh things from that time still feel in my mind, I am so very conscious that I may be writing an entry like this in another 10 years, and I will have even less accounting for how the time passed so quickly. It's not like I'm not doing things with my time: I have books to show for it, and there's a growing stepdaughter who helps mark the dates. But it does seem to whirl on and on, ever faster, and there's only so much I can do in terms of mindfulness to slow it down. It's our lot in life as human beings, as creatures who travel one way in time: we have no real control over the perception that time is speeding up.

Breathe deep. April will be here again before we know it.

April 2015

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