Primer on Packing All The Things

Drink caffeine while packing; do not drink wine.

If you are chatty, don’t pack with friends. If people inhibit you, pack with company, comfortable or not. Pack with people you actively dislike, as the inclination to be brisk with them will carry over into the speed of packing. Friends will do you no good here.

Avoid looking at the things if at all possible, as it inhibits packing. Some of your things are shiny, some neat, or just damn cool. Some things are things you forgot about, making it hard not to linger.  Some things jog entire chains of memories, snuffed desires, and forgotten tasks. Do not look at these things directly, only obliquely. Throw them into boxes if you must. Score yourself on how much in the net they are, if there had been a net, if you had been looking.

Socks are ordinary and not fun, therefore safe to pack. The same is true for silverware, towels, and cleaning supplies. Rest assured that all your shiny, neat and just damn cool things will still possess these properties when they are removed from their boxes at a later date. Some things are things to look forward to, you tell yourself, while you have another sip of wine.

Of tea, I mean. Tea.

Seven days and counting oh my god oh my god.

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You Gotta Read These Books

I’ve been on a really great reading tear this summer. You know the kind — where the narrative threads are so bright, so strong, that the rest of your life gets helplessly knotted up, immobilized, until you finished because you can’t think about anything else.

In particular, there are three novels I’ve read, and two collections, one of essays, one of short fiction, that I must rave about.

In quick succession, I’ve devoured We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, China Dolls by Lisa See, and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. The first is about a young woman’s troubled past with a family that used her as part of an ongoing primatology study, the second an historical coming-of-age tale about three first generation Chinese and Japanese women in California before and during WWII, the third a jazz-era reimagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. And as varied as they are, the books have two things in common — they are not SFnal or fantastical in any way and they all have this prose style that begs to be read aloud.

When it comes to the latter, that’s by far my favorite kind of voice. If alone in the apartment, the temptation to read passages, even whole chapters aloud, was often too great to ignore. I breathed in these books while reading; I babbled about these books to friends upon finishing.

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And while diving into these three I picked up and devoured, in an entirely different way, We Have Always Fought by Kameron Hurley. If the novels were air, this collection of essays was bread for a starving woman. Reading this alongside the stunning  June 2014 issue of Lightspeed magazine, Women Destroy Science Fiction, makes me remember why I do any of this — why I keep writing, why it’s important.

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And though I suppose I should expect a lull, looking ahead at what’s skipped to the top of the queue, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I’ve got Scatter, Adapt and Remember by Annalee Newitz on the go right now, and soon Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and her Bel Dame Apocrypha series. But first, Jo Walton’s My Real Children.

Looks like it’s shaping up to be a great fall reading season, too.

Sights Acquired

These have descended into monthly updates — not my intent and, frankly, not cool.

The upside is that I’m missing them because I’m busy. The downside? Slow and negligible progress on the WIPs. Any of them. If life had been a teensy bit less busy, I was going to tackle the 3-Day Novel Contest as a wee vacation/reboot, but that got scrubbed too. My plans of late have all the structural integrity of a sugar cube — all plumb and square until that drop of water soaks up through one side and then it’s shmooshy sugar everywhere.

But, some matters of notes:

  • Keys acquired to new apartment! Move in date is the third weekend of September. Weirdly, the windows were bigger than I remembered, and the length of the apartment smaller. The cat has ample space for her butt and I still have ample space for my desk. Will be lean living for the first little while. Gonna try to buy what I need when I need, not go crazy all at once.
  • 3-Month review conquered at work and with minimal bloodshed! Just kidding, no blood. Because they thoughtfully cauterize wounds. Kidding! I think they like me. I do have to be more thoughtful about my excitableness, but those who know me well should not be surprised. It is surprising that I am as comfortable there, three months in, as I am. Haven’t taken off the glass slippers yet.
  • I went kayaking! Look, I can’t swim and I’m pretty blind. I put on the brave face for the weeks leading up to the event, all bullish, “It’ll be good for me!” and then succumbed to some serious pre-kayak jitters the day before and the morning of. Even getting into the kayak, feeling it wobble underneath me as I moved, made every muscle in my body reflexively tense. But about ten minutes later, once we were on the water under our own power, all I could think was that this was fucking awesome. There was a seal! And a jelly fish! And splashing people! It was terrific.

Now, all I gotta do is focus in on getting this move done as efficiently as possible and behind me. I’ve got work to do.

Here that, my little WIPs? Comin’ for ya.

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Good gods, could there have been ANY MORE typos in this post? Sheesh.

Oathmaker

Swear some days that if everything wasn’t changing all the time I would not recognize my life one whit.

So, essentially, EVERYTHING is happening in the next three months. I’m moving into my own apartment, I’ve landed full-time at the Cinderella job, I’m committed to the Surrey International Writers Conference and I’m going to pop in for the Saturday at VCON, Vancouver’s local SF convention (the writing track there being marshalled by the capable and talented Sandra Wickham of Inkpunks and writerly fame).

I’ve also, after some twists, turns, and lucky timing, landed one of the SIWC Pitch Sessions with Donald Maass. Cue the happy freakout. Setting my expectations really low, of course, because I have never pitched before and I am sure the learning curve is steep — especially with the two novels I have ready right now that, at least to my ingenue sensibilities, don’t summarize neatly into a log line or elevator pitch. But then, that’s what I’m there to do, learn from agents what to do and how best to do it. I’ve been told that there are often additional pitch sessions available on site during the event and will try to hit as many as I can, providing that the agent in question reps what I’m writing.

Because that’s a potential problem, too. What I write (if I may poke fun at the title of my blog) is pretty different from project to project. Of the two completed novels I have right now, one straddles YA and is a solid urban/portal fantasy. The other is a secondary world, no-magic but with non-humans and a proto-steampunk sensibility with a 17th Century tech level. The stuff I want to write, having either started drafting or just in the planning stages, includes a contemporary horror with a twist, a weird western, an urban fantasy that tiptoes into magic realism, and a few science fictional things I can’t even nail down yet.

Who the hell is going to want to take on all that?

It’s a concern I keep coming to, though I realize it should be the least of them.

I expect, after I tuck away the last pumpkin of Halloween, that I will look back on the three months so newly behind me with November’s foggy sense of mystery. Just how did all that happen, anyway? What sorcery was that?

I’m excited, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like I will need more of an army at hand than I have. Once more unto the breach?

Speaking of war, I’ve made a promise to myself: when I sell my first novel, I will buy myself a sword. It had the heaviness of an oath when I thought the words, and my skin goose-bumped.

I have always wanted a sword of my own like I have wanted few things in this life; the vow feels right, and true. I mean to keep it.

Ahoy! Strange Waters Ahead.

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The Disney Cruise! Much more lively than the other cruise ships. MUCH.

If my life circumstances didn’t change every thirty days, I probably wouldn’t recognize it as my life. So, allons-y.

Since last we met, dear readers, I have a new job that I’m super excited about. It’s an assistant Admin and HR position in a growing tech company. Part time to start, but I’m hopeful down the road they will pick me up full time. Meanwhile, will spend those alternate days at the old job — seesawing back and forth between the two. Will try to keep my 5:00 am wake up routine and spend the extra time writing in the mornings.

The new job is in an office that faces North Vancouver, and cruise ships dock on either side of it. It’s delightful getting to walk to work and the weather has been perfectly summery each day. This is unlike all my other jobs. Normally, I am a wreck before starting a new job — not an “oh, she’s just nervous” kind of way. I mean full freakout, breakdown, panic. Yet, going through the job interview process, I felt confident. Taking the job, even with the uncertainty about the hours, didn’t stress or play out endless what-ifs in my head. First week, nervous, but felt good. Felt very unlike what it’s always felt like before. Minor freak outs about clothing, of course, and new shoes deciding my ankles are tasty, but overall it’s been terrific. My co-workers have a productive, chill, geeky vibe I could really get used to. A sleek new computer ordered just for me. It still feels like a Cinderella story and I hope I can make good.

And one of the first things I did after my that initial week? Booking my spot for the Surrey International Writing Festival. It’s about an hour off by subway but I’ve booked hotel rooms for the core days of the event anyways. Will take the editing workshop because, hey, I’m sort of living there at the moment, and signed up for both a Blue Pencil session with author Chuck Wendig and a Pitch Session with agent Mandy Hubbard. Plus, it’s a hard deadline to shoot for, and I do so much better with external pressure. Roomie talked me into booking the full package, so I will be attending the luncheons and the banquets. You never know who you’ll meet, right? Hoping to connect with some twitter-folks, too. (Also, any locals or non-locals flying in that might want a room buddie? Let me know!)

Oh, that’s right — I didn’t write an entry for May. I’d pretty much had it at the current job. Not for staff reasons, my co-workers are quite cool, but it wasn’t a job that was going to grow into anything else and I couldn’t depend on it for regular shifts. Pissed off, I started hunting hard for work and it paid off but just before I’d landed the job, I had declared that I would have the revisions on STAR DOOR done by the end of June. It pleased my sense of symmetry, since that was my hard deadline for the draft reworking last year, and I made it, flying out here to visit Michael as a precursor to the move. I was also prepared to abandon the novel if I didn’t meet or make significant strides in the revision. Like SHERLOCK SQUARED, I was prepared to walk away.1 Both those deadlines had worked before, and I was ready for them to work again based on my then-circumstances.

But I have to be somewhat realistic now. I expected June would be as patchy with shifts as April and May, and would have extra, full days to work on the revisions. Now, I will, with luck, be full-time for the month of June between these two jobs (first time ever since I moved out here) and I need to spend some time getting up to speed on the industry I’m working in and the tools we use on a regular basis. Not that I am giving myself a free pass — I’ll be hitting the WIP every day and trying to build a new routine. I’m also shooting Chapter Two of that other WIP, BLOOD OF WOLVES, at the writing group this week and I am still working on putting together a separate, Clarion-style writing group (but not so sure if it’s going to gel). End of July for the revision is more realistic. I hate moving the goalposts, but I don’t want to blow another deadline and risk a hit to the self-esteem. That ship’s patched up enough as is.

Another post is brewing, too, about natural writing lengths. Wednesday last week, sandwiched between two short story rejections, I had a good sulk/think about how I spend my writing time between novels and short stories. My moan on Twitter became an @reply fest and boy, do I mention enough how much I love my Viable Paradise classmates? Not enough, I guarantee. They are awesome and invaluable and I am so very grateful for each of them.

To cap off this crazy week, I got the chance to see WICKED performed at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, my first Broadway musical. I know the story backwards and forward, sing along to the soundtrack, but to see it performed was marvelous. The song Defying Gravity was my mantra around this time last year. It still is.

And, I think, it’s working.

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Right before the curtains rose and the dragon starts breathing fire. Taken at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver!

1 Confession time: I did give myself a week extension for that project because I was so close and I had the ending ready. I was willing to do the same if I had made major strides in STAR DOOR but not if I had faffed around and wasted all those days. That’s what’s gotten me here so far, and that’s not an acceptable practice anymore.

University Study on Sexism In BBC’s Doctor Who (Infographic)

Steph:

Terrifically interesting.

Originally posted on The Life and Times of an Exceptionally Tall Mormon:

In April 2014, I completed a study, with several other students, for my Media Research Methods class, which we then entered into BYU-Idaho’s Research and Creative Works Conference. My group’s research took second place. Many have asked to see that, so here is the final report. 

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Is Doctor Who Sexist?

Back in 2010 Steven Moffat took over as head writer of the cult classic British Sci-Fi Doctor Who from Russell T. Davies. Davies had headed the reboot of the show back in 2005. When the switch happened many fans began voicing problems they were having with the new direction of the show. One of those problems was sexism, or at least that is what people were claiming. However some fans of Moffat said people were being overly sensitive and just couldn’t let go of the RTD era. So which side was right? We sat down and watched all of the…

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