Sunday, October 31, 2010

Squeeing Over Trick or Treaters

Oh my goodness - wee tiny little Black Knight - fantastic!!!


I never have let myself really recover from Friday's illness, and have no intention of calling in sick tomorrow. Wish me luck for Monday, because I feel ROTTEN.



Anyone who's ever tried to do white makeup knows how difficult it is to get right. It sits on your skin and looks cakey, flaky - it just can't be done like regular foundation.

And that's the trick to getting it right. I used to think white makeup was best served by trying to scrub my skin to the freshest, healthiest layer. Because it seems to sit on the slightest dryness like a highlight, white makeup can make you look positively scaly - so I used to try to scrub and scrub so there could be no possible patch that wasn't perfectly smooth. And then I'd try to go out for Hallowe'en as a vampire, and find that my skin wasn't perfectly smooth except to my poorly attuned naked eye - the makeup would do its "ha ha, you're a reptile" thing - and the effect would be ruined.

White makeup, it has to be said, is not designed to disappear on the skin the way color matched foundation is. It's mean to COVER, not blend - and so it has to sit on a surface primed for that purpose. Not just glopped straight on, more and more, hoping for the least-worst. And no amount of moisturizer will perform this (surface) service.

The trick is: lay down a thin layer of the makeup you use that DOES match your skin. Maybe a shade lighter, sure. But don't try to go straight from your skin to white makeup. Even as pale as I am: that doesn't work. Period.

A layer of your own foundation - even a thin layer - gives something that communicates to both sides, as it were. The foundation designed for your skin is compatible for the job of making up your skin. And the white foundation is compatible with THAT. So you get the velvet-smooth desired effect.

It's a ton of makeup, yes.

But it ends up being probably less than many slather on working white makeup up to the point of a geisha effect. And less makes more of a point, too. You don't have to go clown-white to get a pretty heightened effect, with white makeup.

Anyway. Hallowe'en tip from me to you ...


It is perhaps pushing things a bit to come down with some sort of exhausting bug and still go out for Hallowe'en, but I am a big dork and have forgotten that, at my age, it takes more than a Sunday to really recover from pushing things like that. So, yes, because I am a costuming NERD I did go out last night - and, though I am not living to regret it per se, all I really have to show for it is the costume itself. It was good to spend time with my friend V and her husband, who are good company we don't get to bring together enough ... but the Hallowe'en portion of festivities, apart from the fact that we were IN costumes, was pretty subdued this year. We might have had as nice a time if we'd just gotten together on some ordinary night, without all the wigs-and-makeup business.

Ah well.

I'm off to the grocery to put something in the larder. And then in my tum. Then, quiet night at home handing out goodies to wee ghoulies. Blasphemously, I'll most probably be watching Star Trek (I got DS9 season 3 this week ...) rather than Langella's Dracula, or even my recent copy of Nosferatu - but that's a show heavy on fantasy and costume, so I am hoping even non-dorks will forgive me.

Off to the races. And still not napping at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday - go me ...

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Okay, I've described the questionable incident of my day to two people. X's response is that this isn't an ambiguous situation. The woman (one of my oldest friends) basically wants to know if there's a dead bunny in a drawer coming next.


The Line

So I'm thinking that a line got crossed at work today.

I'm a woman of prodigious noise, but (like most of my kind, frankly) at my core, that stems from timidity more than confidence. When it comes to really fundamental points, unfortunately, I'm the sort who'll go out of my way NOT to be heard, sometimes.

But ... when someone steps out of ambiguity, past perhaps-creepy, and into the outright baffling in their offerings of attention, you have to begin to think: when am I going to have to say something about this?

Because I have a feeling there's going to be a when - and I am not so frail I'm likely to sit mute very long.

I'm not so dainty I can't survive inappropriateness without my calm perfectly intact. The point is that: I don't *have* to survive it, and my tolerating it does no favors to those more dainty than I.

Just because I am made of stern stuff doesn't mean I can't be offended. It doesn't require raving lunacy for someone to be out of line.

Then again ... sometimes, even small moments are ravingly lunatic, at that.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010


My boss called me this afternoon, then said, "Wait, I have to call you right back. I wasn't ready."

I'd like to call this: premature administration.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, And

The Sherlock update was entertaining, I'll be sticking with that. Another possible DVD for the list, at some point. The only clanking moment was when Sherlock is describing a miscreant, and stops himself in the middle, realizing he knows who he is talking about. As smooth as this mostly is, that moment stops things dead. But I like the casting - Lestrade is nicely done, and some of the antagonistic supporting players are going to be good. Martin Freeman, as I said last night, makes a great Watson (hee - Watson), but the new Holmes is a very finely considered choice.

Plus, he's pretty attractive, for the sort (like me) who dig good looking nerdy guys. (Sheldon - seriously - call me. Or Jim Parsons; I'm not too picky.) Amazing, actually, how wildly popular those've become.


For any kid who grew up in a certain period, dreaming that we'd conduct our adulthoods from other planets, looking at the amazing art works of space and conceptions of LIFE in space peppering pre-Hubble textbooks and magazines, this movie is a genuine love letter. It hits all the bases - "Hi, Dave" - and turns a lot of them on their heads. Makes retro what once was intended to be futuristic. And doesn't stop there, but tells a good story.

It's hard for a performer to carry a movie - to this day, I never have made it through "Castaway" beginning to end - but I've always liked Rockwell, and not just because of his Zaphod or even his turn in Iron Man 2, though he was a gas in those. Have you ever seen "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind?" Do. And see this, too.

It does the sixties-seventies vision of the future dead-on, right down to Sam's haircut. It incorporates visuals right out of those paintings we used to gaze at for ages. It says hi to "Alien", to "2001", but it doesn't quite pay homage. It's neither bogged down in tribute nor distracted by sarcam. It's not done in irony, though it's capable of flirtily winking.

Seriously. Spacey. Have to love it.

I didn't even wait to watch the DVD extras, I just hit buy it now on my new copy.

Great little space movie. And not a bad human one either.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Holmes

I'm giving the Sherlock Holmes 21st century update a go on Masterpiece Mystery. I like it, and Martin Freemen sits well as Watson, as he did as DentArthurDent as well. Nice intros so far, a good visual style, and the story does seem to have a hook. I'll be interested to see how bogged down they choose to get in graphics over the intellectual procedural.

So far, so good.

Off to go finish watching.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And So On

Adriana Trigiani wrote me back. Wow, that's a generous woman, truly. She encouraged me to query her own agent, and said she would recommend me. Obviously, the likelihood of my fitting the agency is probably small, but it's still another contact to make, another piece of work on the assembly line toward getting agented, and finally getting sold. So that is incredibly nice.

Today is Saturday, house cleaning day, and hopefully going out night. I wanted to have a fun Saturday night last weekend, but was a bit depressed - more a physical sort of thing, more just the opposite of "elevated" than anything one might ascribe to Marvin the Paranoid Android. So I just didn't go, even though it was a nice night, and I haven't gotten out in a good while.

Today, I'm not feeling so subdued, so I see gettin'-out in my near future. Good.

Soundtrack to housecleaning: "Dune", my new DVD. Big brother, now this is a movie you'll have to share with your sarcasm-training class some time, don't you think? Heh. Almost up there with "Planet of the Apes", AND it includes the wonderful enunciatory powers of so many egregiously wonderful actors.

Yes, I said this was my new DVD. I may be a geek, but here's how bad a case I have: my copy has been, for some years now, on VHS. Now that is a very special stripe of nerd cred. I know many nerds enact it by being the first with editions of certain entertainments (and I know DVD is hardly state of the art, too). But I'm a LUDDITE nerd, kids.

Anyway. Wow, what a movie. I marvel at it every time. Let it be understood, this is not precisely a statement of admiration ...

Off to clean. Later, taters.

Monday, October 18, 2010


So my costume this year is going to be a big old splash. Last year, I went femme fatale vintage, and that was tons of fun (how I wish I could get away with wearing that crinoline with my magenta dress, just because ... !!). Year before that, I was Sarah Palin - about the masculine response to which, the less said the better. Before that, Amy Winehouse (hah - talk about a shift, those three years!). Before that, I finally went as The Goddess Diana, which I'd waited many years to do. That was a big old geek-out, and I had a good time planning that.

So this year - time to do something as extravagantly dorky as that once again. And I ended with: GlamaZombie. Or Glamazombie. Or Glama-zombie. Seems I need it capitalized, but spell it as you wish. The fun's in the outfitting, not in the semantics (next year: grammar-zombie ... ??).

I found a grey chiffon dress online for about forty bucks, which will lend nicely to a ghostly look - and a white wig I've already started to distress. I found a suitable body paint in a wonderful pearly white, and have been strategizing some monochromatic gore (grey bruising, perhaps, and pitch black blood here or there). Add to this a bit of tattering, and a ludicrously over-the-top set of jewelry, and keep the gashes "Hollywood" (the inevitable pretty little cut just at the top of the cheekbone, maybe a dribble of lip-glossy blood beside the mouth/nose) and my joke is to be the prettiest corpse I can be.

Speaking of nummy braiiiinnnnnss ...

I love Hallowe'en. This must be the reason I never had kids. They might distract from my own plans for the holiday.

The E Thing

The thing about loving someone who's thousands of miles away that's strangest, and so hard to convey, is that ... of all the abundantly generous and loving people in my life, X is the one who supports me most. He never judges, though he's not uncritical in seeing me (he *is* rather wonderfully biased in how he sees me, though; and I secretly love it). He knows more about me than anyone else who's ever lived, and he *loves* what he knows. He responds with more joy to my accomplishments than anyone has since my dad died. He's far away, he's contentious, he's not an easy choice to feel what I do for. But he is more "for" me than anyone who ever lived. Even if, in practical terms, "for" can't mean "together" right now.

He is the best friend I have.

That is not a statement of the slighest sadness, nor disappointment.

Ohh, Check Out the Brains!

Reasons I am more interested in X than I am in single males living in my ZIP code ...

Talking about our weekends, it transpired that we both spent them a little bit down, as did his entire family, and several people I know of down here as well.

"It was the ennuikend."

Juicy, yummy, delicious brainmeats. Plus: Teh Funnay!

X is kinda awesome. Nummity, nummity bwwwaiiiiiiiinnnnnsss ...

People - Really?

Look. I know I'm a luddite and all that ha-ha-oh-isn't-she-such-a-silly-old-writer stuff, but ... I have also experienced unemployment. I can TELL every one of you reading, if you have a job, there is probably a minimum waiting list of 200 people who would be THRILLED to take it from you, if you are not interested in doing it.

Yet, apparently, it's incumbent upon employers to deal with what their workers prefer to do ON company equipment, ON company TIME. This absolutely floors me.

I am a born and true underachiever. I really am. If I had my druthers, I would nap every single day, and not have to work for a living. If I had my d*mned druthers, frankly I would be a waste of skin. In many ways, it's lucky I was born at such a time as to get vomited onto my first serious job market in a major recession - because I had to learn how to be a decent employee.

It's like this, you halfwits: People WANT TO WORK. If you are lucky enough to be DOING that, consider seriously the option of doing so ethically - of, you know. DOING SO.

It amazes me how incessantly, now, I am hearing stories about people who seem perfectly happy to abuse their *living*. And did I mention? I am lazy, people. I do not like that I have to work for a living. That is why they *pay* people to come in and do it. But, dang. The older I get, the more I feel like some sort of meritorious service award winner, because I just can't get over how happy people are to act like jobs aren't particularly worthwhile endeavors.

Promise you: those 200 people, working on their resumes outside the door? They think it's worthwhile. You insult THEM, perhaps more than you insult your very own employers, by wasting work hours.


The thing that really bugs out my eyes about the level of "entitlement" to play on social networks comes around page 6, where the CORPORATE side of the equation is discussed. The bit about how easy users make it for the marketing professionals happily gobbling up their data to get their personal information.

The other big advantage, says Rosetta Stone senior vice president Jay Topper, is how much data companies can glean from sites like Facebook -- for absolutely free.

"Companies spend so much money trying to get information from their customers, while places like Facebook are essentially a free 24/7 focus group where every day thousands of people are providing you with a constant flow of information," he says. "It's mind-boggling how much you could mine from this."

In what universe is this a desirable state, no MATTER the supposed return on the venture ... ? And what actually is the return? Seriously.

I have belonged to FB. Even apart from the incredibly creepy and horrifying reality of this aspect, I quit it because ... seriously, there is no discernible content. I don't GET it, and that's not because I'm a frowzy weirdo fuddy duddy. It's because the people I want to have relationships with, I want to have RELATIONSHIPS with. It's just not possible to do that on an electronic wall. All I ever got out of FB was advertising, exhortations to join groups I was not interested in, to sign things, to give to things, to do things, which - as an old weirdo - resemble friendship about as much as an advertisement resembles entertainment.

Never mind the fact that some of the people I've lost touch with in this life, it took me literally years to do that with. Why would I wish to invite them all back to be "friends" (who can then ping me with pointless links, animated livestock I don't understand the point of, or expect me to bask in their importance)? Why should I expect that of the people around ME, for that matter?


But I have gotten off my point.

That happens, when I am as thoroughly creeped out by human behavior as I am by both sides of the satanic bargain people seem to love to make with their personal lives. Yeep.

My point was that doing all this stuff at WORK - apart from the sheer, exuberant selfishness and stupidity of it - is dangerous indulgence. And not strictly becuase of the way it compromises one personally. Because it compromises your bread and butter. The security of computer equipment YOU DON'T OWN. The security of the entity which PAYS YOUR BILLS by employing you. The security of information - personal and professional. You name it, it's poor thinking to go assuming hitting a mirror site is harmless just this once. It's poor thinking, frankly, to put this sort of playing above your d*mned job.

When you accept a job, you accept a certain contract. Are we all so inured to maintaining an attention span, that we can't concentrate even on our own livelihoods for eight lousy hours in a day? Seriously? Is it THAT bad, is it THAT HARD - to discipline ourselves into such simple behavior? Is the next comment on your own last comment actually even that interesting ...

Good grief, if nothing else, leaving that stuff alone for a sec gives it time for all the other slackers to manage to accumulate something for you to actually read, if you aren't constantly checking for new updates.

I was only unemployed for three months, and I THANK MY LUCKY STARS I don't have all day, every day to waste on emptying my piffling brains online. I am so bleeding happy not to have time for that stuff. Even on my lunch hour, the reward for me is this funny hardbound thing made out of paper, called a *book*. I pull it out, I read it.

It doesn't put my company at risk.

Nor my job.

I signed up for this employment, assuming what it means is, I'm not going to be the transparent ween calling in sick every third Monday, or suddenly having family drama and car troubles conveniently timed to allow me to sleep in (or go out late the night before - *ahem*). I'm not going to take home all the paper I want to print my book (I don't have a printer in any case - that works - but one has a point to make, har-de-har). I'm not going to spend my time at the office texting, or talking on the phone, or shopping on eBay, or social networking. Good grief. I wouldn't have time, even if I wanted to do these things. Because MOST of us who still have the good fortune to be working are so stinkin' slammed, because there's still as much to do as when millions of our bretheren and sisteren were ALSO working, who aren't now.

I don't know - maybe that's the point. Maybe people who feel overworked, when so many are not employed at all, come to feel a sneaking entitlement - it's okay, just this once. They get so much out of me, they can give me my Facebook too. I've finished my spreadsheet, now I'm going to look at my wall. Or maybe the habit, the addiction, really IS as pathetically entrenched and automatic as I'm sitting here assuming, and people are just idiots.

Experience lends, a bit, to that last possibility. Yeah, it's probably a mix.

But people really are kind of idiots. Just look at the emails they're still forwarding, even after all these years.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Down

I have done it, and I think it is as good as it can be, even if my expectations are realistic. To add to the joy of my evening, I did something else too - I took Adriana Trigiani up on her offer.

Adriana came to the Conference two years ago, and she was lovely and funny and excellent and enthusiastic. More than once, she fulsomely exhorted attendees to reach out to her when we finished our respective works, whatever they might be - or in whatever form or genre. Thoroughly generous, and enthusiastic enough: I believed her.

So tonight I hit AT's website, and wrote to thank her for being so wonderful - for giving those of us still aspiring a dose of her potent and heady encouragement. I wrote to her so I could write something completely unlike a sweated-over, stakes-are-everything, oh-no-did-I-MISTYPE-A-WORD-OH-NO, query letter. She offered - and I figure the worst outcome of such an entre' is that it could be deleted by a site administrator. So it goeth.

I never feared to network when I was unemployed.

Well, fabulous day job or not, in a way - as an author - I'm unemployed. And networking.

Plus, it's just a pleasure to reach out to people. I've found, from that Conference: it has rewards much deeper than getting oneself agented.

Another First Time

Tonight, talking with E (because he's the person who gets this stuff out of my brain), I was laughing, writerly-ly, about the way characters behave. It's a weird thing, let's face it, for some random middle-aged white suburban hausfrau to go around writing novels about ancient Frankish kings.

I mean, oh sure - as E points out, from the perspective of someone who knows MY interests and oddnesses, it does make sense. But looking at it from the king's standpoint ... who the heck am I to go around presuming to recount the life of the first king of France ... ? Seriously. And yet, here I am, the American weirdo - all up in bed with an ancient barbarian. He and I did something, we made something - I don't think there is any sort of direct line, but I do think that if we have souls, his is not unaware of my activities in his relation. I think, if he hasn't CHOSEN me: he hasn't objected. And I'm mystified I have gotten away with what I have.

It's impossible to write about my relationship to this character without skewing all Frowsy Nutbar Middle-School Art Teacher (not that there is a dadgum thing wrong with middle school art teachers, whom frankly I should be so lucky as to resemble - particularly Miss H, who was in fact not frowsy, and a stone cold fox actually) ... But the fact is that I have always felt some manner of consent issue, since I'm touching HISTORY. Fiction, to be sure. But about actual people.

For the most part, I have felt myself nothing more than a framework, a doorway through which some sort of traffic has emanated - onto my 530-plus pages of manuscript. I know I put in a lot of work, and I remember some of the oldest parts of it. But the extent to which the product is unrecognizeable to me, even un-encompassable, I would probably do best, actually, not to disclose. It's amazing, and I marvel at it all the time. "I *did* that" is not an expression strictly of wonder, that I took on a project and completed it. It is wonder at the "that" itself, which seems well beyond me. It's almost confusion, not at the process, but at the simple fact of creation at all.

There is a definite remoteness between me and my character, and actual barriers - of many kinds - between me and the man my character means to speak for. Never mind time itself, and gender, experience, understanding, and intellect. I know some writers are a little in love, or even in lust, with their creations. This is not me. I know some writers long to know some "real" avatar (if such a phrase can even be invented) of their character. I would probably hate him, and vice versa. I think most of us write, and exorcise parts of ourselves within the pages - the people - we try to create. This may be possible, but what I would work out through the lips and acts of ... this person ... I cannot imagine. I've never even thought to try, and I'm one heck of a navel-inspector. ("I know, you're saying, 'Howie! Can't BE!' ... "). It is beyond me to understand my own relationship, my own bond, to my creation OR the real man behind it. I started off going, "neat, my middle name means 'famed warrior' - cool!" and ended up a novelist.

That is pretty amazing.

And I like that it is so.

I like not understanding, not even particularly wondering. It is the closest I can come to thinking of the thing I have experienced, and the thing I have done with that experience, the work that's come out of it, as being artistic. It's ineffable, inexplicable. I don't get it, I don't want to. I am simultaneously honored and proud to have been the instrument by which this novel came into being. Pretty humbled, and only occasionally coherent enough to be confused.

I sit here typing, seeing more of the screen than the peripheral image of my pale, big hands. I can see the veins reaching upward toward my wrists; like my father's hands. I can see the deft motion of my fingers, the speed of my typing. But I can never truly break down what it is traveling between my cramped and shadowy hypothalamus and this white, grey, orange, blue and black page, and on out into the world. I would be disappointed if it were knowable.

I made a book. I feel like I made it with consent of its character. It wasn't given, but what I took wasn't theft either. And I have honored the king.

Strange bedfellows, we.

I wonder how the offspring will do now.

I Hate the First Time

Telling people about my relationship with X for the first time always gets on my nerves. This week's response to hearing about it:

"That is NOT a boyfriend."

Of course it's not.

Fortunately for me, I don't want one of those. I want to love X. And that is what I got.

If John and Abigail Adams could do long distance, why should I settle for less? Some souls are more important than their geographical proximity.

Cue Phil Collins

Because to-NIGHT, to-NIGHT, to-NI-YIGHT! Whoa-ooooooooooohhh! Tonight's the night, my dear fella babies. Tonight's the night, I write, whoa-ooooh: the query for my first full MSS submission.

The complication ... I had a dinner invitation. Unfortunately, I was mistaken in the nature of this invitation. I'd thought, oh, everyone wants to go for a sandwich shop. Good. I can do that, come home, bat this thing out.

I am betting this sandwich place sells wine. Because (a) the time of our occasion is supposed to be 7:30, which speaks to me of a Friday Girls Night Out, more than a "let's get a sandwich"-y occasion. And (b) 7:30 also does NOT speak to me of a relatively short affair. Hmm.

On the one hand, I am probably a crappy neighbor and friend if I flake on the night out (though at this point I *still* haven't been able to speak with anyone directly about it ... so does phone-tag-invitation mitigate late-date-out-flaking ... ?).

On the other: seriously, I have been planning all week for tonight to be my deadline. And I'm kind of a weirdo of a writer. I actually hit my deadlines.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

You Know, It Really IS

What I said to the guy in the elevator this morning who observed the heavy rain we were having (not disapprovingly) by saying, "Beautiful day."

We haven't had enough rainy days in the last few years to start getting snobby about them when they come - and even without a drought, it's only against the background of grey days the bright ones seem so dazzling. Rainy days are wonderful days - yeah, even when you have to go out in them.

The last time I heard precipitation, it was the dry echo of acorns falling from the big oak at the southern end of my side street. Nice enough sound.

But real rain has something going for it right now.


After the Conference, I went a bit mad for the rest of the weekend, and have been trying to keep myself at it on my time - going over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. I've finally finished this once-over, and pronounced, for myself, that it is presentable.

Wow is this terrifying.

And yet, given the timing we've got here, it's also ... gratifying ... wondrous ... exciting ... emotional ... mystifying ... and MISTY-fying. I can't even tell you how many times reading my own work, even in a hurry now, has brought me to *tears* these past several days. Yes, yes, it's all very hormonal of me. Yet the fact is, it is a powerful thing to do. And the feeling I've done something - made something pretty wonderful - is overwhelming on its own perfectly valid terms.

I wrote a BOOK, y'all.

I'm selling it.

I made the decision before I ever left work, tonight I won't try to compose my query. I've set myself the deadline of getting it sent tomorrow night - but today, with all it had going on, I knew wasn't a viable time to try more writing.

Well, correction to that - it's not the time to go with a first draft my paltry brain won't be capable of reading objectively. Even with a strong query already, this email is going to have to be particular; so I won't just mash the document attachment onto what I have boilerplated.

(Even if that HAS been edited umpteen ways to Sunday, and for every agent I have contacted since February!)

Today is a day of rest, if only writing rest. I'm too smart a writer not to know SOME work is best just left undone for a minute. The *best* work is what I am after.

So time to go sit in my beautiful haven of a living room, with the great Lolly, for just a little while.

Then walkies.

Then puttering, bath time, and finally sleep.

A good day.

I mean: tomorrow.

Good, Hard Day

Today was one of those running on so many tracks it could probably have turned into a bit of a cluster if it hadn't been for the fact that my brain was turned on. There was a lot going on, but even three hours logged out, I'm pretty sure I didn't lose track of it, which is satisfying. I got a lot accomplished, small and general, and one thing came out of the day I think will bear sweet fruit for all of us. One of my executives has been standing back, and was convinced to really step up and use me today. She asked if I'm getting up to speed, and minutes later we were working out how I can find ways to help her. Fab.

I'd actually been surprised in recent weeks, how little I have turned out to be doing for her. As it happens, it seems, she was actually holding back. If she does stop doing that now, I think it'll be all to the good - both for me, embedding me a bit better in everyone's days, so I will have a fuller view of my group - and of course one hopes, for her obviously.

The least shy of my people, who has been asking me for my time since day one, has turned out I think to be an important relationship. If I can cultivate more relationships, it can't be bad for any of us, and frankly I like my people and find myself wanting to encourage myself to know them more, and like them more in the bargain. "Least Shy" (let's call her Shy, because it's hilarious - and I simply can't go with "Least" for a nickname for this one) and I have been working on our ESP. She and I actually do seem to have a similar way of looking at and approaching things, and one of the things we have shared most has been a motivation to simplify, streamline - increase efficiency.

My own efficiency is getting somewhere, too. Even with computers being the stupid students that they are, my baseline skills are in place for the job now - not merely those I brought with me, of course, but the peculiar ins and outs of THIS role, this employer. I've got many of the relationships which, G-d willing, will serve me for years to come (I keep telling Shy: "You are going to have to pry this job from my cold, dead hands" ... and with my retirement accounts looking like they do, that isn't exaggeration either - ack), and have learned the systems necessary for the day-to-day. I'm fully delegated for those I need to support, now, too, which is huge. And, of course, still dork enough to be eager to do so.

The mix seems positive, and my own bent toward *making* that the case, even if only for my individual purposes, seems to be working well. The one person I might have encountered less than positively has decided I'm a good learner, and actually likes me - we laugh together, when we talk. And the situations I myself might not laugh about in certain circumstances, I have been able to plough through, and put in good perspective.

It's a job, and the contract I entered into in taking it, I'm more than living up to. I am committed to this place, and for that to work best I feel this need to be committed to my people. Case by case, as it happens - that seems pretty possible.

Good for me.

I got a lot done today, and have a lot yet to do tomorrow. Top of the list, as it should have been for all the rest of this short week: doing something about our shared document resources. I need to FIND the magician to show me how to create a database which can be linked into Excel - so if the Excel document goes bye-bye, the root information isn't lost as well.

And then I need to present a beautiful new (stably sourced) doc to my whole team.

In the meantime: I think some wonderful relaxation, and a good walk. Lolly hates the rain, but she does love her walkies!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I thought I had escaped this year's I-love-my-conference migraine.

It appears only to have been running late.

In order to make up for this terrible faux-pas, it is working to be extra nasty.

X, this is a refrigerator-grade one.

*Lying down for the duration*


One of the agents I met this weekend, apart from looking so terrifyingly young to me I got a bit of a complex again about being almost 43 and JUST having completed my first novel this past year, was one of the most brilliantly inspiring guests JRW has had in my six conferences.

This is the agent who works with the one I met last year, my first request for a partial. This is the one I thanked for being so simple, smart, and instructive - and who said I should query her, even though she doesn't usually handle my genre. I was honored by her generosity.

But more than anything, I was genuinely impressed by her. The agents *always* seem so young when I see them, but they also always more than display their professional competence. It's not by accident they have the success they do, and while my reptilian slacker-brain gawps in wonder at someone being so accomplished in their twenties-or-so, I've learned to take it on faith that most of the agents and editors I've met through JRW are serious, and are *taken* seriously.

Okay, YOUNG. Shut up, Di.

The point is that over the years I've seen enough agents to have some sort of educated idea of what a good one has to offer, and to also have some ideas about what "good" means for me specifically. Some agents are hands-off, but some are editors - I think I would do best with the latter brand. I'm not dainty about my precious work, and I have no compunction to kill off my babies. I think, too, there's a lot to be said for surgical amputations. My work is 168,000 words. For histfic, this might pass, but it's a chunk to try to sell, no matter the genre, in this publishing day and age. If I find an agent, I won't cry if he or she forces it down to size. My *instinct* is that it is the size it needs to be.

But I'm not the professional agent. And I know I need one, if my product is to be sold.


M. B., this particular agent, was not merely personally appealing, but professionally impressive. She's the sort of agent who knows how to say things very well indeed - and I *have* seen a few, over the years, who weren't good at that, some very poor in fact. She seemed energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, and sincere, and she really was enough to make you wish she handled your genre. When I told her I was grateful for her contributions, she seemed truly to take it to heart that she'd made a difference - and I know for a fact I was in the majority, appreciating her presence. She makes me want to write right to her particular catalogue, just to work with her, you know?

But of course, that would take time ... and I am old already. Heh.

The effect of meeting one of these people is that they inspire you doubly - and you also sort of eat your heart out a bit, too. When you meet one of the good ones, it's both reassuring, and depressing, because you think, "Oh, will I ever find the one who's THIS good ... ?"

I think there are a lot out there. I know I won't just grab for dear life at the first offer I get, if it is not from the "right" person.

But it's like the job hunt: while it's going on - during the period when you can't know what your outcome will be - you just erode, eating your heart out. "When will I ever get just the right job?" "When will I ever meet just the right person to love?"

"When will I ever get the right agent - and SELL this thing!?"

Life's little list of questions.

Kind of a pain in the behind.

Kind of invigorating.


Among the other fruits of this weekend was the formation of a new writing group, the Sarcastic Broads Club. The first person I saw and spoke with on Friday morning was the inimitable, wonderful S. C. (I won't include her full name without asking), whom I've been acquainted with for years via JRW, and who has always been inquiring, supportive, generous, enthusisastic, and fun. On top of that, she has a wardrobe of jewelry I adore, and the best eyelashes of anyone I know. Seriously, they do that lovely longer-at-the-outer-edge thing just perfectly, and are so pretty with the shape of her face.

Anyway, so S. C. and I are catching up a little, when we see a Conference virgin, standing nearby. She looks nice, we pull her in, we're all chatting and having fun, and the new girl and I end up really hitting it off. I think I can safely name her, as we'll be working together on the SBC, so Kristy and I click pretty well. Then the two of *us* click with KristI, and the three of us end up gravitating together with Leila, and Leila introduces us all to Kim, and so it goes ...

By the end of the weekend, we're all middle-school-girl-ing it and having a group hug because we're all affectionate and excited and have had a grand time, not least with each other, and also we're planning our attempts at world domination.

Erm. At SHARING OUR WORK, that is ...

See also: The SBC.


Those who know me know that I am so not a joiner, so not a clique-former (and in our group, I'd say NONE of us is "that" woman). But when you CLICK, you click, and even I know that in writing, as in all things, it is good to push your comfort zone. And to work with others. I let Kristy read the opening scene of Novel #2, which for me is akin to sitting naked in public for a while, and she was nothing but lovely about it. But I did it, and I think all of us will be doing more of this.

My past best readers have been, of all people, E and my Beloved Ex. They're an excellent audience, but I can see an advantage to having the SBC to work with. These women write a variety of differnet things, which has a lot going for it. If you can get your work read by someone who doesn't typically go for your genre, you can get a manner of good feedback impossible from those who, so to speak, live inside your bubble. Perhaps more to the point, these women are writers. They've learned some of the lessons agents have to teach, they have a command of the tools of the job - they have a motivation BEx and E do not.

Which is to say (much as I appreciate them), they didn't entirely finish their readings. Heh.

So I have finally gotten myself in a writing group. I've been reluctant for years, but I think this gang is probably as comfortable as any variety of us could be.


As to the club ... we're working out our ideas together, but I'll say this. I think, regardless of the name, sarcasm isn't going to end up being our raison d'etre. I think the idea to celebrate one another is going to be lovely. I think we've got some smart women, willing to listen - and (eep!) willing to share, which can be so hard to let yourself do. And I think I am going to be good and go at this in good faith.

Eep some more!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How the Heck ...

... can I do an audio post? Seriously, my control panel has vid, but no audio attachment option ... is that weird?

Actually, I should do it as a page, like the excerpts. Because what I want to read is my synopsis.

One Down

Queried the agent who works alongside the one who requested my partial last year. I think I will get some sleep before tackling the one who's requested my FULL (oh, I may seem quiet, but I am squee-ing). I did justice to the first. Best make sure I do as much for the second.

Silly Tresses

It's a good thing that I am not religious about the style, position, or continuity of my hair.

Take the Con

The Conference was this weekend, and it has done its usual job of generally firing me up (and, more immediately, wearing me out). Love it.

I met with an agent who doesn't do histfic, but who seemed to take to my ideas. I got my first request for a full manuscript.

Kids, this: is big. I might even go so far as to say, it is Major. And them as knows, know I don't use THAT joke lightly.

I also spoke with an agent from the same agency, actually, as she who, in my meeting last year, gave me my first request for a partial. I told her, of all the conferences I've attended, she had some of the clearest, simplest, best, and most insightful words of advice I have heard. And the JRW Conference gets GREAT people - so this is saying a very great deal of this agent. I told her she was so good it made me sorry she doesn't do historical fiction, and about my experience with her colleague, and she said I should query her anyway.

So that was pretty great as well.

Did I mention that I had my first request for a full?

From an agent who usually doesn't DO histfic? Did I mention that? Because if I am that good at selling the concept - and if the concept itself is good enough for TWO agents who don't do histfic to open their doors to me - my instincts about this work, and my confidence in its positive fate, are supremely well gratified in this.

With the cast available at this Conference, I expected there was no chance of interest - never mind fruitful meetings, nor opportunities to actually share my work itself. So this result is extraordinary.


Let this be understood, my fella babies. The thing is, these introductions STILL aren't likely to turn into offers of representation. The endpoint here isn't an expectation of getting agented. The endpoint here is just what *today* had to offer. That my work does open doors. That it is not so obscure, not so inacessible, that nobody will even listen, nobody will try it.

TODAY is the endpoint of today, and it is genuinely incredible in itself. I am canny and professional enough to present myself in such a way as to invite - well, invitations. My personal impression doesn't elicit closed doors. And the work I have to offer isn't SO out of the main that it alienates, even by virtue of its genre, which definitely *can* close doors for an author. I write in a form that makes some in publishing skittish. Histfic is sometimes as ghettoized as fantasy and sci fi sometimes have been. So being able to present it as something attractive to a pretty wide audience is important - being able to offer the "why" for an agent, "why someone would read this."

I know why, and can say so - and I am also respectful, engaging, and clearly committed.

These things matter. My writing friends (and you know I know who you are): be able to demonstrate them.

Putting words down well is not entirely enough. This is a JOB. You can't skip over the parts you don't like as much, in the name of only wooing your creative muse because you love her Just So Very Much. Make yourself a product almost as good as your work is. Because, in the end, you've got to sell 'em both.
I don't want to write what I know.

I want to write what I have learned.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Yesterday at Ten Thousand Villages, among the many retail items to admire, I saw the most intriguingly beautiful plant. Admiring it, I asked one of the women working there what it was, and she said she likes to call it a Dinosaur Begonia, because it reminded her of a dinosaur. She gave me and mom two cuttings.

I think it looks like a tiger, or even a tarantula, with hairs on its stems, and coloration so dark running through its leaves, the purple is as dark as black.


Mom forgot her leaf, but I have them both in a vase right now. She'll come get it soon.

And then we'll both have beautiful plants.

Another Part of My Spirit

The day began bright and beautiful, a phrase chosen very much with a winking smile and a finger tapping the side of the bridge of my nose. Today was the blessing of the animals at church.

I've never gone to one of these, but always found it a charming idea. I realize, too, there is more than one way to skin a cat (har) spiritually - and this does have an importance to it. The service was held outside, and the thing I noticed was that the presence of our animals provided ways and reasons for our fellowship to speak with one *another* in ways which ordinarily we do not. Even as welcoming and loving as this congregation has always been to me, today had something special about it.

I love my dear dog, and consider her a blessing. But in blessing her, once again, I was the receiver.

I had the priest speak to her, not as Sidney, but as Lolly. The name I use with her the most. The softer one. The one which came as a song, the one which rose like mist from HER - not the name once given to her by people who gave her up. My sweet little La.

And, bless her all over again, she was such a good - and HAPPY - girl.


Dad loved her. She is a great sitting-at-your-feet-and-sighing-quietly dog, and she is also an archetypally DOG-gy dog. She's not too small, but she's terribly cute. She's not too barky, but when she does speak she has the power of an animal. She's playful, but content. She's aristocratic looking, but a perfect mutt. Mixed and made, she's absolutely excellent.


So today I blessed my dog, and found (I hope) rest for my father.

A good day.

I'm going to finish cleaning. Then, I think, oatmeal with cinnamon for dinner. Just the nice, warm thing to enjoy.


I forgot one thing.

When dad was fighting to be able to breathe ...

... he said he was fighting the dragon.


Either I have made a horrible mistake, or the dragon is honoring the hero.

I put his ashes in the box today. It was an exact perfect fit. When I put the lid on, pushed its crease into the rim of the little clay bowl, a tiny grey puff arose. Breath of the dragon.

I wonder whether I have done a terribly wrong thing. Only one person who reads here can tell me. And I'm listening.


I miss you, dad.

It's hard, and it is harder without you. I'm sorry I made it harder for you, too.

All I could say. No prayer for this one.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Vault That Made Me Be

My father has been dead almost eight years, and in that time he has been in a box.

Ordinarily, this would be appropriate; except that we cremated his body. And it is a small portion of his cremains I am talking about. My part of dad's ashes. And the box they are in is a jewelry box.

In a baggie.

Ziploc - though I'm not sure it isn't an off brand bag. I don't think it's even got the yellow-and-blue-make-green closing seam. It definitely doesn't have one of those newfangled hard plastic zippy-closey-handle things they do now.

So off and on, over the years, I have looked in different places to find a good place to put my piece...s, of my father.

I never liked the idea of a glass bottle. He didn't want his body viewed - though a few did go to say goodbye to him. After they had removed his eyes. His bandaged face was the last some saw of dad.

The last I saw of him was his still-warm hand, his bright wedding band, in his hospital bed. The way his hand infinitessimally contracted on mine.


I have looked at soapstone keepsake boxes ... carved wooden ones ... many kinds. I've talked with my brother about his carving one. I've had one friend, TT, who warmed to the idea of helping me find something. T is so lovely.

Today was simply a glorious day. This is the season my father loved best - classes underway, crisp days coming to cleanse the heat and sweat of summer - the time of year, through history, so many of us who live with seasons have chosen for reflection and renewal. Mom happened to call me, and I was excited when she wanted to go to Carytown. And in Carytown is Ten Thousand Villages. Exactly the sort of place one might find a small, lovely place ... to put one's father's ashes.


When I was little (... and isn't that a funny phrase, out of a middle-aged woman? I realize, those words are ones you usually hear from people under the age of ten ...), my dad used to tell us the story of how mama made him marry her.

Mama worked at a bank.

She kept a dragon in the vault.


The box is small and clay. The dragon is wonderful. It happens, too, that of course dragons are magic, as was my father. That dragons are often joyous, and sometimes even amusing. Sometimes quite dear.

And dragons are auspicious. They are good - and *great* - symbols.

My dad will rest guarded by a dragon. Seems right.

And now I want to dig out the book my brother gave me once. "An Instinct for Dragons."

Friday, October 1, 2010


Oh my achin' head, I think I am in love.

Curvatus en Se Some More

Since someone got stuck on THIS site thanks to a search string asking the question: curvatus en se is Latin for curved in on oneself, like an embryo. It's from St. Augustine's "Confessions", and it refers basically to the sin of self-absorption (yes, kids: I *do* know how apropos that is), of infantile concern for oneself above all.

Now ya know. Now go have fun with some ancient Catholic reading. Or make some jokes about Hippo, if you like. I won't judge. I'm far more concerned with myself.