Monthly Archives: May 2012

Back from Miscon

For a while there, I wasn’t certain that Miscon was going to happen, what with the complications of DS’s surgery and work stuff imploding around me.  But I got an airplane ticket instead of driving, DH stayed home with recuperating DS, and all worked out for the best.

This was a big year for Miscon.  Writer Guest of Honor was George R.R. Martin, which meant this little con in Missoula, Montana, exploded to be about 1500 attendees.  It worked out well and pleasantly so, nonetheless.   I know that Justin Barba and CthulhuBob as well as the rest of the fantastic Miscon staff worked their rears off (well, they still are, Monday’s the last day of Miscon).

Miscon is usually a bit of a relaxicon for me; a chance to unwind a little bit and anticipate the changes from school schedule to summer schedule.  There’s usually a pretty decent mix of small press writers and larger press writers and at least one opportunity for a dinner with other writers.  The SCA has a strong presence with sword-fighting demonstrations (this year they even brought a war horse) and classes.  Sunday afternoon there’s a BBQ on Ruby’s back lawn (Ruby’s is the con hotel and a very pleasant one setting, with the back lawn bordered by a lovely little creek).

I had some very fun and well-attended panels.  Several, like the Psychology of Evil panel, played to a packed room.  What really stood out was the interaction between the panel and the audience.  I don’t feel like the panelists dominated any of the panels I was on, but we had good interactions and participation from the audience.  Additionally I ended up chatting with several folks after each panel which was great.

Both Friday and Saturday night I ended up sitting in the coffee shop at Ruby’s and talking with friends into late hours.  We discovered a worthy competitor to The Eye of Argon in the purple prose category and had fun with the Corgi Attention Tribute Extraction Service.  And I met new friends as well as old friends.  Always good.

All in all, a pleasant and relaxing con.  I’m recharged and ready to get to work on writing now rather than waiting for two and a half weeks until school’s out.  Sweet.

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New stuff at the web page–Bibliography and thoughts about the evolution of a writing career

I finally bit the bullet this past week and started work on a bibliography page for the website.  It’s edifying and somewhat scary to look at a listing of one’s work and realize how much has (and hasn’t) been happening, especially in a writing career like mine which is punctuated by fits and starts.

Fact # 1: From 1992-1998, I wrote a lot of stuff.  Nonfiction stuff.  Most of it was unpaid, in little Portland political zines.  But I’d started writing things for a couple of paying markets except, unfortunately, in one case the editorial perspective changed and the market was no longer interested in a regular column about the Catholic internet.  And then life intervened, in a couple of different forms.  I started making money off the colored stone bead hobby and that started to suck up my serious marketing focus (when I wasn’t busy raising the son and dealing with the beginnings of the educational issues around his high functioning autism).

Jewelry went to pieces after 9/11 because my business was primarily mail-order and online.  Um.  Yeah.  And then, after that, I started intensifying a freelance clerical/bookkeeping business, then went to school to get a teaching certificate.

And all the stuff tied in with that.

Recent sales are primarily fiction, with the exception of four blog posts that, again, appear to have had some editorial changes going on (that combined with another bout of Real Life has put that aspect of writing on temporary hold).  It’s ironic that my first published piece of nonfiction was about my early adventures with the son in special education, dang near twenty years ago.  Gee, twenty years ago who’d have thunk that I’d now be a special ed teacher?

Going back and looking over what I wrote in that six year period, and now looking at what I’m doing now is eye-opening.  It reminds me that yes, I can produce good writing on a variety of subjects and that yes, I can write political stuff.  I’m thinking very hard about reprinting some of those early political articles in e-book form, because while some are dated, others most definitely are not.

Fascinating stuff.  All I need to add now are the Writers of the Future placements and the Anthology Builder contest placement.  And keep the dang thing updated.  I was in a panic because I thought I was going to have to key in all those articles from 1992-1998.  Well, fortunately, I had the document already together because at some point I thought it was a good idea.

Recordkeeping.  It’s not for sissies…and much better done when regularly updated.

Just another bit of writer blathering today.

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My Miscon 26 schedule


MisCon 26 | May 25 - 28, 2012 | Missoula, Montana

So here’s what I’m doing at Miscon 26 (Missoula, Montana) this coming Memorial Day weekend:

  • Fri 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Meet and Greet, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Fri 5:00 – 5:50 PM, The X Files: Does it Still Hold Up?, Throne Room (Hotel Lobby of Doom)
  • Break Fri 5:50 – Fri 8:00
  • Fri 8:00 – 8:50 PM, The Effect of Setting on Story, Throne Room (Hotel Lobby of Doom)
  • Break Fri 8:50 – Sat 11:00
  • Sat 11:00 – 12:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Great Hall, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Sat 12:50 – Sat 2:00
  • Sat 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Psychology of Evil, Upstairs Programming 1 (259)
  • Break Sat 2:50 – Sat 5:00
  • Sat 5:00 – 5:50 PM, Reading: Joyce Reynolds Ward, Upstairs Programming 3 (261)
  • Break Sat 5:50 – Sun 11:00
  • Sun 11:00 – 11:50 AM, Psychological Issues in Deep Space, Upstairs Programming 1 (259)

I’m looking forward to this.  Besides the writer’s workshop, which has some interesting stories (and I’m finding that I enjoy doing the workshops), I really like my panels.  Add in that I’ve decided that I want to prepare a education/child development/psychological proposal for the 2012 100 Year Starship Symposium call for papers…and I have some panelage that will hopefully give me some food for thought while I develop my proposal.

Now….what to read?  From Gears & Levers or Zombiefied (both anthologies from Montana’s Sky Warrior Press).  Or from River?




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Life rolls

Kris Rusch has an excellent post about life rolls, those moments in your life when one phone call can knock you in the gut and send you to your knees because something huge and bad has happened which puts the writing on hold and changes your life.  I read it at the time, acknowledged it as truth (I’ve had some ongoing affects from work drama over the past few years), and didn’t think much about it.

Then a few days later we started on a saga that was, effectively a life roll.

For me, most of the life rolls I’ve encountered haven’t come from phone calls.  Some have, such as my mother’s final cancer.  The starkest life roll I had was when the husband had his ski accident and I was on the slope above him, looking down to see him clutching at his shoulder and rolling around in pain.  Almost as stark but more drug out were the son’s first struggles with Crohn’s Disease when he was sixteen.  We’ve lived a life of compromise with Crohn’s since then, a whirling circle of compromises with the Remicade treatment protocol and negotiations to make it work.  We’d finally gotten to where he could do the typical Remicade administration, which changed it from a day-long slog to a quick few hour infusion.

Well, so much for that.  This life roll started with the son (now twenty-five) telling us he couldn’t keep any food down and had abdominal pain.  Went to the ER the first time.  Got meds, came home.  The next evening DH had to take the son to the ER and he ended up being admitted.  That hospitalization lasted several days, but we thought we had a handle on it.

Uh, no.  Five days after that discharge, DS started throwing up as I was getting ready to go to work.  I got that same feeling I’d had on the ski slope watching the DH writhing in pain.  I told him we were going to the ER, called work and told them I’d be there but I didn’t know when, called DH and begged for help, then went to the ER and waited until DH got there, then headed for work.  That ushered in five days of work climaxing with an emergency surgery which turned out to be much more major than we’d thought it was, ending with a really rough hospital recovery that kept DS in the hospital for almost two weeks.  He’s at home now, and recovering well, but, overall, it’s been a really rough four weeks for the three of us.

Long-term impact is that not much writing work has gotten done in those four weeks.  I’ve made some stabs at progress but the worry has shut a lot down.  Meanwhile, work drama has continued apace, and it’s probably been a good thing that I’ve been detached from it.  Still, it’s fed into things.

The brain is starting to stir again.  Nonetheless, it means I’m really behind the eight ball with regard to website updates, with writing, and with getting on with my life.  I hope to be able to move on from here, though, and be back to writing work with a vengeance.

Changes need to be happening and they will be soon.  But still, yikes.  So much to do.

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Horsey distraction

With the son’s surgery pending tomorrow, I took some time today to go out to the barn and ride Mocha.  I needed some horse time to get my head straight, she needed the work, and it was a sunny day.  Good barn day.

She was in turnout when I got there, out with old Shekina (38! years! old!) and a boarder mare who is sour, pushy and attitudinal.  How did she and Mocha rate?  Let’s just say that I saw Boarder Mare approach Mocha with lowered head and pinned ears (could not see Mocha).  Boarder Mare left Mocha at a faster speed than she approached, head high.

That said, The Girl wanted to cop an attitude when I went to get her.  Instead of approaching me when I called her, she turned her back and continued grazing.  So I grabbed a lead rope off the fence, started spinning it, and got her moving.  Cornered her up by the fence, where the mini stud serenaded her with sweet nothings while I played rollback games.  Between me and the stud she got a bit worried, so I let her move over to the other corner, away from the stud.  Couple more rollbacks, and she softened up, turning toward me.  I eased off the pressure and she walked up to me.

Disrespect like that is little stuff, just a spinoff from the earlier herd dynamic I witnessed.  Just a quick moment to remind the horse of who’s the real alpha.  But little stuff like that can lead to big stuff, and I’d sooner nip a potential rebellion when it’s smaller than when it’s bigger.  One of the things about having a pushy alpha mare in your life, even a quiet alpha, is that you’ve got to maintain the boundaries.  Early on, I realized that a key to success with Mocha was to be quietly dominant, with respect for differences of opinion on her part but no tolerance for open disrespect.  She’s developed a pattern where, if she has a question about something I’m asking her to do, she’ll check back and offer what she thinks I want.  Most of the time I tell her to go ahead.  Sometimes she’s right.  Much of the time she needs some more explicit breaking down of what it is I want her to do, because I’ve confused her.  But that’s a behavior I’ve trained for and cultivated over the years.

The flipside of the checkback is her muscling through something because she thinks it should be done that way, no checking back to see if that’s really what I want to do.  If she gets frustrated she muscles through rather than checks back.  If she gets confused she can do either.  Mental and physical energy levels are such that she’ll sometimes muscle through because she just wants to go.  And, sometimes, she just wants to Be In Charge (that usually comes hand-in-glove with a particular point in her heat cycle, shortly followed in a few days by the I Wuv Everyone and Everything mode).

Telling the difference is all about the feel.  When she’s checking back, she pops her nose back slightly and elevates her head (this is usually happening at the canter/lope, so think speed), rocking back slightly on her haunches.  If she changes a lead, it’s tentative and a shift of weight puts her back on the lead I want.  She hesitates.  She half-halts.

Muscling through, on the other hand, involves rushing ahead.  Head comes up, nose goes high.  Back hollows.  She speeds up.  It’s rather disconcerting to have leg, seat and hand signal one direction at a fast canter and have her push into those cues, blasting through them to do what she thinks is to be done rather than what she’s supposed to be doing.

There are various shades of nuance between the different phases of these two poles.  And today was a mix of hormones, not switching gears between Boarder Horse and me, spring turnout, and a little bit of dominance.  Under saddle, she put in a good hard work, though it was such that I realized No Real Collection Work Today, Neither of Us Are In That Space.

So we bent, suppled, circled, and I worked on getting a sitting trot in the Western Saddle, otherwise known as Gaits I’d Rather Post.  Not too shabby about softening the back and sitting it, though.  Almost could pass myself off as a dressageista.

Then we did Slow Canter Circles interspersed with Fast Canter Circles, and developed a semi-decent difference in cadence between the two in both directions (though Slow Canter was perhaps a bit more mediumish than usual).  She participated in that exercise with great enthusiasm.

And then, afterwards, we entertained the Pint-Sized Stud (on walkies to work on halter manners) with our marching through a mud puddle at walk and trot.  Then established that she is sacked out to Little Girls on Razor Scooters shouting Endearments To The Pretty Horsey as we rode by the road.

Two new horses came into the barn; one planned, one unplanned.  I like the unplanned one better.  If Mocha wasn’t in my life, this boy could move right in.  Arab, gray, built like a Crabbet, lovely head with big soft eye.  From the East Coast, sixteen, seventeen years old.  Broke to death, held steady for deworming.  Been a pasture pet and companion to Planned Horse, a big ol’QH gelding with some issues.  New! Arab! Guy! is stout, sport horse type, and my first reaction in looking at him was “He’d make someone one heck of a trail horse.”

Hopefully I can get up on him at some point.  I suspect he will become very popular with the college students–he looks to be quite the nice guy.

So a very nice horsey day overall, and at the end of it Mocha was quite happy with having human time and treats and that lovely itching stuff that humans do oh so well.  Girl does like to get out there and Do Stuff, but she likes the afters just as much.

And now, to bed.  And worry, but that’s another day.

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