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Showing posts from 2012

Farewell, Factory of the Damned

There are one or two ways to handle a major layoff as a responsible and ethical employer. There are about 50 ways to do it wrong. Jimmy's soon-to-be-former employer is trying most of them on for size.

Those of you who read my Facebook know my fiancé is about to be laid off. This poses no small problem for us, as book sales have bottomed out and supporting a family of three (including a teenager with a tapeworm and two hollow legs) on a reporter's salary is... problematic. Yeah, that's it.

He's been actively job-hunting for two months, frenetically begging on the job market since this layoff was announced a few weeks ago. He's had three nibbles, no offers, though one is quite promising. We've pared down the budget as much as we can (note to self: don't sign long-term contracts anymore).

In the meantime, let's review how you DON'T handle a layoff well:

• Keep all your employees in the dark and let speculation run riot before giving your workers notic…

Person of the Year

Once again, TIME Magazine presents me with a great conundrum, and this year it's harder than most: the blogosphere is lobbying heavily for Malala Yousafzai as Person of the Year. Yousafzai is a brave, intelligent girl whom I admire more than I can say... but I don't think she should be Person of the Year.

This ought to win me friends.

Yousafzai, of course, is the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who openly wrote that, gee, girls are human too and deserve an education. While in Western culture some people still argue that we don't need no book-learnin', she defied a rigidly patriarchal Eastern culture to insist that she did not require a penis in order to read, and she was rewarded with a bullet to the head - which she survived.

Yes, she deserves accolades (and, one hopes, the opportunity for a college degree she desires). But that's not what Person of the Year is supposed to be about.

Person of the Year is supposed to recognize that person who has most changed the world …

Sartorial Statistics

ME: Aaaah! Noooo!
HIM: What?
ME: You shaved your beard!
HIM: Don't start that, I did not. I trimmed it.
ME: Trimmed it to nothing!
HIM: It's there.
ME: ... I need a magnifying glass.
HIM: I trimmed it to a 2!
ME: You can't go lower than 4. Ever again.
HIM: It's my beard, woman!
ME: Don't call me woman! You can't keep it as low as when you were young, it's all gray and it disappears!
HIM: Gee, thanks hon.
ME: How about this? I can cut my hair every time you shave your beard.
HIM: No. I love your hair. You may not cut it.
ME: Oh yeah? Says who?
HIM: Me. Cause I'm the man and I say so. *chokes*
ME: Say that again with a straight face.
HIM: ... I can't.
ME: You're adorable. Or you were!
HIM: It's still there!
ME: I loved your beard! It was all lovely black shot through with silver, so distinguished. You could be an honored head of state with a beard like that, or maybe a Bond villain.
HIM: ... That's quite a leap there, hon. *tries to kiss me*
ME: No! I…

In which I get historically cranky...

All right, let's get this straight:

• Guy Fawkes was not trying to overthrow a theocratic, repressive government; he was trying to create one. King James began his reign by offering religious freedom, at least the best that time period could envision. Only after constant threats of violence if he did not convert to the Catholic faith personally and the Bye Plot, which was a failed plan to kidnap the king and hold him until he agreed to reinstate the Catholic Church as the sole faith of England, did James get cranky and begin persecuting Catholics.

• The November Plot was to assassinate King James, to kidnap and install Princess Elizabeth, all of (I think) eight years old, because she could be easily controlled. It was not the work of anarchists who believed in no government; it was exchanging a legal monarchy for a totalitarian theocracy. They also tried to convince Spain to invade England and ignored the pleadings of the Pope, who thought it was a bad idea to reinstate Catholicism …

Ways to Amuse Yourself, Halloween Edition

Step 1: Introduce Man to The Walking Dead.
Step 2: Enable Man's growing addiction to The Walking Dead by suggesting he watch back episodes every day to get caught up.
Step 3: Wait until there is a particularly creepy cliffhanger.
Step 4: Hug Man.
Step 5: While hugging, make growly noise deep in throat and suddenly lunge at Man's neck.
Step 6: Watch Man leap four feet in the air and squeal like a little girl, exclaiming, "Don't do that!"
Step 7: Point and laugh.
Step 8: Write snarky blog post mocking Man when you know you'd react exactly the same way, plus smacking him.

Rinse. Repeat.

A day in the life

"What you plan and what takes place ain't never been but similar." -- Jayne Cobb

The plan for a normal Monday was simple enough. Monday is Jimmy's turn to get up at 6:20 a.m. with Boy and supervise his morning routine to get him out the door by 7:15. Then I would nap a little more, getting up in time for me to start my shift at 9:30 as usual. (Of course, my commute is generally a lot shorter than his.)

He leaves for work at 1 p.m., so we usually get to grab lunch together. I finish up about 5:30 or 6 p.m. on a normal day, Boy is home by then, we have dinner and Scouts. Added this Monday was an orchestra fundraiser we might or might not attend at 6 p.m.

Work has been kicking my ass lately, with seven electoral races on my dance card. The election preview stories are the biggest issue, with in-depth interviews and issues questionnaires from each candidate. Chasing politicians is my new mission in life. I had a pretty heavy Monday slated: writing up two more previews fr…

Archon schedule

If you want to see me at Archon this weekend, you're gonna need a butterfly net.

The Literary Underworld booth will be set up and operating from Friday morning until roughly noon Sunday. As is our custom, we will stay open late on Friday and Saturday nights to accommodate shoppers who may be busy with programming during the day. Yes, even during the masquerade!

The Underlords in attendance include Michales Joy, T.W. Fendley, Terry Sofian, Jimmy Gillentine and guest of honor Elonka Dunin, though I'm betting Elonka will be a little too busy to work the booth! Sadly, Georgia L. Jones and Sara M. Harvey will be unable to make the show after all.

Warning! Jimmy and I have another event on Sunday afternoon, so we will be packing up the booth fairly quickly on Sunday. I know many folks like to wait until Sunday to buy, but I strongly encourage you to get your stuff on Saturday - if we're not rolling out of the Gateway Center by noon, we aren't going to make the Edwardsville …

Guest Blog: Nick Valentino

My initiation as an Underlord in The Literary Underworld Guest blog by Nick Valentino
First off, let me say that I'm honored to be a part of this blog tour! Thank you to everyone in the Literary Underworld for all their hard work and dedication. I count myself extremely lucky to know such good people! Thank you for including me!
For years I was in a metal band and our philosophy was tour tour tour. The idea behind it was if you play enough shows in front of people all around the country then surely you'll get recognized. Well, in a band you have to deal with other people that have their own lives, problems and agendas. At the point when the touring ideal started to die around me, I started writing stories, then books.
My mission was to get published and take my own touring machine on the road. Not too long after I had some decent stories, I got published and I relentlessly booked up a year and half of travel. From Victoria, BC to Atlantic City, N.J. I saw so many cool places …

Guest Blog: Publishing ladder tougher climb for SFFH writers

Guest blogger: T.W. Fendley


I'm a writer of historical fantasy and science fiction with a Mesoamerican twist for adults and young adults, and one of the newest "Underlords" in the Literary Underworld. I first learned about this cooperative venture from the founder, Elizabeth Donald, a few years ago at Archon, the annual St. Louis-area science fiction/fantasy convention. I made sure to contact Elizabeth after L&L Dreamspell published my debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, and was thrilled to join this great group of writers.

Our ongoing Literary Underworld Blog Tour is reaching out to readers like you, who care about authors and small presses. We want you to know that when you buy from this co-op, you make a difference. Authors may receive up to three times more than they would if you bought their books from a big-box retailer. We appreciate your support and especially your interest in our books!

Soon after I started writing fiction in the mid-'90s, a co-w…

Have a little cheese...

Warning: I am about to whiiiiiine.

I am SICK AND TIRED of my leg.

I'm tired of not being able to go up to my office without a giant production number. I'm tired of hurting after I'm on my feet ten minutes. I'm tired of my wobbly knee randomly giving out without warning and making me grab something fast to keep from falling. I'm tired of hobbling up and down stairs like a ninety-year-old woman. I'm tired of the itchy stupid brace that won't stay where it's supposed to and has to be restrapped every half hour or it becomes useless. I'm tired of forgetting and standing up too fast, feeling the wrench and having to sit down real fast.

It's been a week and a half and it should be better by now, since it isn't frigging broken. "A real bad wrench" is what the doc called it. She said I had to be on restricted duty for a week. That expired four days ago. This is ridiculous.

I know, perspective, anyone with real injuries or disabilities is …

Dragoncon, Day Four and More

SUNDAY Funny thing about the demon in my knee: he remains asleep for the most part unless I’m walking. On Sunday morning, I awoke relatively pain-free and forgot that I was injured. Then I got out of bed. That little fucker stabbed the back of my kneecap with his pitchfork and yanked the nerve bundles at the same time. Oh yeah, still injured. By now the calf muscle had also decided it hated me, and tied itself up into a little pretzel. You know after you get the charleyhorse, how the muscle stays knotted up, tight and painful like you’ll never relax it again? Yeah, like that. No time to whinge; I had the most important obligation of my weekend ahead. I consider my reading vitally important, and I don’t get why any author wouldn’t. It’s the chance for established readers to hear what I’ve got coming up next, and for new readers to hear my stuff for the first time. I usually advertise the hell out of my readings. However, the new material from Moonlight Sonata isn’t tested before a live stu…

Dragoncon, Day Three

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SATURDAY All right, let’s get this out of the way: I was warned. Wrenn told me the floor of the bathroom was wet. I just wasn’t paying attention, as I wrestled myself into my clothes on Saturday morning so I could make my first panel. I fell. It was a bad one. Turns out I can’t do the splits anymore, not that I ever really could. My left foot shot forward, catching the toe under the wooden lip of the sink cabinet and for a moment I thought it was broken. My right foot twisted behind and under me, wrenching my knee in a direction that God never intended. I let out an unwomanly yelp, which was coupled with the gigantic thud of my ass hitting the floor. I must have startled Keith and Wrenn something awful, because they were pounding on the door. I was in my undergarments and my ass was sopping wet from the floor, so I told them I’d be out in a moment. I hauled myself up into the toilet and assessed the damage. Left toe: scraped and bruised. Right calf: strained and in that…

Dragoncon, Day Two

FRIDAY Unbeknownst to me, there was an emergency in the night. Sean’s wife was rushed to the emergency room with what turned out to be a ruptured appendix. I woke up and everyone was gone, so I packed up my stuff and did the zombie nails, unknowing. And Sean still managed to come back mid-morning to take me to the train station so I could still make the convention. Major friend points, folks. Sean, unfortunately, never made it to the show. Lisa had emergency surgery that night, and then made it home, where I understand she is recovering nicely. Any blame for this must fall directly on my ghost, who apparently followed me to Atlanta… Back to the train for me, and I wrassled Monstro to the Hilton. See, I had had a reservation at the Castleberry Inn, which was two train stops away from the show and only $69 a night. I was to share with my friend and fellow author Jay Smith, whom I had known for eons online but never met in person. Jay is the creator and lead writer of HG World, a zombocalyp…

Dragoncon, Day One

Fair warning, folks: This is long. I was just going to do a quick summary post, but apparently I only do "quick" and "summary" when doing fiction. So if you lived and suffered through Dragoncon with me... here's the nonfiction version.


THURSDAY My Dragoncon trek started with a special treat: a visit from Sara Harvey and family! Sara was on her way to Worldcon in Chicago, and they stayed with us Wednesday night. This enabled us to play with the adorable baby Beatrice, and for Sara to assist me with my convention wardrobe. By “assist,” I mean, “shake her head in disgust and threaten to send two-third of my closet to Goodwill.” Sara has mad skills, and was able to cull a respectable four-day wardrobe out of my boring pile of momclothes. Nothing particularly spectacular, since I’m not doing the corsets this year. But enough to get by, even though she hates my blue paisley skirt. I love my blue paisley skirt. I kept putting it in the suitcase and she kept taking it out…

Dragoncon Stalking Guide

In a couple of days I'll flap my wings and fly to ye olde Dragoncon, where I will be staying off-site for the first time and desperately hoping it is not a colossal error. I will be rooming with the marvelous Jay Smith of HG World fame, and with luck he will not turn out to be a serial killer.

I will have fewer costume changes than usual, due to the aforementioned off-site lodgings, so don't be expecting the ballgowns this year. Besides, I'm not sure Jay knows how to lace a corset. I'll be hanging out with my charming editor Sean Taylor, with the usual assortment of Atlantean miscreants, and probably will not meet Keith DeCandido for the seventeenth time.

Do try to find me at my autograph session or reading. For starters, I'll have books to sell. But even if you're not buying and I've signed everything you own up to and including your right arm, come see me! Free chocolate! And if you know me online, please introduce yourself! For that matter, if you've…

10 Reasons I Hate My Printer

As seen on Twitter, in the original order. The reasons I hate my bloody printer, with which I have been locked in mortal combat for going on two years now, I think.

No. 1: It cannot find my wireless network, and NEVER HAS. This has persisted despite two different residences, a new modem and new router. I should rephrase: it can see the network, but it cannot complete a connection with it. Ever. No matter what my good friends on the Kodak helpline try.

No. 2: New ink cartridges allow color printing for about four sheets, then it all turns to hell. I installed new cartridges tonight so we could print the Boy's images for his new project. By the time we got to the third sheet, the Cardinal logo was yellow. It has completely lost the ability to calibrate its colors despite a recalibration this afternoon.

No. 3: It has the exact same problems as the original printer, which took months of hell before they replaced it. Some of you lived and suffered through my increasingly-hysterical Tweet…

Katniss defeats Harry Potter... or does she?

This just in: Hunger Games Trilogy Outsells Harry Potter! ABC, Washington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News... everyone's excited for Katniss Everdeen.

Here's the catch: It's misleading as hell. And it's being repeated all over the 'net. Sure, the Hunger Games trilogy has outsold the Harry Potter books... on Amazon. Supposedly.

Contrary to popular belief, there are millions of books sold every year from booksellers other than Amazon. Yes, they exist. Online and off. Want proof?

As of June 2011, the most recent figures I could find, Harry Potter books had sold about 450 million copies. The numbers Scholastic released this month for The Hunger Games trilogy declare about 50 million copies, print and digital. In other words, about one-ninth what Harry Potter has sold.

That's nothing to sneeze at, and it's worth pointing out that Hunger Games is only three books published in four years with one movie, while the boy wizard has been flying hi…