albionidaho: (Default)
Saturday was one of the worst days of my life. I promise you, this is saying a lot.

I can't give any details because the events in question are related to the privacy of another individual. I will tell you that it took all my willpower, strength and energy to hold myself together for several hours and not completely dissolve into a rabid mess of total adrenalized freak out.

My heart felt everything was okay, but my brain and body didn't get the same message. Our brains and bodies are powerful. I've never completely realized just how amazingly powerful they are, how completely our survival instincts rule, on such a personal level.

In addition to being one of the worst days of my life, the day also ended up being and leading to one of the best days:

Read more... )

team losh

Dec. 1st, 2011 02:36 pm
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A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law asked me to provide a story to a compilation.

One of her friends has a very sick little boy named Aloshua (Losh). Currently, his medical needs are completely unaffordable for his mom. (At $18k+ they're unaffordable for most of us.) Several people have gotten together to raise money for Losh. They're holding raffles, a virtual 5K, accepting donations, and putting together a compilation of short stories, poems, fan-fic, and excerpts by any author willing to donate some writing. There's no payment, but you get a free copy of the compilation, exposure, and a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Here's information about Losh.

Here's some information and the sign-up for the compilation.
albionidaho: (Default)
Terri Windling, legendary writer, editor and artist, is experiencing health and legal issues. Friends and colleagues have founded Magick 4 Terri.

Please consider donating in whatever way you can.
albionidaho: (Default)
Today is brought to you by Winter Blend tea.


Recently I wrote an entry on being nice to people where I related an experience I had at a con where an author whose work I admired turned out to not be a particularly nice person.

After writing the entry, I decided to appreciate the author's work as independent of his personality. I've hit it. I can look at one of his stories and say, "This is a fine story." I still don't want to hang out with the author.


This is one of those boring posts where I tell you I'm almost done with my NaNoWriMo experience for 2011, that I'm getting over the second cold since the end of October, and that Thanksgiving was a success. There was salmon this year, and it was delicious. Sadly, I'm actually missing the turkey and the things you do with a post-Thanksgiving turkey. Go figure.
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My reading of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's lovely "This Strange Way of Dying" is up at Podcastle.

"This Strange Way of Dying" is beautiful and magical, and it was a pleasure to read it.
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My awesome friend, Ross Lockhart, is an amazing editor, writer and human being. He's currently running a contest called "24 Hour Feed Cthulhu Feed the Hungry Twitter Challenge."

Basically, donate to a local charitable organization and tweet about it for a chance to win a free e-copy, or even signed book, of Ross' most recent anthology, The Book of Cthulhu, featuring writers like Caitlin R. Kiernan, Ramsey Campbell, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear and Kage Baker.
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I recently attended two fantastic cons: World Fantasy Convetion and BizarroCon.

I love going to a good con. They're a perfect chance to see dear friends, make new ones and explore industry contacts. They're perfect for having tons and fun and providing access to new books.

They're also a great chance to practice your social skills.

When I was at Clarion West, Cory Doctorow (my third week instructor) told the class it was important to be nice to people. Connie Willis (my fourth week instructor) put it another way -- don't be an asshole.

Read more... )
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My coffee table is full of books from WFC 2011. (I must find a spot for these.)

My shelves are full of books I acquired after trading in several used books. (My shelves were full anyway!)

The words are piling up on my current WIPs. (They're not all lovely, but this is why we rewrite.)

I have a lovely selection of tea from the Monterey Spice Company. (They have such delicious tea and spices.)

I have four medium-sized pumpkins waiting to be roasted. (For pie and bread and cake and cheesecake and soup and pasta and...)

I have several bananas that want to be made into bread. (Plain, with pecans, with chocolate swirls, with blueberries!)

I have a story due to Podcastle. (A lovely story about a girl who falls for Death. It's delicious.)

I have a performance/reading to prepare. (So that's why I did all that theater in my youth.)

I have two book proposals to write. (And the projects will be fun!)

I have several writing projects to work on. (And these projects are fun.)

I have a home full of joy, beauty, light, books and love. I have wonderful old friends, I have fantastic new friends. I have a beautiful family, both chosen and through blood.

I imagine there are people who would compare my life now with my life of a few years ago and tell me how worse off I am. They couldn't be more wrong.
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I've been writing for the past years. Between jobs and school and parenting responsibilities, I've frequently only written 250 to 300 words a day, and have done little revising. There just wasn't time. But it was important to me to keep writing, consistently.

In the past months, since just before my dad died, I've had the time to write more. In that time, I've started writing, revising and submitting. I've started to stack up acceptances. It's an incredible feeling.

It feels like I'm starting over.

And it feels wonderful.


When I was at Clarion West, I asked my instructors what I should go home and work on. They all told me to go home and write. Just write and write. I was hoping to get some insight, like, "Your plotting needs work. Go home and work on plotting." Or maybe, "Your characterization needs work. Go focus on that."

I expected this partially because this was some of the directions my classmates were getting and I knew (and know) I have all kinds of things to work on. But that's not what I got, and yet it was the best advice for me. There's no better advice to any writer than to write and write and read and read and write some more.


I've been discussing my Clarion West experience a lot with classmate [ profile] chris_reynaga. One thing we've discussed is our own inability to see our strengths and weaknesses until someone else, someone we trust, holds up a mirror and tells us.

And it's true. I have no idea what my strengths are until someone tells me. Chris tells me my strength is my ability to capture emotion. I never would have guessed this -- it's innate to me. One of his strengths is description -- of place, of action, of character. Again, this isn't something he sees in himself, but it is something he worked on when he was younger because he felt it was a weakness.

Which raises another point. Chris is a prime example of how we can take a weakness and turn it into a strength. This gives me so much hope.


So I write. And I write. And I write. And now I'm revising and preparing to submit at the rate I was before life fell apart a few years ago. And I take the faith my friends have expressed and hold it close.


John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" just started to play on my music player. Synchronicity. I titled this entry before I typed the first word.

WFC 2011

Nov. 1st, 2011 02:22 pm
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The 2011 World Fantasy Convention was fantastic! It was also utterly exhausting.

I spent my time split between the convention and my Clarion West class reunion (on the beach!). I was constantly surrounded by some of the people I love most in the world, I got to meet longtime online friends and meet wonderful new people.

Though I had a wonderful time, I'm so glad to be home with my dog and teapot and bed and my portion of the Pacific.

This is important. This means I have made my home that I've desired for so long. I will perpetually be lining up ducks and making jellyfish swim because that's what people do, but it also means I can breathe for a little while and treasure the joy I've found.

Perhaps there will be a con/reunion recap. Perhaps not. But know the SFF community is the best in the world, and you are all my family.
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Avadore has signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. His page is here. Please take a look :).

I'm certainly not as cute as Avadore, but my Write-a-thon page is here.
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Still in the process of moving. I have moved to this beautiful, small coastal town in Northern California, but am still unpacking.

In the meantime, I'm planning on participating in Clarion West's yearly Write-a-Thon. We have a goal of 100 participants this year, and we're halfway there. I can't tell you how much fun the write-a-thon is, and how beneficial it is for my writing. I encourage other writers to sign up. If you have any questions, feel free to ping me.
albionidaho: (Ed's Lab)
My dad died today.

I'm thirty-five now. I had hoped he would be here longer, until I was older.

I need to go home to Heyburn, Idaho this week for the funeral, but in the meantime, I am in the best place I could be.

My dad was in the National Guard at Fort Ord, maybe an hour south from here during the 60s. He loved Ford Ord, he loved Monterey. And he loved John Steinbeck, and Ed Rickets. Both Steinbeck and Rickets lived in Monterey. These three men loved Monterey. And I do, too.

But to be close to Steinbeck, and Rickets, and my father, and to think of them I don't have to go even that far...

John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath while living just west of Los Gatos and in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about five miles south of Los Gatos.

Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath were two of my father's favorite books. And I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just south of Los Gatos.

I came to this place to heal. To remake a good life. And I carried my father with me, knowing that one of his favorite authors made his mark in these hills. Had created in these hills. Because of that my father and I were close, in spirit. This knowledge, in its funny, magical thinking kind of way, has given me strength and comfort for the past two years.

And now my father is gone. I will go home to Heyburn. But, strangely enough, if there was someplace for me to go, to find comfort, and to memorialize him, I would go to Monterey, Carmel, and to the Los Gatos side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

My father hasn't really left me, I tell myself -- he's here, in these hills, in my heart, in my home.

But oh, I still miss him so.
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Lee Moyer is selling his Portland home. It's gorgeous. Lee is an incredible artist, and he's poured his talent and skill into updating this house. If you or a friend are looking for a home in Portland, Oregon, I definitely recommend you check it out.
albionidaho: (Default)
[ profile] tithenai's gorgeous "Cranberry Honey" is now up at Podcastle.

Reading Amal's stories for Podcastle has been such an honor. I'm excited to see where her writing career takes her and what fantastic stories she'll write next.
albionidaho: (bison)
So there's been this meme going around recently, and it caused me to think and remember. I thought I'd do some remembering here.Memory lane, this way )

March 1971: My parents don't even know each other yet. Or maybe they just barely met, but they're certainly not dating.

card sharp

Mar. 10th, 2011 05:00 pm
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I love listening to Podcastle stories. (And Escape Pod and Pseudopod.)

This week's Podcastle story is by Rajan Khanna. Rajan is one of those writers to keep an eye on. Probably both eyes. He's a writer with some great credits under his belt, and he's got more to come. Check out his "Card Sharp" at Podcastle. It's fun and enjoyable. I listened to it while doing dishes. That was a great load of dishes.
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I'm of the opinion that it's important to be able to write anywhere, at any time. Only being able to write in a certain place under particular circumstances is a setup for eventual disaster. There will be a point where you need to write elsewhere under unusual circumstances and then what are you going to do?

This being said, there are certain circumstances under which I prefer to write. I like to write somewhere with plenty of natural light. I like to write somewhere peaceful. I like to write somewhere where I feel I have space to spread out if necessary. And, depending on what I'm writing, Internet access is incredibly useful, both for research and access to music (i.e., Pandora).

There is a library in the North Bay where I love to write. The entire library feels like one wide open space. One side of the library is floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in incredible amounts of lovely natural light. The color scheme is pleasant and calming, with natural greens and earth tones. There are several sizable tables and comfortable chairs; several soft, comfortable club chairs and couches; there are ottomans and end tables; and there are an amazing number of outlets. And there's wireless Internet access.

But I'm also surrounded by books and other people reading or writing or working. The library is always full of people using the library, which makes me happy. I love to see people using the public library. And I love to be surrounded by books.

When I'm surrounded by the right circumstances, I find immersing myself in my work easy, whether I'm studying, writing non-fiction essays, reports, articles, or fiction.

Today I'm at this library, in a club chair with an end table where I've stuck a copy of Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction. There's a window to my left, magazines to my right. I've had a good fiction writing day, and the empirical research report I'm writing is going well, too.

I can ask for little else.
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Because I don't have enough to learn in life, I'm currently pursuing a certification in programming C, to be followed with C++ and Java. The first day of class, my professor said we could expect to spend about eight hours a week outside of class studying.

This was a lie. (I kind of expected that, at least for me, it was when we were told the bit about eight hours of homework a week.)

I could have a part time job with the amount of time I spend working on my programming homework. This is okay. Learning new skills and enhancing current skills takes time. I know this. And I'm totally fine putting in the work. But this doesn't mean I don't feel completely lost and clueless much of the time.

I constantly feel lost. And clueless. And it's kind of scary. So I dig in my heels and poke and poke, and then I poke some more. And at some point, I figure things will really start to click. Right?


I feel I have to work really hard at this because this is not necessarily where my natural talents lie. On the other hand, I know that "talent," whatever that is, isn't everything. Everything I do well I had to work at, and I didn't start out being good at what I'm good at.

I didn't emerge from the womb walking and talking.

It's the same with any skill. You practice and practice and practice and keep hitting your head against the brick wall, and eventually something will give. (And hopefully not your skull.)

[ profile] raven_radiation sent me a couple links to remind me of this:

Why I'm Proud to Have Been an Unoriginal, Talentless Hack and Do you Have Enough Talent to Become Great at It.

And so I'm reminded coding is a skill, a new skill, and it will take time to hit proficiency. And at the same time I'm reminded that I will progress as a writer. It's just, again, going to take time and practice.

And that's okay -- a lot of life is about learning to enjoy the ride.

[ profile] raven_radiation also sent me another couple links I find inspiring:

Monstrous Discrepancies and Minus.
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I want to write about letting the dreamer write.

I was speaking with Graham Joyce one night at a World Fantasy Convention. I may get this slightly wrong, but I think I can convey the gist:

Graham told me that when writers write they need to let the dreamer write first. He encouraged me, as he's encouraged others, to just dream on the page when writing the first draft of a story. Don't worry about plot and characters or structure or language or any of the other things writers worry about when they write. Just dream.

Later, after the dreamer has created the story on the page, you let the writer in. But not until the dreamer is done. Letting the writer work before the dreamer has done her magic is a common mistake.

When it's the writer's turn to work, you shape the story, working on plot and characters and structure and language and ensuring the story works. And when the writer is done it's time for the editor to come in with her red pen and rip everything apart.

But first you have to let the dreamer in.

Trying to let the dreamer create before I open the door to the writer and the editor has made a huge difference for me. For a long time I was trying to let the writer create, and it wasn't working for me--I was expecting the writer to do her job and the dreamer's, too.

I think this concept works for all writers, whether you're usually an outliner or not; when you're outlining, you're still letting the dreamer work.


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January 2012

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