Tuesday, October 30, 2007

comparative earnings

From my fiction writing I've made $90, from the sale of a short story (novelet).
I was once asked to edit (not copy edit, but editing for flow and style) the opening chapters of a novel, for which I was paid $50. I'd contracted informally for $40, so that was a nice surprise.
I was once commissioned to calligraph and paint a page of parchment in manuscript style, an anniversary gift for which I was paid $700 (materials included).

So, for my second career, which should I pick? Not that I'm quitting my day job, which I rather enjoy. I'd say painting, but I may have exhausted the market for pastiches of East Anglian illumination.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

my writing space

Orogeny posted a pic of her writing space, and I am torn between envy and admiration, especially of her gorgeous red sponge-painted wall. Athenais has a lovely clean-lined one as well.
Well, I have two spaces. Here's my downstairs isolation cell (no internet access) where srs writting gets done:

It's a window seat, and I am a total sucker for window seats (one of the reasons we bought the house, the main one being a room big enough for the 10x4' table). This is where I write in the mornings, when the house is quiet.
It doesn't look nearly as cluttered as it actually is, due to my not being able to show the full space. Wait, this is what it looks like from my side (note clutter):

And here's my upstairs writing space--I do have a sponge-painted wall behind it, in 'colours left over from the painters'.

I guess 'comfortable clutter' is about the kindest I can say, here.

Other writey stuff: I'm thinking of trying NaNoWriMo next month. This is my carrot (or is it the stick?) for finishing the second draft of Willow Knot this month and getting it to betas. Which reminds me I should confirm who still wants to beta it, considering that it's getting up to 110k (ah, the heady days when I groaned about it reaching 90k, dear dead days that they were when I was young).
So. If I don't finish the second draft, which includes cleaning up the new material enough that I'm not consumed with embarrassment about someone else seeing it, by the end of October, I can't do NaNo. So swear I.
But if I do get that done, I can play NaNo for the month of not looking at Willow Knot and getting fresh eyes.
This weekend I got the 'queen comes back from the dead' scene written, and revised the confrontation between Myl and one of her ladies-in-waiting. The lady has fallen ill and whispers are going around that she's been bewitched, and what did happen to Myl's brother anyways, hm?
I was aiming for drama, but. The chief lady-in-waiting, Havoisie, who's otherwise a bit of a self-important figure of fun, asked the stricken one just what was wrong with her. On hearing the list of symptoms, she sniffed and said 'You're not bewitched, you're with child. And if you think the queen had aught to do with that, your mother shouldn't have let you out alone.'
So Myl doesn't get a big dramatic moment. Sigh. But this may be better.

Next weekend I'll be at VCon, the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention, guest of honour Peter Beagle.
I hope I can get the subplot about the Lusantia refugees and the guilds all tucked in by then.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Interior journeys

No, not pretentious, merely a lame pun. Last weekend I travelled again into the interior of BC, this time to Oliver, a little past Keremeos and Ashnola. Oliver, the Wine Capital of Canada (is every small town in BC the capital of something?) is working to be wine country, with tours and tourists and quirky shops and wineries.
I wasn't there for the wine, though I did mention it to Mark afterwards as, y'know, something we might do, just for, y'know, fun some time. Our travelling is so firmly SCA-business-related and there's so much of it throughout the year that going somewhere just to go there risks straining the brain-muscles.
On the way back I managed a stop at Crowsnest Vineyards, because driving past every single one seemed perverse. I tasted their two sample wines and bought a 2005 merlot, just because.

The travelling part: I drove there and back by myself, after dropping Mark off in Vancouver so he could share (and further learn) what he'd studied at the two swordsmanship seminars he'd just been to.
The drive to Oliver was smooth, the weather was clear and warm, except for the pass in Manning Park where snow lay on the branches and roadside. The road was clear, and the scenery was--I had to keep reminding myself to look at the road. Spiky evergreens, spattered and occasionally hidden by a bright tawny yellow tree, branches flung up and out like someone in hysterics, a lamp-yellow you could warm your hands at. I don't know what kind of trees they are, I confess this. Birch? I could tell the stands of pine, unfortunately, by the red, dead clusters and swaths of trees hit by the pine beetle. The red-leaved bushes were sumac, (non-poisonous) as I learned at the event.
I stopped briefly at the Hope Slide, and thought about '55 metres above the original ground level.' Driving through the Sunshine Valley spooks me a bit more, perhaps because of the view of the former highway, running into the mass of fallen rock.
The drive back started well. I stopped at Bromley Rock, to stretch my legs and look at trees and rocks, and regret that I hadn't brought a camera.
Mark says he's given up suggesting that I take a camera with me, so this is permission and encouragement to him to start up again, and remind me of the bare, grey, hollowed out tree-root clutching rocks in Bromley Rock Provincial Park.
The campsites or picnic sites are on shelving land stepping down from the road to the water, and the parking lot is built over a section of old road, which now curves past the paired toilets and runs slowly into the foundation of the present highway. The asphalt is smooth still, narrow cracks marked by moss and tall weeds here and there. Young trees are springing up along the edges of the road, making a natural avenue, a little too closely set to be planned. The new highway was high above my head, invisible and muted, and no one else had stopped at the park. I walked along it to the end, something I always want to do when I see old disused roads, but rarely have the chance to.
I suppose roads are liminal spaces, like thresholds, wells and hearths (remembering Dr. Doyle's comment on threshold burials in Well Below the Valley). It was easy to believe in ghostly travellers, in time being muddled and doubled, losing its way on a lost road. There's a lovely evocative passage in one of Hugh Hood's books, where the narrator hikes along a narrow hill or berm and realises that it used to be a railway track, and that in his youth he'd stood and watched the train come along it. One of the Goderich (New Age) stories, I think.
Between Princeton and Hope the weather turned to driving rain and gusty winds. Still scenic, but requiring more concentration. Most impressive was the continuing road construction in Manning Park, where the new road face was skinned with rainwater as smooth as a lake, and reflected the yellow and green of the trees as clear and unrippled as a calendar picture. Until I drove over it, of course.
The toughest part of the return trip was finding the New Westminster apartment where I had to meet Mark. This took easily half-an-hour, including driving up and down the wrong street twice, and largely fruitless quests for a)a public phone with b)a parking spot with a block of it.
Would I rather drive the Crow's Nest, or Vancouver? Let me think.

My purpose was to attend the Tournament of the Golden Swan (hereinafter Swan), mostly to spend some time with my amazing apprentice Anne (sometimes Alis, this time Rajpal), partly to help with judging as needed, to teach a class if anyone wanted, and to visit with a few people I don't commonly have opportunity to visit with.
As it worked out, I did sit in on a fair bit of the judging, had only one student (but eager) in the class, and skimped a bit on the visiting because of the judging, which is only loosely scheduled and can go on. And on. Rather like me sometimes.
Did manage a brief escape to buy local wine at the recommended Toasted Oak, though had to skip the tasting room (yes, another, later, visit is a good idea). I was in full 14th c. middle-class woman, with wimple and gorget, and Rajpal was in full Hindu male with turban as appropriate.
Does anyone know a joke that begins 'So, a nun and a Hindu walk into a wineshop...'? It seems there should be one, unless it's the rule of three and we should have had someone else with us. The staff were quite nonchalant about the whole thing.
Particularly appreciated was the chance to talk with Anne about writing, she being a talented writer (and role-player, and so on). We talked about the difficulty of handling dementia or similar mental problems in fiction. Which sparked some thoughts that might deserve their own post. Hm.

The purpose of Swan is to create and portray a medieval persona. Not someone in fiction, or someone who did exist historically, but someone who could plausibly have existed but didn't. In other words, to do for a weekend what the Society for Creative Anachronism allegedly does all the time. Very few people are willing to attempt this.
PARMA does this at our Fort Rodd Hill demo in late June, but as interactions with the public more than with each other. Often the public has no clue what sort of questions to ask, so I tend to make things easy by telling them what I'm doing, like grinding pigments to make paint, trimming a quill so I can write, boiling parchment scrapings to make size glue, and so on. I rarely get questions about what I'd eat for breakfast, how many rooms in my house, the names of my servants, or anything really prying.
Swan is considerably more intensive, though it has the misleadingly cosy atmosphere of a kaffee-klatch, probably due to being only open to female personae. I have several philosophical disagreements with the concept of Swan, but that, again, is another post some other time.
During the presentations and judging, I did some thinking about how the creation of a persona relates to the creation of a character. The Swan candidates, using words only, need to make their interlocuters believe in their homes, their families, their daily tasks, the journeys they take and the hopes, opinions and faith of someone who never existed. Like radio-plays convincing by sound that the characters are climbing a mountain, or in a storm at sea. Like convincing by a pageful of words and three key details that a character is running through the cobbled streets of a medieval city, desperately afraid of something.
It's always in the details.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

nostalgie de la bbq deux

Setting One: an odd little motel (Rocky River). The rooms were generic hotel rooms, in a confusing number of categories (possibly due to renovations underway), the relation of category to cost being unclear. The layout was single-storey, scattered about the grounds in L or E formations, as if a regular 2 or 3-storey hotel had been experimentally disassembled. All rooms were pleasant and clean, and mine had a view of the well-mowed lawn behind the buildings. Prusik's room had a jacuzzi, which he was told not to use for fear of an extra $30 (like a fine, maybe?) Bart's had a kitchenette, and tv mounted on the wall in disguise as a flat-screen. Scott and Heather had the separate little cottage designated for smokers.
Setting Two: Terri-Lynn's house. Handcrafted in wood, with a spacious open kitchen, an open-to-the-roof living room (with a flatscreen tv so big that TNH and PNH didn't perceive it as a tv), and detailed with touches of sculpture or mysterious tools and decoration. Like walking around inside a Brian Froud painting. Outside, beautifully landscaped with pool and gazebo and the Barbecue of the Ancient Mysteries, the tended grounds giving way to forest and river behind the house.

Characters: Terri-Lynn, her husband and family, the gracious and impressively relaxed hosts.
VP instructors, staff and associates: Debra Doyle and Jim Macdonald in place, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden later, Jen Pelland and Pippin in place.
VP students and associates: oh gosh. Travelling with Scott and Heather, me, Bart Patton, Chris Azure and John Chu. Erin Underwood travelling with Jen. Laura Strickman staying at Terri's. Terri herself, of course. Have I missed anyone? Of course we did miss Linda, Evelyn, Diana, Cal, John Hawkes-Reed and Lucia, Mac, Lucy, Retterson, and all those who just weren't able to be there.

Montage: driving narrow country roads through dark looming woods, a discussion of whether we'd be in a straight horror flick or a slasher movie. Casting Heather as Final Girl, Bart as Guy Who Gets Killed First, Chris as the Killer No-one Suspects--probably the one who vanishes early on and is presumed to be a victim until he returns in the last reel. Laura decides not to have a shower after all.
-laughing way too much for someone recovering from a cold, with every laugh bringing on a coughing fit, and not minding.
-getting up (kind of) early to write, at the window looking out towards the trees.
-sprawled around Scott and Heather's room, discussing what to do about breakfast and when to head over to Terri's, Scott telling us proudly about Heather's house-repair skills.
-sitting on the edge of John's jacuzzi (if I put one foot into it, is it only $15?) talking about writing and critting.
-touring Terri's house, hearing stories of how the BBQ of the Vanities came to be, and the marble in the bathroom (truly, good fences make good neighbours, or at least good contractors).
-in the gazebo, the scrapy sound of metal chairs being moved around, Jim's narrative of saving a woman's life the morning before leaving for the reunion, complete with ekg printout (annotated commentary provided).
-pockets of intense and diverse conversation everywhere.
-Scott and Terri's husband talking house repair and construction.
-Doyle's stories of Jim phoning out of the blue, perhaps from a bus station to say he'd be home soon, perhaps from overseas just to check in, once from a brothel (in S America?) because it was the only available telephone in town.
-me tempted by potato chips, three months into my resolution to give them up, chewing dried apples for methadone (really not the same).
-Teresa exclaiming in delight over one of Terri's cool devices, the name of which I do not know, a cunningly-made rack, perhaps for clothes, with wooden arms that pulled out horizontally or slid back to hang beside the turned post.
-Jim and Teresa discussing and identifying one of the tools on the wall (a potato-fork, I think).
-Pippin commanding her father to not sing.
-the sun's reflection from the pool climbing the bank and into the gazebo, lighting it from below.
-the brave ones by the pool in swimsuits, swinging their feet in the water.
-Scott discussing why it may be that the book forum is so hard to search and isn't googleable, so clearly that I felt closer to understanding search engines that I've ever been before. Still didn't quite make it, but my mental fingertips were brushing the ideas.
-Teresa annotating the spelling list on Making Light, as various of us around the kitchen workstation admitted to those items that were our personal stumbling-blocks (vermilion is mine, but now I know a trick for it, yay! because TNH pointed out it comes from vermeil).
-Doyle and Teresa sitting on the floor, telling Norse ghost stories and English ballads.

Highlights: Patrick talking about unreliable narrators, Freedom & Necessity, and why do so few people like Instance of the Fingerpost? and why was Dream of Scipio so unreadable? and convincing me I should attend the Farthing Party (alas, transportation costs forbade it).
-learning a new non-slip way to tie my shoes, which works even with the stupid round laces on my other runners, as part of Uncle Jim's Impromptu Knot, Hitch and Bend Tutorial, including examples of the easily-removable hitch for climbing down cliffs, tying in the bight, tying behind the back, why one hitch is better used around round posts than square ones, two lines of different size fastened securely, and much more.
-the Room 50 chocolate cake.
-pancakes! with bonus explanation of why TNH and Jim can't cook together: she is a performance cook and he is a recipe cook (this has elsewhere been described as the difference between cooks and bakers) and they inevitably clash, solved here by having Jim do pancakes and TNH do bacon and eggs.
-forgetting one of the Four Humours and Temperaments, and having three or four people list them in uneven chorus; even more impressive when you consider I could have asked a techie website question and gotten at least as many answers, possibly from the same people.
-Pan's Labyrinth viewing - but I will write more of this later.

If more memories float up from the bottom of my mind, I will add them. Suggestions also welcome. What were your highlights?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

intermission of assorted thoughts

It looks as if I'll be off to the interior of BC again this weekend, to Oliver this time, for the Tournament of the Golden Swan, a persona development competition (well, challenge, really, as there's not just the one winner). I'll be possibly helping with judging, possibly teaching, certainly visiting with my apprentice Alis.
Undecided whether to take my laptop, but I probably will. Even though the battery doesn't last for even a half-hour.
Mark is just back from doing two swordsmanship (Western Martial Arts) workshops back to back. Rather like sf/f, WMA is a small and incestuous world, and there were even crossovers between those two worlds, with sword instructors talking about DragonCon--oh, and Neal Stephenson was at the second workshop.

I hoped for more writing this past weekend than I was able to achieve. On Saturday I was too crampy and occasionally pukey to sit comfortably at the keyboard, so I curled up with a hot-water bottle and read/re-read four Diana Wynne Jones novels, thus slightly reducing my TBR pile.
On Sunday, feeling better, I went to bookshops to ask if they'd put up posters for V-Con 32, and managed to buy six books, thus increasing my TBR pile. Oh, and one book was Hexwood, a DWJ I've been looking for. Hm, I should do a quick round-up of what I've read recently, too - maybe in another intermission post.

sniffemout over on the ABE Book Forum has been advocating for Nanowrimo, and I'm starting to be swayed. If I got the second draft of Willow Knot cleaned up and read to be beta'd before the end of this month, I could let it rest for November and do Nanowrimo. I could even use the dream-plot I was considering for the 3-Day before the newspaper story supplanted it.
After all, I only managed 18k over 72 hours. I know I can write 1k/hr for a couple of hours at least, and still turn out clean copy. I know that dithering is not productive. I need to work on Not Dithering.
I will look into this further.
While browsing 3-Day t-shirts on Cafe Press, I was led astray, into searching through the other writing-themed t-shirts, and found a slogan which appealed greatly: My goal as a writer is not to achieve fame or fortune, but to have entire fanfic archives devoted to my novels.
Yeah. Sometimes I look at what I'm writing, and consider the potential for fanfic, or slash. M-- writes some scenes so potentially slashy that I used to add the comment 'subtext!' in the margin. I don't have that gift, I don't think. But maybe somebody will do it for me.

The plum tree this year produced three-and-a-half dehydrator loads, which kept me busy for a few days. Plums take a surprisingly long time to dry properly, and by running the dehydrator in the 'laundry room' adjoining the bathroom, I was able to get the bathroom nicely warm before showers, without running the heater. Very economical.
The pear tree, which for the last two years has managed perhaps half a dozen pears, came up with other two dozen this year, and very nice they were too. Four ziplocks of dried pears achieved. I hope this means the tree is recovering, and that it isn't the final flowering before a glorious end. Or final fruiting either.
Since there's still a boxful of dried apples and a freezer shelf full of apple crumble-makings from previous years, I'm more relieved than anything that the spartan and golden delicious are less fruitful this year. I've dealt with as many of the chewed apples (is it a moth? bores through and leaves a sort of mealy brown stuff where it passes) as I could find, and the rest may be about the right number to be eaten fresh without panic or pressure.

Monday, October 1, 2007

nostalgie de la bbq

Viable Paradise Eleven is underway. A new set of students, a new set of works-in-progress. Group critiques and one-on-ones and games of Thing and Mafia.
I feel (as I said elsewhere) as if I should be envious, or wishing I was there with them, but I can't find those emotions anywhere. I feel happy for them, I hope in a vague way that they have even half as wonderful a time as we did, and I look forward to reading Dorothy's thoughts about it all. But I don't imagine myself a student again, especially not a new student coming among strangers, with it all to do over.
I cherish the memories, the lessons and the friends that came from VPX. Those I keep.

Back in August 11-12, Terri-Lynn hosted a VPX reunion bbq at her place, which I mentioned briefly on another post. Of course, since the Xers keep in touch, reunions of some degree happen whenever two or three are gathered together, but this one grew and grew, snagging staff and instructors into its maw. And I was on the east coast in August, in Pennsylvania, hurrah!
The way eastern states and cities fit together confuses me. I mean, I know the names of places, I have all sorts of literary, fictional or historical associations with the names, but only the vaguest idea where the names are in relation to each other. So flying from Pittsburgh to New York in order to visit Connecticut made me dizzy, even when I looked at the map. Fortunately, cleverer people than me were doing all the actual transporting, both driving and flying.

On the way to the Pittsburgh airport, I saw (from a distance) one of the sites where George Romero filmed parts of the Dead series. No ghouls visible at that time. (Night called them 'ghouls'; I'm not sure when the terminology switched to 'zombies')
The staff at the Pittsburgh airport were cheerful and pleasant (huge contrast from my changeover on the way home from VPX) and one complimented my hi-top sneakers, which are a camo pattern with penwork additions by me. The portents were favourable.
Now, the earlier plan had been that Diana would be driving, and would pick up me, Evelyn and Linda on the way (woo! girls' road trip!) but due to family complications (families are complicated) that hadn't been possible. Diana, Evelyn and Linda were sorely missed--I'm harder to shake off, at least in this instance. Scott and Heather were renting a van, and willing to add me to the existing cargo of Chris and Bart. We'd all meet up at the car-rental desk.
I arrived at La Guardia (which I can't pronounce properly unless I stop and say it slowly, but you can't tell that online) and found it to be very large. I cast myself on the mercy of young men in reflective vests and found out that the Hertz desk was not a desk, or rather, that the desk was in a building on the outskirts of the airport.
Okay, I'm resourceful. I can take a shuttlebus as resourcefully as the next person. I did so, and reached the Hertz office, where I settled myself with Game of Kings and some dried apples, knowing I was the earliest arrival and that I could hardly be missed in the small glass box set on tarmac.
Considerably later, I looked up from Lymond being cleverer and more tortured than anyone else for the umpteenth time, and noticed that no one had claimed me yet. Hm. Well, my flight had been delayed due to weather, so might others. I popped over to the desk and asked about the rental, had they heard from Scott at all?
Well no, and they didn't have any rentals booked under his surname.
The unsettled feeling that I'd forgotten something vital and had screwed up and it was all my fault began its creeping progress. I reminded myself that Heather might well have booked the van. Did I know her last name? Um. No, I didn't.
I went back to Dunnett for another period (possibly the lower Cretaceous, since I had neither a watch nor a cellphone to measure it, and the office had no wall-clock) but the you-screwed-up feeling was not to be denied.
I sat at the office phone (THIS PHONE DOES NOT ACCEPT INCOMING CALLS) and called the cell numbers that I had noted down. My husband reported that no one had called him about cancellations or emergencies. Bart reported that he and Chris were happily drinking coffee at the food court closest to Scott's gate and that I should come and wait with them there. Before I could confirm whether Hertz would let me shuttle back to the airport when I wasn't myself renting anything, Scott made contact.
A while later Bart and Heather arrived, picked up a van, picked up Scott and Chris at the airport, and we were on our way.
Addendum: On the road, Chris pointed out where some of the filming of Men in Black had been done. There's some significance there, in my flying from a horror set to an sf set, but I don't know what it is.

More later - must do something about dinner.