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 Winter Tide is out in the world and making friends. The Hugos are almost puppy-free. And my town passed the first of two votes to become a sanctuary city in a landslide. I'm having a pretty good day.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Things I've done over the past two days:

  • Bounced a lot

  • Gotten congratulated a lot, and been pleased by the number of people who seem to think this is good news for them rather than for me

  • Been pleased and a little worried by the various prayers to Nyarlathotep, Cthulhu, and Mother Hydra for the book's success. I'm pretty sure that's not the scale these guys work on...

  • Been terribly distracted by Miriam learning to wave

  • Jotted down ideas, way too far in advance, for publicity swag (Esoteric Order of Dagon Temple Fund cookbook outtakes; flyers for events at Miskatonic...)

  • Jotted down ideas, way too far in advance, for a post-launch party at Wiscon 2017 (salted chocolate and caramel, tome exchange, probably can't afford to feed everyone sushi...)

  • Been terribly distracted by the possibility of alien megastructures 1500 light years away. Tried to convince myself that weird comets and dust-free planetary collisions would also be awesome. Tried to figure out whether 1500 years is long enough to finish building a Dyson cloud.

  • Been very grateful that I ended up with a publisher who works ridiculously quickly.  Twenty-seventeen is a long way away, and to imagine my state of mind with the usual time frame of novel sales and publication is not to be borne.  I know a lot of people who've managed it; I remain deeply grateful that Carl is as impatient and deadline-driven as I am.

  • Found out which characters my editor ships.

  • Repeated to myself: "Before novel acquisition, carry water, chop wood; after novel acquisition, carry water, chop wood" as I wash dishes, feed the baby, and clean wildly in preparation for this weekend's visit from my in-laws.

ashnistrike: (lightning)
Winter Tide, the first Aphra Marsh novel, will come out from the Tor.com imprint in early 2017.  The sequel, which has a working title of Deep Roots, will follow a year later.

I'm beyond excited and amazed to finally be able to make this announcement.  And I'm very grateful to my agent, Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Agency, and to my editor Carl Engle-Laird, for making this happen.  We all look forward to sharing the next part of Aphra's story.

Holidays

Sep. 27th, 2013 11:41 pm
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Happy belated Stanislav Petrov Day!  One does appreciate the world still being here, however fubarred it may occasionally seem.

Today is my birthday, and also Google's.  Every year I go through approximately 15 seconds of being creeped out by the "personalized" Google doodle until I remember this.  Oh my god, this evening they do have a personalized doodle that says "Happy birthday Ruthanna" when I mouse-over.  Happy birthday, Panopticon.

My family, chosen and otherwise, are an awesome family.  I had mushroom leek tart that I did not have to cook, and chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting that I did not have to bake.  And I am now the proud owner of a Tam Lin t-shirt (with Janet wrestling the lion), and a mint copy of the "Peter Principle" game in which the goal is to avoid promotion.  I am also the even prouder owner of the 1983 Avalon Hill catalog that came with the game, including gems like Amoeba Wars and Empire of the Overmind, and a chart of which games can be played on which computers that also carefully explains how to read a chart.  1981, you had your points but I do not miss you.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Home from Wiscon after a wonderful but exhausting weekend.  Nameseeker drove, and is continuing on now into the depths of Texas for an epic rescue mission with [livejournal.com profile] robling_t.  I flew out on my own and flew back with [livejournal.com profile] pageofswords, with whom there was much hanging out over the course of the con.

We were delighted to room with [livejournal.com profile] papersky, which resulted in much fascinating conversation and not much sleep. The entire room was obsessed with the Sundown Kickstarter, so we would walk in to happy cries of "Nine thousand one hundred twenty five!" and so on. (And congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] gaudior and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks on what we hear was a stunning theatrical performance--not being there was the one thing we regretted about being at Wiscon.) We also got to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] brynnya & Gary, [livejournal.com profile] natlyn, [livejournal.com profile] almeda (mostly in the car), [livejournal.com profile] oracne, [livejournal.com profile] redbird, [livejournal.com profile] truepenny, and a wide variety of other people whose LJs I can't remember just now because I haven't had much sleep.

Excellent panels on urban planning and justice, creating when busy, the difficulty of actually ripping a bodice, unusual family shapes in fiction and real life, and awesome medieval women who don't show up in enough history books--Black Agnes, OMG.  The Imaginary Book Club, with several books that I rather wanted to read--[livejournal.com profile] elisem's "classic Mpreg military SF" Cradle Corps was a standout.  The Haiku Earring party resulted in the usual haiku, the semi-usual sonnet, and a few hundred words added to the novel in progress on which I'd been stuck.

More after I've had more sleep.
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Rain's been coming down since last night.  Wind's starting to pick up.  The forecast sounds fairly alarming, but we are on high ground and far from large bodies of water, so we have our fingers crossed.  We have lots of food, ice, and alternate sources of light.  There are brownies and blondies, and will be roast chestnuts if the power stays on much longer.  I've done what I can for work from here, so am now, guilt-free, sitting in the living room with warm wife, dog, and housemates.  We are reading each other weather reports and random funny things off the internet, and there may be role-playing by and by.

Everyone stay safe and dry!
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So this was not the most Hallmark of Passovers--fortunately, Hallmark has yet to fully co-opt Passover.  Bobby spent a good part of the seder with gastrointestinal troubles, which made for a lot of interruptions and parents getting up and down with him.  He spent the rest of the seder alternating between misbehavior (trying to blow out the candles) and cuteness (insisting on answering rather than asking the four questions).  But it's meant to be a family ritual, and we had family and friends happy to help out and participate, lots of good food, good discussion, and good questions.  In some sense the seder spread out through the whole day--S and I talked about how "freedom" is used in modern political discourse, and A and I got into a debate over whether Jews are permitted to question G-d's morals, all well before we sat down at the table.

And speaking of ritual prep, S did something wonderful.  For the past few years, she's insisted on getting the fancy round matzah for the seder itself, even though we use the ordinary square box matzah for the rest of the week.  The round matzah make perfect sense to me intellectually: they are hand made, and look like they were baked in a hurry on a hot rock.  But they've never quite had the same emotional resonance as the square crackers I grew up with.  This year, though, we discovered that there's a lot more demand for fancy round matzah in DC, and if you don't buy them a couple of weeks in advance, you don't get them at all.  So S, in cooperation with [livejournal.com profile] page_of_swords, did something she's been talking about for years--they actually made matzah, right in our kitchen. 

The rabbinic rule for matzah is that you can have no more than 18 minutes between water touching flour and putting the bread in the oven.  Ostensibly this is too fast for free-floating yeast to start the rising process; it's also numerologically significant in some fashion.  In fact, it turns out to be just the right length of time to be doable, but still feel genuinely rushed.  This is the bread of haste.  It's the simplest, most primordial flatbread that you can make in a modern kitchen--flour and water dough, thrown onto a baking sheet, cooked briefly in the oven and brushed with olive oil and salt for flavor.  It's perfect.  It's nothing like what I grew up with, but it tastes right anyway--all the ritual's emotions invoked by one of the most basic foods of civilization.

For the record, we used our bread of haste at the table, but we did not use it for the hidden afikomen.  Hiding a prototypical-but-oily pita-chapati-tortilla in your child's bedroom is not effective ritual.
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Sometime over Thanksgiving, S heard my parents reading Bobby a particularly insipid version of Goldilocks--one where the bears don't even get angry because Goldilocks is too cute, or something.  In response, she read him Three Bears Norse.  My parents may have been a little alarmed, but Bobby loved it, and insisted she reread it several times.  But he also told her, repeatedly: "I want Three Bears Norse in a book with pictures!"  We were, of course, unable to comply, but we passed on the compliment to [livejournal.com profile] papersky, not expecting anything further to come of it.

The book is now available!  There is not enough squee in the world, and I cannot wait to see Bobby's face--or B & A's.  I haven't told them yet; I'm planning on presenting the thing in person.  Meanwhile, I believe there are about 50-odd copies left.

Duck

Nov. 15th, 2011 09:32 pm
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My wife got me a 4 pound duck at Eastern Market, because she knows me and loves me.

Day 1: Roast duck with five-spice powder. Stock from the carcass.
Day 2: Yorkshire pudding baked in duck fat. Salad with duck cracklings.
Day 3: Fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat.
Day 4: Duck liver mousse (padded with chicken liver). Deviled heart and kidney, plus one liver piece I accidentally left out of the mousse.

Still to come: risotto with duck stock and the remaining cracklings.

I'm not sure why I can't get a week's worth of meals out of a 4 pound chicken, which has twice as much meat on it.  Possibly just not as inspiring.
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This is the best Aliens fanfic ever.  Not that I read a lot of Aliens fanfic, but I feel entirely confident  in my judgment. It's an epistolary story about scientists at a bio lab trying to figure out how to kill and mount a xenomorph.  The taunting is my favorite part, although the cow comes close.

Neil Gaiman reports that that the House on the Rock is planning an anniversary party for American Gods.  At which, they say, "We are working on a way to allow a limited number of guests to ride the carousel."  I strongly suspect that "way" will involve more money than I have to spend, but want.

And on a different note, I have sold a short story to Timelines: Stories Inspired by H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.  ([livejournal.com profile] page_of_swords , this is the story in which I used your expert advice before you gave it to me.  It could only be more appropriate to the topic if I'd managed to publish it before writing it.)

Cicadas!

May. 29th, 2007 12:29 pm
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We got back from Wiscon early last night. Walking around the block after dinner we wondered, where were the cicadas? They had just been emerging as we left on Friday. Where was the overwhelming racket we'd been promised? Had we missed them? Don't worry, our neighbor assured us--they're out, they just take a couple of days to learn how to sing.

This morning, they've figured it out. The oldest trees are covered with cicadas. The silhouettes of trunks are raggedy with them even from the other side of the yard, even from my second story office window. Now I can hear the high-pitched chirr outside, rising and falling over Stan Rogers' baritone.

If they did this every year, I would probably find it annoying. But every 17 years? That's automatically cool. They're a mark of permanence and regularity, and the failure of the suburbs to triumph entirely over nature. They're a common experience binding everyone who hears them.

It is, of course, entirely possible that in a month I will be somewhat less enamoured.
ashnistrike: (writing)
I just learned that Strange Horizons will be publishing "Ghosts and Simulations," probably in November. I am now officially two thirds of a pro!

May 23rd is a good day for me, apparently. In 2003, it was the date of my doctoral graduation. It's also my wedding anniversary--which means that selling a story to one of my favorite markets is not even the best thing about today. I'm a very lucky person.
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-Somehow, it's become Spring. The garden is full of apple mint and scallions. The yard is full of lilac and honeysuckle. Edible "weeds" are poking up all over our yard: mustard greens, sorrel, dandelion, bee balm. I never get over the way plants just grow.

-If the Internets know why my copy of Firefox now sticks my previous e-mail into any attempt to reply to someone, rather than quoting their e-mail, I'd appreciate them sharing their wisdom. It also sticks a copy of my previous lj post into the text box whenever I start to make a new post--and a copy of my previous comment on a given journal/community into the text box for my next comment. It does not confuse these different types of text entry with each other. My other copy of Firefox (on my work computer) does not do this. [ETA: Aha! It was the Greasemonkey "Backup text area" extension. It's gone now, and my e-mails quote properly again.]

-After correcting 60 undergraduate papers, every misplaced apostrophe digs into my flesh like a tiny thorn. "It's" = "it is"; "its" = possessive form of "it". Plurals do not get apostrophes, no matter how much they beg. Editors and teachers everywhere will love you for getting this right.

-If anyone, like me, is silly enough to use Windows Media Player for their music, I highly recommend not upgrading to version 11 when it's offered. The interface, based on the princple that graphics are good, and more graphics are better, is hideously ugly and hides most of the information that is presented on the surface in version 10. Particularly if you use any of the more esoteric columns (like "mood"), it absolutely refuses to give access to those. It took me half an hour to figure out that a rollback was even possible, and another hour to do it.

-My favorite typo yesterday--mine this time: I'd written, of a small tabby-colored dragon, "He looks like one of the Norse breeds, so he probably expects to eat bark in the winter." I attempted to change this to, "...he probably expects bark in the winter." Result? "He probably expects to bark in the winter." Nameseeker assumed this was an interesting evolutionary adaptation, but couldn't figure out how it might be a survival characteristic.
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Ahem. Actually, the January/February double issue of Analog appears to have been out for a while, and is already replaced by the March issue in some of the places I called. But "Exposure Therapy" by R. Emrys Gordon is in it, and has a gorgeous illustration by Bill Warren, with an actual snake-looking snake!

It's out it's out it's out it's out it's out!
ashnistrike: (Default)
These will probably vary in length and detail. They will all have spoilers, behind a cut. Why didn't you just read them when they were new, like everyone else?

Book: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Originally Published: 1818
Amusing/disturbing things about the 1961 edition: Both new introduction and blurb are shocked, shocked, that a woman with so "delicate an imagination" could have written this. The intro goes so far as to say that she could only have done so because of the influence of her husband's genius.
Things left out of 1961 introduction: Drugs, threesomes with George Byron and Percy Bysshe.
No-Spoilers Review: This is absolutely brilliant. If you haven't read it, you should. Assuming, that is, that you can deal with the title character fainting every time he's scared.
Also Cool: Much of this book takes place in the Lake Region of northern Italy and southern Switzerland, where Nameseeker and I went on our honeymoon. The narrative spends a great deal of time waxing poetic about the area's beauty, and it deserves every bit of it.

188-Year-Old Spoilers Ahead )

A Good Day

Nov. 9th, 2006 12:18 am
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Even better than taking the House, and possibly the Senate, is knowing that our voting system is not completely broken. Knowing that there still is a way to make a difference without being the one who programs the Diebold machines.

I'm sad to say that I had very little to do with the victories yesterday, even less than I tried to. I found myself with the afternoon off (because I canceled a meeting that I knew I wasn't going to pay attention to), and called the local Democratic party to find out if they still needed poll workers. Watching to make sure no one gets cheated out of their vote strikes me as the really important work. They said sure, come on down, but once I got there they sent me out canvassing for the Duckworth campaign. I knew her campaign was incompetent, but it turned out they'd already had people canvassing the same area earlier in the day. People were not thrilled to see us. And Duckworth lost, of course, so our district has contributed another worthless member of the minority party. But they're the minority party, so I'm happy anyway.
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We were driving along Roosevelt Road, intent on shopping for cat food, when we saw an octopus in the sky. Naturally we abandoned our earlier plans, and turned off onto the side road hoping to find out why. Eventually we found ourselves in a park, where we saw that the octopus was surrounded by dogs and sharks and colorful geometric figures, likewise aloft. What we'd found was a kite-flying demonstration, with something well beyond the diamond-shaped thing I could never get off the ground when I was a kid.

I was very sad not to have a camera with me. Fortunately, the internet will provide. Except that the one we saw was rather more eldritch-colored--and rather more complex. Lower down on the line, where we hadn't been able to see it from Roosevelt, a 50-foot pirahna was fleeing the octopus, along with a 3-foot baby pirahna. A half-moon (the real one, not a kite) was just rising in the sky behind it. When an octopus flies across the moon, you know you've had a good day.
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Ahem. Sorry about that.

I'm getting a story published. In Analog. They want to put my words on their very own paper, and put the paper where people can read it.

I don't want to say the title yet, because who knows they might decide to change it, and I'm not 100% sure of the etiquette of these things. Friends have been referring to it as "Snakes on a Spaceship," which is about right. But the name on it will be R. Emrys Gordon. Who is me. And I am going to be published. Holy $&!^.
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We got back from our east coast journey a couple of days ago, and have mostly been dealing with household stuff since then. We now have a garage roof that will last the winter.

We didn't do as much road-tripping side stuff as I'd hoped, but we did do the one thing I had insisted on. An hour north out of our way, I finally got to see Niagara Falls.

For a dollar, you can take an elevator down to the edge of the river, and then climb the staircase that goes up right next to the falls, close enough that you're drenched with spray about halfway up. Between the staircase and the falls themselves, the rocks are covered in moss and lichen--lush and green, but short enough to survive the constant wash blowing across them. Just beyond and above, water crashes over the cliff in wonderful, glorious, terrifying abundance, hitting with such force that the spray rises almost the height of the falls and rolls out over the river.

There are also butterflies. Tiny white butterflies flit out from the stairs, across the moss, lighting on the rocks. They fly further out, within a handsbreadth of the falling water, before returning to relatively safe ground. As the wind changes, the spray falls across the rocks in different patterns, with ever-changing force--but it never stops. The butterflies seem to live there, unimpressed.

I'm sure the butterflies could be symbolic of something, or illustrate some sort of new age moral. Really, though, I think they're good enough art by themselves. Baruch ata--you do good work.
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My good learning textbook has fun words in it.

Dichotomania: the desire to divide all methods and styles of cognition simplistically into "left-brain" and "right-brain" thought. I've been haranguing my kids about this for years, but I've never had a word for it.

Spandrels: an evolutionary term--side-effects of a mutation with adaptive benefit, that aren't the original adaptive "purpose" but are cool anyway. So the immediate adaptive benefit of increased brain size in humans might have been better problem-solving skills, better memory for food and predator location, language, or any number of other possibilities depending on your pet theory (it's hard to test these things). Spandrels would include the ability to compose symphonies, long philosophical rants at 4 AM, and democratic constitutions. I love this word. It sounds like extra sparkly bits that got added on to something already beautifully functional, just to make it more decorative. It makes me feel like I'm walking around dressed up all fancy.

The cynics may now try to figure out an equivalent word for traffic jams, water pollution, and Welsh-language television (no offense intended to Ibliss--just a Good Omens reference).

Spandrels. Spandrels, spandrels, spandrels... it's better than "plethora!"

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