Thursday, December 30, 2004

Farewell, 2004

I've been blessed--in some odd way--to have had enough good things happen in any one year that I can never write off an entire year as bad no matter what icky things happened. Or maybe that's just a sure sign that I'll never be successful at pessimism. Take 2002. In that one year, I quit a PhD program and a teaching job and as a result shattered the self-image I had spent more than a decade cultivating. The situations surrounding both departures were not pleasant, and I spent a good deal of that year sobbing and trying to figure out just what in the hell I was going to do with myself for the rest of my life. But 2002 was not a bad year. Mark and I were married that year. That summer, I discovered my muse, found a critique group and several writing communities, and started seriously writing HD. Mark and I took two amazing trips that year, and I was able to build a fantasy world out of the beautiful parks we saw. I could never call 2002 a bad year.

I find myself looking at 2004 in the same way. I started this year with the realization that I was bored and heading toward depression each day I stayed at my secretarial job. My writing was suffering for it, and I was no closer to addressing the issues that made 2002 so life-altering. I decided to find a job that would still let me write but also keep me more engaged for forty hours every week. Good plan. Said plan was still in its infancy when I was laid off. Five months of unemployment while the hubby is in grad school do not a happy Kellie make. At first I thought that unemployment would be a great way for me to get my writing on the right track. Instead, those five months were essential for me to get myself on the right track. I learned so much about myself in those months, most importantly that the self-image I had shattered in 2002 was a false image to begin with. I found the culprits behind some personal demons and put together morning routines and rituals to help me stay true to myself and lessen the hold of those culprits and demons a little more every day. How can such a year be bad, even if I was unemployed for five months and am now facing yet another unstable work environment?

Also, I finished my first major revision of my first novel this year. I did a lot of research, outlining, and planning for a new novel that I'm nearly 30,000 words into. I went to my first science fiction convention and made some writerly connections. I submitted HD to about ten agents. I wrote an eight-page synopsis in a weekend that actually reads very well and submitted it and the first twenty pages of HD to a contest. I wrote two short stories (I guess they're technically novellettes) this summer, and they sparked a universe for The Masque. I created a comfortable and personalized writing space for myself. And, possibly my greatest accomplishment of 2004, I beat both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. :)

2004 wasn't easy, but it wasn't bad, either. I started the year hoping to achieve balance in many ways: work and writing, play and writing, past and present and future. I spent the year tossing the dead weight that kept pulling me to the sides and depriving me of balance. I've still got a ways to go before I've got the kind of balance I dream about, but I'm solidly on my way there. It will happen.

2004 was a growing year, and those can never be bad.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Holiday Scam

It was lame when it was "genuine", and it's even more lame now that it's not. Try again, Local Internet Hoaxer.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Lazy Holiday

Spent most of the weekend staring at the TV in some fashion or another. Watched a lot of Simpsons (we'll be picking up Season 5--one of Mark's favorites--this weekend when we do our Costco shopping as they have the best price), played video games. Our big accomplishment of the weekend was cooking the big turkey meal. Oh, and we did the laundry. And I guess you can count a quick trip up to the local gambling town (Blackhawk; and we broke even).

Mark did get me a (much more affordable) copy of that Amy Brown book I was drooling about before. My father's package didn't arrive before Saturday, so we'll get to celebrate Christmas again sometime this week. And Sheila decided to do something very Santa-like and give galleys of her March 2005 vampire book to everyone who entered a recent drawing. Have I mentioned lately how much I adore this woman? :) Go read her books!

My brother was able to call my mom for a few quick minutes on Christmas Eve. He was pretty excited that everyone in his platoon (or was it the entire battallion?) got two beers for Christmas. And he's apparently going to be moved from a field assignment to an actual base assignment sometime early next year. This means he gets to stay in an actual barracks rather than curling up in a sleeping bag under a tent or hanging out in a tent. And, wonder of wonders, he'll be bunked with only one other soldier and they will have their own shower. He's looking forward to that.

So, all in all, a great, relaxing holiday. A belated Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Best Christmas Gift EVER

It's nice to be crying happy tears for once. To see my brother's Christmas Video Greeting, click here* and select the "Hazell" link under the Golf column. Requires Windows Media Player. I'm so happy that technology has made this possible, and I will be playing this ALL DAY LONG today, tomorrow, and Saturday for sure.

*After a brief time up so family and friends could see it, I've taken the link down just in case anyone might click there with nefarious intentions.

Updated link: Click here

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Creature Comforts

The snow, while pretty, didn't exactly get me raring to go outside and get to work this morning. So I decided to forego the journalling (with the Addy Cat sitting watch next to me) in favor of snuggling under a blanket on the couch and cuddling with Nosey, our "I think I may be canine" cat. Her warm fur and more than enthusiastic purring and meows gave me the smiles and energy I needed to get out the door.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wild Card Ride

It's beginning to look a lot like playoffs. You know that something is going on in the Wild Card race when my husband, a diehard Buffalo Bills fan who refers to the team from Miami only as "The Hated Dolphins", cheers loudly and enthusiastically for said team. The reasoning? Because Miami beat New England last night, the Steelers won't be in a fierce battle with the Patriots for home field advantage when the Bills play Pittsburgh in a couple weeks, thus making a Buffalo win more likely. Ah the joys of football. Beyond all that, ya gotta admit that it was fun to see Brady tank that game. Evil spawn of Michigan he be.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Ugh & Stuff

The company party was Friday night. Lots of fake smiles and laughter, and a few unsettling hints about that spiraling situation I mentioned earlier. The food was dry and gave both Mark and I some serious indigestion. It was so bad that poor Mark had to go to the store at 2AM to get Tums because we were out and both hurting. But the chocolate mousse desert was amazing. Incredibly rich, but delicious. Most of Saturday was lost in trying to recover from the ill effects of the party. I did get out and about, but that's another post. Then I woke up with the worst headache I've had in years on Sunday. And the damned thing wouldn't go away. I plunked myself on the couch, played video games, napped, and generally tried to pretend my head and my body weren't all that attached to each other. The Bastard Headache from Hell left its progeny to keep me company today. As they are baby headaches, it's much more survivable.

This morning saw amazing high winds on the drive in. I think they just now calmed down. I drive a road that has a lot of high plains prairie type sections of it and let me tell you how much crap blew all over the car this morning. Rocks, dirt, tumble weeds, bark, bubble wrap, you name it. My favorite was a rather large tumble weed that smacked into the car and then lodged itself under the passenger side mirror. It hung out with me for a good five miles or so. I had almost decided to name the thing when it blew away.

I did get some fun ideas for The Masque on Friday and Sunday, but I haven't had much of a chance to do anything with them other than jot them down in a notebook. I'm hoping to get some writing time today at work (more dialog sketching than anything else in order to finish up a scene that's been open for a while) and then it's on to a Big Action Chapter tonight. Peril on Mars in those space suit thingies. Someone dies, someone else dangles into a canyon. Yippeee!!!

Friday, December 17, 2004


A very touching montage of what our soldiers are doing in Iraq. You'll need flash, and be sure to turn your volume up to hear the music that accompanies.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Precious Diary

Excellent post. Must read later to appreciate full effect.


I'm a master of this art. I distract myself with writing issues so as to avoid the writing. I distract myself with small, seemingly easily controllable issues in order to avoid thinking about the problems way beyond me. Currently I'm trying to distract myself from a bad, spiraling situation. It's not working very well. And as I pondered this, I realized that I had failed to mention an incident that occurred at Borders on Tuesday night during my crit group. Two high school kids set off alarms in the Cafe area as they bolted out the door with a stack of CDs. Fairly ballsy, I guess, but really, really stupid. They could've used some distraction. Plus, it didn't help that one of them went through the door first, setting off the alarm while the other was still five feet away from it, prompting him to have the most comical expression I've ever seen as he froze then ran out the door after his compadre. Of course, there is the possibility that these were two ill-timed yet unconnected thefts. Doesn't that suck for the second guy? He decides to steal something, only to have all attention drawn to him as some other idiot just a few seconds ahead beats him to it. But none of this matters anyway as there were cameras everywhere, catching them in the act. Good luck with that life of crime, gentlemen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Life Imitating Art Department

Remember how I got spooked into writing HD? How I left an ethics class and was terrified as to the loose way certain future scientists thought about things? That experience birthed Eugene and the entire theme and concept of HD. Here's a real-life example of that inspiration. The story gets even more convoluted here. And that Tramont guy keeps sounding more and more like Eugene. And boy, oh boy, do these articles get the story juices flowing.

After I got over the initial shock of similarity, I started really burrowing into this latest bump for the NIH. First of all, I actually understand a lot of the junk they're talking about, from both the AIDS science perspective and the clinical trial perspective--thanks to my job. That's pretty exciting, especially because the sort of audits that revealed the problems in Uganda is the work that I'm trying to do more and more of here. So it was pretty spiffy to see a direct application of the importance of such work. Second, doncha just love how Tramont can veto all sorts of concerns because he's got four decades of medical experience AND because he really doesn't believe the people raising the concerns could possibly understand AIDS. Aside from the flaming arrogance of that attitude, the implications of such a statement are just thoroughly horrifying as are other ideas expressed by Tramont. And finally, despite all the arguments from Tramont (and I think some other mucky-mucks at NIH) that the science of the study was just fine and dandy and needed to continue, it turns out that the drug confers a resistance to all other similar drugs used for AIDS treatment.

The Tramont-Eugene parallel is really eerie. This man obviously sees the dire need for AIDS treatment in Africa, especially for children of infected mothers. He finds a promising drug, one that there was likely political pressure for given Bush's plan to stomp AIDS in Africa. He sees some good science, some good reasons to get the drug into trials where people really need it. He gets sick of the bureaucratic steps that the FDA requires of anyone wanting to set up clinical trials for a new drug. He pushes a few things here and there, telling himself it's OK because the standards for Uganda human research have got to be different than they are here given the state of technology and living there. And, besides, the research is going to save lives, so push, push, push. Then the research backfires, the pushing is revealed, and it's determined that the pushing may have endangered more lives and perhaps even the NIH and all clinical trials in Africa. The road to hell, man.

This story gives me the creeps. A big shot at the NIH dismissed the opinions of those trained and paid to assess security, health, and regulatory concerns of clinical research because he felt he knew better. A big shot at the NIH altered reports to put a better appearance on troubled research so the Prez could endorse it and visit the sites without scandal. A big shot at the NIH sanctioned the idea that it was OK to have lower standards for health and human safety in clinical trials in a third-world country because the quality of life is so much different (read: worse). Basically, a big shot at the NIH took advantage of a situation and gambled big with the lives of Ugandans already afflicted with a terrible disease. And he lost. Those subjects are now most likely unable to receive any similar AIDS treatment because they're resistant. As if we needed more problems with pharmaceuticals and research and AIDS in Africa. And the NIH and Tramont are adamant that he did the right thing.

Excuse me while I consider removing HD from its very comfortable and concealing trunk and see if I can fix it. I hadn't realized just how necessary that thing was going to be so soon in the future.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Pardon the Silence

Before I get into the meat of why I've been quiet for almost a week THIS time, I'd like to share a completely random thought. I'm thinking about adjusting my blog a bit. Not the color scheme, or anything major, but the titles. "Experiments in Writing, Singing, and Blogging" has felt cumbersome since I first typed it, but I couldn't think of anything sufficiently witty or more original than "Kellie's Blog". Also, I'm not sure I like the format of post title and post being on the same playing field. Changing the former is difficult in that it requires friendly linkers to change their sidebars, and even more so in that it requires me to get creative (I know, and me a writer, whatever to do).

But back to task. My silence.

I'm still pretty freakin' afraid of my Writer Within. I thought I had analyzed it to death and dismemberment this summer. Apparently not. This fear is rather entertaining because it takes anything going askew in my life and puffs it up into Giant Writer's Block size, singing me songs of "everything would be fine if you didn't have to work and could just write full-time". It's a clever disguise of the real issue. It makes me think that I'm accepting the Writer Within and working with it because I'm just trying to get to that "full-time writer" status. Ingenious, devilish bastard. Meanwhile, all the moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth about how Life Sucks and how Tomorrow Will Be Better conveniently keeps me from appreciating today and the energy, time, and passion I have to write at this moment (when not slaving away at the day job and dealing with boredom and stupidity there…. Oops, see how easy that was?).

I won't bother you with the details of how this fear tripped me up this time and how I figured out what it had done. Suffice to say, Mark will tell you that life with me is never boring and that I know how to fall off a horse (the writing, live-in-the-now horse, people) with great drama and flair. I will share an example of just devious this fear is, though. I got stalled out on my writing just over a week ago, telling myself that I was afraid of the revision process for this book, that I couldn't see the plot lines the way I wanted to, and that I needed to do some more outlining and research on revision before I'd feel comfortable with forward momentum on The Masque. See how that works? I cleverly diverted myself from my writing with other writing issues. Granted, those are things that need to be addressed, but not at the sacrifice of my regular writing schedule. Eventually I'll get smarter than this annoying fear, and it won't have this same power over me. That's the hope, anyway.

So hopefully posting will get back to the promise of regularity that last week offered. "Promise of regularity" is a rather disturbing phrase, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Another Wow, But Not a Positive One

Via Sheila and Holly, the Mundane SF Movement. The basic premise is that SF has a duty to laugh off the futuristic improbabilities of faster than light travel, alien encounters, and all things space operatic in favor of the actual probable future of the planet and humanity. What bothers me most about this is the assumption that only Mundane SF can discuss "a new focus on human beings: their science, technology, culture, politics, religions, individual characters, needs, dreams, hopes and failings." (The indication that the forces behind said movement believe that adherence to the principles of the movement produces better SF is hardly surprising given the arrogance and ignorance of the previously mentioned sentiment.)

There are snippets in the Manifesto that give me hope that the Mundane disciples might not take themselves as seriously as the overall idea indicates, though. I provide the following as evidence that at least some of the creators were laughing at themselves and their ideas: "To burn this manifesto as soon as it gets boring." But then they go and say something like "we also recognize the harmless fun that these and all the other Stupidities have brought to millions of people and the harmless fun that burning the Stupidities will bring to millions of people." (The Stupidities including the improbabilities of human futures that are the stuff of space opera and, dare I say it, "popular" SF). Glad to know that I'm hoping to devote my life to "harmless fun" that can either be burned or read for mass entertainment purposes. They also think that any story that takes us to other planets and alien societies "can encourage a wasteful attitude to the abundance that is here on Earth". Wait a minute, I thought my space opera was harmless fun? I love it when my work is both dismissed as benign fluff AND deemed as conducive to the destruction of the planet. For more fun, arrogant inconsistencies, check out their piece on Evolution.

Also entertaining is the idea that Mundane SF is a minority, little-known subgenre of SF. I find this attitude fascinating because the general population is often only exposed to SF books in the form of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and such other literary SF classics. Yeah, no mundanity there. I do have several suggestions for folks who seriously believe that the only good and worthwhile SF is that which sticks to humans, Earth, and our immediate spatial surroundings. The first being: remove head from sphincter. The second: SF and fantasy are often shoved together in bookstores; just consider space opera as part of that "fantasy" stuff and keep your little "we're the true SF" party to yourselves.

The overall point of my little rant? Science fiction that pertains to the mundane is as vital and necessary in literature as space opera, fantasy, romance, mystery, literary fiction, horror, Westerns, etc. We need all these genres because every person on this planet is different and they are reached in different ways. (Yes, people, I am saying that there are worthwhile themes and character studies to be found in ALL those genres - and it is in those elements that fiction tries to teach something, to contribute to the greater good.) As a secondary bonus point, I feel it's imperative to mention that the very nature of science is to question what we know (and when it comes to the realm of quantum mechanics, we know very little). Therefore, calling on SF authors to refrain from writing what science considers now to be so improbable as to be impossible and stick to the generally accepted probable goes against the entire purpose of science. As a scientist, I find this attitude rather offensive and much more destructive than writing stories in which we discover an abundance of life and livable ecosystems in the universe.


If at all possible, go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. And if you can't do that, then go get all of their albums. And then make a Christmas wish that their next album (a non-Christmas one, I believe) is released as soon as possible.

The concert last night was amazing. Every single person on that stage was having the best time and just seemed absolutely thrilled to be doing what they were doing. And they really know how to put on a show. The music was phenomenal and the light and pyrotechnic elements wicked cool. And one of their singers absolutely has to be heard live to truly appreciate his voice, though the recorded version is still wonderful, of course. This man is a stage actor, and he definitely has the voice for it. I'd do quite a bit to get him to sing stuff from The Phantom of the Opera, assuming it's not too high for his range--I'm not good at discerning the male voice parts beyond Bass and Tenor.

If you haven't heard this band at all, change that as soon as possible. They are truly talented artists who love their craft and are all about entertaining.

Friday, December 03, 2004

And Now the Rest of the Story

Well, it's been over a month since I went to my first science fiction and fantasy convention. And I still haven't posted the second half of my report on the experience. Granted, what follows is not nearly as detailed as it would've been had blogger not eaten my first post about this. But I've apparently left a couple interested readers in the lurch, so here are the highlights at least.

The Panels: I didn't got to all of the ones I wanted to because I was so exhausted from the combo of insomnia and volunteering at 6AM in the game room. I did attend a couple, one featuring Elizabeth Moon and another with Connie Willis. They are both fascinating women. Connie had a lot to say about writing humor, and Elizabeth said much about writing and researching about autism. I had the chance to chat with Elizabeth after her panel, and she talked a lot about restoring her Texas prairie land. Really nifty stuff. I also attended went to the awards and closing ceremonies, and it was fun to see all the guests of honor together and cracking jokes and such. But, overall, I wanted to attend a couple of other panels. I'm going to manage my time and my insane need to volunteer better at the next con.

The Art Auction: There was some beautiful work at the art show. I had bid on a couple pieces. One of them I got free and clear because no one else bid on it, which surprised me because it was such an intriguing piece by a really gifted artist. The other went into a bidding war, which I'll talk about in a second. The last few seconds of the bidding brought me a run in with Guest of Honor Charles de Lint. While killing time until bidding was over, protecting my one bid, I found a piece of jewelry that no one had bid on and the bidding price was $3. And of course I was without a pen. I asked the woman next to me if she had a pen I could borrow. Her husband turned around and said he had one, and I found myself scribbling down my bid with Charles de Lint's pen. I'm surprised it was still working after all those autographs.

I somehow got finagled into volunteering for the art auction later that day. That was a blast. When I get published, I hope to use whatever popularity I have to put more butts in the seats at auctions like that. There was some amazing work there and it went for far too little to keep those artists eating AND doing their work. So if I become a hot author, I'm going to volunteer my services as a runner at those auctions. It was so much fun, walking around, displaying some amazing art like I was Vanna White or something. And the auctioneer was a riot. I happen to run the piece that I had bid on that had gone to the auction. The auctioneer had a blast with that, trying to get me to up the price or not really display it. It was great. In the end, I didn't get the piece. The price went up into the $30s, and I couldn't afford it.

The Costumes: I also got roped into manning the costume contest green room with one other volunteer. This made for an incredibly long evening (at one point, I was holding open a door for an hour straight; at least I was able to sit while doing so), but fascinating. There some amazing costumes. The winner's ensemble was titled "Dor'c, First Prime of Adoophus". When he told me how much it cost to make the thing, I was too tired to feel the sticker shock, but it was there. And I made a quick mental note that professional costuming was not in my future, no matter how much fun it looked.

The Authors: Despite being totally exhausted by the end of Saturday's festivities, I went to the Author Chat at the bar and somehow managed to stay up until 1AM talking with Carol Berg--and be coherent throughout. That last is the really amazing part. Carol, in addition to sharing some great writing advice and just being fun to hang out with, got me in touch with another aspiring writer. The reason I mention it is that this other writer is about my age and has left a scientific career for writing. I was beginning to think I was a unique creature in that regard, and I'm very glad to know I'm not. (By the way, I'm the aspiring writer Carol mentions in her own Con report; groovy, eh?)

Overall: I'd do this again in a heartbeat. I highly recommend checking out a local, well-done, middle-sized con as an introduction to the World of Cons. It's a little easier on the pocketbook, too, than just heading off to World Fantasy or World Con. I think that covers the rest of my experience there. I'm sure there was more that happened (probably just that I got locked out of my room a couple more times or something), but this covers the big items. It was a ton of fun, and I'm looking forward to the next one I can attend.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Sidebar Inspiration and Other Unexpected Things

I'm sure my observant readers noticed that I updated the "Currently Writing" section of my sidebar some time ago. My very observant readers might have noticed a project titled Princess Incubus and wondered how a male demon, the incubus, could also have a female title, princess. When I updated the sidebar, I meant to write "Princess Succubus" but my brain obviously wasn't quite in gear. It also took me a good day to realize my mistake. But I left it because something niggled at me about the way that incorrect title looked. A few times I've thought to correct the gaffe, but always that little "something's there" niggle stopped me. The really annoying thing is that I have no idea what this niggle is trying to tell me. The short story idea with this incorrect yet somehow right title is very much in the early development stages. So early, that I have no idea what's going to happen at the end. I think this odd misnomer holds the key, though.

In other writing issues, I've been a little cranky lately. I figured it was just backlash from my brother's horrid Turkey Day experience. But I've also been dying to write a particular scene and haven't found the time to do it this week. I finally just wrote during my lunch break, even though I grouchingly whined that a half hour was only enough time to get really immersed in something and then I'd have to stop it and get back to work and how would that make me feel better. I wrote anyway. Got 500 words and feel a whole lot better. So writing during the lunch break will become a must if I go through a funk like this again. Good to know. And wouldn't it be nice if I could write 2500 words every week a work over the course of all my lunch breaks?

Calendar Fun

In writing The Masque and even HD, I've been frustrated that I couldn't find an application to calculate what day of the week it was or would be at any given point of my book's timeline. I finally found one I like here. And this Mayan calendar calculator might be interesting for a few other ideas I've got. I'll have to let that stew in my head for a while. It's possible that if we dissolved all national borders and became a united world goverment and start living in space, on Mars, and in the Alpha Centauri system (as happens in The Masque) that our calendar might change. But I have no idea how, especially if the space- and non-Earthfaring life--not to mention the world government--is in its infancy. So I'm just going to stick with the calendar system we've got for now to prevent any unnecessary headaches.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's Better Than Zero

NaNoWriMo is officially over for me as the last time I had to write in November was last night. I made it to 12,092 words. While it feels good to have made progress (and pushed The Masque past the 20,000 word mark), I was hoping for a better showing. Granted, a few circumstances beyond my control really got in the way of the writing schedule I put together, and December isn't going to be much better with all that holiday stuff. But I think I can do at least 15,000 words before 2005 hits. My overall goal for this project is to have a draft and some sort of synopsis finished by the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. I'd like to pitch it to an editor and/or agent. I think it's got real selling potential, much more so than Human Dignity. I'm still thinking about shipping that one off to a couple more agents and also either Tor or Daw. I think Daw is the better house for that book, but I think Tor or Roc are best for the rest of my projects. Plus, there is a slight chance that my name is on a watchlist at Tor since I've worked with Teresa Nielsen Hayden before. That's a really big assumption to make. Hence my dilemma. I also keep wavering between just shoving HD in a really dark corner and giving it a thorough going over. It's an excellent first book, but it's very much a first book. And as I get further and further into The Masque, I'm realizing that the two are pretty darn similar, and The Masque is by far the better attempt, as a good second book ought to be. So the dilemma congeals further. If I send HD around more, and then want to send around The Masque by the end of 2005, is anyone going to be paying enough attention to wonder why I'm writing similar books? I mean, the books are different, but the inciting element and one of the key plot points is the discovery of illicit research being done on humans.

I'm really digressing here. That above paragraph kind of disintegrating into a blogging version of thinking out loud. At any rate, I'm very happy to have gotten 12,092 words down in November, even if it wasn't close to half of what I had challenged myself to do. And congrats to those who got to 50,000 and beyond. Maybe next year for me.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. She had enough time to say, "Brad took some shrapnel. He's OK. There was an explosion." Then my cell phone decided it would be a nice time to drop the connection. In the minute or so it took before we connected again, I felt numb and listed all the ways we could drop everything and fly to wherever my brother was, if he had been medivacked out of Iraq. Turns out that his wound is so minor that he didn't need even a single stitch. The three other Marines in the vehicle weren't as fortunate.

Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. An improvised explosive device went off to the left of my brother's vehicle during a patrol somewhere in what has been oh-so-comfortingly called the "triangle of death". The driver was bleeding, and the two men in the back were ejected from the vehicle. While the rest of the convoy laid down cover fire and called in the medics, my brother the sargeant had to attend to his wounded men. He got them all to safety and started trying to save the life of one who was severely injured. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for that Marine.

Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. As she told me what had happened, an image kept playing over and over in my mind. I pictured a woman busying about the kitchen, preparing a nice turkey and all the fixings for a family gathering when her doorbell rings. She hurries to answer it, thinking it must be someone with a pumpkin pie. Instead she opens the door to uniformed men with horrible news. I fought hard to grieve for her loss and still be thankful that my brother was alive and relatively unscathed. It made for a rough day.

My thanksgiving holiday was hell until my brother called at 5AM this morning. That's when I found out that the shrapnel was the size of a nickel and had nicked his tricep. He's on R&R with his portable DVD player and the copy of "50 First Dates" I sent him for his birthday back in October. This will be the first time he's been able to see the movie. And, yes, he will be nominated for a purple heart now, an honor I would've been more than happy my brother never received.

I am thankful that my brother is surrounded by good men who know that he's going to need some help through the aftermath. I am thankful that my mother was in the company of good friends when she found out. I am thankful that my father was in the company of my stepmother's family when he found out. I am thankful that I was in Mark's embrace all day yesterday. I am thankful my brother was able to call me this morning and tell me himself that he was OK. I am thankful that yesterday is over and today is another day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brother Can You Spare 1,500 Dimes

OK, so if anyone's got $150 hanging around somewhere, collecting dust, not being used, do you think you could pick this up for me for Christmas? Just wondering. And if you've got extra cash you have no need for, go ahead and send it my way too so I can stock up my book shelf with all the books I need to read. A small request. :)

Just In Case I Haven't Mentioned It Lately

I love my husband. He read what I've got of the draft of The Masque and came up with some amazing comments. Particularly insightful was the realization that my three main characters have three distinct qualities and that using words describing those qualities interchangably was a problem and made these unique voices blend into one, which is bad, bad, bad. So Deb is perceptive, and all words that are clearly related to perception and such will be reserved for her. Alex is determined and very much grounded in the here and now, so she gets words closely associated with that attitude. Lydia is exteremely intuitive, giving her the monopoly on those words. I'm not sure I would've ever picked up on such a clever way of keepig my characters distinct and separate. I'll pay better attention to character traits and be more discriminate with my vocabulary as necessary. This is such an awesome comment, one that really can help me bring my writing to another level. I'm still buzzing from it, and just had to make sure I had said again how grand my man is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Missed That One

One of my favorite authors has started up a blog again back in September, and I completely missed it. This is what I get for not hanging around the same places I used to. Anyway, after you're done looking at the Darkyn site that I told you to visit, check this out.

A New One

I just got an email from someone pitching their book to me. It was addressed "Dear Literary Agent" and that misnomer (and horrible intro to a real query letter anyway) was quickly followed by the vague but trying to be specific "After finding your email address on an online writer forum, in which it implies that you are currently accepting new projects...". I'm really curious how this genius not only found my email address but also deduced that I'm a literary agent taking new projects. Did he go to Forward Motion and assume that everyone there is an agent? Did he do some odd blanket email that included any email found on any website remotely dealing with writing?

I'm very tempted to write some kind of cleverly worded response to him, but I'm afraid of the scam factor. Even though the guy has a very swanky looking website and has already had his first book published (via a print on demand press disguised as a self-publishing house, I think), I still can't shake the idea of a scam. But if this guy ever makes it to the real publishing world, I'm going to laugh myself silly. And whoever publishes him will be crossed off my list of houses to submit my work.

I don't know how to seque into this, but it really should be obvious to anyone that this would not be something a professional writer would include in a query letter: "You may search for [this book] on By doing so, you will find that [this book] has reached readers as far as in Europe and even in Japan." Wait, this could be a great idea. Maybe in my next query letter, I'll suggest the agent read my blog and provide my site stats so he or she can see how widely read I am. Yeah. I can see the lucrative contracts flooding my mail box now.

I would link to his site so you can read a quick snippet of the laborious text, but I don't want to give this guy free publicity. Plus, he'd probably read this post and think that he got it wrong and I'm really a publisher, not an agent, and try to submit his work to my private little slushpile (here's a hint: sure, I've got a slushpile; it's got a match right next to it). Part of me really wants to send a note to this guy trying to describe where I think he's going way wrong because I don't want any newbie writer to start off their career so horribly. But I think he's beyond amendment. Well, at least he provided me with a morning's entertainment.

Monday, November 22, 2004

March 2005 Is Too Far Away

Stop everything you're doing and click here. And then count the days until this book's release. And then put this sort of treatment for a book on your Author-To-Be wishlist and hope you one day have the clout/numbers/success for it. Excuse me while I drive home drooling.

Good Weekend, Overall

As you can see by my sidebar, I did make some writing progress. Not enough to get me to 50,000 by the end of the month, but I think I should be able to hit 20,000 or 25,000, and that's awesome for me. If I can consistently write 25,000 words a month, then I can finish a draft of a book every four months. That's where I hope to be at some point in the future, but I know my muse well enough to know that 25,000 words a month won't always be possible anytime soon. I still have a decent amount to learn about the craft, my particular spin on it, and how to manage my life in general.

But I got a step closer yesterday. I realized that part of the issues I have with conflict and passivity center around the big career shake up I had two years ago. I had slotted 2000-2006 to be my grad school years, getting to Arizona by 2010 after some postdocing somewhere. Well, all that changed in 2002, but not really as Mark will be in grad school until 2006 and may have to do a postdoc after that (depending on what's best for his career goals). Instead of using this time to do anything, I somehow managed to convince myself that "real life" couldn't really start until we got to Arizona. My options are, in a sense, limited because I have to be here and working as long as it takes for Mark to finish. But translating that family necessity into an "I'm just stuck in the mud for now" mentality hasn't done me, my writing, or Mark any favors. So I'm changing it.

Yes, sometimes I can't force my writing. Sometimes the muse has a deathgrip on inspiration for a particular scene or chapter. Instead of just staying put and letting that downtime beat me up, I'm going to step to the side. If I block a time for writing, I have to do something creative no matter what. If the writing won't come (and I have to try for at least a half hour), then I have to work on another project or do some research for a future project or do something else creative--even if it's just coloring in my Muppet Babies coloring book (don't knock it; coloring with crayons and markers is extremely therapeautic). I've got a built in creative outlet for crunched writing times in making those ornaments I do every year.

I'm very excited about this rule. It finally gives me the control I always had but never realized or allowed myself to feel and use. Hopefully this will translate into getting more writing done as well. And maybe some blogging too. :)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Promises, Promises

I'm 0 for 2 this month. I haven't been doing what I wanted to with the blog, and I'm tanking miserably with NaNoWriMo. I'm hoping to change that this weekend. I don't want to make any promises, though. I've got this wierd trick where I turn fun things into a burden in my life with deadlines and promises, and I want to stop doing that. Not that I don't have good excuses for the lapse in blogging and writing. It's hard to blog at work when your cube walls have windows and you're not allowed to use a privacy screen on your computer. I really don't like all of my coworkers being able to see what I'm blogging just by walking by my cube. I would use my lunch hour to do that, but I'm trying to make that a time just for writing or keeping up with my email (another arena in which I'm dropping the ball). As for the writing, I had a major breakthrough this week. I struggle with a regular writing schedule because I have an issue with conflict. I prefer to avoid it. And seeing as how a novel needs conflict and tension in order to do anything.... This is why my main characters end up being passive. That way they're not doing anything thing about the conflict really. Everyone else is getting things done around them. This is a problem. One that I'm fixing, but a problem all the same. I though that by starting my current WIP with my MC decking some jerk in a bar would fix the passive issue. But no, three chapters in and she goes from that active response to passivity. *sigh*

So that's the status of things. I hope this weekend and next to do much to resolve this issues, but who knows. Part of me suspects that as long as my Baby Bro is over in Iraq dealing with real, awful conflict that I'm going to continue my tendency of conflict avoidance and passive characters.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Holiday Help

Struggling to find that perfect gift? Try the Giftmixer 3000. It does spit out some serious ideas (all things you can buy at Borders, of course, since they sent me the website), but it's a pretty funny and neat thing. Have fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Awesome Art

Went into one of those "new age" sort of shops today with some coworkers at lunch and stumbled across some beautiful artwork by Amy Brown. I took one look at her faeries and realized that I was finally seeing what I had envisioned my fayries would look like on Veloria, that fantasy world that has been growing for a couple years now. Enjoy looking at her galleries!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's Ba-ack

After a two month absence, the Squeaky Mattress has returned. In a debut that critics are calling touching and a rollicking good time, the Mattress began its new season of romping adventure and loud action. One long-time sufferer of this phenomenon, however, called the Mattress's recent offering repetitive and a bit of a letdown. The creators of the Mattress hope to boost ratings with a sweeps week rumor of performance enhancing drugs.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ready to Roll

Voting made me sick. Honestly. The stupid wobbly "booths" and all those rectangles to fill in triggered a nasty dizzy spell that put me out of commission for Thursday and Friday. And Wednesday wasn't a picnic, either. Joyous. So I only managed to get up to 4,560 words for NaNo, behind the 10,800 words I hoped to have by the end of the weekend. Oh well. The good thing about being under the weather this was that I was able to plot out the next three chapters in a much better way than they were before. The storylines are exciting to me again and weave better with the entire book. Once I get past those three chapters, I should be past this "beginning" slog and into the middle. Usually I hate middles, but things should move pretty well with this one.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Ah, Election Day

My data set isn't too plentiful for this grand event, but damn are there a lot of people voting! I had to wait over an hour to vote this morning, when it only took me ten minutes last time at the same time and location! This is nuts, but in a good way. Well, good that everyone's voting, bad that our polling places may not be able to handle it. I'm not looking forward to tonight's analysis and tomorrow's headlines. Which is why I'll probably go to my crit group and then hop right in bed and watch SG-1. Leave the poll analysis to people who actually find Ted Koppel saying the same thing in slightly different ways for two hours entertainig.

Aside from all that hoopla, I started NaNo yesterday and got 1728 words. I was aiming for 2000 even, but I'll take what I got. I'm going to put that information on my sidebar somewhere so ya'll can monitor my progress.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Oh, How Cute

Seconds after posting about how my Argh post got eaten on Saturday, *poof* it appears. I wonder if that will work for my con report? *crosses fingers*

Quick Linking and Argh

This just up from Holly, a take on the economy of writing. I've only had time to skim it. More on this later. The "Argh" is becuase I typed up a very long post about the rest of my con experience, which Blogger ate. Then I tried to post about how that post was eaten and Blogger ate THAT too. Guess it was hungry Saturday. I'm not sure I can repeat such an indepth post, but I'll at least try to hit the highlights. As for the writing contest, I did manage to crank out a decent synopsis and mail off my submission this morning. Decided against the short story, though. I realized that I'm crazy, but not completely insane as yet. There's still time, though. :)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

AAAARGH! Blogger just ate the rest of my con report. It was long. It took a while to put together. Grrrr. Should've saved it, should've saved it. Maybe I'll repost a shorter version. But for now, back to the synopsis I go. I've finished a draft, the hubby is reading, let's see how many more drafts I need to go through.

Friday, October 29, 2004

More on the Con...Later

I will post the rest of My First Con, but I'm attempting to do something either brilliant or stupid: write a 3 to 8 page synopsis this weekend to submit HD to a writing contest, deadline Monday. I'm making posting the con report a reward for certain stages of synopsis completion. And, since I'm well and truly insane, I'm also toying with the idea of writing from scratch a 6,000-word short story this weekend to submit as well. That, too, would be handled on a reward basis for working on the synopsis. The short story isn't completely from scratch, though. It's an idea generated by Ed Bryant's reading last weekend. Yes, I'm certifiable. I would've been working on this all week long had I known the deadline was Monday. Just found that out today. Yes, this is where it's obvious that I graduated co-Valedictorian of my high school class. :)

Kellie's First Con, Part One

The following documents the first part of my first science fiction convention ever. It was written while at the hotel, in whatever increments of time I could find to sit down at my laptop and type up my comments, thoughts, and experience during the weekend.

Friday, 2:12 PM: Hardly two hours into the convention and I've already experienced a problem. Nobody bothered to tell me that there were THREE hotels called "Four Points Sheraton" within a five-mile radius of each other. Do I really need to explain this in so many words? Let's just say that I started my con at 12:30, and my first order of business was a ten-minute trip in the hotel shuttle. 'Nuff said. Really. I'm working with the idea that this is my total newbie bonehead move of the weekend, and I'm grateful to have gotten it out of the way so soon and no one else at the con was there to witness it. Excellent.

Then I checked in, registered, and went exploring. I decided that, since the early writing workshops I had hoped to check out were cancelled due to lack of interest (that so totally blows), I would see about volunteering until other activities started around 4. Of course, it was too early in the con and they weren't even set up to start taking on volunteers. This is where I bumped into Pat Coleman (can't find her website; she writes mysteries), at the con to do research for her next book whose MC is a SF fan. (I'm beginning to wonder if I have some sort of magnet when I go to these things, as just a couple hours into my last writing conference, I ended getting swept into a dinner with Teresa Nielsen Hayden. By the way, Pat is a big conference planner, one of the original group who put together RMFW, or at least the conference. I don't mind being a magnet for such people, not in the least.) We decided to explore the art and dealer rooms together. We were able to see what was already set up before con staff saw we were there and shooed us out so they could finish setting up. One of the staffers handled this well, another...not so much.

We parted ways with still a couple hours to kill before anything got going. I went back to my room in hopes of writing or just starting this report. Turns out I pulled Newbie Bonehead Move #2 by locking myself out of my room. Note to self: You have two keys (well, three now); never, ever take one out of your back pocket. It shall live there in perpetuity.

Friday, 10:50 PM: Lots of panels and experiences. I feel like a kid in a candy store looking at all the fun costumes, listening to famous authors be people, catching snippets of ConCom gossip. (I think someone might have a stalker, but I didn't catch enough to be sure; intriguing to say the least.) By this point, they were ready to take on volunteers. The great part about volunteering to help with the panels is that you can sign up for the panels you were going to go to anyway, get there early to set up placards and water for the speakers, chat with them a little, then let them know when they're five minutes away from the end of the panel. Easy, fun, you were going to be there anyway, and you can get some author schmoozing time. I'm sold. But the first two panels I went to, I was just Suzy ConGoer, not a volunteer. My writing buddy Pat was the volunteer, so I got to see exactly what my duties entailed. The panel was about the Nuts & Bolts of writing. Good panel, but some guy in the back kept joining in the discussion. He had a green "participant" ribbon, so I knew he was either an author, an artist, or a big fannish sort. He was too far away to read his name tag. I found out later that the eager contributor in the back row was L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Then I went to a panel about future food. Nothing exciting here. I was hoping for a discussion of what food might be like in the future (given the title of the panel, I didn't think it was an odd hope), but it turned out to be a discussion of the current evils of food trends and diets and GMOs--with a lot of wrong, weird, and vague science by all sorts of people in the room. The plus side of this panel was that they had free food.

Then I went to a reading by Hilari Bell and Carol Berg. I sat next to the window that looked west over the city to the mountains. I didn't follow most of what they were reading so much as I listened to them read and stole glances at the sunset.

Then it was off to my first volunteering gig: the Opening Ceremonies (I have no idea how to aim low). I spent the minutes before everything started folding the placards and tracking down a pitcher of water for the head table, which included Bob Eggleton, Elizabeth Moon, Charles de Lint, MaryAnn Harris, Fred Saberhagen, and Bob Vardeman. Bob's toastmaster introduction stint was to make these illustrious personages put on chef's hats and aprons and do a parody of Iron Chef called "Iron Writers". Very entertaining. Then the Fan Guest of Honor candidates were introduced. Lord Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy, complete with a campaign speech. Very entertaining. I bought buttons for their campaign later ("Deatheaters for Voldemort" and a big cross-out symbol over the words Muggles and Mudbloods).

After a quick dash through a couple of autograph signings (got a book signed by Elizabeth Moon for my brother--she's a former Marine herself--and one signed for me by Carol Berg--that "quick signing" deteriorated into a chat about writing, she's a fellow organic writer), I raced back to my next volunteer panel. And who should be the moderator but L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Since I haven't read any of his books, I didn't have much to chat about with him, although he did say I was "angelic" later on (for whatever reason, he was talking about how some people never got caught cutting corners and some people always did; I mentioned how some people always think you're perfect no matter what you do; that's when he said I looked angelic and talked about how one author played on that idea by having a psychopath go through plastic surgery to look more angelic; do we feel story juices flowing yet, people?). By the end of the panel, I had the chance to hold an original Bob Eggleton sketch--for a few minutes before I had to pitch the Coke can he had doodled on into the recycling bin.

In the process of checking back in at the volunteer room, I got roped into playing watch dog at the game room tomorrow morning from 6 AM to 10 AM. I will be bringing a book, my writing notebook, and various research materials that need to be read. And I'm also going to be here shortly so I won't be all that grumping with the RPGers.

After peeking my head into the Charles de Lint / MaryAnn Harris concert, I helped Bob Eggleton find a restroom (I was in need of one myself). Then it was off to my room to change into PJs for a late night reading and my last volunteer gig for Ed Bryant.

I decided to call it a night after that. There was only one problem: my key wouldn't work. Another quick detour to the front desk later, I'm ready to go to sleep after Day One of the MileHiCon.

Saturday, 5:54 AM: The room came with conditioner, but not shampoo, apparently. This was discovered after I was already in the shower. I think the Sheraton hotel chain may have it out for me, which makes sense considering my experience at the Colorado Springs Sheraton last year with the barbershop regional competition. Will have to wash hair later today, instead of going to dealer room and wandering. Probably better for my wallet.

Saturday Sunday, 1:06 AM: Am surprised to find myself still functioning. Am not surprised to find myself sliding fully into incoherency. Saturday's full report must wait for sleep.

Is It November 2nd Yet?

It's really getting annoying to come home and find the answering machine blinking, get all excited that there are *gasp* FOUR messages, and then hear such tin-can pre-recorded salutations as "Hi, this is Al Gore" or "Do you care about stopping domestic violence" or "Hi, this is George Bush". I've never had so many messages on my answering machine in my life. And they all get deleted within seconds. I'm beginning to wonder if it was such a smart idea to sign up on the national No-Call list. How else are all these people getting our number? So it's not OK for telemarketers to call us during dinner, but it's perfectly legal for the government to take that list and spam our ansering machines? Election Day won't come soon enough. Especially now that a couple candidates have taken to standing at some big commuter intersections during rush hours. They don't get in the way, but my drive to work and back home is one of the few times where I can let my brain just go on automatic and ponder writing issues and other entertaining things. I do NOT like having that time interrupted by a candidate doing the standard wave and smile as I pass by, and seeing his cronies waving signs and such.

By the way, Colorado is so much a swing state, that the rest of the country can't seem to agree on whether or not we really are a swing state. One day Kerry and Bush are all about Colorado and courting our votes, and the next they're off to Ohio, each thinking our vote's in the bag. This is nuts.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


My brother is celebrating his twenty-fourth birthday in Iraq (or, rather, he celebrated it already, seeing as how it's now tomorrow over there). I sent him a cheesy Halloween card last week to let him know that his birthday package was coming. I just have to develop some film and send it off. I might hold off on that film and include that in his Christmas package, seeing as how I have to mail that by Nov 13 in order to make sure he gets it by Christmas. Better send off the Birthday gift now so he can get it by Turkey Day. Maybe. Included in the package will be some of his beloved Hot Tamales and an autographed copy of Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon, a very lovely lady I met this weekend. She signed it to him, using his rank, and indicated her own years of Corps service. Brad may not like the book (his reading tastes seem to vary frequently, when he even feels like reading), but I know he'll appreciate the sentiment. And we're also including a copy of "50 First Dates" that we found for a nice price at Costco. Turns out that Brad was able to buy one of those portable DVD players and bring it with him. That's a good Birthday package. I'll send that tomorrow on my lunch break.

As for his Christmas present, it just got a whole lot better. My company is putting together two care packages: one for Brad, and one for another employee's son. So now my mom and I need to put our heads together and come up with a good list of things that my coworkers can toss in there for him and his buddies. This makes me feel a little better after having missed his phone call last week. I do have his voice on my answering machine to replay and feel all those sisterly emotions when I need to, though. I'm going to lose it if some tech snafu gets rid of that one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I'm Alive, Kinda

OK, I survived my first Con. Barely. I made it until we were heading out of the hotel late on Sunday before the combination of lack of sleep and food overwhelmed and drove me to hysteria. No one really saw me lose it--except for Mark. He got both barrels of it. The plus side is that he had never dealt with a hysterical person before. I was all too happy to oblige. Better he figure out what it involves and how he should deal with it now than when I'm pregnant, as even I can't predict what THAT'S going to be like, but I'm thinking it's a safe bet that hysteria might creep up at some point during those nine months.

Anyhoo, I do have a report on the con, with at least one day typed up while there. The other two days are sketched out in note form somewhere on my writing desk (or maybe in my purse). I will post it, I swear. Here's my problem: in addition to the lack of sleep at the con, I was battling insomnia for the entire week leading up to it. I don't even want to think about how much sleep I didn't get last week. It wasn't pretty. So I've been recovering, and it's getting better, but I'm still not out of the woods yet. At least I started feeling like myself again yesterday. That was a plus. So keep checking in. That report (and it's a doozy) will get posted by the end of the week. I promise.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Time, Again

This week has been especially rough as my bod decided this was an excellent time to fight off the stomach flu that's been going through the office. No worshipping of the porcelain god, though, so I guess I fought it well. It just made life difficult to manage as I felt run-down and nauseous for most of the week. Thankfully it's passed. Just in time for me to go to MileHiCon this weekend. In fact, I can't take as much time blogging this morning as I had hoped because I still have to pack and then bolt out the door. So this quickie post will have to suffice until Sunday night when I hopefully have the energy to do the long "joys of lite rock" post that's been rolling around in my head for a while.

Monday, October 18, 2004


Ugh. I really don't like having a week go by and I've only posted once. It's just hard to find the time to blog at work, especially since I'm now in a fishbowl of a cube and all sorts of people can see what I'm doing on the computer. And my evening time is reserved for writing and Mark. I do need to start getting into the habit of blogging on the weekends, though. And maybe start an entry first thing in the morning at work and then work on it throughout the day in little spurts. I'll try.

It might not work, though, seeing as how Mark and I just started this little "story by sentence" email exchange. So my extra "quick non-working" time has been tied up in that - today at least. I don't know about Mark, but I'm having a blast. This is what he gets when he confesses a past inclination to write down story ideas and play with them a bit before they fizzled out. I gave him a notebook that he's to carry around with him for sudden inspiration (but he left it at home this morning, silly sleepy husband), and I also tossed him my copy of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I just finished the book yesterday. He's already realized that the required Morning Pages are going to be impossible for him to do. He may just have to make them "Evening Pages". I also gave him the NaNoWriMo link. Can you just see me cackling with evil glee at having converted my husband to my own writerly ways? :)

But I do promise to try harder with my blogging. Honest.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sky Captain and Superman

I went to see "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" on Saturday. It was a fun movie, if you ignored the fact that Sky Captain is a total jerk and his quasi-love interest is a flaming be-yatch. The faithful scientific side-kick Dex and Sky Captain's British commander ex-girlfriend Frankie were much better and interesting characters and didn't make me want to hit anybody. I don't mind flawed characters. I don't mind anit-heros. I have a problem watching a movie where I'm obviously supposed to be cheering for a guy who cheated on his girlfriend for three months--but it's OK because meanwhile (and not knowing anything about his indiscretion) she sabotaged his plane and landed him in a war camp for six months just so she could get the perfect picture for a newspaper article. And this revelation is handled in a "ha-ha, funny us, this is the best gag of the movie" way. But it was one of the few movies in which not only do I get to see the two figures in a romantic subplot deck each other (he knocked her out to get her safely away; she decks him later as payback) but I also get to cheer loudly for both punches. Still, it was a fun flick, and really cool in its presentation.

I guess Sky Captain also fell short as a loveable character because Superman was the original super hero to me and always will be. No one holds a candle to Superman except Christopher Reeve. It's very sad to have him gone, but there's a certain joy in knowing he's at peace. Godspeed, Superman.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Black Holes and Black Jewels

Last night Mark and I went to Fiske Planetarium to catch a lecture on black holes and special relativity. It was really good, although it tripped out in the end when they showed what it would be like to fall into a blackhole while listening to the Macarena on roids. The guy giving the talk did an excellent job, making it technical enough for the geeks in the audience, but simple enough that I, with my piddly understanding of physics and quantum mechanics, could follow very easily and comprehend a good deal.

I've also been reading Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood, Book One of her Black Jewels Trilogy. I really like this book. It's cut in a somewhat similar vein as the Kushiel books, which is really a eupehmism for "some darker sexual undercurrents". The book is good on many levels, but it took me a while to notice that there's not really a whole lot of "we must defeat the bad guys" action that is predominant in most fantasy. Mainly the book is a story about one girl's struggle with what she is and how those around her deal with it as well. I picked up the book based on some vague mention in a Forward Motion Think Tank. I can't even remember the comment, now. And I also bought the book knowing full well that I have a stack of 50 unread books at home. I picked up Rachel Caine's Ill Wind then too--another fabulous read.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Quick Linking

Hopefully tomorrow night I'll have time to update my sidebar with October's books and talk about what I've been reading a bit. Until then, I've got a couple links I've been meaning to post. Just found this from Joel, society's future as seen by SF writers. Also from Joel, but a long time ago, some spiffy writing links.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Last But Not Least

For my last post of the day, I just want to say:


I love you, Mark. Two down, a helluva a lot more to go. :)


Now that SpaceShipOne has won the X-Prize, they're trying to make the competition annual. This is wicked cool, but just a tad scary. I'm a science fiction writer, and I spend most of my "imagining" time in space or on other planets, but the possibility that I could actually go to space by the time I'm 50 if I've got the moolah for it is a little unnerving somehow. Space seemed more safe and exciting when it was out of my reach. I must ponder this.


I've been slowly pulling a new draft of The Masque from my fingers for just over a week now. The cool thing is that a lot of characters and plot lines are just clicking into place. The bad news is that I'm trying to write the first chapter of a book that kicks of a millenium of story in this universe (not in one book, I'm not that cruel to my readers). So the first twenty pages are so thick with information, foreshadowing, and character introductions that reading a paragraph is enough to induce a headache. I've already got some ideas for fixing this issue, but I'm still waiting for a decent amount of inspiration to strike. All right, subconscious! Sit down with Muse and figure it out!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Bad Football Weekend

It started on Saturday when my beloved Fightin' Irish went head to head with Purdue's Boilermakers and lost 41-16. Ye-ouch. Because we were out and about on Saturday, I only had to suffer this loss via the radio and on-line updates. Sunday was a different matter. Mark was ecstatic because the Bills were on TV again! But they were going up against the Patriots (or, more appropriately, the StuPats; thank you for that moniker, Jaquandor) who were looking to beat some NFL record for longest winning streak or something. Bills lost 31-17. Yowza. We bought those new M&M Amazing candy bars or whatever their called as consolation. They were yummy.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I Am an Ass

Nearly two months ago, I made the long, arduous, thirty-foot trek to my apartment complex's leasing office, which was doubling as my polling place, and registered myself as a Democrat and voted in Colorado's primary. I had two thoughts running through my mind as I did so: 1) I swore I would never do this; and 2) "But, masters, remember that I am an ass." (One of Dogberry's immortal lines from Much Ado About Nothing)

For nine years, I had sworn to never register with any party, to always remain staunchly "unaffiliated". But as my presidential favorite Howard Dean lost to the likes of John Kerry in the Democratic primaries, I realized I wanted a voice in the primaries. Not that it matters much living in Colorado since our primary was in August (and we didn't even have a section on presidential nominee on our ballot, though I had heard Kucinich was still in the running), but it felt good take on even more civic responisbility. For as much as I agree with the Democratic party and like the way they're doing things, I could've just as easily registered Republican. However, the Republican party as a whole seems to have gotten away from actual politics and moved into the nauseating realm of legislating one particular moral agenda. I can't stomach that at all. However, the only palatable thing about the Democratic party at the moment is that there's enough variety of flavors that I can pick and choose what it means to me to be a Democrat. I am not stupid enough to think that this is a good thing. It's just easier on my stomach than the alternative the Republicans offer at the moment.

I hope that one day in my lifetime I'll be able to see true political reform. I hope that one day both parties will make a committment toward actually improving this nation rather than blaming the other party for the problems we face. I hope that one day I can navigate through an election year without the bombardment of "don't listen to him; he didn't serve the military as he was supposed to!" (And isn't it sad that both our choices have this blemish?) And if registering myself Democrat and making my voice heard beyond the general elections is the way I can help bring about those dreams, then I can swallow my bile and my hatred of the way things are and participate. In fact, it wasn't nearly as I hard as I thought it was going to be. It feels like a step measured in nanometers on a journey measured in light years, but the sensation of forward motion makes it worth it.

As a related aside, I've been noticing recently that writers are often the kookiest when it comes to politics. This excludes Ann Coulter and Al Franken - those kooks who later took their kookery to writing are in a special category of "outright nutzoid" in my book. Whether conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, independent or libertarian, communist or fascist, when a writer sits down and discusses her politics, the insanity meters start going into the red. I'm by no means exempt from this. Hang around long enough and you'll get a sense of my severe absolutism when it comes to politics and the military. And it's not that writers just have it wrong or are truly nuts about politics. It's just that we're extraordinarily dramatic and passionate when it comes to ideas and dialog. It's amazing how that necessary "occupational hazard" bleeds into everything.

And, thus, Kellie's first round of Deep Thoughts on the Weekend comes to a close. Brace yourselves for a week of quick, silly linking and random, abbreviated observations and ponderings.

Friday, October 01, 2004


I managed to stomach a fair amount of the debate last night. I only left the room once (and that was for good so I could write) and I only muted the TV once. As for the number of times I tried to ignore the sound of rhetoric and question evasion, I can only guess. It was a lot. I managed to hear one or two good things from both candidates, but it didn't do much in the way of making me feel better about my choices on Election Day. I did learn one key thing last night, though: a presidential debate is only tolerable with some form of alcoholic beverage in your hand.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

A Cat, A Movie, A Writer, and Time

But maybe not in that order. I've realized that time for blogging is going to be sparse during the week. So I need to get in the habit of posting my long, thought-provoking, challenging material (OK, stop laughing) on the weekends and post the quickies during the week. So here's my first attempt.

Addy was so sweet this morning. She purred really loudly (something unusual for her) when I wrote my Morning Pages in the study this morning next to where she was perched, just as I did for most of the summer. I didn't have to touch her or even look at her, just be with her. That's reason enough for me to make sure I always do my Morning Pages there from now on. Sweet kitty.

And the best news I've heard in a while is that Mel Brooks hoping to release a sequel to "Spaceballs" the week before Star Wars Episdoe III. Very exciting. I've been trying to find some kind of link for this info, but have failed. The only confirmation Brooks made was that he had written himself into the sequel.

I got a good laugh this morning from Teresa's blog. Turns out a writer has decided to auction his manuscript on Ebay. He apparently doesn't want to go through that whole "vanity press" publishing hassle, so he's hoping some Big Name Author will find his manuscript and snatch it up for $150,000 and put their name on it (he grants that they might want to change the title) and sell it as their own for megabucks. Beyond the obvious comments, I wanted to point out that the author refuses to email his manuscript to an interested buyer for fear of that person "stealing [his] story and putting there [sic] name on it." Which I suppose I can understand not wanting someone to do this for free when he's trying to make money on it, but it just seemed odd that he says this as part of an explanation asking a big name author to do that very same thing. He also states frequently that both English teachers AND professors have read the manuscript and love it. I wonder when this man gave up on trying to go the traditional publishing route. It sounds like he hasn't even finished the thing yet, let alone gone through a round or ten of revisions (and judging from his writing explaining the auction, ten rounds would be the minimum number required, I think). Good for a laugh, and Teresa's discussion of it is good for more excellent thoughts on vanity presses.

Back I go to work.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Off to Entertain

Mark's parents are in town from Buffalo until Sunday, so I'm heading out for some fun with the in-laws and won't be posting until Monday. Have a great weekend, and tune in next week for the very long-awaited "I'm an Ass" post and a few other things that have been cooking in my noggin' for a while.

Bad Thursday, Bad

OK, so it seems that Thursday is just going to hit me hard every week unless I figure out exactly what my deal is and how to fix it. Each Thursday I've been here, I've gotten incredible creative urges, this often over-whelming desire to sit down and just WRITE! And not for an hour or two when I get home in the evening, but all friggin' day. I wonder what it is about my weekly schedule mentally, emotionally, and physically that creates this need. Because it makes Thursday a bitch of a day to get through at work. I'm cranky, I'm frustrated, and I'm prone to just stare off into space, wishing I had my laptop with me and all my writing materials to just got nuts. Which is tantamount to wishing I could spend Thursday at home writing and not even think about going into work. I wonder if they'd let me get away with that? Coming in on a Saturday or Sunday instead of a Thursday? Wait, do I want to do that?

At any rate, I've got to figure out why this happens every Thursday, because I'm not a happy camper at the moment. I'm certainly not productive. The first thing I can do is at least bring in a writing journal or three on Thursdays and give myself five minutes here and there to sketch out ideas and thoughts about my projects. That should help. I just wish I knew why it was a Thursday thing. Because it would be nice if I could convince this unbearable writing urge to move to Saturday or Sunday--a day where I could actually give in to that seemingly insatiable need to be one with paper and keyboard and muse.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You Know It's an Interesting Day When...

I got in this morning to find that the simple request of one file from someone resulted in that someone suggesting I take ALL of his files in a reply--a reply, I might add, in which he CC'd the president of the company. Way to show up on the Big Guy's radar real fast. And, of course, my manager left yesterday for vacation for the rest of the week. It's not that I don't mind taking his files, I'm just not sure I can, and it's also really weird to get back a "you want one file, you gots to take dem all" response. :) I love my job.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Bad Carma

The misspelling is intentional. This is apparently the Week of the Car. Yesterday, my manager was gone for much of the day because she somehow ran over a boxcutter and had to get a new tire and such. I remember thinking how glad I was that it wasn't me. Then I tried to drive to work this morning, and the key wouldn't go in the ignition. Something was physically blocking it. Sound like a strange problem? Well, it's actually happened before. Only I couldn't remember how Mark got the problem fixed. And he was on a bus on his way to work without a cell phone. So much for leaving at 7:30 to get to work by 8. The good news is that I got a chance to write the morning pages that I hadn't done today because I slept in a little and ate an unhurried breakfast. And since I couldn't get the car fixed until after 8, I had five minutes to swing into Target and pick up the Star Wars trilogy instead of rushing around on my way home from work and before my crit group.

Moral of the story: don't be so relieved that one man's car trouble is not your own; your car may remedy that situation.

Monday, September 20, 2004

At Least the Rally Cap Works...Sorta

Mark was pinging all weekend long because the Bills were playing the Raiders, and since the Raiders are big Bronco rivals, they'd be broadcasting the game here. And that means he can watch the game live instead of staring at a computer screen, waiting for the stats and scores to refresh. (One day we're going to have the money so he can do that NFL season pass thing with cable or an on-line radio deal, but that day is not going to come this season--or the next. Barring the sudden book deal, of course.) So we got to watch the game yesterday, and that was a mixed blessing.

Last week, Mark started watching the game by wearing the Bills cap my dad bought for me way back in 1994-ish. Then he put the cap on my head when he went to make lunch, and the Bills scored. He became convinced that the cap should be on my head during Bills games. Thus we started yesterday's game with Bills cap firmly secured on my noggin. The first quarter didn't go well, so we re-analyzed our luck-giving strategy. It was determined that I should still wear the hat but perhaps go into another room to work on my writing, and this might bring the Bills offensive glory (or, at the very least, a functioning offense). We went through two quarters that way to no avail. So Mark put the cap on sometime in the fourth quarter and dubbed it the "rally cap". And it did work so far that the Bills did indeed score a touchdown (and were a foot away from catching an onsides kick and winning the game). So the rally cap works of a fashion, and thus we've found one part of the Bills' winning strategy--from a fan perspective.

As for how the game actually went, let's just say it was a lot like watching the Irish play last year--fantabulous defense, shitty offense. Hell, I probably could've sacked Bledsoe yesterday just by blowing at the TV screen. Here's to hoping that the Bills at least don't lose the next game the way they've lost the last two--13-10. Of course, a W would be preferable, if only to make Mark smile once this early football season.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Struggle

So the first couple weeks at the job haven't exactly been grand, and I've finally figured out why. First of all, I knew coming in that I was their third choice, the first two having said no because their other jobs fought to keep them. Other than a slight ego-bruising, I didn't mind this fact too much because, hey, it was a job. And the timing of getting the job was exactly what I needed it to be to get through some issues and such. But when I started the job, I found out that one of the two temps who had been doing my job and the other guy's job had been offered my job and turned it down (she's trying to move and thought she was going to be able to do so right when they offered her the job; turned out she couldn't move then). So by then it wasn't that I was their third choice - I actually never would've been interviewed if the temp had taken the job.

Now I'm beginning to feel like I have to be perfect and prove that hiring me was a good idea. That really sucks since I had just gotten to the root of my perfectionism this summer and was starting to dismantle it and work on telling myself that I'm only human and therefore mistakes are inevitable. Add in Bitch PM's scolding yesterday (I forgot to mention that she actually gestured me back into my seat when I stood up to go correct the problem before she had finished her little lecture), and the fact that I haven't really been trained and I've gotten odd, figure-this-system-out-and-apply-it-to-a-whole-room projects, and I'm feeling the axe swinging somewhere already. I feel like a sore thumb in an otherwise healthy hand. I'm having a meeting with my manager about goals for the next year, and we've finally settled on a who's doing what and let's get everyone trained system, so things should be better in the next month, if not sooner. Still, it's making for a bumpy beginning, especially when I was just getting into a writing groove and looking forward to being unemployed for a few more months. Makes me pretty grouchy, almost as bad as Oscar in his trash can. Almost.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Yippee, Skippee

I just got patronized by a project manager! Yay. Granted, I had done something not quite wrong, just trying to stick to the way things were usually done when I could've thought a bit and realized how she wanted it done in this case. But still. After a while, she pulled me aside, all smiles and "you must be new" looks and told me what she wanted. I immediately stood up to fix the problem, and she did the whole "wait and let me finish so you understand exactly what happened" shit with that annoying smile on her face and treated me like a five-year-old who's never had to think for herself before. Grrrrr. Oh well. It's her loss if she thinks I'm that stupid. She won't get the full weight of my resorces that way. Too bad.

Beautiful Morning

On the drive into work, the sun was just low enough and covered just right with clouds that the front range was in shadow and the peaks of the Rockies were in sunshine. And the peaks were dusted with just a tinge of snow with a clear blue sky behind them. It was very pretty, but it had nothing on the desert beauty of the Catalinas at sunset. I miss Tucson.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Writing Resource

I haven't had much time to play around this site, but it looks cool for worldbuilding help, something which I think I will need as soon as I have time for that fantasy trilogy that refuses to stay put for a minute.

Monday, September 13, 2004

More Writing Progress

I figured out Friday night what was wrong with Part One of HD. The plot's driving the characters' actions instead of the other way around. And I had actions left over from the very first iteration of the novel (you know, the part that I wrote back in 2000). So I've rethought some of the action of Part One and made things a bit more energetic and understandable given the characters I set up in the first thirty pages. I still have to write all these changes, but it feels better knowing what was broken and knowing it's fixable.

As for the other projects, The Masque is now outlined through the first story arc (Act One, basically). Unfortunately the outline revealed that I still didn't have the specifics on my MC's research project and the baddies' research project. These are things I need to figure out. That's tonight's goal. I'm hoping to start writing actual new material for this book by the end of the week. Or at the beginning of next week, depending on how my HD revisions go this weekend.

Man, this is a lot to juggle. And in the back of my brain is the goals of writing the HD synopsis, getting four more queries out, submitting it to a writing contest, AND being finished with a draft of The Masque by the end of the year, no later than January 2005. Yipes! Maybe I need to rethink some of this. Especially because my intergalactic archaeologist story is refusing to go quietly into my "to be written later" room in my mind. And my fantasy trilogy, which starts out with Strings of Betrayal, is still lazily doing worldbuilding and outlining in my head. I don't think my muse has any control over these ideas any more. I can see her sitting in my head, tossing up her hands and saying, "YOU sort this out. I'm done."

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Status of Kellie's Writing

My, where to begin? Ah, yes.

< Cheesy Announcer > When last we left our Struggling Author, she had just won a great victory in finishing the [pause for dramatic effect] Human Dignity revisions! [musical riff of some sort] Now, our Daring Writer must face another harrowing battle in [pause for dramatic effect] Human Dignity revisions! [more dramatic music] But there's more! She also must juggle a new novel, several short stories and novelettes loosely related to this new novel, and a fourty-hour work week! [Dun-dun-duuuunnnnnnn] Will our Super Novelist survive? Tune in to this weekend's episode of [cue the echo-effect] Adventures in Kellie's Mind! < / Cheesy Announcer >

I finished the big, huge revisions to HD back in May (maybe even April? can't remember), and then I didn't write until July basically. When I did start writing again, I played around with a couple of short story/novelette ideas that turned out to be a millenia in the future after the events of The Masque. That came to about 120 pages of writing--all for fun, basically. Or maybe not. The Masque's universe is growing and developing and making room for sequels and prequels and a series of short stories that could actually become another novel, etc. In fact, I'm working on story as a gift to Mark for our second anniversary next month. Without intending it to, this story wormed its way into this universe quite nicely. So who knows where this could lead? The other big thing I accomplished this summer was to swing back and forth about the amount of research I needed to do before I got back into writing The Masque. Lots of seesawing. A few nights ago, I finally got sick of the waffling and just decided to start writing the draft again. I had put together a better concept of plot and characters over the summer as well, so I did a lot of background work that doesn't feel like writing but is necessary to the writing.

And, as I mentioned above, I am also trying to get back into Human Dignity revisions. Nothing nearly as extensive as what I finished a few months ago, praise Heaven. But enough to make me scratch my head and wonder just what the heck I can do to fix something that I wrote two years ago and looks it. (I'm eager to write a draft in only a few months sometime soon so I can see the novelty of a book that's written in basically all the same style and at the same level. Writing a book over--egad--four years makes for some frightening variability in the reading experience, for the Intrepid Revisor at least. I'm trying to stick a fork in this sucker so I can have even more mental energy for my other projects. HD needs to be only in the "seeking representation and/or publication" mode and that mode only by the end of the year.

But the biggest issue right now is how to be a writer and survive in a 9-5 job that, naturally, takes a big chunk of time away from my writing. And the very nature of my muse and my big breakthroughs in my identity this summer is causing problems here. For example, I'm already trying to juggle writing a draft of The Masque with finishing up HD for good AND playing around with shorter ideas in The Masque's universe. Add to that the joys of two other projects yelling to get attention and things get hairy. Also add to that the perils of breaking down a block in a particular story in the middle of a workday or workweek when I can't spend four hours writing in celebration of breaking said block, and Issues arise. It's all a work in progress, though, and I'm determined not to let months pass in which I don't write, as was the case when I worked at IBM.

And that's the deal with my writing at the moment. I think I managed to get everything in there. Feel free to comment if you want even more gorey details. :)

Scary Thought o' the Day

My brother isn't allowed to tell anyone where he will be headed in Iraq because that can lead to an "electronic trail" that the nasty terrorists can find and plan for a nasty welcoming party. On some level, it's intuitive to keep locations a secret--or it's at least intuitive to do so during a war, but we're not at war anymore, so I'm all sorts of confused. Eventually we'll be able to know where he is in Iraq, but just not until he's there. What scares me is that terrorists are either paying attention to my email, blog, and/or cell phones for juicy morsels of this nature. Or perhaps they have some kind of "google" program for finding such information in those various media. At any rate, this latest tidbit from the military does nothing to make me feel better about where my brother is going to be spending the next 6 months or so of his life. Again.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

ET or not ET?

This is probably old news by now, but the SETI folks in Arecibo keep hearing something peculiar in the night sky. Nobody's getting really excited about it just yet, as the article does an excellent job of explaining. But there were a few chunks of it that made me scratch my head.

[The SETI project] uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through signals picked up by the Arecibo telescope.

I've got this ridiculous image of the Arecibo telescope using the flying toaster screensaver to determine if ET is out there.

The fact that the signal continues to drift after this correction is "fishy", [Paul Horowitz] says. "If [the aliens] are so smart, they'll adjust their signal for their planet's motion."

This probably reveals my own ignorance about radio technology, but why would aliens just transmitting something for the benefit of their own civlization (such as, say, light rock of the Michael Bolton persuasion, or would that be something they'd procast to the detriment of their own civilization? that triggers a story idea...), would they be thinking at all about planetary motion? Do FM stations here on Earth do this? No matter the reality of radio tech, Mr. Horowitz's statement indicates that any signal we hear must be the result of ET trying to communicate with us. That seems to be a very odd assumption. Especially since our very first use of radio technology on this planet was all about communicating with folks not living on this planet, right? Sheesh.

The signal could be an artefact that, for some reason, always appears to be coming from the same point in the sky. The Arecibo telescope has a fixed dish reflector and scans the skies by changing the position of its receiver relative to the dish. When the receiver reaches a certain position, it might just be able to reflect waves from the ground onto the dish and then back to itself, making it seem as if the signal was coming from space.

The possibility that the telescope has a problem that could result in a signal from the ground looking like it came from space strikes me as something that really, really, really needs to be addressed by the SETI people before they go any further. Also, the physics that would allow such a thing are starting to give me a headache. Thus, I must sign off.

Very Busy

Hopefully I'll find a nice routine that allows me to regularly update my blog. But until I get the swing of the new schedule, I'll just have to pop in here and post quickies. This unfortunately means I'll start using the blog as a means to set up a reminder system for me to check on cool links I might stumble upon in the few random minutes I get to surf. Here's a prime example: How To Write Epic Fantasy. I promise that the Adventures of Registering Democrat is coming, as is an update on the fun-filled life of my various writing projects at the moment. Maybe I'll make those posts a Happy First Day of Fall gift to my blog and its devotees. That gives me two weeks of wiggle-room. Nice.

Friday, September 03, 2004


My manager has one of those bouncy balls as her desk chair (like a really big dodge ball with handles, only there are no handles on this one and it's got pretty neon colors swirled around it instead of that icky red stuff). I think I'll like it here.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Surviving So Far

Just a quick update. The first two days at the new job have gone well. Things are in a bit of a state of flux here, so I can't really be sure what life is going to be like at this job. Strike that, because who can be "sure"? But because of the looming changes and a big project that's finishing up, I don't have any clue as to what life will be like here. I'm not even sitting at the desk I'm supposed to be at yet. I'm in a temp cubicle with my monitor sitting on top of three reams of paper so I don't have to slouch to see what I'm doing. Although it just strikes me how far away my monitor is from me right now. I should probably fix that. All that ergonomic stuff.... More news to follow, especially a longer, fun-filled tale of how I registered Democrat a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Looking Back

Five months ago, I suffered through my last day at a job that bored me, drained me, and held me back from all the things that I had actually kept the job in order to have time to do. Five months ago, I drove away from IBM Boulder and remembered the irony in how I used to drive by the complex every day on my way to class at CU and think, "I'm glad I'll never have to work in a place like that." Five months ago, I left Corporate America and was damn glad to do so. Tomorrow I'll walk into a job that actually has potential for growth. Tomorrow I'll walk into a job armed with a writing schedule and a couple projects already rolling to defend my writing against what happened at the last job. Tomorrow I'll put the past five months of learning to the test and see how to go about working and living with the knowledge I've gained about myself and my writing. But before I do so, it seemed appropriate to reflect a bit on my unemployment.

April started out great. I was actually happy to have been laid off as I was able to get the hell away from a bad job without having a new bad job lined up and still bring in money. I was ready to write the month away. To finish up all those Human Dignity revisions that I'd been slogging through. To do all the research I wanted for The Masque so I could start writing that project again. I was energized and refreshed, walking every day, taking care of myself and ready for about a month or two of trying to find another job. Then I encountered The Peaches, and all of that energy vanished. The depression I had been flirting with ever since I decided against my original career plan descended with nasty hooked claws. And I had no job to occupy 40 hours of every week and keep me well and distracted from all the nasty issues that depression demanded I face. However, I was able to keep myself busy enough by finishing up Human Dignity by the end of April.

May and June is a bit of a blur to me. I didn't do a thing those months. I ignored my writing, I ignored my depression, and I buried myself in fun books and video games to drown out the sounds of my pain. The worst part about May and most of June was that I knew full well what I was doing. And I did it anyway. I didn't know how to go about dealing with the myriad issues that had been piling up since I sat down one November afternoon in 2001 and said, "You know, I really don't want a career in academic research." Not only did I not know how, but I got the sense that these issues went to the core of who I was, how I had adapted to this world--and who wants to sit down and get into that?

In July, after an afternoon spent weeping because I kept getting pounded by a particularly challenging boss in Final Fantasy X-2, I started to get serious about fixing me. Went to a therapist, got some good books to read, started to piece together a lot of things. I even began to write regularly again. Granted, it wasn't on The Masque, but I settled that issue by expanding the universe The Masque exists in and carrying it far into the future for a whole series of short stories/novelettes. And no matter what I was working on, I felt the joy of actually writing again. I finished two of those novelletes (or, rather, finished one and wrote all but the last scene of the other) and started developing a whole cast of characters and really got into the idea of cultural and historical development of the two nations in conflict in the series. It was great. I was starting to chip away at all the blocks I had put up to keep me from seeing what I needed to fix. It was an exciting month.

August, however, was not so thrilling. All those blocks were down and I was faced with a lot of harsh truths in my life, stretching all the way back to when I was 8. In the month of August, I had to examine me and build me up at the same time. It's not a pretty sight to realize you've been systematically excising a part of who you are for nearly twenty years. But I faced it, and faced it, and faced it, even when it kept getting harder and harder and harder. And then last week, the last of all my illusions was brutally yanked away. It's been a long time since I've cried as hard as I did last Tuesday and Wednesday. By Wednesday evening, I felt calm and relaxed, ready to start living the life I wanted to live--writing, no matter what 9-5 job I had to take to keep money coming in. Then I got a job offer Thursday morning, and I saw the pattern of the past five months. April to August was an incredible journey for me. Each step was necessary, each tear, each pain, each joy, each moment.

And to further cap off the past five months, to put that final conclusion on everything I've been through, I got 100% completion for Final Fantasy X-2 last night and was able to see the "Perfect Ending" I've been aiming for since I started the game back in May. Things do fall into place in mysterious ways.... :)