mrissa: (writing everywhere)

A lot of work stuff going on here. Some of it is in the category of “secret projects, cannot discuss.” Some of it has just departed from that category! So! I will tell you now!

1) I have signed the final paperwork and can now say that I am very pleased to have my long-form work represented by Kurestin Armada of PS Literary. If you have a fabulous book deal you have been waiting to fling at me and were not sure where to fling that offer, the answer is: Kurestin Armada, PS Literary. More seriously, I am looking forward to working with Kurestin. It really feels like the right fit for both of us.

(Kids, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like this goes only one direction. You and your agent are choosing each other, not just them choosing you.)

2) I sold “Drifting Like Leaves, Falling Like Acorns” to Analog. This is a story in the same mosaic as several previous stories, and it is the weirdest thing I have ever sold to Analog. Trevor seems to agree, calling it an “odd duck”–yep–quack!–but when they say “odd duck” in an acceptance letter, you say “thank you!” See, we can all do our part in keeping science fiction weird.

3) Strange Horizons did a reader poll for 2015, and my story It Brought Us All Together came in fourth. I’m not sure why I included the link there, since apparently enough of you liked it to vote it fourth out of all the year’s stories! Thanks, readers! Mycogeneticist origin stories are more popular than I ever knew, which is great, because I’m writing another, completely different one. And then the two mycogeneticists can get together and fight crime…er, actually just fungal plagues…but I get ahead of myself.

I do that a lot.

I want a 4) and a 5) in honor of the late great Rise/wilfulcait (for those of you who are late to this party, she was the source of “five things make a post,” breast cancer stole my friend away years and years ago now, and I still think of her whenever I do a post like that), but I don’t think I have two more bits of thematic news. Ah well. She would understand.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (tiredy)

1. I am in SF Signal’s Mind Meld this time around. It’s about the Suck Fairy and avoiding same. I think one of the things I thought of after, reading the other answers, is that you’re bringing different things when you’re at different ages. Sometimes you’re bringing your innocence or naivete. You shouldn’t feel bad about that–but you also shouldn’t feel bad about bringing greater judgment and experience later.

2. DDB is having a print sale at The Online Photographer, a very different kind of photo than the ones I usually link with Tim’s work. Check it out here.

3. I made a Sooper Sekrit Short Story Sale. It is both Sooper and Sekrit. I will let you know the details when I can, but suffice it to say: I am pleased.

4. The electric company is performing shenanigans in our vicinity. This is what I get for saying things about how I value infrastructure, isn’t it? Sigh.

5. If I have a fifth thing, this will remind me of Rise. And being reminded of Rise is a good thing, because there are still those of you out there who miss her and her “five things make a post” posts, too. Cancer: it stinks. Hearing news from another friend reminds me of the stinkingness of cancer and of how the little things that remind us with a smile of fallen friends are not to be neglected.

mrissa: (hot chocolate)
1. I have a new story up at Daily SF: The Troll (A Tale Told Collectively). Go, read, enjoy!

2. It is exactly one month from the start of Fourth Street Fantasy Convention. Conventions succeed because of the awesome people who attend them. We already have many awesome people coming to Fourth Street, but there's room for more. Wouldn't you like to join us?

3. This week my mom is coming over and painting the living room Hilltop. Hilltop, for people who do not memorize paint company databases, is green. This is the last "real" room in our house to be repainted since we moved in, and I am so pleased. (The laundry room and storage room have not been repainted; the storage room doesn't even have finished walls, so it hasn't even been painted once and isn't going to be. The laundry room is tiny and covered in old wallpaper, as well as being filled with laundry appliances, so...we can leave it in '80s flowers for the foreseeable future.)

4. Apparently every three years we do a May painting project and I miss [ profile] wilfulcait. Cancer: do not approve, am not resigned. Just for the record.

5. Yesterday I worked on my new book, and I ran errands, and I did lo these many things. But my major accomplishment for yesterday was using up a packet of tisane. We have too many things in the hot beverage section of Narnia (a.k.a. the pantry). Clearing out the things with appropriate use is great virtue.
mrissa: (question)
1. What is an interesting object you have out on display in your house somewhere? Why is it interesting, and where did it come from?

On the mantelpiece in the library, we have: three star-shaped crystal candleholders that were in my grandparents' house from before I was born and that only came here when Grandpa died and Grandma moved up here; a vase [ profile] ladysea made for us; a three-vase dealie that looks like a Miyazaki thinger (purchased at the Eagan Art Fair); a blown-glass ship in a blown-glass bottle, imported from Hungary; a rosmaled box made by my grandmother who died before I was born; and a chunk of salt (I forget what kind of salt) that lights up interestingly, purchased by [ profile] markgritter's father.

We are full of cool stuff. I promise.

2. Why is five the canonical number for LJ? Five questions, five things make a post, five times such-and-such a character did X.

I don't know about the other ones. But five things make a post was my friend [ profile] wilfulcait's originally. This is why all my "five things make a post" post are tagged "missing rise," because I do miss Rise every time I do a post like that. We lost her far too young (breast cancer that metastasized), and I am still wistful about the absence of this true and good friend whose face I never saw in person.

Sorry, bet you didn't see that one coming.

3. What is the most recent bit of art you've traveled somewhere (a museum, a theater, a freeway overpass) to see? What is the most recent bit of art you've stumbled upon accidentally? Which approach do you generally prefer?

Well, [ profile] markgritter and I went to the surrealists exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery more recently than to the Inuit Prints exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology. I always think I like surrealists better than I do because I like Rene Magritte enough for all the rest of them. People: painting an eyeball on things does not make them surreal. It makes them eyebally. We are all done with the eyeballs now. You can do something else. (Hint: not the old-fashioned diving suit.)

As for the stumbling, I don't know--do people's homes count? Or foodstuffs? Usually foodstuffs are sought out, but knowing that they're art in advance is not always possible...anyway, I enjoy the things I look for but also things unsought. I wouldn't want to pick just one.

4. Do you any particularly cute/funny/dramatic Ista stories?

Oh yes. Ista is me in a dogsuit. She is frequently quite opinionated, and this translates well into monkey tales. Just today I have generated an interpretive dance of what Ista is like when she doesn't want me to disturb her by printing out my book.

(I do more interpretive dances than people expect, I think.)

And I'm going to steal one you asked me, because it was interesting: 5. What part of your life would be hardest to explain to your 20-year-old self? your 10-year-old self?

I think my 10-year-old self would be more surprised at the inability to do all things simultaneously backwards in high heels, so "here is why you are not a physicist" would take more doing. "Why there is essentially no math in your life at the moment" would take a lot of doing. My 20-year-old self had actually overcorrected in a number of ways there, so it would be very nearly the opposite explanation from the one my 10-year-old self would need. Which somehow seems to imply that my 33-year-old self has found a lovely balance. I chuckle quietly at the thought.
mrissa: (hippo!)
1. So [ profile] alecaustin and I were IMing about our own tendencies in worldbuilding, and his tendencies towards cathedrals with grotesques and gargoyles. And I started to say, "Everyone likes cathedrals!" when I realized that I had neglected several prime cathedral-building opportunities in my worldbuilding in favor of cultures/groups with a flatter, more utilitarian, or generally less opulent architectural approach. And what popped into my head is, "My stuff is more Frank Lloyd Frazetta." I am mulling both the serious and the silly bit of that.

2. My godson is 9. He picked out a birthday card for me that his mother was sure I would find Just Awful. It is a hangman puzzle that lists H _ _ _ Y B _ _ T _ _ _ _, and then on the inside the answer proves to be HAIRY BUTTOCKS. I am aware that I have a 9-year-old godson, so I was not the least bit horrified at this. We are, however, looking for amusing alternatives. [ profile] timprov proposes HELPY BINTURONG. Other suggestions welcome.

3. We have further evidence that I am not being obvious when I think I'm being obvious. Hands who's surprised.

4. Our lettuce may go to seed and not be producing edible crop at any time when our tomatoes and cucumbers are producing edible crop. While not the end of the world, this would annoy [ profile] markgritter. Still, being able to make lettuce wraps and top other people's hamburgers with our own garden produce is very nice indeed, and the eggplant is flowering promisingly, and the tomatoes have set fruit.

5. My birthday is Tuesday! This is sort of implied by #2, I know, but I haven't been going on about its approach. There is edamame hummus, though, and there is a bit of strawberry cake still, and the hearth is full of presents and cards, and I am so very very fond of birthdays. This year the scones will be whole wheat raspberry. I will report back in if they're awesome.
mrissa: (thinking)
1. I have seen the Table of Contents announced, so I feel comfortable that I'm not stepping on anything if I say that my good short story news squeaking at the very end of last year was selling "Tusk and Skin" to Ekaterina Sedia for her Bewere the Night anthology. The spelling on that is correct: it's a shapeshifter-themed anthology. Very very pleased.

2. Many of you have probably seen this from other friends of [ profile] elisem, but just in case: signs of a stroke. Learn them, know them, cherish them in your heart. If [ profile] tnh hadn't known them and acted quickly, we don't like to think what. Instead we get our [ profile] elisem some more. So: make sure you know how this stuff goes, just in case.

3. I have been in tidying mode around the kitchen. This does not mean putting things away in the cupboard or Narnia or the recycling bin as one might expect. It means that when in doubt as to what to eat--and I am often in doubt as to what to eat these days--I am Using Things Up. I am a holy terror at Using Things Up, which is good, because the tea/tisane section of Narnia is rather overflowing after Christmas. So I got major points yesterday for using up an entire kind of tisane, even though it's a good kind and I should probably get more next time I go to Tea Source. But! The Tea Source run is not imminent, and in the meantime I have so-virtuously cleared out space.

Why, this makes me want to have a cup of tisane right now. Just to continue with the virtue of tidiness.

(Yes, my shorthand for our pantry is Narnia. If you'd seen how it opens up in layers, you might well believe there was a magical land behind the cereal also.)

4. [ profile] timprov was not up for an hour and a half of subtitled French, so we didn't watch the movie we've got on our pile for "family movie night" next time (Micmacs, for the curious, but I can't tell you anything about it). Instead [ profile] markgritter and I watched the beginning of the butchery they made of The Dark Is Rising to see if it was as bad as we feared. Friends, it was worse. They were clearly trying to make it more "action-y" and "relatable," but half the changes were counterproductive for the other half's goals, and it just ended up a wandery mess with no bearing on the original. It was the sort of thing that made me wonder why they even bothered using the name and paying Susan Cooper, because there was that little relationship between the book and the movie--they could have just made an action fantasy about an American (!!??!!) boy in England and not tried to pretend it was The Dark Is Rising.

There was an ad for the movie of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader before it. "If you like butchering children's fantasy classics, you might try...."

5. Relevant to #1: I am terrible at writing author bios. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I have my standard one, but I get tired of it, and then the process invokes my inner sullen teenager: "I dunno. Nothin'." Which is ungracious and unpleasant. I also tend to roll my eyes at the people who give into their impulses and have bios like, "Ever since she was horribly scarred, Marissa Lingen has been living under the Paris Opera House and coaching promising young singers in secret, hoping that one of them might love her." Nor, in fact, was I born in the wagon of a travelin' show. And, "Marissa Lingen wishes she was writing any other novel than the one she's writing," probably won't be true by the time the book comes out. It is a conundrum.
mrissa: (Default)
It's autumn here in Baja Canada, which you can tell because I'm wearing socks again, the tomatillos are going berserk, and my tisane consumption has gone from appallingly high to truly unbalanced. That latter, of course, may be due to the fact that the first chest cold of the season has arrived right on schedule, so I am occasionally alternating in what Midori's Floating World labels a honey-ginger latte, despite the fact that it contains no coffee whatever, which I thought was a requirement for a latte. It's just hot milk with honey and ginger. Really intense, but good on the throat. [ profile] timprov figured out how to make them at home. He, too, is trying to rid himself of bits of lung. ([ profile] markgritter too, but he is doing it in California at the moment, and also he refuses the goodness that is honey-ginger latte. [ profile] timprov refuses the goodness that is tea. Only I know what's good, apparently.)

Yesterday's city, the capital of Britain's dearest ally in 1955? Oslo, Norway. Surprising Brits and Norsk alike, I expect. Well done, [ profile] mastadge, although guessing all across Scandinavia at once does seem a bit...anyway, well done.

We have candidates for the dress for my godfather's wedding. We also have yet another reject. You know what I hate about those shows where they make people over, other than everything so I don't watch them? They are apparently constantly telling people to try things on in styles they don't usually wear. I do this. You know what happens? They don't fit. You know why I don't wear those styles? They don't fit! (Or else they look terrible on me.) Who are these people, who have styles that fit them perfectly well and are perfectly flattering, and they go around not-wearing them on a whim? Oh, tra la, I think I shall just not-wear perfectly good clothes that will look lovely on me, because there are just far too many perfectly good clothes looking lovely on me in this world, tra la! Also, they are far too readily available at reasonable prices, manufactured by people who are treated humanely and with reasonable environmental practices, tra la! Shut up, those people!

(Tried on a sheath dress in a perfectly beautiful shade of blue, which my mom purchased and brought over and will now have to return to the store with sad and dragging feet. It had a wide belt that would have accentuated my not-wide waist. Guess what? Did not fit. Surprise! Yet another Neal Stephenson dress. What, ask the newcomers, is a Neal Stephenson dress? It is a garment in which I could fit the complete works of Neal Stephenson in the waist of the thing with me. Gigantic cul-de-sacs of fabric, people. Why do I not wear sheath dresses in non-stretchy fabric? Because I am not shaped like a sword aaaaaaaagh the end.)
mrissa: (Default)
1. The lj community at [ profile] 4th_st_fantasy reminds me that the membership rate goes up for 4th St. as of June 1. Which is not that far away now. It will be lovely, and I'm looking forward to it greatly, and some of you should definitely come.

2. My mother and I wrestled [ profile] cadithial's mega-ultra-super-ladder into place in our stairwell yesterday. Laurel and Hardy, people. Laurel and Hardy. They did not plan those things to be maneuvered by two women of 5'6", one of them with vertigo, but we are mighty and fierce, and also able to hold up long ladders while maneuvering so that one of us always had a steady point to hang onto and laughing hysterically at ourselves. And now the stairwell is painted and [ profile] timprov's Hidden Falls picture is hung in it, and I am pleased.

3. Next time there is a charity auction, do you think "the Carter Hall story of your title or mythological-figure choice, or choose from some ideas I haven't written yet if you don't have a particular idea" would be a thing? Or not so much a thing?

4. It is not the best thing in the world to be eager to see one's neurologist, but on the other hand it is not the worst either. Better, I feel, than being required to do so and yet dreading it personally because the neurologist in question is such a dolt. This is the Very Best Neurologist, Adult Practice Category. (I only know the VBN, Pediatric Category socially, not professionally, and I have hopes of it staying that way.)

5. Why is it that the buttons come off things more when I am trying to finish a book, supervise house projects, do what I can to keep [ profile] markgritter's plants alive while he is gone, get ready for multiple birthdays and company, and generally mop the moose and feed the bear? Buttons! Silly buttons! Stay put, buttons!
mrissa: (intense)
1. [ profile] markgritter's work is going to be in crunch time for the rest of the spring and summer. This affects him more than it affects me, of course, but it does affect me (and [ profile] timprov). What with one thing and another, we are about half a beat behind here. Sometimes a beat and a half. In addition to [ profile] markgritter's work, we are looking forward to bits of out of town company this summer. (Memorial Day is the start of summer, right?) So if I fall behind corresponding with you, likely it's not you, and if I don't contact you to get together when I otherwise might have, it's probably why. (This is not to say I will be busy if you contact me to get together. Sometimes mental energy doesn't work that way.)

2. I am very close to the zeroth draft of The True Tale of Carter Hall. I am not getting the "run ahead of the rock as it rolls downhill" sensation I've gotten with drafting other books. This is much calmer. Things are falling into place when I look at them. Recurrent motif here, character reflected there. I am noticing how to write this so that even the very few scenes that are much like the original ballad feel mine. This is crucial. I have also gained sort of a tunnel-vision on this: there will not be more short stories until this book is done. There will not be other book bits until this book has its bits. I can feel some of them clamoring in my head, but they will have to wait.

3. I am coming up on a whole bunch more tests and possible stuff related to the stupid vertigo. When I have more I want to tell you about that, I will, but in the meantime it is a more active/unsettled part of my mental processes than it has been in awhile.

4. As a result of all this, I am reading things out of the corner of my eye and mistaking my own very tidy handwriting. The household to-do list includes "restain deck?". I glanced out of the corner of my eye and read, "retrain duck," and instead of thinking, "Oh, that's silly," thought, "Oh, crud, all this and I have to retrain the duck, too?" I do not need to make more work for myself. The duck can go without retraining.

5. It is May, and we are preparing to do a painting project, and I am reminded of May three years ago. Mom was painting [ profile] markgritter's office and the library and the music room, and I found out that [ profile] wilfulcait had died. Now it's May again, and Mom will (kindly and generously!) be painting [ profile] markgritter's and my room, the guest room, and the hallways, and in the way this universe works, [ profile] wilfulcait is still gone. And I still miss my friend three years on. Not just when I do a five-things post, but in flashes and bits, things she would have wanted to read, things she would have commented on. So it was time for five things, because it's May, and we're painting, and I miss Rise.
mrissa: (Default)
1. I don't have my singing voice back, but I have most of my speaking voice mostly back. So that's a good thing. I have this stupid cold on the run enough that I can, y'know, do stuff. I like stuff and the doing of it. I'm crazy that way.

2. In other news, the electricity is back to all parts of the house, and the mistakes of the last electrician have apparently been rectified, hurrah. This basement-finishing job: it looks to me as though the bits we will see take far less time than the bits we won't see. I hope I'm not wrong on that, or we will be another twelve million years in getting the drywall up.

3. It's been snowing here since before I woke up. A few hours ago, the plow and the mail delivery came through at the same time, attempting to pass each other multiple times within our small cul-de-sac. They looked like a mechanized Three Stooges routine. I do not mean this as a compliment. Our driveway guy has not been here yet. That is such a hopeful "yet," sitting right there. I don't really know how to articulate how I want him to do his job differently. Perhaps he'll come along and clear just around the time the snow is stopping, and I won't want him to do his job differently at all this time. One can hope.

4. When I went to let the dog out, she looked out in the snow, and then she looked up at me like, "Okay, monkey, there's a difference between funny once and funny all the time."

5. We are now owners of a startling share of the world's supply of chocolate, hot (or, more to the point, potentially hot) and otherwise. Eeeeexcellent. Now with only four hundred and six more steps, my plan for word domination will be complete.

Oh, there's supposed to be an l in that? Hmm. This may require substantial alterations to the said plans.
mrissa: (scold with Lilly)
1. The tea rule: when [ profile] markgritter is out of town, you must remember to make your own afternoon tea. This is a good rule.

2. The miso rule: in months when you would by default wear socks, you must have something warm with at least one and preferably two meals a day. This, too, is a good rule.

3. The salad rule: no more than one meal a day can be solely composed of cold raw vegetables, or you will wake up in the middle of the night cold and hungry. (Clarification: adding cold nuts to the cold raw vegetables is only enough for ONE meal a day. NOT TWO.) This is a very, very good rule. See how much better tonight is for these rules than yesterday was without them? Yah. Good. Remember that.

4. You can doubt yourself when you're away from the computer. Doubt yourself in the shower, doubt yourself propped up next to the stove, doubt yourself riding in the car, whatever you need to do. Not required but permitted from time to time. But at the computer you write.

5. It turns out that being funny in a book does not make it easier, as a writer, to deal with the incredibly emotionally difficult plot points you have written into it, YOU BLITHERING MORON. But it turns out not to be physically possible just yet to go back in time and shake yourself by the shoulders for plotting it that way before you knew how this year would be. And it will be better this way. It really will. But--gee, huh, why might you be avoiding writing that chapter, self? What an incomprehensible behavior! Wholly inexplicable by any means except LOGIC AND DEDUCTIVE REASONING.

Sheesh, some monkeys.
mrissa: (Default)
1. I can't figure out whether I was supposed to clip this comic for Mom or whether Mom was supposed to clip it for Grandma.

2. We have a bathroom in the basement! There's one tiny fixture thing to be handled so it's just the way we want it--and, of course, cabinet drawers lined and pictures hung and all that--but hurrah for the new bathroom! We're talking to the same contractor about the rest of the basement work; we'll see whether that's the way we go with it. But it's really satisfying to have a pretty blue bathroom down there. I may be making people troop down to see it when they're at my house for quite some time now.

3. It is also really satisfying to be able to go about my morning routine with less expectation of a parade of contractors through my house. They are very good contractors, very considerate and polite and competent and punctual and all the things one would want of contractors. But they are still Not My People and they have been in My House, and it's nice to have a break from that.

4. The oaks in the backyard seem to have heard that we're nearing the end of our yard waste collection service for the year: the leaves are all falling today. Just boom, we're done hanging onto the tree now, buhbye. [ profile] markgritter will have such a lovely surprise waiting for him when he gets home. If yard work can ever by its existence be truly surprising. But I honestly thought it was raining, and no, it was just the large number of leaves and twigs falling that made that noise.

5. I am filled with extremely good, general, unsolicited advice that nobody particularly wants to hear, and that people will misread as directed at them, unless it is directed at them, in which case they will misread it as directed at other people. It is not just one piece of good advice. I've got lots of 'em. So if you're feeling in need of advice, I guess today's the day to ask it of me. Otherwise I am mindfully practicing butting out. Mindful out-butting is a neglected spiritual practice these days, I feel. (Note: this should not be construed as advice that you should or should not butt out. Some of you can quite usefully butt in from time to time, and more power to your butting.)
mrissa: (intense)
1. I have been tagging lj entries a little at a time, in between typing revisions and writing new stuff and, y'know, the rest of my life. I find it a little daunting but gave myself full permission to be obscure when I need to. Which was a relief.

2. I have a theory now. I begin to think that many of the most useful conversations among working writers come when you can say, "How do you do such-and-such?" and you have a set of working writers who are clear that this question is not the same as, "How does one do such-and-such?" And then they can say, "Oh, I always X," or, "Usually I Y but this one time I Z and that was okay too." And then someone else says, "Really, Z? That almost never works for me, but what I like to think of is Q."

3. The revisions I am typing: they are pretty okay, I think. I am currently convinced that writing a book is like making lace: it's a whole thing when you're done, but you're almost certainly going to have a million holes in it, and you can only hope they're pretty. And work for them to be pretty. And not just pretty but in such a pattern that the reader can say, "Oh, of course, it's a shawl!" or, "How lovely, some gloves!" rather than, "It''s definitely...I like how you used a lot of thread here."

4. I have just finished watching S1 of Bones and boy howdy is that a Mary Sue. Fun Mary Sue. But uff da, the bit with her parents. Also, I am pretty damned sick of shows putting their thumb on the scales regarding their rationalist atheist characters to either force the rationalist atheist to admit that there are More Things In Heaven And Wherever or else show them as irrational for not doing so. Booth was raised Catholic, and the show does not demand that he detail how Catholicism, as a worldview, is not comprehensively successful in addressing his life situations, even though it almost certainly does have spots of being suboptimal. Nor do I want it to--I just don't want it to focus that way on Bones, either. It is okay to have characters with differing worldviews and not go out of your way, as a show, to undermine any of them, particularly if they're all fairly amiable and willing to accept new data.

5. Bones has given us a Geeky Little Brother character again. Are there no Geeky Little Sisters? Really? Or is it just that that social dynamic isn't particularly stable with our social mores? (That is, a younger adult geek woman is still likely to be parsed as potentially romantically interesting.) I would kind of like to see the Geeky Little Sister. Also, I suspect part of why we have a Geeky Little Brother is that Bones is a large enough presence that just adding Angela in makes it feel to the writers as though they have A Whole Mess Of Womens already. I may be wrong about this; we'll see. But it sort of makes me want to Take Action. And then I remember that this thing I'm revising features an older woman mentoring a younger woman as a pretty substantial character relationship. So okay then. Action Begun, at least.
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
1. Before I wandered off to the con, I read a link from somebody else's journal to this Powell's blog entry called "No One In Romance Novels Is Ever Fat." It reminded me of something that worries me when I run into it: every once in awhile I hear writer friends who are more visual than I am talking about casting their current story or book projects with Hollywood actors.

And I think, don't we hand over enough of our visual imagination to Hollywood already, without handing them a piece of control over what is not a visual medium, or at least not in the same way? Of course one obvious (or at least obvious in my social circles) concern is a dearth of actors from ethnic minorities. It's bad enough that there aren't more Asian characters on Eureka. But prose writers can't let that lack keep going into their stories, where you can't have more than a token Asian character because you can only name two Asian actors who could play them. It's not just obvious ethnic minorities, either. I was pleased by Season 2 of The Wire but also completely knocked over, because they got so many of the different visual types of Polish-American you run into if you live in a heavily Polish-American area. Not just the Sobotka family members (all of them, oh perfect casting), but also Horseface and Maui and random guys in the background on the docks and at the bars: none of them looked alike. They all looked right. And Horse, in particular, is a guy I saw four or five of just at my mom's cousin's family events when I was a kid (the said cousin married a Polish-American fella)--none of the faces exactly alike, all interesting--and never, ever see on TV or in movies.

And no, you don't want every character to look like Horseface Pakusa from The Wire. Obviously. But there is a certain sameness, a certain smoothing out of variation, among Hollywood actors, and I don't see why we should settle for that in our inspiration to prose. If you're one of those writers who wants visual cues for character description, please please consider looking at photo websites like The Big Picture, where even their recent dance entry has professionals and non-professionals in a dozen styles of dance from all over the world. The focus of these photos is to be interesting rather than to conform to a particular look of person. In other entries are people dealing with war, natural disaster, and political strife--interesting faces in interesting times. Which is what we want in fiction, isn't it?

2. I had a really good weekend at Fourth Street. I have notes in my journal and notes on PostIts and other stuff just floating around my head, and my library list and my Amazon list each grew by several items. I have come to consider, as a philosophical position, that it's a good thing about a con when I don't get to talk to everybody I want to talk to, or when I don't get to talk as much to everybody I do talk to as I'd liked; but in practical usage this does not actually translate to, "Oh, I'm so glad I didn't get more time talking to that particular friend or cordial acquaintance or new person." Funny thing, that. There'll be a few more opportunities this week, but still.

3. You know what I want to talk about on panels next year? Lots of stuff, in fact, but particularly Work In Fantasy, books that handle work particularly well, not just, "look, our main character is a writer/artist/musician/vaguely creative type, again, and it does not appear to be any kind of work for them." And sort of conversely, I'd like to do a Fun Bits of Writing or a Writing as Play or Recovering the Fun Parts panel sometime. And also maybe Geezers In Fantasy, because old people who are actual characters rather than types are striking me as frustratingly rare. And stuff.

4. I think the weather is trying to convince [ profile] sheyrena and [ profile] papersky that they should be pleased to leave Minneapolis. Sigh. This is not June in the Twin Cities! June in the Twin Cities is nice, and by nice I do not mean 80 F by 9:00 a.m. and rising! This is more like August, and nobody wants extra August! (Note: if you want extra August, please apply in the comments section to take mine. Thank you.)

5. I am at that stage of having too much to do where I'm sort of flailing out randomly and doing things that need doing when I smack into them. This is not perhaps optimal, but it also might be inevitable to the level of tired my brain is and the length of my to-do list.
mrissa: (dad)


1. Fourth Street is next weekend! Our Fourth Street-related social obligations start midweek. I think it's going to be a good year for it. I'm pretty excited.

2. It's my dad's birthday, and my grandma and my aunt and uncle are in town to celebrate it with us. Last night: pizza and buster bar dessert. Tonight: cake and presents and I don't know what, we're waiting for Dad to say. Usually he says good stuff. So.

3. 1 + 2 + [ profile] markgritter's business trip being extended at the last minute + various minor tasks arising = not a great deal of down time for me. I'm going to be in need of some serious reading time on the couch with the poodle late in the month. If I'm a little scarcer than usual on lj/e-mail for the next week or so, don't worry.

4. Also do not worry if I am not scarcer than usual. Ideally you will refrain from Mris-related worry in all circumstances. My grandpa always said ninety percent of the things you worry about never come to pass, but he never took it well when my mom and I tried to argue that that meant we should worry about bad things that were more than 10% likely, in order to improve the odds.

5. Marian Hossa, one would have hoped, should have learned his lesson. In any case, the article claiming that he took less in the way of salary because he's an altruist is On The Drugs. Quick background for those of you who don't follow hockey: Marion Hossa left the Penguins after they lost in the Stanley Cup final last year, accepting a lower salary and a contract for fewer years from the Red Wings because--and this is what he said--he wanted a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup. The Penguins went on to beat the Red Wings this year without Mr. "I want to tag along with other guys I think can win the Cup for me" Hossa. Was this altruistic? Well, put it this way: if he'd said, "I am willing to pay x million dollars for what I consider a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup," would anyone have said, "What a humanitarian"? That's effectively what he did. He didn't take a lower salary with Detroit so that newer guys could have higher salaries, or so that the tickets to the Detroit games would be cheaper, or so they could make some improvements to the arena, or to buy poor kids hockey equipment, or to help with the flagging Detroit economy. He didn't do it because he thought he could grow as a player in Detroit, or because he thought his personality would fit better with that organization. And he certainly didn't do it to give the Poor Little Red Wings a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup they totally couldn't have gotten without him: they've won four of the last fifteen years. So I have no idea where this ridiculous idea that he's an altruist is coming in, because it is Just Plain Dumb. Also, the boy should have read more Grail myths, and maybe he wouldn't have gotten himself into this predicament.

The extraordinary thing about that article I linked is that he seems to be claiming either that the Penguins couldn't have won it with him or the Red Wings couldn't have lost it without him. Which, y'know, may be true. So far the data says that the team with Marian Hossa loses. But I'm a bit surprised that he's the one proposing this theory.
mrissa: (grandpa)
Grandpa has now been in the hospital for three weeks. He continues to improve, but: three weeks. With no certainty that he'll be out again this coming week. Without intruding too much on his privacy, this gives you a general idea of how much room for improvement there was at the worst point. (It has been really hard, frankly, to find the line between "indicating how serious this all has been" and "trumpeting personal details over the internet against the will of the person whose personal details they are." I don't think Grandpa has a carefully formulated policy on discussing his health on the internet, but I know he doesn't mind my friends knowing he's been in the hospital and is getting better again, albeit slowly, so that's where I draw the line, mostly.) I realized how inadequate some of this communication had been when I startled a close friend with the current assessment of Grandpa's health yesterday--it was a hopeful assessment, and it sounded good to me in context, but my friend didn't have the context and was really hoping for something more like "he is not turning cartwheels down the hall yet but we expect that by Tuesday" for all the improvement I've been saying (and meaning!) that Grandpa has had.

Springing ahead did me no good whatsoever this year. Usually it enables me to sleep into the joyful decadence that is the seven o'clock hour. This year, no: up at 6:30 just as if we hadn't turned the clocks back. Sigh. At least there was a pecan roll for breakfast to console me. And more to come: there's an entire pan of them from Wheatfield's, an entire pan of cinnamon rolls, and a vat of frosting for the cinnamon rolls. I saw this vat and thought perhaps Kathy and Bill and Mom had picked up soup for us for dinner from Wheatfield's, and I wondered what soup they had there that was good, since I never get the soup. But no: frosting. Uff da, the frosting.

This was merely one example from yesterday of How I Have Monkeys and Why It Is Sometimes Very Good To Have Monkeys.

I have the Solar Flare song in my head. The "hallo birds sky molesworth I am dying of radiation poisoning" song. Well, the molesworth is my paraphrase rather than the actual song. I don't want to disappoint anybody over molesworth space travel songs that don't exist.
mrissa: (hippo!)
1. Cold dead fish. Well, shellfish, in my case today.

2. Fleur de sel caramels in dark chocolate.

3. One per knee for me! And for the other family members, too, of course.

4. Short to-do list without many annoying items on it.

5. Finding a book just as good the second time reading it after a several-year gap.

Your turn.
mrissa: (hippo!)
1. Did someone else from Minnesota say that it's cold here tonight? Because it is. In case you didn't hear. Cold. Yah.

2. It's always more amusing than helpful when a nonfiction author, trying to be helpful, tells the reader that a word is pronounced like "____" or "_____," which are not, to my way of thinking, pronounced the same way. Latest example: "deuce" and "moose." That is not the same vowel. I know a lot of Americans would say "doose, moose, it's the same." The deuce it is. It's a subtle difference. This is not the same as no difference. Which is why people who try to "sound Canadian/Minnesotan/Northern" by saying "aboot, hahaha," are grating and wrong. There is another option than "bow" and "boo" for that noise, people.

3. Now I feel very sorry for Doc Tichy bellowing, "Marry merry Mary!" at someone in high school debate class and having her obediently repeat, "Mary Mary Mary," back at him for quite a stretch of time. (Note: "someone" was not, in this case, code for "me." I don't actually remember which of the possible suspects it was.)

4. Over lunch:
[ profile] mrissa: " I told him that in his lj, because apparently this is what passes for a compliment in my mind."*
[ profile] timprov: "There are some sentences only you have. No one else has that sentence."
[ profile] mrissa: "It's a perfectly good sentence!"
[ profile] timprov: "I'm not complaining."

5. Despite having a headache I can't quite shake for the second night in a row, I am having an awfully good time writing The True Tale of Carter Hall tonight. This makes me suspicious. Specifically I am suspicious whenever I think I have been funny, because there are few things more awful than having to slog through a passage the author clearly found hilarious when that author was wrong. I know for a fact that some people are not going to find this book funny, which doesn't bother me, because nothing is appealing to everybody. But if it's otherwise the right audience and I've missed on the funny, then we have a problem. On the other hand, if I definitely didn't think it was funny, that's not a very good sign for the reader thinking so, either.

Deadpan is not a full solution to this problem. Which you wouldn't know from the amount I use it. But that's not really a fully conscious choice so much as a genetic imperative. Maybe it's an environmental imperative. Either way, we know the result.

Does anybody else remember some of the Mary Poppins scenes--real Mary Poppins, not Disney--where they are waltzing with all the animals or the stars or whatever? Writing this chapter feels like that. Only without the bit where the children can wake up in their beds and have to figure out some kind of proof that it really did happen. And a lot more risk of death. And funnier. Um.

*Sorry, [ profile] snurri. It really did sound more complimentary in my head.
mrissa: (hippo!)
1. I called Otto today. I came prepared: I know that my name is spelled with two letters that are pronounced "esh as in Shamuel." I got Otto himself this time, and when I got to spelling my address, I said "O as in--" and Otto interrupted me: "O as in MEEEEEEE!" Oh, The Day I Call Otto's is one of my favorite late fall holidays.

Also we are to visit Otto next time we are in Los Angeles. He will fix us up with many fine things without having to spell, and there will not be snow. No snow at all! Not like Minnesota! At least that's what I'm told. And ten pounds of csabai sausage are winging their way towards us, since there were merely one hundred fifty orders ahead of mine this time. Again. (Two years ago there were one hundred seventy, so this is progress.)

2. I have a Facebook account. I am not spending a great deal of time on it, so while some of your charitable causes are surely just and some of your friendly gestures are surely friendly, I will probably not be hanging out any banners or planting any virtual gardens over there. That sounds suspiciously like a project. But I will probably friend you or list you as a contact or whatever if you want, as long as I'm clear on how we know each other or who we know in common.

3. Am trying not to obsess about tomorrow's clinic PT. You see how successful this is.

4. Ista thinks that it was extremely considerate of [ profile] porphyrin and co. to bring home her new bestestest friend EVAR, Morgan. We weren't sure how she would react to having another dog in her house with her monkeys. I suppose we can't swear that it'd be universally okay, but this other dog was a huge hit. (Morgan really is a very fine girl.)

5. Note to Heroes writers: film badges are not the same as Geiger counters. They do not change back when things have gone back to okay levels of radiation. This is useful. Measuring cumulative levels of radiation matters. Yarrrrg. Honestly.
mrissa: (Default)
1. If you are writing a web interface, do not specify a font color but not a background color or vice versa. This is what we know as sloppy and bad.

2. Clothes shopping online to replace things that have worn out. What did we say about pencil skirts for at least the last six seasons? Together now, in a weary drone: [ profile] mrissa is not shaped like a pencil. Puff sleeves: do I look like Anne of Green Gables to you? (If yes, check again: red hair? No. Freckles? Only very pale pathetic ones. Best friend who would put a cake ad in my fiction? Not hardly. Earnest assumption of all humanity's goodness? Guess again, bucko.) It's a faux-denim faux-A-line skirt? Great! Then I'm faux buying it! And if you could pick out of all the possible women models in the world, and you couldn't make your shorts look any better than that, why are you selling them? Pick out the stitching, cut up the fabric for a quilt or a pillow or something and hide your shame. Some people would feel better that the shorts they tried on earlier in the season looked on them just about exactly as they did on the model. Me, I feel sorry for the model, because I took the things off and departed the scene as swiftly as the vertigo would allow, rather than standing around letting somebody get photographic evidence that I'd ever worn the wretched things. And the ones I tried on were brown; the model's are in periwinkle pinstripes! There are very few occasions that call for periwinkle pinstriped shorts, in my experience. Perhaps I'm missing out and you're all having parties for which they would be just the thing and not inviting me. Good. Carry on with not inviting me. Periwinkle pinstripes. It's self-mocking!

3. How being a little-known SF and fantasy short story writer is better than being a candidate for PotUSA/VPotUSA (selections from long, long list): the people you deal with like to teach you things, and some of them even like to learn. If someone tries to appoint you to a committee, you don't have to pretend to like it. You can do whatever you want with your hair and it does not affect the success of your career: shaved off? Longer than your butt? Dyed blue? Looped up in dozens of little loops with sparkly butterfly clips? Nobody. Cares. Also if a member of your family gets pregnant, the only people who have opinions on this event are people who have known her name for more than a week. Also if you try to get something stupid published, nobody cares as long as you don't succeed. And when there are good sushi restaurants in the cities where we have our conventions, we eat there.

4. Post-travel vertigo: the less said, the better. But oof.

5. I can tell I'm ready to start really serious writing on The True Tale of Carter Hall, because interesting tidbits about four other novels have popped into my head. I wrote them down and closed the files. Focus is our friend. Our elusive, popular friend who is never around when we want to catch up over a cup of coffee.

6. The vertigo is still making reading nonfiction less fun than it ought to be, but at the moment I feel compelled to be stubborn. We'll see how that goes.

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