Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Christmas Happy Collapse


I'd like to say I've had a chance to start looking over my plans for 2012, but that'd be a nasty lie, and it's rude to write lies outside of fiction. (And occasionally within fiction when not executed properly.)  Quite honestly, though, I don't care.  I'm quite happy about the events that unfolded this week.

It's been a lovely whirlwind of a week, though.  Two Yule parties, one of which I had the honor of guarding the Solstice flame all night while baking cookies with a new friend (mother of another friend).  After that, my overtired quota was hardly filled—it was like being in college again!  Seeing the sunrise by choice is much more magical than when you are not expecting to see it (my usual state of sunrise viewing: Oh crap! I'm still up?!).

Christmas Eve has changed; we spent it with good friends as Scott's aunt has moved to Maine.  It was a wonderful dinner where we made excellent strides in corrupting our friend's 17-year-old daughter.  We came home, I finished a few more batches of cookies and baking while Scott finally put the decorations up for the family coming over in the morning… er, later morning, as it really wasn't until about midnight that we started hard-core last-last minute prep.

Now, as Scott will be traveling, we had gotten – or so I thought – all our own presents to each other done early.  He wanted & needed a kindle and a laptop that could be used for both gaming and his job-related stuff.  I had wanted an Outback coat that I could steampunk up, but found another I liked, with another pair of riding jeans and a pair of riding boots that were also fashionable all for the price of originally desired coat.  Ta-dah! Presents accomplished.

So, while I had nothing to sneak into the pile of family presents, I felt bad leaving him to finish his part of the wrapping and cleaning when I finished mine around 3AM-ish, so I started putting together and wrapping the stuff for my side of the family. As it was now into Christmas as opposed to Christmas Eve, I was oblivious that his grouching for me to "just go to bed" was anything more than him likely being overtired, too.

Eventually, I did go to bed before him.  When I was getting my coat to pick up my Mom-In-Law, I learned of his sneaky machinations.

"Dear, before you go, can you grab me the box out of the living room?" he asks as he was getting ready to start the griddle for our traditional Christmas Breakfast.

Grumble, grumble… I zip up my fabulous new boot and tromp over to the living room.  I'm late picking up Joyce.  I bee-line for the pile of empty Amazon boxes that we've collected over the past few months.  "Which one?!"

"The big one.  In the middle of the table?"  I hear him coming in my direction.

"Huh… Oh!"

There in the middle of the collection of family presents is a Kuerig coffee machine with green streamers on top!

He laughs.  Because, y'know, I walked right by the big, unwrapped box and didn't notice it. 

"Thank you!!!"  I'm getting teary.  I totally don't have any surprise for him this year.  I wasn't planning for it at all!  I'd been thinking of getting one of those for a while, especially for when I'll be the only one drinking coffee for some time.  I'd complimented friends on it, but I don't remember mentioning it more than once, maybe twice.  He really does listen to me!

But, wait!  There's more!

He slips one more wrapped box out from under the pile and hands it to me.  Two sniffles from desperately needing a tissue, I unwrap the box and… it's my own Kindle!

About a week ago, when I started going through the slush pile and editing for Spencer Hill Press, I had told him, something to the effect of, "Damn, I should have just had you get me a Kindle, too, when they were on sale.  I didn't think I'd use it then… but now I see how I could really use it."  It was a lament, though… I hadn't expected anything.

And now it was in my hands!

Yep, needed the tissue… and kept going through them all the way to his mom's apartment.  (Shush – I was also PMSing, so totally logical reason for me to be all weepy!)

If that wasn't enough to garner another Husband-of-Awesome award… after hosting an excellent Christmas Breakfast, after spending a good day with my family at my mom's house, he stayed at my mom's house until 12:30AM fixing her computer that we calculated as being 8 years old. 

Yep. :)  Husband-of-Awesome. 

I'll get work done later.  Now, I just want to appreciate him!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Week!


I baked nearly all my cookies last week… but I didn't finish or frost the ones that need to be frosted.

I still need to finish up my year end reviews for tutoring, too…

Oh, and I need to get back to the Spencer Hill Press Slush pile…

Needless to say, I'm behind on my plans from this post.  le sigh.

Also, outside of the Blizzard Hallowe'en, we haven't had any snow.  Not that I'm complaining (Dear Mother Earth, I am TOTALLY COOL with no snow!), but that means no cute winter snow pix of Calico.  I may be able to get a Santa hat picture of her tomorrow, but we'll see how behind I'm running to my lesson and how much light I've got.

So, you have some cute pix if the indoor animals. 




Now, I have to get back to that whole catch-up on work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weight is a Class Issue


As I embark on yet another attempt to lose weight - I gained this year, a total step backwards in that part of my 2011 Goals - I'm reminded that, really, trying to lose weight requires a certain amount of financial privilege.

With our current "War on Obesity" TM in this country (because we get things accomplished by declaring war on them. Just ask the DEA!) growing in power and ferocity, such as taking obese kids from parents, I'm reminded of John Scalzi's "Being Poor" and "Point of Privilege" posts.  In the former, he discusses food options, such as buying the Ramen noodles that are 12 for $1 as opposed to 10 for $1; in the latter, he says,

"The vector of privilege these days is not physical items, but how well one is cared for, or can care for one’s self and family: Whether one has adequate health care, whether one has access to healthy food, whether one’s housing and transportation costs are a not-onerous percentage of the household income, whether one has day care for children, whether one is free of high-interest consumer debt, and whether one can afford to save any money for the future."

Focusing just on those two first things in his list, Scott has what per most health care debates would define as a "luxury plan."  In this luxury plan, this year, I was able to deduct up to $150 in exercise program costs.  Now, my sister-in-law and I scoured the area for places.  For the cheap ones, that would cover sign-up and a month.  Maybe.  We picked the Y, which was the cheapest.  It covered sign-up (which I had a coupon for), and two months.  For the rest, I have to dish out $40 per month.  Someone who has to play the "which bill can I skip this month so I can feed my family" certainly can't cover that.  We won't even discuss the exercise plans where the $150 wouldn't even cover a single month.

Now, this is just exercise; it doesn't go into eating and all that.  Many of the health clubs have that for an added amount.  My hospital also offers a plan.  UMass happens to be one of the best hospitals in the nation for weight loss.  Is their plan covered?  Nope, absolutely not.  That's another few hundred out of my pocket!

Mind you, this is after many other attempts on my own, through programs, and whatever else I've tried that I can't even begin to list.

Exercise should be easy, right?  Um. No.  More and more cities are losing sidewalks; it's not safe for anyone to walk anywhere.  (We won't even get into Stranger Danger and all that fear.)  Bikes are targets.  The aggressions between cyclists and cars continue to grow in my area.  Motor vehicles won't yield to bikes; bikes have to basically break the law to get where they're going.  Most people don’t have jobs they can walk to.  Many people continue to have to take working lunches, so no walks after lunch.  After spending 8-12 hours at your work, honestly, do you want to stay any longer just to use exercise equipment?  No.  You want to get home and be exhausted with your family.  With extended hours, people get less sleep, so they are less motivated to exercise.  It's a fight just to get enough sleep in a night.  And it's not like people are really able to negotiate with their jobs right now; shoot - we're happy we have a job!  And we're constantly reminded of this.

For the sake of brevity, I will only make the passing point that stress, anxiety, and fear cause the body to retain weight.  And we live in a culture still ruled by fear: fear of losing work, fear of what the media tells us to be afraid of…

Add to that the cost of food.  Just take a walk around your local supermarket.  What's more affordable?  The store brand pasta made with refined flour or whole grains?  85% ground beef or lean turkey or whole cuts of meat?  Canned vegetables or fresh produce? Store brand fruit juice with high fructose corn syrup or the organic, low sugar juice?  Which children's cereals are most affordable?  All the unhealthy stuff.  When it's food or no food, you buy what you can afford so your family doesn't go hungry. Period.   Moving even further down the income chain, what kinds of foods are available through welfare, food banks, and WIC?  Is it the whole grain, organic, fresh-therefore-perishable stuff?  No.  So how can anyone dare say it's the parents' fault if their child can't eat healthy?

It's not like the schools are helping.  After all, a serving of pizza can cover the vegetable portion due to the 1/8 cup of tomato paste per slice, despite being mostly made up of a thick crust of refined flour and covered with cheap cheese.  Because, also, evidently, we're also still following the Reagan logic of tomatoes being a vegetable.  There are plenty of other fascinating figures on how schools are failing students with sub-standard lunches for anyone who cares to look them up.  Unless you can afford to pack your kid an awesome lunch that they'll want to eat and is also healthy for them, you're stuck with the school lunch. 

For poor students, school lunch may be the closest thing to a well-balanced meal they get; Mom or Dad had to buy the 12 Ramen for $1 so that they could use some of the grocery money to pay rent or electricity or fix the car so they could go to work--because public transportation won't get them there on time, if at all.

So, starting in childhood, people who can't afford the best food have their bodies conditioned to subsist on crap.  To hold onto fat because one never knows when the next meal will be, or if groceries will run short because electricity will be shut off otherwise.  Or, even to hold onto fat because the poor food causes a stress/anxiety reaction in the body.  Trained to finish your plate and not waist a crumb, the habit and guilt follow an individual into adulthood, where they finish off the ridiculously portioned meals from restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, here's a little more number crunching for anyone who wants to lay guilt on poor people for eating fast food.  If one takes the time to calculate, and depends on schools to provide breakfast and lunch for the kids, a family of four can eat for $10 or less a night from fast food.  Carefully mixed with cheap pasta, hamburger, ramen, mac & cheese, and canned vegetables, that can actually bring down the grocery bill and steal just a little more family time before Mom or Dad or anyone else has to run off to their second job.

Am I saying this is good?  No.  I'm saying our culture doesn’t support a healthy lifestyle, and the poorer you are, the less ability you have to live a healthy lifestyle--even just eat healthy food!

If this country does decide to make this another official "War on…", I'm afraid it will - like most every other war declared - just end up being another war upon the heads of the poor.  Until then, those of us who are overweight actually have a chance of dropping weight.

Now, if only we could be inspired to do so as opposed to shamed… but that's an another post for a later time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 2011: Faith and Fear

12-2011BroadPod.mp3 Listen on Posterous

In our December 2011 podcast, we have the snowy chill of Fear and the blanketing warmth of Faith.  Justine Graykin introduces our readers:

Jennifer Pelland shares a sample from her new novel, “Machine”, about the loss of faith in love.  In which body does the true heart of Celia lie? 

 In Tracy S. Morris’s “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” four now-grown girls from four different children's stories wrestle with the fear that they may never return to fairyland and may instead be stuck in the mundane world. Some lose faith, while others keep hoping.  

Kelly A. Harmon, takes us “On the Path” with Tan, an unusual farmer, who embarks on a strange adventure when his unconventionally powered plow breaks down. 

Bonnie Lee introduces us to the eerie world of replicates in an excerpt from the novel adaptation of her screenplay, “Crazy Eyes”.

Kim Vandervort reads from “Northern Queen”, the tale of a young woman who must choose between faith in a mysterious old crone and her fear of the unknown. 

Light a candle against the December darkness, and listen to these Yule-tide samples of the story-telling art.

 

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tis the Season for Year End Self-Evaluation and Business Records


Wow!  It's freaking December already!

This week, I must:
Complete most of my Broad Universe Actionable Items.
Submit a Pub review
Meet with weight consultant
Meet with Promotions & Advertising Coordinator for Broad Universe
Exercise at YMCA on Wednesday and Friday
Exchange Calico's Blanket
Review the Spencer Hill Press Slush Pile

Before Christmas, I must:
Finish tutoring evaluations
Bake cookies
Finish Calico's present (wood burnt name plaque)

By year end, I must:

Write yearly letter for Broad Universe & finish rest of Actionable Items.
Review & evaluate my 2011 plans
Create a Novel Friend business plan for 2012
Sit down with Scott to discuss a household business plan for 2012

Basically, aside from a few hours I might be able to use at Annie's Book Stop and at the coffee shop before my riding lessons, creative writing endeavors are on the back burner.

Sometimes you have to run triage as a freelancer and really focus on what needs to be done the most and leave other important things, or the pretty, shiny things you want to work on, by the wayside with promises of coming back and picking them up later.

An important part of freelancing is continually reevaluating, prioritizing, and reorganizing projects.  I do a big, formal thing of it every year-end/year-beginning, but I'm re-doing it every month, every week.  What needs my attention now because it's due?  What needs my attention now because the story won't leave me alone?  What needs my attention now based on where I physically am?  (For example, if I'm at an artsy coffee shop, I should make the most of the free-flow of creative juices; if I'm somewhere without WiFi, write stuff that doesn't require research.)

Being a fiction and poetry writer also influences these things.  First of all, we are always, always, always getting new ideas.  And sometimes these new idea are things that need to addressed immediately because they will make current work easier, are a limited time opportunity, or are so shiny that ignoring them will drive you mad.  Actually, if we don't get creative releases on a regular basis, most writers, poets, artists, etc. get pretty damned cranky and certainly less productive.  Sometimes ignoring the creative muse has a negative impact on the business end of work, so a balance has to be struck.  "Look, I'll write a synopsis or a scene right now, but then you gotta leave me alone so I can get this stuff done that helps me stay housed, alive, and in good enough shape to continue your fabulous story, ok?"

Figments of imagination can be just as demanding and aggravating as bill collectors—really!

Scheduled for next week, though, I'm having a sit down with my friend Vikki, with whom I'm sharing a few projects, and I'll make a fiction/poetry list of priorities and potential deadlines.  I also need to touch base with Christy on our novel, and I need to catch up with other people I'm working with on other projects.

It's no surprise though, and I'm hardly alone in the insanity that is December.  Who else is rearranging their life and priorities with the end of the year and holiday season?  What are your favorite ways to get it all done?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mentors and Teachers in the Heroine's Journey

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This month, Broaduniverse is examining the roles of teachers in fiction. In traditional fiction, the hero is removed from the classroom to take a journey. From Athena to Obi wan, the Hero’s guide along this journey differs from the traditional teacher who stands in front of a class to deliver a lesson.  For this episode of Broadly speaking, we are taking a closer look at the role of the teacher, or the mentor figure in the Heroine’s journey, and how that figure is different from the mentor in the Hero’s journey. The differences may surprise you.

First up, K.A. Laity, author of  Pelzmantel and other tales of Medieval Magic discusses the definition of the mentor in fiction.

Then MeiLin Miranda, author of the serial An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom talks about mentors when they take on the Teacher role in a classroom setting.

Finally, Valarie Estell Frankel, author of From Girl to Goddess: The Heronie's Journey through Myth and Legend explores the differences between the mentor in the hero's and heroine's journey.

Mentors.mp3 Listen on Posterous

Join us for an enlightening episode of Broadly Speaking, where we hope that, just like your teachers and mentors, we can impart wisdom to you.  

 

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Stories You May Never Know


In the thralls of Thanksgiving thankiness, there's one thing that editors and writing group members and critiquers uniquely experience.

Stories that change their lives--that no one else might ever know.

Some of these come in the forms of manuscripts we reject or manuscripts we ask for revisions on that the writer refuses to make.  They could be great stories, great seeds of stories, or great ideas.  They just don't meet our needs, still need a lot of work, or were not allowed to germinate enough before the author spread them on a page. 

Others come in short lived critique groups.  The members who bring in a piece of a novel that they've been working on for a decade and will continue to edit until the day they die; novels and short stories that never see the light of day outside of critique group.  The authors may never get the courage to submit, or may submit and get a single rejection and quit, or may never have intended to submit their work for publication. 

And, for me, another small bunch comes from freelance work that people pay me to edit… that, for some reason or other, never gets published.  The author may give up, the author may never finish, or the author may get distracted with Other Life till the day he or she dies.

These stories, or even germs of stories, still touch me, still affect me.

The written word is still sacred.  It's a piece of someone's heart that they have shared with me, bared to me, and something like that still affects a True Believer in the Power of the Word.

Part of me mourns that no one else, or few others, will get the chance to experience the touch of these particular words.  Another part mourns that the author may not get the recognition she or he deserves.

Yet another part secretly savors the fact that I had the rare honor to be part of the story's journey, to be one of the ones it touched.

Even if you never publish a story, remember it's never a lost cause.  It's touched anyone who has read it, changed their lives.  It definitely changed you for writing it.

So, after the Thanksgiving rush, let those of us with this honor, pause and give thanks for the stories that touched us… that no one else may ever read.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 2011: Teachers

Teachers by Broad Universe Listen on Posterous

Welcome to the November 2011 episode of the Broad Pod featuring the theme, Teachers.

Larissa Niec, author of Shorn: Book One of the Sky Seekers and professor of psychology at Central Michigan University hosts this month’s episode.

What teachers stand out in your memory?  Was there someone who encouraged you to strive when you might have given up?  Did someone inspire you with their own courage?  Were your favorite teachers larger than life or very human?
Four authors offer us remarkably different visions of teachers and lessons:

Award-winning author, Carol Berg, intrigues us with an excerpt from The Spirit Lens, in which Portier, a failed student of magic, travels with a teacher who might just provide him the confidence he needs to unlock his own strength.

In a piece from the short story, “The Lesson of the Phoenix,” Julia Rios shows us that life lessons may come in many forms, and teachers need not be elder to be wise.

Trisha Wooldridge shares an excerpt from “Photo of a Mermaid,” in which two people in dire circumstances discover they each have things to teach the other.

And Justine Graykin offers the tale of Dietrich, who gets a sharp-tongued lesson in identity and cultural survival.

Sit back and enjoy these tales, and perhaps you will be reminded of a teacher who has been important to you.

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vampires Broadly Speaking Snowed Out

Sadly, this is the first episode that we had to miss for either The Broad Pod or Broadly Speaking.  You'd think weather wouldn't affect the online realm that covers the globe... but, alas, it does. 

In addition to problematic scheduling, most of the guests we had slated to talk Vampires for Broadly Speaking were affected by the freak Halloween snow storm that took out the Northeast in the US and left without power.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Stay tuned for next month, though!  Tracy S. Morris will be hosting a teacher-based Broadly Speaking.  And before then, we'll have our usual Broad Pod, also on teaching available at broadpod.posterous.com

Thank you for listening and being part of The Broad Pod and Broadly Speaking!

Best,

Trish Wooldridge
2010-2011 Broad Universe Podcast Producer

On Organic Characters--Listening as Opposed to Engineering


A friend, looking at a synopsis of mine, was horrified to see I killed a particular character in the first 15 pages or so.

"She's such a great character!  You're not using her potential!"

The character did, indeed, have a lot of potential.  So do a lot of people who die "before their time."  While I've come a long way from being entirely a "seat of the pants" writer--shoot, I'm feeling downright nervous that I don't know the endgame for Loki or Coyote in my NaNoWriMo novel!--I still don't engineer a plot or a character.

I see plenty of blog posts about how to incorporate flaws into characters or how to create complications for a plot… and I feel relieved that I can just pass by them.  My characters come to me fully formed, with plenty of flaws intact, and they have their own plans with what will happen with any plot I create.

Not to say I do no engineering.  I compare my writing to gaming because I will create a plot and a series of potential problems and I have some outcome in mind.  I have a complex world that I've engineered in my head that has its own laws.  However, my characters will do what they will.  I can rein them in some by creating (hopefully logical) consequences for their action based on the laws of the world I've created.

Sometimes those consequences are that characters die.  I give my characters free will, just as any human ought to have.

Because they are people.  They - the characters, not the whole novels - are my children.  Each have pieces of me… combined with pieces of other people I've met, or seen, or read about… and given a spark of will.  The character, whether he or she or it be an adult or child, is the summation of many parts, a synthesis and a synergetic being. 

While I create the world and the original problem, most of my writing is listening to my characters and transcribing.  They tell me what they will do in these situations.  They don't always tell me why, but eventually I figure it out (or, I have so far… like I said, these Tricksters have me in a bit of a tizzy).  It's not me moving them around like chess pieces, it's me interacting with them as persons.

I've mentioned a few friends I have who do far more engineering.  Their outlines are huge and detailed… they ask me for my thoughts on something, and my answer is not helpful because I ask what would be the most likely thing the characters involved would do.  They make their characters do stuff; their characters serve their plan.  Plenty of good stories are written like this--just not by me.

My stories are archives of my characters' lives.  Once I discover how things go, I can't change the plot or the motivation.  I can adjust what I include in a story--and what you include or omit can make big differences!--but I know what happened and what will happen.  Not because I created it, but because I'm an omnipresent being in my characters' lives… and it's my job to tell their stories as truly as I can.

Even if they die in the first few pages.  It would dishonor their story to change it just because it's unfair or a waste.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy… erm… Day After Halloween/Samhain!


I have the power!  And teh interwebz!

'Cos our Hallowe'en party was SNOWED OUT! by a freak Nor'easter that came in and knocked over a whole bunch more trees (because Irene and the May tornadoes didn't knock over enough).  We were about 36 hours without power… fortunately, AFTER the last of our brave guests left… after we moved the first few trees so poor, brave guests could leave.

So, um… Happy Hallowe'en from me and Scott! 


Zombie Tourist and Fairy Goth-Momma

Oh, and Nylis and I feel about the same about this stupid snow on Hallowe'en.  You can see some of the tree damage out the window behind her.


Not like we generally get trick-or-treaters down our dark, dead-end street… even if most suburban parents haven't been not taking kids out for actual neighborhood trick-or-treating for some years now… but really, with the ice, snow, and slush… we didn't even bother putting our light on. 

You couldn't see it through the snow-covered leaves anyway.


I'll stop bitching now.  Scott is threatening to eat my brains.  He did the gash, I did the make-up; further proof that we make a pretty damned good team.

It's NOVEMBER!  Which means NaNoWriMo!

Why am I writing a blog when my trickster novel could be getting written?

'Cos I love you.

Anyway: work update:

Despite no power or webz for an extended period of time, I still managed to shoot out four submissions for the Broad Universe Mailing Party.  Fingers crossed for acceptances!!

Now… onto novel writing madness.

Happy Hallowe'en, Samhain, All Souls, and All Saints Day!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Halloween & November… And End-of-The-Year Resolutions


I'm going to save my sanity and not promise more than one blog post a week for the rest of 2011. 

Life continues to be crazy-busy.  (Should I "TM" that term, at this point?)  The bathroom has been redone and is great… no further blood sacrifices needed. 

xx

Rock & Shock was lot of fun.  I didn't sell any books, but I did have some good Tarot Readings, from which I donated a part to New England Horror Writers.

Of course, besides that, it was a total, "This is why I LOVE my job" weekend.  For Worcester Magazine, I had interviewed the director and producer of Inkubus, which will be out in limited release this weekend.  It was a great interview, and I scored tickets to the red carpet premiere, the following Q&A… and access to the after party!

Did I mention this movie stars screen legends Robert England and William Forsythe?

Yeah… Husband-of-Awesome and I were at the red carpet premiere and after party with them!

Then someone I didn't know in the back of the party lit up a joint, so we made quick time to the door before I had to find out if that was one of the types of weed I'm allergic to.

Ah well!  Good times.

xx

OTOH, I'm back at the garage getting a wheel bearing replaced to the tune of… more $ than I really can spend.  Grrrrr…

Till I can afford another car, I'm thinking of engraving my name in this particular seat at Rick's Garage.

xx

And I'm sick with con crud from R & S…Actually, both of us are. And we spent all of yesterday dealing with most of the two cords of wood.  H-of-A chopped; both he and I stacked.  Pain medicine, vitamin C, and lots of tea are my friends.

xx

Saturday, worked on writing plans with another good friend of mine: Yay!  On the way to said friend's house, I got into a minor car accident: Waaah!

xx

This week, I need to finish evaluations of my tutoring team, an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel.  (Oh yeah: The Broad Universe panel at the Nashua New Hampshire Public Library on NaNoWriMo was most excellent!)  Also, we must clean & decorate for our Hallowe'en party Saturday… while attending a Samhain celebration on Friday.  (Sunday = SLEEP!)

TODAY: Get car fixed, five hours of tutoring & evaluating, chiropractor appointment, Broad Universe budget meeting… figure out to-dos for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 2011: Vampires!

October Vampires by Broad Universe Listen on Posterous

Welcome to the October Vampires 2011 episode of the Broad Pod! 

Join hostess, Trish Wooldridge of A Novel Friend Writing & Editing, as she and the Broads celebrate what many genre writers--not even just horror!--feel is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

The episode opens with E.F. Watkins sharing her story of a violent act that is not quite what it seems.  Then, Rae Lori's excerpt involves a power struggle for the role of Regent in a nightwalker clan.  Gail Z. Martin brings us into an epic battle with the undead.  Finally, Jaleta Clegg finishes the episode with musings on vampire survival related to problematic food supply.

The Broad Pod is brought to you by Broad Universe, an international non-profit dedicated to promoting, celebrating, and honoring women writers of science fiction, fantasy, horror--and everything in between.  To find out more about Broad Universe, or how to join the ranks of Broads, visit www.broaduniverse.org

For now, please enjoy our display of why the claims of vampire demise… have been greatly exaggerated.


Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Monday, October 10, 2011

Look! It's More Bits and Ends


Because, really, my life continues to only give me time in small increments to get stuff accomplished.

News & Writing stuff from Chez Wooldridge:

I'm proofing the galleys from UnCONventional, and they are awesome!  :)  Pre-Order now!    Trust me.

xx

We're gutting and remodeling the downstairs bathrooms.  No, I don't have pictures.  Why?  Because the H-of-A is grumpy and questioned the need for pictures, which was his subtle way of pointing out he didn't want pictures taken.  We've had three generous blood sacrifices during this event, which we hope will appease the gods and faeries and saints of contracting and remodeling… and perhaps even the matrons and patrons of pipe-freezing-prevention for this winter.

This, my friends, is why, while we do not have children, we have well-stocked first-aid cabinet shelves.  (Kits are too small and not comprehensive enough for our creative injuries.)

Anyway, will post pictures when it's done.

Of the bathroom, not the injuries.

In the meantime, today's picture is Nylis hiding from the chaos in the upstairs linen closet.

xx

Got to hang out with more friends that I haven't seen enough of today.  They brought their little girl (and themselves) for some Calico riding and loving.  Good times!

Also, fixed the horsey-withdrawal I was suffering for nearly two weeks being cooped up in the house waiting for people to fix my ability to earn friggen money!

xx

Speaking of horses, a fabulous Broad colleague, Sue Bolich, has started blogging on properly using equines in writing, too.  Check out her two posts here and here.  Very good reading!

xx

I had an extra special fun time covering this year's Rock & Shock in Worcester, so look for the article in Worcester Magazine this week! 

Also, stop by the New England Horror Writers table while you're at the convention! :)

I got to interview the director & producer & one of the actors of Inkubus, which is having a red-carpet premiere at the convention.  Wheee!!

xx

Now I have to go make 1600 words of avocado article sound fabulous.  :) Movie premieres, gutted bathrooms, horses, fiction galleys, and avocados.  Yup--that about sums up my life right now.

Interesting times!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Affluent White Person Problems Make Me Grouchy and Unproductive


Comedian Louis CK has some great bits about "Being White" and "White Person Problems" and "Everything's Amazing & Nobody's Happy" that I cannot do justice to, so look them up.

However, they were on the forefront of my mind for most of yesterday and Monday ALL LAST WEEK as I threw my (fortunately high-impact-secure) cell phone across the room and cussed to make my Mom blush at my land line and Internet service. (At least I had the decency to not cuss directly at the people despite being walked through the hard restart of my modem and my laptop as if I were an idiot AFTER I had explained that I had already done so.)

[Addendum: I wrote this last Wednesday and have since had continued problems until (HOPEFULLY) today when my modem was replaced and reset with a whole password thingy.  Needless to say, I've lost a week's worth of tutoring wages.  Now, for the below paragraph, I'm not likely to lose my house or anything, so my point still stands  OTOH… that's a week's worth of wages!]

[Addendum 2:  Also, the Husband-of-Awesome lost a day of work (and he makes WAY more than I do) and several nights of work trying to get the Internet to work, replacing the modem--TWICE!--and still cooking me dinner so I could get other deadlines done at Panera Bread on their free WiFi.]

I just want to add to the comedian's parameters that these are not necessarily White Person Problems; there's definitely more privilege involved.  They're definitely Affluent White Person Problems.  Not to say such affected people don't stress over money problems each month--we certainly do!--but more that the stress is: "Can we make payments on all of our various debts without ruining our credit?" as opposed to, "Can we survive better without electricity, heat, or going grocery shopping this month?"

In any case, I was having a pretty sh*tty past few days WEEK because I couldn't do my job or get work done.  [Addendum3: I just barely made an article and grant deadline… while at Panera Bread.]

You know, because not having this magical connection to the rest of the world at my fingertips in an immediate fashion is such a HUGE DISASTER.

It's not like I had healthy well water on tap, [Addendum 4: Ok, my faucet IS leaking pretty badly, but still, I have the water],
gourmet coffee I could make while waiting between calls to service people,
a cushy chair or yoga ball to sit on,
a pretty decent roof over my head,
a legal husband-of-awesome who has me on his health insurance and who I can kiss in public without worrying about potential hate crimes,
food in my refrigerator and pantry,
a job that, while I will struggle to catch up, isn't something I'm likely lose at the drop of a hat,
hell—a job and career I LOVE,
and, to top it all off, an adorable, beloved, money-eating HORSE* that I own and can escape to.

Sooo, I added another whole layer of craptacular guilt for feeling sh*tty on top of the general sh*tty sentiment that you really can't rationalize away because, after all, humans are selfish beings who, once they taste a certain level of comfort, feel entitled to it.

[Addendum 5: The fact that I lost a week's worth of wages adds another dimension that doesn’t quite stack the same way.]

On the other hand, this level of objectiveness, as flawed as it is, is still useful in understanding character motivations.  So, at least on a writing level, things were useful.  Gotta stay positive, right?

At the very least, it makes for a comic goldmine of contradiction.  Right, Louis?

In any case, my phone is fixed, and the Internet connection seems to be working.  I can return to being a more productive relatively affluent, white member of society. (Or so I hope!)


* What, you didn't know that money is the primary diet of the domestic equine?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

There's Still Magic for Grown-Ups in Faery Tales

Faerytales Compact by Karen Meng Listen on Posterous

Welcome to the September 2011 episode of Broadly Speaking, a podcast about the adventures of women writing science fiction, fantasy, horror - and everything in between.This month's podcast is devoted to women writers and feminism in Fairy Tales for Grown Ups. This month's edition of Broadly Speaking is hosted by Karen Meng, current treasurer and DataQueen for Broad Universe.

Karen interviews Cindy Speer, Vikki Ciaffone, and Trisha Wooldridge about the importance of Fairy Tales and retellings to culture, how the gender of the storyteller may or may not affect the message, and why writers should take some time exploring Faery Tales.

Cindy Lynn Speer jokingly refers to herself as a swashbuckler and author, but it is not far from the truth.  A historical fencer who writes fantasy, murder mysteries and retold fairy tales, she divides her time between proving that the pen and the sword can be equally mighty.  Find out more about her at www.apenandfire.com.  
Vikki Ciaffone has been involved in SF/Fantasy for many years.  She is personally responsible for the destruction of Sodom and Gommorha (she apologises, but all the hype was lies, and the populace was obsessed with Pictionary and Charades, two games Vikki finds highly evil).  She then turned her attention to Troy, and once again, engineered its downfall in her quest to burn out the Pictionary Plague.  She claims no responsibility for Pompeii or the Fall of Rome, though she might possibly have had something to do with the sun setting on the British Empire.  In her spare time, Vikki has been known to shoot craps with the Fates and the Valkyries for shiny trinkets. Find out more about Vikki on the people page for Spencer Hill Press.

Trisha J. Wooldridge is the current president of Broad Universe, an international, non-profit supporting women in speculative fiction.  She's published in the EPIC award-winning anthologies (2010)  Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad and Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In all Their Glory from DarkQuest books, several poetry and non-fiction venues, and is an editor of the UnCONventional anthology from Spencer Hill Press, being released at Arisia 2012. www.anovelfriend.com

The Broad Pod is sponsored by Broad Universe, an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, honoring, and celebrating women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  To find out more about our organization, including new fiction released by women, more podcasts, and information about writing and publishing for women, visit our website at www.broaduniverse.org.

Monday, September 26, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Things (About Editing)


Today, finally, I sent back my last MAJOR set of edits to one of the UnCONventional contributors.

I may have been stressing, I may have messed up my once-dependable blogging schedule, but damnit, I am so happy and proud of this project!  Having to get back on this "dependable blogging schedule" is SO worth it.  UnCONventional is already made of awesome--and it's not even out yet.

(If you're interested, though, you can SO preorder it here and make many of us even happier!)

Anyway, as I was getting through the edits, I was reminded of why I love this part of writing so much--well, at least when working with other people.

In the long tradition of online communications, here's a

Top 5 List of Things I Love About Editing

5.  The challenge of playing in parameters.  When you edit, you want to respect the author's creation, so offering suggestions and making changes need to be in line with the author's vision.  As much as free reign over a project is fun, it's even more fun to test one's creativity and writing skill by working within boundaries.
.
4.  The thrill of teaching.  No matter how many students I teach, or how many friends I critique, or how often I post tips on my blog, there are still people who have not heard some of my favorite proofreading and writing strategies, like reading backwards, using find & replace to count word usage, and comparing word usage to overall word count.  Having someone thank me for teaching them something new sets my heart all aflutter.

3.  Discovering new worlds and being able to help them.  Haven't you ever wanted to make the world a better place?  And do you love escaping into alternate worlds?  When you edit, you get to do both.  You discover fantastic realms/realities, and you can help the author make them stronger--or at least present a clearer picture of them to readers.

2.  Amazing surprises.  In many stories, I've made suggestions for changes or even had no idea what to suggest.  In so many of those cases, the author came up with a fix that was ten to a hundred times better than anything I could have thought of.

1.  The creative sum is greater than the whole.  We selected what we felt the strongest submissions were, and then we advised ways to make them even stronger.  The end result of the author's creativity and love, plus the hard love from both Kate and me, is a piece that each of our individual parts could NEVER come up with alone.  AND, as an anthology, we increase that by 22 of us, exponentially.

So, the next step is to put all these stories into galleys and see how it fits our page count and do yet another proofread.  (And maybe 1 or 3 more after that.)  Per Kate, we're still on good schedule for our release party in January and to get Advanced Reading Copies out for some reviews before then.

Thanks to all the authors and my co-editor for making this such a great project!  I look forward to the rest of this journey with you.

(And, in earnest appeal, you really should pre-order a copy right now. :)  )

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another "Bits and Ends"

My "New Year" September is really pushing me!

I have about six more Round 2 edits to review for UnCONventional, which should be done Monday.  (Pinky swear, Kate!!)  Also today, I have article calls & emails to make.  I'm doing a comfort food piece and a chef profile for Worcester Magazine due on Friday, I have an avocado article due in two weeks, a yet-unwritten short story that needs to be printed before Friday, edits on "Photo of a Mermaid" due… end of the weekish, and critiques for Traveling Java need to be done before Tuesday.

During the week, I will be traveling every day but Monday.

Oh, and on top of all that, there is another fabulous benefit to the Bay State Equine Rescue happening on Sunday:

Horse of Course Benefit!

It's taking place at Whip-O-Will stables and is one of those "family fun" events where we've got things planned for all ages… even if you're not all that into horses.  Check out the event page!

It's happening from 11AM-4PM this Sunday, September 25th. 

If you live in MA or CT or anywhere driveable, please try to come?  :)  Thank you!

I have this blog written on my to-do lists; let's see if it actually happens for more than this post. ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Life Before Blogging


Two conventions, a whole-engine overhaul, reuniting with my first writers group, family issues, a death, a pow-wow, ten anniversary of 9/11…

Really, I don't feel that terrible about not blogging for about two weeks.

I really can't do all that justice in one catch up blog post, so I'll move forward.

It's September!

September is my New-New Year, and this year it's particularly poignant.  Not only did Dragon*Con rejuvenate my writing spirit, as it always does, but hanging out with the Dragon*Writers, dinner with Ann Crispin, and being on some pretty fabulous panels just made it all the better.  Even before that, being Guest of Awesome and sharing a pretty fab dealer's room with friends and friends-to-be at Pi-Con had me flying with writerly joy.

The engine overhaul made us have to redo some major finances, so despite its hefty cost, we're starting September with what is likely to be a better financial grasp on things.

I have yet to sit down and re-evaluate my New Year business plans, but that's all right.  I'm working on my editing deadline for UnCONventional and remembering why we picked each of the stories we did; I can't wait for the anthology to come out so we can share it with you.

Besides my editing, I've got a bunch of local stories I'm covering for Worcester Magazine that are due in the next couple of weeks.  I also know that the Broadsheet is looking for articles, and I have to get off my but to get some of my existing writing out there.

Speaking of which, I just shared the opening my novelette, "Mirror of Hearts," on the Broad Pod this week.  I need to get on putting that out as an ebook.  :)

In any case, there is a lot to do, but at least most of this is on the computer, and it really just requires some major Butt In Chair syndrome.

And kinda being sparse online.

The lesson in all this?  It's never too late to do a little restarting, or a lotta restarting.  So long as you go and do it.

September 2011: Fairy Tales for Grown-Ups

The Broad Pod - September 2011 by Broad Universe Listen on Posterous

Welcome to the September 2011 episode of the Broad Pod, featuring Fairy Tales for Grown Ups.  Join L.C. Hu, writer, artist, and all around geek, as she hosts this episode. 

Dragons and magical beasts, peasants and princesses, heroes and tricksters­—fairy tales are some of the first stories many of us hear as children; is it any surprise that they continue to inspire us into adulthood? This month brings us five new interpretations of the fairy story, as varied and wonderful as the tales that enchanted us as children.

Catherine Lundoff  tells us of Vadija the Merry, whose laugh inspires a talespinner to begin a life-changing journey.  Shauna Roberts gives us a science fiction retelling of the old tale Maid on the Shore.  Theresa Crater leads us down beneath the Tor to meet the fae, as we follow a young woman's initiation to become a priestess. Vonnie Winslow Crist spins us a tale about a young man who makes a deal involving death, deceit, and devotion with a swan maiden. And Trisha Woolridge enchants us with the story of  a young woman wandering her uncle's manor, who discovers a curious portrait in a dusty side room. 

So sit back, and let yourself be swept away by these five fantastic fairy stories.

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blog has been Washed Away


There will be no blog tonight.  The faucets to our washing machine have died and decided to flood the washroom.  Go ahead and laugh at the bad '70s décor… the spigots were probably even older than that.

Scott is scurrying to Home Depot as we speak.

Wish us luck because I kinda need clean clothes for Pi-Con.  *sniffle*

 











(Also, FYI, no blog on Friday because I don't have time to prewrite one, but I will be back on Sunday.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pi-Con Schedule and other Bits & Ends


As I mentioned, I'm the Guest of Awesome at Pi-Con in Enfield, CT this year. :)

Here's my schedule:

Friday, August 26
7:00:00 PM Guest of Awesome Reunion Suffield
8:00:00 PM Sex & Genre Literature Suffield

Saturday, August 27
10:00:00 AM Dark Matter Somers
3:00:00 PM Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading (2 hours)
5:00:00 PM Fatal Femmes Somers
7:00:00 PM Tarot & Divination as writing tools Suffield
9:00:00 PM Chicks in Chainmail Somers

Sunday, August 28
1:00:00 PM Caring For Your Pet Unicorn Suffield
2:00:00 PM of Gods and Genre Agawam

So, I should have caught this at least a moon or two ago, but I'm scheduled during the Broad Universe/Heir to the Sun Release party and set-up.  Fortunately, I have some equally awesome friends - and even a Husband-of-Awesome - who will be around to help.  After 10PM, though, I'll be living in our party room.

Besides that, it's a nice spread. I have a lot of time to take care of Dealer Room set-up on Friday and most of the party work can be done ahead of time.

Stuff left to do for Pi-Con:

Make promised artsy stuff & Decorated Divinations - happening tomorrow.  (Hi, Renée!)
Finalize Rapid Fire Reading stats
Make RFR flyer (& have H-of-A print it)
Make Party flyer (& have H-of-A print it)
Make spreadsheet for selling stuff
Make Instruction Sheet for selling stuff
For the Love of All That Is Good and Holy, DON'T DEADLINE THE NIGHT BEFORE!

xx

In other cool news, my favorite bookshelf is featured here:


Thank you, Hunter!  :)

Besides me, there are some other excellent stories about people's favorite bookshelves.  If you have a special bookshelf, check out Hunter's submission guidelines and share with us!

xx

I spent the earlier part of today embracing my artistic child and painting faces of kids waiting in line for Pony Rides at Whip-O-Will Stables.

Did I actually take any pictures of the adorableness?

No. 

So, you have to trust me: it was über-cyoot!!!  Horses in My Little Pony colors (pink & blue, purple & pink, green & pink, brown & purple, blue & white) were the biggest hit.  Second to that were butterflies. Lots and lots of butterflies.  I also had a Spiders & Vines, a Bloody Batman, a Lion, and a Hello Kitty as a few outstanding pictures that challenged my artistic ability. (Ok, remembering how to paint horses on faces was a challenge, too.)

Fortunately, kids aren't terrible art critics.  :)  Yay childhood!

You should totally come to the Whip-O-Will Stables Horse of Course Benefit for Bay State Equine Rescue.  I'll be doing both face painting AND Tarot reading. 

You really want a MLP-colored horsey on your cheek!  You know you do.

 
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