Editorial Response

I promised that I’d let everyone know what the response was on the story I submitted once I got it back.

Well, journey thou hither to learn the results.

Cohort!

I’ve followed the autobiographical story of author Tobias Buckell’s breaking-in to the novel writing world with great interest.  And since reading his latest installment, “The Value of Friends“, I’ve been thinking about the idea of my “cohort” of fellow speculative-fiction writers.

A “cohort” of writers, as suggested in Tobias Buckell’s piece, are a group of writers who are familiar with each other and who break-in to the industry roughly as a group.  They are writing contemporaries.  As mentioned in his article, the cohort is a supportive community who help each other and encourage each other.  There’s no formal delineation.  It’s a pretty ad-hoc organization. Continue reading

Weekend Assignment: Oh Beautiful, for Spacious Skies…

Weekend Assignment this week asks what the America of 2062 will look like:

Next Tuesday is my birthday, I am not quite 50 yet, but when I was a little girl I liked to sit and imagine what the world, more specifically, America, would be like when I reached 50! Having nearly arrived at my goal age, I am now aiming for another 50 years! So, in honor of my 48th birthday, I want you to search your imaginations, and tell what I can expect in the year… 2062!

Extra Credit: Tell me, is the world anything like you imagined it would be when you grew up? What’s different? What’s the same?

And so, I slip on my time-visor helmet, and prepare to reveal to you the FUTURE!  Or FUTURES! as the case may be: Continue reading

Hiatus Monday

It’s another tequila sunrise, starin’ slowly across the sky, said goodbye…

That’s right, it’s another Hiatus Monday, and so I thought I’d start your day off with a sad song, courtesy of the Eagles.

Every time I write a Hiatus Monday post, I think of this song… in part because the phrase “It’s another Hiatus Monday” slides so easily into “Tequila Sunrise”, and in part because “Tequila Sunrise” is a bit of a sad song, and Hiatus Monday posts are kind of sad posts.  They’re such little things.

Have a great week, see you back here, tomorrow!

Writing Quote: Getting the Edit

Today’s writing quote comes from one-time managing editor of Harper’s: Russell Lynes.  The story of writing goes, of course, that writers love their own work.  We’re simply enamored of it.  We have to be; how else do we summon the courage to expose it to the world, and even – horror of horrors – submit it to the whims of an editor to consider for publication.  It takes more than a thick skin; it takes a belief that what we’ve written is good and worthy of publication.

So, perhaps, it may come as no surprise that, unless we’re well acclimated to the idea, some writers may have a little difficulty hearing that what they’ve written… needs work.  Some writers might even grow a little hostile to the notion that their work is anything less than perfect already.  But here’s a quote to set you straight about that inclination, should you ever feel it welling up inside you:

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published. 

~Russell Lynes

Yes indeed.  If you’ve already gone through the trouble of submitting your work, and you now get feedback that the editor requires changes, consider the alternative. Continue reading

Hiatus Saturday

The summer semester is halfway-ish over.  But I suspect that when fall hits, the Hiatus days will still continue, at least for a while, because the extra burden of career planning tasks will not yet be over at that time.

But… though the end is yet a good long way off, there is an end in sight.  Which will make me a happier camper, too.  I’ve noticed a slight drop in my traffic around here since I started these hiatus days.  Fewer days with meaningful content updates means less cool stuff to read means fewer people coming to read it.  Anyway, carry on, dear friends.  Carry on.

Choose Your Own Adventure…

Dear Wife and I were talking the other day about books, and about reading.  We’re both pretty avid readers.  But whereas I read almost exclusively in the speculative fiction genres, and venture outside those boundaries only rarely (if you’re going to read for enjoyment, you might as well read what you enjoy, and so I do), Dear Wife reads widely across many different genres, including non-fiction.  As we were talking, Dear Wife commented that she didn’t want B.T. to read only fantasy and science fiction.

“Didn’t you read anything else, when you were a kid?” she asked.  “Like, the Hardy Boys or something?” Continue reading

The Sum of All Midterms

It turns out, only one of my midterm exams was this week.  The other, for my Wednesday class (“Leading People and Organizations”) won’t be for another couple weeks.

That’s actually kind of nice.  Only one test to cram for in a week.  I’m not sure how well I did on the test for Managerial Accounting – I mean, I think I did well, but I’m not sure how well.  As in… did I do very well or just okay?

As it turned out, I opened the test to look at the first problem, and was stumped right away.  I thought I had prepared well.  But there it was, the first question, mocking me.  “There are two different ways to calculate X.  Calculate X using both methods.”  Wait.  There are two ways to calculate X?  Crap.  I only remembered one way to do it.  No matter.  After a moment of thinking, I tackled the problem logically.  First, let’s calculate using the way I already know how.  Then, let’s break the problem down to decompose what the other method must be, and do that.  I still wasn’t sure, though, so I later went back and recalculated the problem a third way, just to check my work.  When the third method turned out identical to my second method, I felt more confident that I had done it right.

But the knot of worry that the first problem put in me stayed with me the whole test.  Most of the other problems failed to stump me quite so thoroughly as the first problem, but I was wary.

Anyway, it’s over, and now the waiting game.  My goal this semester has really been to get top marks again.  I haven’t done that in several semesters.  In fact, I think the last time I got top grades in both my classes for that semester was in the Spring of 2009 – so it’s been over a year.  Like I’ve said before: I’m in a different caliber of school, here.  My program is chock full of really smart people.  And being a really smart person among a cohort of really smart people kind of means you’re suddenly average, in a way.  At least as far as the people I’m interacting with, this now holds true.

Even though it’s my goal to get top grades in both classes this semester (honestly, that has never not been my goal, but I’ve grown accustomed to knowing I have to do with second-best grades most semesters), I am reminded from time to time that my real goal needs to be focused on preparing myself for post-graduation.  Obviously I didn’t start working on my MBA in order to remain in the position I have now.  The purpose of this education is to position myself for advancement in my career.  But the education alone will not make that happen.  There’s a lot – I mean a lot – that needs to be done if I’m to take advantage of the opportunity getting this degree provides.  And the time when those things need to be done is now.  Or… in some cases… yesterday.

Why I Love Dogs

There’s just something about dogs.  I’m a dog person.  It’s not that I don’t like cats.  Cats are great pets.  But give me a choice between a cat and a dog, and tell me I can have one and only one, and I will pick the dog.  Chances are the dog would pick me, too.

And that’s why I love dogs.  It’s a cliché, I know, but I love dogs especially because they love me back.  I mean, each dog has his or her own temperament – and each breed as well.  But dogs are pack animals.  Dogs are, as a whole, a very social species.  And that’s the key to what makes dogs so great.

Having a pet is a big responsibility.  You have to feed them.  You have to make sure they get plenty of exercise.  You have to provide them shelter.  You’ve got to keep them groomed, and provide for their health.  But dogs have a need beyond all of these.  Dogs need to be loved and to love.  They need social interaction with their “pack” – and the pack of the dog is their human family.

Last week, I was struck by this as my dog, Shasta, begged to cuddle with me periodically.  I realized that she hadn’t been getting as much attention, perhaps, as she was used to before B.T. came along.  And she was feeling lonesome.  She just wanted to cuddle, to sit with me and for me to pet her.  And something in her big brown eyes just melted me.

Other times, she brings over one of her favorite toys – her “pink rope” or her “dead squirrel” (a stuffless stuffed animal in the shape of a squirrel pelt, no actual squirrels involved) or one of her others – and lay it in your lap knowing for all the world that what you really want to do is play a game of tug or fetch with her.

What struck me about all this, and what I wanted to write about, is just how much of a real need this is for dogs.  It’s as important for their health and well-being to be played with and loved as food and exercise and regular visits to the vet.  And they’ll gladly give the same, in kind.  It’s just so fundamental to their nature.

One of my favorite bumper stickers that I’ve been seeing on the road occasionally, recently, reads “DOG IS LOVE”.  The transposition from the original phrase isn’t just hilarious (regardless of whether you believe the original phrase; I just happen to) – it’s also true.  And that’s why I just can’t help but love them back.  Especially Shasta, the big cute lovable ball of fur that she is (or, as we sometimes call her, “Silly Bear”).

Weekend Assignment: Vacation!

Weekend Assignment asks about one of my favorite topics:

Look out – here comes summer! Kids are out of school, community pools and seasonal ice cream stands are open, and temperatures north of the Equator are on the rise. Summer is traditionally the time for families to go on vacation together. What are your summer vacation plans, if any? What time of year are you most likely to pack up the family and get out of town? Is there a particular place you go more often than anywhere else?

Extra Credit: When and where did your family usually go on vacation when you were a kid?

Sadly… This summer our family’s vacation plans are basically non-existant.  I’ll have classes for the remainder of the summer semester (we’re only at about the half-way point), and within no time after that the fall semester will begin.  Which isn’t to say we’ll stay cooped up the whole summer long, though.

One thing Dear Wife and I like to do, in times like these, is visit her Grandfather.  Her Grandfather lives only a couple hours away, and has a wonderful, rustic little cabin in the mountains with fantastic views.  Both Dear Wife and I love to retreat to the mountains, out into the forest, to get away from it all.  It’s so calming and relaxing – as if all the problems and stresses of life melt away with the altitude.  We plan to do that this summer as well for at least one weekend.  Only this time, we’ll be bringing along someone new!

Dear Wife and I also both love camping… (Although, it’s a travesty, but we’ve never been camping together since we got married.  I know, I don’t know why that happens, either!)  And we intend to raise B.T. with a healthy love and respect for camping and nature.  As soon as the tyke is able (which won’t be for a while, we realize), we’ll be taking him up for some good-old-fashioned communing with nature.

I also won’t be in school forever.  Next summer I’ll finally be free of summer classes (as I’ll be graduated by then) so who knows what wonderful summer vacation plans await our little family next year?

Regarding the bonus question, it’s always fun to reminisce about the good times from childhood.  Of course, I love camping today because my family, growing up, went camping every year for summer vacation after we came back state-side.  (I spent several of my earlier years in Germany, and I don’t recall ever camping in Germany.)  One year we went to the Grand Canyon.  Another year to Sequoia and King’s Canyon.  Another year to Zion.  I loved all of these summer excursions.  Every year we tried to do a different place – though many years we had to pick a destination a little closer to home and a littler easier on the pocket-book.  We didn’t grow up rich, you could say.  But one of the great things about camping is that you can have a great time and it’s not terribly expensive.

The two best parts about camping, to me, were always hiking and camp food.  I’ve never been really real backpack hiking… a symptom of my boyscout-less boyhood, and one I hope someday to rectify.  But we’d always do a two or three-hour round-trip hike at whatever camping destination we chose.   Camp food, meanwhile, was always delicious.  Real fire in a pit, potatoes and corn wrapped in foil and thrown on the grill (or, one time, we buried the foil-wrapped potatoes under the pit where the baked… spectacular!), and burgers, or hot dogs, or steak.  And after dinner: s’mores!  And for breakfast every morning it was scrambled eggs or pancakes with bacon or sausage or hot oatmeal.  These are the flavors that stick with me, even today.

It’s hard to describe with mere words the sheer joy these things brought to my life.