Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I've got talent

Somehow, I've managed to schedule the following events all for today, when there clearly is not enough time for any of them.
  1. Lunch with a client
  2. Making applesauce
  3. Canning applesauce
  4. Doing laundry, so I have clean clothes to bring to Virginia (conference tomorrow)
  5. Packing for Virginia
  6. Taking Zoe to the vet because she keeps sneezing and scratching her poor little nose. (We suspect allergies.)
  7. Ya know, that work stuff.
And in answer to the question that is lurking in your minds, dear blog readers... no, I cannot put off making the applesauce because my apples are freshly picked and I will be in Virginia for a week, and then they will not be good when I arrive home. But I'm going to double-crockpot-it (new words, hooray!), which will at least let the applesauce cook slowly, and I can can it this evening.

And Chris made apple pie last night and I got to have it for breakfast. So life has some compensation to the hectic schedule today. =)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Communication Outage

As our internet has been on the fritz for god knows how many months now, Chris is bringing in the cable modem and getting us a new one. I'll probably be out of communication range for all of today, just to let the world know. The business line will work, but may be in a different room from me, as I intend to try and get some manuscripts read without interruption.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Randy Pausch

I know I should write something about Robert Jordan, and I will, eventually, but this is about someone slightly more personal to me.

It's an odd feeling, watching someone you've met, die from a distance. Randy Pausch is only forty-six years old and he's dying of pancreatic cancer. I know him from my time at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a computer science professor quite unlike any other. I never had the opportunity to take his courses--in fact, I don't think I ever exchanged more than two words with him in passing--but nonetheless, he made an indelible impression on students at the university itself.

This is a man who had an office full of giant stuffed animals, the type that you win at amusement parks, hanging from the ceiling of his work space. He combined fun and technology, drama and design, and code and culture. He co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center at CMU, which is one of the only programs in the country that essentially grants you a masters degree in video games. Every year, each semester, it may have been, he taught a course called "Building Virtual Worlds".

"Building Virtual Worlds" was exactly what it seemed; you spent the semester creating virtual reality worlds in collaborative teams with other students. You had to audition for the course, and just being able to code meant bupkis. You needed to be able to work as a team with other students; drama majors, english majors, voice majors, anyone was welcome and eligible to apply, and in fact, was encouraged to do so. You didn't need any prior experience with computer science at all. The course was competitive and time-consuming, all the students always said, but the results at the end were simply stellar. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, the students, undergraduates mostly, had created magic.

And at the end of each course period, there was the show. Tickets were handed out, and you had to wait on line for them, as they were so hard to get. You filed into the auditorium in the UC (University Center), and you sat down to watch. And then the fun would begin. Each team of students would display their virtual reality world, with one member operating the actual virtual reality equipment, and the view of that team member displayed on a large screen for all to see. It was fascinating. You were inside that world, with the person playing the game, and the concepts and worlds they came up with were amazing. I think I went every year that I could, it was that good.

And now he's dying and it's terribly sad. There are a lot of people that die, many of them due to cancer, and other illnesses. But at the same time, no matter how close you were to someone, if you've met them only once... you still don't want them to die. I wouldn't wish death on my worst enemy. In Peter Pan, Captain Hook always goes on about how death is the greatest adventure, but at the end of the story, we find out, it's really not. Because according to Barrie, life is the greatest adventure, and it's worth savoring each and every second of it.

Randy Pausch seems to have done that.

I'll be sorry when he's gone.

Here's a link to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on his last lecture.

And here's a link to his webpage at CMU.

Monday, September 17, 2007

HanaKimi Cheerleaders

I have absolutely no idea how long this will stay on YouTube for, but I think it's terribly funny. =)

The quality isn't the best, since YouTube encoding is notoriously crappy, but it's a scene from the Japanese dorama I've been watching, HanaKimi. Yes, they are all guys, except for one actress mixed in. (Yes, this is what I watch on the weekends... make of it what you will. =)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Career Matchmaker Thing

I so rarely do memes on this blog, but this one amuses me.

Here's how to do it:
1. Go to
2. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.
3. Take their “Career Matchmaker” questions.
4. Post the top results.

Here's my results:
1. Historian
2. ESL Teacher
3. Technical Writer
4. Corporate Trainer
5. Librarian
6. Computer Trainer
7. Business Systems Analyst
8. Professor
9. Anthropologist
10. Foreign Language Instructor
11. Communications Specialist
12. Genetic Counselor
13. Epidemiologist
14. Database Developer
15. Translator
16. Casting Director
17. Critic
18. Writer
19. Curator
20. Career Counselor
21. Elementary School Teacher
22. School Counselor
23. Early Childhood Educator
24. Motivational Speaker
25. Artist
26. Advertising Copywriter
27. Director
28. Researcher
29. Zoologist
30. Music Teacher / Instructor
31. Computer Network Specialist
32. Inventor
33. Advertising Account Executive
34. Market Research Analyst
35. Print Journalist
36. Biologist
37. Marriage and Family Therapist
38. Computer Programmer
39. Web Developer
40. Addictions Counselor

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Schedule stuff coming up

Just so we're all on the same page about everything, here's what I have ahead of me for the months of September through November.

September 12-14: Erev Rosh Hashanah and Rosh Hashanah itself (Jewish high holidays, part #1). I'll be busy the afternoon of the 12th and probably not doing very much on the 13th and 14th, as I'll be in temple.

September 21-22: Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur (Jewish high holidays, part #2). I'll be helping my mom cook on the 21st, so that we can stuff ourselves like pigs, and then fasting away on the 22nd. Don't expect any work to get done during this holiday. =)

September 27-October 3: From September 27-September 30, I'll be down in Richmond, VA for the James River Writers Conference. Then, from September 30-October 3, I'll be visiting my friend Jodi, who has promised to introduce me to the wonders of ferrets.

October 5: Mom has medical procedure (unrelated to accident), so I'll be in NYC with her all day. Once again, no work will get done that day, as we all bow to the power of the laparoscopic laser that vaporizes kidney stones (it's really rather cool).

October 18-October 21: I'll be up near Vancouver, BC at the Surrey International Writers Conference.

November 1-November 4: Chris and I will be making our appearance at the World Fantasy convention, as soon as I sort out the mix-up with his registration.

November 9-10 or so: I'll be at the Ohio Valley RWA chapter conference. First time in Ohio, baby! It's probably going to be a one day thing, but we'll see how plane ticket prices are.

And that's it, as far as schedules for things go. I'm seriously cutting down on the conferences next year, big time. =)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Errands, alas

I'm off to do errands this morning, but if you feel like asking an agent some questions, may I recommend Jennifer Jackson's Miss Manners feature? She's a great agent, and I'm sure many of you would love to chat with her. I like, too, that the letters submitted are anonymous.

(I'll also put in the disclaimer that I don't have time to really read all her answers, so if you want to rant and rave about me, feel free to do so. I am who I am, and that's all that matters. =)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Primal scream

At college, they always had an event during finals week each semester, to help students let off excess stress. It was aptly named "Primal Scream", and that's what people did. They'd build a bonfire by the Fence (a CMU landmark, of sorts), make some food, and students would gather around and scream until their finals stress was gone.

I think it's a good concept to revive around now. =)


One, two, three... *scream*.

I certainly feel better now--do you? =)

Friday, September 07, 2007

RIP Madeline L'Engle

Publisher's Weekly is reporting that Madeline L'Engle passed away last night. This makes me very sad, as I love her books. They were a huge influence on my love of fantasy, as a child, and two of them, A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET and MANY WATERS, are personal favorites.

Here's what PW says:

"Madeleine L’Engle
Author Madeleine L’Engle died last night in Connecticut, at the age of 89. Best known for her 1963 Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, L’Engle was the author of more than 60 books for adults and young readers, most of which were published by FSG. This spring, the Square Fish imprint of Holtzbrinck reissued L'Engle's Time Quintet in new editions."

The car formerly known as mine

The picture isn't the best quality because I took it on my cell phone, but it shows a bunch of the damage. Let me explain.

On Wednesday, my mom borrowed my car (the one pictured) to go to a doctor's appointment in NYC. My car is by far the crappiest of the ones that my parents own, being a 1988 Oldsmobile, which is why they loan it to me for free. It's also a decent one to take into the city because no one in their right mind would want to steal it, and my mom's doctor isn't in the greatest part of Manhattan.

On her way home from NYC, on the NJ turnpike, my mom rearended a pickup truck. We won't go into the details of the accident because that's not appropriate to post on a blog. Needless to say, the car turned out looking like that. My mom, for those that are wondering, came out of it bloody and badly bruised, but is otherwise fine. Part of her injuries stemmed from the fact that a 1988 Oldsmobile HAS NO AIRBAGS, so she hit the steering wheel pretty hard. On the other hand, because it's a 1988 Oldsmobile and built like a freaking tank, it probably saved her from getting hurt far worse than if she had been in a newer, albeit more fragile car.

I'm going to use this as an example, however. Not about how you must drive safely or anything like that because that's not my point at all. My point is that once I found out she was hurt, I was out of the office on Wednesday. This is my mom we're talking about. I was with her and my dad in the ER until 3 am on Thursday morning. I got home, and I lost all of Thursday as a working day because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that I slept.

I woke up this evening, and what do I find? One e-mail from a client who decided that they would fire me via e-mail (always a polite touch), and several other e-mails from clients, along the lines of: "Where the hell have you been? Why are you not doing work for me, NOW?!". I am so sick and fed up of being stomped on like this. Really, you get an agent, and this is not how you treat them. We are human. We are people. We have things come up in life. Accidents happen, people get married, life happens for us too.

I understand that writers can get anxious and that you worry about your work. I understand that it's a huge thing to finally have an agent behind you who will send out your work to publishers. I can see this from the point of view of an agent and a writer. But for god's sake, people, don't treat your agents like this. I have a SMALL client list, here. Somewhere between twenty to twenty-five people (I have to count), and I cannot and will not drop everything at a moment's notice for a client who thinks they're having a crisis. Unless your house has burnt down, you've been in a car accident, someone has died, etc, and you are not able to finish your book on deadline, YOU ARE NOT HAVING THE TYPE OF CRISIS THAT WILL CAUSE ME TO DROP THE WORK I AM DOING WITH OTHER CLIENTS AT THE MOMENT.

And I mean this in the general sense, speaking for all agents. We're all busy; we all have lives; we all have other clients. You, and this is the general "you", not directed at my clients, but at writers in particular, are not the end-all-and-be-all of our existences. Wait in line, especially if your agent is like me, and working in a semi-autonomous fashion. There are other clients besides you--as long as you realize this and cut your agent some slack, then you'll have a productive business relationship with them.

Please try to be considerate, and your agent will try to be considerate back.

Lori says that I'm way too nice to people.

Maybe she's right.

Maybe I should be a jaded, disillusioned old industry hack. Wouldn't that be fun?

At least it wouldn't hurt when I get stomped on, and accused of being a horrible person, just because I'm not working as fast as someone thinks I should be.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Post details, etc.

To whet your appetite for future blog content, I offer the following topics for posts, which I will get to this week. At the moment though, I'm off to go to bed in a bit, before waking up for the business day. =) So just a list for now--they keep you on track, right?.
  1. Yes, the wedding pictures. Yes, a post about the wedding. We're still waiting to get our official photos back from our photographer.
  2. Yes, posts about Alaska and the honeymoon. Awesome state, truly.
  3. Major pimpage of THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet, which debuted during my wedding chaos.
  4. More client pimpage because you know, my clients are cool like that. =)
  5. Exciting surprise professional news!
  6. Some more thoughts on the SFWA thing, as well as my thoughts on "piracy", etc.
  7. A possible post on the new ideas about revising royalty structures (I need to research this some more, before I can even begin to formulate coherent ideas about this, so this may be a bit in coming.)
  8. A Zoe picture, of course.
Things on the horizon for next week:
  1. Several different posts answering all the great questions that were asked before my honeymoon.
  2. Whatever interesting comes my way, and that I feel like talking about.
How I'll be spending my work week:
  1. Answering the 367 e-mails in my inbox.
  2. Calling clients to catch-up.
  3. Calling editors to follow-up on projects that were submitted.
  4. Dealing with a large number of foreign rights things that need to be mailed.
  5. Finalizing some contracts.
  6. Looking for a new intern in NJ; my intern, Michelle, made the last-minute decision to move to California, and so I am internless again. A note for people waiting on word about partials: Michelle took home a big bin of them, approximately half my slush pile, to work on while I was gone. She's gone through them, but I'm waiting for her mother to drop the bin back off at my house (Michelle is in California already). There may be further delays in response time, as I can't do anything until her mother comes by sometime this week. They are, safe and sound, however, so please do not worry about them. =)