Biscuits, Tea, And A Sock Monkey

Yesterday I braved Portland traffic (thank God for GPS) and hopped over to Pine State Biscuits for lunch with Mark Henry, Jaye Wells, and Richelle Mead. Oh, LORD. It was great.

The food was delicious–they bake a mean biscuit over there, as attested by the size of the crowd lining up at the door. It’s a tiny place, but we scored a table. The table itself groaned under our selections, because everything looked good. I tried my first fried green tomato; I was not brave enough for the andouille corndog. Both Jaye and Mark were brave enough for that corndog, though, and pronounced themselves ruined for all other weiners for life.

You can kind of guess how lunch conversation went. This is one of the reasons I love hanging around writers. At one point we were all sitting around giving serious consideration to stalker zombies and build-your-own smut scenes. Though that was later at Tao of Tea, where we sat and had a bit of tea to wash some of what we ate out of our systems. (Note: it didn’t work. But I tried.) Anyway, if you want some good down-home biscuits (not to mention collard greens, Southern sodas, or fried green tomatoes, oh my GOD so good), Pine State is worth the trouble and the crowd. And Tao of Tea is such a neat little place!

I can’t guarantee the conversation will be as raunchy, but I can guarantee the food and tea are damn good.

I got home and did some yardwork right before a stormy afternoon rolled in. Two sessions of hail, thunder, torrential rain–March went out like a lion here in my piece of the world. This morning’s sunny, but I’m thinking the weather is playing an April Fool’s joke on me. (The Little Prince’s April 1 joke was propping a sock monkey up in my writing chair. I was uncaffeinated when I saw it, and my start of surprise made him giggle.)

In other news, I finished Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart. I realized at the end that all Murakami’s narrators are gateways–things come through them, they don’t necessarily act or react. I read Murakami because he evokes a certain mood in me, just like Duras. Sean Stewart also sometimes taps a particular mood; I’m so busy skating along the surface of the story I rarely take a look below at the mechanics of craft. Which is damn rare, for me. It seems I can’t help but read as if I’m going to edit the damn book. Which might be why I’m generally on such a nonfiction kick, occasional grammatical hoohaws and typos don’t bother me so much.

And now I must bring this ramble to a close. There’s a lot to get done today, from wordcount to correspondence.

Back into the belly of the beast I go. I’m still tasting those fried green tomatoes. And I’m happy about that.

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Audiobook Wow

My God, you guys. I just listened to the boathouse scene in Betrayals on audiobook. (Strange Angels is here.) A copy of it was just delivered today, and OH MY GOD, you GUYS, the woman reading it is spectacular. She just nails Christophe. It’s amazing. I finished listening to the scene and had cold chills.

It’s an exotic experience to hear words that you agonized over read professionally. I just about came out of my skin, I was jumping up and down and squealing so hard. This is the first time I’ve had the chance to listen to my own work in audiobook format. It’s so strange. But ZOMG, wow. I was blown away.

Little things like this totally make my day.

I have to zip, because I’m in a ticklish spot with the current book and I want to get a good handle on a showdown scene before everyone comes home for the day. But I just had to pop in and tell you that. Plus, stay tuned for an upcoming contest! I have a Reader Request for the mark Japhrimel put on Dante’s shoulder; I know what it looks like but I think I need an artist to draw it for me. I think this particular Reader is planning to do something with whatever I come up with, so that’s a consideration.

If you’re not an artist, don’t worry. There will be a contest for you to win something too!

Anyway, off I go. I am grinning foolishly and not at all calm right now.

Some days I love being me.

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Hand On Sword, Eye On Prize

When you get up at 6AM with a whole week’s worth of to-do collapsed into a single day…everything turns into a blur. Especially when you’ve been awake half the night stressed out about All The Things You’ve Decided To Do Today. I was up pretty early this morning, and I got everything accomplished. My list, which looked like a mad scientist’s scratchpad, has EVERYTHING crossed off. If I wasn’t so damn tired I’d go get myself a glass of wine to celebrate. Unfortunately the wine would put me straight into a coma.

So I’m just checking in with a couple of quick things.

* To Reader Shelly H.: your letter made me cry. It’s those types of letters that get me through and remind me why I’m doing this on days when I’m deluged by bad reviews or deadline panic, revision hell or Muse bonbon shortage. Thank you for taking the time to write. You really made my day. Hell, my month. Keep swinging, kid. I’m right there with you.

I do read every piece of fanmail you guys send. I can’t respond much (if at all) because of Deadline and Life Pressure. I know you guys understand because you tell me you do, often in the the first paragraph. I do read and treasure–and in some cases, reread–your letters. Thank you so much for writing to me. You’re all awesome.

* I’ve signed myself and the kids up for a rock-climbing basics class in April. (The Krav Maga place was always closed when I went by to check it out. Oh well!) It’ll teach belaying for me, and other stuff for the small ones. They’re absolutely thrilled. I hadn’t realized we had TWO community centres with indoor rock walls in Vancouver. (The mind boggles.) Plus there are other ones in Portland.

However, I know next to naught about climbing. I’ll be climbing indoors for the foreseeable future. Reader TJ Tradekraft (hi TJ!) has already given me some great advice, and if anyone else around here is a climber, feel free to advise me in comments or drop me an email. Yes, I am actually asking for advice. Don’t look surprised, I do this all the time.
I’m looking for stuff like:

what to look for in a good climbing wall
what to look for in a good instructor
general safety tips
general comfort tips (like TJ says, “tape your fingers!”)
general advice

That about covers it. I’ve got dinner cooking and some wordcount to get in so today is a total win instead of a qualified win. I suspect I’ll feel better with more food in me; lunch was good but it was hours ago.

Whew. Off I go…

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Linkspam! (And Drop-Dead!)

Links this morning!

* Ever wonder how the Deadline Dames came to be? Wonder no more. Here’s the real story. (Devon Monk is a GENIUS.) Before you ask, yes, I am considering a Tiger Lili short story.

* Motoko Rich on the math of of publishing meeting the ebook. (h/t to Colleen Lindsay and Victoria Strauss.)

* It’s amazing what gets left out of a Will Rogers quote. (h/t to Mary Robinette Kowal.)

It’s ironic that not so long ago I couldn’t run a mile without wanting to throw up and die, not necessarily in that order. This morning I was actually Quite Put Out that I could “only” run two miles, taking it easy because of the cold the Princess brought home from middle school. It isn’t a bad cold by any means, except it made me so exhausted yesterday I could barely crawl. A little bit of stuffiness, a little bit of sore throat, and a whole lotta tired. Oh well.

Today is the drop-dead date (I should blog about drop-deads, maybe this Friday) for beginning serious work on a couple projects, so I won’t be around so much for a couple weeks. If you send me an email, it’s going to be a while before I get to it. It’s not you, it’s that I’m focusing on getting some stuff out the door. Nuff said.

And with that, off I go to turn off the wireless router and get down into it. Catch you on the flip side.

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Got Zombies, Be Back In A Bit…

Just a flyby post, since the last few days have been crazy. Next week will be better.

Tonight at 6:30PM (Pacific) I’ll be doing #askawriter on Twitter or about 20 minutes/half an hour. Come by and ask questions about writing/publishing. I will NOT answer questions such as “will you read my manuscript?” or “can you help me with my homework?” Other than that, fair game.

It’s a beautiful blue-sky day and I’ve some zombies to kill. Catch you later.

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Today Is My Valentine To Me

Yesterday’s OMSI trip was a blast despite the crowds. The youngest among us loved the room that shoots little blue balls everywhere, the middle crowd went gaga over the space exhibit, and us oldfolk had the most fun with the T. Rex skeleton. H. told me that there’s some thought that T. Rex was actually more of a scavenger than a predator, which I have to say makes some sense given their teensy arms. I leave it to the paleontologists to sort out, possibly with a caged deathmatch. SCIENCE FIGHT!

Ahem.

Today is the day I take myself on a Valentine date. *primps hair* I’ll report back on the Wolfman tomorrow.

Oh, also, yesterday I goofed. Fellow Razorbill author Suzanne Young is signing tonight out at Cedar Hills Crossing. The Princess loved her book, The Naughty List, and Suzanne is a ton of fun. If you can, go out and show some love! I don’t know if I’ll be able to get out there, but I’ll be there in spirit cheering her on.

Before I take myself on a date, however, I have to make a stab at a short story. 5K, five scenes 1K apiece. This is going to have to be careful, delicate surgery, my dears, requiring gallons of caffeine and lots of staring into the distance, turning the story over inside my head before I draw and make my cut.

Wish me luck.

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Optimism Proceeds Apace

First, the links: there’s a giveaway of Flesh Circus over at NL Berger’s place. And here’s an opinion piece about how the Internet does not mean the death of publishing. Oh, and nuts in Texas might be affecting the textbooks your children will use. (This last one is why I’m so glad I have a great deal of information and supplementary reading for my kids just hanging around the house.)

It’s been a time of big changes here at Casa Saintcrow, and we’ve just accomplished one of the biggest. Which has required a wrenching in our personal habits–now we’re all getting up between 6 and 7 AM. This is not cool for my biorhythms, man.

I have always been a night owl. Always. Given my druthers, I’d be completely nocturnal. Unfortunately, life won’t allow that. So I’m stuck on a schedule that my entire body rebels against. It’s hell for the first half-hour or so of my day, until I can get enough coffee in to trick my flesh into believing that it should be vertical, not to mention ambulatory and thinking.

Fortunately, the Little Prince and Princess are both so excited, they adore the new schedule and are quickly falling into a routine. And getting up this early leaves me with a shoal of time in the early afternoon that’s turned quite productive. (My productivity has also been helped by a number of stressors Going Away.) So, it’s got its good things.

The “make 2010 MY year” Optimism Experiment is going full steam. I’m fitting into size 14 jeans. While this does not sound like a lot, if you’ve ever lost a significant amount of weight, you know what it feels like to hit a milestone. Which this size definitely is, for me. I have even more grounds for optimism, in that there’s been nothing so far in the past two months that I couldn’t handle. I am beginning to feel okay about things, another huge step up.

On the other hand…I think I have to ditch about 1K I wrote yesterday evening. It’s a great scene, but I think it belongs a touch later in the book. This is why having a slush file for each book is so important for me. Of all the slush piles, the one for To Hell And Back is most extensive, because I had two or three different fully-finished versions of the book. That was a lot of work. Damn.

In any case, it’s time for the treadmill now. I am feeling cautiously, faintly optimistic about this entire 2010 thing. Which is way, way better than the alternative.

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