Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whew, we made it

A two-hour trip...usually. It took us something like four, and what makes it especially crazy is that the last hour and a half went about as normal. The first what should have been about 30 minutes was what dragged out for five times as long. We were going 5-10 mph from Dillon up to the tunnel that's at the Continental Divide in three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. I can remember being excited when we got up to 15, because at least it meant we might get down to Denver today... It really wasn't dangerous driving--no one was driving fast enough to be any real danger to others. The worst (apart from the tediousness of driving so slowly in such congestion) was when we'd get to a stop--then as I started, my tires would invariably fishtail. Now much of I-70 is apparently closed, so I'm glad we got out when we did.

Now there's the matter of trying to get settled back in and unpacked, which always seems to take us longer than I expect it to. It may be a little while before I get back into the swing of writing.
Driving back home

We're heading out as soon as we can get the cars loaded. Roads look a bit uncertain, so we'll be taking it slow.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Gather in the Growing Things"

My latest poem to be published is up now at Dragons, Knights & Angels: "Gather in the Growing Things." This was a poem written specifically for DKA's contest last summer where the theme was Inferno or Paradiso (or both). I'd forgotten about the competition until the day before the deadline, but then I sat down on the floor with my son and wrote this while playing with him (or the rough draft of it anyway). Rather than take an other-worldly, after-death interpretation of the theme, I wanted to approach it as something very much within our own lives (well...still speculative, of course).

This is the last item of the last issue of DKA--as of next week it is merging with The Sword Review to form Mindflights. So I guess my poem is a sort of send-off...or send-onward toward the new zine.

Friday, December 28, 2007

High Altitude Skiing

With Christmas week here, my wife is suddenly seeing a drastic increase in the number of skiers who aren't from high altitude. The base of the ski runs is nearly twice the altitude of Denver (and Fort Collins), but that's not enough of a difference for people to get altitude sick, but for people coming from sea level, 10,000 feet--and 12,000 at the top of the ski lifts--is a pretty extreme change, and their bodies aren't ready for it. Even for me after 3 weeks+ here, my resting heart-rate is still something like 85, and the percentage of oxygen in my blood is 90 percent of normal. So coming from most anywhere outside the Rockies and nearby High Plains...watch out. Use a bit of caution.

Another part of it is that the altitude makes alcohol more potent--they say figure one drink here is like three at sea level. And even without alcohol dehydration is a serious risk up here. So when a bunch of out-of-state college kids show up for a week of skiing and partying...well, you can imagine. Hungover, extremely dehydrated, so sleep-deprived they can hardly handle the free busing, much less the skiing. So if you do get drunk and pass out and fall off a ski lift as the clinic is just about to close on Christmas day, therefore making all the people working be an extra hour late to see their families...well, don't expect sympathy when you get the bill for the head CT scan, the ambulance ride to the hospital, the IV and everything else.

Oh, and if you're a 13-ish year-old boy from Mexico City up here to learn to snowboard...beware. My wife has seen three patients who fit that description with nearly identical injuries just in her short time here. There must be some kind of jinx.

It's cold out today--26 below in some parts of the state, and that's without factoring in wind chill. Not quite as cold here, but I don't think I'll be spending much time outside today.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Skiing

OK, for nearly a month I've been up here surrounded by some of Colorado's premier ski resorts...and haven't been skiing. But yesterday at least I had the chance to do some cross country skiing. I love that type of skiing--it's something I've been doing since I was probably 8 years old. So I'm experienced...but very out of practice. And my entire body is reminding me of that fact now...

It was beautiful though. The center had many trails, enough that even though it was fairly busy, I often felt alone on the trails, which of course is part of the attraction of X-country skiing. This is the first time I've skied somewhere that they groom the same trails for both classic (which I was doing) and skate skis. So that was different. It made for very wide trails. There were many incredible views of the surrounding mountains and more enclosed trails where all I could see were the snow-covered pine trees climbing up or down from where I skied.

So that and other things we did yesterday meant no writing at all for me, but I'm very glad I was able to do some skiing at least.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Merry Spanglish Christmas

If you ever took a Spanish class, chances are you've seen this before...but since it's been a number of years since I'd read it, I found it muy chistoso:

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring - ¡Caramba! ¿QuĂ© pasa?

Here's the rest of the poem...one version of it anyway--I can remember several different versions from Spanish classes, some with more Spanish, some less. May the day be merry and peaceful, whether you celebrate it as Christmas or not!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Secret Santa Redux

Just a couple of weeks ago I told on here how my most recent story at Reflection's Edge, "A Winter Solstice Sun," started as a Secret Santa gift for a writer (and artist) in one of my online critiquing groups. Well, this morning I received my gift this year...and this year she'd drawn my name. So I received a lovely picture illustrating that same story, a picture of a tree with just a hint of eyes and a goblin-like creature perched in its branches. She's a great artist (as well as one of the best comedic writers I know), so I was very pleased to get it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Report from the mountains

Not a lot new to report around here. We had some family up for a little while this weekend, which was fun. We drove around a bit, found some historic buildings to tour, enjoyed the views of the mountains. It's strange to be up here, away from a normal schedule. Because my wife has to work on weekends (and holidays) and gets random days off during the week, I really have to pause and think before I remember which day it is. But just one more week to go.

In writing I've been working on getting a few stories submission-ready, and I even finished a rough draft of a brand new story. I've been focusing so much on revising of late that it's become rare to do much new writing, so that was good. I hope to do some more new writing of some sort yet before we head back down the mountains, but I'm debating between two different stories to work on.

That's all for now. Internet is working well at the moment, so I hope to be able to post more frequently over the next few days.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Review at The Fix

My review of Caroline Ives Gilman's Aliens of the Heart is up now at The Fix. There are good stories in here, so check it out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shadow Streets

Back on the secure wireless that's what we're supposed to be using--it got fixed last night, so here's hoping it lasts this time...

I have one more story that came out earlier this month that I haven't mentioned in detail yet except to say that it was out, "Shadow Streets" in issue 2 of Staffs & Starships. I'm actually still not completely positive the issue is out--it's listed as an option in the purchasing section of the site, but there's no info on the Sheer Spec main page, and when I try to click on issue 2, I get an access denied message. I'd thought it was supposed to be out at the beginning of December, but maybe there are still some things holding that up.

Anyway, the story's origin: I've mentioned several times about the 1-hour-writes we do in one of my critique groups. In the very first of those, I created the setting of a city with day-time streets and night-time streets, and each would widen and narrow depending on the time of day. I liked the setting (as did those in my critique group), but I didn't see a lot of potential in the story fragment itself, so I just filed it away.

Then later, I had my first story accepted by (now defunct) Jupiter World Press, and the editor asked about the possibility of a sequel. Well, I didn't see anything in a direct sequel, but the characters in the story came from someplace I'd named the "Winged City." So combining that other setting with the few details I had in this story, an idea for a story began to evolve. I don't actually remember the direct impetus that brought the different elements together--I'm pretty sure there was something else, perhaps a prompt for the monthly challenge at another critique site. But that's the general idea of where it came from, and the result is the story of a resident of those night-time streets who has become trapped in the day-time city, a very different, and to her frightening place that she longs to escape.

So, whether the story is available now or not...I hope you can get a chance soon to buy a copy of the magazine and read it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Silk Betrayal

Well, our internet continues to be spotty and ridiculously slow. And the people in charge of the one we were supposed to be able to get on here aren't promising anything, in fact saying it's pretty unlikely it'll be fixed while we're here.

A nice thing about that is that I'm actually getting a lot of work done on my writing. I realize how much time I spend checking out different things online--not all of it a waste of time by any means, as I'm researching markets and learning more about the field and finding new approaches to writing specific scenes or whatever, but still it's probably good to get this chance to really get a lot done.

And the big thing I've gotten done is this round of revisions on my novel project. I'm very excited about this one. There are still things I need to do, of course. I have several pages of notes I jotted down as I went through of things that require double-checking, further development, and such things. My hope is to get through a lot of that list over the last two weeks we have here, and then I'll set the novel aside for a little while before coming back to it. Not long though--hopefully by early spring (or even sooner) I'll be looking for an agent for it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nemonymous revealed

Still no reliable internet, but again I'm sneaking in on a weak, but no-password-required signal from one of the other nearby rental properties. Let's hope it lasts long enough to post this... (added at the end: lost it halfway through, but it seems to be back now)

A couple of days ago, Des Lewis finally revealed the connections between authors and stories. So you can now know that "Word Doctor" was the story I contributed to the anthology. Typically I've been discussing the origins of stories as they are published (and I still have one recent story I need to do that for), but I couldn't do this six months ago without revealing which story I'd written. The idea actually came as a thought for a poem, the image of a craftsman (/woman--I hadn't decided yet) whose job is to fix broken words. And then in one of our 1-hour quick writes, the topic involved a package that arrives at the door of the main character. So I combined that with the image I already had...and this story developed from there.

In various reviews of the anthology, the story received generally positive comments, a straight-forward allegory (that was positive in that particular review), a gem, an ode to language (or something like that). So I've been very happy with that. And along with Sporty Spec, it makes two anthologies where my story was the final one--so that's fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Internet down again

Well, our condo rental's wireless has been down again since my last post. I did briefly manage to get online yesterday, sneaking in through a nearby, no-password-required server...but that one rarely has a good enough signal to allow us access. I'm at another house for the moment and able to briefly get online. They tell us the internet will be back up soon...so we'll see.

Nothing terribly exciting been happening out here...except for the few feet of snow we've had over the past few days. Today is clear, though, so I'm getting errands done. Hope all is well out there, and I hope to resume blogging regularly once our promised wireless is repaired.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Confessions of a Library Junkie

I'm a library person. I love books and have many at our house, but usually when I buy a book it's because I've already read it and want to be able to reread it or skim passages or simply look and remember what I thought about a given book. That's not always the case, but frequently.

The problem with buying a new book is that I'm always visiting the library and discovering more previously unread books that I want to read than I'll ever have time for. And that deadline hanging over the book makes it more likely I'll pick it up instead of one I own, which has no deadline.

So coming up here is my incentive to read some of the books that have been lying unread, or books I've wanted to reread but haven't gotten around to. I have a bag full of books. Fantasy and SF, mainstream, short stories. All fiction, I realize--no nonfiction or poetry.

But...

Within 15 hours of arriving here, I'd already discovered the local library and gotten myself a library card. I'm being good so far--I have a few things out, but I've been mostly reading the books I brought with. Fortunately the library is small, so in the brief time I skimmed the library, I didn't see a tone of the books that are high on my to-read list. I am hoping to get my bag of books read though.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Winter Solstice Sun

Number two as I say a few words about the stories I've just had published. This one has a fun history of sorts. A year ago, one writing community I'm part of held a Secret Santa thing where we could write a flash fiction or a scene or poem or whatever or draw a picture, etc. as a gift for another person--not that then the work belonged to the other person, but that then they received an exclusive read of it.

So that's the most immediate source of this story, written for a writer and artist in Finland (which explains the name of the character, Puu, which is Finnish for 'tree').

So within that context, the other source was an article at Strange Horizons last year about ancient winter traditions, some of which our own Christmas and other traditions draw on...and some not. So that provided the inspiration for the fun little seasonal story, which you can now read at Reflection's Edge, a story of Puu, the walking tree from the land of no winter sun who longs for a glimpse of that light on the winter solstice.

Hmmm, now I have to think of what I should be writing this year as a Secret Santa gift...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Sinterklaas Day!


Hope you don't get coal in your wooden shoe!

(Here's what I'm talking about, including why it's controversial--something that's worth paying attention to. I should have posted this earlier in the evening, I suppose, though at least this is easily in time for any Belgians living in the Rocky Mountain Time Zone...)
The People of the Growing Moon

All right, time to start commenting about some of the stories I have out now, starting with this one, from Curious Volumes Publishing.

Nice cover here--fittingly implying cave paintings as it does. The story was already published in print by Spinning Whorl, so I probably explained a bit of its origins at the time. But for new readers to the blog, here's a bit of how it came about. It's actually one of my earlier stories, though it went through a significant rewrite (in fact, completely tearing the story apart and putting it together in a different way) immediately before I sent it to Spinning Whorl.

At the time of the initial writing I was working on my first novel manuscript, and one of the characters is always aware of the phase of the moon, because it's his one connection to his mother's people. So I had to research and figure out exactly how the moon changes throughout its cycle...and that research created a single image in my mind, that of a people who live exactly for half the moon's phase and know that they will die once the moon reaches full. And yet they worship the moon and celebrate each night that brings them more time to enjoy the moon. (Given their short lifespan, each 24-hour period seems like much longer than it would seem to us, so they have numerous periods of sleeping and waking within each day.)

That image lingered in my mind for a while, though I wasn't sure how to use it...until I came up with their opposites, their shadows in Jungian terms, those who live during the waning cycle of the moon. That's when the story was born. So, go check it out if you want to see what happens from there.
Internet is back up!

It's still sometimes spotty, disconnecting unexpectedly, but now I can at least post a pair of pictures. Here's the view from the porch of our condo:

Before you get too jealous, though, keep in mind that this is a one-bedroom place for two adults and a 3-year-old...

I expect I'll have quite a few blog posts over the next few days, so keep visiting!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lack of promised internet + a handful of stories published

Here we are at 9,000 feet with beautiful views of the mountains. The trip up was no problem. Unfortunately, the promised wireless internet is done until Friday or so. So once that's up, I'll start posting pictures and other reports of our adventures.

In the meantime, please check out some of the stories of mine that have just come online within the past few days--especially the reprint (from the now-defunct print zine Spinning Whorl) of "People of the Growing Moon" at Curious Volumes Publishing. It has some very cool cover art too. When I originally sent it in, the editor was hoping for a full anthology of moon-related stories. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but you can still get that story by itself, or check out some of the other stories available there.

I'll have to wait until I have better internet to post anything more specific about the other stories, but you can check them out for yourself through the links at the right at Reflection's Edge and Staffs & Starships.

I'll have a poem coming out shortly as well, so stay tuned for that.

Until...???

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Heading out

Well, once again the frantic preparations for going up into the mountains have kept me from blogging as much as I'd like. We're heading out shortly to spend a month in a ski-resort town...but I'm not sure how much skiing I'll actually be doing. I grew up doing lots of cross country skiing, but have never downhilled, plus I'll be taking care of my son while my wife works at the ski-injuries and high-altitude clinic.

I should have normal internet access up there, since the place supposedly has free wireless. So I hope to keep everything up to date here (with my new laptop!). I do have a handful of stories and a poem that should be coming out within the next few days, so I'll mention those as they become available.

So stay tuned (and wish us luck driving, as there was just a significant snowstorm yesterday in the area where we'll be going).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Laptop

Well, I have a new computer--jumping from a desktop that ran Windows ME to a brand new Vista-running laptop is a bit of a change. From things I've heard, I would have chosen XP if I could have, (or maybe even a Mac, though I don't think my wife would have gone for that) but that wasn't an option at the store, and we needed to buy it immediately and turn the receipt in to my wife's work. So here I am, getting all the settings how I like them and playing around with it instead of writing.

Or instead of packing rather, since we leave shortly, but more on that in a later post.