Steampunk Nayad #1

That's it - I'm moving out of LiveJournal!

Okay, I haven't been posting. FAIR ENOUGH. My move to a different blog-o-spot won't change your life. But the spam around here is crazy, and I don't stop by much. I want to start anew with blogging.

Now that I'm on Google+ (I am! Join me if you're on it!), I have a link on my profile to my new space-for-blogging, Never Forget That Writers Are Insane, where I might remember to post, since I'll see the link and it will remind me. That's my plan. I know you're thinking "Yeah, RIGHT," but try to keep an open mind on this, willya? I mean, I'm only human and stuff.

I'm not prepared to go radical and delete this account; I will try to show up and link over to my posts for a while. Don't be alarmed.
Steampunk Nayad #1

Updating for once, plus what is up with the spam lately?

My last entry has gotten hit with more spam comments in the last month than all my other LJ entries combined. I thought I'd write another one to give that one a break from all of the abuse. It seems only fair.

Since all the way back when I wrote that one, in December, I have:

- Lost eight of the ten pounds I've lost since early November;
- Written a beginning chunk of a science fiction novel;
- Accepted invitations to submit stories to three anthologies;
- Written most of the story that's due first;
- Registered for OddCon (April), WorldCon (August), and World Fantasy (October (and it's a good thing I'm a planner, because WFC sold out early. If you want to go but have no membership, get on the waiting list at the World Fantasy website));
- Read slush pretty much every day, except when I had to be away for a funeral;
- Basically lived the dream of a writer with kids who has to stick to a writing routine in order to get anything done.

How have you been?
Steampunk Nayad #1

Best Books I Read in 2010

Goal Achieved: 50+ Books Read in 2010! When I was a teenager with hardly any responsibilities, I probably read a couple hundred books each year, but these days--with the three children, writing, slush-reading, and all--it's a major achievement to read fifty-one books in a year, so I'm proud. I may even squeeze in a fifty-second by the end. Or I may rest my eyes a bit.

I won't post the whole list, but here are my favorites (entirely subjective, not in any special order, and not guaranteed to have been published in 2010):

The Shadow Year - Jeffrey Ford
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Wind-Up Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
Blackout/All Clear - Connie Willis
Pandemonium - Daryl Gregory
The Passage - Justin Cronin
The City & the City - China Miéville
The Stepford Wives - Ira Levin

The Empire of Ice Cream - Jeffrey Ford
Magic for Beginners - Kelly Link
Leviathan Wept and Other Stories - Daniel Abraham
The Poison Eaters - Holly Black

The Best Horror of the Year - Ellen Datlow, ed.
Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy - ed. William Schafer
Clockwork Phoenix - Mike Allen, ed.

Gang Leader for a Day - Sudhir Venkatesh
How to Write Funny - John B. Kachuba, ed.
Manuscript Makeover - Elizabeth Lyon
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
Storyteller - Kate Wilhelm
Accidental Genius - Mark Levy
Steampunk Nayad #1

Renew! Renew! Renew!

(I am actually well beyond Last Day, but so far I haven't had to do much running).

This is the month when I have a birthday followed closely by a New Year, so I think about Things.* I contemplate what I've done in the last year, and what I want to do in the next year, and why and how it all happened and what I'm going to do about it. So what you can expect around here is some sort of post about what I've read in the last year--at least the best of it--and, possibly, if I come to any Significant Conclusions about Life or find that I must share some Important News, then I'll write about those, too.

Thirty-nine! I'll be thirty-nine soon! And that means most people will probably assume that I'm lying about my age all year. I'm sure I can handle it. But this is your year+ notice to prepare yourselves for December 13, 2011, when I will turn forty and also there will be Mystic Events, Cataclysms, and Lots of Beer for Everyone.

*With apologies for all of the Rampant and Egregious Capitalization. It seemed like the thing to do at the time.
Steampunk Nayad #1

Here's my special method of preparations for World Fantasy and other conventions.

Hello, LJ-ers! How are you today?

I've mentioned this in possibly as many as a few thousand places online, but in case your eyes haven't been bombarded with this fact quite enough, know that I AM GOING TO WORLD FANTASY NEXT WEEK.

(Thieves, note that my house will be occupied by other people while I'm gone.)

In case you've ever wondered what I do to get ready for a convention, I'm going to tell you what I do to get ready for a convention.

I mention everywhere online that I'll be at the convention. That way other people who are going can prepare themselves to be chatted with by me at any moment when they're there. Because I do chat. I chat a lot.

I look at the membership list, and take note of anyone I'd particularly like to see while I'm there (and sometimes anyone I'd especially love to avoid, but let's try to stay positive). That gives me the chance to think about any questions or comments I have for them, to read their books or stories if I can, and to email them ahead of time to ask about meeting up if that seems like an appropriate thing to do. Different things apply for different people. I'm likely to see a range of old friends, new acquaintances, and authors I admire who have never heard of me. There are many, many people in the latter category.

I look at the programming schedule, and get an idea of which panels I want to see. If I'm being particularly organized, I'll try to figure out some other things in advance, like times it would be best to get some lunch (tricky, when there are good panels competing for my attention), and when I can set up meetings, if I need to, or hang out in the bar, or take emergency naps if I happen to have stayed up all night talking to people.

I plan and pack what I'm going to wear to the parties.

I pack way too much reading material. More than I could read in the timespan of the convention, even if I had nothing else to do then. Despite knowing with absolute certainty that I WILL buy books in the dealers' room, and that at many conventions (especially World Fantasy), I WILL be handed an entire and rather large bag of free books to take home. This overpacking of reading material is unavoidable and without remedy.

I pack too many pairs of shoes.

I see how much room is left in my luggage for my daytime clothes and pack accordingly, aiming for things that all go together and that can be layered, or not, for different weather conditions.

If I'm going to be on any panels, I prepare for them. This involves thinking about what the topic could possibly mean, writing some notes about it, thinking about how a moderator I don't know might interpret the topic's meaning differently, writing some notes about that, looking up some things online, and hoping for the best. If I'm the moderator, I write down enough notes and questions to establish a think tank on the topic, and to possibly begin a new career as an expert in that topic. I also assemble dossiers on my fellow panel-members. But I'm an underachiever, and you might want to do more if you're ever in the completely enviable position of being the moderator.

I get online and mention a few more times that I'm going to the convention.

And that, right there, is my simple and elegant method of preparing to go to a convention. Once I get to the convention, practically everything I've planned and prepared for will change in unexpected ways, or get canceled completely by events beyond my control, but then I end up with good stories to tell at the parties, so that's all right.
bangkok sunshine

Character Name Generators Made By Meeeeeeee

I'm always looking for name generators that give me the kind of results I want, so when I discovered Generator Land this morning, I went and made my own name generators that will offer the kind of quirky results I'm talking about. It's a mix of fairly normal and fairly weird names, and you get a first, middle, and last name in each result. Here you go!

Female names

Male names

Let me know if you make your own generators, too! I love these things.
giant in the window

I know. I know.

I don't post enough. MY BAD.

How are you, LiveJournal? How is your spam-comment problem going? Does the spam-doctor offer you any hope of a decent recovery? Are you drained by your competitors? Those young whippersnapper sites where the status updates and the tweets flow fast and free?

LiveJournal, I still love you. I think of you at least every few days, and remember our good times together. I will try to come around more often.

Your faithful LiveJournaller,
calvin reality ruins

Creepy behavior in social media

I had a situation in Facebook that ended badly the other day.

I use Facebook to interact with a combination of friends and colleagues. It's hard for me to draw the line between friend and colleague in many cases, because I go to science fiction and fantasy conventions and have friendly good times with speculative fiction people who may or may not confide things during jolly conversations with drinks. I try to stay in touch with as many people as I can on a mild, social-media level of interaction. Most of them are not super-close, but they're not non-friends, either. Calling them acquaintances seems kind of distant, in most cases. So I meet people, a lot of them, and they're around on Facebook. I don't put terribly personal information on my profile, but I post pictures and I joke around.

This story is about a guy who started to act strangely. I'm not going to post his name.

I'd met him in person on a couple of occasions and had conversations with him that didn't last long. He seemed fine. He doesn't live near me. He would post comments on my Facebook status updates, and we were mutual followers on Twitter. I would reply. But at some point, the tone of his comments changed, and he started to slip insinuations into what he said. Nothing terribly out there. Nothing so wrong that I would immediately tell him I didn't like it. But it was a half-flirtatious, half-snide, not-quite-appropriate vibe. At one point I was annoyed enough to ask what was up with a repeating type of comment he made, and he treated it like a joke and started to repeat that kind of comment more often, which I didn't think was cute. I decided to ignore him from then on unless he posted inoffensive comments, which he did a couple of times. I replied to those. But then he posted a comment that involved me rubbing food all over my body.

I thought about sending him a private message to tell him to back off, but by that point I thought, no, I'd like to state this more strongly and in front of witnesses. I posted in the comment thread that I wanted him to stop it, and that I wasn't there to be harassed, and I didn't want him to post "just kidding" because I didn't want to hear it. This was after a couple of months of annoyance and trying to figure out how to deal with this. Maybe he was just joking around, but whether he intended to joke or not, I think that there are objective standards about appropriate behavior, and the comment he made crossed the boundary into inappropriateness.

The result was that he deleted his comment and unfriended me on Facebook and unfollowed me on Twitter. I can't say that I miss him, but he could have saved the moment if he'd either apologized or simply carried on with being an online acquaintance in an appropriate way. Misunderstandings happen, and I can get over them. But I couldn't let the situation go, and not say anything, because I was starting to have a bad feeling about it. I would cringe when I saw a notification that he'd posted a comment. It was taking the fun out of Facebook, and I was also censoring my status updates when I thought they might provide openings for the way he'd started to behave.

I'm posting this here as a reminder that women have to be careful. Everyone has to be careful. There's no way to know what's going on when an online or even mostly-online acquaintance makes remarks that crowd the boundary between comfortable and uncomfortable. Using some restraint in social media helps to keep things more friendly and less defensive.
Nayad September 2009 #4

My panel schedule for Context 23 (August 27-29, in Columbus, Ohio)

An Eye For Detail: The Writers Creed
Robertson, Chima, Bickle, Monroe.
Saturday, August 28th, 2:30 p.m., in Oak 3.

Mistakes Beginning Writers Make
West, Gordon, Davies, Girard, Horner, Monroe, Sizemore.
Saturday, August 28th, 7 p.m., in Short North.

Teaching Writing – Is It Possible?
Waggoner, Monroe, Wilson, Chima, Connolly, Girard.
Saturday, August 28th, 8:30 p.m., in Short North.

Response To Rejection: A Writers Response
Sandridge, Laurey, Lucia, Monroe, Martino, Coley, West.
Sunday, August 29th, 1 p.m., in Short North.

Be sure to say hi if you're there! I'm always happy to meet people at conventions.