Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
Getting GirlyIt was one great weekend. I finally, after 7 years of scheming, got Tami to the city for a weekend. And oh, did we have fun. And Thai food. Vast quantities of Thai food.
Friday night found us heading over to Nathaniel's house where we sat on the floor of his room, talked, and sang things while he played guitar. The night ended in the obligatory hair-dyeing session (I'm a redhead again) and girl talk.
Saturday found us at the ROM, which was a lot of walking, but fun. I took Tam behind the scenes at hands-on bio, and we tagged along after the world's best tour guide ("okay, people, work it!"). That night, I hooked her on Inuyasha. Devious, I am.
On Sunday, we went to Casa Loma. I've never been before, and I'm still not sure why, but it was well worth the going. The gardens were lovely, the rooms impressive, and the tunnel and towers were so much fun. Especially the towers. I'm still not sure exactly what Castle Andarin will look like, but there are several bits in it now pulled directly from Casa Loma. And there will be two tunnel scenes and a series of tower scenes. Oh, did I get ideas this weekend. Hee hee.
Sunday afternoon we went to Kensington, where we met up with Nathaniel, and then Sunday evening we went to the Lion King, which was just as fabulous the second time around. Circle of Life had me in tears, again.
Oh, it was a good weekend. Exhausting, but good. Now all I have to do is convince Tami to move to the city. :o)
He glanced over his shoulder as he shifted the tapestry aside and turned the little leaf. The hidden door swung inward to reveal the vast darkness. Lifting the lantern with one hand, he took my hand with the other and pulled me through the door.
A series of steps led downward to a bricked path that stretched downward deep beneath the earth. The little pool of golden light cast by the lantern vanished after a few paces, consumed by the inky darkness further down the tunnel.
"My father showed this to me when I was just a boy," he whispered. "No-one else knows about it." He pulled me forward. "Mind your step. Moisture from river seeps through a little further down and makes it slippery."
And suddenly I could see the path of the tunnel in my mind. "Oh, is *that* where this leads?"
He paused and stared down at me. "Don't tell me you knew about this one, too."
He made an exasperated noise. "Mari!"
"Never mind." He reclaimed my hand and tugged me further. "You don't know what's at the end, at least?"
"No," I said, as he tugged me around a deep hole where some of the brickwork had caved in.
"Well, that's something at least."
The steps were far behind us now. Only the little island of light kept that hungry blackness at bay. From deep within the tunnel, something shifted, small claws over stone, and I shuddered.
Gavin's hand tightened on mine, and he grinned at me. "You're not afraid, are you?"
"Don't be ridiculous," I said, and jumped as something small and dark darted past us to vanish into the depths of the tunnel. I pressed closer to him. "However, if you happen to be scared and need me to hold your hand, I wouldn't object in the least."
( 11:10 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, September 26, 2003
Clearer in the MorningThanks to everybody for the kind words. They helped so much. Sheila, you totally rock! (and did you ever get the package/letter I sent you after WorldCon?)
Of course, it also helped a lot that the very next day, I got my Odyssey page proofs. :o)
Oh. My. Frelling. God. This is SOOOO awesome!!!!
These proofs are gorgeous. I mean, it's cool enough to see my story all decked out in book format, but the anthology format is just plain pretty. And there are little nifty bits in it, like the archive entry about Lys is formatted to look like a torn-out newspaper article (which is something of an "eeh" since Zac is reading it on his wrist-comp, but it's so freaking cool I don't really care). The illustration is beautiful. The dedication is great.
And you know how anthologies will put a snippet from one of the stories on the very first page, as a hook? Guess whose story Julie snipped from.
Hee hee hee.
This is so awesome. Just seeing my story on the table of contents gave me chills. I can't wait to see my name on the cover of this book. It's going to be great.
Anyway, that helped immensely. Even if Realms didn't want my story, I'm still a published author. Or will be in April or thereabouts.
So, a note on the Realms of Fantasy rejections. AFAIK, there are two forms. One is the dreaded Blue Form of Death, which pretty much says: "we didn't want your story. Here's a list of things that are usually wrong with stories. We probably didn't like yours because of one of these." Apparently they highlight a reason on some people's. I've never gotten highlighting -- just a scribbled note from Carina saying "well-written, though".
The Yellow Form of Promise is rarer. I think it only comes from Shawna, and says: "We can't use this story but we like your stuff. Send us something else."
So it's a good thing, once you get past the sting of having a story you had high hopes on shot down.
I'd send them "Mirror, Mirror" next, except that Weird Tales still hasn't told me what they're doing with it. It's been seven months since they requested the rewrite. I don't know what else to do, short of finding a phone number and calling somebody.
As for the poor unplaceable "Jory's Song", I mailed off to Polyphony 4 yesterday. Wish me luck.
( 10:45 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
RejectedRealms didn't want "Jory's Song". I got the yellow form, as opposed to the Blue Form of Death, so I'm trying to remember that this is a good thing. But it's really, really hard to be cheerful about it.
I'm still waiting for this whole rejection thing to get easier.
( 10:55 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Snippet from one of the Otherside Books
The air roiled as Fiona, at the absolute end of her patience, let slip the guards she had held since she had learned to walk. Allison's mouth went dry as she watched the black dye bleed from Fiona's hair, leaving the copper coils writhing in the corona of power surrounding the Gatekeeper.
"That's it. That's fucking it." Fiona's fists clenched as she stared at the unruffled stranger in the grey suit. Allison was surprised he hadn't already burst into flames. "I get answers. Now. Or the people you work for can use all their fucking resources to buy a nice little Tupperware container to ship your remains home in."
"Certainly," he said, and handed Fiona a card.
She glanced at it, and the air went abruptly flat. Bits of debris pattered in a rain around them, and Fiona's hair fell down her back with an audible thump. She took the card from him and frowned at it. "Surreal, Incorporated?"
The stranger in the grey suit let the corner of his mouth lift, just a little. "We'd like to make you an offer."
( 12:02 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, September 22, 2003
A Public Service AnnouncementFor those who haven't figured out why you can't access Julie's newsgroup anymore, you have to change your settings in your newsreader account to port 1119 instead of port 119.
It's a Swen thing.
And I'm STILL getting bombardments of viral spam, so for anyone who hasn't yet, PLEASE check out your computer with the latest anti-virus updates to make sure you're not infected (you can probably check from the website of any major anti-virus software, too). I'm getting VERY sick of this.
( 11:23 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, September 21, 2003
The Forest for the TreesAs most people in the community know by now, SFWA will be changing their membership criteria, narrowing the field of acceptable publishers and specifying that they must pay at least 5 cents/word in order to be considered "pro" sales.
This is just plain stupid.
Holly summed it up very nicely.
Granted, SFWA exists to help protect the rights of pro authors. Those who've already made it. Fine, nobody is arguing that.
What really pisses me off is that in the middle of all the moaning and lamenting about the state of SF today, the greying of the SF readership and the lack of new blood in said readership, etc. etc. etc., the SFWA goes and does something like this.
Let me tell you something. It's hard to break into print. Specifically, it's hard to break into the "pro" magazine markets because everyone and their grandmother is writing short stories and sending them off, and there aren't that many places to send them anymore. I know that I'm at the very least a decent writer, and I've only been able to sell to one pro market, which according to the new criteria isn't pro anymore.
There are a lot of places I would love to sell my stories, but they're farther down on the list because they're not classified as "pro" markets. And given the current state of things with SFWA I don't particularly care about becoming a member there. What I do care about is the Canada Arts Council grant, which lists the same criteria -- three "pro" sales or one novel. Most grants do. If I can obtain a grant, I can quit my job and finish the novel and get my career on track. But I can't obtain a grant until I have three "pro" sales. I had one. Now apparently I'm back down to zero.
So I continue to struggle and send my stories to the pro markets, which are decreasing in number due to bankruptcy, new SFWA criteria, etc. Assuming I'm not the only new author thinking along these lines, other people are going to be shuffling their stories into the dwindling pro market.
Since those writers like me who have at least some amount of potential tend to do this, we start at the top and work down. So, if the better stories will sell at the top, guess what stories are going to sell to the semi-pro markets further down the list. The semi-pro markets would like to pay pro rates, but can't because they don't have the distribution to do it. Do you think they're going to get the distribution by publishing the leftover stories that weren't good enough for the "pro" mags? "Buy our magazine! Our stories are adequate!" No. Didn't think so. So the short story market dwindles further.
This is what is known as a bottleneck. Evolutionary speaking, those tend to lead to the collapse eradication of species. Let's think about this, shall we?
So the new writers are sending their stuff to a tiny market, hoping to make the pro sales and give themselves an edge that will allow them to establish a writing career. The established writers are sending their stuff to the same market, hoping to pad out their incomes because genre fiction doesn't exactly pay all that well.
If you're John Q. Editor and you have two stories of similar quality and theme on your desk, one written by Big Shot Author and one by Sarah Jane Elliott (a.k.a. Newbie Nobody's Heard Of), whose story are you going to pick?
I thought so.
Let me also put this to you. If you're Pretentious Q. Literati and you're concerned that the SF readership is aging without replenishing itself, who do you think will be writing the kind of thing that will appeal to the New Generation -- aging established SF authors, or new authors who belong to the New Generation?
See, this is the point at which I stop being able to follow this line of thinking, because Pretentious Q. Literati sits there bemoaning the loss of the old SF and sneering at the new. And then SFWA changes their guidelines in such a way that makes it even harder for writers of the New Generation to break into print and publish stories that might appeal to the New Generation.
Pretentious Q. Literati would argue that if the new stuff is what's required to save the genre, then it's not worth saving, but people, change is the basis of evolution. Fiction has to be different from what's come before, because if you don't write something new, what's the point? Somebody's already written it.
So we've established that the readership is changing. Okay. Evolutionarily, when an environment changes drastically, those members that are able to adapt to the new environment, species that can change, will survive. Those that do not change die out.
Those that kill off the younger members of the species still capable of adapting and producing offspring that can survive in the new environment -- well, they go the way of the dodo.
So let's think about this next time we start complaining that traditional SF authors are a dying breed.
( 9:00 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, September 19, 2003
Getting bombarded by the e-mail worm thing, so my mailbox is full. If you're trying to e-mail me and you can't get through, that's why.
Won't be cleared for a while anyway because my computer is frelled and my Dad, suffering from Hurricane-phobia, refused to bring my sibling with him today, so there's no telling when my computer will be back online.
( 1:47 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, September 18, 2003
It's the Muppet Show!Due to this weird bug thing that clobbers me every time I get overworked, I've spent the last week going to bed at 8 p.m. or so and napping on and off until about 11, at which point I really fall asleep.
At about 10:30 last night, Amanda called to let me know that she's just discovered that The Muppet Show (the original, good one) airs every weeknight on the Christian Television Station at 7 p.m.
In the words of my roommate when I told her the news: "Hurray for the Christians!"
That totally made my night. Though I ended up with seriously odd dreams.
My computer is totally frelled, and the sib is coming down tomorrow to fix it for me. So I'm going to be sparse online for a while.
And link to a review of Enterprise that I found absolutely hilarious. I don't much care for the show and haven't watched it in months, but thanks to this review, I'm going to have to.
( 12:21 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Called it!I was reading the synopsis for the new set-in-New-York Tarzan series, and thinking Gee, this reminds me a lot of Beauty and the Beast. And then I saw the producer credits:
Tarzan is from executive producers Laura Ziskin (Spider-Man, Pretty Woman), David Gerber (The Lost Battalion), P.K. Simonds (Party of Five, Beauty and The Beast)
Y'know, I may just have to check this thing out...
( 2:25 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Squeak!Well, they pulled it through, but just barely. The motion to restrict marriage rights to straight couples was shot down by only 5 votes. Still, shot down it was, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
These days, there's always at least one letter in the letters section either for or against gay marriage, and Stephen Harper and the Canadian
I've said all I really have to say on this already, so I'm not going to repeat myself. I just wish that people would stop getting their pants in a twist over trying to define how people in love can or cannot celebrate their union, and start worrying about more important things.
( 11:12 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Addendum: Debbie's Fish StoryForgot about this last night on account of being really tired...
My absolute favourite prof at U of T was Debbie McLennan (married, no kids, for anyone who's counting). She was a riot, and she and her husband/teaching partner were two of the only profs who not only treated students as people, but were genuinely concerned about our futures and made an effort to explore what we could do with our degrees outside of academia. Anyway.
My favourite story of hers was the one about the fish. See, mating choice and male display are much-studied in zoological circles because they're easily observed. Basically, when certain fish (i.e. guppies) reach mating age, the males become brightly coloured and sometimes do things to attract females. The theory is that the females choose the bigger, brighter males because the size and colour indicates fitness. Everybody knows that while the males change colour the females remain drab and grey.
While she was doing a mate-choice experiment, Debbie was concerned about one of her males with unusual colouration. It had turned a vibrant gold, rather than red as the other fish (sticklebacks, I believe) had, and after a while, it started to swell. Worried that her fish had parasites, she killed and cut open the gold fish to see what was up -- and babies fell out.
Looking back through her notes, she discovered that in several places, she had actually written down "female changed to gold colour", but because the "only the males change colour" mentality is so ingrained, she'd completely ignored what she'd written.
So, she wrote up her paper, with a notation that the females changed colour, and suggested that the role of females in courtship behaviour had been overlooked, and further researchers might want to investigate whether males are also choosing females based on their colour changes and other roles the females might play.
The paper came back with a rejection and a note stating "this is not the appropriate forum for your feminist propaganda."
( 11:24 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, September 15, 2003
Stirring the PotI've been reading with fascination the comments coming from Kathryn Cramer's blog on Childcare at SF Cons, and I had to put my 2 cents in. Well, actually, it's not so much about childcare as children's programming.
The best time I had all Torcon weekend was my Hands-On Science panel/workshop. I've been working at the ROM for over two years now, and have logged almost 400 hours, so I've taught the Hands-On Bio stuff to a lot of kids, and the group I had at Torcon were some of the best I've ever seen in terms of inquisitiveness and interaction, and the very best I've seen in terms of interest and enthusiasm. Nothing like hearing "Yay Science!" to warm the heart.
I don't know if it was the fact that they're ConBabies or just that they were wired, but I have never enjoyed teaching that stuff more, and my weekend wouldn't have been quite so special if those kids hadn't been there. Their parents were doing something right. These were really, really neat kids.
And oddly enough, as I was musing over this at the ROM today, Sharilynn, Bev and I started discussing women pursuing careers in Science academia, and realized, from looking at the profs we've had and the grad students we know, that it's very difficult for a woman to have a career in academia as well as a family. All the profs we could name were either single, or had elected not to have children, or in very rare cases, stopped with one child. Those that had families have needed up to 20 years to get their careers back on track.
Which doesn't have that much to do with anything, but it's one of the things that makes me go "hmmm." It almost makes me want to go back for a Ph.D., but I'm standing by my choice of a writing career over an academic one. I may be dirt-poor, but I'll have a lot more fun this way.
( 11:42 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
AAAAAHHH!My life is insane. Gargh.
So, not much happened this weekend, but it sure took a heck of a lot of time. I met up with my parents and sib at St. Lawrence market, where we spent a great deal of time munching things like elk sausage and nummy tofu (I bought a package of nummy tofu). I did get a free lunch out of it though, at the yelling place (I think it's actually called Mustachio -- Simon calls it Mussolini's Deli), where, if you suffer through getting yelled at by irate Italians long enough, you get a fabulous chicken & eggplant sandwich. Yum.
Sib fixed some of my computer (huzzah), much anime was watched, and I got through some of the stuff I have to do.
My problem at the moment is that there's so much going on in my life that it's all congealed into a great amorphous mass, and I'm stuck having to pick bits off a little at a time in order to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to be doing now.
Next up: applying to teachers' college.
( 3:48 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, September 12, 2003
My Favourite Quote of the DayIs from Katy of Fangirl Friday, which really has to be read in context:
"Seriously, people, reading subtitles is only hard if you are stupid."
While this isn't entirely true -- there are exceptions (Mum's never been good with subtitles because of her eyes, and she's had a lot of trouble since the brain aneurysm), and I think "stupid" is interchangeable with "lazy", I fell out of my chair laughing when I read her rant, because damn, did she hit the nail on the head.
( 1:48 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Good News/Bad NewsFirst the bad news:
I've been told I need to find a new job.
It's not exactly that I've been fired -- but my boss had a talk with me the other day, in which she basically said that I do a great job but she knows this is not what I want to do for a living (and she does know -- she's known me since I was born). She said that it's easy to get into a complacent rut and get trapped in this job, so she's kicking me out. Not immediately, but I really need to find a new job, fast.
It's not like I haven't been looking for the past year or so. Sigh. Still nothing at the ROM, but I remain hopeful.
But at least I have some sort of good news. It made me happy, anyway. :o) I e-mailed Carina, mistress of the Realms of Fantasy slush pile, about "Jory's Song", which was read in June. She wrote back to say yes, it was indeed passed on to Shawna. Carina loved it, has talked about it, and really hopes it gets published.
( 1:02 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Bloody Tree-dolphins...My "office" is a back room in an old house in the middle of a few rows of townhouses, so I look out over the backyard and to the yards of the across-the-way neighbours. One of the across-the-way neighbours has been working on his car for a few days, so I'm constantly hearing "vroom... vroom... VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM vroom vroom vroooom..." Because of where his yard is, the noise sounds like it's coming from the branches of the next-door-neighbour's tree. But occasionally, something goes off, and when it goes off, it doesn't sound like a car anymore. It sounds like a dolphin chattering. Tree-dolphins chattering in the trees. And they won't. Shut. Up.
( 3:04 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, September 08, 2003
More Words on the StreetI overhear some great stuff.
Coming out of the bathroom at the ROM, I nearly collided with a grandmother and two young kids. The younger boy, after strenuous protests, is permitted to go with the older, Isaac, while Grandma uses the washroom.
"I'm telling you, Isaac," says the younger boy as the two walk over to the Men's room, "my days of using the women's washroom are over!"
( 3:13 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, September 07, 2003
Ooh!I want to see THIS!
( 1:45 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, September 05, 2003
TorCon Addendum #2Told you there'd be more.
Sunday: How could I forget Neil Gaiman's reading? It was crowded, but very awesome. Neil is one of those few writers who reads their own work extremely well, and he's always lovely to listen to. He read Crazy Hair, memorable because I heard it in 2001 when he read it at the ICFA and he e-mailed me a copy. He talked about how Dave McKean is illustrating it in secret at night, after everyone goes home, on the spiffy computers the Hensons got him for MirrorMask. He also read a Sherlock Holmes Meets Cthulu story, which was weird, but worked. Unfortunately, we didn't get to hear the ending, because he ran out of time.
He almost made it though, and one of the most memorable quotes at the con came near the end, when the poor hapless volunteer with the stop sign was getting hissed at by the audience, said in a sort of innocent, hapless way, as only Neil can: "Oh, please, we're almost finished, and no one is using this room for ten minutes, and these people will kill you." Which was almost as good a quote as Karina's "Who owns this lizard-boy?"
And I met E.L. Chen in person (hurrah!), who had this to say:
Fellow neophyte Toronto writer Sarah Jane Elliott also lingers at the table. I introduce myself as the person she caught lurking in her blog some time ago. We laugh, both slightly embarrassed, I think.
Embarrassed? Never! Kind of dazed in an I'm-tired-and-things-are-calling-me-to-spend-money kind of way, but not embarrassed. I've actually met a couple people now who know me from finding my blog, and my immediate reaction is always "oh, cool!" But that was Saturday, I believe I'd just done my very first reading ever, and was still suffering from severe aftershock (I couldn't stop shaking for half-an-hour afterward). Next time I'll try to come up with something interesting to say. :o)
( 10:29 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Word on the StreetTrue story. Any mistakes in terminology are mine, owing to the fact that I have maybe 2 alcoholic drinks a year.
I was walking home along Queen street when I overheard a conversation between two guys behind me. I chanced to see one of them pass me later -- he was about 19, mohawk, baggy pants, chains, etc. No idea what the other looked like.
"Man," the first was saying, "no, I drink 3 fortys, and my buzz is gone an hour later."
"Dude," said Man.
"Or," said Dude, "I smoke and drink 3 fortys, and my buzz only lasts for like, an hour and a half. I'm telling you, Man, it's over. My prime drinking days are behind me." His voice grows distant and forlorn as he contemplates this new development. "Drinking just isn't fun anymore."
"Weak." Man contemplates this in profound silence for a moment before finally contributing his solemn nugget of wisdom:
"That's why I like to smoke pot."
( 10:23 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Con Report Addendum #1I should have known there'd be things I forgot. Expect more of these as I remember things.
There was a lot of confusion about my name. For the record, my full name is Sarah Jane Elliott. Not Sarah-Jane Elliott.
The Sarah is there because my mom refused to let my father name me Jane. I never use the Jane in conversation. Much of the loathing of my middle name came from a short-lived cartoon in Grade 3, Bravestar, in which Bravestar's horse (who could turn bipedal for some reason and acquired hands when he did so), had a gun named Sarah Jane. He had a particular way of introducing her that I heard FAR TOO OFTEN from my classmates in Grade 3, and I vowed I would never use Jane again.
However, when I started writing, I realized that Sarah Jane Elliott sounds a lot nicer than Sarah Elliott. And Sarah Elliott writes children's books about pollution. So when I'm doing anything author-related, I use the Jane. When I'm introducing myself, I don't. Since I've started signing my name with it, I've found I'm becoming more tolerant of it. But tolerance only extends so far. I will answer to Sarah Jane if you use it (this is a BIG change from a few years ago), but don't be surprised if my smile is a little pained when I respond.
Con Regrets: I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to more editors and people in the field. I talked to a few, but there are others (namely book editors, and editors from a certain company in particular) to whom I wish I had been able to speak. Part of the reason I didn't was because I spent a lot of time running between my panels, which didn't leave me much time to get to theirs. Part of it is because I have no idea what they look like and I think a lot of them took off their badges. And the other reason was that I couldn't find any. I think they spent most of their time in the private parties, and by the time the private parties became crashable, they'd gone.
However, the con did help me practice my schmoozing skills somewhat. Painful shyness is a difficulty at things like a WorldCon, but I'm working very hard to get over that and actually talk to people without dying of embarrassment. It's a work in progress.
( 2:15 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
TorCon ReportWell, it was a grand and exciting time, and very much a blur in places, so if I’ve left something out, drop me a line and jog my memory, will you?
It began on Wednesday. After a lovely Inuyasha marathon with Alice and Alexandra, Karina came over, we all went out for dinner at Oishi Kada, and Karina and I began to prepare for…
ThursdayThursday was a long time ago and very difficult to remember. However, I do recall registration, and then jumping right in to my “Farscape: The Best Science Fiction Show Ever?” panel, which was really me, Peter Knapp, and Tara Oakes talking about WHY Farscape is the best Science Fiction show ever. Or, “Farscape: The Best Science Fiction Show Ever!” The audience was great, I actually knew what I was talking about, and everybody seemed to have a good time.
The next panel, “Archetypes and Fairy Tales” was not so great. Let us just say that they gave us only one mic for four panellists so there was some fighting over it, and a certain panellist wasn’t afraid to say when other people are wrong, even when the wrong thing was pretty much everything I do with my writing. However, if the person who addressed me after that panel about sending his first chapter is reading this, send away.
However, dinner at Genevieve's was much fun. Knew Gen and Karina and Thomas, and met a whole host of people like Phil and others I didn't know and whose names I can't remember now because I'm terrible at them, but had a very good time nonetheless.
Then it was back to the Royal York for Team Banzai. It's impossible to sneak into a room when Julie's on the panel. Nathaniel and I opened the door ten minutes before the panel ended, tiptoed in, and all I could hear was an enthusiastic "Hi Sarah!" from the front. But the rest of the panel was fun, and the grouping at the end was a big newsgroup reunion (Kim did some cool fire spinning with lights substituting for fire due to the fact that the Royal York would have been less than pleased if we set their conference room on fire) and I got reconnected with certain people I haven't seen in too long, or haven't seen ever.
Afterward, we handed out the snippet hound shirts, I think we did some parties, and Karina and I came home for chapter two of Alice's incredible story (it became our convention bedtime story), and then bed.
FridayUp far too early for the official newsgroup breakfast, but we had a huge turnout which included Amanda and Peter, so it was all worth it. Though the Movenpick waffle I had was frelling enormous.
Then, it was off to the convention centre for my first Kids' Programming event, Journal Making. It turned out to be great fun, and I got to use the glue gun, which is fast becoming one of my favourite activities.
Then, after wandering aimlessly about for a bit (many between-panel times were punctuated with trips to the Art Show or Dealers' Room), I ended up in Julie's satellite conference with Chris Hadfield in Houston. Which was absolutely incredible. Chris is a neat, neat man, and he said some things that were so inspiring I was kicking myself for not having a Palm on which to record my thoughts about a really cool Yasha story. One of the neatest "whoa!" things he said was "we are now capable of living out a lifetime off this planet", which was just neat. He also had a uniquely Canadian take on things, which was refreshing in many ways.
After more wandering, we ended up in the Fantastic Ecosystems panel Julie was on. Once again, there is no being anonymous in a Julie panel. Not only did she wave at me coming in, when the "where do you get your ideas" question came up, she asked me. Which was a lot of fun, actually. It was a really energetic panel.
An SFF.net mixer followed dinner, and then it was back to the Royal York for the dance, which sucked at first but got pretty good after they'd gotten the "Super Mario Brothers" theme out of the way. Nathaniel nearly killed us with laughter by dancing to it, and Ruth and I got nostalgic for Kevin. I was surprised that I could sing along with the song they played from Bollywood Hollywood. Then off to parties, and back for Chapter 3 and bed.
SaturdaySaturday dawned bright and early with my reading. I was frelling petrified -- reading is NOT the same as a panel at all. I had half an hour in which to do it, and at last timing, it took me 27 minutes to get through "Mirror, Mirror". Michelle West was reading before me, and big surprise, she ran long. So at five minutes into my reading, I began.
I don't remember much about it, save that I lapsed into Eira cadence and forgot to make Alexandra's very sensible changes. But I think it went well, despite the fact that Rob Sawyer (who was reading after me) came in ten minutes before I finished trailing his followers, who didn't particularly care about my reading and chatted at the back, forcing me to yell the last five pages. And I actually saw a few people I didn't already know!
The free story also seemed to go over well, judging by the reactions of the people who've read it so far. Please, spread the word, tell your friends, send them the link, etc. etc. :o)
Then it was off to SF in the Classroom where Kim, Rocky Persaud, Tony Czerneda and I led an activity in which the audience had to construct rovers to roll down a ramp and retrieve a ball, which was a whole lotta fun.
And then, it was my Hands on Science workshop.
I knew from the moment they answered "hey kids, who wants to learn some science?" with "YEAH!!!! ME!!!!!" that it was going to be good. But I had no idea. They loved the specimens from the museum, especially the big honking spider (who was named Charlotte for the weekend). They asked questions. They listened. And they loved making magic mud, and actually got the chemistry behind it. The parents were thrilled with me for teaching them how to make a substance that sticks to things like a solid but turns to liquid when you pick it up [/sarcasm]. I had SO much fun. And it further reinforced my certainty that this is what I want my day job to be.
After that, we attended the Chicks in Chainmail panel before dinner and the Hugo awards. Some great pictures of the ceremony can be found here. It was actually a lot of fun -- Spider Robinson was a hilarious MC, everyone cheered and howled for Wen when she won the Campbell Award, Julie looked fabulous in her sparkly dress, Neil was extremely cute when he won for Coraline, and Rob Sawyer was… well, Rob.
We closed out the night going to parties with Tony Czerneda, who'd lost Julie and Roger. I was hoping to get Neil to sign my Coraline, but by the time we managed to crash the Hugo Losers Party, he was long gone. We closed out the evening far too late, and Karina and I fell into our beds too tired to even read chapter 4 (we never did get any further).
SundayAre we tired yet? Yeeeeesss.
I'd been bidding on a fabulous piece I fell in love with at the Art Auction -- a stained glass griffin. The auction ended at 2. At one, we went to the Space Inc. Launch so I could get my book signed. My favourite personalization was Sean's, and when I finally have something to sign for him, I now know what to write. But one of the coolest things was that I met Jean-Pierre Normand and saw the finished oil painting for the Tides of Change artwork. It's fabulous, and he's going to tell me how to get a print. YAY! He also said he really liked my story. HUGE GRIN.
Then it was off to my 2 p.m. panel -- but wait! What about the Art Auction??? Fortunately, the Fabulous Karina came to the rescue. Mine was the third bid -- six and the piece goes to auction, when I would be in the panel and unable to participate. The person who bid before me (the Mysterious Judy) showed up and upped my bid by $1. So Karina lurked on the edges until 5 minutes before the auction closed, sniped the bid in my name, and stood there guarding it until the auction ended. The griffin is mine! Bwa-ha-ha!!! Good thing too -- Variel would never have let me live it down if I'd lost it.
So then came the "Non-Human Characters in Fantasy" panel. China Miéville is a fascinating speaker (and neat doodler -- I had fun watching him scribble) and dominated the panel a bit, but that's okay, because he had neat things to say and a great voice in which to say them. But I did get my own fair share in, and managed to make a Variel fan by telling the "Variel eats Tweety" story (hi if you're reading this!). It was a fun panel, despite Sarah Zettel shooting me down when I expressed my reservations about completely abandoning veracity and biology when designing fantasy creatures.
The masquerade was much fun (Julie had us in hysterics with her cleavage comments). I wore the bodice. Ruth wore the dress. Afterward, we crashed the SFWA and Baen parties, I met some interesting people, touched base with Sheila Williams (who insists we try to make it out to Ft. Lauderdale next year for the 10th anniversary Asimov Award reunion -- I'd love to, but cost is a big issue), and found out that the Weird Tales editor in attendance has no idea who I am or what my story is, despite the fact that they asked for a revision. I'm to write in and query again. Gay Haldeman cautioned me that magazines publishing stories without notifying the author happens more often than it should, so I should check that out.
We were very, very tired when we fell into bed that night.
MondayAt this point, everything was funny. Every second comment was "baaaaa!" (long story). We were really, really tired.
The only panel I had on Monday was the mask making kids' panel. It was fun, though the best moment was when a little girl came up to me with one of the decorative feathers and proceeded to demonstrate how they lock together -- something I'd taught her on Saturday at the Hands-On Science panel. I was so proud.
Not much else happened -- we went to an Indian restaurant for dinner, laughing all the way, and home again, exhausted. But happy.
So those are my recollections.
I think the thing that got me most is that I'm still having trouble taking myself seriously as an author. I mean, it's not that I don't take my own work seriously, but when I'm standing next to someone like Tanya Huff, I just can't wrap my head around the idea that I'm a writer too. I don't think I'll be able to until I'm standing there with my novel in my hands, and even then I'll probably have trouble keeping a straight face. I kept feeling that I had to justify my credentials, which is silly. But who ever said that the human brain made any sense at all?
Anyway, it was an amazing time. It was great meeting Kim, Kat, Corie, Kristen, and Sean face-to-face, seeing Mike, Ruth, Jana, Dan, David, Wen, Julie, Roger, Tony, Thomas, Gen, and Chris again, and I'm sad I didn't get to meet Laura Anne Gilman or see Rick Wilber or Nick DiChario, but c'est la vie, I suppose. And if I've forgotten you, it's late and I'm tired but it was great seeing you, too.
And now I'm off to bed. I'm a tired little snippet hound. Arrrrooo.
I mean, baaaaaaa….
( 10:05 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Watch This SpaceThe TorCon report is coming, but it's going to take a frelling long time to write. SOOOOO much happened. So go check out the free story and I'll get the report up as soon as I can wake up enough to type it.
( 9:51 AM ) Sarah Jane ~