2006 News


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This copy of the blog doesn't have a comments facility, because it's manually written html. But there's another copy on Livejournal with user name julesjones and comments are welcome there:   http://julesjones.livejournal.com/. You can also email me at jules.jones@gmail.com

December 2006

31 December: what I did writing-wise in 2006

One short story accepted by the Distant Horizons anthology.

Two more novels written and accepted by Loose Id, for publication next year --
Dolphin Dreams cover art Dolphin Dreams (100,000 words, more details and excerpts here).
plus a novel-length version of Lord and Master (60,000 words).

One book hit 1000 copies sold, which may not seem like much by the standards of a midlist author, but is still pretty nice down here in the small press.

I had my first translation (into Italian, of an excerpt from Spindrift). And I collected a few enthusiastic reviews.

I did *not* make the short list of the 2006 Spectrum Awards, but given one of the other names on the "other nominees" list, I'm not going to complain. :-)

On the fanfic front... well, I haven't done that for a few years. But I did start setting up a website for the zines and some of my own fic. I'll post a link in the fanfic LJ when I've got a bit more of it done.

31 December: Book log

One last book log entry for the year...

And a side note -- oh dear, oh dear. Someone didn't like my Amazon review of Neutron Star. Was that because I liked the book, or because I dared to suggest that some of Niven's later work doesn't match the standards it set?

Reginald Hill -- Bones and Silence The main plot strand follows Dalziell's attempt to prove that a suicide he witnessed was in fact murder. There's a secondary plot following a series of letters written by a woman planning on committing suicide. Gradually the two entwine... Fascinating read, with a wrenching climax. But after my first reading I thought it was a bit of a cheat on the resolution to the secondary strand. Maybe there's something I'll be kicking myself over when I re-read.
Bones and Silence (Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries (Paperback)) at amazon.com
Bones and Silence (Dalziel and Pascoe) at amazon.co.uk

Reginald Hill -- Recalled to Life A woman convicted of murder thirty years ago is released from prison, amid suggestions that she was unjustly convicted. Dalziell was involved in the case as a very young detective, and is convinced of her guilt -- but even more concerned that his now-dead boss is about to be stitched up as the villain of the piece. He sets about investigating both the past and the present, in a case that some would rather see disappear quietly... Highly enjoyable, even if it's so convoluted it's difficult to keep track of what's going on.
Recalled to Life (Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries (Paperback)) at amazon.co.uk
Recalled to Life (Dalziel & Pascoe Novel) at amazon.co.uk

31 December: A little something in keeping with the season...

This time last year I saw a novella published in a New Year's Eve themed anthology of three sf&f m/m romance novellas. As it's New Year's Eve, I've got a good excuse to repost the blurb for mine, plus links to the excerpts.

A Kiss At Midnight cover art First Footer
published in A Kiss At Midnight
ISBN: 1-59632-211-X
http://www.loose-id.net/detail.aspx?ID=5

They say that how you spend New Year's Day will set the pattern for the rest of your year. Matthew Ryder was hoping not to be single by the end of the New Year's Eve party, but the blind date promised by his matchmaking friend never showed up. Still, there's always hope in the form of the old custom of First Footing. To bring good luck to the household, the first person across the threshold after midnight should be a tall dark man holding a lump of coal and a bottle of whisky, and in some places they still like to provide this service for neighbours.

A tall dark stranger does indeed knock on the door at midnight, and he's the man of Matthew's dreams. Intelligent, good sense of humour. Handsome too, if you go for fur, tail, and a very seductive purr. For the First Footer is a First Contact team member, with a bit of a problem. There's making a discreet landing in an uninhabited area, and then there's landing your spacecraft in a peat bog.

It's going to be an interesting year for Matthew...

Excerpt 1 from First Footer
Excerpt 2 from First Footer
Erotic excerpt from First Footer
Reviews

30 December: Hello world

Arrived in Ipswich at Chez predatrix, where I have broadband, lovely broadband... Still need to set up Turnpike to tell it to use the ntlworld smarthost before I can send out email, but at least I can see out again.

28 December: rasfc Bath meet

rasfc meet in Bath this afternoon. Present - self, Charlie A, Chris D, Nicholas W. An excellent pub lunch followed by an amble through Bath, including the second-hand bookstall in the market, finishing up in the Waterstones coffee shop. Books were bought. Conversation was had. Mundanes were probably frightened. Much fun, will try to do again next year.

Still trapped in dial-up land, sans Surftime so I have to pay by the minute. You'll have to wait for someone else's report...

26 December:

Still stuck in dialup land...

Other Half knows me entirely too well. My present consisted of a Tardis Talking Pen (plays a snippet of the theme tune or the Tardis dematerialisation sound), a new LED lamp for my bike, and Marks & Spencer vouchers. Geek toys and an excuse to spend an afternoon in M&S. Utterly perfect.

Speaking of Doctor Who, I enjoyed it. Particularly the bit where we get to see that he may be a good man, but that doesn't stop him being dark and dangerous.

No DVDs in *my* Christmas stocking, so I'll be hitting amazon.co.uk as soon as I have Real Net Access again. I'll start with Season 4 of B7 and the Ecclestone Who boxed set. And maybe the 1975 Legend of Robin Hood. The one with the bath scene beloved of B7 slashfen.

And on a more sombre note -- the Boxing Day post-prandial walk took in the churchyard where Siegfried Sassoon is buried. It's a simple enough headstone, in the middle of a row of such. But he's not forgotten. A small posy of poppies, and half a dozen wooden remembrance markers; five crosses, one star of David.

21 December: cut off

I am now on dialup, and have to worry about who's looking over my shoulder. I am cut off, bereft... Shall be in Ipswich with predatrix from the 30th.

21 December: Silver angst

And a happy 25th Gauda Prime anniversary to those of you who also celebrate. To those of you who don't, let's just say that nobody does angst like the BBC. And nobody inspires angst like the BBC. Whole forests have died in the service of Gauda Prime denial. And enhancement. :-) Think I'll post some fic on my fanfic LJ today.

It occurs to me that I have sadly deprived new soul for the faith l_prieto by not shepherding her through the entire series before today...

20 December: Random musings

I've just seen my first Torchwood episode (and thus seen Captain Jack for the first time, as I still haven't seen any Ecclestone Who episodes other than Rose). I liked, even if it didn't show much of the team other than Gwen. My, there are some pretty boys in the show, aren't there?

I've been playing with Google's free webspace and page creator, having finally obtained a circular tuit and decided to do something about putting some fanfic online; both my own, and the zines I edited. The WYSIWYG page creator is flaky, and there's a sharp limit on what you can do with the html editor, but for pouring text into a simple site it's not half bad. It's still in beta, and it's free, so I'm not complaining too loudly about the bugs. Most of one zine (at least as links to stories already archived elsewhere) and a few of my own stories so far, which is a lot more than I'd have achieved in the same time if I'd been hand-coding it. (pinkdormouse, most of the Dead Boyfriend of the Week links currently go to Pink Asteroids, in case you were wondering why the flurry of activity when I was testing the links.)

Of course, the easiest stories from my own output to put up are the ones that are already on the web somewhere. These are also the oldest ones, and dear god it's cringe-inducing to read one's early fiction. It could be worse, of course, because at least my early ones usually went past a reasonably competent editor before appearing in public, and are thus not as awful as they might have been had I been of the generation that thinks "beta-reader" is the person who tells you how wonderful it is just before you stick it online without even running it through a spell-checker. You can thank watervole for them being readable.

19 December: Loose Id's Christmas Promotion

Now that I have a chance to read the backlog of email, I find that my publisher is doing a big Christmas promotion. Full details at the website, but in particular, LGBT, menage and series ebooks are 5% off until Christmas Eve, print books bought directly from Loose Id are 5% off until Christmas Eve, and all ebooks will have a 12% discount on Boxing Day. There's also a $1 discount on all Flings scheduled later this week.

19 December: Hello World

waveney has returned home, and found a long ethernet cable. I have net access on my own machine from the kitchen table. With any luck it is also long enough to reach as far as the dining room table as well. All we need now is for nobody to trip over the thing...

19 December: I'm not an addict, honest guv

watervole and I went into Poole yesterday, the better to do some shopping. In the course of said shopping I acquired a half-price generic laptop power supply from Maplins. It is big and heavy and not as sexy as my Thinkpad's own power supply, but it does enable me to turn the laptop on without thinking "only three and a half hours of use until I get a power supply". Alas, it transpires that waveney has set the Chez Waveney wifi network to a high channel, that it might be invisible to passing American laptops, and cannot work out how to tell my American laptop to use a Euro-channel. So I have my own machine back, but only for offline use. If I want net access, I have to steal watervole's machine. I am peeved. How can I work without constant access to Google?

I'm not actually that desperate to sit down and start writing the next book, but I did have some overdue paperwork to do on the last one, and it would be convenient to have my own machine online to do so. I'll just have to resort to dial-up to shove out my Demon email and suck down the incoming. The intended work on putting more of my fanfic and my zines online will have to wait. Either that, or I drop stuff onto the USB drive and transfer it to watervole's box.

17 December: book log

Note -- I'm still jet-lagged, and I'm timesharing [info]watervole's computer, so my response to communication attempts is likely to be erratic even by my standards...

This also means that book log links to sites other than amazon have gone away again.

Charles Stross -- Accelerando

Fixup novel about the Singularity and its aftermath. Three generations of the Macx family deal with the consequences of ever-accelerating technological change. Enormous fun, and stuffed with ideas, but *so* stuffed with ideas that you need your wits about you when reading it.

Note to self -- stop doing first-time reads of Charlie's books on long haul flights, they interact strangely with jet lag. And the Laundryverse will probably *really* not mix well with jet lag...
amazon.com
amazon.co.uk

Temari Matsumoto -- Hidden Heart

Yaoi manga, collection of short stories. Definitely in the plot what plot vein, and you could use it for a slash cliche drinking game. The first two stories about a ninja trainee and the ninja master also edge rather too far in the direction of "young" for my taste, as the trainee looks about ten to my eyes. It doesn't help that the second story has the ninja master developing an interest in schoolboy fantasies. Very pretty art for those who like the underfed waif look, but if you want plot or are easily squicked by apparently underage characters, look elsewhere.
at amazon.com
Shinobu Kokoro: Hidden Heart at amazon.co.uk

Masara Minase -- Empty Heart

Yaio manga. Seventeen year old is in love with his older brother's friend -- who is now a teacher at his school, and still in love with the brother. When older brother gets engaged, it's younger brother's opportunity to offer comfort... It's a fairly simple plot, but a believable one, with interesting characters and some seriously hot sex. Nice art as well. I read a borrowed copy, and I'll probably put it on my own wants list.
at amazon.com
Empty Heart: Yaoi at amazon.co.uk

16 December: Pleased

The Syndicate has made it onto a Listmania list at Amazon. :-)

14 December: Down and safe

Arrived safely at watervole's. Jetlagged... Forgot to pack the power cable for my laptop, good thing Other Half is coming over next week and can be detailed to bring it. It's getting dark here now, so I will soon be having trouble telling which way is up.
[flop]

12 December: book finished

The first draft is finished, at 61,602 words. I need to read it through again to look for really obvious stupidities, and then send it off to my editor this evening. I wouldn't normally send her something before it's been beta-read, but given that I'm going to be out of contact for a couple of days and then jet-lagged for several more, I'd be happier if she's got the draft before I go. Just in case my laptop gets stolen en-route, etc, etc.

[wilts]

11 December: Distractions...

erastes posted a pic of a BBC canonical m/m snog a few days ago. I have never even seen Torchwood, and yet the damned picture had me staring at it with my mouth hanging open for about five minutes, followed by looking at it on and off all weekend instead of getting on with writing my own smut. I've just used it as a reference photo for a scene in the WIP. And I am now feeling the faint tickling of an urge to commit fanfic. Note that I only ever wrote in one fandom, and I quit cold turkey four years ago, purely and simply because I was attacked by the Trashy Porn Novel That Grew, and by the time I'd finished that my interest had shifted completely to original fic. I'd put it down to a bad case of cat-vacuuming, but I fear it's rather more than that...

10 December:

Just got in from seeing Casino Royale. It was good. Daniel Craig has a perfectly shaped arse.

Yesterday saw the leaked Torchwood fanservice photo with the searing m/m kiss. Stared at it for about five minutes -- and then on and off through the rest of the day.

My weekend leching quota is all used up, and it's still only Saturday (just). :-)

7 December:

l_prieto came over today for another day of book-shopping and watching Blake's 7. So that's twice this week I've been in Books Inc with a friend who was egging me on to buy the big dolphin plushie as a promotional tie-in with the new book. Only l_prieto was a lot less circumspect than brooksmoses was. :-) There were some very interesting suggestions as to suitable publicity poses with the thing... Today's episodes were Duel, Project Avalon, Breakdown and Bounty, complete with running commentary on the slash potential. And she has gone away with my DVD of Children of the Stones, which is Region 0 and can thus be played on an unhacked American DVD player.

Tuesday 375 words, in part because I went to the optometrist and couldn't see anything close up for several hours afterwards, which makes typing a wee bit difficult. 3581 words yesterday. 600 today. Current total 54962.

4 December:

brooksmoses and I went for lunch in Mountain View today, followed by a trip around both the new and the second-hand bookstores, in which we were good and did not buy more books than our respective spouses' tolerance limits. Rather odd conversation with the sales clerk in the new bookshop, in which I was outed as a romance writer, but redeemed myself by explaining that I'm a science fiction fan. And then casually dropped my monthly royalty payment into the conversation as a not particularly subtle way of saying, "No, I am not a PA author."

While in there we noted that autopope has most of a shelf to himself in the paperback section, with several faceouts, and two different books in the section for new sf hardbacks. When we went next door to the used bookshop, we found Accelerando, which was the first time either of us had seen any of his books in there. We're not quite sure what it was doing in the romance section though.

It was the first time I'd had the chance to use my PalmThing -- a download of my LibraryThing catalogue onto my Palm IIIxe. It's an easy way to carry a list of the books in my library so that I don't end up buying duplicate books, and I used it several times to check whether or not I already had something. Very useful indeed. It's an open source widget developed by one of the LibraryThingers and running on PalmOS 3.0 and above, so you can use it even on pretty old models of Palm that can be picked up for a few dollars on ebay.
http://www.librarything.com/groups/palmthingforlibraryt
http://home.comcast.net/~mmcm/palmthing/readme.html

Friday 2000 words, Saturday 1100, Sunday 1500, today 800, taking the total past 50,000.

1 December:

cced from my Official Author Newsletter, just in case anyone here is interested in a cover art print:

The new book won't be out for a while yet, but I do have some cover art prints. Since I had to reformat my laptop's hard drive last week and have spent the last week putting things back together, I'm not in the mood to dream up anything fancy by way of a contest. :-) If you want a chance at one of the postcard-sized prints, email me at jules.jones@gmail.com with "Contest: Dolphin Dreams" in the subject. I'll draw a name on Saturday morning California time. You can see the pretty picture at http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/details/dolphindreams.html

1 December: wordage and NaNoWriMo

991 words on Wednesday and 1700 yesterday, taking it to 45,016 total at the end of last night. It was 13,559 at the start of November, so 31,457 during the month. I wasn't officially participating in NaNoWriMo, because a) I'm not physically capable of doing 50 kwords in a month without risking damaging my hands, b) I had a contracted book to write, so I did actually have to do all the stuff you're actively encouraged to drop in NaNoWriMo in pursuit of learning that you really can find a novel's worth of words and get them on paper. I already know I can put together 50 kwords in coherent fashion. :-) Averaging 1000 words a day of decent first draft over that period is a fairly good target for me, so I am pleased even if I didn't do the 50 kwords.

November 2006

28 November: it's a novel...

2621 words yesterday and 2673 today, taking it to a total of 42,324 tonight. It is now officially a novel.

The first sex scene isn't actually until half way through the fourth chapter, 40 pages in -- or about 10,000 words in. And it's another 28 pages to the next one. But there do seem to be a lot of them in there after that. It's got nine altogether so far. I'm sure this news will put off some prospective beta readers, and only encourage others. :->

26 November: Wordage update

It's just passed 37 kwords, and it's got at least 10, if not 20, to go. I told $PUBLISHER that it was going to be a novella. Oops. However, $EDITOR is used to this, and will only laugh at me.

Update on the last two weeks worth of word count -
Sat nil, Sun 627
Mon 431, Tue 1896, Wed 449, Thu 2045, Fri 2031, Sat 326, Sun 1403
Mon-Thur nil, what with sick laptop and Thanksgiving, Fri 1509, Sat 677, Sun 1016

26 November: And now in Italian...

elisa_rolle of the Italian romance blog Isn't It Romantic? has translated the blurb and clean excerpt for Spindrift into Italian. First time I've been translated. :-) You can see the dual language version here:
http://romancebooks.splinder.com/post/10026384

The blog has a fair bit of coverage of GLBT romance, including reviews, translations of blurbs and excerpts, author interviews and an essay about reading m/m romance in Italy. You can find them using the tag link below:
http://romancebooks.splinder.com/tag/lgbt_romance

25 November: book log
Barbara Paul -- The Fourth Wall

Fourth Wall Early mystery from Barbara Paul, set in a New York theatre in the present day. A modern take on the Jacobean revenge tragedy, it's harsh and a traumatic read, but one hell of a book. One of my all-time favourite mysteries, and I'm pleased to see that it's recently been brought back into print.

Fourth Wall
from BarnesandNoble.com
The Fourth Wall (Felony & Mayhem Mysteries) at amazon.com
The Fourth Wall at amazon.co.uk
at Powells


W J Burley -- To Kill A Cat

Wycliffe and How to Kill a Cat Another mystery from early in the Wycliffe series. As usual, it's as much about the characters as about the actual murder inquiry. In this one a young woman who worked as a striptease artist is found dead -- but why was she working as a stripper when she was respectably married to a devoted husband? And why did the killer leave behind a thousand pounds in cash? Short by today's standards, but an entertaining book.


Wycliffe and How to Kill a Cat
at BarnesandNoble.com
Wycliffe and How to Kill A Cat (Wycliffe) at amazon.com
Wycliffe and How to Kill A Cat at amazon.co.uk
at Powells


Satsumi Takaguchi -- Shout Out Loud! (Sakende Yaruze!) volume 1

Shout out Loud!, Volume 1I was poking through the Tower closing down sale last week, and found a batch of yaoi manga, which I promptly bought for research purposes. (Yes, really. My editor asked if I'd consider doing something yaoi-style. It's tax-deductible and all.) I suspect that I've hit lucky with this one and bought one that happens to fit my tastes rather well. It's a lot of fun and it has a plot. And when I finished it I went looking to see how many more in the series.

Teenager goes looking for long-last father, expecting to find a burnt-out salaryman, and instead gets a baby-faced 33-year-old who makes a living as an anime voice actor. Finding himself with an unexpected son to support just as his current series is finishing, he tells his agency he'll take any job. What he gets offered is roles in boys love audio dramas...


Shout out Loud!, Volume 1
at barnesandnoble.com
Shout Out Loud! Vol. 1 at amazon.com
Shout Out Loud!, Volume 1 at amazon.co.uk
at Powells

22 November:

The laptop reinstall is still in progress, but running reasonably smoothly. It has been interrupted by Terrycon 2 -- the local Rumor Millers have turned out to see one of our number visiting from another state. Terry arrived yesterday morning, so there was a group lunch and cruise round the Mountain View bookshops yesterday, and this evening we assembled at Rebekah's for pizza, chat, and silly games. As a bunch of us left, there was a chorus of the Time Warp... Great fun.

21 November: buggerbuggerbugger

I've lost all my Demon email dating from the changeover to this machine. Hiccups when I was transferring stuff over to the new machine meant that I ended up with a second copy of the mailspool, which I somehow forgot to delete. And guess which copy I backed up before reformating the hard drive this morning...

If I owe you a reply from email sent to my Demon address, it's hosed.

21 November: mammaries vertical XP, redo from start

I pulled the plug this morning. Used the IBM Recovery system, which reinstalls WinXP Pro. It appears to be sane so far, but I need to sit down and re-install software, move files back on etc. At which point I'll discover whether it is now condescending to read CDs, which was the tipping point last night on declaring that this is a dead installation, it is no more. When the thing is burning CDs perfectly well, but refuses to read any CD, there is something wrong past the point of it beinf worth trying to track down what is on its tiny silicon mind.

20 November:

My computer is sick. It is clear that the registry is corrupted, although in a way that doesn't stop me *using* the computer, so we're not sure how long this has been going on -- it may explain some minor issues that have been going on for a while now. It does, however, need to have Something Done About It. This may have to go as far as doing a clean install, or as clean an install as you can get with WinXP and its "we won't give you a copy of the software on a CD, you filthy pirate" policy [spit]. Everything important is backed up, I think. I hope. My computer will not read the CDs it's just burned, although Other Half's computer will read them perfectly well.

I'm not sure how long this is going to take, but if it does end up in a "format c:" situation, it's probably going to take a couple of days to put everything back afterwards...

15 November: m/m romance authors chat thi afternoon

An entire gang of m/m romance authors will be chatting at the Literary Nymphs yahoogroup tonight, US East Coast time. There will be prizes. Some of us will even remember that there are people in other time zones, and draw their prizes the day after the chat to give everyone a chance. :-)

Manlove Gang Bang

Join us as we have a ManLove Gang Bang chat TONIGHT November 15, 2006 starting @ 7:00 pm ET for 4 fantastic hours (location below). We're having authors drop in and you can ask them questions or just come by and say "HI" to everyone! Some of the authors that will be dropping in are Kayelle Allen, Laura Baumbach, Ally Blue, James Buchanan, Anne Cain & Barbara Sheridan, T.A. Chase, Renee George, Jules Jones, Rowan McBride, Sean Michael, Jet Mykles, Willa Okati, Kate Steele, Kira Stone, Stephanie Vaughan and who knows who else could pop in!

Make a note on your calendar - this is the "First-Of-It's-Kind" event and it will not be the last!
There will be insanity, chaos and door prizes!!!!

WHEN?? Wednesday November 15, 2006 from 7:00 pm ET to 11:00 pm ET
WHERE?? http://groups.yahoo.com/group/literarynymphschat/

11 November: Armistice Day

There are times when war is necessary. But it is not noble, merely a choice of evils. The price is paid in blood; in broken bodies and broken minds. Lest we forget the price, and those who paid it.

http://www.poppy.org.uk/

Mesopotamia
Rudyard Kipling (July 1917)

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:,
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us, the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide -
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
To confirm and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us - their death could not undo -
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shall we leave it unabated in its place?
10 November: wordage

3245 words today. Time for bed...

9 November:

135 words yesterday, 2255 today. Basic setup is now done, and they're an established couple. Now to do the scene that shows where the thing about doing it in front of the office window comes from, and then comes the chapter which incorporates the original short story.

7 November: wordage

No writing over the weekend, as predicted, and slow yesterday (738) and today (1231), but the total length has topped 20,000 words. So 6,500 in the last week. Need to improve, but to bed now.

3 November: That wedding...

There is much angst happening right now because some of us, not to put too fine a point on it, are suffering from middle-aged spread...

I'm going to end up in a trouser suit at this wedding, I think. Because the last half hour of rummaging through the wardrobe has demonstrated that pretty much anything skirt-like bought in the last five years conforms to fannish rather than mundane notions of "formalwear", and anything bought long enough ago to look like something you could wear to a mundane wedding is either so hopelessly unfashionable that even I can see it's unfashionable, or it reminds me that I need to lose at least another two stone to be somewhere near the weight I was when I bought it.

(I don't normally buy things that conform to fashion to the point where they then look unfashionable six months afterwards, but things bought to wear to weddings are more likely than most to fall into this category, because they're likely to have been bought at short notice and/or under pressure from someone else in previous iterations of this problem...)

2 November: wordage

Just finished a chapter (with sex scene, some people will be pleased to know), so I've posted the backup to predatrix and am going to bed. It occurs to me that I haven't done any word counts for a bit, so to catch up...

Last week - Monday was spent pimping Blake's 7 to new soul for the faith l_prieto, so only 100 words or so. Tuesday 1450, Wed 3500, Thur only 350.

Sunday 1000, Mon 1700, Tuesday 500. And I'm not officially doing NaNoWriMo, but my word count on this book at midnight on Halloween stood at 13,559. Yesterday 1957, today 2600 exactly.

However, I'm going to a wedding this weekend, so a) weekend word count will probably be zero, b) I'm definitely not going to BASCon, even for one day.

2 November: Coming next winter from Loose Id...

Okay, the finals of the new cover art have arrived. :-)

Blurb and excerpts.

October 2006

31 October: Cover art

I've just seen the draft of the cover art for Dolphin Dreams. I have only one thing to say.

OMG!!!SQUEEE!!!!

30 October: Duck soup

Food porn, which means that three or four of you will be interested and everyone else will probably be bored witless...

Roast duck for dinner last night. A duck bought from the local Chinese supermarket. Third duck in a row from there with barely enough meat to feed two people, in spite of weighing pretty much spot on five pounds. I have a theory that it is some breed of duck specially bred for duck-three-ways, in that it produces superb crackling, barely enough meat for two, and a lot of very fine stock. And lots of duck fat for later use.

The five pounds included the head and feet, because this was a duck from a Chinese supermarket. They were discreetly removed and disposed of before Other Half, who gets queasy about this sort of thing, could see that it was indeed whole duck. Bread and onion stuffing flavoured with juniper berries and a small sprig of rosemary, moistened with the juice of half a lemon. Cooked covered rather than a proper roast. End result -- beautifully tender, moist, and flavourful duck, and what turned out after chilling overnight to be 400 ml of fat and 100 ml of seriously solid jelly.

The carcase went in the stockpot along with a large carrot and an onion, and more rosemary. Several hours gentle simmering, more carrot and onion, a couple of large potatoes and the jellied juices and chopped leftover meat later, a large pot of soup that's probably going do several more meals. If I consider just the roast dinner last night, the duck was ridiculously expensive -- but there's half a pound of duck fat in the freezer that would have cost me nearly as much as the duck did, and a couple of litres of excellent soup...

28 October: Where did that decade go?

This weekend marks ten years since I was bitten by the writing bug. I went to a science fiction con, and saw my first fanfiction zines, ones for a political sf show from the BBC. Something clicked, and not long after that, I started writing my own fanfic stories. And submitting them to zines with editors who edited. The first story I ever wrote was submitted to someone who tore it apart, showed me why it didn't work -- and how to fix it. I learnt a lot from that, however painful it might have been at the time, and when I started writing original fiction three years later it showed. I sold the second original story I wrote, to the second editor I submitted it to. For forty two pounds, a number which amused me and will amuse a lot of other science fiction fans.

Ten years on, and I've got ten books out with a small press. It's still mostly political sf crossed with gay romance, and it's still a lot of fun to write. I hope everyone else has had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Cheers.

25 October: A shame they're only sold in bulk

Honest to God, I was actually doing some book research when I came across this comment on a website. And for some reason, I don't know why, I thought of a few people I know when I read the second last sentence.

The Condom Lollipop

Designed to look like a candy lollipop, the condom lollipop is guaranteed to produce smiles all around. Available in a single colour or a mix of different condom colours. Clear custom labels are applied to the condom wrapper. The bows also come in a variety of colours, but can only be mixed on larger order quantities. The condom lollipop is probably our most popular promotional item. We have seen otherwise mature and responsible adults behaving very badly to get their hands on them. Use them at an exhibition and traffic to your stand will turn your neighbours green with envy.

http://www.14-condoms.co.uk/bulk-condoms/promotional-condoms.html

22 October: Surfacing

I've spent the last two days doing my bit as part of autopope's crit group, reading draft 1.0 of his current WIP. Even in draft, in need of revision and polishing to get everything hooked up just so, it rocks. Once it's available to pre-order on Amazon next year I will be cheerfully plugging it.

It's a weird experience reading a novel to crit it. Trying to keep track of all the stuff that's going on, checking to see if anything gets dropped or appears from nowhere, from entire sub-plots down to small stuff such as characters changing names half way through. (It happens, and it's a bugger to spot when you're the writer.) It's different to reading the finished product for pleasure. But it's also fascinating to watch a novel develop, especially one like this. I wasn't able to do last year's crit group, because of a bad attack of Real Life, and I'm glad I got to do this one.

21 October: A little something for Halloween...

Because there are people who have me friended, but not james_nicoll, and I see no reason why they should escape knowing about *this*:

http://www.teddy-babes.com/sonya.html

19 October

Gacked from dsgood:
demonstration of why when you're an author smarting over a review, it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than speak and remove all doubt.

In other news, yesterday I cycled up to the new WholeFoods store that opened while I was away. The general verdict: the food is very good, and the range is excellent, but methinks there's a certain amount of boutique pricing going on. I'm not just comparing the prices with the local Safeway, but with the local family-owned-not-chain greengrocer/cheesemonger in the next block. And when I see "normally $2 each, special offer 2 bags for $3" on a bag of organic baby carrots that costs $1.50 every day in the greengrocer's, I am inclined to think that the difference in price is not entirely made up of their proclaimed policy of "seeking out environmentally farming practices for *you*, yadda yadda". I'd also be slightly more impressed with the environmentally friendly practices if they included not hiding the bike rack round the back of the bottle recycling bins, where it takes a certain amount of determined searching for cyclists to find it.

However... the food *did* look and smell pretty nice, and while my fruit/veg/cheese/ex-pat shopping will continue to be primarily at the Milk Pail, and the Chinese supermarket close to home, I'll be going there for meat and the occasional specialist item. Amongst other things, they have dry-aged beef. Not something I necessarily want to buy every week, but it's there, and it will be sampled in the near future. Fish counter looks pretty good too, although that's less of an issue because the Chinese market is within walking distance rather than cycling distance and has a good fish counter as well. I bought some stewing lamb, which currently browning in the frying pan before going into the casserole for dinner tonight. And I finally remembered to buy some juniper berries, which means that I will soon be wanting desperance's duck confit recipe.

18 October

400 words on the novella yesterday, plus the essay in LJ. 500 words today. Needs to be cranked up, but at least words are happening.

16 October

And a belated happy birthday to watervole -- sorry about the belated, but I have been somewhat confused by the change in time zone and now being half a day behind the UK instead of ahead...

Played with GoogleDocs. In spite of me being not entirely compos mentis on account of not having had an unbroken night's sleep since I got back, we managed to get the collaborative function working and even got 500 words done on the Ipswich story. Also 400 words on the new novella. Still not up to editing/revision, but with any luck I'll be all right if I get a decent night's sleep tonight.

14 October: Back to work

Finished the bookkeeping, and got back to writing this evening. Only 400 words, but it's a start on the new novella. I'm not quite awake enough to be doing revision on the novel, so that can wait another day or two.

Must prod predatrix tomorrow. The new Google Documents facility looks as if it might be a suitable replacement for Netmeeting when it comes to being able to work on a document together. It's been very frustrating trying to work in a chat client.

14 October: Bywater Books

As part of the process of chasing last month's paperwork, I strolled over to look at the revamped Bywater Books website. It's well and truly revamped, there are several interesting looking titles for sale, they are taking submissions again, and there is a Contest. A contest with an entry fee, but entry fees seem to be the way of the literary world outside the sf genre (which views them with deep suspicion, should any non-sf person be wondering why I mention the fee), and $20 isn't an outrageous ripoff.

If you have an interest in commercial fiction targeted to lesbian readers, the url is http://www.bywaterbooks.com/ They're primarily interested in general fiction, mystery and romance. I would note that I am not in general interested in lesbian fiction, but I'm still contemplating adding Val McDermid's mystery series to my buy list.

13 October:

Caught up on almost all the writing admin that accumulated while I was away -- emails printed off and filed, snail mail logged and filed, accounts file brought up to date, submissions tracking database ditto. Still a couple of items to do, but I'm getting very fuzzy now. I think it's time to go and take a walk in the sun as part of the reset body clock regime.

Probably too fuzzy to write actual word count this evening, but with any luck will start on that tomorrow or Sunday.

13 October: All bow to His Noodliness

Gacked from Making Light -- it seems that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is now one of the many alternative "fish" car decals.

Myself, I still want the one with the Darwin fish and the Jesus fish kissing. "Christian" and "Creationist" are not identical sets.


12 October: Catching up

Has anyone received their contract from Greg Herren for Distant Horizons yet? I haven't, but I don't want to bug the guy unnecessarily -- especially when I'm too jet-lagged to compose a coherent email.

Stuff from the snailmail while I was away:
-- cheque from Clean Sheets, dated 30 September, for short story published 23 August.
-- invoice from Waveney Webs for webhosting (, remind me to do something about it...)
-- note from Bywater Books saying that the f/f anthology Desire at Work is cancelled. I'd assumed that, given the delay, but it's nice to have a formal letter rather than having to prod them now I'm home.
-- signed renewal contracts for The Syndicate series and Promises To Keep, plus signed contract for Dolphin Dreams

I've added a draft details page and unedited excerpts for forthcoming novel Dolphin Dreams to my website. No cover art or publisher link yet. Expected publication date is early next year.

12 October: book log

P D James -- A Dalgliesh Trilogy
- "Shroud for a Nightingale"
- "The Black Tower"
- "Death of an Expert Witness"
Three of the early Dalgliesh novels in an omnibus edition. Good detective novels with lovely, lyrical prose.

P D James -- Unnatural Causes
Dalgliesh visits his aunt in a remote hamlet, and finds that one of the local writers has been murdered -- or has he?

Tanith Lee -- Electric Forest
Short sf novel exploring identity and manipulation via consciousness transfer into android bodies, with the usual Lee sting in the tail.

8 October: Con meditations

I've just been asked if I'd be interested in being a panelist at a con in January. As far as I can remember it's the first time I've been asked for my profic rather than my fanfic. Alas, I'll almost certainly be on a different continent at the time of the con, so I've had to decline other than as a last minute addition should I actually be able to get there.

On the other hand, I *have* just committed myself to writing the novella for Valentine's Day, which means that the final version needs to be turned in to my editor by end of year at latest. I haven't actually signed the contract yet, but having now given a commitment in email to write for that schedule slot, I will not be popular if I don't supply the manuscript on time. Given that I've already got a good idea of the outline, it shouldn't be a problem -- as long as it stays a novella. I can't write a full-length novel in that timescale, so this one had better not get any ideas about putting on weight.

Contemplating whether to go to BASCon. It's within commuting distance, but on the other hand it's also going to be a long weekend out of my writing time when I have two books on deadline (revision pass and editing on Dolphin Dreams, and writing the novella). And the programme tends to be very orientated towards specific fandoms, many of which I have not even heard of, let alone watched/read. It's very much a con I go to mainly to see friends I otherwise wouldn't see, so is anyone else going?

7 October: Note to beta-readers

Heads-up for the people beta-reading Dolphin Dreams -- I expect to start the revision pass in a week or so, so comments whether detailed or just "it works"/"you need to cut about as much as an Italian publisher would" would be welcome in the next few days.

My editor said that it needs some polishing and trimming, but nothing more detailed than that, so there's nothing specifically ruled in/out by her comments (although I suspect she'd be unhappy if too much of the sex got chopped, as this is an *erotic* romance house:-). My feeling when I'd just finished the first draft was that I probably needed to trim it, but I wouldn't be able to see where until I'd had a break from it.

If you haven't had time to read/comment, don't worry; I know one or two people have had a bad attack of Real Life.

5 October: Well, that was interesting...

That cover art illo in the previous post on my LJ is hosted on my website. I've just looked at my site log, as I do every few days. I had no idea that:

- there were now *that* many websites scraping the LJ recent images/posts feed, or that many people looking at them.

- so many people actually do read one or the other of my LJs (it was cced to my fanfic LJ), or at least have them on their regular reading filter.

And while it had occurred to me that anyone who thinks that their filter names are Sooper Sekret is operating under a false sense of security, this *really* rubbed my nose in it. I ain't posting examples, but the referral url does give the game away rather.

Fortunately I am a good little netizen and deliberately used a fairly small (in kb) image. It might have done interesting things to my bandwidth usage if I'd been an idiot.

3 October: The Syndicate 3 at Fictionwise

Volume 3 cover artVolume 3 of The Syndicate has just been released at Fictionwise, so there's another 40 kwords or so of gay geek romantic comedy now available from Fictionwise as well as direct from the publisher. Here's the blurb:

Because geeks have sex lives too... A renegade sysadmin looking for a way out of his boring job, Allard's escaped to space. Now he's on the Mary Sue, a spaceship with a slightly nutty crew of syndicalists who have an even more malevolent attitude toward traditional management structures than he does. Much to his surprise, Allard's found co-workers he actually likes, and a man he more than likes. Now Allard and his new love are getting married. But who's going to be the bride, and who the groom? And what will Mark wear? When the fitting's done, the parents settled, and the sex games are over, they'll be glad they found Something Blue.

http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook40674.htm

September 2006

29 September:

The "Choose me" m/m romance contest is still open, but not for much longer. There will be a chat at 9pm EST (USA) on 30 Sep for contest entrants to chat with some of the authors, and the contest will close as the chat starts. You don't have to be present at the chat to win one of six prizes -- there's a main prize of 25 m/m romance ebooks, and five runner up prizes of three books. There will also be a door prize for people who attend the chat.

The contest details can be found at http://www.kayelleallen.com/choosemeauthors.html and the chat room is at http://www.irctoo.net/?channel=djmanlychatzone

I won't be able to make the chat myself (although I've contributed books to the contest), but there should be quite a crowd of m/m authors there.

26 September: RIP John M. Ford, 1957-2006

John M "Mike" Ford, 1957-2006

Sf author and poet John M Ford, better known to his friends and acquaintances as Mike, died yesterday. He was funny, thoughtful, wise and gentle, and many, many people are grieving today. Some were close friends, others had only a slight acquaintance with him. All miss him.

I've seen people dismiss online communities as somehow not real, the acquaintanceships and friendships formed there as some sort of mirage that doesn't really exist. But those communities are as real as any formed in meatspace, and Mike was a member of one such community that I'm involved in. I knew him only slightly, but his posts brought me much pleasure and I always looked forward to seeing his contributions.

And then this morning I sat down to read my LJ friends page, and a few posts from the top I ran into papersky's post. And stumbled over the first two sentences, unable to process them at first. Then I read the rest of the post, and went to Making Light, where there is a long memorial thread:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008033.html

I sat and mourned a while, and then, when I could trust myself to talk coherently, I phoned a friend who knew Mike much better than I did. Pressure of work means that she's often out of the fannish gossip loop these days, and I wanted to be sure that she did not wander into someone's blog in a few days or a few weeks, and stumble across it as old news. Fortunately someone else had already had the same thought. We talked briefly of how Mike had been living on borrowed time for so long that it was hard to believe he's finally gone. I still can't quite believe it, even now. Can't believe that there will never be a new Pygmy Mammoth Salad post to delight us all.

25 September: I hate it when this happens

That cover text I was supposed to be working on? I had a very rough draft of some bits of it. I have some spare time to do something about it.

Can I find the file? No, I can not...

22 September:

Just in case any of the authors and/or review writers reading this are not yet aware of the latest way to make a fool of yourself in public, Amazon have a new facility. It is now possible to comment on other people's reviews, at least on amazon.com (.co.uk doesn't seem to have it -- yet).

I have one word of advice. Don't. If you'd like that expanded, the long version is "Anne Rice". :-)

Which leads me into a related topic. I would just like to say "thank you" to various beta-readers and editors who've prodded my prose over the years. However good a writer you may be, it is a really good idea to have a couple of people cast their beady little eyes over your stuff before it goes before the public at large, the better that you may not make a fool of yourself in public. Now, I have been known to argue with my editors about various points, as [info]watervole will doubtless confirm. But that's because I find it helpful in trying to work out what I was actually trying to do with that there bit of prose. If I ever show signs of arguing because I think I don't need a second opinion on my work, do feel free to kick me before the attitude becomes entrenched.

21 September: hear the wallets whimpering across fandom

Gacked from Making Light:

Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction

(Due out Nov, $29.95.)

21 September: book log

The links to B&N and Powells will return when I can remember my passwords, or get around to asking for them to be reset...

Isaac Asimov -- The Caves of Steel

Asimov's first robot novel, and it's a nice short (by today's standards) mystery as well as sf novel. As with "I, Robot", this is the first time in years that I've read it, although it was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager. And again, I thought it was still an excellent book, but I was occasionally jarred by the way reality has caught up with Asimov's projections about the future and left them looking rather silly in places. The futuristic setting with a 1950s nuclear family, complete with the husband as the head of the household and sole source of the family social status, isn't quite as plausible as it might have been when the book was first published back in 1954. And the suggestion that a population of 8 billion is unsustainable without the Cities seems unlikely in a world that is rapidly approaching 7 billion and has more than enough food to feed everyone were it distributed to all. But these are minor niggles rather than major flaws, and the story itself is good enough to easily override them.

A period piece, then, but one that has survived the passage of time and which offers an entertaining story along with some interesting speculation about the psychological effects of the cultures protrayed.

Caves of Steel (Robot City (Paperback)) at amazon.com
The Caves of Steel (Robot Series) at amazon.co.uk

P G Wodehouse -- Carry on, Jeeves

Collection of Jeeves and Wooster stories, including the story in which Wooster first takes on Jeeves (or possibly the other way around). Enormous fun.

Carry On, Jeeves at amazon.com
Carry On, Jeeves

Arthur C Clarke -- The Sentinel

1983 collection by Byron Preiss of some of Clarke's most important short stories, including "The Sentinel" -- which still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Good collection, beautifully illustrated. Out of print, but readily available second-hand, which is useful as this was a library copy and I probably want my own.

The Sentinel at amazon.com
The Sentinel: Masterworks of Science Fiction and Fantasy at amazon.co.uk

20 September: Cynical amusement strikes again

I've been ego-surfing, now that I have net access again. Look very carefully at
http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:6rzQuT8B0hcJ:books.lowcost.us.com/item_42303030435252313643/Buildup_Mindscan.php
Does that review look as if it has been auto-generated from a template? Yes, that's what I thought even before I looked at the side bar and saw the same template on some of the other items. That was in the Google cache. Here's what the real time page looks like:
http://books.lowcost.us.com/item_42303030435252313643/Buildup_Mindscan.php
And what *I* saw when I looked at it was something making it *really* obvious it was auto-generated from a template, though it may have stopped barfing by the time others check. :-)

14 September (later):

Oh yes... Some readers will be familiar with my whining about how I don't write many short stories because most of my short stories end up being 20-60 kwords long. So much so that my editor at Loose Id laughs at me when I say I've got an idea for a short story, and just says she'll expect to see it when I've finished it. Well, that 102 kwords in draft thing I just turned in started out as a desperate attempt to come up with a short story for [info]sacchig's stint as guest editor at Suspect Thoughts last year, as mentioned in this post:
http://julesjones.livejournal.com/42375.html

It had mutated quite a lot by the time it gelled and I actually started setting it down about three months later, and not just in the length -- but that's where it started.

14 September:

Grabbing a brief bit of net time...

I really *am* having very intermittent, patchy net access, so I'm not ignoring people. There is good stuff, sucky stuff, and it-sucks-but-it-could-have-been-much-worse stuff happening all over my flist, and I *am* reading it,but by the time I see most of it it's old news. And I shouldn't read [info]desperance's posts when it's still an hour to go until dinner, because they just make me hungry....

Flailing through the paperwork for Dolphin Deams when I manage to get a rare uninterrupted half hour of puter time. Most of it is done now, but I still have not written the cover blurb for it. I suck at this particular bit of the job even at the best of times, and coming up with something sparkling and lively for this novel is much much worse than pulling teeth. (Yes, I do have ample experience of the latter, at least as the patient.)...

I don't need to be on a computer to start plotting a new story. This is not necessarily a good thing, as I now have the first chapter in detail and a good idea of much of the rest for a novella using the same basic plot as "Lord and Master", the short story that was published on Clean Sheets last month. This may sound like a good thing, especially as it could be slanted towards a Valentine's Day release and I could probably write it in time... but I *was* planning to work on the third Buildup book next, that it may have a sporting chance of coming out a year after the previous one. ...

I have bought Another Psion. Another four Psions, in fact, although three of them are apparently mortally wounded and fit only for spare parts. I probably wouldn't have been willing to bid as high as I did for a merkin version, were it not that the package includes assorted other useful bits as well. At this point all I need is an AC adaptor to have everything I need by way of accessories, but to be honest the wee beastie's main usage is in situations where I wouldn't bother to haul out a mains supply anyway. The whole point of buying another one is that having had one for some months now, I find that I *like* being able to pull something out of my handbag and start scribbling notes on it within 30 seconds, and I'm scared the current one will curl up and die soon.

9 September (4):

There is a meme going around the writing-orientated corner of the blogosphere whereby people describe the process of writing a novel. Because I have been more or less offline, the first one of these I saw when scrolling through several days' worth of LJ flist was Chaz's, here:
http://desperance.livejournal.com/37321.html
but there are sundry other examples around.

Now, I don't think I'm going to get around to churning out a long, witty screed on how I write or fail to write novels while this meme is still current, because the chances of me getting enough uninterrupted time at the computer to do so are somewhat miniscule. However, I might be able to manage a related cat-vacuuming activity that pops up on my fanfic LJ's flist every so often. This is the one where I invite people to ask me more about the genesis/background/whatever of a particular story I've written. So if anyone wants to know more about one of my stories, feel free to ask. (But keep it to the things that have been published as profic, please - if you have a burning desire to know more about one of the fanfic pieces, ask about it on the fanfic LJ.)

9 September (3):

Okay, does anyone have any suggestions as to why the log for my website has a bunch of hits yesterday from search engines for people searching for "jules jones" and "A Trifling Affair"?

(Just in case anyone is still searching, and it really is me they're looking for, the short story is on my website here - http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/trifling.html )

ETA: one possibility has just dawned on me - could be someone's used the story as one of the trivia questions in a contest on one of the romance loops. It's that sort of pattern of hits.

9 September (2):

Kayelle Allen is running a contest to promote her new m/m romance and m/m romance in general, with a prize of a very nice package of m/m ebooks as an incentive to fill out a survey. Yours truly is one of the prize donors, so here are the details:

Enter to win 15 free books from MM Romance authors Evangeline Anderson, Laura Baumbach, Ally Blue, TA Chase, Jules Jones, Sean Michael, DJ Manly, Jet Mykles, Luisa Prieto, ML Rhodes, Kira Stone, Tory Temple, BA Tortuga, Stephanie Vaughan, and Kayelle Allen.

One winner will receive a book from each of these authors! Five more will each receive two books of the reader's choice and a copy of Tales of the Chosen: Wulf, by Kayelle Allen

To enter, click the link below and complete the entry form. What are you waiting for? Spend Autumn's cool nights curled up between two hot guys.

http://www.kayelleallen.com/choosemeauthors.html

9 September (1):

Note back from Clean Sheets rejecting the excerpt from Pulling Strings, for reasons which I fully agree with. :-) It's a novel excerpt, which is always tricky, and it's an sf novel, which is also tricky for them. I wasn't that hopeful when I sent it in, for precisely those reasons, but I prefered to let the editor reject my submission rather than rejecting it myself. It was, however, a "please keep submitting" -- and some of the people reading this should note that they'd still like to see more m/m literotica submissions.

Thanks to everyone who beta-read the submission package for me. I may well look around for somewhere else to submit it once I have decent net access again.

2 September (later):

And sold a novel...
Note from my editor at Loose Id to say that she's accepting Dolphin Dreams, the m/m/m dolphin shapeshifter novel. Likely publication date is next year. It's been a good week. :-)

2 September:

book log

I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov

I adored this when I was a teenager, but I can't have read it for at least fifteen, if not twenty, years. It's still brilliant, although the failure to forsee certain social changes is much more evident now. Might do a long review to submit to Firefox News.

The Hangman's Hymn -- Paul Doherty

Medieval mystery, part of a series based on the Canterbury Tales. It's the first one by Doherty that I've read. Not sure what to make of it - I liked the premise, but there was something about the style in the first half that I found very unpolished. On the other hand, I kept reading... Picked up another one in the library this morning, though this time an Ancient Rome setting.

1 September (later):

I've been making lemon curd again. It's interesting to see that different varieties of lemon really can make a difference in the taste of the finished curd.

I use a recipe based on proportions of
1 lemon
1 egg
1 oz butter
3 oz sugar
giving roughly one pound of curd from three lemons, and I usually do it the old-fashioned way in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. I've been known to make it in batches as small as 1 lemon quantity at a time, because it doesn't keep that long, and while I would be quite capable of eating a full kilo within a week, it would not do much for my attempts to keep my sugar intake to sensible levels.

1 September:

Email from Greg Herren to say that he'd like to use my short story And If I Offered Thee A Bargain in the Distant Horizons queer sf anthology. I am, needless to say, doing the happy author dance. :-)

This is the sf fan meets sidhe story that has been collecting "I like it, but..." rejections, partly on account of it being neither fish nor fowl. Too much or the wrong sort of sex for the sf markets, not enough and wrongly paced sex for the erotica markets, and no HEA so the romance markets can't use it (my editor at Loose Id adores it, but even by LI's generous interpretation of HEA this is *not* a Happy Ever After). There's also the minor matter of it being stuffed with fannish cultural references that will mostly go over the head of mundane readers. So I am well pleased to have sold it -- and to have sold it to a specfic market.

I've only had one previous fiction sale to a specfic market rather than an erotica or romance market, and it's a good thing I was paid on acceptance for that one because it still hasn't appeared and there is no sign that it is ever going to do so. So I'm hoping that nothing happens to this anthology before publication. Sadly, this isn't as unlikely as one might hope. Greg lives in New Orleans...

August 2006

30 August:

Received my contract renewal notice from Loose Id for Promises to Keep this morning. That means it's been out for nearly two years now -- it was published on 19 October 2004, as part of their Halloween collection. It's a longish short story, 5000 words, sold as a Fling (Loose Id's line of short, cheap ebooks). In the year and ten months it's been out, it's sold 549 copies, and it continues to sell around 10 to 20 copies a month. If I've got my numbers right, that means it's earned me some $380 in royalties so far. So it's had a much smaller audience than if I'd managed to sell it to the anthology I originally wrote it for, but I've had a lot more money back from it than I would have had from the anthology payment. 7.5c/word, so far, and those of you who know about SFWA will understand why this pleases me. It's picked up some very nice reviews from the romance review sites, and resulted in some fan mail. I definitely feel... satisfied with the way this one has gone.

Yes, I'd like that contract with a New York publisher, and I'd like to be earning enough money from this writing lark to make a living at it. But there's a nice glow of accomplishment at what I've achieved in the small press.

29 August:

Those of you who've used the market listings at www.ralan.com will know how useful they can be to specfic writers. Unfortunately Ralan's hosting costs have gone up considerably, and the site needs some financial support if it's not to close. Two ways to help - enter the Grabber Contest, with a $20 entry fee and a specified split of the entry fees between the prize pool and the site hosting costs, or donate money. The contest closes 31 August (and I meant to mention it earlier, damn it). I've just made a donation, because I think I've had a lot of value out of the site and I want to see it keep going. I'd have entered the contest, but I didn't come up with a suitable entry.

The sf world is generally pretty leery of contests with entry fees, and with good reason; but this one is very clear about what you're getting for the money, and one of the things you're getting is supporting a useful resource.

24 August:

My short story Lord and Master is now available for your reading pleasure at Clean Sheets. :-) Romantic erotica (sort of), 1500 words, m/m, contemporary.

21 August:

I've just had a personal demonstration of why standard manuscript format matters...

As I've mentioned previously, one of the gentle ironies of my life is that although I am published by an ebook house, I do not normally read ebooks for pleasure. I'm one of the unfortunates for whom ebooks are physically more difficult to read than dead tree format, and the gap is large enough that it's simply not worth it for me, other than having a couple of familiar classics loaded on my Palm for when I'm stuck in a train station.

I also don't do much crit/beta reading for other writers these days, for related reasons. However, I *am* on one friend's crit group filter on LJ, and over the weekend I read the latest iteration of his current manuscript. (A month late, for various reasons, but no matter.) I think it's currently 60,000 words. And I happily read my way through half of that in one morning, on a screen, without having the issues that bug me with ebooks.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that it's work. Highly enjoyable work, but it's still mentally filed under "job". Which means sitting looking at a computer screen isn't really an issue for me as long as it's a decent screen, whereas I really don't like having to sit at a computer to read a book for pleasure. Books get read in all sorts of places, which means I don't want to be tied to a computer, sitting in one place and sitting in the appropriate posture. (Current handhelds do not do it for me.)

And the other reason is Standard Manuscript Format. I'm one of the folk who write in SMF even in a word processor. I'm used to looking at it. It is invisible. And it seems that it's invisible when I'm looking at someone else's manuscript. I'm not spending clock cycles on trying to interpret the layout.

I've known this for a long time, because it's one of the reasons I much prefer mailing lists and Usenet to web forums. I can set the appearance to what's comfortable for *me* and then forget about it. From then on everything looks the same, and I can run through at speed without having to consciously work out who said what. But this really drove it home to me. If the layout is effectively invisible, it makes it ever so much easier to read the text, and if you've been reading 12 point double-spaced Courier etc for years, then it's invisible. Even if it *is* ugly.

And someone who's going through umpty-ump manuscripts in the slushpile needs every little bit of extra reading comfort they can get. As ever -- formatting guidelines are not there because editors like messing with writers' heads. They are there to make the editor's job that little bit easier. RTFGuidelines, and follow them. Whatever format the editor wants, give it to them. And if it's not stated, assume the standard 12 point double-spaced Courier yadda yadda. Yes, it's boring and it's ugly. It's also invisible to most editors, and that's what you want if you want to make that editor just that little bit happier when they look at the first page. Editors are human. They will smile more kindly upon your attempt at fame and fortune if they don't get a headache simply from trying to read the thing.

19 August:

Apparently the Loose Id webshop is having a little local difficulty with credit card processing, and the orders are having to be manually processed. This means Actual Human Being involved, and the actual human beings in question have to sleep occasionally, so there will be delays of anything up to twelve hours in processing orders for the next few days. It should be fixed by sometime next week.

19 August:

I have just exchanged a hot summer for a coldish winter. Amongst other things, this means that I am no longer able to stroll onto the patio and pick a tasty heirloom tomato and some basil for the sauce while the pasta for lunch is cooking. On the other hand, it *does* mean that I am somewhere where it is possible to obtain decent lamb and bacon. It may be cold and wet where I am, but there is also a rather nice casserole of lamb shanks and best end of neck in the oven right now. :-)

Unfortunately I have also swapped broadband for metered dialup over a wet string, and that only at irregular intervals. I can read my Demon and Gmail incoming email pretty much daily, but outgoing (unless urgent) and sundry other activities such as LJ are likely to be somewhat more erratic. Probably not as erratic as online sightings of [info]predatrix, though.

I'm not going to be doing much writing for a few weeks, so I might actually get some reading in. I read more novels on the plane than I did in the previous month, i.e. the last two thirds of Singularity Sky, and most of Iron Sunrise. I think I'm going to have to add Charlie to the short list of authors whose books I only buy when I'm travelling, on the grounds that there are so few authors I like whose books can be found in airports and railway stations...

I headed off to the library this morning, and as per usual had a quick browse for books by people I know. Only score was the third book in [info]desperance's Outremer series. Mildly peeving, as I don't want to buy books while I'm here (too much weight in the luggage home), so I'd rather get books out of the library and buy a copy when I get home if it's any good and I don't already have it. And I have a list of books I want to (re)read and pimp, seeing as how I'm actually reading again.

14 August:

My review of the DVD of children's sf series Children of the Stones has gone up at Firefox News. And yes, I was paid immediately, as the review was accepted on the 6th, posted on the 10th, and the cheque arrived today. I have still received neither cheque nor reply to query about same for a review I did for a different online mag some months ago, so guess who gets first refusal in future?

Finished writing synopsis for Dolphin Dreams and sent it off to my editor.

13 August:

Did requested edits on the story for Clean Sheets on Friday and sent them back, then approved final version yesterday. Expected publication date is 23 August.

After that I ran through the shapeshifter story (which now has the working title Dolphin Dreams, although I'm open to suggestions) and did a tidy up -- mostly stuff like giving names to the characters called [x], checking that various things were consistent, and doing some very minor copy-editing. I also fleshed out the final chapter a bit, as that was the one I wrote on Monday when I was too sick to go to the dentist, and it was still a bit outlinish in feel. That added another 100o words or so, which means the final word count on this draft is 102,000 words. When I read it through I found that it was a lot less porny than I'd thought, though this does not mean it's short on sex.

Normally I'd get it beta-read and do some revision at this point, but I'm about to be away from home for a while. I asked Ye Editor, and she wants to see the first draft now rather than waiting until whenever I manage to get a revised version done. Thus it came to pass that I emailed her the rtf this afternoon. I'm not sure whether I should put out a call for beta-readers anyway. Will think about it this evening.

10 August:

l_prieto came over today for a spot of Blake's 7 watching. We tried the new Hawaiian barbecue restaurant on Castro Street for lunch - cheap and tasty, though I'm not entirely convinced by the DayGlo yellow sauce on the chicken and pineapple.

After she'd gone, I worked on the edits for the Clean Sheets story, but haven't quite finished them. Still a bit fuzzy from the poor sleep over the last couple of nights it seems, and I'm not quite up to de-geeking some of the text.

9 August:

About 500 words on the Ipswich story. Read through the latest iteration on the contracts, which took a couple of hours (because there are two versions, one for single author and one for co-written, and they had different sets of remaining typos and weirdness). Printed off nine copies of the co-author version, because there are three contracts relevant to The Syndicate series and they have to be done in triplicate. Filling out that little lot took an hour... Ah, the glamorous life of a romance writer. Anyway, they've now been posted to [info]predatrix for her signature.

8 August:

Felt much better this morning, so I was able to go to the dentist. Two fillings done without any great excitement other than failure to be completely numbed in spite of three injections. Maybe I _will_ get through this year without a root canal filling. I have to go back to have a crown fitted, as one of the teeth now has so many fillings it needs the protection of a crown, but that can wait. But it took a chunk out of my working day, as I was there for an hour and a half and feeling fairly fuzzy for a couple of hours after that.

Signed the contract for the DVD review, so with any luck that will appear soon. Received edits and likely publication date (late August) for the short at Clean Sheets, but I've left it until tomorrow on account of aforementioned fuzziness. Also received further iteration of the new LI contract. I... um... proof-read the first version and sent them back notes... Will need to check through new version tomorrow, fill out, and send to [info]predatrix for her scrawl to be added.

7 August:

I was sick during the night, and still feeling a bit off this morning, so I've rescheduled the dental appointment. Not too sick to write though, and I've just finished the first draft. 101,000 words in total. Now I need a title. And to do the synopsis, and the paperwork that will be wanted once I sign a contract, and a revision pass, and stuff like that. Joy.

6 August:

About 3000 words today. Another 500-1000 to go, I think, so with any luck I will finish tomorrow. However, I have an appointment at the dentist to have two fillings done, both of which should be routine, but which have the potential to be complicated (for values of complicated including "oops, time for another root canal filling").

I gather from the trail of comments this morning that my editor at Loose Id has found my blog and spent far too much time reading it last night instead of getting on with editing. Get back to work, you. :-)

Note this evening from Firefox News (nothing to do with the browser, but a pre-existing sf zine), accepting my review of the Children of the Stones DVD. Must fill out the contract tomorrow when I'm awake enough to read it.

Further digestive disturbances this evening. I have absolutely no idea what set this off, but it appears to be IBS rather than food poisoning, so I am grateful for small mercies. [info]l_prieto, assume Tuesday's video session is still on unless I say otherwise, but I will email you the street address and a map reference just in case anything happens on Tuesday morning and I can't actually get to the station to meet you.

5 August:

1867 words in the new chapter, of which 144 were actually written on the train last night, on my Psion. So 1700 for today's count. Might get it finished tomorrow, with any luck.

4 August:

You can put the whips away now, thank you. 2500 words today and I've just finished the final sex scene. One more chapter to go, and then the first draft should be wrapped up and it will be time to start the revision pass and look for beta-readers who haven't seen the first draft. And come up with a title.

As previously noted, this is a menage a trois, with a pair of dolphin shapeshifter doms and a human sub, set in present day Britain. I was a bit worried with this one that it was too much like Spindrift in general theme, but I think that I'll probably get away with it, and not just because of the polyamory and D/s elements. For one thing, Spindrift was very much a fantasy novel that happened to be published by a romance house rather than a specfic house. Yes, there's a gay romance as the main plot thread, but it's about the impact of bureaucracy and security controls on the innocent, and about the conflict between urban and rural and whether the conflict is really what we think it is, and how we define "human", and stuff like that. Only with the Hot Boy-on-Boy Love to provide motivation for the characters to go do stuff, of course.

This one's more on the romance-with-sff-elements side than the sff-with-romance-elements side. I laid off the ID card doom and gloom in this one because a) it would otherwise read too much like Spindrift, b) anyone who's read Promises to Keep and Spindrift has either noticed my views on that subject by now, or probably isn't going to unless I spell them out in one syllable words and 60 point type. It's also a lot less in your face about what happens as the magic runs down and the magical creatures have to decide _how_ to fade away. But it's still got some stuff on what do we mean by "human".

Of course, laying off the political stuff seems to have left room for more sex. Maybe if I actually went and did a page count comparison, I'd find I'm wrong, but there does seem to be a _lot_ of sex in this one. Or maybe it's just the impression left by trying to handle sex scenes where it's necessary to show which of three people "he" refers to...

3 August:

1500 words today, so getting back into gear. Still feeling a bit tired, but I've got my appetite back and I managed to cycle the mile and a half each way to Safeway's which is more than I could have done yesterday. I could have really done without an IBS attack *and* a dose of food poisoning in the same week.

Forgot to mention that three new reviews came in on Tuesday afternoon, which cheered me up rather after the rough morning I had. All five star reviews from Fall Angel Reviews:

A Kiss At Midnight
Spindrift
Spindrift 2: Ship To Shore

2 August (later):

Only 400 words on Monday, partly because I was dealing with book contract renewal paperwork. Is it really two years since Loose Id accepted The Syndicate? And only 700 words yesterday and none so far today, for reasons which will doubtless count as TMI for some. I made a remark on Making Light a few days ago about waiting for the food poisoning epidemic to hit after the heat wave. Well, yes... The staff at the dental surgery were very nice about it, and said that it was going around and two of their staff were off sick with it. I am so glad that I was simply having the six-month check-up and cleaning, and was not in the middle of a root canal filling.

I actually feel much better today, but my attention span is shot, which is why I have been annoying other bloggers and forum users instead of getting on with that last 5,000 words that should really only take me two or three days .

2 August:

I'm not sure who should be more worried about this, [info]james_nicoll or my characters, but I've just been reading an old LJ post of his that made me think that I should go and put an extra scene in an earlier chapter just by way of pointing out that two of my characters haven't quite got the hang of this "of course we're perfectly normal humans, what makes you think we're shapeshifters!" lark yet.

(Reference: nude, cooking in the, why you shouldn't...)

July 2006

30 July:

Only about 100 words yesterday, because as I was reminded, there are these things called weekends. One of the things that happened by way of relaxing and socialising was a barbecue, which normally I don't mind. Unfortunately, I have had evidence today that there was an IBS trigger in some of the food I ate. Frequent evidence. I suspect soy mince in the burgers. So only about 500 words on the m/m/m today, because I have had the attention span of a goldfish all day. The religious rant was from the Here's One I Prepared Earlier file, not crafted on the spot.

I did a tomato salad as our contribution to the barbecue. Four different varieties of heirloom tomato, plus basil, salt, balsamic vineger and olive oil. There's a photo around here somewhere which may get posted later. I harvested the sole remaining Brandywine for this - 230g. The first ripened fruit on the Brandywine was eaten on the vine by something, and I found the remains of the still green one pretty much where it would have been dropped by something that had stolen it and retreated to the nearest gutter to eat it. The Brandywine was delicious, and I am tempted to grow it again next year in spite of the pathetic performance this year. With any luck, a healthier plant (this was the one that was blighted) in a pot with good compost rather than the local clay soil will do better.

28 July:

There was a splendid crop of red cherry tomatoes a couple of days ago. Yesterday there seemed to be fewer than I remembered, Yesterday evening there was rustling in the eaves, and even fewer ripe tomatoes. This morning every single ripe or near-ripe one was *gone*. I would blame the squirrels, but the theft took place after dark. Apparently we have possums around here. (Um. Opossums if they're merkin possums?) Wonder if I can buy a catapult anywhere around here...

The light rail in San Jose was severely disrupted by Grand Prix this evening, but I did get one compensation. One of the bikes in the bike compartment on the tram was... a penny-farthing. :-)

Only 700 words today - slacking somewhat. Combination of RSI catching up with me after yesterday's overdoing things, and needing to work out exactly how the current chapter is going to go.

27 July:

3200 words today to take the total over 90,000 words. Greatly assisted by it being a comfortable temperature *all* *day* for the first time in well over a week. Probably won't get much done tomorrow, as [info]l_prieto is coming over tomorrow for another session of drooling over Blake's 7. :-)

26 July:

2800 words yesterday, 2500 today. Three chapters and around 10-15,000 words to go. I won't finish the first draft by the end of the month, but it shouldn't run much over.

The cool change has finally come through, and the top temperature was a much more comfortable 30C in the house today. The outside temperature has dropped enough that we were wearing light sweaters sitting outside the pub this evening, although that was just the contrast to the previous few days - it wasn't actually cold in absolute terms.

24 July:

Still too hot, but I managed to get 1300 words done today, and the total is currently 81.6 kwords. This was the chapter where I started dealing with the problem of two of these guys are shapeshifters, and they'd like to have sex in both shapes. It has to be absolutely clear that there's a human mind in there when they do. It's a _lot_ harder than writing the scenes in First Footer, where one of the guys is a felinoid alien, but is also very obviously a person even if he isn't human - not least because he speaks English (almost) throughout. Fun, fun, fun... Well, I knew when I started writing the book that this section was going to be a logical development of the D/s relationship and that it was going to be difficult to write, so I can't complain about my muse handing me this sort of weird Weird Shit at the last moment.

Charlie was complaining about his muse being a drill sergeant. Mine apparently has ambitions to be a porn film director.

23 July:

Only 500 words today, because I was expected to be sociable instead of spending the day glued to the keyboard... Also, it was too hot, although at least the iced water bottle last night helped and I got a decent night's sleep. Still 30C in the house, but the temperature outside is starting to drop to a sane level now, and the cool change predicted for tonight had clearly arrived sometime around 9 or 10 pm. "Cool" in these terms meaning about 21C low overnight, which is warm but much more pleasant than the last couple of nights. I'm still going to be taking Codis, because I've got the headache early warning signs again and I suspect this heat could trigger not just a headache but a migraine. Hit it with codeine *first*, I say.

22 July:

700 words on Tursday, none yesterday or today. [info]l_prieto came to visit yesterday, so we spent the day wandering around bookshops and bead shops, watching Blake's 7, and talking about writing. And I was out in the evening, so no wiritng done then either.

It was Too Hot last night. In fact, I can tell you that it was 28C at 4 o'clock this morning, because I'd had very badly disturbed sleep all night, and that was the point where I'd been lying awake for an hour or so with a heat-induced headache, and finally gave in and got up to find some aspirin. I checked the temperature while I was wandering around...

It was Really, Seriously Too Hot today. As in it hit 34C before lunch, and was 37C at some point during the day. It's still 32C in the house as I type this. I did not get very much of anything done, because my brain had switched off from a combination of overheating and lack of sleep.. I even completely forgot until about 6 o'clock that I was supposed to be at an online chat today, which is not something I normally do. I'm about to take aspirin (because I can feel the headache coming back) and go to bed.

[melt]

19 July:

Other Half is home from his trip, so I interrogated him this morning about the likely damage to be found in a house that had been abandoned for thirty years, and how abandoned it could be and still not need major structural repair. He has a lot more personal experience of this than I have, and all our DIY books are in storage somewhere... Having got a good feel for what I'd need to make my scenario plausible, I went back over the least few chapters and tweaked them here and there to fit. So only 600 new words today, but there was also a fair bit of revision that didn't change the word count much. Well satisfied with the day's writing work.

Started on the amoxycillin last night and feeling slightly queasy as a result. I've got a three day course - if that doesn't clear up the dental infection, it's going to need poking at to determine what's causing the problem.

18 July:

Only 550 words today, partly because I was doing paperwork type stuff and partly because it was Too Hot. And because I had to go to the dentist to get an antibiotic prescription and an appointment, and then to the pharmacy to get the penicillin, and I had to cycle while it was Too Hot. That nerve branch that's had endless trouble and multiple root canal fillings in the last few years is playing up again. I hope it's just a minor gum infection annoying the damaged nerve, and not another abscess forming. I'd like to go at least one calendar year this decade without having a root canal filling. [sigh]

Paperwork stuff including tackling the pile of short works to be submitted somewhere. Revised a DVD review and submitted it to Firefox News, and re-read a story and tweaked the formatting as per submission guidelines before submitting it to Fishnet. Also re-read a story to check if it looks good for Clean Sheets, but will submit it tomorrow when I'm awake enough to make sure I've formatted the submission correctly. Then I can dither some more about what to do with a 5000 word short that's just long enough to send to some of the erotic romance publishers. Submit it to one of them, with no money up front but the prospect of continuing royalties? Or submit it to Ruthie's Club, who pay a reasonable cash sum on publication and are a market I'd like to submit to for other reasons? Or stick it back in the file of short stories that could probably be expanded to novella length? Decisions, decisions...

17 July:

I didn't get around to dealing with submissions over the last couple of weeks because I was rattling through the WIP at an incredible pace and was totally focused on that. Came up for air on Saturday, and realised that I had been meaning to send in a sub to Erotic Dreams Zine for Cock Appreciation Month, I still hadn't done so, and it was last day. Only when I went to check the site for the subs address, I found that they'd closed early due to being swamped with subs. Oops. Oh well. I'll send it to Clean Sheets instead.

I didn't completely neglect subs, as I installed OpenOffice and exchanged files with predatrix to see whether I can pick up Track Changes done in a modern edition of Word. The Spawn of Redmond drives me demented every time I try to use it, but some markets insist on using .doc files rather than .rtf files, so it would help if I could at least read the files complete with edits when I absolutely must. Fortunately my editor at Loose Id is perfectly happy to work with rtf, which is compatible with the software at both ends.

Delurk day at Romance Junkies was spread out over both Saturday and Sunday this week. Lots of fun, and doubtless did me some good, because as previously noted I was here on my own for the last couple of weeks.

350 words on Friday. 1000 words on Saturday, except the software crashed with that weird bug again, and *ate* them. So had to rewrite them on Sunday, and did another 450 beyond that. 10,000 total last week, for a running total of 76.9 kwords by Sunday evening.

"No, but please keep submitting" form rejection from Best Lesbian Erotica, saying that the story had reached the semi-final stage even though it hadn't got into the final selection stage. Feeling very pleased with that, as I don't normally do f/f.

*If* I can get copies in time and *if* I can organise for one of my local friends to take them down for me, there will be copies of The Syndicate for sale from the Broad Universe table at Worldcon in LA. If anyone's going and would like to buy a signed copy should they be available, let me know.

Didn't sleep well last night, and had other work to do today, so by the time I had time to write I was too tired to concentrate. Think I'll go to bed early with a book instead.

15 July:

I made duck leg confit a couple of days ago, just to see if I could. I tried a bit yesterday, but left it until today to have it as part of a meal, as it's one of those dishes that matures over a couple of days. Cold, it's pleasant but very salty, and I should probably have cured it for less than the 24 hours it got (the recipes I found online varied from a couple of hours to 24-48 hours).

Tonight I reheated a leg by frying it in its own fat, as recommended by a recipe I saw at the beginning of the week and promptly lost. Chucked in a couple of slices of fresh ginger to flavour the fat. Steamed a potato in the microwave for five minutes, then sliced it and fried it in the pan with the duck. Chopped a spring onion and dumped that on top of the frying potatos, and added steamed peas as another vegetable. Since I knew this was likely to be very fatty, I did a rhubarb sauce to go with it, which I will doubtless pay for tomorrow (IBS trigger). Also had a tablepoon of lingonberry jam, as I've thought before that it's sharp enough and the right flavour to make a good substitute for redcurrent jelly on fatty meat dishes.

The duck was salty but extremely tasty, and frying it does crisp up the skin nicely - and drains off a surprising amount of the fat, so if you lift it out with a slotted spoon and let it drain over the pan for a few seconds, you get rid of much of the fat. The lingonberry jam made an excellent accompanying suace, and cut the saltiness as well as the fat. The rhubarb was less successful, but I should probably look up how to make a proper rhubarb sharp sauce instead of just cooking it in the microwave for a couple of minutes with a bit of sugar. :-)

There are three legs left, so those will probably be lunch over the next couple of weeks. And if I haven't completely sickened myself, I shall then make some more, and experiment with different herbs in the dry marinade.

13 July:

Went down to Campbell this morning for morning tea with l_prieto at what turned out to be a very nice tearoom -- although their tea isn't made strong enough for my taste, it is at least made properly with boiling water, something not guaranteed with USian purveyors of tea. I demonstrated that I have had no meatspace company for a week by my monopolisation of the conversation now that I actually had someone to talk to. Much talking about writing, slightly inhibited by the fact that there were young children in the room. Trying to describe my current WIP in more detail than I do in the blog but _without_ going past PG-13 was a trifle difficult. [info]l_prieto admired my Psion 5MX and is now threatening to get one herself, in spite of having an Alphasmart.

Did do some writing when I got home -- 1000 words today, bringing it to 75,000 total so far. My guess is that final length will be 90-100 kwords.

12 July:

3000 words today -- and a resurgence of the RSI this afternoon. I've probably been overdoing it a little, although it doesn't help that I put my shoulder out again yesterday (a separate problem). So it's a good thing I'm meeting l_prieto for morning tea tomorrow, as it will keep me off the keyboard for a bit.

11 July:

2700 words today, total to date 71.1 kwords. It's definitely a novel and not a novella this time. :-)

In the last couple of days I have looked up such things as the likely cost and timescale of reconnecting a remote rural dwelling to the electricity grid after a thirty year hiatus, how old a building has to be before it's likely to be on the listed building register, and what the consequences are if it is, when septic tank sewage systems first started making an appearance, the likely state of decay of a stone cottage that has been boarded up for some decades, failed to find suvey maps of any of the Purbeck qaurry caves but did find a nice sketch of the relevant strata... Hooray for Google, and anyone who suggests that erotic romance authors just churn it out without reference to the real world is likely to find themselves Tuckerised, and not in a manner that they will find pleasing.

10 July:

3400 words yesterday, 2100 today.

Harvested the first Green Zebra and Dwarf Patio tomatos today. Taste test report at my LiveJournal.

8 July:

Only 800 words on Thursday, partly because I spent some time tackling the tomato support problem. 2900 yesterday, and 3000 today. Total to date 62.9 kwords - this one is going to hit full novel length by the looks of it.

Speaking of the tomatos, I found the first ripening Yellow Pear on Thursday, once I'd tied up the plant and could actually see all of the bottom truss. The Red Grape fruit has come on enormously in the last couple of days and there are a lot of ripe or nearly ripe fruits on several trusses. And the other garden item is that the gourd and cucumber plants are looking much happier this week, There is definitely something wrong with the soil on that bit of the bed, possibly including tannin poisoning from the redwood cones from next door's redwood. I dumped a load of Miracle Grow on the plants last week as a fast treatment for any basic nutrient deficiencies, and it seems to have helped. I should probably grow runner beans there next year to do some nitrogen fixing.

6 July (dinner):

Okay, I just harvested the mutant Cherokee Purple. 12.8 ounces or 364g. That's a lot of tomato. Actually it's a lot of tomatos plural, because this is the one where at least half a dozen flowers fused together to form one giant flower on an incredibly thick stem, and I ended up with a ring tomato.

It started ripening in one of the fruit, and then ripened from there around the ring in each direction, one fruit at a time. Unfortunately it got black spot on the earliest one, and it started rotting today, so even though it wasn't quite ripe on the last fruit I had to harvest it this evening. It's lost a bit of weight from the rot, so if perfect would have been even a little heavier.

The taste raw is mild, no acid at all but not that sweet either. Bland is the word that springs to mind, although it's certainly not tasteless. It may have a stronger taste when fully ripe. The fruit is extremely meaty, almost all flesh and very little pulp or seed. I can see that the yield of seed per plant from a seed crop could be pretty low. If you like meaty tomatos, this is a good one.

I started cooking dinner just before I started writing this note, and paused long enough to cook dinner and eat it. Streaky bacon fried in a pan, with mushrooms fried in the fat as it drained off the bacon during cooking. Added slices of the tomato to the pan about five minutes before the end of the cooking to cook in the bacon fat and mushroom juices. The cooked flavour is utterly divine. Cooking greatly intensified the flavour, and it was tomato flavour, not just added flavour from the fat. Very mushy, so you coudln't cook slices directly on a grill on the barbecue, but this would be a wonderful tomato for a pan on the barbecue.

I'll add some photos once I've transferred them from the camera.

6 July (later):

Comment from James in the comments thread from yesterday: "The future will be a cornucopia of regretable commercial products."

Collected highlights from various LJs

The plushie sex dolls:
http://www.teddy-babes.com/

Flying Spaghetti Monster Porn, featuring well-known classic art work:
http://www.dildoart.com/fsm/2.html

And by the way, there are Flying Spaghetti Monster plushie dolls. Wouldn't they go well with some of the *other* things in the thread?
http://www.venganza.org/

Such as this one:
http://www.dreamkitty.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=G-MD58480&Category_Code=brand

Of course, there's always Real Doll:
http://www.realdoll.com/

or for the fans of alt.hamster.duct-tape:
http://www.realhamster.com/

A little something for the boys:
http://www.bedroomsports.com/default.aspx?PageID=495&CategoryID=280

And there is something creepier than all of the above:
http://www.huggableurns.com/

6 July (afternoon):

I've spent the last hour (on and off, because it's hot out there) attempting to deal with the problems caused when one's Other Half insists that a three foot high tomato cage will be perfectly adequate support for an indeterminate tomato. He keeps forgetting that he's not in England now, and if you plant a jungle creeper in this climate it will head for the eaves...

Anyway. I have installed two large cup hooks in the eaves above the Red Grape and threaded through a four foot metal plant stake, from which now dangles a support mesh. I've tied up the plant as best I can, but after spending the last couple of weeks sprawled on the ground it doesn't really want to be forcibly rearranged, and it's all looking rather Heath Robinson. However, the net result is that I could once again reach the bottom couple of fruit trusses, and I sit here now with two tiny tomatoes that do indeed look like red grapes. The big one is 23 mm long and 4 g, the small one is 16 mm and 2 g.

That is now "was". :-) Sweet, mild tomato flavour, no acid, rather tough skin. They'll do well in salads and as snacks.

I need to install the same sort of arrangement on the other side of the patio window now to keep the Yellow Pear under control, and then work out what on earth to do about the Purple Cherokee, which is directly in front of the window and thus slightly more problematic.

6 July (lunch):

I am making a vague effort to eat more salad during the summer weather. However, the Milk Pail, greengrocers, cheesemongers, and suppliers of imported foods to homesick ex-pats, have added duck leg confit to their lineup of cold meats at some point, and this week I decided that I had to try this even if it _was_ about three times the price per ounce of factory-farmed water-and-polywhatsit-injected mechanically-recovered ham from the supermarket. So today is the second time this week I have had the following for lunch:

sliced tomato
sliced apricot
shredded butter lettuce
handful of young spinach leaves
chopped pecan halves
drizzle with balsamic vinegar (drench, in my case, because I am Weird and like vinegar a lot)
an ounce or two of thinly sliced duck confit, freshly sliced off the bone

Is sufficently yummy that I have been inspired to look up a recipe for making confit, for the next time the Chinese supermarket on Castro Street has duck legs on special.

I have to confess that because I am a Philistine Brit I did also add a dollop of salad cream to today's version...

5 July:

3000 words and a new plot twist...

I won't name the guilty party, as it was in a friends-locked post, but someone on my LiveJournal flist has just had a Share And Enjoy moment with this link, and I see no reason to refrain from infecting others: http://www.teddy-babes.com/

Comments thread at my LiveJournal.

4 July:

3000 words today, and some ideas on plot development. :-)

3 July:

2500 words today, taking it over 50,000...

2 July:

Just had a note from Clean Sheets to say that they've accepted my short story "Lord and Master". :-) Feeling well pleased about this one, as it's good exposure even if the pay's low. No publication date as yet, but probably within the next four months.

[does the happy author dance]

1 July (later):

1600 words on the shapeshifter, and around 600 words on the Ipswich story, so pleased with today's progress.

Time for a tomato update. Fruit on four of the plants started colouring up last weekend, although the Yellow Pear and Brandywine are still showing no signs of doing so (though the Brandywine is in practice at least two weeks behind the others anyway because of the blight it suffered early on).

I had a fruit from the Red Grape earlier in the week, although it wasn't truly ripe and had just been knocked off by accident. I picked the first ripe one today to try, although it was probably still a little underripe. Sweetish, some tomato flavour, still a little bland. It was one of the smaller fruits, and only weighed 2g. Really quite tiny, and definitely more suited to salad or snacking than using in a sandwich. The plant is covered in fruit and has shot up -- it's now around six feet tall and becoming a nuisance, because it's well outgrown its support.

The Green Zebra is ripening nicely, but it's rather difficult to tell when the fruit is ripe, because it's, well, *green*. I can't remember whether it just goes yellow with green stripes when fully ripe, or whether it has red pigments as well, so the ripest looking one just gets prodded every couple of days. (Rummage - yellow-gold with green stripes, it seems.)

The Purple Cherokee is purpling up on the Giant Mutant Compound Fruit that resulted from its habit of fusing several flowers on a truss together -- there are about six or seven fruits fused into a ring, and they're colouring one at a time, working around the ring. I'm going to have to take a photo of this thing when I finally harvest it. It too has escaped the confines of its support cage, although it's not as enthusiastic as the Red Grape.

And the patio dwarf one is doing something, although as I have no idea what colour it's supposed to be, I don't know how far it is from being ripe.

I also have a couple of self-sown plants from last year's experiment with the species tomato. They're far behind the others, of course, but it's interesting how many seedlings did turn up around the trough. It's obviously pretty hardy as tomatos go, and as it's a very pretty plant I want to get these ones to the stage of one ripe truss just so that I have seed for next year.

The basil is doing nicely and I've been cutting it for kitchen use for some time now, so sometime next week I will be having my first pasta lunch with tomatoes and basil picked from the garden while the pasta is cooking. :-) I have by no means saved money by growing my own--by the time you add it all up, it would be much cheaper to buy from the shop. But nothing beats a tomato straight from the plant, and they certainly brighten up the patio.

1 July:

Hmm. Haven't updated my word count for a few days, in part because I had other things to talk about. Wednesday about 550 words on the dolphin shapeshifter and a couple of hundred on the Ipswich story, Thursday about 210 on the shapeshifter (partly because I was out much of the afternoon taking Other Half to the airport), and about 1000 words yesterday, in spite of spending the afternoon printing off part of a government manual I am going to read in pursuit of a career change.

As mentioned, I'm here on my own, with car, and will be for the next couple of weeks, which means I'm inclined to wander about and see people within easy driving distance. However, the last two times Other Half went off on a business trip I promptly got sick enough to reduce my driving range to somewhere between "none" and "San Jose as long as it's somewhere I've been before" (i.e. David's house). I hope not to repeat this experience, but am not making plans to go as far as San Francisco or Berkeley.

I'm printing off that government manual because I really, really cannot bear reading anything at length on screen. I tried. I failed. If I print out the entire thing it will probably cost me at least $50 in paper, toner and binders, and probably double that, but I don't care. So I was pleased to find an essay by Eric Flint about this in his Letters from the Librarian section at the Baen Free Library. Some of the things he talks about there are ones that I heartily agree with. As I've mentioned to a couple of people, I will start reading ebooks routinely when the reader device works like a book. The pages will be made of epaper, but it will have pages, bound together into something that looks and handles like a paper book. It's not because I'm an old fogy. It's because the packaging *does* matter, and for exactly the reason Eric gives - reading off a block of physical pages is easier than reading from a scrolling screren, at least for me.

June 2006

30 June:

Last night's emergency tree surgery activities went on until at least half midnight, althoughI think they probably did finish around the same time that I went to sleep. I've just been down to the end of the road to inspect the damage, and it appears that one of the big acacias along there simply snapped at the base and fell onto the road, possibly taking some of its friend with it. There is now a sad looking stump, and a pile of neatly cut up canopy blocking the bike lane. Presumably they decided to stop once they'd got the car lanes clear and safe. Normally I'd have things to say about consideration for cars but not bikes, but on the whole I'm quite glad they stopped when they did, and I'm sure the people living closer were even more glad.

The acacia next to the one that actually went does in fact have a heritage tree removal notice on it dating back a few weeks, and was due to be removed for a variety of reasons including it being liable to come down in the next high wind. (Any tree over a certain size, 2' circumference IIRC, can't be removed without a permit from the council, and a better reason than "I don't like the tree". There is an appeal period during which a notice is fixed to the tree so that people can object to the permit being granted.) It's possible that the late lamented was also slated for removal, but has beaten the council to it. The one still up has some fresh neatly trimmed branch stubs this morning, so either the falling tree took out a couple of limbs last night, or they looked at it and decided it was about to drop a branch or two and took pre-emptive action.

The stump is over two feet across, and the one still up is around twenty feet tall, so that was quite a lot of tree on the road last night.

29 June (later):

It's 11 at night here. I was disturbed a while back by the sound of a chainsaw. It took a little while to register that it was after 10:30 and someone was using a chainsaw, which is very definitely verboten at this hour in these parts except in emergency situations. Then the chainsaw noise was replaced by the sound of Large Vehicle with a siren to warn that it's reversing, obviously shuffling back and forth. This carried on for a bit, and eventually I got curious enough to wander out and see what was happening, and more importantly how long it was likely to happen for.

The main road at the end of the block has several council vehicles of various sizes and shapes lumbering around on it, a diversion on one carriageway sending traffic from that carriageway down my street, and rather a lot of shrubbery *on* rather than by or above the carriageway. Obviously a tree's come down, although since it's night and it's the far carriageway, I couldn't see exactly which tree and what had happened. But I think there is going to be hooting and bleeping and rumbling desiel engines for a while yet.

And now we have the police/fire engine/whatever siren wandering around. Lovely. Don't think I'll bother trying to sleep just yet.

ETA: We now have what I presume is the noise made when chunks of tree are picked up off the carriageway and dumped in a lorry to be hauled away...

29 June:

Just found the official announcement on Baen's Bar:

***

copy of official announcement from Baen Books

I didn't know him, and I've read few of the books he published. I still bitterly regret his loss. I've heard the stories, good and bad, and I know that he was a complex man; flawed as we all are, but generous also. He found and developed many new writers, including one of my very favourites -- and some people I know personally. He stood by his vision of open access ebooks, and saw them become a major income earner for his house while other publishers treated their readers as criminals and wondered why ebooks didn't sell as well as they'd hoped. Over on Making Light PNH says in a few sentences all you need to know about why his death is a blow to science fiction:

"I didnít know Jim at all well, and we had many differences of taste and outlook, but he was a publishing genius, radically correct about many of the things that matter. Trust your readers. Your audience is your most effective sales force. Publish what you love."
29 June: RIP Jim Baen October 22, 1943 - June 28, 2006

Jim Baen passed away yesterday. He never regained consciousness after the massive stroke two weeks ago.

Report at Making Light

Obituary by David Drake

27 June:

A couple of updates on submission guidelines at ERA that might be of interest:

Black Lace has changed the theme of one of the 2006 Wicked Words anthologies to "Paranormal Erotica" - deadline January 2007. 4000-6000 words, pay 200 pounds. Yes, that *is* two hundred pounds, not a typo, so great pay but a lot of competition. http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/G/WickedWords.htm

SMUT magazine says it "generally pays fifty dollar per story" now -- it used to be exposure-only. However, their own website still suggests payment only for exceptional stories by names, so be wary. http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/G/Smut.htm

Several other new and changed markets over the last week or so at ERA, and I am reminded that there's a webzine looking for m/m shorts, deadline in a couple of weeks. I should write something as a way of practicing writing under 2000 words, but I'm out of short story ideas at the moment, and the last "short" story I started in response to a call on ERA is currently approaching 10 kwords and likely to be novella length. (That's the Ipswich story I'm working on with predatrix.)

500 words on the dolphin shapeshifter story yesterday and again today. I had an excuse for the low word count today, as I was at a publisher day on one of the romance loops, and Yahoo was being its usual horrible self, which meant that it was pretty much impossible to do anything else while trying to follow the posts and persuade it to post *my* meanderings. [waves at strix_an_stones]

There is definite "drawing on own experience" going on in this story now, and no I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about things like trailing round after a JCB in a cold wet foggy brownfield site collecting environmental samples...

25 June:

Maxim Jakubowski has started sending out responses to Mammoth Book of Erotica 6 submissions. Unfortunately mine was "didn't quite work for me". :-(

These were reprints, of course, so I've already had one bite of the cherry with them. One of them is on the list of short stories that my Loose Id editor would like to see expanded to novella length, and the other has already been in one anthology and on a Katrina fundraiser blogzine, so I'm not terribly disappointed, even though I would have very much liked the exposure to another group of readers. But I've already got a couple of shorts hanging around that should have been sent out again a couple of weeks back, only I was having tonsillitis at the time, so today is the day for trawling the submissions guidelines at ERA.

1300 words on Friday, none yesterday. My royalty statement came in yesterday, giving me an incentive to keep writing. I don't make anywhere near a living from the ebooks, but I've made enough money to make it well worth my while. Having a backlist is good, because a dozen or two sales each month on the books that have been out for over a year may not sound like much, but it adds up over the number of titles I have out.

23 June:

http://community.livejournal.com/genreneep/ reports that Henry Jenkins has a blog, syndicated to LJ here: http://syndicated.livejournal.com/henry_jenkins/

22 June:

700 words on Tuesday, 1200 yesterday, and 2500 today in spite of the 35C heat here, which takes it past 41,000 words. I'm very pleased with yesterday's chapter, as it actually uses the shapeshifters' abilities to advance... well, not the plot as such, but the relationship between the three guys.

alg has posted an interesting and useful essay about getting GLBTQ fiction published at a mainstream house. Well worth a read if you're interested in either slash or m/m profic.

No change in Jim Baen's condition this morning, which is both bad and good. He's still in coma, but he's still here, and as Marilee has pointed out, she came back from her stroke after six weeks in a coma.

21 June:

Just checked Baen's Bar and found today's update:

"Dear Arnold,

I was as the hospital last night and Jim's condition is unchanged. He's resting comfortably and well cared for.

I tried to send this message out from the hospital, but had a laptop modem malfunction so had to wait until this morning to get it out.

All bests,
Toni"

It *is* possible to get into the Bar without registering, but it's awkward, as some interfaces don't show the guest account. I can't remember how I actually found it, but I'm using http://bar.baen.com:8080 - it requires some prodding to get it to show the conferences. Updates on Jim are in "Waiting Room".

20 June:

New update at the Baen Bar this morning. I'm not registered, but pnh reposted a copy at Making Light: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007658.html#131263

Main news is:
"As many of you know, last Monday Jim suffered a stroke. The doctors describe it as a massive bilateral stroke in the thalamus. Jim has not regained consciousness and his condition has become severe. He is resting comfortably now, and appears to be in no pain; however the doctors' prognosis is grave."

Not good. :-(

19 June:

Progress somewhat erratic last week, what with one thing and another. 900 words Tuesday, 1300 Wednesday, 400 Thursday, 400 Friday. No writing on Saturday and Sunday, because I was busy having a social life. It happens occasionally. 1200 words today. But I did get some useful research done last week, not least because watervole and I spent some time talking over features of the Dorset coastline, satisfying me that the cave/quarry setup I want is plausible as something that _could_ exist, even if no such formation exists in real life. She kept an eye out during a walk at the weekend, and saw some real-life features that pretty much confirm that with the right cliff slippage something like I describe could exist unnoticed.

Interesting point in the fan mail letter yesterday - the writer mentioned Cherryh. Now, there is no way that the Chanur books could be an influence on First Footer, because I've never read them. I know just enough to recognise them as the likely source of the comment. The real, conscious influence when I was writing that novella was Andre Norton, although my felinoids aren't Salariki.I very seriously considered dedicating the book to her memory (I wrote it a few months after she died). I'll be interested to see if anyone picks that up without prompting. This might fit in with the current rasfc discussion on subtext and whether it can be said to be there if the author could not have had something in mind when writing the material...

18 June:

Feeling more cheerful today, even if I *was* being sick about an hour ago... Current indications are that I had (past tense) a headache and was being sick because I had a mild dose of sunstroke, and I had a mild dose of sunstroke because I spent the day on top of Mt Tam watching the Mountain Play, which this year was Fiddler on the Roof. And a most excellent production it was too, with a fine cast. We had a superb picnic lunch beforehand, and the only flaw in my day was the incredible heat, resulting in the aforementioned sunstroke.

Also got home to an email saying that friend's husband was improving, if slowly, and is essentially out of the woods. And started the day with reading Charlie's bouncing about winning the Locus award for Accelerando. I *know* that what I write is not going to be winning sf awards anytime soon, which has the interesting side-effect of being able to get an enormous kick out of the success of friends without feeling that little twitch of envy. And I got a particularly nice piece of fan mail for First Footer, which I will answer tomorrow when I'm feeling a bit more with it.

16 June:

It has not been a good week.

A few days ago, scarlatti and her chemo finally lost the battle. Overnight she went from being seriously ill but alert and active and still fighting, to the final coma. I only knew her through other people, and didn't know her well enough to be able to call her a friend; but she was someone I liked and cared about, and she was a close friend of some of my close friends. Mercifully, the last stage did not take long, and she died yesterday. May she rest in peace, and may her partner dougs find comfort in how many people loved her.

An email this morning from a friend, to let me know that another friend's husband is seriously ill in hospital, though at least he's now expected to recover.

And then there's Jim Baen, the owner of Baen Books. He's unconscious in ICU following a stroke earlier this week. I don't know him, and I've read few of the books he's published. I do know that he has made an enormous contribution to sf, not least by his willingness to take on the challenge posed by the internet and make it work for rather than against conventional publishing. He recognised and nurtured the talent of many writers, including people I know. They're hurting. The tribe is hurting. I hope he makes a full recovery.

12 June:

Feeling much better today, although I've started the lingering cough that always seems to turn up just as the infection dies down. Even walked down to the post office to post a zine order, which is the first time in a week that I've been able to face walking that far.

500 words on Saturday and then again on Sunday, with 1300 tonight. This was partly because I wasn't feeling that great, but partly because I've hit a bit of a block. I took a break from it today, and wrote up the review of Neutron Star (which I finished reading last week, but didn't review immediately because I was too fuzzy), printed off the zine and took it down to the post office, and then sat down and finished reading Modesty Blaise before writing the review for that. All very slow, but it seems to have done some good because I got past the immediate block. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Not sure what to start reading next--I'd got part way through my re-read of Singularity Sky, then dropped it because of a previous bout of not feeling that great, and picked up Neutron Star because it was short stories and easier to handle. And then my parcel from Amazon arrived with a couple of Modesty Blaise books and a Wycliffe... Might tackle the Wycliffe next, as it's one I've read before and won't be too taxing.

Must also think about reviewing the Gutenberg downloads of Around the World In Eighty Days and The Jungle Book, which have been keeping me amused on public transport of late. And load some fresh Gutenberg loot into the Palm. I find that sitting on local public transport is the one place where I do find ebooks useable -- I'm reading in short enough bursts that it doesn't cause the physical problems that normally put me off reading ebooks.

9 June:

Croaky but talking again. and 1100 words on the shapeshifterm/m/m today. Started writing some thoughts on a rant, but will sit on that one for a while. tharain, I may require a second opinion, and you're tagged since you nagged.

8 June:

1400 words yesterday, and another 500 today. I'm going to be spacy from the respiratory infection for another few days, but at least it's over 30,000 words now and I'm back to making daily progress on it. And I think I can talk again, so maybe some joint work tomorrow with predatrix if she's free.

Need to get down to sending the shorts back out again, but I need to be a little more focused before trying to do that, I think.

Also a new market that might be of interest to some of you: there's a new specfic anthology listed over at ERA: Tiresias Revisited: Magical Tales for Transfolk. While it's listed on ERA, it's *not* an erotica anthology, just willing to accept erotica stories as long as they work as stories.

7 June:

Feeling sufficiently better that some writing has been done. I've also written a couple of new Amazon reviews, although this time they're not of books.

6 June:

No writing done today, although I'm feeling significantly less yuck than I did yesterday as long as I don't try to talk (talking *hurts*, coughing's even worse, so I'm trying to avoid those activities). I'll probably be up to writing tomorrow if I get another reasonable night's sleep.

One of the books I bagged from the clearout brooksmoses and suzimoses had a couple of weeks back was Larry Niven's "Neutron Star". It turned out that although I'd read the title story of the collection, I'd never read the collection itself. Finished it tonight, having been reading it on and off over the last couple of weeks (usually while the new laptop was being prodded and thus unavailable for work). There's some cracking good stuff in there. Must try to write a review tomorrow.

I ordered some stuff with my cover art on it from Cafepress when they had a shopowners' 20% discount a couple of weeks ago. The parcel arrived yesterday, delivered by a UPS driver who dropped it on the doorstep and ran off without bothering to ring the doorbell, which I am not impressed with. The mugs with the Syndicate montage look extremely good, although obviously I've no idea yet how they'll stand up to washing. The black shirt with the Mindscan art was so awful I'd be sending it back if it wasn't that when I set up the shop they did warn that the black shirt was still experimental and they didn't guarantee results. The colours are dull, heavily posterised, and not very accurate even so -- my best description would be that it looks as if it's already been through the wash a couple of dozen times. I think I'll take that one out of the shop. The white teeshirt with the Spindrift art looks much better, with no posterisation, but is still rather faded looking. I'm afraid I can't recommend either teeshirt for photographic reproduction, although the sort of flat colour logo suitable for storing in gif format would probably be all right. I have a Loose Id teeshirt with Loowis the Loose Id and the other company logos, and although it did start fading in the wash fairly quickly it looked pretty nice when it was new, much nicer than either of the two new ones.

5 June:

Absolute Write is back online, and I have even delurked.

Did some more tidying up on the website, but no actual writing--I was just too fuzzy. The throat inflammation was a lot less painful today and readily squashed by Codis, but I woke up about 4 o'clock this morning because I was in the "can't breath comfortably" stage, with my nose running like a tap. Ended up getting up and sitting in front of the computer for half an hour waiting for the new dose of pseudoephedrine to take effect. (And don't get me started on the new merkin drug laws that assume that anyone buying a pack of Sudafed intends to start up a meth factory). Wouldn't surprise me if I do the same tonight. Just hope I remember that the new pack is a one tablet dose, not a two tablet dose.

4 June:

I've done the May newsletter for my Yahoo loops, and copied the contest across to my website - check the main page on the site for the link to the contest . Prize is one of my ebooks or the usual alternatives.

No writing yesterday, because I was feeling very fuzzy. Realised why when I woke up this morning with tonsillitis. Possibly picked up at Baycon, but incubation period would be on the long side. I'm so glad I bring back a pack of Codis with me whenever I visit countries with sane drug policies... (Yes, it's legal to import personal use quantities. I'm not stupid.)

2 June:

About 1000 words on the shapeshifter m/m/m and 400 on the travel tale. And an email from Clean Sheets to say that my submission passed the first selection round, and has gone to the full editorial panel for a decision on whether to accept or reject. No guarantees of course, but it's good to get past the first stage.

1 June:

Around 2400 words added to the travel tale, so progress is pleasing. Around 6500 words total so far, and they are only just about to have sex, so this is not going to be a short story.

May 2006

31 May (still later):

2000 words on the con report today, and the draft is now up. I was hoping to get a little fiction writing in, butI haven't quite escaped the last of the migraine yet - I had to leave the pub very early tonight because the noise was getting to me, and I'm now feeling sufficiently fuzzy that I'm going to go to bed.

The new keyboard seems to be working, but one minor irritation has emerged on the computer move, in that somehow a lot of the settings in my mail client for "indicate when this folder has received new mail" have got turned off. Hence some email into my "talking to publishers" address over the weekend that I didn't notice until I went into it looking for some email from last week. Rejections today from Best Gay Erotica 2005 (Ye Ed says over 500 submissions - yikes!) and Iris. Some helpful feedback on the Iris rejection, which I'm grateful for. I've got them in mind for the current joint project with predatrix when we finish it, assuming it comes in under the length limit for shorts.

31 May (later):

Just put my con report for Baycon 2006 on my website: http://www.julesjones.com/misc/baycon2006.html

31 May:

There's a new thread at Making Light gathering current information on the abrupt termination of the Absolute Write website by JC-Hosting after a complaint by scam agent Barbara Bauer: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007593.html

The ISP, JC-Hosting/TotalWeb International Net Consulting of Nashville, TN, has now failed to meet three deadlines for returning the Absolute Write database to its owner, Jenna Glatzer. Two ways to help:

a) There is a project to retrieve as much as possible from the Google cache before it expires - links at Making Light.

b) Absolute Write needs donations. There are bills to be paid, including the bills for the trained attack lawyers that will be necessary to get the database back. Lawyers *are* going to be necessary, given the intransigence displayed by JC-Hosting (and indeed are already involved). I've just made a donation, because I value that forum and I want it back. Details at Jenna Glatzer's blog.

There is, sadly, a possibility that the reason JC-Hosting has repeatedly stalled on returning the database is that they were utterly unprofessional and deleted it during or after the initial takedown, and do not wish to admit that they have done so. That makes the recovery from cache project urgent, as it may be the only way to recover at least some of what was an enormous database of useful information for writers.

30 May (still later):

About 500 words on the travel tale today, and the Baycon report has reached 1700 words total, so at least 1000 words written today in spite of keyboard angst, probably more. I'm trying to get the con report done while I can still remember stuff, but it's inevitably going to be patchy. Taking notes was more than I was capable of during the weekend, even though I got the sinus congestion and migraine under control fairly rapidly. Will finish it tomorrow with any luck.

30 May (later):

I have a new keyboard--a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000. It isn't quite the same shape as Preciousss, so I get to learn all over again exactly why the unimpaired don't really like split-and-angled keyboards. (I do remember my first encounter with a split keyboard. It was... interesting.) It's also a US keyboard, which I'm not entirely enamoured of. But it has a built-in palm rest and it's definitely more comfortable than the flat keyboard. It's also significantly quieter than Preciousss, which was always a noisy brute and was getting decidedly clacky in its old age. There were complaints from Other Half about clacky noise, so I suppose someone will be pleased.

I'm trying it with supports installed and a chair cushion, and without both, and neither is entirely satisfactory, so I can see the next wodge of cash being spent on the long-threatened but never purchased wheelie chair with height adjustment. That or a thinner cushion for the dining room chair currently pressed into service as a computer chair.

This beastie's not cheap, but it's money well spent if it suits my hands. And the old keyboard isn't going anywhere but the bits shelf - it's mechanically sound and still works perfectly well with the desktop, and I may have need of it at some point.

It has a number of interesting toys as well, like a zoom key. I'm not sure how much of this stuff I'll actually use, as there were fancy keys on the old one and I never strayed outside the standard ones in nine years of using the thing. (Yes, it is that old.) Expect further incoherent ranting as I get used to it...

30 May:

I have a new laptop with WinXP. It does not want to play nicely with my old keyboard with the split alphanumeric pad and sundry other ergonomic features. It demonstrates this by every so often deciding that the Shift key is glued down, or developing a stammer, or thinking that the mouse has the left button held down permanently. This morning the random weirdnesses got too much for me to bear, and I swapped over to the USB keyboard that was included with my desktop purchased five years ago. Five years ago it was snarled at for not being an ergonomic keyboard and tossed into the bits cupboard, where it has been ever since. I plugged it in intending to use it as a stopgap until I can get to Fry's for some serious keyboard trialling, and to double-check that the problem is indeed the fact that the old keyboard, henceforth to be known as Preciousss, is so old that it needs an adaptor to plug into a PS/2 port, never mind a USB port. As has been noted in the past, I have RSI and Preciousss suited my hands so well that it was very definitely a case of "You will have to pry it from my cold dead hands."

I hate this keyboard. This keyboard doth suck galaxies through a straw. This isn't just "using a strange keyboard" syndrome. This is not just the keys being in the wrong place (and let us not mention the fact that it is a US keyboard, and thus does indeed have the keys in the wrong place). This is lack of the misnamed "wrist rest".

In fact, what I rest on the wrist rest is the base of my palms. Not while I'm actually typing, you understand, but in all those brief little pauses while I think about what to type next. Often for only half a second or so, but it's amazing the difference it makes. It gives the damaged tendons in my arms a brief rest from supporting the weight of my forearms, and it means that if I'm sensible I can type all day without problems. Just typing this entry without a wrist rest has been enough to give me early warning signs.

Preciousss has a built in rest wrist that was the ideal height, width and slope for me, but I can use a decent flat keyboard with the right wrist rest--that was the setup I had at work. But this is not a decent flat keyboard, because it assumes that the only possible adjustment that anyone would want to make to the slope of the keyboard is to raise the back so that it looks more like a typewriter. Bzzt. Wrong. If anything, I want it to be slightly lower at the back than at the front. That gives me less trouble. Preciousss actually had adjustable feet at front and rear, allowing either variation to be selected, and in several different height combinations.

I can't do any serious typing on this thing as is without risking losing the rest of the week to RSI. So it's probably back to random weirdness and rebooting every so often until I can get to the toyshop. :-(

29 May:

Baycon is officially over for another year. Had a good time in spite of the sinus infection and resulting migraine, will try to write up as much of it as I can remember, but I'm a bit fuzzy.

27 May:

Didn't go to Baycon until lunchtime, and dosed up on pseudoephedrine through the day, so feeling tired but fairly okay at the moment. Book reading went well, the audience laughed in the right places, and the librarian in the audience asked for a Loose Id catalogue so that he can order some books for library stock. :-)

26 May (later):

Back from Baycon, and not certain if I'll be fit to go tomorrow - I couldn't have driven home tonight. Sinus infection, with sinus headache and watering eye on that side, and nausea by the time I left. The latter could be migraine triggered by the sinus infection, or food poisoning. Or maybe both. Id di feel about better after eating some dried crackers, but I still need to get enough food down me that I can take some aspirin/codeine. If I don't show tomorrow this is why. (And why I was feeling so odd when I dragged Terry off for some snack food this afternoon. Should have realised I was getting the early migraine aura.)

ETA: feeling much better after some pasta, codeine and a couple of hours of sleep... I may have become allergic to the hotel, because the sinus congestion has gone down dramatically without pharmaceutical assistance. Must remember to take some sudafed with me tomorrow.

26 May:

Off to Baycon in five minutes or so. It's only just down the road, so I'm commuting rather than staying in the hotel.

I'll be taking part in the Broad Universe Raapidfire reading tomorrow at 2:30 pm in the Skyview Lounge. Chocolate bribery will be provided. If you're at the con, please drop by and say hello.

400 words on the mmf yesterday, as I spent most of the day on a promo day on a loop.

Evidence is rapidly accumulating that the webhost company who pulled the plug on Absolute Write were only too pleased to be provided with an excuse by Bauer. I haven't got time now to do detailed links, but check this morning's postings on the Making Light thread: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007577.html If it proves true that they pulled the plug from active malice and not just out of panic, you are likely to see both their webhosting company and their rival writers' forum business in a Googlebomb real soon now.

25 May:

As you've probably noticed by now, the meme de jour in the writing-orientated section of the blogosphere is scam literary agent Barbara Bauer's latest attempt to intimidate and silence those who discuss her business ethics or lack thereof. The moral of this story is "do not meddle in the affairs of geeks, for they are unsubtle and will Googlebomb you". Trying to take down a very popular site used by thousands of people who are or who wish to learn to be capable of influencing others by the use of language is a really bad move. When a number of those people are long time netheads who know how to spread the word, and are armour-plated against take-down attempts directed at them in turn, it is suicidal stupidity. There are now hundreds of blogs with links to the Writer Beware list of the twenty worst literary agents, the one on which Barbara Bauer's name is featured. Nice going, Barbara.

To add to this little tale of woe, it would appear that the webhost owner may have had an ulterior motive in caving so quickly to Bauer's threats. She's decided to bring her own writers' forum website back up, one that might find Absolute Write competition. This is, of course, entirely unconnected with her decision to pull Absolute Write on an hour's notice. I'm deliberately not linking at this point, but you can find the gory details in the Making Light coverage.

There's no reason to doubt that Barbara Bauer did threaten her, as Bauer has a track record of making such threats. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, part of Barbara Bauer's response to the initial posting of the writer Beware list of the twenty worst literary agents was to try to get Tor editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden sacked by making a false accusation that tnh had libelled her on a Tor company website. She has also sent threatening communications to at least one other writers' forum in the past, and has harrassed bloggers who posted the list when it made its first appearance. She's going to be kept very busy this time around.

I'm still annoyed. I've never posted on Absolute Write myself, as far as I can recall, but I've lurked there for years and I have found much useful information in the forums. It was, and with any luck will be, a valuable resource for the writing community.

24 May (later):

Short story submissions sent to Clean Sheets and to Iris (a new m/m publisher). 600 words on the mmf story. Annoyance with the keyboard suddenly developing a stammer - I suspect it is to do with the connection on the aforementioned port replicator being somewhat dodgy. My typing's not *that* bad. :-(

24 May:

I am annoyed, as are quite a number of writers today. Why are we annoyed? Because...

A group of sf folk do a sterling job in keeping track of scam literary agents and publishers, those people who through incompetence or active malice prey on the hopes of writers who don't know that you do not pay to be published. Writer Beware recently released a list of the Twenty Worst Agents. This stuff is all documented--they have bulging files of verified complaints against these agents. The list promptly propagated around writerly corners of the net, to the horror and outrage of one of the agents listed. Barbara Bauer is not happy because if a potential victim has the nous to Google on her name, they will discover that a lot of her former clients are not happy with her. She has been pursuing those who have posted this list, including trying to get Tor editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden fired by phoning a senior executive at Tor's parent company and claiming that TNH had libelled her on a Tor company website.

Barbara Bauer's latest action in trying to squash any discussion of her business practices is to make a threatening phone call to the webhost of popular writers' forum Absolute Write. The webhost owner panicked and pulled the plug, not just kicking the site off but denying the site owners access to their own database. As of early this afternoon it does look as if the forum archives can be saved, but for a few hours there it looked as if a major resource had been destroyed. Full report of Barbara Bauer's latest intimidation tactics can be found at Making Light.

ETA: There is now a Technorati tag for bloggers to use to tag posts relating to this, the better that Technorati may catalogue them:
http://technorati.com/tag/BarbaraBauer
used like so:
Barbara Bauer

23 May:

Other Half fixed the monitor last night. Eventually. No, it wasn't just me being unfamiliar with WinXP, it was doing it to him as well. Eventually he smacked it into submission by changing the settings on the graphics card driver, rather than trying to go in through the display menu. I was a lot happier today, since I had a functioning work computer once again. Installed Skype and talked to [info]predatrix, but no joint work was done because I distracted her by showing her the cast of Ghastly's Ghastly Comic, a hentai pisstake webcomic with an array of bizarre characters, including a very camp gay tentacle monster and his human boyfriend... Naturally, she started reading the comic.:-)

I did get some solo work done, but not the work I expected to do. Thought it was time to tackle the pile of stories waiting to be sent out, checked the guidelines for an m/m/f website to see if they'd changed, and was reminded that I had an actual m/m/f plot idea and about a page of manuscript to go with it. Pulled that out and added about 1150 new words. I'm not sure where it's going to go--I thought it was a short story, but it seems to be growing on me. Yes, you have heard that before. But I'm not convinced there's enough plot to support a longer story. It's betwixt and between--not enough plot for literotica, not enough smut for a stroke piece. I shall just have to keep writing and see what happens. There is also a minor issue of the f being a female scientist, and while she is quite definitely not an avatar, people do have this bad habit of assuming smut must be autobiographical even without there being that close a match. (I've got this canned rant here about why do people assume that it's impossible for women to write m/m sex because they can't have experienced it themselves, while being perfectly happy to accept descriptions of what it's like to travel the galaxy from someone who has never done same...)

Had to stop writing because Other Half came home and wanted to play with the networking again. Much debate over whether it's a white goat with a black-handled knife, or a black goat with a white-handled knife. Anyway, the ritual sacrifice half worked, because his machine can see mine but mine can't see his. I'm not sure I approve of this state of affairs...

22 May:

Another day eaten by the attempts to get the new laptop up and running as the working machine. As per usual it took an hour and much swearing to get Turnpike installed correctly, but I think I've now got everything that needed to be moved off the old machine. So I unplugged the old desktop, dumped it on the floor, and started setting up the port replicator. You know, for the price the thing cost you'd think it would be just a tad less flimsy... It also doesn't have a mike port, as far as I can tell. A line in and a line out, but no mike socket. Right.

So I am sitting here staring at my monitor and wondering why it looks crappy all of a sudden. The answer is because the laptop is running it at the same resolution as the laptop's own screen. Can I find a way to persuade it to run the monitor at the monitor's native resolution? No, of course not. Think I'll wait until the person familiar with XP comes home, and let him do battle with it.

Oh, and I need to work out how to tell it to use a @#$%^ing British keyboard when it's plugged into the port replicator. Unfortunately I did not think to specify "British keyboard" when ordering the thing. {growl} eta: Managed to get *that* bit done...

21 May:

Urgh. I had an interesting morning moving a certain food item from "suspected IBS trigger" to "confirmed IBS trigger". So I only had time to make a brief call on brooksmoses and suzimoses before heading to San Jose to meet up with a bunch of Rumor Millers. Had a most excellent time, though I left early because I didn't fancy driving home in the dark on unfamiliar roads when it was raining and I still wasn't feeling that wonderful. A good decision, I think, because for a second or so at an intersection I forgot which side of the road they drive on in this country, and it was only seeing which way the parked cars were facing that reminded me *before* I found myself on the wrong carriageway of a dual carriageway.

No fiction writing yesterday, and Friday's fiction word count was 163 words scribbled on my Palm while I was sitting on a tram with nothing better to do than write porn... Only 163 because I started getting travel-sick after that, but it's useful to get on with the Graffiti program on the Palm. 1100 words today, finishing both sex scene and chapter, and starting chapter 8. Dealing with pronouns in an m/m/m is not fun, but with any luck the next chapter will be easier because it will not involve having to make clear which body part belongs to whom.

And I won a book by accident on the Romance Junkies mailing list. By accident, because I don't normally enter mailing list contests - not when I have a To Be Read stack dating back to the road trip before Boston Worldcon. It's not fair to other people on the lists who might actually read their prize sometime this decade. But this was a random draw from people who'd posted that day, and it happened to be one of the rare days when I was making conversation. And it was by an author who had already been discussed on the list that day in terms to make me think I should at least check her out at the library. :-)

18 May (later):

And a few more books that I read but didn't review, just to finish off the book log for February and March. These were local library books that I read while I was away, so I'm unlikely to get around to re-reading them for a proper review in the near future.

W J Burley -- Wycliffe and the Redhead

Another Wycliffe book. Not my favourite, as the resolution of one of the plot strands involved a coincidence that made my disbelief suspenders go twang, but I'd certainly re-read it. Nice treatment of the way families will close ranks and refuse to consider the possiblity that a member really did commit the crime they were accused of.
Wycliffe And The Redhead at amazon.co.uk

W J Burley -- Wycliffe's Wild Goose Chase

Wycliffe is indeed sent on a wild goose chase, with a "murder" that he rapidly realises probably isn't quite what it appears to be, but that involves him in much chasing about before the case can be closed. Not a lot really happens when you look hard, but the plot carries you along easily enough, and there are some nicely drawn characters. It's now on my Amazon wish list as a reminder to buy it at some point.
Wycliffe's Wild Goose Chase (Wycliffe Series) at amazon.com
Wycliffe's Wild Goose-chase at amazon.co.uk

Reginald Hill -- Fell of Dark

Not one of his series books, and I believe it was the first book he wrote, though not the first published. I couldn't get into it at all, and put it down again a couple of chapters in. But I think it was me as much as the book (I was under a lot of stress at the time, and unfamiliar books weren't going to get much chance), and I'd willingly give it another go.
Fell of Dark at amazon.co.uk

18 May:

I spent much of yesterday setting up the new laptop, getting the old one ready to ship off to someone else, and trying and failing to get the WinME desktop and the Win XP Pro laptop to talk to one another over the network. Between that and loading another hundred or so books into LibraryThing, I didn't get any writing done yesterday. The LibraryThinging was useful, though, as I had a bit of a blitz on the teetering piles of books, and the A-L paperbacks bookcase is looking a lot tidier. One of the side-effects is that a bunch of book reviews and booklogging will be following this post -- I'm going to post the remaining books for February and March, and then the whole two books I can remember reading in April.

Whether I should keep doing this is another matter. Last week one of the writers I know mentioned in the course of "how to get your name in front of people" that he'd found review writing quite effective, but no longer did reviews, as now that he has a career it could be more hinderance than help. That's the second time in a month I've seen this issue mentioned by someone whose career has taken off recently. If you write reviews, you will inevitably annoy people. There will be people who hate you because you didn't praise a book, and people who will hate you because you did. (I mentioned in the lead-up to the review rant that I suspected that someone had given me an unhelpful rating on an Amazon review out of spite. The review in question was one praising the book, not slamming it...) Now, I should be so lucky as to be prominent enough to worry about this, but it is a possibility I have to keep in mind. I'm not inclined to stop -- but I am inclined to make it reasonably easy to pull reviews should it become necessary in the future. One of the things there is to *not* do what other reviewers on Amazon do, which is to have a signature in the body of the review so that when the various leeches suck reviews off Amazon you still get credit for your review. Perhaps I don't want to be credited on reviews where I have no further control on their publication...

16 May:

Around a thousand words on the travel tale today, and 540 on the m/m/m. The latter was causing me some anxiety, as what had been intended as a sex scene as exposition had rapidly headed in the direction of sex scene as titillation. Not that I've got anything against titillation, but it could throw off the pace of the story. There is also the issue of how plausible it is for a thirtyish guy to be on his third orgasm of the day without pharmaceutical assistance. The fine gentlemen of #afp reassured me that they found it entirely plausible; and possibly more to the point, Predatrix felt that it would be believable to the average romance reader as long as he wasn't just as eager on the third occasion as he had been on the first.

Lowish word count again as I was busy settingup the new toy, and supervising it through the creation of a System Restore disk set and then a backup disk set. I've only had a hard drive fail on me once, but that was enough. Also did a few minor security measures like turning off Autoplay. Autoplay is a really, really stupid idea because it will autoplay *anything*, including viruses, and making it impossible to turn off without messing around in the registry is an even stupider idea. As it happens one can download a utility from ms.com to do it, but I really shouldn't have to do that.

The port replicator arrived today, but hasn't been set up yet. As I don't have a spare monitor I need to transfer everything across from the desktop before disconnecting the deskptop form the monitor.

And the other distraction was playing around with LibraryThing for a bit, deciding to buy a permanent account, and then spending far too much time loading a couple of hundred books into my account...
http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=JulesJones

15 May:

Word count was low today at only 650 words, but that's because I had two new toys to play with today. *The* new toy arrived, so I've spent a fair bit of time checking it out and loading software onto it. And emilyveinglory pointed out that there is a romance wiki in need of new entries, so naturally I spent some time cat-vacu--putting in some relevant entries...
http://www.romancewiki.com/Main_Page

14 May:

Word count is picking up again - 2000 words today. Hope this continues for a bit.

13 May:

600 words yesterday and 500 today.

Am pleased because there's a new and very enthusiastic review of The Syndicate up on amazon.co.uk. I don't recognise the username and don't think it's someone I actually know, but it's clear it's someone who's encountered me online, as they know that Predatrix and I are working on a new book for the series. If you're reading this, thank you.

Oh aye -- I finished Harald, and greatly enjoyed it, although there were stylistic issues that didn't bother me but will probably result in a substantial number of people bouncing off the book. Detailed review will probably follow at some point, but I would strongly suggest finding excerpts (I think there are some on the Baen website somewhere) and reading to see if you like the style.

Last year I wrote an essay about fanfic, "On fanfic -- Some answers to the question 'You're such a good writer, why don't you write for money?'". It was a response to the then-latest iteration of the Great Fanfic Ruckus.

That was my _second_ response to the kerfuffle. My first response was to comment in a thread in someone else's LiveJournal with the theme "fanfic is great, but it's still understandable why some authors freak about it" -- mostly because that's _my_ take on it as well, and up until then most of the pro-fanfic posts I'd seen were scornful of the idea that authors had any right to feel upset by what fanficcers did with their characters (partly in response to the "all fanficcers are Evil Plagiarising Illiterate Scum" tone of most of the anti-fanfic posts). I'd always meant to take my contribution to that discussion and work up a stand-alone essay out of it, but a bad case of Real Life intervened. Now I find that someone has written pretty much what I would have liked to write, only he's done a better job of it than I would have. Here's Hal Duncan's take on things:
http://notesfromthegeekshow.blogspot.com/2006/05/fanfiction-kerfuffle.html

12 May:

Yesterday's word count - about 700 words added to the travel tale's file (some of which was plot outline for later sections), and 1200 words on the shapeshifter m/m/m.

Reorganised the book review section on my website yesterday, and added some of my Amazon reviews for books read in February and March (also posted to my Livejournal). Added my essay on the writing of reviews to the essays section on the site (first posted to my LiveJournal last week).

More musings on writing book reviews... Barbarienne was asking recently why people write Amazon reviews that start with plot summaries (or consist entirely of same) when the publisher's plot summary is right there on the Amazon page. Guilty as charged, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why at the time. My reviews tend to be constructed as follows: thumbnail plot summary, whether I liked it or not, why I did, why other people might have a different view to mine, whether you need to read something else first. I'm quite happy to leave the plot summary in, as it's useful for when I copy the review to other websites, but why was I constructing my reviews that way in the first place? The answer's obvious after writing my recent rant. It's because I started with fanfic zine reviews, where quite often the plot summary was the most important part of the review for many readers. It might have been the only information available about what was actually in the zine. Even where flyers were available, for anthology zines they often mentioned only the headline stories by the big name writers.

And there's discussion elsewhere about whether fanfic recs should mention any reservations about the story. This is back to the problem of it being possible to like a story while recognising that it is not perfect in every way. Unfortunately there's also an attitude in some quarters that you should not hurt the author's feelings by criticising fanfic in any way at all, which leaves the would-be reccer of a 7/10 story in something of a quandary - do you a) rec it without mentioning your reservations, allowing others to waste their time reading a story with flaws that they have a different tolerance level for (and leaving *you* open to comments about your reliability as a reccer); b) rec it with reservations, and cause distress to the author; c) not rec it at all, and thus not bring the story to the attention of those who would have happily enjoyed it even with its flaws.

It's a tricky one, because when all's said and done fanfic is a hobby. People do it for fun, and it hurts when it's not appreciated. I certainly don't like having people pick holes in my fiction, fan or pro. But by putting your fanfic on the net in an unlocked file, you are inviting other people to read it. That costs them time, even if they don't have to pay actual money. I don't think it's fair to ask other people to spend their time reading your work, and then stroke your ego even if your work was in fact a waste of that time. It's _understandable_, but it's not fair, and the handing out of unqualified praise regardless of actual merit is behaviour more appropriate to kindergarten teachers and doting parents. If I waste my time reading enough of a story to ascertain that its author did not see the need for spellchecker, beta-readers, plot, or characters that are recognisable to me, that's time I could have spent on reading on something written by an author who has a little more respect for me as a reader. It's time I'll never get back. That time might be more valuable to me than money...

11 May:

I wrote reviews of most of the books I've read in the last few months, but have been a miserable failure about posting them. Haven't even posted all of them at Amazon yet. So to start with, some of the books I read in February and March but did not review because I was too jetlagged...


Iain Banks - The Business

One of the allegedly mainstream books. As eclectic as ever, and not representative of his usual style, but then he doesn't really *have* a usual style. That's two copies I've bought to read while travelling now -- my orginal copy was bought in an airport shop just after it was released in 2000, being the only thing in the shop I wanted to read and didn't already have. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but a lot of people won't. I need to re-read it to write a decent review, but this will be no hardship at all.


Reginald Hill - Dialogues of the Dead

Late entry in the Dalziell and Pascoe series. "Police procedural" does not begin to cover it. I first read this last year, and was utterly blown away. Not quite such an impact on re-reading, because you know what's coming, but still a stunning piece of work. Worth reading some of the earlier books first to get acquainted with the characters. Most of Hill's books work as standalones, but Death's Jest Book is a direct sequel and in some ways Part 2, so read this one first.


Charles Stross - Singularity Sky

Modern space opera that will appeal to the romance fans as well. Enormous fun and full of wonderful ideas. Started re-reading it yesterday, and it's still enormous fun even without the novelty factor you get on first reading it.


ETA: Just remembered another one - Georgette Heyer -- Why Shoot a Butler? Fun romance/crime.

9 May:

1100 words today, for a total so far of 20,000. Time for bed...

5 May:

This rant has been brewing for over a month, but was finally triggered when I went over to Amazon earlier this week to look at reviews for an html reference book. So when I went back to writing prose rather than html yesterday, the word count was 1700 words of rant instead of shapeshifter smut. :-)
On writing reviews essay at my LiveJournal (with comments thread)
On writing reviews essay on this site

3 May:

The website overhaul continues. Today's major item was adding cover art thumbnails and review snippets to the "recent sales and publications" section on the Fiction index page. With any luck it now looks prettier in graphical browsers while still being usable in text browsers.

Is it just me, or has the Google cache disappeared?

Bought the Dahle 507K trimmer yesterday--$63, shipping included. It's the 12" model in the personal trimmer range rather than the pro-grade one, but I can't justify paying three times as much for the pro grade model. The 507K version is the basic 507 plus three extra cutting heads to do the fancy edges, which I thought worth the extra $15 over the basic version.

Note from publisher saying that the contracts are going to be changed. Better phone friend to see if her friend the agent is willing to do another one-off on looking over a contract for stuff I might regret later.

Someone's given me an "Unhelpful" rating on a book review posted at Amazon. My feeling is that this is out of spite. Wonder if I personally have pissed someone off, or if it's one of those episodes where someone gives a negative rating to every review that doesn't agree completely with their own views? I've actually seen people boast about going through all the reviews handing out negative ratings to reviews that conflicted with their opinions. I should probably add a little something about this to the rant-in-waiting about how reviews should give guidance to other people as to whether the book would be worthwhile for them. It's quite possible for a reviewer to have a different opinion about a book to mine, and yet say useful and intelligent things about it.

2 May:

No word count on the WIP for yesterday and this morning, because I've been working on updates for the website. Amongst other things, there's been a major overhaul for the section for The Syndicate. Comments and bug reports would be appreciated. Note for new readers: there are two sample chapters online, both of which can be read as short stories. The Prologue is even more or less smut-free.

Entry page is here: http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/syndicate/syndicate.htm

Those Citizens reading this might like to note the dedication on the entry page...

1 May:

I have a book review in the latest issue of Vision magazine. It may only pay 1/2c per word, but I am still feeling rather pleased at having been paid for a 700 word version of "This is one of the best 'how to write' books I've read." :-)

400 words yesterday, for a total so far of 17800 words on the WIP. I started the month with about 600 words in hand on the story, so that's 17200 words on this one in April. Also did a few hundred words on a new Syndicate story, and about 2000 words on the travel tale with . Not a bad output for the month.

I've bought a supporting membership for Orbital 2008, the 2008 Eastercon (British national sf convention). Whether I will have reason to convert to an attending membership remains to be seen. It was probably a mistake to sit in front of the computer with credit card in hand over the weekend, because I also bought supporting membership for Wiscon (it includes all the con publications, and apparently the 30th anniversary con book is pretty damned good), and renewed my Speculations subscription. These are all tax-deductible. :-) The order to Brodart for a box of book jacket protectors is somewhat more dubious, but given that some of them are going on my writing reference library, I may drop them into the accounts spreadsheet and think about it at the end of the year. I did restrain myself when I discovered a Dahle 507 trimmer going cheap, but only because I want to do a little more research on whether that is the right model for me. I am tired of not having a decent cutter/trimmer, and I suspect that the credit card will be out again today.

April 2006

30 April:

I have a contest on my mailing list with a prize of a copy of the anthology A Kiss At Midnight. For the blog readers, details can be found here: http://www.julesjones.com/contests/20060430.html

I'll be part of the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading at Baycon - we'll have what looks like an hour-long slot with a bunch of BU members doing five or ten minute readings from their books. The preliminary schedule for the con has just gone up, and we're pencilled in for 2:30pm on Saturday, in the Skyview lounge. (The timing's subject to change, but it's not that likely.) If you're going to be at Baycon this year, please come along and say hello.

http://baycon.org/2006/

29 April:

2000 words on Friday; today was mostly catching up on administrivia, so only 150 words.

The writing/publishing blogosphere has been pointing and laughing at various iterations of "I have the secret of publishing success, and for this week only I'm slashing the price to *you* lucky people!" As lots of people who do know what they're talking about have said, there's only one formula for success: write it, send it out. Or as one or two of my friends prefer to put it: arse on chair, fingers on keyboard. Then put it in the post. Repeat as necessary.

Charlie Stross talks about future shock and becoming a Google junkie in his latest blog entry. I understand that one. If I get arse off chair and fingers off keybord, and go for a stroll to the end of the block, I can see a small box atop a lamp post that in the next month or two will provide me with free wifi internet access, courtesy of everyone's favourite search engine. Google's latest aren't-we-cute-and-adorable embrace-and-extend is the provision of free wifi access to its home town. This might change my life (although it probably won't). I've never done the "take laptop to the coffee shop to write" thing, and one of the reasons is quite simply that nowadays I really don't like being cut off from Google and Wikipedia while I'm writing. I only realised how dependent I'd become when I Googled for something a couple of years ago instead of walking to the bookshelf all of six feet away to look it up in the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Soon I will be able to take a wifi-equipped laptop to my local bookshop, and sit in their coffee lounge, browsing Amazon and then taking the laptop downstairs to the till where I can say, "I want one of these. But from you, because I support my local bookshop."

The democratic genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context got a namecheck in the Making Light fanfic thread. I do believe I may know the namechecker... (For those in a different circle of my friends - I know the author, as do a number of people on my flist. She knows what she's talking about, and it's an excellent book.) Also mentioned - new book by Jenkins, due out Sept: Fans, Bloggers, And Gamers.

Those of you such as do not already read Making Light might enjoy tnh's report on a pleasant afternoon with the neighbours. In Middle English (I think). Oh dere Ghod.

27 April:

Got back early from the pub last night, so my hero got his orgasm after all. 1700 words in total yesterday, completing the chapter. Only 500 words today, as I spent a fair bit of the day chatting on a romance readers' mailing list, along with a bunch of other Loose Id authors. Hard work but worth it--it's nice to get the egoboo of readers saying how much they enjoy the books.

26 April:

Loose Id authors are chatting all day on Thursday at the Coffee Time Romance Exotic group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/karendevinkaren/

***

The blogging agents are getting very, very annoyed about the recent rash of queries that are obviously the result of people using some sort of query-writing service, whether human or software-powered. I've seen half a dozen of them griping about it in the last week or two. Not only that, but my fellow Loose Id author [info]jjsass has received a couple as well -- addressed to her non-existent agency. She's a writer, not an agent, and yet she's had a couple of these things from people who are clearly shotgunning them out to anyone they can find who's remotely connected with publishing.

Just in case there's anyone out there who's tempted by one of these services or software packages -- don't. The Wylie Merrick Literary Agency's blog explains why here. The executive summary: "Our take on this is that if you need to pay someone to write for you, apparently you cannot do it yourself, and we would therefore have very little confidence in anything you write."

That doesn't mean that you have to do it all by yourself. It's no bad thing to get advice on what the well-formed query letter looks like, and to get your draft letter critiqued. Look back a couple of months and you'll find me asking for people to cast a beady editorial eye over one of mine. Look in rasfc and you'll find people doing the same thing, for both query letter and synopsis. Writing these things is a skill that needs practice, and probably some help the first few times. But in the end, you should write it.

***

I've been too hazy from the headache hangover for the last few days to write anything longer than rapid-fire usenet/blog posts, but I managed to scrape together enough attention span to get 700 words done on the WIP last night. I left them having foreplay. Another 1000 words today for a total so far of 14,000. We have achieved penetration, although the poor lad is probably going to have to wait until tomorrow for his orgasm, because I'm off down the pub now. I will worry tomorrow about the Great Pronoun Problem as applied to three cocks in one bed.

***

I've revised my LiveJournal user info to reflect my new friending policy. Perhaps that will be blunt enough on the subject of "It's a *reading* list, damn it!"

***

Gardening report: the cocoa shell mulch hasn't kept the snails off altogether, but it's definitely making them think twice about just how badly they want something. The general depredations have decreased, and I still have all my plants, even if some look a little nibbled. It's also acting as a mulch-mulch, and keeping the soil underneath moist, which is good. However, I think the squirrels have been frolicking, as predicted. I'm sure *I* didn't leave that much of it scattered around the patio, and the day after buying the bag I caught a squirrel chewing through it in an effort to get at the yummy-smelling substance inside. Stoned squirrels are not something I really want in my patio area. They come too damned close to lounging around, scratching their balls, and saying, "Man, that was good," for my peace of mind. And before anyone suggests it, I'm not writing were-squirrel porn, thank you.

There are seedlings in the big trough which I am fairly sure are self-sown tomatoes from the currant tomato that was in there last year. That was an attractive-looking plant as well as a productive one, and kept going through until January, so I'll be pleased if one or two of them survive.

25 April:

Interesting debate going on elsewhere about fanfic: quality, moral aspects, legal aspects. It started with the Making Light post about a fanfic author who put her (not very good) fanfic novel up on Amazon, complete with ISBN and all. Very silly thing to do, and lots of people have said so over the last few days, including the Making Light collective. Somewhere in that thread, Teresa posted some excellent comments about where fanfic comes from, which Patrick pulled out into a separate post. Long comments thread naturally ensued, with some very interesting discussion about the pros and cons of fanfic. What's nice about this is that there are people on both (or more) sides of the question discussing it in a sane fashion, which is not as common as one might hope.

Since a number of people have friended me recently, I'll point at my own take on fanfic, an essay I wrote last year after a previous Great Fanfic Uproar. Note that this does not address the issue of the legality of fanfic; I was only considering the question of why people would choose to write it.

On fanfic -- Some answers to the question 'You're such a good writer, why don't you write for money?'

24 April:

Note from Rob Gates of the Spectrum Awards. Yes, obviously I have a vested interest in this and would be deliriously happy if you all rushed out and nominated my stuff. :-) But *I'd* forgotten that the closing date was fast approaching and I can probably think of queer-friendly speculative fiction I'd like to nominate, and I'll bet the same is true of some of my flist.

***

Greetings Everyone,

Our nominations deadline for the 2006 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards is fast approaching. If you read, saw, published, wrote, etc a work of speculative fiction released during 2005 that had positive GLBT content, please drop by the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards website and submit a nomination. Our judges do a great job reviewing and discussing nominees and coming up with fantastic winners - but if we don;t hear about a work we can't consider it!

Visit http://www.spectrumawards.org/

Pleased also feel free and encouraged to distribute this call for nominations to any individual or list where there may be folks with input for our nominations list.

Cheers,

Rob Gates

Gaylactic Spectrum Awards

23 April:

Was well enough to get to David and Betty's, where I played with the new colour laser printer and watched a World of Warcraft session. I have to stay away from such online games because of my RSI, but it's fun being with a group of people who are playing, and I had a pleasant afternoon. The colour laser does a nice job, and if I didn't already have a serious small office b&w laser I'd get one. As it is, I think I'll impose on David when I want the occasional batch of bookmarks - I don't do enough colour printing to justify getting a second laser just to do colour, and I'd rather contribute towards David's toner costs than Kinko's.

Still not quite over the whatever-it-was, and I certainly couldn't have driven much further than I did today, but feeling much better than I was. Back to work on the book tomorrow, I think.

22 April:

Blech. I have had a sickly headache since yesterday. Guess when it went from mildly annoying to "oh god my head I'm going to throw up if I look at the monitor." That's right, just as I was about to start the sex scene last night. Not tonight, darlings, I've got a headache. Net result -- 2000 words yesterday, nil today, and a certain amount of amusement provided to rasfc.

Feeling a lot less grotty today but still queasy and attention span of a stunned goldfish. Going to go to bed at a sensible hour with some Codis for the second night running. With any luck it'll have settled down by tomorrow afternoon and I can get some writing done instead of just doing odd bits of update on the website that don't require any serious thought. Supposed to be going over to see David and Betty F and David's new toy, so I hope I'm fit to drive. Not happy because I was also thinking of seeing if Ritaxis wanted visitors this weekend, and I'm *definitely* not fit to drive that far.

20 April:

Incoming:
Received my contract from Vision for my review of "Elements of Arousal". Not sure when it'll appear, but looks like next issue.
Received my postcard from my Distant Horizons submission, showing that it reached Greg Herren's slushpile safely.
Received bits and pieces from Broad Universe, including form for those wanting to sell books off the BU table at Wiscon. I'm tempted to try sending a couple of copies of The Syndicate, but I think I'll pass--as they note, it's easier to sell books when you're actually at the con.

***

Word count: around 1000 words on the travel tale. It's going to need serious tidying up, but developing nicely. And 1000 on the erotic romance novella.

***

alg has been doing a series of posts on demystifying publishing. Today's is the first in a two-parter on how books make (or don't make) money, and how that relates to deciding what size advance to pay the author. Excellent insight into the economics of fiction publishing, and well worth reading if you're an aspiring writer. http://alg.livejournal.com/84032.html.

And I showed my biases by hitting the term "hc/mm" and parsing it as "hurt/comfort slash" for a second before realising that in this context it was "hardcover/mass market". That was an... interesting... experience. My only excuse is that Anna was using fanfic names to make it clear that she was running a fictional example rather than an actual real live book published by Tor.

***

Writer Beware's 20 Worst Agents list has been getting a lot of coverage online in the last few days, not least in a thread at Making Light.

One of the agents on that list took exception to Teresa posting the list and tried to cause trouble for her at work, as duly reported in a further thread at Making Light. Much amusement all round, and posting of links on many, many more blogs...

I am reminded that I must add a subpage to my links section for useful links like this.

***

Warning: swallow what's in your mouth and put the mug down before reading the following LJ post. (Yes, I know that given what sort of fiction I write, that last sentence could be taken in a manner I didn't intend when I started writing it. Either way, it's good advice.) http://azurelunatic.livejournal.com/4817217.html

***

rasfc is feeling cranky this week courtesy of an outbreak of Endless September. Public service announcement for people who don't know the difference between "the Web" and "online": when you go into a new online forum, try to read a couple of week's worth of posts before posting. If you go bouncing into a group on the assumption that you can post what you like, you may be frostily reminded that you are doing the equivalent of walking into someone's living room in muddy boots that you have neglected to wipe on the doormat. And whatever Google and sundry other web-based interfaces may try to imply, usenet is not their personal property, it existed long before the web did, and lots and lots of people read and post to newsgroups through systems that go nowhere near such web-based interfaces. If you're posting to a usenet newsgroup through Google Groups, you may be annoying a lot more people than Google Groups says are members of that "forum". This may not be a good move if your aim is to win friends and influence people.

19 April (later):

Only 1350 words today, because I needed to stop and think about how to handle the last section I wrote last night. It's a tricky balancing act, because the POV character and the pair of doms he's just met are talking at cross-purposes, and they are coming on to him in what they see as a pushy but not outrageous manner, because they think he knows who they are. Only they're wrong, and from his perspective they're threatening him. So I need to write this so that it is obvious to the *reader* that it is just a misunderstanding, while staying in POV. predatrix and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon discussing how I can handle this, and basically tweaking the existing stuff so that it works better. I may need another test reader in a couple of days to see whether the tweaks have worked. That's taken the total word count so far to 9000 words, so this is looking like at least novella length when it's finished.

19 April:

Update on yesterday's posts:

Smut: a total of 3100 words yesterday. Smut has not yet happened, but the POV character has finally realised that it is going to. Or that it would were he not currently both seasick and concussed. If he's a good boy and I'm a good writer he will have had sex by the time I've finished this week's word quota. A couple of hundred words so far today.

Slimy little bastards: Not only did the garden centre have a fresh supply of "Yellow Pear" tomato plants, they had cocoa shell mulch. It's the first time I've seen it here, and I am much relieved to see it. Cocoa shell is one of the few things I've found that is reasonably effective against snails and slugs. It's like deterring any other burglar -- it works on the principle of encouraging them to look for easier pickings. If it's something they're determined to get, they'll get it, but it keeps them off most things. Or at least it keeps British snails off most things; I have no idea yet how effective it will be on the local slimy monsters.

What I do know is that grey squirrels, at least the British invaders, like cocoa shell. They like it very much indeed. They *frolic* in it. Since there is already a squirrel issue with little furry bastards preferring to bury nuts in nice soft potting compost rather than nasty hard dry clay soil, this could prove interesting.

Also bought three salad leaf basil plants and a Siam Queen Thai basil. These are to slimies what sweets are to children, and there is a copper-taped pot waiting for them. Since basil counts as "good enough to cross copper tape for", the pot will then be going on top of the barbecue or indoors at night until the plants are bigger. I also failed to resist temptation, and bought yet another tomato plant in spite of already having enough to fill all stock of tomato-capable pots. This one's "Cherokee Purple", a heritage variety I grew last year and quite liked. Plus a "Red Pear", just in case the second "yellow Pear" gets munched as well -- the red variety is a much more robust plant and thus a far less tempting snack.

18 April (later):

"He slimed me."

Well, *they* slimed my plants... I put a tomato plant into the planter trough a week or so back, then after a couple of days changed my mind and moved it to the other end of the trough, and put a different variety of tomato where the first had been. (There was a good reason for this to do with growth habits.)

The first tomato plant was left completely untouched, in both locations. The second one was assaulted by the slimy little bastard population on the first night, and has now been reduced to a few shreds of wilted and slimed greenery. To add insult to injury, this was a variety that I particularly wanted to grow, and there were only a couple of plants left in the garden centre. I'm going to go over there shortly, but I suspect there will be none left by now.

I'm still planting out stuff from last week's run to the garden centre, because it has been mostly chucking down with rain since then. Some of the strawberries have gone in the hanging basket, but the hanging basket isn't going on the hanging hook until the plants have bulked up enough to discourage anything thinking of using the hanging basket as a cat-proof nesting site. I've learnt my lesson. With any luck the young basil plants will have come in by now, and I can get this year's first crop planted up. I feel the urge to fresh basil and tomato pasta for lunch, and while the tomato won't be coming out of the garden yet, the basil could be doing so fairly quickly.

Two days of sunshine in a row. This is a novelty, after the last few weeks. I'd better make the most of it...

18 April:

After no work on the main WIP for a couple of days, I turned out 1500 words this morning. We are still not at sex scene, but I can see that happening today if I stick to this and don't switch to one of the other WIPs.

And there is a new item on the list of other WIPs. As previously mentioned, I bugged predatrix about the Hawarth Press travel tales anthology last week. I came up with some plot ideas on the way home from the pub on Friday night, and told her about them sometime over the weekend. Yesterday she phoned me up over the internet to see what we were going to work on, and while I was talking to her about other stuff I started getting more ideas. Unfortunately the VoIP link was not at its best, and I got fed up with repeating myself three times, and went to use the chat box instead. And started at the beginning of the story, and had typed about 1000 words of actual story by the time I'd finished. While predatrix earned her keep by copy-n-pasting from the chat box into a word processor file, and added a bit of her own text, I took another look at the guidelines and finally noticed that these are supposed to be true travel tales. Oh dear. Never mind, I'm sure we can find another market. I've been eyeing up a couple of likely prospects anyway.

Normally she does the typing. As she mentions, there are a *lot* of typos in the thousand words I typed. I would just like to point out that this is not my usual standard of typing, and is a side-effect of trying to type at far more than my usual typing speed because I'm trying to do it as a real-time conversation.

This has really rubbed my nose in why we used to do it by sharing desktops in Netmeeting, rather than in a chat window. However slow and flaky Netmeeting is, when it's actually working you can *see* what the other person is typing more or less as they type it. You do not have to wait for them to get to the end of the sentence, or paragraph. So you know what they're doing, you don't talk over the top of them and distract them with irrelevant conversation, and you can add pertinant commentary.

And if you're the one typing, you don't have to hit the return key at the end of every sentence just to avoid the above. Or type at twice your normal speed. I'm going to have to spend a few minutes sorting out the paragraphing from yesterday's stint while I can still remember what I had in mind. [sigh]

17 April:

Emerald City reports that Orbital won the 2008 Eastercon bid: The 2008 Eastercon to be held in the Heathrow Radisson Edwardian with guests Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, China Miťville, Charles Stross, and fan guest of honour Rog Peyton.

Right, that's *my* Easter in 2008 sorted out... Unfortunately I have the uneasy feeling that as soon as I set foot inside the con building I'm going to be press-ganged. If not sooner. So I'd just like to point out *right* *now* to certain people on my flist that if I make it to the con I'd like to see some of it. :-)

16 April - Easter Sunday

"And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets."

That means no cherry-picking the Bible for excuses to hate your neighbours or ignore their travails, thank you. The Man said that's naughty. Listen to Him. He went to a good deal of trouble to get people's attention. He gave *everything* to get people's attention.

TNH posted a beautiful statement of faith for Easter Day 2004. It's well worth reading regardless of your beliefs. A small sample:

I believe in the God of the Burgess Shale, Who not only made creation stranger than we know, but stranger than we could ever imagine.

15 April:

I submitted two short stories to the Best Gay Erotica 2007 anthology today - right on the deadline... Nothing to Ultimate Gay Erotica this year (which also closed today). And one of the reasons I had nothing to submit to UGE is that it turns out that I have not written a new short story since August 2004. No, it's not a coincidence that I started writing for Loose Id just under two years ago. I've been so immersed in the longer material I've been writing for them that I have not started a new short since shortly after I started working on the Buildup series. I turned in Mindscan, I didn't have the early draft of the initial chunk of Pulling Strings with me, and I started working on what I thought was going to be a short story - and it turned into the novel Spindrift. Which spawned a novella sequel. And I was just about to go back to Pulling Strings when Madame Publisher waved a really tempting novella idea in front of me, only First Footer had to be written to a deadline. Etc, etc. I've done revisions of shorts, but what's gone out is stuff that was written earlier.

Anyway, yesterday I went and looked at ERA to see if there was anything to inspire me, and found another anthology from Hawarth Press, this time focusing on travel tales. Guidelines for "Between the Palms volume 2" here: http://erotica-readers.com/ERA/G/Between.htm

Phoned up predatrix yesterday and bugged her about the anthology, then we did some brainstorming this morning. Possible plot is there, now we need to actually find time to write it.

I've added around 2600 words to the WIP this week. Progress was in fits and starts because I've been sleeping badly and have the attention span of a goldfish, but it really didn't help that my word processor threw a weird bug which meant that when I saved the file at the end of the evening, it *didn't* save anything added since the previous save. And would have continued not saving anything (this has happened a couple of times before), so it's a good thing predatrix noticed something fishy when she did the beta read-through next morning. Much swearing before reconstructing the missing bit. (No, my WP is not the Spawn of Redmond, and it's normally very stable. I'm not changing to whatever you think is the bee's knees, because I've been using LWP for the last [erk how long?] years, and it suits me.)

The verification that I am me has been sent to Amazon, so if you look at the Amazon pages for The Syndicate and Mindscan you will find more of my witterings, in the form of an Amazon author blog wherein I can direct posts to appear on the Amazon page for any of my books listed there.

And when I went to grab the link for , I accidentally clicked on the link for amazon.co.uk instead. And discovered that right this minute the book is ranked 7,262 on amazon.co.uk. Wheee! :-) All right, it just means that someone bought a copy today, but I'm still enjoying looking at a sales rank under 10,000, sad Amazonholic that I am. And I've printed it out, so that I know tomorrow that I was not dreaming.

7 April:

Why to do research... The current WIP started off being set in Cornwall. While I was writing the first chapter, the POV character decided to be a fossil-hunter rather than a birdwatcher as his excuse for puttering along the Cornish coast in a small boat he doesn't really know how to operate. Went to check on what fossils are to be found on the Cornish coast -- well, not a lot, really. Now given that my day job could lead people to believe that I should know what I'm talking about with regard to fine details of British geology, this could have been embarrassing. Oops. He's now pottering along the Devon/Dorset coast instead, finding fossils that in real life are indeed to be found there, and obeying the fossil collector's code. (Though Raven may make me take that last bit out if I'm not sufficiently subtle about it.) Better go and check whether the sort of coastline I'm describing is to be found in moderately uninhabited areas of Devon or Dorset... Google Maps and the satellite images might be useful here. :-) Watervole, may need to pick your brains at some point.

Yesterday was 440 words on The Syndicate, and 700 on the new solo story. Today we didn't get anything done on TS4, but I did get 700 and some revision on the solo. I'd be happier if the word count was higher, but I also ricked my shoulder yesterday so was deliberately refraining from spending the entire day in front of the computer.

5 April:

Sudden outbreak of writing-related work today. The walk yesterday afternoon to the post office to post my Distant Horizons submission obviously helped shift the last of the jet-lag fuzziness.

First up was doing my duty as a focus group member for autopope on his current WIP. I've had the editor's equivalent of writer's block for the last couple of years, and I started doing the book reviews on Amazon just before Christmas partly as a way of breaking that. Something seems to have worked, because I actually *enjoyed* doing the beta-reading, instead of finding it an unpleasant and difficult chore. Of course, it helps that I know going in that I will be looking at something that is readable even as is.:-) But I think it's also that it's a group rather than just me -- I had to drop out of the group on the last WIP because of a bad case of Real Life, but on the couple of segments I saw then, I was finding it a lot less stressful than the idea of being *the* beta-reader on something.

predatrix and I went digging for the piece of new Syndicate story we started while I was staying with her at New Year. After half an hour of frantic rummaging through mail archives at both ends, and file searches on all machines on her LAN -- she found it in installments in the electronic stickies on her Mac. We *couldn't* find Netmeeting on any of her 'Doze machines, or on the MS website, so it was cut-n-paste into a chat box instead of being able to see the same Word window at each end of the link. And the voice link was appalling -- I suspect my phone company of being one of those who've installed the software that messes up VOIP just enough to encourage you to make a landline call instead. In spite of all the trauma, we managed to get 330 new words down before she staggered off to bed. Having to deal with a very poor link was pretty exhausting, so I didn't bother moving on to my solo WIP, but it's good to have done my 300 word minimum for the day.

4 April:

As per the post last night that you didn't see because LJ ate it, there is a new anthology of queer sf looking for submissions, edited by Greg Herren of Hawarth Press. Guidelines here: http://erotica-readers.com/ERA/G/SciFi.htm.

Sidhe story duly reformatted in his desired formatting, and stuffed in envelope which I will take to the post office as soon as it stops chucking down with rain. There is some vague indication that this might even happen before the post office closes.

In other news, The Syndicate Volume 1 is number 69 on Fictionwise's erotica list this morning. I have a small mind, and this amuses me.

hafren mentioned in a comment to yesterday's post that Incorporating Writing's current issue has some interesting articles about the perception of genre writing. There are a couple of good articles in an earlier issue as well.

Stupid meme, because I was desperately looking for a cat to vacuum after preparing the submission for Distant Horizons.
I am an androgynous geek. There's a surprise.

3 April:

Today's highlight from my flist: damned fine rant by anghara on the subject of literary snobbery regarding fantasy. What she said, with bells on.

Trawled my way through a large chunk of catching up on paperwork yesterday. This morning was combined cat-vacuuming and writing up notes for alg which I finished and sent off about half an hour ago. At this point what I should really do is go for a nice walk, ideally to post off the signed cover art print to the winner from the Romance Junkies competition on Delurk Day, but it is raining, and has been all day. I have already emailed the book, so it's not as if the prize is going englected, and I am not *quite* feeling the lack of exercise enough to walk fifteen minutes each way in weather that is doing its very best to remind me of home.

Failing that what I should really do is some work, either tackling short story subs or getting some words down on disk, but I feel sufficiently fuzzy that it would probably not be cat-vacuuming to go and do some housework. I need the exercise. Pity there isn't actually a lot of housework that needs doing right now.

1 April:

And the tax return is officially done. It's all on Other Half's tax programme, and the numbers seem to add up in some manner that should be defendable should the Revenue decide to audit me. At this point I should really tackle the notes for alg, but my brain has gone phut, so I may just go and make a cup of tea instead. And then walk down to BookBuyers to get some exercise, should it not have started raining by the time I've drunk my tea.

I spent the morning at the delurk day on the Romance Junkies Readers email loop. In case anyone reading here is a member but missed it, I donated a prize of download and signed cover art print of Mindscan or Pulling Strings to the trivia contest, closing Sunday lunchtime. Details somewhere in the loop's files section.

March 2006

31 March:

Made contact with my writing partner, and *nagged* re: various projects.

Checked anthology deadlines.

Submitted short story to Best Lesbian Erotica 2007.

Got as far as I can with tax return given that Other Half seems to have hidden my 1099 from Loose Id while I was away, and that line can't be filled in until Other Half returns from work and tells me where it is so that I know the exact amount. I have officially made a profit from the writing this year. Not much of a profit, but then I'm now allowed to deduct things like cons as professional expenses. :-)

I also need to finish the notes I promised alg about my experiences with trying to get my LGBT work published, but that probably won't get finished until tomorrow now. Still, a reasonable day's work considering that I'm still jet-lagged.

One of the things I did yesterday while too bleurgh to do stuff that required actual thinking (see above) was apply to Amazon Connect, and set up an Amazon blog which will eventually appear on the Amazon pages for my books (once Loose Id have confirmed to them that I am me). Also tagged a couple of people as Amazon Friends. Anyone else who has an Amazon profile and wants to be added as a friend, speak up - I have no idea who else might be loitering there. My profile page is here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3FWJUHUOZMQM1/103-2918835-9749456 (I think...)

Still dithering over whether to go to this year's Writers Weekend - I enjoyed last year's and got a lot out of it, but it's a fair chunk of money (it'll probably cost me more than going to Worldcon would) and I'm not sure if I will have anything ready to pitch to an agent or editor.

30 March:

I Aintn't Dead...
... but I am jet-lagged. I also have a tonne of stuff to catch up on, not least being my tax return. Normal service will be resumed shortly, for varying values of "normal".

9 March:

About 500 words today to start off a new erotic romance. Raven, my editor at Loose Id, already has her fingerprints embedded in it. It's nice to be wanted. :-) Progress likely to be intermittent, owing to an attack of Life as previously mentioned.

8 March:

For this week's I Aintn't Dead post, I would like to point at someone else's LJ post; anghara talking about one of the nicer bits of the writing experience.

February 2006

28 February:

New book. :-) This is the second story in my dystopian sf series with an m/m romance plotline. Apart from the excerpt on the Loose Id website, you can find excerpts on my website at http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/details/pullingstrings.html

Buildup 2: Pulling Strings
Jules Jones
Genre: LGBT Science Fiction
Length: Novel
Price: $4.99
http://www.loose-id.net/detail.aspx?ID=215

25 February:

The second book in the Buildup series, Pulling Strings will be released Very Soon (in Loose Id terminology). Right now you can find its page in the catalogue here http://loose-id.net/detail.aspx?ID=215 but the Loose Id website is being seriously overhauled at the moment, and there's no guarantee that it will stay there for long. And yes, the website is being overhauled, so it's temporarily moved to .net rather than .com, people with accounts will need to set up new accounts, and urls for books are going to change. If you can't find one of my books by following the link from my website, you'll need to have a look round the catalogue to find it.

And one or two people reading this may find that title strangely familiar. Yes, it is; or rather, it was, because it's now a 36,000 word novella rather than a 12,000 word novelette.

Cover art, blurbs and excerpts for Pulling Strings on my website:
http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/details/pullingstrings.html

12 February:

I don't usually do this, but if I don't point out that I'm eligible for the Ditmars, it won't occur to anyone that I might be. The perils of not having an accent to match the relevant passport :-)

The Ditmars are the Australian Science Fiction Awards. More information here: http://www.conjure.org.au/ditmars.htm and nominations close on the 17th of February.

My stuff that's eligible for 2006:

Novel
Spindrift

Novella
Buildup: Mindscan
Spindrift 2: Ship to Shore
First Footer (in the anthology A Kiss At Midnight)

Novelette
The Syndicate: Four Leaf Clover

And on a related note, I have been somewhat remiss about prodding my publisher to send review copies to the sf magazines as well as the romance ones. If any of the zine folk out there (yes, zarabee, I'm looking at you for starters...:-) want a review copy or have suggestions on suitable places to send such, please get in touch.

10 February:

Finally wrote up my thoughts on the film that is the slash fan's wet dream/nightmare, depending on taste. You can find my review of Brokback Mountain at my Livejournal -- it'll be going up on the webiste in Ramblings once I have a chance to do some html coding.

7 February:

My net access is still intermittent, but not actually non-existent. No usenet for the moment, though I am checking my email reasonably regularly and looking in on the afp irc channel from time to time. I also have a backlog of reviews to write, and lack of time in which to do so. You can forget the fiction writing for the moment, but a couple of days ago my subconcious presented me with its take on the werewolf legend. An m/m sf take, naturally... It can go in the queue behind the other stories, but it's nice to know that the source has not dried up.

1 February:

Third continent in a week. Jet lag not too bad, considering. Have finally achieved ambition of reading some of Charlie's *fiction*, there having been a copy of Singularity Sky in the airport bookshop when I went looking for reading material. It was getting slightly embarrassing, having read his computer journalism for years, but not having ever read any of the sf. I am now having to remind myself that it is not nice to be jealous of one's friends' writing talents. It is a damned good book, and I heartily recommend it to any of my flist who have not read it yet. Detailed "wow!" to follow later.

I turned in first round edits on Pulling Strings a week back, and have a note back saying that there should be little else required now. It'll be out Soon, in Loose Id parlance. Still not listed in the Coming Soon page at the Loose Id website, but the site's being revamped, so I imagine that page isn't being updated at the moment. Excerpts and cover art are available at my website, although I haven't updated the various index pages yet, so you'll need to use the link below:
http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/details/pullingstrings.html

January 2006

22 January:

The Loose Id authors will be chatting all day on the Fallen Angels email loop - the loop's webpage is here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FallenAngelReviewChatters

I will probably be giving away something...

22 January:

Back home again, and jet-lagged. Which means I was up at 5:30 this morning, unable to sleep any longer, and when I looked at my email I found the edits for Pulling Strings. (I swear my editor is a vampire, it's the only explanation for the emails that are sent at four in the morning...) So I've been very good and working my way through those this morning. It's a (long) novella and no major changes required, so I've got a fair chunk of it done already. This has gone a long way to stop me feeling guilty about the complete lack of progress on anything else over the last week.

10 January:

Real Life has got somewhat interesting of late, in ways that are likely to involve me having less free time and occasionally intermittent net access over the next couple of months. And also me having an even shorter fuse and scattier memory than usual. I apologise in advance, and if I appear to be ignoring anyone, it's probably because I have either mislaid or completely forgotten an email/post/whatever for reasons that are unconnected to that person. Feel free to remind me if necessary.

And yes, I'm still working on the submissions package, if now somewhat more slowly than I would have hoped, and am grateful for assorted assistance given/offered.

7 January:

Now at watervole's for the next few days.

In the end the submission package didn't get put in the post before I left Ipswich, because Alex's printer refused to talk to my laptop after printing the cover letter. And it was refusing to talk to any of the local machines as well unless you cleared the print queue manually and then switched everything off and on again between each file. And sometimes not even then. After a couple of hours of this I gave up. I did get the synopsis draft printed out on watervole's printer last night and went through it, so there's a clean copy printed out this morning, ready to go. By the time I managed to get a draft of the first three chapters printed, it was getting fairly late on in the morning, so I abandoned the notion of getting it in the post today.

Given that decision, I've handed the sample chapters to watervole for some editorial input, and I'm going to spend the next couple of days tearing them apart and rewriting them. When I first started writing this book, I thought I was writing a trashy porn novel (and if you look in rasfc about three years back you'll find me wailing about how I'm finally in a fit state to write again after being ill, and this trashy porn novel plot has hijacked my brain and won't go away). By the time I was 15 kwords or so in I'd realised that it was a political sf novel that happened to have a lot of gay sex in it. I did rewrite the first section to make it more in keeping with the rest of the book, but it could do with another rewrite. In the meantime I'll do the envelope addressing and last read-throughs on the query letter and synposis. Once I'e got the sample chapters done, I can then stuff the whole thing in the envelope and watervole can post it for me later in the week if we don't manage to get to the post office before I leave on Tuesday morning.

I *would* put enough postage on the SASE to allow for the expected postal rates rise in April, except the Post Awful has not yet bothered to inform the public what the new rates will be. Bah humbug.

5 January:

Still working on the submission package for Journey Into Freedom, although it's not going to get in the post tonight -- I've not been very well today plus I've been wrestling with the LAN Chez Alex, and by this point I don't feel like rushing through it to try to get down to the Post Office before closing time today. But I have a reasonable looking cover letter now, so thanks to those who cast a beady eye over the draft and made helpful suggestions. At least I've got a sporting chance of having an envelope ready to take to the post office tomorrow afternoon if there's time after my train journey.

I'm looking at the synopsis with a view to tweaking it in light of Miss Snark's comments during the recent synopsis critique festival. There is a comment about half way down about "This is getting tres kinky". Alex's reaction was "what do you mean getting kinky?" I fear she may have a point. As those others of you who have seen the actual manuscript will know, there is a reason I go into teapot mode every time I contemplate submitting it somewhere... :-)

4 January (later):

Further to the last LJ entry about the latest submission, any volunteers for proof-reading my query letter either tonight or tomorrow morning? I'd quite like to get it in the post tomorrow afternoon if I can get it done in time, because otherwise it will probably be Monday at the earliest, and maybe longer. I wouldn't normally worry about that sort of timescale, but since I'm likely to be in the UK for pretty much another three weeks (i.e. their claimed response time), there's some point to avoiding a few days' delay.

22:10 ETA: draft finished, and sent off to those who volunteered - much thanks. I finished the draft just as my brain switched off for the night, so if I failed to correctly attach the rtf, yell...

22:20 ETA: Right, I've fixed the first problem pointed out to me, that being that it is now 2006...

4 January:

Focusing on submissions again...

The writing output has slowed down, with only 240 words on Monday and a grand total of 31 yesterday on the Knights Templar story, plus handwaving and burbling at [info]predatrix while she wrote some more Syndicate. However, yesterday *was* productive, in that I spent some time ensconced in the reference section of the Ipswich Public Library, making the acquaintance of the Writer's Handbook 2006 and the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook 2006. Two reasons for this -- one was to get a feel for them to decide whether or not to cough up money for one or both of them, and the other reason was to do some literary agent research. I was trying to pick out one or two agencies that will consider at least three out of four of science fiction, romance, erotica and gay interest. This is because I have a book that has all of the above, and which has already received one "I can't sell this cross-genre book" rejection from an agent who liked the writing enough to ask me to send him my next book. Sadly my next book was more of the same (and besides was sold to a small press without intervention of agent), so I'm still on an agent hunt...

Net result is that I'm spending this afternoon preparing a submissions package for pfd. It's a big agency, one of the biggest, so of course the books department has a great many hopefuls assaulting its slushpiles. Around a hundred manuscripts per week for the adult fiction and non-fiction books slushpile, according to the website. But being big means that it has agents covering most specialities. It does want an exclusive even on queries, but on the other hand it has a target response time of three weeks, and on past performance that's going to be a lot less than the time it takes me to decide on the next target and prepare a submission package. :-) However, I do seem to be slightly less "I'm a teapot" this time about inflicting The Trashy Porn Novel That Grew on someone's slushpile, so maybe I'll have at least decided on the next UK one to try by the time I leave the UK, and can leave a package with a friend for posting.

1 January:

And with the new year, a new stint of writing. Starting with New Year's Eve in fact, because Alex and I had a go at the next installment of The Syndicate yesterday, turning out the first 1300 words of the honeymoon story. I also did a whole 137 words on the Knight Templar story. :-) Another 500 words or so on each today.


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