Tuesday, March 28

Strange out again

Strange goes out today - with a new cover sheet and first page thanks to my favorite editor's cat.

I am going to finish the Horseboy revision TODAY. Or sometime soon.

Dropped my car off at the shop today. They confirmed it's only inner CV boots that need replacing -- NOT -- as the dealership indicated, the entire front axel. Sheesh. I hate dealers.

I also got the most thorough explanation as to why my car gets the most shitty gas mileage around (besides the fact it's a V6 Toyota) and if I had about an hour I'd give you the full rundown but in brief:
  • Winter gas mileage sucks - humidity in the air messes with the o2 sensor (blah blah blah blah, at this point my eyes started to glaze over)
  • Costco sells crappy gas to the loss of about 1-3 mpg...
  • I don't let my car warm up before driving it
  • California gas has more junk in it than say, Oregon or Idaho, so you actually get less fuel per gallon = less miles
  • Short trips around town in a cold, fuel injected V6 engine is a deal breaker
I have concluded -- as with most complex multi-issue problems -- that it's really all The Man's fault! Damn the Man! Damn, Damn Damn! Heeheee...


Saturday, March 25

Check in

Sorry things have been quiet around here the last few days -- we're having some serious drama at my job -- and that's definitely impacting my work. Of course, just because I'm not actively working on a story doesn't mean I'm not doing something writing related. In brief...Some stats:

I'm reading:
  • Fiction: The Dark Tower #7 (Aptly titled, The Dark Tower), by Stephen King (Final book, hallelujah!)
  • Non Fiction: Collapse, How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail by Jared Diamond
  • Short Stories: 2005 Best American Short Stories
Listening to: (reason #999 for a Tip Jar: I need an ipod)
  • Eugene's Breakup Mixes (Sad and Happy mostly, I've moved past Rage)
  • My "Psyche and Eros" Mixes (Ani D to Switchfoot love songs)
  • Sarah Vaughn
Recent Movies:
  • V for Vendetta
  • The Spitfire Grill
  • I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Wine: (And no, I don't think drinking is writing related, but it HAS been making all the "palavaring" in DT7 easier to get through. Get to the frickin tower, already! Ditto Clive Owen's repeated monosyllabic questioning of his brother's rape and subsequent suicide: "Why did Davy do it?" Which in a marblemouthed cockney accent comes out like "whu did Daavy du 't?")
  • Luna Sangiovese
Other News:
  • Mom came up for a visit which was heavenly. We did lots of girl stuff and she cooked a TON of food and stayed up late chatting. Love that girl!
Sorry, nothing good to note today. Except for I now know why I usually do laundry on Tuesdays and Thursdays ($1.79 wash nites)...regular old Saturday morning wash is a whopping $2.40. Arggh.

Tuesday, March 21

Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund Announcement

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship will enable writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops, where Octavia got her start. It is meant to cement Octavia's legacy by providing the same experience/opportunity that Octavia had to future generations of new writers of color. In addition to her stint as a student at the original Clarion Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970, Octavia taught several times for Clarion West in Seattle, Washington, and Clarion in East Lansing, Michigan, giving generously of her time to a cause she believed in.

The first Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in 2007. We'll announce details of the application process later this year.

Our goal for a fully endowed scholarship fund is $100,000. At this time, we welcome your tax deductible gift of any amount to this fund. Donations can be made via PayPal or a major credit card on the Carl Brandon Society Website. If you'd prefer to make your donation in the form of a check or money order, please make it payable to "The Carl Brandon Society" and note that it is for "The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund." Then mail your donation to:

The Octavia E. Butler
Memorial Scholarship Fund
c/o The Carl Brandon Society
P.O. Box 23336
Seattle, WA 98102

Taken from the Carl Brandon Society Website


Bay Area Readers! Author Event in Your Area

Don't miss this opportunity!


Berkeley, CA Award winning author Carolyn Lehman will speak on her new book STRONG AT THE HEART: How It Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse, on Monday, April 3, at 7:30 p. m. at Black Oak Books.

STRONG AT THE HEART is a compelling look at the healing process of nine diverse sexual abuse survivors. Through interviews and photographs, these men and women—several of them still in their teens—reveal the choices they made, the people they turned to, and the strategies that worked best for them in overcoming the harm of sexual abuse.

"I began this project because, as a survivor myself, I was concerned with the stereotypes of abuse victims in our popular culture," says Lehman, a writer and educator who has advocated for children for over twenty years.

"The book shows the different ways that real teens and adults confront abuse and heal from it. You can see the strengths they develop in the process, strengths that take them beyond healing and into rich and productive lives."

At Black Oak, Lehman will show her photographs, read from the book, and discuss the unexpected insights revealed during the interviews which took place in communities as diverse as a Native reserve in northern Canada, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and San Francisco's Mission District.

Lehman will be joined by Akaya Windwood, one of the survivors interviewed in STRONG AT THE HEART, as well as by Staci Haines and Maria Gonzalez Barron, who will talk about how they helped each other move through healing and beyond.

For more information on the book event contact Black Oak Books at (510) 486-0698 or go to
blackoakbooks.com. To find out more about STRONG AT THE HEART visit strongattheheart.com.

On Thursday March 30, at 7:30 p. m., The Survivors' Healing Center in Santa Cruz is sponsoring a book discussion by Carolyn Lehman at Bookshop Santa Cruz. She will be joined by Laura Davis, co-author of THE COURAGE TO HEAL.


Tuesday, March 14

The cat ate my cover letter

So Strange officially got it's second rejection letter. One thing about CW -- I now have a much better understanding of the entire submission/rejection process and a much healthier attitude about rejection.

Oh you're not rejecting ME personally, just my misshapen green baby? Oh, okay well thanks anyway. NEXT!

However, this rejection note makes it all worth while. It concludes with a post script: Apparently the slight tearing and water warping of the first page -- which I had on initial glance written off as post office manhandling -- was in fact gnawmarks. Editor's cat was so enamored of my MS the cover letter was consumed. Well, I guess it's better than coffee cup stains and scone crumbs. Editor closed with a question: had I rubbed my MS in catnip, by chance?

Now, from three years working at a vet hospital I am dearly hoping he doesn't mean the entire thing was consumed. (If so, Mr Editor, you might want to get your cat to the nearest emergency room, ASAP) More than likely the cat did what most kitties do with papers that are "off limits:" Destroy them as quickly as possible. Still, it makes for a great laugh, no?

Sorry, dear editor. I can neither explain your cat's attraction to my MS, nor offer a confession that I had the foresight to rub it in catnip. I wish I had though...hmmm. Maybe the next submission?


Monday, March 13


In honor of the new year, I'm officially rededicating this blog to the written word. Specifically my written word and the life of a writer after Clarion West.

Correction, the WRITING life of a writer.

In the last few months it's gone a bit astray with some other life stuff, and I'm grateful to you for hanging in there. I'm going to be withdrawing much of that bit to another location, but keep coming back here for more bits about life as a writer post CW!

Thanks, eddie


Thursday, March 9

She must have stared too long...

"Do you need help, or...?" His voice drops off as his eyes dart toward her and then away again. He is trying not to be obvious. She looks confused, he considers, in the cute, sort of absent way smart girls are when they start working on something they can't immediately figure out. No map, instruction set or owners manual would withstand that look.

She laughs and begins to reply. "No I..."

How silly she must look - staring, with parted lips, at the silver triple loader. Between her feet is the empty laundry basket. Her full washer is the only one in the row that isn't busily thumping away with soapy socks appearing now like and again at the window. Besides his, of course. He's removing the freshly spun clothes from the depths of the machine.

Cute, she registers briefly. Not her type -- it's the goatee and chops thing -- but nice enough to avoid sounding like guy-know-it-all. Then she wonders how desperate she is that her immediate reaction is to gauge whether or not she would date this tentative Good Samaritan.

"It's just," she says, attempting to complete her sentence. She wishes briefly she could explain quickly and get on with things but the glass of wine before subjecting herself to the Laundromat on discount wash night has finally hit her head.

"You looked confused," he says.

"It's just," she says, pointing to the two column instruction panel, "I'm just figuring out the best way to do this. There are so many choices: Quick wash, heavy duty -- all hot, warm, cold...Extra spin cycle."

It's his turn to look confused. He pauses with his hands full of wet boxers and jeans and squints at the machine in front of him.

"I never noticed all that," he says. A brief flush rises up from his collar and he goes on unloading clothes. " I just put them in, shut the door and press start."

Finished unloading, he shuts the round, rubber sealed door and straightens up. He's her height although a bit on the thin side. He has nice shoulders, wide but not bulky.

He looks a little closer at the panel then back at her. She is the smart, instruction reading kind. He wishes he hadn't made himself look like such an idiot.

"Wow," he says and the blush creeps higher.

His eyes are green. He smiles and they both laugh.

"I just wish they would make a button that says 'Clean,'" she says, occupying her hands with the rest of the routine: add soap, choose a temperature.

She checks for his response with a sidelong glance and catches him looking at her again.

"Yeah." He laughs, and heads for the dryers.

She stares at the panel a minute longer and settles for 'Quick Wash.' When she looks toward the dryers he's gone.

Exhibit A. How my brain works.

Doing my own rather mundane wash tonight in anticipation of my mom's imminent visit (hurry, scrub the corners, get that junk out of the sink and for god's sake put away the JD) I overheard this conversation between two college aged people in the next row of washers. Doing my best not to look at them, I couldn't help but "tune in."

The rest -- his thoughts, her thoughts, facial expressions, the timing of their actions -- that came out of my own head. That's how my brain works. Tiny little snatches of conversation or a glimpse of something unusual and my brain slips of into la la land, fabricating a scenario for whatever it is I just saw or heard. The next inevitable step is to write it down.

That's what writing is for me on a daily basis: keeping track of all the little stories. Some of them have and will end up in longer pieces, neatly transfigured from their origins so as to be unrecognizable to anyone but me, but even if they don't get used immediately they're still worth the time it takes to craft them. These little bits exist on their own, in their own little universes. Not grand or sweeping or epublishableible, but still fodder for the storyteller.

Storytelling in the larger sense of a short story or a novel is like fishing from a stocked pond where story idea is the pole and line. I stock the pond with those collected little snippets that fill in the spaces in a story. They're the scenes that get to characters to meet each other, or get them from one scene to the next. I try to keep the pond well stocked, so when I cast, I've always got a little something waiting for me.


Saturday, March 4

Octavia Butler

My dad gave me my first Octavia Butler book when he realized I wasn't going to give up this writing thing anytime soon. I remember finishing Dawn in 24 hours and looking at dad, wondering if he knew what he put into my hands. In Octavia Butler's hands, science fiction took on a whole other point and purpose. She wrote about certain Truths as I had never seen them: disturbing, unflinching and uncomfortable. She wrote about characters and situations that you couldn't escape and somehow didn't want to.

Knowing she was teaching the first week of Clarion West was the reason I applied. Then the worst thing possible happened. I got in. Suddenly my chance to meet Octavia Butler became my chance to make a big idiot out of myself in front of 17 other writers for six weeks. Yeah I had been scribbling in notebooks since I was a kid, but that didn't make me a writer. True to form I made a fool of myself her first day, cornering her after the lecture and bungling the worst introduction EVER: the I want to be you when I grow up monologue. I have never wanted to crawl under a couch and disappear into a sorority house carpet so badly in my life.

On Tuesday, she cornered me. I was expecting to skate by that first week on my submission story, figure out what everybody else was writing and just try to keep up for the next five weeks. After all, I was only here for Octavia. I just wanted to be around her, to soak her presence up and hope that some of the glorious Who She Was would rub off on me. I wasn't actually planning on getting any WORK done. Octavia asked what I was going to be turning in this week.

"My submission story." I said.

I can't describe the look on her face but I know it well. Every woman I have loved and admired is capable of that look: the one that says "that's not good enough" and "I know you can do better," in a single glance. The perfect balance of disappointment and optimism that makes you understand it's only *you* selling yourself short. Then she said it out loud so I knew she REALLY meant it.

"That's too bad,"she said. "I'd like to see what else you can do."

Those words hit my "challenge" button with a vengeance. After a little haranguing I traded a Wednesday critique for Friday which gave me approximately 48 hours to write an entirely new story.

Another one of my favorite things Octavia said at CW was, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." So I suppose I could tell you that the first story I wrote at Clarion West was a tour de force that escaped critiques without a single red mark and was immediately snapped up by GVG during his week. Of course, there are 17 other people probably lurking right now that would laugh themselves silly if I tried to pass a big lie like that.

The truth is that story wasn't perfect. It wasn't anything like she would have written. It was mine. It was big and cumbersome and beautiful. And most importantly, it had potential. In one stroke she had proved that I belonged at that table to the one person in the room who needed to know it the most - me.

I'll never forget Octavia Butler. In my usual offline weekend style I didn't hear of her passing until the following Monday and it's taken me an entire week to check the flow of tears that starts up every time I sit down to write about her. I guess knew her as well as any of her students ever could and less than her friends. Still her loss hit me core deep. I put her picture above my writing space as a continual reminder and a challenge.

I will never forget her voice when she said, "You know why you're here." Yes, Octavia, now I do. Thank you for helping me see that Truth. May your sprit be at peace. You are loved. You will be missed.