The Land Of Wind And Ghosts

Testing, testing...
Just checking to see if this thing is still on... let me know if you see it...

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?

Actually, it was only 12.5 tons, but you still get an aching back.

Monday we dug a 60' trench for a new drain (by hand), and got the drain laid and set and covered just in time for an inch of rain on Monday afternoon and evening. Which was handy. But because the front drive/turning circle/parking area (I really need a proper name for it) was sparsely gravelled (just bare dirt in places) and because New Mexico soil has three forms with instantaneous transition between them (the forms are a). incredibly fine dust, which when mixed with water becomes b). thick gloopy mud, which when dry becomes c). rock, which over time weathers back to a) incredibly fine dust again), we figured we needed to properly gravel the whole area (which is something in the region of, oh, 4000 square feet? maybe more?). So on Wednesday afternoon we get a twelve-and-a-half ton pile of gravel dumped in the middle of it.

Two hours of shovel, whellbarrow and rakework on Thursday afternoon, and two more hours this morning, and we now have a super new, smarter, crunchier-underfoot drive/turning circle/parking area.

And a few blisters, and aches and pains. But it looks immensely better and should last for many's the year. So that's good.

No pics, cos, y;know, just how exciting is a lot of gravel?

Meanwhile we've had our first viewer of the apartment (no word yet on whther he wants it), and we've done a bunch of other bits and pieces to tidy the place up before heading off on a road trip. Tomorrow we drive to Colorado to aliveandcooking 's Mom's place (in Bailey, about an hour south-west of Denver). We mind the place for a few days and then my father arrives from England on Monday night, whereon we will be doing the tourist thing in a steadily southwards direction (Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Great Sand Dunes, Cumbres and Toltec railroad, Rio Grande Gorge and Santa Fe are al on the itinerary. Back in Silver City by Sunday night (24th July) so expect light to intermitent blogging through then (not that I'm exactly the world's most active blogger at the best of times).

Oh, and one final thing - Google+ seems to be doing a job at the moment. The circling feature works well (it's interesting seeing how different people approach it) and the hangout function (basically a video chat for up to ten people) has been co-opted into the service of collective writing groups - 15 minutes of chat and then 45 minutes of furious typing - which seems to work very well. Increases social exposure (last night I was chatting to Jason Sanford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jamie Rubin, Paolo Bacigalupi, and others (some of these I already "knew" through the web, some not), and aids productivity - what more could you ask for? Will definitely be doing this more. The idea of holding mini con-style discussion panels also has huge appeal, and for writers who (unlike me...) have a fan base, the possibility of Q&A sessions is a good one, too.

So far, liking with the Google+, then.

I'm on it. Not because I'm utterly convinced that Google are particularly wonderful, but:
a). it isn't facebook
b). it appears to actually recognise that people have different but overlapping contacts
c). early adoption tends to make for a more comfortable learning curve
d). it still isn't facebook

I have invites available, even if I don't know how to work them yet. If you would like an invite, please let me know in comments or by email.

"Freedom" has always been an important concept in American cultural and political life. The myth goes, after all, that the country was founded by a small group of people seeking freedom from religious persecution (I say that this is a myth because, even discounting the indigenous population, America was already being settled by the Spanish and English in an organised fashion long before the Mayflower turned up - the oldest setled "western" town on the US mainland is in Florida, the next oldest in New Mexico, and Jamestown was founded nearly a generation before Plymouth Rock). The myth becomes somewhat truer when one considers the birth of an independent American nation - they fought to be free of British control.

However, "freedom" has become a panacea, a cure-all. Michelle Bachmann (whose habit of completely ignoring embarrassing questions over her past gaffes, and saying something else - often a new gaffe - has already become annoying) stated a couple of days ago what is a truism for the American Right; that Americans enjoy freedoms unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Now, when I hear claims like this, I am given to a certain scepticism. When grandiose claims are made by a nation's rulers (or in this case would-be ruler), they often ring false - after all, haven't we heard the claims made by the likes of Stalin, Qadafi, Kim, Mugabe et al. about how their states are paragons of virtue in a world that hates them only because they fail to understand them? (The American position is slightly different - those who hate AMerica usually do so either from a position of envy, or more commonly because "they hate our freedoms" - an accusation that might ring true when levelled at political leaders, but surely absurd when levelled at citizens of other states).

So I'd like to know what these freedoms are which Americans have that are denied to citizens of EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Because I've given it some thought, and I'm pretty much coming up blank.

Still busy after all these years...

OK, so, here's where we are. My job ends on Thursday. On Friday I'll go down and see about unemployment - how to go about signing on, how much I'll get, how long it lasts, etc. Obviously, in the US, this is all thoroughly new to me. In the meantime, the redecoration of the apartment nears completion - just some baseboard/skirting board (delete according to nationality) and second coating of walls/ceiling to do, then the last light fitting, a few sets of blinds and a closet shelf to put up. The rental agency realty people will be coming to take a look tomorrow and we'll find out more then about what the market's like and what we might be able to get for it.

Refinancing is complete on the mortgage (we had just started this process before the layoff announcement), so we've cut around $700 off the monthly repayments - makes a significant difference!

No strong leads on the job front as yet but I'm continuing to put feelers out there. Most people seem to reckon that the big internet job-seeking sites (monster et al) are completely worthless, and I tend to agree to an extent. In this world, personal contact is still a far better way of getting to the attention of someone in a position to offer you a job. Of course, it's also slower and more nebulous in terms of progress, but we shall see.

I still hope to use the newly-opened window of time availability to crack on with the writing, so as to be in position by the end of this year to shop at least one and possibly two novels around. The Rovani Triptych continues to progress; still has a couple of significant plot gaps but the second book's main thread is coalescing now, and the third book I knew from the get-go. Plus I have titles for the three - The House Of The Sun, The House Of The Stars, and The House Afire.

Nothing much else of immediate excitement. I know I've been remiss on things like review postings and photos (as if anyone really cared...) so we'll see if I can get a bit more blogging back on track.

Now, got to go do some more work, some more decorating, and sort out a sub for WOTF for this quarter.

Women SF writers of the 70s meme
From nwhyte .

Italicize the authors you've heard of before reading this list of authors, bold the ones you've read at least one work by, underline the ones of whose work you own at least one example of. (NB - for my pruposes, I have underlined where I have once owned, not necessarily where I own now).

Lynn Abbey
Eleanor Arnason
Octavia Butler
Moyra Caldecott
Jaygee Carr
Joy Chant
Suzy McKee Charnas
C. J. Cherryh
Jo Clayton
Candas Jane Dorsey
Diane Duane
Phyllis Eisenstein
Cynthia Felice
Sheila Finch
Sally Gearhart
Mary Gentle
Dian Girard
Eileen Gunn
Monica Hughes
Diana Wynne Jones
Gwyneth Jones
Leigh Kennedy
Lee Killough
Nancy Kress
Katherine Kurtz
Tanith Lee
Megan Lindholm (AKA Robin Hobb)
Elizabeth A. Lynn
Phillipa Maddern
Ardath Mayhar
Vonda McIntyre
Patricia A. McKillip
Janet Morris
Pat Murphy
Sam Nicholson (AKA Shirley Nikolaisen)
Rachel Pollack
Marta Randall
Anne Rice
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Pamela Sargent
Sydney J. Van Scyoc
Susan Shwartz
Nancy Springer
Lisa Tuttle
Joan Vinge
Élisabeth Vonarburg
Cherry Wilder
Connie Willis

Not sure what this shows, though I'm happyto further the meme. I think some of these might be more instructive if there were similar sized lists of male writers so we could see how skewed things are or aren't. Certainly I suspect that my hit rate on male writers of the time would be fairly low, but I could be wrong.

In which I is a prize!
A while back, I sold a story called "The Last Arrow Of Liang Xi" to Darwin's Evolutions. It's a Land of Wind and Ghosts story (i.e. it's set in the same continuity/world/milieu as Yi Qin stuff, but doesn't feature her), and I rather like it (of course I do; I wouldn't have written it otherwise).

Darwin's Evolutions went by the wayside for a while, but not before "Last Arrow" was made available for the Kindle.

And when Darwin Garrison (editor of Darwin's Evolutions) got a royalty check for sales from "Last Arrow" - long after he'd stopped running DE, and forgotten about the one story he'd put up on the Kindle - he realised that there was life in the old zine yet. So; Darwin's Evolutions is back as an e-antholgy and e-story market, and product is rolling out steadily from a range of writers and artists.

As part of this, "Last Arrow" has been repackaged/re-released. And it's a prize!

If you go over to this posting on Jakob Drud's LJ you can leave a comment there (telling him I sent you) and you get the chance to win Amazon or B&N gift certifcates, or e-book copies of some of Darwin's Evolutions' new and old stories - mine included.

So pop over there and check it out and tell him I sent you :)

Just checking in...
tchernabyelo prove I still exist.

Busy, busy, busy; work inevitably gets more hectic the closer my finishing date looms (ironically, while the excuse for my laying off is the sale of one US subsidiary/partner, the other US subsidiary/partner is suddenly coming up with all manner of errors and problems). And then much of the weekend was spent on decorating the apartment, as we try and get it ready for renting out ASAP. We've had new flooring put down in the kitchen and bathroom, and tiling done in the kitchen, and a few other bits and pieces, and now we've followed that up with a lot of cleaning/priming/repainting. Still some stuff to do (finishing cabinet doors and some other detailing, and then we have to move on to the living area and bedroom (but there's less work to be done there). So far it's looking pretty good and should be very smart by the end of the month (though the cabinet doors will still be warped - we can't afford to replace/redo them completely - they will look much improved).

On the writing front... I've actually been subbing a bit more lately, but tht just means I'm getting more rejections as well. Some are "good" rejections (e.g. a request to sub something else, with pointers on what, from JJA at Lightspeed), others not so. I could do with an acceptance to stem the flow of no-ness, but I'll cope one way or the other. I'm going to try WOTF again with another Yi Qin story, and if that fails, well, there are other markets for it, and other Yi Qin stories to finish/polish and throw in their direction next time.

And I'm continuing to work on the novel, which continues to solidify (though with pieces missing). I have three POV characters with individual voices, which is a good start, and I have intertwined plots and subplots, and some fun supporting characters, and some of the bones of the other two books in the triptych. More on the subject on Friday, I hope.

An Observation On Cultural Imperialism

The Apple iPod decides that songs prefixed by articles (i.e. titled "A ..." or "The ...") should be sorted as if the article was not present.

Songs beginning with articles in other languages, however...


(I noticed this as I started working through the letter E, and realised I was getting a long run of Latino music...)

In which I is again reviewed...
..over at Locus Online, in Lois Tilton's regular round-up.

Lois's reviews tend (understandably - I'm impressed she's read all of Black Gate, I'm barely 1/3 of the way through, myself) to the brief and pithy. Money shot for her comments on "What Chains Bind Us":

A nicely complicated mystery and a bleak and hopeless vision of the afterlife. I can understand why spirits might want to escape from the Silent Mountain. Yi Qin, too, seems like she could use an escape. There’s not much hope anywhere in this world.

Which in context seems entirely reasonable. It's neither easy nor much fun being a conjuror with a dead twin sister who can occupy your body...

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