Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

(Please tell me it passingly resembles Thomas the Train.)

I don't have any good costume pics yet, we'll take those before (or after) trick-or-treating tonight.  But here are a few from carving/decorating pumpkins!

Zaxxon painting a pumpkin

Sticking pipe cleaners into another.  I really like the way this one turned out.

Zaxxon "helping" me pull the guts out.

Hubby painting a Rorschach mask

Kal'El helping me pose with Thomas

I didn't take this pic of all of them until a few days later.  Thomas looks appropriately ghoulish.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sad Day for My Writing

I received an email this morning informing me that the Library of the Living Dead (the parent of Library of Science Fiction Press) is having financial difficulties.  They're putting all anthologies on hold for at least six months, and most are being cancelled entirely.  As it turns out, A Glitch in the Continuum, which was to hold my story Pandora's Time, didn't make the cut.


The editor, Wayne Goodchild, has asked our permission to shop the anthology around for a month or so and see if another publisher would be willing to pick it up.  All the work (including formatting and cover art) is already done, so it seems possible that someone else might want an easy book to produce--but I don't know how that aspect of publishing works so I don't know how likely it is.

I've given my permission--I'd really like to see this anthology see the light of day, and on top of that, it takes me so long to get stories resubbed these days that it would probably be a month before I got it back out anyway.  The one thing I worry about, though, is how much payment I might receive.  It was contracted with The Library for $0.01 per word, but another press might not want to pay that much.  At this pay rate it's considered "semi-pro;" "pro" payment for stories is $0.05 per word or more.  Semi-pro is usually the minimum I sub to, unless a piece completely runs out of options.  Money IS supposed to flow towards the writer, after all.  I guess I've got to do some serious thinking about what minimum payment I'd be willing to receive.

Well, I can always duck out until I sign another contract.  I'm pretty proud of Pandora's Time and think it would have a fair shot elsewhere.  I'd like to see the antho stay together, but I also don't want to sell myself short.

This is very sad.  Only my second sale (though I have yet to be paid, and won't anymore) has fallen through.  I hope the book as a whole can find another home, but if not it's back to the slush...


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Man in the Dress

Across the room, I saw a tall man in a white dress, a jean jacket, and a long blonde wig. Men in dresses are not something I was foreign to by any means—between my old theatre hobby and work (not to mention watching Monty Python), I know several men who will wear them for fun or profit—but it happens infrequently enough to draw my attention. I didn’t focus on him for long, however, for the next episode of Red Dwarf was starting, and I was eager to watch one of my favorite shows.

It’s fun to watch Red Dwarf with a crowd like this, where everyone appreciates kooky British Sci-Fi. The crowd was eccentric—the man in the dress wasn’t the most unusually dressed person I'd seen: there was a woman running around painted completely blue, and a man who looked like some sort of elaborate devil character. Plus, there’s the outlandish look some of these people have on a regular basis: the look that they spend all their time between their TVs and their computers (and don’t necessarily take time out to shower.)

This is what happens when you take several thousand science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans and allow them to take over a hotel for the weekend. Ever since my dad started taking me to MileHiCon when I was twelve, I’ve always wondered what the regular hotel guests must think—that they’ve landed on another planet, probably. I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere—this is the sort of place where you can be as silly as you want, and no one will look at you askance. In fact, they’ll probably play along!

When the show ended, I made my way toward the exit of the crowded room. As I moved through the throng, someone asked me if I was familiar with the story of Red Dwarf. I turned and found myself facing the man in the dress. I told him yes, I was familiar with the show, and he asked me if I could fill him in on what had happened: he hadn’t watched it in a while and he wanted to know what he’d missed. I launched into a description of the various quirks of the plot, which, according to the nature of the show, were as bizarre as they were entertaining. We weren’t talking for long when the next show started, and we were booted out of the room.

Our discussion of Red Dwarf led in other directions, and I found myself talking to this man in the dress and wig for over an hour. I learned that his clothing was not his normal attire, but that he had participated in the convention’s costume contest. I confessed that I didn’t recognize the costume, and he informed me that he was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This also explained his friends, who were wandering around behind him, dressed as ghouls.

We learned that we were both fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We agreed on many of the good qualities of the show, and lamented the same mistakes. He had a great sense of humor, and our personalities fit hand in hand.

I found I enjoyed this man’s company. As we spoke, we discovered a mutual interest in many things, including the performing arts. I told him of my ambitions to attend a drama school in England, and he seemed quite impressed. He told me of his production company, One Eyed Pictures, and of the comedic sketches he produced. Considering their similarity to Monty Python, it was no surprise that I’d met him in the British Sci-Fi room. He asked if I would like to perform in one of his projects, and we exchanged phone numbers.

We spoke on the phone once or twice, but it took three months, a screen test, and one film-shoot before he asked me out. He was determined that “I’m a director” wasn’t going to be a line; however, this determination only lasted as far as the day we shot his film—he called me that evening to ask me out.

Twenty-one months after seeing the man in the dress across a dark room, I looked at him again across a park. He wasn't in a dress that time: I was. He wore a tux, and we were surrounded by loved ones. It wasn't his clothing that struck me; it was the radiant smile he wore that matched my own.

The events of that fateful October day took place exactly ten years ago this weekend.  To our knowledge, it was the first, last, and only time MileHiCon had a British Sci-Fi room.  To complete the picture, our first son, Zaxxon, was born three years ago this weekend.  Due to the fact that our second son, Kal'El, refuses to take a bottle, we are unable to spend the entire weekend at the convention, sans children.  However, we are spending most of our Saturday there, carting the smaller, easier-to-manage child with us as we go from panel to panel, enjoying the experience and the memories.

Happy Anniversary Honey!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Year of Writing!!!!!

For years, I've wanted to get into the habit of writing Every Day.  I've known that I need that kind of structure and self-discipline to keep myself motivated and working.  And for years, it didn't happen.  I would get excited about a project and would write regularly for a while, but then I would hit a sticky spot in a piece or I would finish a draft, my enthusiasm would curb, and the next thing I knew months would pass without my writing anything.  I would chide myself, but not do anything about it.

Then early last September, something happened.  I'm not really sure what made me keep it up, but I started writing daily while working on the first draft of my novel.  And unlike in the past, the streak lasted more than two weeks.  As it passed one month, I thought it would be fun to keep track of it on this blog, to show everyone how long I'd gone.  The next few months passed and I didn't stop.  Then the number on my sidebar became a matter of pride.  I didn't want to stop writing and have to reset the thing to zero.  So I kept going.

Some days have been great and extremely productive.  Others have been tiny, with me forcing myself to reach a minimum few hundred words or 15-20 minutes of revisions to make sure I did something.  But I haven't taken a day off.  Not a single one.  And today, I reached the year mark.  365 days of writing!

Now technically  I haven't done 365 days straight.  If I had, this post would have appeared in September.  But something happened during that time, as you likely know:  I had a baby.  And I didn't think it was fair to reset the counter when all jobs worth anything allow for maternity leave--so I decided mine would allow for a leave too.  I gave myself a break and am now back on the horse, albeit I often have to deprive myself of sleep to get anything done (crazy boys won't always nap at the same time!)

So now I've done it.  A whole year.  And I still don't want to reset the counter.  Realistically I know I can't keep this up for the rest of my life, but for now I intend to keep going strong.  Hopefully, even after I do miss a day or a week, the self-discipline I've developed will help me get started right away again.  We'll see if I can't write another of these posts next year!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reflections on Finishing the First Readthrough of my Novel

Wow.  I just finished reading a 186 page novel--and it's the one that I wrote.

The best thing is that I enjoyed reading it.  It's been nine months or so since I put it aside, so much of it wasn't readily familiar (though, of course, I still remembered the main plot points.)  I liked seeing little bits of my life and experiences that I'd forgotten I'd put in there.  You never know, when you're friends with a writer, what little details they'll latch onto and include in their next piece.  :)

I did find a few big problems to fix, and TONS of small fixes.  I'm wordy in first drafts, and I'm fully aware of this fact.  I allow myself to be wordy so I can just get the first draft on the page, and I figure that's what editing is for.  I made a lot of corrections on the paper manuscript I printed out and read to my infant son while he was nursing, and now I'm faced with the job of putting them all in the document.  I think I'll have to work backwards too--otherwise the page numbers and reference points will all get messed up after just a few chapters.

My biggest fix is that I invented a new piece of technology about a third of the way into the story, and it really ought to be mentioned earlier--several times.  But that's what comes from writing on the fly instead of outlining.  However, despite problems like that, I think that writing on the fly worked well for me.  I may try to outline my next novel, just to see which technique I like better, but I have a feeling that I will prefer to ditch the outline method.

The problem I now face is figuring out how to make time for writing again.  For the last month it's been easy:  read/edit the novel while nursing the baby.  Now that that part's done, I'll need to figure out stretches of time where I can sit in front of a computer again--not easy since Zaxxon is attempting to give up naptime and doesn't like to respect the rules of "Quiet Time."  But I'll work something out.

I wrote a novel!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

More Kid Sci-Fi Books!

I was surprised to see that it was more than a year ago when I last posted about fun sci-fi books for kids.  I believe we've read some others in the mean time, but I can't remember specifics.

At any rate, in our latest cycle of library books were these two picture books:
Another Day in the Milky Way by David Milgrim, and Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk.  Both were very fun, and my son enjoyed them.

Another Day in the Milky Way is the story of a boy who wakes up on the wrong planet (which happens to him every now and then) and he doesn't remember how to get back.  He has to navigate through much weirdness in order to find his way home.  Zaxxon liked the absurb pictures, especially the three-headed mother.

Hush, Little Alien is very sweet and fun.  The Papa alien finds all sorts of things to amuse his son, and it fits perfectly into the familiar tune.  For any kid who enjoys silliness embedded into the familiar, this is a must.

I love that Zaxxon has a much longer attention span now.  He loves books and going to storytime at the library.  We check out a dozen every three weeks, and we read several each day.  I'm a little sad that he's about to outgrow the toddler storytime because I'll miss the librarian, but I know he ought to enjoy the preschool one, too.  In fact, it's time to start taking him to both, so we can both get to know the new librarian before we have to completely make the switch.  Books rule!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I finally found them!

When I was a kid, I remember using safety scissors.  They were plastic with a thin metal blade embedded in the plastic.  In fact, they're they only type of scissors I remember using before moving on to "adult" scissors.  So when I started doing crafts with Zaxxon and building up our craft supplies, I went out looking for the same type of scissors.

I came up blank.  Not at Kmart.  Not at Target.  Not at King Soopers.  Not at Michaels.  The only scissors I could find looked like miniature adult ones: plastic handles, metal blades.  The only concession to safety seemed to be rounded tips.  I bought a pair but we didn't use them much.  Zaxxon closed them with such force, and I always had to hold whatever he was cutting, that I was afraid he was going to slam them down on my fingers.  I couldn't image why they would stop making such a useful product.

Well, I finally found the scissors I wanted.  I wasn't looking for them at the time, and they were in a very unlikely place:  IKEA.

Yes, an IKEA recently opened in Colorado.  I'd been to one before, in Georgia, and my general feeling was that they had good, cheap stuff but I didn't really get all the hype.  And I still don't.  But my Almost-Sister-In-Law (that feels easier than saying my husband's brother's girlfriend) really wanted to go during opening weekend, and my Sister-in-law and Mother-in-law wanted to join her, so of course I had to go too.  I knew I'd feel left out if I didn't.  So we all went opening weekend.  It wasn't as bad as I'd imagined.  The only long wait was in the cafeteria (I'd heard stories of four-hour waits when other IKEAs opened) and we had fun.  I bought several things even though I hadn't had anything in mind when I went (ah, impulse shopping.)

Of course, when I found the very scissors I'd been searching for for months in their children's section, I had to get them.  They came in a two-pack:  regular scissors and pinking shears.  I like them much better, and Zaxxon has already used them several times.  He even helped me clip coupons!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September Stat Check

During the month of September, I wrote (or edited) on all 30 days!
I finished up revisions on a short story and began the monstrous task of editing my novel
I made 1 submission
I received 0 rejections
I still haven't caught up on resubmitting all the stories that got rejected during maternity leave (boo)
I have 3 stories currently in slush pile circulation, though I should have 8, soon-to-be 9 after I get a few more opinions
I made 4 blog posts (oh well)
I took no days off

It's still very hard to get much writing done--especially as Zaxxon has started giving up naps and it's hard to keep him in his room for quiet time.  I have managed, though, even if it's only a brief time right before bed--and even if it's at the expense of sleep.  It's gotten a bit easier to do something every day since I started editing my novel, because I combine this with my reading/nursing time (see yesterday's post.)  That has actually freed up a little time each day, and I've managed to get caught up with organizing my photos (go me.)

I still don't spend as much time in the blog world as I'd like--I miss the social time--but there just isn't that much time in the day yet.  Perhaps after Kal'El starts sleeping through the night.

The thing I really need to do is get my stories resubmitted.  Nobody's going to purchase them if nobody's considering them, after all.  So that is my main goal for October.  Heck, that's my goal for the first week in October.  And then I can turn to bigger things (like Halloween and planning a 3rd birthday party.)  Ah, life goes on.