Monday, June 30, 2008

The Summer Gothic & Lolita Social

May we begin with gratitude for the gracious lolitas that posed for portraits? My apologies to those of you whom I did not exchange names with or neglected to inquire as to yours. It was not my intent to be mysterious or fail to well-represent my upbringing.

I often find these gatherings overwhelming—too many beautifully embellished and perfectly coordinated ensembles. Pausing, to take in the loveliness, slows the courage, you see, even for a weary traveler who feels somewhat in a constant state of Out Of Place. I must also apologize for not knowing the names of the wonderful interns who chatted with an appreciator and her two associates.

Ah, but allow me to share the true reason that I return from the garden party with so few portraits; it is much to my embarrassment that, despite formal training in the arts, when confronted with ribbons and roses this is the best work that I can produce:

I have plans for it to adorn my chartreuse fedora. (A chartreuse fedora is never truly in style, so it is impossible for it to pass out of style.) Mayhaps this demure white paper flower will add femininity to the bold hat and soften its rough manners. I was transfixed by the glimmer of the golden ribbon, and the simple elegance of the black trim. With a pop of peek-a-boo pink, perhaps this humble creation speaks of me more than I did realize.

It was a true pleasure to meet Ms. Emily and Ms. Violeta, as well as the delightful UCLA and Dartmouth TOKYOPOP interns. Best wishes for your future scholastic pursuits.

As always, it's a pleasure to see the warm, inviting faces of the Bible's editorial staff and Kinokuniya's employees. I have greatly enjoyed the indulgence of the Bible's second volume and DNAngel 12—my heart did almost burst with joy at the knowledge that ever-so-talented Sugisaki-sensei has returned to my beloved guilty pleasure read.

And to my gracious travel companions, Elisabeth and Rachel, who braved the wilds of the Los Angeles metro and the unexpected disappearance of the public transit vehicles upon our return journey. It shames me that no gallant knight offered three road-weary ladies a lift. Best we did not have red hoods, for we lacked a huntsman when we encountered this beast:

I shall share the portraits tomorrow.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yesterday was the second Gothic & Lolita Bible party in Little Tokyo. Had a brilliant time—got to meet some lovely lolis, a couple TOKYOPOP interns, and a steampunk goth! Pictures to come after I've gotten them off my camera. Sorry, not as many this time as from the first party.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Finish one thing, start something else

Note to self: We are far, far past the point where the YA should have a proper playlist. Make one. There is only so often you can listen to Coldplay's Vida la Vida album in one day and remain sane.


So... I'm finished the work-for-hire project. Officially, I suppose, as I've got a nice email from the editor saying as much. I'd tell you how it feels, but I haven't given in much thought. Instead, I wrote nearly 6500 words in the past five days. This was accomplished by realizing that the end of June is, er, Monday and I had said something to my CP a couple weeks ago about how I would finish the draft by then.

Devon Monk broke down the numbers for me, kind as she is, in the comments of her livejournal. To theoretically write 100,000 words in four months, it requires a little under 1000 words a day, six days a week. Ergo, it should be entirely manageable to have the first draft of BELOVED finished by Christmas.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Soarin'! Flyin'!

Well, since she's announced on her LJ...

Please help me welcome Karen Mahoney to the Irene Goodman Literary Agency! Karen is an amazingly talented writer, who crafts beautiful sentences to create a wonderfully real world populated with characters that you'll love. She's also one of the kindest, most gracious, and just plain lovely Brits you'll ever meet.

Over the past six months, I've been living vicariously through her as she's gone through the agent query process, and to see her get a happy ending has only reinforced that if you work hard, stay determined and really will happen.

Critique partners and now agency sisters, Kaz? Well, you know what this calls for...


Friday, June 20, 2008

The tipping point

Day by day, another ray of sunshine, another warm breeze, until the scale sunk like a body in warm sand. Summer achieved. Each day forward, another deepened shadow, another whisper of frost, until the scale falls like a foot through thin ice. Winter beckons.

Six months held in your hands like sand, slipping between the spaces where you palms and fingers find each other. Slipping, because sand and time can't be held in anyone's hands. Faster and faster until the year is gone.

Wait. Six months is more than enough time. Time for anything you like. You want. You need. No sand fills your palms now, only water—clear and pure and you can see endless possibilities rippling in its surface.

Running to the future is ill-advised; one must walk slowly so life doesn't spill.

Happy Solstice. (And Happy Birthday, Rachel.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dearest Universe

While I greatly appreciate the listing, that wasn't really what I meant when I said I wanted publishing-related news this week.

However, I should say that if one was to pick-up a copy of Sang-Sun Park's The Tarot Cafe vol 7, one might be interested in looking at the previews in the back.

Thank You.

(PS Did I sound calm and professional?)

Monday, June 16, 2008

The YA draft has entered its final third, AKA the time when the story momentum is so slick that the book seems to write itself. Everything else becomes noise I tune out so I can focus on that incessant voice that finally wants to talk.

We don't have a closed sign, but I suspect if we did, it would ask you to call again in July.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yesterday was one of those days that writers live for—the day when that one significant moment snaps into place and the entire story unlocks and its ending is thrown open before you. It's more than just an aha, it's the undeniable knowledge that you will finish. As if you already had, and someone well-meaning traveler from the future let you have a peek at how it all ends.

Even with an outline, this was still the collision of all those little subconscious details exploding in revelation and motivation. The part where you astound yourself, and one illusion evolves into another—something new that the audience hadn't seen previously in the show.

It makes you feel rather clever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Final Frontier

The internet might be that last great frontier. We may not terraform Mars or explore other galaxies with manned space-craft. Presently, our society is more interested in cyberspace than outer space.

There's been two new stories involving the internet that keep rolling around in my brain. I'm certain they mean something grand and future-impacting, but I'm not certain that isn't just me stuck in extrapolation mode thanks to the YA manuscript.

Last month it was the MySpace Suicide Case, and how it was going to trial. The focus of this case should be that no, not everything on the internet is true and not everyone is telling the truth. Ten years ago, we had this hammered into us. There were news cases about child abductions, and meeting someone who you'd only interacted with online was a huge thing.

The internet has become so ingrained in our lives and our society, that we often take for granted that even with a transparent life that blogging, myspace, facebook can provide—sometimes that glass is tinted and we're just seeing what we want to.

But this case goes deeper than look out for yourself online. The criminal charge being used in the trial is a computer fraud clause. How it's being done, is that the woman is being indited for presenting false information on a myspace profile, thus violating one of the terms of the user agreement. Imagine they convict her, and the US has precedent of someone getting jail time for violating a user agreement.

When was the last time you read through a user agreement and didn't just hit "agree" or click the ticky box? More importantly, what if you don't have your real name on your facebook account? Precedent to have you thrown in jail for it would exist.

Now, you say, that's silly. I'm not doing anything malicious. I just want to protect my privacy.

Exactly. What if society doesn't want you to have that ability? If we go fully transparent, which is one of the possible directions of the internet, the only privacy allowed will be what is regulated as private. Who is making those decisions? The same government that doesn't need a warrant to tap your phones or read through all your text messages and email, because they don't have to tell you what they're doing?

That's not glass, that's a one-way mirror. We don't live transparently—we live with the illusion of transparency. The myspace case proves how fragile that illusion is. We think we're living transparent lives, all connected together through our social networks, but we're really just nodes sharing data—passing ones and zeros along.

That data could be false, but we consent to believe that it is true. We have to if we want the internet to continue to function. But if someone decides to enforce that information is "trufax," we lose freedom of choice over what is private and what is public. No longer is it at our discretion of what we volunteer to associates, acquaintances, or friends. It becomes data that someone else has decided we must share.

That's the aspect of the transparent life that worries me—control. Individuals want to control technology. Think about it—more software and gadgets are being made "user-friendly." Which is great, until a user wants to do something outside the parameters of that "easy interface." (Which is trickling through our society—see our difficulties with marketing books and movies that don't fit into a clearly defined genre.)

Ten—five, possibly even two years ago, the notion of policing the internet would be impossible to most users. We initially discussed how it might be necessary for our protection, but ultimately, we fended for ourselves and learned how to adapt to a lawless land.

Monday, June 9th, 2008, internet policing was born. Officially, of course, as we wouldn't have a Net Neutrality cause if there weren't already attempts to domesticate the wild transparent-blue yonder. What happened on Monday? News broke of how three of America's biggest ISPs have agreed to work with the government to stop child pornography from spreading through the internet. Until now, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have officially refused to police content, as they maintained they were just portals.

Child porn is bad. Yes, we should stop it. It's also not cool to maliciously role play on myspace with non-players. But does it stop there? Or does it just keep going—more regulations, more laws. User-friendlier access at the cost of limiting what can be accessed. Easier and easier interfaces to keep us from making poor choices.

I know, much like the Wild West, this is just the growing pains of a once unknown territory becoming populated by settlers, not explorers. However, I can't help but see this as enforcing that you don't have to hold yourself accountable, because someone else should do it for you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Comment moderation

Goodness. My Indiana Jones post lured two spambots out from lurking in the dark shadows of the internet. I feel, loved? They are such polite comments, too.

However, you polite yet incapable of correct capitalization spambots have now ruined it for the organic users, as I'll have to turn on comment moderation. I could return to having the word verification, but sometimes even I can't tell if that's a 'I' or an 'l' when they use the san serif fonts. Also, I have a nagging concern with what happens when we enter those "words" that seem composed of some alien language. For all I know, we're enabling the spambots to evolve and in a few more months, they will be able to capitalize sentences correctly.

While I very much want to expedite the arrival of the cyberspace Gibson envisioned, I'd find Wintermute far less intimidating if its purpose was to promote a hot eats delivery service.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Melissa Marr signing at Dark Delicacies

One of the reasons I wanted to go to BEA was to attend Melissa Marr's autographing session, which happened on Friday morning. Melissa is the author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. She's also one of those really cool people who can strike that balance between being gracious and being assertive, always encourages new writers, and is just a class act. (Fair, I would name several acquaintances as "class acts." )

Dark Delicacies is a horror-focused bookstore on Burbank Blvd, over the "hill" in Burbank, California. Look for the Frankenstein outside the shop—if you can see him amongst all the magenta flowers. Inside the shop is dark, painted black, and filled with a grand assortment of books. Melissa and Richelle Mead were there to do a "drive by" stock signing. I was assured by the people of Dark Delicacies that it was all right to come into the shop and meet Melissa, so I made the bus to rail to bus connections to get within walking distance of the store.

So worth it. I felt very honored that Melissa indulged me and I'm sure Maria's ears must have been burning from all the nice things said about her and the other crew. So if you're reading this, MM, thank you.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Celebrity Encounter at BEA

If you read Leigh's account of BEA, you know that I got to have an utter fangirl moment. See, my favorite not-daily correspondent on The Daily Show is their resident expert, Mr. John Hodgman. Mostly because he manages to deliver the kind of deadpan humor that I love with a straight face. Before Mr. Hodgman was on the Daily Show, he wrote a book called The Areas of My Expertise and was on NPR. Now, he has another book—More Information Than You Require—coming out in October of this year.

Now, before I begin the story... please have a look at the pass I had for BEA:

As you can all see, it does not have my name on it. No, in fact, it has the name of Brian's wife, Anita. Brian is the publisher who owns Edge and Tesseracts Books. Anita, who I think should write Urban Fantasy because she has the perfect name for it, was unable to attend BEA. Brian gave me her pass to go on Saturday.

Saturday, I had a mocha mint chip frappaccino from Starbucks for lunch, because I wasn't really feeling well. From this experience, I learned two valuable lessons:

1) A mocha mint chip frappaccino is not adequate lunch. Even if I am feeling nauseous, I need to eat something solid. Coffee flavored slushies do not count.

2) I have trouble focusing when I'm nervous. It's part of why I tend to avoid wanting to meet people for the first time at some sort of meal-like experience. My inability to focus increases dramatically if I feel somewhat awed by the person I am meeting. (I'm working to overcome this.)

So Leigh and I get in line to meet Mr. Hodgman, who is signing at the Penguin booth. While in line, a salesperson comes to ensure we have a promo piece for signing. I proceed to ask if I can take a picture, the fellow says yes—and if I like he can take the picture so that I'm in it. Leigh also offers to take photos with her camera phone. We chat with the salesman, who is asking me about Calgary (note the badge) and is delighted to learn Leigh is a penguin author.

Ok, I get up to the front of the line...

No, I don't know why I'm showing him the promotional thing. He knows what it looks like. Obviously. I think I was asking if he could sign it for my brother. That's where it all starts to go amusing wrong. I'm asked if my brother is Bob Hades. I laugh and say "no, his name is Brendan."

This is right before he politely informs me I'm spelling my brother's name wrong. We proceed to discuss the weather in Calgary. I say it's nice in the summer, but... and John Hodgman goes "in the winter, it's Hades." Thank you! I had been waiting all afternoon for someone to make a Hades pun!

While he's signing, I get asked to look this way so that they can take a photo that doesn't involve the side or back of my head. So, of course, we both have our eyes closed.

Oh, and the salesperson from Penguin declares "John, this is Miss Calgary!" And Mr. Hodgman asks if that's true and I say "no, but that would be cool." So he finishes the signing, and I realize this is my moment to ask the burning question I have...

Me: "Um, how tall is Jon Stewart?"
John: "Well, I'm 5'10"."
Me: "Because they make it like he's really short. So is he like my height?"
John: "No, he's my height or 5'9". He's not a midget."*

See? People look shorter on TV, not taller. This concerns me, as I will likely look the size of Hikaru from Angelic Layer.

So I thanked Mr. Hodgman and wished him good luck with the book. It was Leigh's turn, and she gets told things like "ah, so you're one of us." When she's finished she smiles and says that she asked Mr. Hodgman to sign her book "for my husband, Maurice" and so he wrote for my husband, Maurice. I laugh and pull out the promo thing for my brother to show Leigh...

We realize he's written "To Brendan Hades." When I told my brother this story, he went "serious?" and when I said yes, we both agreed that's pretty funny. It's a rather PC-kind of mistake to make, anyway, and you guys know, my platform is Mac.

* I might have these statements reversed, so I will point out, Mr. Hodgman, that I am of average height. (Ok, 5'3" is the average female height in Japan, but it's still an average.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The BEA Photo Blog!

BEA 2008 was held at the Staples Center Convention Center downtown, which is... nowhere near where I live. It's in a nice area of downtown, but to get to it, you must pass through an area that I wouldn't want to be alone in after dark.

So it's a good thing the trade show itself was during the day. For those of you who don't know, BEA is a giant book trade show. It's technically not open to the public, expensive to attend, and not really to the benefit of an aspiring author...unless that author gets a pass from a friend, can get to the BEA on the bus, and just wants to go and see what it's like. Not only did I feel pretty A-list about that, I got to spend the afternoon with Leigh Purtill, who wrote All About Vee—which I thought was the bee's knees.

Here's a shot of the convention center that I recommend clicking on to see at full size. (I've made it viewable.) Despite these giant banners and signs, I still ended up entering through the wrong doors...and ending up in the smaller West hall. That's all right, it's where the majority of the comics people where—aside from TOKYOPOP and DC, who were over with the major publishing houses in the South hall. (Yes, that's a giant banner ad for James Patterson that's taller than your house.)

This is the entrance to the West hall. What I couldn't get to show up in any photos were that these doors had Transformer decals advertising the Transformer comics. As I said to Andy, any trade show that has Transformers welcoming you has got go be a good one. No, they weren't giving away any Transformers...unless there's something I don't know about that box of strawberry Pocky I got from TOKYOPOP.

I'll warn you now, I don't have a lot of photos. I could tell you the reason for this is that there were a lot of people, so getting good shots of things would have been difficult, but the truth is that most of the time my hands were full of books. (You can read a list of my loot over on Good Karma Reviews.) The BEA website has photos in the digital press room of one of things I didn't go to.

However, I did get to pick up a couple things for some people. As well, as I met Gena Showalter, who I constantly hear good things about from Rachel Vincent. Mostly we talked about you, Rachel, and how funny Gena and Jill Monroe's Author Talk videos are. Gena signed a copy of Catch a Mate for me and for Rachel, because she's working very hard this summer and needs nice things. I have another little birthday surprise I picked up for Rachel, so she'll have to wait and see what it is....

That red thing is the Emote Boom, who is always angry. His special power is a flame thrower. It's all right if you didn't know that, neither did I. I spent a few minutes watching him greet people as they came to the second level food court in the South hall.

Because of Boom's supreme awesomeness—I had to get a picture with him. See? Angry eyes. Also, I think he might be about to eat my badge.

This photo is from the Graphic Novel row in the West Hall. It's a crap photo, as I took it on the fly as people were passing through. If you can make out the white banner with the pink-haired girl... that's Manga Moods, a really great little book I purchased from Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo.

This is at the beginning of Graphic Novel row, as most of the comic booths were in the 4700's—except for, as I said, TOKYOPOP, DC, and Broccoli Books was somewhere else, too. Image, Virgin, Dark Horse and Marvel were all there. Previews Magazine and Diamond Distributors had booths, too. When I returned later in the afternoon, they were serving appetizers and alcohol.

This is a dog in a dress. It's some kind of promotion for a coffee table book called Diva Dogs. I just went " in a dress...must photograph for blog..." Yes, yes, I know how it appears. No photo of Gena, no photo of Dean Kootz—who is really nice, no photo of the Harper Collins or swanky TOKYOPOP booth, but a dog in a dress. What can I say? I expect you can find those other photos kicking about the 'net, so it's up to me to show you this dog and Boom.

Here's the loot that Leigh and I got. 5 bags. Five very full, very heavy bags, but only three of them were mine. Oh, and if you ever go to BEA... try to get the cloth bags with the wide straps for carrying things not the pretty paper bag with the tiny thing cords that will cut off the circulation to your fingers if you put more than four books in it.

My loot—out of the bags and stacked into various piles to make it look more modest. See? I did put Gena's book on top. That counts for something, right?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ok. I don't have the photos from BEA ready yet, because I went to Burbank today to meet Melissa Marr. However, Leigh Purtill—who was my BEA buddy—has her post about Saturday up.

Mine will follow tomorrow after I get the photos off my camera.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

BEA 2008: Friday

This weekend was BEA (Book Expo America) 2008 here in Los Angeles. BEA is the annual bookseller's trade show, known among book lovers as a place where authors are signing and ARC/Samplers are free for the taking.

A friend went to the Writer's Digest conference before BEA. She didn't think she was ready to participate in the pitch slam portion of the conference, but she thought she might as well take advantage of the opportunity. It paid off for her.

Friends from Calgary were down to attend the show, and Friday night me and various writer friends went downtown to have dinner with the out-of-towners. It was great fun catching up, since I haven't seen Brian Hades since Pure Speculation III in Edmonton last October.

While we were all chatting around the hotel lobby, somehow I got to explaining to a friend how in the only war Canada and the US had been in against each other, Canada won—and still managed to lose territory. The only consolation was that the Canadians had burnt down the White House. (If this is not true, then I blame my eight grade social studies teacher for lying to me about history.) Liz has also had her brain destroyed by ihasatardis aka the Doctor Who Cat Macro community, and she felt it necessary to create the following image:

Since she's my friend, I'll forgive her misuse of the "eh." (It's not used in statements. It's used to turn a statement into a question.)