Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some muscadines in a bowl; the green ones are ...Image via Wikipedia I was at the Farmers Market yesterday and the air was winey with the scent of scuppernong and muscadine grapes. I bought a few pints, the deep purple and rich green of the two varieties blending together in my berry bowl for a classic summer treat. I keep the grapes on the counter and grab a few as I walk by (they're each the size of small apricots), remembering I need to dispose of the seeds along the way.

There's a great deal to be said for eating local produce. I knew the grapes were coming into season in North Florida, and it was something to anticipate. Late summer brings the grapes, along with lots of squashes, tomatoes, eggplant and melons. Soon the season will turn again and we'll get the new crop of pecans, persimmons, and when it's nice and cool, salad greens.

Getting into the rhythm of your local seasons puts an entirely new twist on how you cook, and how you eat. I'm just glad our Farmers Market (Downtown on the Plaza, Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m.) gives me such wonderful options for getting the very best of the area farms.
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rain, Rain, and More RainImage by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr Tropical Storm Fay, the aftermath

All things considered, we got off easy. Lots and lots and lots of rain, but I was really glad the roofers were able to come out a couple weeks ago to do their repairs. If there was ever a test of the new skylight's seal, this was it. And it seemed to do just fine.

We lost power for about an hour Friday afternoon, then again for 30 minutes later in the day, but it wasn't bad at all. I put my houseplants out for a good soaking and it seemed to cheer them up. The dog was unhappy 'cause there were no "walkies", but I see the sun poking through this morning.

So all is well in North Central Florida once again.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

GOES IR 20080816 1745UTCImage by sandrino via Flickr Tropical Storm Fay

I've done my hurricane prep, like a good li'l Floridian, so at this point I'm just keeping an eye on the storm. Landfall could be around Cedar Key, north of Tampa Bay, which would put the storm 60 miles west of me. That means we could still get high winds, heavy rain and the possibility of tornadoes.

I'm feeling pretty calm though, 'cause I just had my roof and skylight repaired, so barring a tree crashing into it (which happened during the hurricanes in '04), we should be in good shape. And I have my blue tarp, just in case.

The water, batteries, spare meds, gas grill, camp stove, land-line telephone, etc. are on hand. I have bread, canned goods and peanut butter. The upright freezer is packed with ice bags, so if we lose power everything should stay frozen for at least 48 hours. I have empty bleach bottles I can fill with tap water for washing. The one thing I didn't have last time which I swore I wouldn't do without again was coffee--I have a French press, but I grind fresh beans every morning. This time I'll have some ground coffee on hand. It's survival rations.

So we're not quite at the "hunker down" stage, but I feel ready.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Squee! I just got my first fan email from Estonia! I was wondering who was reading my Estonian editions, now I know at least one reader.

Thanks, Kristin, for taking the time to write!
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Illustration of a scribe writingImage via Wikipedia Tips for New Writers

Tara asked me to share some of what we discussed at Worldcon. I wish I'd taken notes, but when I'm on the panel and interacting I'm so caught up with what's going on it's hard to keep track.

Here though are some of the things we discussed. Much of it you've heard before, but it bears repeating:

Keep writing. Keep your butt in the chair. Develop disciplined habits. Study the work of successful authors in your field. Keep telling yourself "I did this once, I can do it again." Don't take rejection personally--editors are critiquing your work, not you. Be nice to everyone you meet--they're all potential readers. Do self promotion, but don't get so caught up in it it keeps you from writing. Develop regular writing times.

I learned other authors also suffer from the "2/3 curse" where you're 2/3 of the way through your work in progress and you don't want to do it anymore and you're ready to move on to your next book or story. Don't get sucked into this black hole. Get beyond your 2/3 wall and keep writing.

Like I said, most of this is common sense, but I found it re-charged my batteries to hear some of my problems and concerns echoed by others.
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Worldcon (Denvention3) was fantastic. I arrived Wednesday in plenty of time for my 4:00 panel, Survival Tips for New Writers. The other panelists were David Coe and this year's Campbell Award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal, and along with the audience I picked up tips from them on how to improve my work habits.

On Thursday I had a full day of panels. How do Ebooks Change Writing--an Ebook Writing Primer was intriguing, and moderator Dave Howell worked hard to keep us focused on the topic and not wandering off into weird ebook stories. We talked about interactive ebooks with hyperlinks, but also about how many readers seem content with ebooks simply being an exact copy of a print book delivered through different media.

Aaaargh! The Pirate Panel was just what you might expect from the title, an exploration of why we like pirates so much, and where pirate history and mythology collide. The other panelists--David Riley, MistyMassey and Linda Donohue all had piratical connectiThe flag of 18th century pirate Calico Jack.ons to their fantasy and sf stories, but I was the only one working strictly in the real-world universe of historical romance rather than speculative fiction. It made for some lively discussion, and the audience seemed to like it.

I wasn't thrilled to have another similar panel three hours later, but I understand the difficulties of juggling program schedules, so when we had Swashbucklers in Space later that day I just rolled with it. I ended up as moderator on that one since a couple of our people dropped off the panel prior to the convention, but Chris Roberson, S M Stirling and I held down the fort, and based on audience questions and participation, we did OK. This was a fun panel as we explored the "swashbuckler" in movie and literature, moving on to the modern day SF icons--Dominic Flandry and Han Solo being two notable examples.

My last panel was Friday morning, and I was again the moderator on SF Fans who Write in Other Genres with Christine Merrill, Kat Richardson, Nancy Atherton and Susan Krinard. This was the classic "herding cats" situation for me as moderator, with all of us panelists being lively and talkative, and an audience that was ready to leap in with their own points. We had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the interaction with the other authors.

I was on the program, but I also worked in Program Operations and the Hugo Ceremonies at Worldcon. Program Operations handles the scheduling conflicts and issues at the convention, and it's a job I've done before. One of the best things about being involved in Worldcon as a volunteer is meeting people and knowing who you want to work with in the future. Worldcon is all staffed by volunteers, so getting involved is vital and in my opinion, the best way to meet people and enjoy the convention.

I was also tapped to be the "Voice of Ghod" at the Hugo Awards. The "Voice of Ghod" is the person who does the opening and closing announcements, says if an acceptator is taking the award, that sort of thing. It was my first year at this, and I realized I was the first woman to be Ghod, so I enjoyed writing my own footnote to fannish feminist lore.

The Hugo Ceremonies went well, and while I was backstage being Ghod and didn't get to see it, I caught glimpses on the director's video monitor. And naturally, I had a script. This was the first time ever I knew who the Hugo winners were in advance, and it was a strange feeling but an exciting one too. Afterwards I got to enjoy the Hugo Nominees party sponsored by Anticipation, the 2009 Montreal Worldcon.

I didn't get to see much of Denver, but what I did see downtown I liked. It struck me as a vibrant city center with a community making a concentrated effort towards recycling and conservation, and I enjoyed my visit. Even if I was constantly slathering on lip moisturizer and hydrating myself. Coming from Florida's moist sea-level climate was a bit of an adjustment, and I'm glad I was warned about the intensified effects of alcohol at that altitude. Talk about more bang for the buck!

We ate in some fantastic restaurants, partied and chatted with friends old and new, and overall had a wonderful Worldcon experience. As always, it was a great way to spend my vacation and I'm looking forward to next year in Montreal.
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