May. 31st, 2008

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Back from WisCon this week, with just a little bit of ConCrud stuffiness head cold thing as our parting gift. We managed to escape the WisCholera, for which I am profoundly grateful.

A couple of people at the con said that they missed me blogging, which was a spur to my actually doing something about the repeated thoughts I have about posting.

I had a book due on the 19th, one of the non-fiction children's books I've been writing for hire. This one is about Saskatchewan. Turns out, Saskatchewan is kind of boring. I'm writing it for a packager, a new company owned by the folks who were my editors at Crabtree before we all got laid off. This series of books is for Scholastic. My editor is pretty much the bestest editor ever and wrote me just before the deadline to say that the first book in the series just came in and it was taking her longer to do than she'd expected, largely because it wasn't so great. She extended my deadline by a couple of weeks because otherwise the manuscript was just going to sit on her desk. On the one hand, I was happy not to have to rush to finish. On the other, of course writing work expands to fill the space before the deadline, so on some level I would have been happy to just finish the fucking thing and turn it in. We got back from WisCon late on Tuesday night, then I had a board meeting for the Buddhist group (more on that later) on Wednesday night, so it was Thursday before I finished the last little bit that needed to be done. I was really unsure that it was any good at all, because these province books are really episodic and difficult to write, and they're for a younger grade level than what I've done before. Younger is harder, trust me. So I sent it off with much trepidation, but my editor emailed me the next day to say that she peeked at it briefly and she was very happy with it. Thus was I made very glad and relieved of the need to fret about it all weekend long. Like I said, best editor ever.

I was offered a book on the solar system for the same age range by a different press, but I turned it down, after considering it very seriously. The book was four times longer than the ones I have been writing (which is actually a bit easier) but the pay was advance on royalties instead of flat rate (which is unusual for work-for-hire). The advance was slightly less than I usually get for writing the shorter books, so the numbers just didn't add up. It would have killed any chance of developing my academic editing practice further and probably my getting any fiction written for the next six months, between the revisions on the Saskatchewan book and the other book or maybe two that I'm doing on the provinces. I'm working a part-time office job right now, so I've got a little bit of steady money coming in, which means that I can afford to say no and also that I don't really have time to take on any more jobs for hire and still get anything else done. If I were going to take on much more freelance-for-hire stuff, I'd have to quit my day job. I'm pretty much at capacity given my energy levels at present. It's too bad, though; writing a book about the solar system is a lot more interesting than writing a book about Saskatchewan. I could regale you with many trivial and not terribly interesting facts about Saskatchewan but I think the folks at WisCon had enough of that already. I have hopes that I might be assigned to write the book on the Yukon because - Yukon! But with my luck, it'll be Alberta and/or Manitoba, the other two provinces most like Saskatchewan. However, World Fantasy is in Calgary, Alberta this year. Maybe I could go and do some research. I still feel weird about writing a book about a province I've never gotten anywhere close to.

Is anyone out there planning on going to World Fantasy, by the way?

Um, let's see. The house still isn't finished, but it's inching closer. Some people are supposed to come finish the basement floor in the next couple of weeks, and the masons are supposed to be coming to repoint the chimney and foundation sometime by the end of the summer. I planted some pansies in the flower boxes on the railing of our front porch, which made me very happy. When we first bought the house last fall I thought about how I would like to plant pansies in those boxes, and now I did. My mom's coming in a few weeks to help work on the landscaping, so that will be cool. We planted some bulbs in the fall but the squirrels are apparently landscaping critics and dug them all up and replanted them in different places. They ate some of them, of course. And then ate the flowers off the ones that came up. So that was pretty much a bust, except as a method of entertaining/feeding the squirrels. It was kind of fun to see where the squirrels replanted, though, when they started coming up in the spring. So there was some entertainment involved for us as well.

I have started doing meditation and chanting with this Buddhist group here. It's a very small group that's meeting at someone's house right now.
This is our Rinpoche. I've been interested in Buddhism and reading about different flavours of it for many years now, and sitting meditation off and on (though seldom as regularly as I would like) but I've never really practiced before. Tibetan Buddhism is fairly fancy, with lots of deity-like beings and lineage-holders that one can chant to, and lots of pretty art and things. This particular flavour also seems pretty forgiving, as opposed to some kinds of Zen, for example, which can be pretty fierce and all about striving. I don't really need encouragement to be more striving.  We have monthly video conferences with Rinpoche, who lives in LA and travels a lot, and he comes to the Niagara Region about once a year to give teachings in person.

More on this . . . )

And that's probably enough for now. More to follow on a more regular basis, I hope. I have big plans to start blogging more again, and file a big pile of papers on my desk, and to start working on fiction again at least a bit. That and $3 will get you a latte, so who knows. Probably at least some of that will happen.


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June 2008


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