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BayCon Panels and Notes

BayCon—san francisco bay area science fiction & fantasy convention

I may make it to BayCon tomorrow, but I might not, so I thought I’d go over some of the panels I was on while everything was still fresh.

Friday’s Panels

Writing Handicapped Characters

There was a lot of great discussion about various handicaps though, with the panelists in question, we had more discussion of physical handicaps than mental issues.

From the audience, Sunil Patel mentioned several interesting anthologies. He also said that Kaleidoscope, a diverse anthology, was one of his favorites from last year. (I have a copy, I haven’t read it yet.)

A book I mentioned was Sarina Bowen’s The Year We Fell Down, a romance novel featuring two handicapped characters: one for the year, one for good.

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

What worked for me about this book is that Corey deals with her situation: it’s her new normal, and the book does not “cure” her. When things are difficult for her, she figures it out.

Invertebrates are Cool

We had some great panelists for this, including someone who had a background in parasitology and another with a background in marine biology. We tended toward discussing cephalopods because, let’s face it, they’re cool.

Cliff Winnig managed to make me completely lose it in a fit of laughter twice, which was awesome fun. He’s earned his title of “Invetebrate punster.”

I’d meant to bring my copy of Cephalopod Behavior, but forgot to. Probably just as well because it appears to be out of print and now selling for insane amounts of money, and I would miss it if it were to disappear like an octopus.

Saturday’s Panels

Book Covers that Sell Books

If I hadn’t just wiped my iPad, I’d have had a before and after of a cover I redid with me. Here’s the after cover. It uses a free photo, and a couple of other layers. Because this was a print book, I also did a back cover using another free photo.

The panel focused on books that would be print books, but many book covers these days are for things that will never be in printed form, e.g., short stories. For these, you really do need to both communicate genre and not lose your shirt $-wise in the process, and there’s simply no way you can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a cover for that kind of work.

For A Sword Called Rhonda, I went the same route panelist AE Marling mentioned and found an artist on DeviantArt. A render will almost always sell less well than a high-quality illustration or a photograph, but it’s still an option—and, in most genres, it’ll typically still sell better than something with no person on the cover. I also thought this particular rendering fit the image I had of the character almost perfectly. The artist wanted to do the typography too, which—you get the deal you can, right? So the type is one weight lighter than I’d have used/preferred, but it works fine in a thumbnail.

For The Duchess’s Dress, I knew this would never be a huge seller, so I cobbled together a cover from bits I had and spent $0 on the cover. As Joel Friedlander said, “The elements are right, but they add up to a very weak ebook cover.” Which is fair. The formal symmetry takes away from the energy it might have had. On the other hand, it’s sold some copies (and I’ve made a profit), so that’s a win. It does more or less what it needs to do.

So here are some resources mentioned:

  1. AE Marling and I both referred to Deviant Art, which is a great place to find someone to do cover art for you (or adapt an existing work into a cover). I will say that one of the key problems in finding suitable art: most art isn’t structured well for a cover. It needs to have more headroom so the title can go above, or, alternatively, a less complex middle. You can also put the title at the bottom, but that’s often less effective. Regardless, a piece that’s designed to stand alone is often not going to be suitable for having a big blob o’ text over it.</p>
  2. I referred to Deposit Photos, my preferred stock photo vendor. When I say “photo,” though, they don’t just sell photos. There are also some superb illustrations and renderings. (The problem is finding them.) If you are going to do a lot of covers, then having a plan is a great idea, and sometimes you can find discount plans available.

  3. Tony Todaro talked about using 99 Designs for book covers, and I talked a bit about the other side of the coin: designing covers for 99 Designs clients. More about that in this contest where I was a runner up. For 99 Designs, see also this post and comments and this post, especially the comments.

  4. Lousy Book Covers. Much as I like this site and its hate for bad book covers, I don’t think it’s actually particularly useful for someone who wants to make something better than what they have. With just a little bit more knowledge and/or care, many bad covers could be made to actually work. I’ve been meaning to get a more constructive site started, but the last few weeks have been horrible.

And here are some not mentioned:

  1. A lot of the lower-to-middle-end cover designers have pre-made covers. If that fits your taste/budget/design sense, then by all means consider them. Here are two: Patty Jensen, who does a lot of renderings; and Adrijus G., who specializes in action and adventure.</p>
  2. Joel Friedlander has a monthly contest for people to submit their indie designed covers. Here’s last month’s. (I love the use of Borges Lettering’s Desire on Damon Za’s cover for Genevieve McKay’s The Opposite of Living).) Highly recommend reading this post series for a master class in book cover design. Even if you’re not a designer, it’ll help you commission better work. It’s also a great way to find indie cover designers.

The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters

This panel went really well, and I’m glad that Kate Secor had some details that I hadn’t researched. Also thanks to James Stanley Daugherty for moderating and Amy Sterling Casil for her contributions.

My general feelings:

  1. Excluding the arguments about politics, there are other underlying points: certain houses are nominated—and not just for Hugo awards—more frequently, and certain popular authors are never nominated. I’ve looked at what I have been reading and realized that, over the last few years, I’ve been reading fewer books from Daw, Del Rey, and Baen. My personal commitment going forward is to read at least one first author per quarter from each major SF house, and two other books per quarter (all of the above from the current year’s catalog).
    Not everything popular is good enough, so I don’t think that it’s ever going to be the case that the most popular writers get nominated with any consistency. You’re far more likely to see a breakout book on the ballot.</p>
  2. The more that is done at this year’s meeting to “fix” things, it will become an outrage escalator, and I believe that would be counterproductive long term. While I think the 4 of 6 proposal (and a couple of others) have merit, what I’d actually like to see is more people nominating. Specifically, more people who realize you can’t read the entire field, so nominate what you have read and what you think is worthy.

Nothing that “fixes” nominations will change the fact that there are far fewer nominators than members, and far fewer nominators than voters.

Categorizing Your Books: YA versus NA

First: I want to fangirl about being on a panel with Amber Benson. She’s marvelous.

NA, or New Adult, is a relatively recent category focusing on stories about people in the 18-25 age group. It is my catnip.

In addition to the target age group, I think one of the things New Adult appeals to are those people whose lives have had upheavals and suddenly they can start over. I was 37 and had been married five months when I found myself suddenly widowed. Over the next couple of years, I found that I didn’t relate to people who were my own age group. At that point, I could have gone anywhere, done anything, and had few constraints upon my life.

I found that who I most related to in that time were people who were 19 or 20, because I was having problems typical of that age group even though I wasn’t that age.

Probably because of that, I’ve never stopped bonding with fiction about the college era in people’s lives, when people leave the nest, go off and make some big mistakes (or fail to make big mistakes and regret not trying).

One book I mentioned is one of my favorites so far this year, Sarina Bowen’s The Shameless Hour. Somewhat spoilery discussion follows: Bella’s had a very hookup oriented shameless sex life, but she stays too long at a frat party and gets rufied. Thankfully, she doesn’t get raped, but the humiliation stunt and the infamy that follows really haunts her. This is a kind of book that really is NA and can’t be YA.

That said, I’m not convinced NA is as useful a marketing category in science fiction and fantasy as it is in other genres. I also made the point that a lot of NA heroes (and occasionally heroines) have far more real kinds of jobs than many other segments of the romance genre, though I will admit that a lot more of them are artistic or sporty.

Themed Reading: Erotic SF/F/H

Initially, I was signed up to be on the Death panel at the same time. Just three days before the panel, I realized that had changed, and I needed to scramble and figure out what to read. One scene from a book I’m writing (New Adult SF) I wasn’t yet happy with (and a lot of my sex scenes aren’t in speculative fiction genres). I haven’t been writing on this book over the last few weeks because it has been dark and I have been trying to keep it from going darker.

The other was a short humor draft with a bad pun ending, and that’s what I wound up reading. (Always read your first drafts in public, especially erotica. It’s humbling.)

It turns out that I went last, and after a really dark fantasy piece, so the comic relief was well-timed.

Afterward

I haven’t talked about why I was dragging myself around on Saturday, but I wound up having some acid reflux late Friday night, and given GERD being related to of my mom’s cascade failure, that led to some understandable nightmares last night.

I got about two hours of sleep all told.

So, I was really dragging and was trying to make a call between taking a nap before the 8:30 A Shot Rang Out and going home.

When I found out that no one had been collecting the silly lines we’re supposed to end our turns with, Rick and I both realized that neither of us had the spoons to take care of that ourselves. (I could possibly have done the panel if I could get three solid hours of sleep, but not if I had to get less.) So I went home and immediately went to bed at 5:30 in the afternoon. My last thought was, “I should email Berry,” aka the other panelist, but I didn’t even manage to reach for my iPad before I fell asleep. I was just that tired.

Anyhow, I’m sorry I missed what’s almost always my favorite event at BayCon, and doubly sorry I had to miss the 12:30 am “Eye of Argon” reading that’s such a tradition. In fact, I didn’t wake up until well after that reading started.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Mom Update: Off the Ventilator

Mom update

Two weeks and almost two days after the cascade failure, mom is off the ventilator and onto a cannula delivering extra oxygen is all that she’s got now.

It was really nice hearing her speak after so long.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Creative Market Raising Money for Nepal Earthquake Relief

nepal earthquake relief

I’m one of 474 Creative Market shops donating some or all of their shop proceeds for the Month of May to Nepal earthquake relief efforts. Creative Market will match shopowners up to $20,000. I’m donating 50%.

Here is the announcement and a list of participating shops:

Throughout the month of May, participating Creative Market shops will donate up to 100% of their earnings to Nepal disaster relief. And in partnership with the Autodesk Foundation, we’ll also match the first $20,000! These funds will be sent to All Hands, a non-profit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. So purchase great design assets, and join us in our efforts to help Nepal.

Together, we can make a difference.

At this point, I only have one product in my shop grunge textures photographed off the front of an M60 Sherman tank. It sells for $7, my usual royalty is 70% ($4.90), so half of that ($2.45) will be going to All Hands for each sale.

If that’s not your thing, and you buy some other participating store’s products by starting at this link, you’ll help both Nepal relief and me.

Thank you!

(Note: I did previously post this on my desamo.graphics blog, but the way the two blogs propagate to third parties is different.)

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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My BayCon Schedule

BayCon—san francisco bay area science fiction & fantasy convention

BayCon’s coming up this weekend, Friday through Sunday in Santa Clara, California. This year’s theme is Women of Wonder…and the people who love and appreciate them.

Normally BayCon is four days; this year it’s three due to a hotel snafu. The con starts earlier on Friday (10 am) than usual and runs late on Sunday, with the final formal event being Seanan McGuire’s concert at 8:15 pm.

BayCon Guests of Honor

Seanan McGuire, writer guest of honor

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, artist guest of honor

Amber Benson, toastmaster

Caradwen “Sabre” Braskat-Arellanes, fan guest of honor

The Winner Twins, young adult special guests

My Friday Panels

Handicapped Characters (Alameda at 1:30 PM)

There’s a lot more ‘there’ there than the wheelchair! How do you do it right? How do you find out what life is like for someone with a particular problem? How do you handle the messy bits otherwise known as reality without turning the reader off? How do you show what other kinds of courage might be needed by a handicapped hero or heroine?

Invertebrates are Cool on Friday at 4:30 PM in Ballroom A

Jellyfishes. Octopuses. Cephalopods. Invertebrates can be unexpectedly beautiful, surprisingly smart, or just weirdly intriguing. Find out why these panelists think that they are just plain cool.

I may also put in a good word for nudibranchs.

My Saturday Panels

Book Covers That Sell Books (Bayshore at 10:00 AM)

When you’re browsing at a bookstore, why do you pick up a particular book? When you’re on Amazon, do some suggested books seem to jump out at you more than others? The saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but when it comes to impulse buying, that’s exactly what people do. With self-publishing becoming more common, writers need to know more about an area they previously left in the publisher’s hands. How does one make a cover that will stand out when it’s shelved alongside other books? How can one tell if a thumbnail version of the cover will look good on Amazon? Do shoppers judge the quality of the book by the quality of its cover design? The panelists discuss the design elements of a good book cover, and where to go to for help in designing one that will sell.

The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters (Camino Real at 11:30 AM)

This year’s Hugo nominations certainly have fandom talking. Is this just another periodic “all fandom is plunged into war” outbreak, or are there serious systemic issues to address?

Categorizing Your Books: YA versus NA on Saturday at 1:00 PM in Alameda

The Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association defines a young adult (YA) as someone between the ages of 12 and 18. Authors and readers of YA novels traditionally defined the genre as literature written for ages ranging from 16 up to 25, while Teen Fiction is for the ages of 10 to 15. In 2009, a new category entered the mix: New Adult (or “NA”) for literature with protagonists with ages ranging from 18 to 25. Is NA here to stay? If it is, where does that leave YA and Teen Fiction?

I’m a huge fan of the New Adult genre, though it does have some pitfalls.

Themed Reading: Erotic SF/F/H on Saturday at 4:00 PM in Alameda

Hear authors read from stories that blend erotica with speculative fiction. For ages 18 and above only, please.

What it says on the tin.

A Shot Rang Out on Saturday at 8:30 PM in Alameda

…and bounced down the hallway, through the door, and out of the world. Come see hilarious, impromptu storytelling. Back as always by popular demand.

If the masquerade/variety show starts on time, then this is likely to start after the variety show ends.

(Note: I was originally also on one Sunday panel, but, given recent events, said I wanted to be taken off as I wasn’t feeling it.)

Hope to see you there.

If you’re going, what are you looking forward to? Full schedule can be found here.

My Next Convention

After BayCon, the next convention Rick and I will be attending is Westercon 68 in San Diego, California, July 2-5. I’ll be volunteering as site selection administrator for the 2017 Westercon.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Mom Update 5/18

Mom update

She’s down to two IVs: food and pain meds. Still has some of the other meds injected, but they no longer need to be IVs, which is huge progress (she was on at least three heart meds, one of which was pretty toxic but super-critical).

Physically, she was more alert and happily watching HGTV. After several days where she wasn’t seeming to want to do anything, that’s the best news of all.

Tuesday, 5/19 Update

We had a good talk with the nurse.

She’s down to half the dosage she had yesterday on pain meds, so that’s good. I had quite the scare this morning when they tried to call and I accidentally hung up when I fumbled answering the phone.

Turns out they just needed to have firm consent on one item, and even though they have her okay, she’s on strong enough pain meds they can’t assure her consent while she’s on a ventilator.

After I thought about it, I realized it was probably almost always dicey to get consent when one’s in the ICU. Which begs the question: if you are alone and have no known next of kin, what the heck are they supposed to do? That’s a really interesting question.

Anyhow, mom’s had five hours on ventilator assist, so she was breathing on her own for five hours. So they’re rehabbing her, hoping to get her off the antibiotics in a day or two, and once she’s healed from this portion, then they’re going to look at getting her hernia repaired.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Hugo Awards Voting Packet Now Available

The Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards voting packet is now available.

You’ll need your registration number and Hugo PIN in order to download the packet.

Haven’t yet registered? Here’s the registration page.

What’s in the Hugo Awards Voter’s Packet

The next two paragraphs are from the press release:

This free download is supplied by the creators and publishers of works that are nominated for the awards. It is free to all current Supporting, Attending and Young Adult members of Sasquan, and those who become members before 31 July 2015. Its purpose is to allow those who are voting on the Hugo Awards to be able to make an informed choice among the nominated works.

All of the short fiction and graphic novels are included in their entirety (((assuming Zombie Nation comes through!))). The packet contains the full text of three of the novels: The Dark between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, amd The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Skin Game by Jim Butcher and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie are represented by extensive excerpts. One of the five finalists in the Related Work category is represented by an excerpt: Letters from Gardner, by Lou Antonelli. There is some material in each of the other categories except the Dramatic Presentations, but not everyone wanted us to include their work in this packet.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Email Lists: CAN-SPAM Compliance

Best Practices: CAN-SPAM Compliance header graphic

I just went through a bunch of (non-writer) email lists I was on, and realized that a whole bunch of them weren’t even pretending to comply with US anti-spam laws, even for people/companies sending commercial email in the United States.

So here are the two biggies if you’re sending commercial emails of any sort:

  1. You need to offer the recipient a way to opt out. Then honor that request!</p>
  2. You need to provide a real street address, though this can be for a mailbox. Unfortunately, this requirement keeps a lot of female writers from creating email lists. (Sorry, I don’t have a good solution to that.) I’ll just add that the mailbox doesn’t have to be in your town, but it’s likely that it’ll have to be somewhere convenient to you.

    Note that even if you’re located outside the US, many mailing list providers require that you still comply with CAN-SPAM, though they may not require you to disclose your full physical address. (I’m not certain if other countries do.)

The catch is: what’s a commercial email? The FTC guide is quite good.

My Own CAN-SPAM Saga

  1. February 13th, I bought a WordPress plugin that I liked. This was written by one company (whom I’ll call the developer) and launched in partnership with another company (and I’ve kept the relationship with the launch partner, whom I otherwise like).

    When I got some spare time, I set it up, then was having issues with my site. I went to look at the error logs and discovered this plugin was just SPEWING stuff to the logs because it was trying to write to the plugin directory. (Which is a bad practice.)

    The specific file (an error logger) wasn’t written by either company, by the way, but five years ago by an Iranian developer who was apparently in high school at the time. There’s nothing hideously wrong with it (given a quick reading) apart from where it’s trying to write to, but it’s clearly PHP code that was written for command-line stuff and not PHP code that was intended for a WordPress plugin. Hence, the log file’s location was not as important.

  2. March 1, I filed a bug with the launch partner (per instructions given), giving them the line of code and the log file. (It’s not my job, you know? I’m just a nicer person than I should be sometimes.) The ticket’s updated saying they’ll get with the developer.

  3. We go on a cruise, so I don’t check back for a couple weeks. March 19th, I file for a refund request. They offer me an alternate purchase, but I say no, and I receive my refund on March 22nd.

  4. I’m still on the developer’s email list, and I finally realize there is no unsubscribe link. Every time I get an email from him, I’m reminded of the product I really wanted to love but felt let down by. I try to unsubscribe. No luck.

    I file another ticket (my third!) on April 16th to say I can’t get off the developer’s email list and that their email doesn’t comply with CAN-SPAM. What do I get from support?

    Honestly speaking, we know that [developer] is not doing any kind of illegal stuffs and that’s one of the main reason we have partnered with him. We are aware of Can-Spam and we follow all the rules strictly.

    Yay, gaslighting. My response, excerpted:

    With respect, I wish that [launch partner] would listen when I raise an issue. (And I know all about Apple, I was a software engineer there for more than 5 years.)
    There are two specific requirements that [developer] is not complying with: 1) method of unsubscribing, 2) street address. He has NO links to unsubscribe. He does not respond when I’ve emailed him. That’s not okay.

    …and then I give a simple workaround for the problem I reported in the first ticket that would take less than an hour to fix.

  5. The next commercial email I received from developer (!) had an unsubscribe link. I clicked the link. CAN-SPAM allows the commercial enterprise up to ten days. I took screen shots of three times, responding to three different mailings, over a period of a couple of weeks. Sadly, I accidentally deleted them while I was moving files around sometime while my mom’s been in the hospital.

    So here’s where it hits a problem: many people who have commercial websites want to do some form of content locking, where part of the site’s content is only available to people who are on their email list. But email lists are typically through third-party providers. So this developer had the opt-out go through his site rather than directly to the third-party email provider. I understand the (likely) reasoning, but if that’s not working, then you need to push through the unsubscribes manually until it is working. (And test your code better!)

  6. With my mom going to the hospital, I kind of lost track of how long it had been, but every 2-3 days, I’d get another email from the developer. On May 14th, I was finally certain it had been 10 days since my last request, so I wrote to the abuse department of his third-party email provider. They suspended him pending an investigation, and blocked his ability to send to me.

  7. Yesterday, I received another email from You Know Who, which surprised me given the suspension. Viewing the source showed why: developer was using a different third-party email provider…who has since suspended him.

And I wonder how long I’m going to have to play whack-a-mole just to not continually be reminded of the mistake of trusting the wrong company. Yes, I could filter out his emails, but that’s not the point.

Thing is, I still think the original idea was pretty cool, and I’m wistful that it’s turned into this rather than being the cool product I wanted it to be.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. If it were legal advice, it would be accompanied by a bill.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Disrupting Demographics: Nixon’s War on Drugs

Nixon and Elvis: War on Drugs

Most of the people I know in the US have lived their entire lives after the War on Drugs started.

John Ehrlichman, Counsel and Assistant to President Nixon:

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

Interviewed in 1992 by journalist Dan Baum, author of Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, full quote in “Truth, Lies, and Audiotape” by Dan Baum (2012). You can read the book’s first chapter here. The first chapter covers some interesting side topics, including the genesis of Cheech and Chong. It also covers Lloyd Johnston’s annual survey of 2,200 high school students:

What drugs have you used? Johnston’s survey asked. Have you used them in the last year? The last month? The last week? How accessible are drugs? Johnston also included questions about alcohol and tobacco.

When the questionnaires were processed, it emerged, unsurprisingly, that tobacco was the-most widely used drug among high school students and about a third of them smoked it every day. Alcohol was next, predictably, with about one-fifth of the students drinking once or twice a week and another fifth once or twice a month.

What surprised Johnston was that nearly 80 percent of the group had never smoked marijuana. Barely I percent smoked every day. Other drugs were hardly visible; neither heroin nor cocaine had ever been tried by nine-tenths of the sample. The kids were pretty clean: black, white, rich, poor, grind, and dropout.

This was news, Johnston thought. In the book he and his team rushed together, Johnston wrote that “there certainly was not a widespread “epidemic, of illegal drug use among these high school students as the popular press had suggested.” His interpretation: American youth are “less radical” and “more traditional” than their public image would indicate. “In fact, their continuing adherence to traditional practices—namely, the-widespread use-of alcohol and cigarettes—may ultimately be the most important fact about youthful drug practices to emerge from this study” (emphasis in the original).

Now, granted, I was eight in 1968, but it sure seemed like things went obviously truly crazy for a few years between then and 1974 or so.

The photo, where President Nixon met with Elvis Presley after Elvis requested to be made a federal agent at large to help fight the war on drugs. Irony, of course, given the role of drugs in Elvis’s own shortened life span.

One of the books that formed my thoughts on America’s drug policy was Thomas Szasz’s Our Right to Drugs., which is basically a libertarian look at drugs (and suffers from many of the libertarian perspective problems, granted). What stuck with me is one of the analogies he used. When someone injures themselves skiing, we don’t call it ski abuse. When they injure themselves with a chainsaw, we don’t say they have a chainsaw problem. But if they injure themselves with drugs, it’s abuse. Why should one get special pejorative language?

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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We’re Skipping RT Booklovers Convention

RT Booklovers Convention header graphic

This was supposed to be my first year attending the RT Booklovers convention. I booked my membership and hotel early, Rick decided to come, and we booked our flights.

Naturally with my mother in the ICU, that has to come first. Rick volunteered to stay behind, but I know that I’d be constantly fretting if I’d missed a message, if I were needed for something. Plus, my mom would rather I stay, and that’s important.

Of course, I’m sad to miss RT Booklovers.

I’ve read a few of the winning or nominated books, but there are oh so many I haven’t read, too.

RT Booklovers Convention: Crowdsourcing the Fun

If you’re going to RT Booklovers, I’d love to hear about or see:

  1. A fun moment you had at the convention.
  2. A new book you’re excited about (in any romance/romantic elements genre).
  3. Fun times you had meeting an author.
  4. Or, if you’re an author, your best fan story from the convention.
  5. Selfies!
  6. Convention reports and links to same.
  7. Which of the award winners was your personal favorite? Were any of the acceptance speeches particularly funny or good?

You don’t have to know me—if you go, I’d love to hear something fun. It’s also totally okay to share this post with others.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Things Are Looking Up

Kitesurfing in California

This a continuation of the medical saga that began here.

Where we were as of a couple of hours ago:

  • Mom’s still in the ICU, and probably will be for at least a couple of days more. They’ve been able to keep her stable without surgery, which is good because then she’ll be more likely to survive it.
  • She still needs surgery (and recovery from same) before she can come home—and will need it before they step her down out of the ICU. Otherwise it can happen all over again.
  • Most of her numbers are vastly improved. She’s able to write almost normal size now, so her motor control’s a lot better with the current medication regimen. One of the meds I’ve been on and it makes you shaky.

I’ll add updates to this post rather than to the comments.

How The Cat Is Holding Up

I started writing this post because I wanted to say something about how our cat Tanner is handling it. We got our cat at a local shelter five years ago. Tanner bonded to my mom as her Primary Person, and she’s been just distraught since mom’s gone. Obviously, we don’t smell like mom when we come home, because hospital mom doesn’t smell like Tanner expects.

One of Tanner’s quirks is that during any period of time (and I mean weeks or months), the cat will have only one “spot” in the house. Or no spots in the house. Sometimes that’s my ottoman, but usually it’s mom’s bed. The other thing is that the cat spends most of her time outdoors, even when it’s cold and wet. She doesn’t spend time indoors when we’re not around, typically.

Rick and I (and our friend Duncan) had just gotten home from the hospital and we were calling the cat to get her to come to the back door and come in. After quite a while of that, she decided to show up from inside the house—she’d been in mom’s room all along.

Awwww.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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