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Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse

August 18th, 2015

One Step Forward....Twice Shy @ 10:04 am

As I announced on Facebook sometime ago, I signed with a new literary agency: Sterling Lord Literistic.

I still have the same, wonderful agent, Martha Millard, but she's joined with bigger forces, with the hope to do bigger and better things.

When I first heard the news that Martha was leaving her private practice to join an established agency, I have to admit I had two thoughts at first: 1) Literistic isn't a word, and 2) OMG she's going to dump me like hot potato lead balloon.

Literistic is still a very hard thing for me to write without cringing, but Martha hasn't dumped me. In fact, when I called her office, we had a nice talk about what I need to do to get my career back on track. In a surprise to no one, the answer is: write something sellable.

I've known this, of course. My trouble is 'once bitten, twice shy.' In particular, one thing that always ends up happening when I chat with my agent is that she enthuses about Tate and the sort of fun, kicky things Tate has written. I can hardly blame Martha for that. Tate is by far the best selling stuff I've ever written. Tate is still making us both money.

I had an epiphany after hitting this same Tate wall with Martha....

I've figured out that the problem with Tate is that I've never quite understood what it was about those books that made them so popular. I'll be honest, it was desperate times. I was facing an early retirement when my then editor, John Morgan, suggested I try writing a vampire book. We'd met at a WorldCON and I'd confessed that vampires were my guilty pleasure. He told me that vampire books were super-hot at the moment (and they were), and later called me up and said, that if I were serious about writing a vampire book, he'd be willing to re-jigger the contract so that I could. This is when I hired Martha and the rest, as they say is history.

So, although the idea for the Garnet Lacey books were all mine, the impetus and direction of them was not.

Similarly, my later editor, Anne Sowards, really wanted me to try my hand at a YA vampire book (do I need to say that Twilight was popular at this time, too.) I wrote the proposal and all that, but, once again, the PUSH to write this particular stuff came from outside--specifically from my publisher/editor.

Precinct 13 on the other hand was something _I_ thought would be fun. Well-recieved or not, it ended my career.

Thus, I think, subconsciously, I've been afraid that my impulses are crap. Or, rather, weird and fun (and possibly award-winning, ala my science fiction), but decidedly NOT best selling.

This has been a really huge part of my inability to write original fiction. Or, perhaps, one of the MANY reasons I've been struggling. Naming it seems like a good first step to curing it. One of the other things I've decided to do is to just go ahead and NOT trust my instincts. For the next few weeks, I've decided that every couple of days, I'm going to go to one of those plot generator things and press the button. Whatever comes out, I'll try to write.

Why not?

I figure that my brain will resist a simplistic plot, anyway, and anything is better than nothing. And, it's sort of guaranteed to be stupid, right? So, I don't have to worry that the plot is stupid. It already is. I just need to write it.

July 29th, 2015

Ant Man, My Take @ 05:46 pm

 Mild SPOILERS not under cut

Last night, I saw Ant Man with my usual MCU crew (Eleanor Arnason and Sean M. Murphy). I have to admit to some trepidation going into this film.  For one, I was never a huge Henry Pym/Ant Man fan when I read him in the Avenger comic books in the mid-1970s/early-1980s when he was, ironically, mostly Yellowjacket (and sometimes Giant Man).  Also, having heard that the Ant Man of the MCU would be Scott Lang, I was a bit worried that was like having a Captain America movie with John Walker wearing the cowl.

Generally, I have to say the movie was fun.  It was a good heist film, with a hilarious "crew" (which, let's be fair, included ants.)  I was particularly fond of Luis, whose only superpower, apparently, is his mean upper cut,  with which he reputably remains the only inmate to have successfully knocked out the meanest thug in San Quentin.  And, of course, his amazing storytelling style.  I think we should all start petitioning now for Luis to have his own comic book title. (Unless already does, in which case someone please point me to them STAT!)

Unlike other films in the MCU, however, I didn't have a single nerdgasm at any particular moment.  Again, this is probably very much due to my not reading much of Ant Man, and him not being as iconic a character as, say, Tony Stark/Iron Man.  (Because I think I own exactly ONE Iron Man, but he's a feature in so many titles I've read, including, of course, the Civil War mega-arc, that I knew a lot about him and his villains, sidekicks, etc., going in.)   Yes, I say 'not iconic' knowing FULL WELL Ant Man was a founding Avenger along with the Wasp.  Thing is, you ask your average, on the street fan and they will laugh and say, "ANT... man?  Really?  Ant??"  (Well, not any more, but they did.)  Also,and this I will put under a cutCollapse ) 

In fact, I am starting to be slightly irritated by the seemingly 'one woman per film' rule Marvel has going on.  Yes, we get a five second cameo of another one and that person's story was critical to the plot, but... COME ON.  As much as I adored the 'heist crew,' I fail to see why ONE of them couldn't have been a lady.  The get-away driver, maybe?

Yes, Hope Pym was fairly bassassagain since this might be significant later...Collapse )--though my complaint there seems to be that badass is  the only mode Marvel can do lady in, atm (well, badass or vaguely undeveloped in the case of the Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron.)  So, besides "child in distress," I could have used a few more female faces. Marvel has a lot of female superheroes to choose from, and, you know, statistically there are just more of us alive at any given time.  

I'm a huge Marvel fan.  I had fun at Ant Man.  This isn't a huge 'boo.'  I just think it's one of those thing that I'm putting on my 'watch this' list.


July 28th, 2015

Saying Good-bye to Level Up @ 10:40 am

The reviewer today (another Rachel) didn't have a lot to say, but it's still a very nice review: http://rachelrennie.weebly.com/rachels-blog/song-of-secrets-by-tate-hallaway-and-rachel-calish-a-book-review

A lot of the reviewers are anxiously waiting for Book 2. I certainly hope that Rachel and Level Up Press will be able to give it to them. For myself, I've had to take a step back. I won't be involved in subsequent books in the School for Wayward Demons series.

As I have said many places, I really enjoyed the writing process with Rachel, particularly when we were collaborating on the plot-light web version of this story. I can not even tell you how much joy (and hope) that brought me.

But revising was a particular nightmare, in part because we were constrained by having to follow the structure of what we'd already published on the web. And, as happens with two strong personalities with very different writing styles, there were also creative differences... and I left that process feeling that Rachel and I had very different values when it came to storytelling. We're both award-winning authors. so it's impossible to say that one of us is right and the other wrong. In fact, I think the fact that we're both so passionate for our art is the reason we had so many difficulties.

This was not an easy decision for me to make, especially given that my current publishing prospects are fairly bleak and, as I said, the initial process of writing with Rachel was so tremendously fun and valuable for me.

On the other hand, I know there are plenty of you out there who might be just as happy at the idea that I plan to use this opportunity to focus more on my own writing. I have UnJust Cause to finish, and there are other novels and characters in my head who are dying to get out and onto the page.

So, while I am saying goodbye, I wish Rachel and Level Up Press the very best of luck in the future.

July 27th, 2015

Blog Roll, Roll, Rollin' Along @ 09:04 am

Rachel contacted the people in charge of setting up the blog roll, and the issue seems to be resolved. So that's a yay.

There are two more reviews of Song of Secrets up: For the Love of Fictional Worlds and Reading with Pixie, which is, of course, MY favorite because the blogger called out Gabe as their favorite character.

I had a very brief, drive-by, attendance at Diversicon this weekend. Eleanor invited me to sit in on the MCU panel and, as I said on Twitter, I geeked out so hard that people were checking with me about authors for certain runs of comic book titles. (I'm good, but not THAT good. :-) Still, that made me feel like a super-geek and I appreciated it, deeply.

The rest of the weekend was eaten by birthday related activities including several hours at the Mall of America herding pre-teens around the amusement park. I did get to see my friend Frank who stopped by to hang out on the porch with my folks on Mason's birthday actual, which was very lovely.

July 24th, 2015

Blog Tour for Song of Secrets @ 10:33 am

So, Rachel and I are trying a thing. For part of this month and next, our book Song of Secrets is going on a blog tour/blog roll. There have been three reviews so far and each one comes with an opportunity to win an autographed copy of the book.

Here's where we've been featured so far (in reverse order):
Song of Secrets: How Fiction Helps us Cope
Natural Bri
Rocking out to Song of Secrets

Please note, that because the blog tour is called Calish Couple, the reviewers are giving all of the kudos and praise to Rachel. This was, however, a book we wrote TOGETHER (and it was wonderfully illustrated by Mandie Brasington and Alexis Cooke). If you feel so-inclined, I would deeply appreciate you going to one or two of these sites and letting them know how much you love my work and ask them to please edit their reviews to reflect that fact that the book they seem to enjoy so much was actually also written by me.

Anyway, it will be curious to see how this works out for us!

July 21st, 2015

Oh, Um, is Thing... On? @ 01:31 pm

CONvergence came and went and then the very next week I taught at the Loft's Youth Summer Program. I guess, these last few weeks I have no good excuse except that I was recovering... maybe?

Nah, I'm just a slacker.

Let me cast my mind back. CONvergence was good. I bought Mason a membership last minute, but, given his age, it cost me only $30. He came along to con on Thursday and Friday. I skipped Saturday all together, because four days is a LONG con, and it was also 4th of July. In the past, my family has been grumpy to miss the fireworks, so I have made it my new tradition to never attend con on the 4th itself, or to be SURE to be out of there before evening.

St. Paul, however, decided to shoot off at the new stadium in Lowertown, which meant there really wasn't a good place for your average, non-baseball game attending fan to appreciate the show. Mason and I and his friend Rosey tried Roseville, but ONCE AGAIN, we ended up with a partially obscured view. Note to self: when they say "over the lake" they don't mean the obvious view from the center of the park, they mean off to the side.

But Roseville has this little carnival food stall thing going on, so the kids all got stake cut fries and big fresh-squeezed lemonade.

So it wasn't a total bust.

CONvergence itself keeps getting bigger and bigger and that's both a blessing and a curse. All my panels were packed to the gills, which is gratifying. Only on of them, the slash panel, will live in infamy. I have never experienced man-splaining to this degree before in my life and... wanton disregard for a basic grasp of slash fandom and its terminology...? It's hard to even explain what happened there. If you see me in person I could give it a go, but there will probably be a lot of hand flailing and "What even is...?"s.

So, yeah, then there were my two Loft classes. I taught "Fan Fiction: Beyond 101" and "More than the Zombie Apocalypse: Writing SF/F." There were only six students signed up for the fanfic class and it started at the ungodly hour of 9:00 AM, but it was by far the more high-energy and awesome class. My SF/F folks were whip-smart and engaged, too, but, I think because there were 17 of them, we never had a chance to bond very deeply.

I would call them both successes, though. Both thumbs up. Sign me up for next year. That was a blast.

Then Mason was off to Adventure Camp for a week. What I did with myself that week, I have no clue. I think maybe I just stared into space. I didn't even manage to get my reading done for my Bitter Empire gig, which means I missed a week for the first time ever. :-(

This last weekend we were up at our friend Gerriann's cabin where I managed to get myself a sunburn. This is also Mason's birthday week (his big day is Friday) so I've been doing a lot of the errands, etc., needed to make those couple of days a success. My folks are coming for Birthday Actual, which is Friday, and then Mason is taking only a couple of his friends off to the Mall of America's amusement park to spend a few hours doing those Mall type things with Yours Truly as chaperone.


I think that's everything. How are you?

June 29th, 2015

CONvergence is Nigh.... @ 08:18 am

CONvergence is this weekend. In fact, my con will probably start Wednesday night. I don't have a TON of panels this year, but enough to keep me coming back pretty much every day of this four day con:


5 PM - "Avengers: Age of Ultron"
7 PM - "Guardians of the Galaxy"


8:30 PM - "Slash Panel"


11 AM - "The Best Recent YA Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels"

None of these are exactly meaty, but I get to talk TWO Marvel films, so I'm not complaining at all. I'm not quite sure why I got tapped to talk about YA novels. I've reviewed a few, but not that many. On the other hand, it's easy enough for me to make a list of this year's YA novels that are up for awards to bring to con.

I bought Mason a membership this year, slightly ahead of time. I'm going to bring him with me on Thursday and we'll probably spend the day there exploring and whatnot. I purposely didn't schedule myself on Saturday, because it's the 4th of July, and Mason really loves going to see the fireworks. In the past, my CONvergence schedule has made it tough for us to go.

June 26th, 2015

Way to Go, America! @ 02:03 pm

Unexpectedly (to me, at least), the SCOTUS did the right thing. I am now legally married to Shawn on a federal level. That's pretty awesome, I have to say. I might have cried a few tears listening to the president's speech.

Can I confess something? I didn't even know this was coming. The person who first told me about it was my friend IN WALES. (I don't watch the news. The other day, my friend Eleanor and I were talking about happiness and I think the real reason that I feel happy 75% of the time is because I never, ever watch or otherwise follow the news.) It's probably just as well that I didn't know to anticipate it, because I would have thrown up worrying.

Pride is going to be awesome this year. I mean, technically, I think it starts tonight. There may be dancing in the streets.

What's funny is that I was talking at the coffee shop about how far we've come in such short amount of time. When my friends and I started what we called BAGLS (the Bi-sexual and Gay/Lesbian Society) at Augsburg, we had to fight the administration AND WE GOT DEATH THREATS. For real. Now, Augsburg is one of the region's leaders in dealing with things like transgender dorm housing. I mean, I can't even... It's kind of stunning the distance we covered in thirty some years.

So that's a yay.

The other thing I wanted to write about was my ability to kill computers. I've struck again. Somehow, randomly, I killed my Mac. Remember the one that I had to get a new hard drive for about a year and a half ago, because it randomly stopped turning on? Yeah, well, apparently now the "bracket cable" has spontaneously gone bad. Maybe. Or the hard drive died again. If it's the cable, replacing it costs me $50.00, which isn't bad--certainly cheaper than a new machine. If it turns out to be the hard drive: Bye, bye, Mac. Thing is, the second he booted the computer up, the genius at the bar said, "Oh, well, your battery is pretty dead, too." I knew that, and there's really no point in putting in a new hard drive if the whole thing could go kaput again in no time.

Honestly, I do NOT know what I do to these machines.

The "e" key was starting to pop off the keyboard on it, too. I guess I'm just hard on computers. Somehow much, much harder than your average user. I mean, okay, I have been known to maybe, accidentally have taken the Mac into the bathtub with me, but come on! I can't be the first person to do that. Also, I don't go to a lot of unsafe sites (aka porn)... actually, if you don't count the stuff I write and, I dunno, Tumblr, I NEVER do. So... I don't know why I'm special like this. Frozen turkeys are my fault, for sure, but hard drives just deciding to quit and cables giving up seems very... super-power-ish.

I think I'm the anti-Tony Stark. He builds the things; I break 'em.

I'm on the Squee, as I call the Asus Eee netbook, which was given to me by Eleanor's partner Patrick. It's a nice little machine and, because this happens to me SO REGULARLY, I was constantly running Crash Plan, so I lost none of my data. The document I was working on, I saved to Google Docs right before I closed it down, so the only thing I'm behind on is... remembering all my passwords and getting access to all my usual things.

I don't understand this curse of a super-power, though. It's weird.

So, anyway, go, USA; boo, super-power.

June 17th, 2015

Did You Miss Me? @ 09:53 am

I bet you didn't even know I was gone, did you? Thing is, I normally try not to make a habit of announcing when I'm going to be out of town to the Internet, because I'm worried something like this might happen:

Someone did this. We suspect a neighbor kid because wouldn't an adult who was interested in causing mischief know that you can pry the top off a can of paint pretty easily? Who ever did this spent some time hammering the edge of the scraper into the can top and then tipped it? Spilled it? Intentionally messed it around? Maybe even tried to clean it up and made it worse? It's super hard to tell. The reason we suspect a young person, too, is because Mason has this friend across the street who has been known to get destructive when Mason isn't around or can't come out to play. He slammed a huge rock down on our porch before--our doorstop, and it could have caused damage then, but didn't. I've also seen him go over to the neighbor's and break some of their wall stones out of frustration/boredom. Unfortunately, he has a mom that is... well, the best we can say is absent, but borders on neglectful, so we won't get much resolution trying to talk to her about it, I don't think.

BUT, because I have an awesome friend who was watching the house, who happened to catch it when it was still fairly wet, it now looks like this:

Actually, it looks even better than that at the moment because I did some sanding and am touching up with a similar colored paint. Shawn and I actually like the weathered, patina look we have going so I'm trying to resist a complete re-paint. But, that could still happen. We'll have to see how the touching up goes.

It may be an unintended house project I get to tackle.

Ode to joy.

On the other hand, we had a lovely, uneventful trip to Indiana and back again to see my in-laws--who are kind of step-in-laws, but this is the only grandmother on Shawn's side that Mason has ever known, so it's a visit to see Grandma Rounds. But, because of the sort of loose familial relations, things have, in the past, been.... as we say in Minnesota... "interesting" in the past.

But, this time was great, nothing "interesting" to report. In fact, it did a lot of raining, so I did a lot of reading and such. I finished THE COUNTRY OF ICE CREAM STAR which I should return to the library ASAP, since it's overdue. That's a book I'm going to have a lot to say about, I think. I'm going to have to do a serious think, though, because it's a book I am surprised that no one has screamed 'race fail' over (but I don't exactly want to start that, either, if you know what I mean.) So I'm going to have to be careful how I talk about it. Thing is, there author looks pretty white, but all the characters of note are black and the entire thing is written in a "future" dialect that could be taken the wrong way, since there is literally sentence structure like, "I be bone." Bone, one presumes might be a corruption of bon, the French term, since they're in Massachusetts, which is not that far from Canada, I suppose. I don't know. All I can say is that I read all 550 some pages of this, enjoyed the book, but wondered how I'd feel if I were black....

Just looking down Goodreads, I see that MOST people are saying the dialect was inventive and "audacious" but at least one reviewer says, "It takes a lot to offend me, but the 'dialect'? I mean, let's just call it what it is: postapocalyptic ebonics written by a white woman."

And... I'm kind of surprised there's not more of that. I feel like I could start my review of this book by asking, "How to tell if a book is literary or SF?" Answer: the fact that this book is still greeted with words like 'breathtakingly ambitious' and not ALL THE FAIL, means it's literary.

Here's the thing, though, I found this book super-compelling. As another Goodreads review noted, "This book be wolfen." And it is. It's really EPIC in the traditional sense of that and I was drawn all the way through to the end.

So, like I said, I'm going to have to think about how to write about this. Very carefully.

June 9th, 2015

So Many Kerfuffles... and stenciling @ 09:21 am

Every time I think that the puppy-Hugo's thing is going to settle down, something flares up again. The latest dust-up revolves around Irene Gallo, who is an employee of Tor Books, and a comment she made on her personal Facebook feed. There's a round-up of all the latest (from both sides) on File 700. A lot has been said about this, but I will say that while I believe it's reasonable to call the Rabid Puppies Neo-Nazis, the Nazi argument is almost always the nuclear option and is, in point of fact, know as "Godwin's Law."

TBF, I believe I did call out the Rabid Puppies as Neo-Nazis in my first article about the Hugo Awards, and, while individuals might not self-lable that way, I linked to Charles de Lint's Charlie Stross's article about Vox Day/Theodore Beale's publishing house which does have very clear and strong connections to that movement. Sad Puppies, IMHO, are better labeled "a conservative movement within science fiction." I *do* understand not wanting to be associated with Neo-Nazis, but maybe one should have considered that before going to bed with them, as it were. If you lie down with dogs, don't be so damned surprised when people expect that you have fleas.

If you wade through the whole of the File 700 round-up from yesterday, you'll see that they also excerpted my latest Bitter Empire contribution "Hugo Puppery Disappoints." I'm hoping to do a follow-up in which I also discuss the ways in which I bounced out of the other books on the Hugo ballot, too. Because, in all fairness, I did. I WANTED to like Ann Leckie, but I just found her main character kind of distant and hard to get into. I tried both ANCILLARY JUSTICE and ANCILLARY SWORD. I also bounced out of THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM kind of for the same reasons. I didn't really find any characters to like. In both the situations were mildly interesting, but just not in a sustaining sort of way, as Pooh might say. As I say in the review on Bitter Empire, I just couldn't with THE GOBLIN EMPEROR either--even though many of you told me it's worth another try (and maybe it is. I will confess that I've had hard bounces out of all of the fantasy books on this year's nomination lists, too. So maybe I'm just not in a high fantasy mood at the moment.)

The last of my writing/fannish/review news to report is that I got contacted the other day by Anime3000. They're doing a "Manga Corner" podcast about GANGSTA (which will be an anime soon), and which is a manga I reviewed on MangaKast (the site that Mason and I post our podcast on). Apparently, they think I'd make a worthwhile guest podcaster, which thrills and tickles me no end. I haven't heard back from their coordinator, but I picked out a couple of dates that would work for me later this month and so we'll see how it all goes down. When it's up and such, I'll be sure to post a link here and probably everywhere. Because I'm seriously so pleased with the extent to which I'm kind of becoming a notable anime/manga fan.

Maybe I have hopes for a Hugo, too. (ha. ha.)

So, in other news, I've gotten a Pinterest-y yen to do some stenciling. There's this ugly little hallway that leads to our side door and basement that I painted this last weekend. It had been some kind of dull, chalky white and it is now "lemon meringue." At any rate we have coat hangers along this wall and I talked Shawn into letting me paint those bright green, just to jazz up the corner. I was telling her that I desperately wanted to stencil some stars or flowers or something on those, but she reminded me that they were mostly covered by the things hanging on them so I let that idea go.

HOWEVER, there is still this bit of overhang that leads to the basement. I'm pretty sure it needs stars upon thars.

It might just happen if I can make a good stencil.

Also, I need to distract myself today. Rainbow Tree Care called yesterday and their crews will be in the neighborhood so they're doing all our work at some point today. They have to remove an ash tree from our Japanese garden and... well, honestly, I they don't need me standing over them wringing my hands and muttering, "Oh, watch out for the ferns! ARGH, my hosta!" so I think a project that has me hiding on the basement stairs is probably a really good idea for everyone involved.

Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse