I know that it’s important for writers to conduct themselves professionally. A lot of our work involves approaching busy strangers, and the first impression might be the only chance we get. I’m always looking for things I might have overlooked, or tips to help get over that first hurdle.

So, you know how gmail helpfully provides a little user icon, along with the name and email address?

Well well well

A while back on Twitter, an agent mentioned she was happy to see familiar faces with a query, so matching that gmail icon with your Twitter picture was nice. This seemed like a good idea!

I had to sign up for G+ (after avoiding it for years) in order to change my userpic, because OF COURSE, GOOGLE. Uploaded the picture that matches my Twitter account. Now that’s the one gmail shows me when I sign in.

gmail sign in

Great! Time to start sending out some professional correspondence!

Months later, I started working at Locus Magazine. One day I had to email myself something at work. At the office I opened that email and… um.





I set up that icon for an instant messaging program many years and a few computers ago. It was at hand and better than a blank. Somehow it must’ve got into gtalk, and now it appears that I have no way to change it.


Mirrored from Amberdine.


Tagged! 777

Meme TagA.T. Greenblatt tagged me and that hasn’t happened when I had anything I could share in a long time. Fun! Makes me miss the old days of everyone being on Livejournal.

Here’s the meme: Post 7 sentences of your work, start on page 7, count 7 lines down.

From my currently-finished (until someone else tells me to revise it) YA fantasy novel, Luminator.

Corin shook himself and refocused on the bare path. At the edges of his vision tiny glass butterflies flitted around the grass. And through their wings the blades of grass transformed into—no. Corin shut his eyes, only glancing to keep on track every few steps. Luminous might kill him, but he couldn’t let the island finish him off before he’d even reached the battlefield.

“Coming through,” an unfamiliar woman’s voice said.

I’ll tag a few people, but on Twitter. If they post, I’ll add the links.

Tagged: Matt Converse@anothershoe

Mirrored from Amberdine.


Women Destroy Fantasy!

Women Destroy Fantasy!
Women Destroy Fantasy!

There has been a lot of buzz—very much deserved—about Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! issue, which was amazing and huge and full of brilliance. It addressed, head-on, in the best way, the ludicrous idea that women don’t write great science fiction. That argument is finished.

The Women Destroy Fantasy! issue though… people. You need to read this issue too. It may not have quite the controversy behind it, but it’s so good. Cat Rambo is an amazing editor.

It is embarassing for me to say, but I have a little trouble appreciating short fiction. I’m fussy and most magazines aren’t to my taste. (Lightspeed excepted of course. ❤️ Ahem.) Even venues I like will have a story I bounce off now and then. Since it’s a form that draws a lot of variety, that’s not surprising.

Even so, I loved every single story in this issue. Not just liked or appreciated. All-out squealing story-love. This has never happened to me before.

Because Lightspeed was putting out so many issues simultaneously in October—regular Lightspeed, Women Destroy Fantasy!, and Women Destroy Horror! —and I’m an editorial assistant (yay!) I was asked to copyedit the fiction in WDF. This turned out to be unexpectedly hard. In order to copyedit, I need to focus on the technical details, like whether that ellipsis is formatted right, or that comma belongs there, but I kept getting sucked into the stories. Every. Single. Time. So, um, I apologize for any slips there. Totally the authors’ faults for writring such great stuff my fault.

While four stories will be put on the Fantasy website through the month of October, I don’t want anyone to miss the ones that are coming out in the issue, particularly Julia August’s “Drowning in Sky” which amazed me so much when I read it I immediately went and stalked her on Twitter. But if you like audio fiction, it’s also available at Podcastle.  So everyone can enjoy it!

We’re halfway through the month now, and the first two stories are up. The first free story was The Scrimshaw and the Scream. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Kate Hall questions about it afterwards. I’m interested to hear what you all think.

Mirrored from Amberdine.


Honolulu Trip

We recently went to Honolulu, specifically Waikiki, for a five day vacation.

Now, I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but never once considered Waikiki. It’s too busy, right? But Chris had a few friends who liked going there, so we looked into it. And we’re always on the lookout for places that might be fun to move to, especially now that San Francisco rent is so crazy. (People kept saying, “But Hawaii is so expensive!” I wanted to laugh. Or cry.)

So, over the years I have refined our method of travel and visiting.

1) Use a good airline. Get decent seats, even if that means paying a bit more. (Avoid going crazy with this.) Not first class, unless for some reason it’s cheap. But a bit of an upgrade is a lot better for us than being uncomfortable for hours. I also get a lot of work done on planes.

2) Stay someplace with a nice view. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but looking outside while we talk about our plans and what we’ve seen is good.

3) Pick out a few neighborhoods to visit. Locate walkable sections using or Take local transportation there, walk around, visit cafes and shops and restaurants. Transit back.

This method has been foolproof in many cities. Even Los Angeles, where everyone told me the transit was terrible, and I was afraid it would be too hot and smoggy.

However, this method largely failed in Honolulu.

1) I booked through Hawaiian Airlines, which is a nice airline, and has nice planes. However, I booked a package deal, including the hotel, which meant that my seat requests didn’t show up on the airline’s site. I have no idea why. I panicked and requested some (further back) seats on the way there, but on the way back I decided to let the request go through… and instead of what I asked for, we got put way in the back, where the plane is curved and narrow. Not good for my 6”4’ husband. I called and requested a seat change, which they assured me would go through, just talk at the airport. Person at the airport saw the request but said we couldn’t have those seats. ARGH. So we upgraded to the “Premier seating” ($40 each) which is right behind First Class. And that turned out to be great! We will do that in the future.

2) After a lot of waffling about the tradeoffs between luxury, view, and cost, we settled on an oceantfront room the Waikiki Aston Circle.

The Aston Waikiki Circle. Isn’t it cute?

I’d seen pictures of the view, and it looked amazing. It was:

Waikiki Mosaic

Some of the views from our lanai.

However, I had not quite pieced together what it meant to have a window facing southwest, in the tropics.

For most of the afternoon we couldn’t have the curtains open at all.

Too much sun!

Well, no problem right? Who stays in their hotel room anyway?

3) There were a few problems with getting out to investigate neighborhoods. First, Waikiki is an isolated resort area. While a lot of busses come and go, and Honolulu has a great bus system, the traffic in Waikiki and nearby areas is horrendous, and the busses get very full. Though the locals were all extremely friendly, and the bus drivers unbelieveably cheerful, it still got time consuming and wearing to get around.

Ala Wai Canal, backside of Waikiki

Worse, though, was the sun. From 10 am to 6pm, we could not handle being out of the shade. Now, in the shade it was beautiful. Perfect temperature, constant breeze, great fresh air. Coming from San Francisco, neither of us was used to the heat and sun load. We did slather powerful sunscreen on, so managed to stay unburned, but it was still arduous. And Chris got sunburned ankles. ;)

Random Honolulu high-rise condos

The smart thing to do is just stay in the neighborhood (in the shade!), but we had plans, and we went out anyway. I did investigate a bunch of different neigborhoods, and met some Facebook friends. But every day we were exhausted by the end of it, and it took three days to recover when we got back.

Pearl Harbor

So, we definitely will go back, but with a different strategy. :)

Waikiki Sunset

Mirrored from Amberdine.


San Francisco Sky

You know those time lapse videos with clouds blowing across the sky?  That’s a common event in San Francisco, and one my favorite things about the city.

I took a few videos and spliced them together. This is all taken with a mediocre cell phone camera, sorry, but it’s all played back in real time.

I get stuck at corners a lot, staring up at the sky.

Mirrored from Amberdine.


An Unexpected Benefit of Goal Setting

I try not to go on about it too much, because I don’t want to be one of those people. But I really like goal setting, and I think everyone should try it. There are lots of books and resources on the subject — my favorite is Brian Tracy — but the basic premise is pretty much the same everywhere.

That’s not what I am going to talk about, though. Most people just think of goals as a way to get what you want, which — fair enough. That is the purpose. But there are other notable benefits too. I remembered my favorite benefit when reading Amy Sundburg’s recent post It Is Okay To Say No.

Let me tell you, I used to be the wimpiest, most people-pleasing, afraid-to-be-contrary person in the world. Seriously. I used to wake my mother up at night for permission to use the toilet. (She finally got fed up and told me that YES, I am allowed to use the bathroom ANY TIME I NEED.) I couldn’t say no to anyone for anything, though that wasn’t as much as a problem as you’d think, because my belief and subsequent crippling anxiety over how everyone surely hated me meant I rarely went outside or talked to anyone.

Yeah, pretty pathetic. Life got better and I got better but I still was nervous about what people thought and couldn’t be contrary… until I got into setting goals. Because once I had my goals, I had a clear idea of what I wanted and at least a clue how I’d go about getting there. And you know what? What random people think of me has no effect whatsoever on whether I will achieve my goals. And saying no, when appropriate, is easy. I have an exact concrete reason why I cannot do something: it does not contribute to my goals.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m some kind of ruthless selfish freak (I hope). My particular goals often involve trying to be more generous and helpful, but when I choose to do something along those lines, it’s planned. Not just acting because I want to manipulate people’s reactions.

So, are any of you interested in goal setting? What resources do you use? I am always looking for new tips!

Mirrored from Amberdine.


Songs out of Context

The other day I was riding back home from Costco in a cab (like you do, when you don’t have a car…) and the radio started playing OneRepublic’s Good Life. The DJ talked about what a happy song it was and I thought… well, sure sort of, if you take it out of context and don’t listen to it very closely. Because it’s from an album that tells a story, and this song, while not the lowest point, is not honestly happy either.

I mean, aren’t these lyrics at the beginning a little creepy?

Woke up in London yesterday.
Found myself in the city near Piccadilly.
Don’t really know how I got here.
I got some pictures on my phone.

I love albums that tell stories. This is the story in Waking Up, as far as I’m able to interpret it:

  1. Made For You - “Everybody wants you to make it; it’s all yours [...] Can you feel all the love? Like it was made for you.” An artist decides he’s destined for success and embarks on a career.
  2. All the Right Moves - “I know we got it good, but they got it made [...] They got all the right moves in all the right places, so yeah, we’re going down.” Reality sets in. There’s a lot of competition, and there are more talented, better connected artists out there.
  3. Secrets - “Thought you saw me wink? No, I’ve been on the brink so tell me what you want to hear. Something that will light those ears. [...] I’m going to give all my secrets away.” Time to get some publicity through scandalous confessions.
  4. Everybody Loves Me - “Flashes in my face now. All I know is everybody loves me.” Stardom achieved!
  5. Missing Persons 1 & 2 - “I wonder where you are?” Except that someone important has been forgotten in the climb to fame…
  6. Good Life - Now we get to this supposedly happy song. Artist has decided to not worry about this missing person and enjoy this new life of fame, even if it’s all kind of a blur, and all his “friends” are strangers.
  7. All This Time - “I don’t know what day it is, I had to check the paper. I don’t know the city, but it isn’t home. [...] Straight in a straight line, running back to you.” It’s New Years Eve, and the artist realizes it’s time to go home to the person he loves, and pay attention to what really matters.
  8. Fear - “No sleep today. Can’t even rest when the sun’s down.” Of course, the idea of going back and facing real life at this point is difficult.
  9. Waking Up - “We don’t lose. We might bruise.” Determination to change, but realizing that it’s going to hurt.
  10. Marching On - “There’s so many wars we fought. There’s so many things were not. But with what we have I promise you that we’re marching on.” The real happy song on this album. Back with the one he loves and determined to make a life together. Not the waking up drunk in strange cities song!
  11. Lullaby - “As the night comes in, dreams start their drifting and you hear a lullaby. You and I.” Happily Ever After. <3

What albums do you like that tell stories?

Mirrored from Amberdine.


The Hipster on the Bus

[Also posted to my new wordpress blog, but I haven't got around to setting up the cross poster thingy yet.]

The other day I was riding the Fillmore 22 bus, headed for the Mission district. It was a weekend, late afternoon, and a group of hipsters boarded, two tipsy girls, one outright drunk guy. The guy almost hit the floor when the bus took off, but one of the girls caught him. Not that you have to be drunk to have that problem — only not holding on. But all sober people know to hold on!

Eventually the bus cleared and they all found seats, and began to talk. It was both sad in the way that means pathetic, and sad in the way which is actually sorrowful. Because poor drunk hipster couldn’t figure out why his friends didn’t stick with him. Why did they talk about him behind his back? Couldn’t they see he was worthwhile? After all, he put a lot of work into his look. People shouldn’t be so superficial to judge him just because his sense of style didn’t exactly match up with theirs.

One of the girls assured him that no, those other so-called-friends were fools. They didn’t appreciate his sense of fashion. He really DID look cool. Anyone could see it.

It is possible I facepalmed at this moment, but I don’t think anyone noticed.


Six weeks ago, I had LASIK vision correction done.

Since fourth grade, or so, I've been badly nearsighted. I don't know what my actual vision ranked at, it was in the "worse than 20/400" category with significant astigmatism at the pre-op exam. I know several people who have had the procedure, but I never heard it described much, so I thought maybe it would be interesting to share.

Collapse )
Result: right now, I have 20/20 or better vision, which continues to improve. Decreased tear production still interferes a little bit with making out very small text, but I've been assured that will clear up over time.  Overall, I'm very pleased!
  • Current Music
    "Saturday Love" - Angels and Airwaves