As I started writing this, the surgeon walked into the waiting room and told us that Grandma is going to be fine.
She started having abdominal pain earlier this evening. Her doctor paid a house call and told her that she needed to go straight to the hospital because it looked like a hernia. The surgery went without a hitch.
They didn’t put Grandma under and she chatted with the staff the whole time. My cousin (who is a surgeon and so was in the operating room, observing) says that one of the staff said, “Gosh she’s awfully clear-minded.”
Richard said, “Yes. Everytime I go over she makes me feel like I’m a little slow.”
We’ll get to see her tonight. The surgeon said that they are going to keep her in ICU and then here for a couple of days. “Just because she’s 103.”
Yesterday was the last official day of the workshop portion of the event. We critiqued three stories, including mine. I’m pretty relieved by my feedback and also realized that I have a pattern in the way I write stories.
I tend to trust the reader and don’t like hitting people over the head with things, so I don’t put down every plot detail or world building element that I think of. And then the first time I hand it to readers, I get to see which things I need to clarify and which things I can leave alone. In this particular story, I needed to clarify that my character’s allergy is a contact allergy and then almost all everything else makes sense.
As much as I want to sit down and go through the notes on my story and rewrite it RIGHT NOW, I’m not going to. I’m finishing the revisions on my novel.
Last night, Mom made dinner. Oh, yes people. We are living the high life here.
Mom’s fried chicken
Tossed salad (made by Laurel Amberdine and Ellen Datlow)
Mom’s peach and apple cobbler
That’s right. Join Codex and you get to attend workshops where, not only is your story critiqued by a multiple-award winning editor, you also get my mother’s cobbler. Need I say more?
Today we critiqued four stories. By now, I’m getting a sense of whose critiques resonate with me most, which is good because– well, if I’m hearing advice that I think is spot-on to fix someone else’s story, if that same person tells me to fix something in mine, then chances are that they are right. Or at least that we have similar taste.
Garrett Winn did a workshop on time management focused on writing. One of the things I thought was interesting came up as a tangent. The old question of whether one should set wordcount goals or time goals. As James Maxey put it, you’re paid by the word, not the time in the chair.
Personally, I work with wordcount goals BUT I’ve also timed myself writing so I know that I write about a thousand words an hour. Which means that if I want to write 2000 words a day that I need to block out a minimum of two hours a day to do that.
Then there was a group discussion about what makes a story stand out as exceptional. I think about the only thing we all agreed on was “specificity.” Lots of other things were bandied about, but no golden key appeared. Granted, I left early to finish cooking dinner, which was….
Afterwards, Mom made blueberry cobbler, served with ice cream.
Oh, Dad, Luc and Danielle played music for us. We’ve discovered that the Star Trek theme is perfectly suited to the musical saw. I’ll try to get a recording before the week is out.
In between all this, I started in on the novel revisions. I was pleased to discover that they really weren’t all that bad. Most of the things people brought up can be fixed in one or two sentences. Whew.
My nephew upon learning that I am working on a novel called, “Good Housekeeping,” insisted that I had stolen his idea. To prove it, he posted his story by the same name.
to keep a good house you need to write it, then publish it before you meanie face jr aunt cant steal it! which she will! she will slowely earn you trustâ€¦. then she will steal it! she will steal it like a person who cant write a good metaphor/simile!
Steve was going to come visit for Mom’s birthday, but when my folks had to cancel their trip we also rescheduled my brother’s. It looked like this would be a more convenient time.
However, when we bought the tickets, we didn’t realize that I would be in tech week for a show (which seems constant now), finishing production on one magazine, two books and recording an audio book. All of which is somehow due on Monday, the day Steve leaves.
Forgive me if I don’t really write much this weekend.
We got up at eight a.m. to go to see the Statue of Liberty today. The trains were crazy on the way down, so we didn’t wind up arriving until nearly 10:30.
I’d been there before, back in college when they still let you climb up to the crown. We opted not to do the monument pass and just walked around on the island. It’s hard to get a sense of scale until you get there. I mean, sure, you know it’s a big statue, but standing at the base is a whole different thing. You know the pedestal she stands on? It’s equivalent to a ten-story building.
And the star? I always thought that was part of the base, but it’s not. It’s a fort that was built for the War of 1812. I had no idea.
The weather was gooooorgeous today and the island was so pretty that I almost think it might be worth the twelve dollar ferry ride on it’s own. If there just weren’t so many darned tourists.
Katherine and I headed to Yankee Stadium tonight for the game. She was a Tampa fan amidst a sea of Yankees; I was just there to watch the game. My understanding is that the Durham Bulls (her hometown minor league team) funnel into the Rays so she knows a lot of the players.
The game was fun. Of all the sports, baseball is the only one that I really get. And I’ve always preferred watching it live to t.v.
But, I must say that the best part of this game was the behaivor of the fans. The Yankees did not play well so we got to listen to a lot of booing — not at the Rays but at the Yankees for sucking. When the Rays got a home run, with the bases loaded, this guy behind us kept yelling, “What the f*ck is going on? What the–” etc. He eventually got so fed up he started rooting for the Rays. “Show them f**king Yankees how it’s f**king done!”
Smart, with an excellent cast, the musical is both moving and funny. It’s based on an 1891 play by Frank Wedekind which deals with themes that I can’t even imagine audiences watching back then. Sexuality, puberty, homoeroticism and abortion… it’s powerful stuff and somehow the play ends with a note of hope. I highly recommend Spring Awakening and my niece does too.
I was so horrified about the Braves’ game that I completely forgot to tell you about taking Katherine to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. One of her school chums told her that if she did anything in NYC, she had to go there. I was, to say the least, skeptical but I am nothing if not a devoted aunt.
They’ve got wax figures standing around in the lobby. The funny thing was that as we waited in line, we started wondering if anyone standing still was wax. Like the security guy who was really bored. When he blinked it was a surprising.
The exhibit starts in “opening night” which is set in this big diaorama of a rooftop party hosted by Tony Bennett. Some of the waxworks were uncannily good, and I found myself not wanting to get into their line of sight. Others seemed to bear little resemblance to their namesake. The most interesting part about this room was getting sense of height and size. Harrison Ford is a tall man. Joan Rivers is tiny. That sort of thing.
From there we went into the history room, which, I must say, was surprisingly edifying. See, they’ve got a wax self portrait of Madame Tussaud there that she did in 1842. Yeah. And it is very, very convincing. Across the room is a wax figure that she did in 1801 of Napoleon. It was really chilling.
The rest of the exhibit, didn’t really take me the way those two did. I think that both are recast from her molds — though the exhibit doesn’t say that — but it is still astonishing. I’ve since looked up Madame’s history and am now fascinated by her.
Now, it should be obvious that I’m not really a sports scene sort of person. That said, if there’s a sport I enjoy, it’s baseball and the Braves are the only team that I’ve ever seriously followed. So I was not dreading going to see the game with Katherine. I called around, found a place that would have the game on and we headed down.
We all, including Katherine, agreed that Blondies was a ruthlessly unpleasant experience.
Food? My vegetarian chili was fine. The caesar salad was so watery as to be almost inedible. I mean, yes, wash the lettuce, but then at least drain it. Rob’s fries and garden burger also seemed fine. Katherine’s buffalo wings? She couldn’t even finish them because they were “slimy” and “gross.” This is a girl who loooooves buffalo wings. The fat and skin to meat content was apparently on the wrong end of the spectrum.
Atmosphere? Frigid. We had to wear our coats the whole time.
Music? Deafening. I mean, Rob put in ear plugs. I actually had my fingers in my ears at one point because it was nightclub loud. Not a nightclub. Sportsbar. I finally asked one of the waitresses if they could turn the music down a little.
She said, “It’s really hard to turn music down in a bar. Where are you from?”
“I live in New York.”
“Oh. Well, it’s really hard to turn music down.”
Right… funny thing. From my time waiting tables if a customer asks you to turn the music down, you turn it down. Now, she did briefly turn it down. For one song. Then she turned it back up, louder, so she could dance in the back to it. I kid you not.
When the Braves tied the Nationals at the top of the ninth, I was not happy. I should have been rooting for the Braves but all I could think was that now we were going to be stuck there for another inning and that I would have to kill someone.
The Nationals won, without going to extra innings. Katherine was sad, but we were all grateful to get out of that joint.
Oh, and the ladies bathroom? Gross. Truck stop level grossness.
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]