Posts Tagged ‘process’

9 and 10

We recorded Chapter 9 and 10 today, so my part of the process is over for the moment. Rob will edit it together, and then we’ll see if I need to do any pick-up lines.

Trained Monkeys

Monkey Socks from Jenny RaeSo, after getting back from building monkeys, I had to go online to try to cancel an eFax service. It’s not that I didn’t like the service, but it certainly wasn’t the best online fax service in the world. Plus, I’d already completed the project that I had intially purchased the service for. Here is the transcript of my cancelling the account. Oh. And monkey socks that Jenny Rae gave me for my birthday. No reason to show those, I just like them.

{Amy R.} Hello, Mary. Welcome to online support. I am Amy, your online Live Support Representative. How may I assist you?

{Mary} I want to cancel my account.

{Amy R.} I am sorry to hear that you wish to cancel. Please give me a moment while I go through your records. In the meantime, please type the number corresponding to your reason for cancellation:

1) Moving to another provider
2) Bought a Fax machine
3) Business or role changed
4) Short term project completed
5) Financial reasons
6) Problems with Faxing or Billing
7) Dissatisfied with Quality of service
8 ) Too Costly

{Mary} 4

{Amy R.} Appreciate your feedback. Please give me a moment.
{Amy R.} Thank you for waiting.
{Amy R.} Mary, I can understand that currently you do not need the service however, it is always good to have a alternative faxing service as you may not know when the need for faxing may arise.
{Amy R.} In the current scenario, as a special consideration and goodwill gesture, your eFax account will be credited with $25.90 so that you may utilize our services without being billed our monthly fee for the next two billing cycles.
{Amy R.} Since you will not be charged any monthly fee for the next two months you may keep the account till then. If however, you still feel that you do not have any use for our services by the end of the two months credit period, then you can always contact us back anytime.

{Mary} I do not want the account. I have kept it open, just in case and have not used it for about a year. Cancel my account, please.

{Amy R.} Mary, I can completely understand your wish to discontinue, as you will not be charged any monthly fee for the next 2 billing cycles, you can retain this number at least till the end of two months credit offer.
{Amy R.} I would also provide you with an additional gift balance of $10.00 with which you can send up to 100 pages of faxes for free (per page per minute within US & Canada) along with the monthly credit.
{Amy R.} At the end of 2 months credit period, if you feel that the fax number does not serve your purpose, you can contact back to us anytime to process your request. We will just crediting your eFax account with $25.90 and $10.00 as gift balance for which you will not be charged any monthly fee for the next two months.

{Mary} No, thank you. Cancel my account now.

{Amy R.} Okay, I understand and respect your decision for cancellation. I will cancel your account with us immediately.

Actually, I only had to say it three times, so I guess that’s not too bad, as far as dealing with trained monkeys goes.

Finished fiberglassing the bear

Round two of fiberglassing the bear went much better. The glass on thmpts in the morning after he left so the fumes would have a chance to dissapate. This is way I was not going to do the fiberglass work at the workshop.

Fiberglassing the bearToday I did the last of the fiberglassing for an audience of three. The three boys that live in my building and the next were fascinated by the crazy American crouching on the front porch with a toxic brew. If I hadn’t been racing the set time on the resin, I would have grabbed my camera and asked them to take process shots. This particular resin has a work time of about fifteen minutes. So I have to get as much glass laid as possible before the resin starts kicking.

Glowing bearAfter it cured, I pulled the clay out. In places like the snout, I had to use a spoon to scrape the pieces out. This is the point where you are desperately hoping that there’s not some mistake in the fiberglass, because you are destroying the sculpture. I was a little nervous as I was pulling the clay out, because the fiberglass made some alarming pop noises. If the fiberglass was brittle, it woud mean that I had put too much of the hardener in the resin. Fortunately, it turned out to be a leaf that had blown under the head (I was working outside, remember) and been fiberglassed to the back of the skull. Whew.

Bear head The fiberglass is translucent, but I’ll still have to cut the pupils of the bear out in order for the performer to see. Currently, I’m planning to use either scrim or sunglass lenses to cover the opening. I’ll have to see which looks better with the fur.

And here is a picture of me holding the bear head on. I don’t have the lower jaw installed here, although it’s fiberglassed, but you can see the proportions of the bear. I’ll take it in to the studio tomorrow for the next step in its construction.

Sold! – “Chrysalis” to Aoife’s Kiss

I got word this morning that Aoife’s Kiss would like to buy “Chrysalis.” I am very happy that this story has found a home.

Chrysalis : The Husiths undergo Chrysalis to become an adult, but the enzymes involved in the process scramble their memories. As a culture, they are obsessed with documenting their pupaehood, which is when the serious work takes place, before becoming a playful adult. Geroth is determined to put off his Chrysalis so he can finish his mathmatical treatise. He hires a human documentarian to help him retain his memories after Chrysalis. This documentarian struggles with deciding which memories, and thus which version of Geroth’s life she should present.

Here are the first thirteen lines. The rest will be out in the December 2007 issue of Aoife’s Kiss.


People ask me if I ever get involved with the subjects of my documentaries. I have a difficult time imagining that they would ask my male colleagues the same question, but they seem to expect women to be more emotional. In response, I tend to grit my teeth and answer very patiently with another question. How could I do my job if I were part of the story? Only by maintaining a sacred distance could I have any hope of understanding someone’s life. A documentarian records, but does not participate.
     That mantra was the only thing keeping me from gnawing my arm off with frustration while Geroth and Iliath had their latest spat. Iliath wanted Geroth to undergo Chrysalis. Geroth wanted to stave it off until he finished his mathematical treatise. Geroth and his betrothed brayed their points like sea-lions mating.

The original scene of Portrait of Ari

If you are curious about how Portrait of Ari started, I can tell you the whole sordid story. I started writing a novel when I was in highschool, and things being what they were, it took me ten years or so to finish the thing. The plot is flawed beyond repair, and believe me, I tried. It’s hard to look at that many words and know that you have to throw them out.

But there were parts of the story that I thought still worked, and there were characters that I loved. Continue reading ›

Good Housekeeping – Chapter 1

Okay folks, here are the first thirteen lines of my NaNo novel, Good Housekeeping. If you’d like to read the whole chapter, I’m happy to send it. Just drop me a line.

Chapter 1

Grace’s cat was sitting on her face. His purr sounded as if a mixer were stirring gravel in her ear. She shoved the cat away, ignoring Malkin’s mew of protest. Rolling onto her stomach, she burrowed under the pillow as he immediately began walking up her spine. This was why she had stopped sleeping with her door open, even when Jacques was out of town. It took another moment for her brain to process the obvious thought.

Her bedroom door was open.

Something shattered on the floor. Grace froze, suddenly and completely awake. The lamp. If the cat was on her back, then what had knocked over the lamp?

There were things in her house that regularly went bump in the night–was this one of them? Or had the burglar come back?

Network Migration

So, sometime on Friday evening my website will go down as they migrate the system to a new server. The process is supposed to take 24 to 48 hours, but I’m not sure how much of that will affect me. So please, no phone calls wondering if I’m dead when the site vanishes.

Why the prolonged silence

I’ve been having some trouble with my computer for the past week. Basically, I got hit with a host of spyware and trojans that took forever to get off my machine. It meant that going online was a slow process if I could get on at all. Sure, the computer was connected, but it was busy downloading advertising.

After fighting with it over the course of the last week, I finally gave in, backed up my data and reformatted the hard drive. Extreme measure? It took two hours compared to the week spent fighting the various forms of malware.

And why did I have this problem? My own stupidity. I needed to download a piece of software and enabled “allow website to install software” for that one item but forgot to turn that option off. And I was using my computer on a wifi hub that wasn’t secure. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

All is better now and I’ve got an up-to-date anti virus software installed.

A Pro-Sale!

I can’t believe it. Strange Horizons just wrote to say they want to buy Portrait of Ari at pro-rates! I’m beside myself with excitement–really, it takes two of me to express my joy fully.

Here’s the letter.

Dear Mary Robinette Kowal,

We’re pleased to accept your story “Portrait of Ari” for publication in Strange Horizons, at a rate of 5 cents/word.

Our current schedule has this running early in 2006, but that could change.

At some point between now and then, we’ll do a detailed editing pass and send you the results for your approval. But that probably won’t happen for another few weeks.

In the meantime, below please find a copy of our informational questionnaire. Once we receive your response to it, we will send you a check and contract. Please allow two months after sending the questionnaire for processing; if you haven’t received a check and contract within two months, please let us know. And please don’t hesitate to contact our editor-in-chief, Susan Marie Groppi, at, if you have any questions about your contract.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask. And thank you for sending us this story!



For those of you following along, Susan Marie Groppi is my editor at All-Star Stories. I don’t know how much that had an impact on my story’s acceptance, but I’m counting my blessings in whatever form they take.

Now I just have to hope that tomorrow’s audition will go as well.

Carp and Diva

I am building a giant carp for a new opera called Carp and Diva. I haven’t heard it yet, but the libretto is as silly as the title sounds. Since some people have asked what it is that I do, exactly, for a living, I thought I would show a bit of process. I start by meeting with the director, in this case the composer,and talking about the project. Then I do a drawing for their approval.

Once that is approved, I do a technical drawing, usually at full scale. This one is not very complicated since there are no mechanisms and the puppet is essentially a tube with decorations.

Next I make a pattern from the technical drawing and assemble the pieces. I’m using two types of foam here. The blue stuff is a polyethelyne foam and is fairly stiff, but still flexible. The white stuff is a reticulated foam called Dri-fast. I’m using it for the outer layer of the fish because it has some stretch to it. The pieces are held together with either hotglue, a contact cement called Barge (strong but toxic) or, ironically, fishing line.

After I get the shape built then I begin the process of covering the puppet with fabric. Most of the work is hand-stitched. At this point in the process of the fish I’ve done about seven hours of work. You’ll notice a small figure on the fish’s dorsal fin.

That’s a Flat Stanley that a friend has sent to visit me. I thought I’d take Stanley to work before sending him back to New York.

So there you go. That’s what I do for a living. I’ll post a picture of the fish when it’s finished.


The weather has been unabashedly lovely. Which meant that I charged out to do some yardwork. Actually, mostly I went out because Rob had already done some and I felt guilty. In the process I remembered that I suffer from allergies, something which has not bothered me for the past two years. Why? Because I haven’t been here for this time of year.

Black-eyed peas and collard greens

Last night we had Sue and Albert for company to join us in the traditional New Year’s Day menu. We nearly had a small catastrophe because this was the first time I’d made black-eyed peas from dried; I usually use the canned ones. Although I soaked them overnight, I did not allow enough time for the cooking process on New Year’s Day. It was okay, but only because I confessed the mistake to Sue and she graciously said they needed to walk the dog before they came. An hour later, they arrived and we had a lovely dinner.

The Menu
Black-eyed peas
Collard greens
Grandma’s Pear Relish – vintage 2001
Cornbread, served with butter, honey or maple syrup
Comice pear
Sushi – octopus and tuna
Iron Horse Brut Sparkling