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Below are the most recent 25 friends' journal entries.
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|Monday, March 10th, 2014|
|Tweets for the Week of 03-03-2014
- I'm home! I'm home I'm home I'm home! *flop* I sleep until Monday now. Hospital sleep deprivation is crazy evil. 12:37:08, 2014-03-08
- Just saw doctor. All tests/cultures still negative. They're releasing me, yay! No rush, of course. #StupidHumanSuit #CopingWithCancer 09:54:40, 2014-03-08
- Also, being taken off most of antibiotics I'm on. Should be released tomorrow. Rah! #StupidHumanSuit 20:10:55, 2014-03-07
- ALL cultures & test results came back negative, so diagnosis now is JUST flare-up, with the nodules in lungs being inflammation. 20:10:26, 2014-03-07
- Steroid injection totally did the trick. All my numbers are dramatically better. Don't need a transfusion. Talk of releasing me soon. 10:29:32, 2014-03-07
- Diagnosis is now an opportunistic lung infection AND a flare-up. Got a steroid shot last night and at last, no fever. #NotAnEpisodeOfHouse 07:45:50, 2014-03-07
- We have a preliminary diagnosis. Chest CT & x-ray showed numerous nodules in lungs.Fungal infection likeliest. Targeted treatmnt to commence 15:59:33, 2014-03-06
- My hemoglobin counts are way low. So low I might need a transfusion. They keep drawing HUGE vials of blood for more testing. Anemia paradox! 12:28:03, 2014-03-06
- Fever crested 104F again. Applying ice packs now. Going to be a long night. #CopingWithCancer 23:01:10, 2014-03-05
- Still having terrible fevers. Last night hit over 104F briefly. Chest CT scan done, lotso labs drawn. Waiting for results. #CopingWithCancer 19:06:28, 2014-03-05
- Always find it hard enough sleeping in hospitals but seems like every time I managed to nod off last night, a nurse would come in. 07:27:36, 2014-03-05
- Not neutropenic but doctor doesn't know what's causing the fever spikes, so in case it's an infection, being admitted to the hospital. Again 15:23:14, 2014-03-04
- At Emory with @MatthewMFoster, waiting on lab results to come in. Of course, my fever broke in the car on the way here. #CopingWithCancer 12:15:50, 2014-03-04
- Fever breaking so not heading to the ER. Going to Emory tomorrow to have labs done, means not going in to work, dammit. #CopingWithCancer 01:17:47, 2014-03-04
- Fever spiked to nearly 104F. Shouldn't still be neutropenic so think this round of chemo triggered a flare-up. Talking to on-call doctor now 00:58:36, 2014-03-04
- Crossover day at work. Managed a-ok until fever spiked. Now heading home with @MatthewMFoster all tuckered out and dizzy. #CopingWithCancer 18:37:49, 2014-03-03
Originally published at EugieFoster.com. You can comment here or there.
|Sunday, March 9th, 2014|
- Sat, 15:35: Oddly, it's my A+ students who always worry about their grades. *headshake*
- Sat, 15:46: #my_opinion: I love my dinner taxi. Sure, I got food in the house; for me and my cats. But sometimes some El Jimador salsa and chips call.
|stuff going on with me...
Still no sign of copyedits for THE TIME ROADS. I've been told that, once they get scheduled, I'll hear when to expect them.
Progress on NotSherlock is agonizingly slow. Weekdays are consumed by the dayjob. Weekends are for writing, but other activities and writing obligations eat into that time. However, the central mystery is taking shape rather nicely in my brain, if not on paper. My goal is to finish the synopsis by early April, or if copyedits for THE TIME ROADS show up before then, by early May.
Alas, my Nocturnall story, which I call my coda to Ilse and Raul's trilogy, is currently in limbo. The editor loves it, but thinks it's too soon for the story to appear. I'm thinking I should write a couple more Ilse/Raul stories and publish them along with Nocturnall as a small collection. Once I finish my chapters and synopsis, I'll spend some time story noodling.
Dayjob continues to be absorbing (good) and frustrating (mostly because of our feckless newbie).
What with the snow and the cold weather, the cats are ready to destroy each other, or my new rug. Spring can't come soon enough.
But! We are planning a vacation in London, in early October, with a possible side trip to Bath. Tickets are bought, apartment rented. I'm excited.
|Saturday, March 8th, 2014|
Thanks to everyone who came out to the signing! Your support is much appreciated!
- Sat, 00:42: Report: #furnace fan motor replaced, chip to regulate the auto fan replaced, gas thingy (last week) doing its job. Now awaiting bill. Fun.
- Sat, 00:51: Report: #physical Still ow. This weather. Nice, well, yesterday now, but today temp drops. Aches and ow. #gratitude for topical analgesics.
- Sat, 00:55: #notetoself remember that thing you have to do in the morning!
- Sat, 01:21: #silly: Everytime I see Huffpo, my head actually reads it as Hufflepuff Po.
Busy day today... I'll be at an aikido seminar this morning, then, at 3:00, I'm reading from and signing IMMORTAL MUSE at the Barnes & Noble Fields Ertel store (9891 Waterstone Blvd) -- hey, be there if you can!
But then next week is Spring Break! I can get some serious work done on my own work!
|Friday, March 7th, 2014|
|For The Locals...
Just a reminder (since I hate to be lonely at book signings!): On Saturday, March 8, 3:00 PM, I'll be at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers Fields Ertel store (9891 Waterstone Blvd, just off the Fields Ertel exit on I-71). I'll be signing IMMORTAL MUSE, and I may well read a bit from the book, too, and/or do a bit of Q&A.
|MFA vs NYC vs Sci-Fi*
So, MFA vs NYC
is an interesting book. Sure to be a classic, using the traditional definition of the word classic: an inaccurate work that everyone cites, riffs on, and otherwise tangles with. We'll be talking about MFA vs NYC in the way we talk about McWorld vs Jihad, or red state vs blue state.
The book is an anthology of essays about either MFA programs, or working as a writer or in publishing in New York City, or a few other related topics. Several of the essays are already online—Alexander Chee's and Emily Gould's personal essays are easy to find (the latter was widely linked to because it is about a person who made and then lost a lot of money), and the essay about the CIA's influence on MFA programs everyone was talking about a few weeks ago is also in here. Plus, there are older reprints; you can cobble together around half the book if you're a diligent Googler. There are newer pieces as well, not all of them personal essays. The best piece is probably Frederic Jameson's dismantling of The Program Era
, which was the MFA book everyone was talking about three years ago.
One doesn't review MFA vs NYC
—one reviews one's own life after reading it. I'm NYC. I started publishing with the first dot com boom; I got small pieces in New York-region content plays Feed and Disinfo.com, and parlayed that into writing regularly for the Village Voice
(even getting a personal essay in there my first time out) and various magazines that were popular in the city then: Silicon Alley Reporter
and others I hardly remember. Artsier stuff appeared in Mr. Beller's Neighborhood
, which paid in prestige, and also reprinted in prestige, as I have an essay in Before and After: Stories from New York
in the before section (this will be important later). I also edited books for Soft Skull Press when it was run out of a basement (and into the ground) by Sander Hicks. So, New York. I didn't have a full-time day job in publishing and wasn't making huge bucks; I was a term paper artist
and living in Jersey City, which despite being in the wrong state is closer to Manhattan than most of Brooklyn and Queens.
Then, 9/11. Many magazines died on 9/12, claiming that their incoming checks had been destroyed along with the Post Office near the World Trade Center. The economy had collapsed the previous April, so the writing was already on the wall. The spine of Fast Company
was everyone's barometer as it went from phonebook-sized to a slim pamphlet. But it was 9/11 that ended my NYC play. The sort of politics I wished to write about were destroyed, as I found out when the Voice
killed a piece I was working on about the conflict between the antiwar movement and the pro-war "antiwar" movement. The latter floated as its slogan "Justice, Not Vengeance", which simply ceded the debate to pro-war forces. (PS: so many years later, everything the actual antiwar movement said came to pass, so we were right and you all were wrong.) The dot com money went up in smoke too, and as more people started learning to navigate the Internet, I lost interest in writing about it. Reportage could become service journalism too easily.
I concentrated on fiction, and for a while was all over the place: science fiction and horror, yes, but several of my early stories appeared in men's magazines like Razor
, and in scene-y little zine-ys like Rag Shock
. (Scene-y enough that it is nigh impossible to Google!) I started this blog, and began focusing more on genre publishing since, frankly, it's the sort of fiction one is allowed to publish without a pedigree. I'm not from a wealthy or even middle-class family, and though we're recent immigrants, Greece is without cachet in NYC publishing. Plus, we were poor in Greece too! Anyway, in 2004 I left New York and that DQed me as an NYCer. It really is impossible to keep up with the scene from the outside, even with the Internet.
I eventually got an MFA, after publishing a couple of books and a few dozen stories, but it was with a low-res program with a commercial/professional orientation, and thus doesn't count as "being MFA." It helped primarily in that Japanese firms like advanced degrees, and I got my job at VIZ, my first-ever full-time job, soon after graduating, at a good-for-publishing salary partially because of the degree.
So...the book? Yes, of course, the book! Some good stuff. There aren't two cultures to American fiction, but NYC and MFA are two of
the cultures of American fiction, I am convinced. A third culture would be genre fiction. A fourth, as hinted at in the piece about judging Amazon's Breakthrough Contest, might be self-publishing. I would count prose poetry as a separate culture as well, despite its association with MFAs simply by being a species of poetry. (Prose poetry is like the plain-dressing Mennonites who look like Amish but get to use lightbulbs...of American fiction.) This title does capture the essence of the two cultures, both of which are teleological—they exist for the end of creating writer identities. Books? Ehh. Is there an emoji for waggling a hand as if to say "Maybe, maybe not"?
NYC creates writer identities the threshing floor of shit jobs, the intermittent feedback of windfall freelance paydays, and real estate prices that keep even writers with six-figure advances poor, sometimes desperately so. Partners Emily Gould and Keith Gessen gained first-novel advances of $200,000 and $160,000** within a couple of years of one another, and they ended up together, broke, anyway. Only partially thanks to their sick cat Raffles (RIP). It is not possible to be a starving writer in New York City; you just starve, or you write and make good*** by landing a real job in publishing or periodicals. Or you leave, of course.
MFAs do this via pre-selection—where you go is what's more important than anything else. If you want to teach, you need a book, but you also need to be a graduate from a higher tier school, as you will only be allowed to teach at schools with less renown than the one from which you hold a degree. Get a low-res MFA for the teaching credential, and you had either make a big splash with your novel, or you'll end up a perennial adjunct at even shittier schools or working at a community college. The psychodrama of the workshop is also important, because here is where your writerly identity (not the work itself, not skill) is forged. It's how you develop taste, how you learn to live cheaply in chockful-of-snore college towns, and how you learn to deal with bureaucracies.
The book is full of complaints, which is no surprise since American fiction is in pretty sad shape. One fellow fumes that, at his adjunct gig, he had to talk seriously about orcs with a student. Another, an agent with seventy-five clients, complains that most submissions he receives aren't very good. (Dude, you can stop reading them if you have seventy-five clients already!) MFAs tend to be happier, because they only fall victim to human gurus such as Gordon Lish. Even the most narcissistic man is much more caring than the entirely uncaring, even malefic, island of Manhattan.
A number of the essays could have in fact been blog posts. The pieces are separated by quotes from other writers discussing their own time in NYC or an MFA program. These look like nothing more than frequently reblogged tumblr memes, minus the cat pictures. The Internet has already taken over American non-fiction; the two cultures are Listicle and Long Read, and the writers here are really engaging in that struggle, not in the struggle between the MFA and the NYC.MFA vs NYC
is actually a rearguard action against the Internet, which has radically redistributed the writerly identity. Talk to a kid, and you might get the name of a fanfic writer as his or her favorite. And it's not just kids; a fanfic writer, E. L. James, is the most successful published writer of the last several years. Everyone reads and writes constantly, even if just tweets and tumblrs and YouTube comments. Did you know that you're a fag and you suck, fag? Oh no, is that last sentence snark or smarm? Nobody cares; identity-writers are concerned with that stuff. By pinning a tail on the donkeys of MFA and NYC, the book is asking its readers to chose an army, so that we can have a pretend war and thus be distracted from the fact that there are people putting poorly conceptualized and poorly written serial-killer novels on Kindle for a buck and becoming millionaires with "fans."
Both NYCs and MFAs want readers, not fans. What they get instead, given the dominance and ubiquity of the Internet, is the chance to daydream that they had been solicited for MFA vs NYC
*"Sci-Fi" as a term is both an NYCism and MFAism these days. People inside the genre call it SF, of course. But people outside the genre, especially in San Francisco, see those two letters and think of the city. Thus the reading I attended once where Kim Stanley Robinson was introduced as one of "the most innovative writers of San Francisco novels."
**By way of contrast, my first novel advance was $3000, from an independent press run by two guys in two different apartments in San Francisco and Portland. The highest advance I ever got was $14,000, for an anthology for which I had a co-editor, and that required us to pay our contributors out of our advance. So I got to keep about 25 percent of that $14,000. Ten years after my first novel, subsequent advances have ranged from $500 to $6000, and I'm now writing a novel for one of the co-founders of my first novel's publisher—he's still paying $3000. In my NYC days, there were articles I earned $3000 from writing. Most of the ninety-five or so short stories I've published have paid somewhere between a nickel and a dime a word, or between $100 and $1000 depending on length, with a big cluster at around $250. Occasionally, I've licked $1500-$2000 for short stories, but only after multiple reprints or when cracking one of the rare markets that pays very well: a men's magazine, a Best American
volume, Tor.com. For NYCs and MFAs, most short fiction is just a favor you do for someone you hope will be in a position to help you one day.
***You know you've made good when you eat at the same good restaurant, at the same table, every day. Dinner is better than lunch, but with the collapse of publishing as we know it, lunch will do.
|Thursday, March 6th, 2014|
|IT'S DARK OUTSIDE ONCE AGAIN
It's dark outside once again. Night has covered the land. Daytime will return. However, daytime is still a few hours away and night has only just started. So sit back and enjoy the night for a while. The night will be here for a few more hours still to come. Most of the town will spend the coming hours asleep. Few people are willing to face the night awake. For most, night is the time to sleep. There's not much going on at night. Not much on television. And if there is something on television late at night, how will the Gentle Reader watch it without waking somebody up? The world is quiet at night. And with a flashlight, I shall illuminate the night---Only for a few minutes. Current Mood: contemplative and calm
|six times underneath the knife.
It's that time. I've started the final revision pass on Karen Memory. So far, I'm working through the bits that only need tweaks, because the earlier chapters have already had several editing passes, after all. (One of the many ways all that Useful Writing Advice doesn't work for me--several times over the course of any given book, I have to go back and restructure the early bits and add things and move stuff around, or the book doesn't go forward. I can't always just make notes and keep going.) Current Mood: content
Soon, my pretties. Soon. Soon.
But for the meantime, we're in Earbrass Country. ("We can't stop here!")
I spent the last four days shoveling out from under a bucket of post-novel ennui after finishing a short story tentatively called "No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die." There were a lot of movies and a certain number of books and even more Bejeweled, I'm afraid.
In other news, it's coming up on a month to publication for Steles of the Sky, and I am psyched! Tor.com has the first chunk up as an excerpt if you just can't wait to get started.
|Wednesday, March 5th, 2014|
|The Spark Writing Contest
Originally published at Helena Bell. You can comment here or there.
Apparently all my blog posts lately have been on dates ending in 5. I was sad this afternoon because I couldn’t think of anything to write about, and then realized I forgot to mention this: I’ve been named as a guest judge for The Spark’s latest contest, the theme of which is “Fables.” You can find more information here. The contest is for both poetry and prose, and there is no fee to enter. Grand prize is $500 plus publication in Spark: Volume VI.
|IT'S BEEN A BUSY COUPLE OF WEEKS
Furby the Furball was calm and normal acting one moment and suddenly having trouble with potty training the very next day. And when the problem persisted, Mom delivered Furby the Furball to an animal shelter. The Animal Shelter vet found nothing medically wrong with Furby the Furball so the critter's sudden problem with potty training that persisted across three days made even less sense. Only two dogs, Elaina Baina and Calliope still live in the house.
I just had a medical checkup. I'm now considered healthy enough to return to work at my place of employment at Bob Evans Restaurant. I was on sick leave for the past two months. Being able to return to minimum wage employment after two months of sick leave feels good. Being able to earn an income once again is among the best emotions ever.
I'm still waiting in vain for the chance to win the lottery.
I'm thirsty. Time to brew myself a steaming hot mug of coffee. Current Mood: contemplative and calm
|Wednesday Quick Notes
Oh boy, let's see!
The latest issue of The Big Click
is out. Rebecca Ore, and much much more. It's our second anniversary issue as well, so if you were waiting to see if we had staying before before subscribing, we do have it, so subscribe.
My Writing Salon course starts up again this Saturday, so if you're local to Berkeley and want to learn how to write, or at least what the hell is wrong with you...uh, your writing, why not sign up?
Oh, and here's a tip. For me anyway, it is very frustrating to see writers of various calibers whine about opportunities and the lack thereof, and then clam up when I solicit something from them because it's too hard or not exactly in their wheelhouse or or or... Sometimes I even complain about this, on Twitter or Facebook, which is where all my short exhalations go these days. Anyway, if you see one of those little fits, here's a good way to react:
A short private message. It exudes confidence and enthusiasm, without begging, throwing around bona fides (which may work against you, especially if you're either a beginner or just terrible—a lot of terrible
writers follow me on social media) or extended rhetoric or questions. And, for the love of God, no reference to one's self as "a content creator"! Just a rhetorical Yes
. And if what I'm offering is a bad fit, you can always turn your yes into a no with no hard feelings.
With me anyway, that's how you do it. And that's why Carrie Cuinn has, after a few rounds of edits, an essay in The Battle Royale Slam Book.
My car was fastened to the driveway by icicles this morning -- the sound of them cracking as I pulled out was akin to driving over glass.
|Tuesday, March 4th, 2014|
- Tue, 00:32: The tweets coming up are #my_opinions and #thoughts related to some recent and not quite as recent events. Just #getting_them_off_my_chest
- Tue, 00:34: #my_opinion Mr. Beiber is a male teen at that age when showing off and being tough seems important. Sign should say: Dumb stuff ahead
- Tue, 00:35: #my_opinion Ms. Cyrus was raised by a famous family. She knows the difference between private life and public. It's all performance art now.
- Tue, 00:38: #my_opinion Of course Putin waits until after the Olympics and after certain folks explain a plan to cut the military. It's #muscle_flexing
- Tue, 00:39: #my_opinion It would be better to keep the troops active and put them to work fixing infrastructure across the states. #service is good.
- Tue, 00:41: #my_opinion Austerity sounds like having a budget, but it's really not. It's more about political control. Thems as controls the #$$$ ....
- Tue, 00:43: #my_opinion I stand in awe of many creative, brilliant, and capable people. I managed to miss the Olympics, but catch highlights. #amazing
- Tue, 00:43: #my_opinion I managed to miss the Oscars, but catch the highlights. Ellen was awesome as a host. Good laughs.
- Tue, 00:44: And that's it, for now. Ahh. Much better. I feel much less opinionated now. (Isn't that how it's supposed to work?) #my_opinion at rest.
|Monday, March 3rd, 2014|
|things fall apart. it's scientific.
Karen Memory: 31 January 2014 (tick tock)
OWW review: 15 February 2014
Cyborg story: 28 February 2014
Sekrit project: February 2014
Book proposal: Eternal Sky 4-6 Sekrit Projekt #2
"This Chance Planet": 31 March 2014
Revise Karen Memory: 1 April 2014
"Something's Gotta Eat T. rexes": 30 April 2014
"Flush" : 31 May 2014
Apocalypse story: 30 June 2014
"A Time to Reap": 1 August 2014
"Steel": 30 September 2014
An Apprentice to Elves: Autumn 2014
Other apocalypse story: 31 December 2014
Award reading and judging
Other award reading and judging
Sekrit Projekts #1 & #2 (tentative)
No fixed deadline:
Bard troll story
Smile (unless its name is actually Salt Water)
Untitled Gangland Urban Fantasy That Keeps Bugging Me
"Untitled Space Opera Thingy" aka "Periastron"
"On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera"
"Patience and Fortitude"
travel and appearances 2014:
January 10th at 6 pm: MIT SFS: Cambridge, Massachusetts (with Scott)
February 13-15, 2014: Boskone: Boston, Massachusetts
March 14-16, 2014: Tucson Festival of Books: Tucson, Arizona
March 22-24, 2014: Vericon: Harvard Univerity, Cambridge Massachusetts
April 17-20, 2014: Minicon: Minneapolis, Minnesota
April 25-27th, 2014: RavenCon: North Chesterfield, Virginia (Guest of Honor)
May 1-5, 2014: Mo-Con: Indianapolis, Indiana (Guest of Honor with Scott)
June 5-9, 2014: Phoenix Comicon: Phoenix, Arizona (Guest of Honor with Squeecast)
June 20-23, 2014: 4th Street Fantasy: Minneapolis, Minnesota
July 3-7, 2014: ConVergence: Minneapolis, Minnesota
July 11-13, 2014: Finncon: Jyväskylä, Finland (Guest of Honor with special guest Scott Lynch)
Then between July 16th and 22nd, Scott and I will be visiting
- SF Bokhandeln Stockholm
- SF Bokhandeln Gothenberg
- SF Bokhandeln Malmo
- Fantastik Copenhagen
(exact dates eventually)
August 8-10, 2014: Nine Worlds, London, England Current Mood: thankful
August 14-17, 2014: Worldcon: London, England
October 31-November 2, 2014: ICON: Iowa City, Iowa (Guest of Honor with Scott)
November 14-16, 2014: Windycon: Lombard, Illinois (Guest of Honor with Squeecast)
Look what showed up today -- my author's copies of IMMORTAL MUSE! It's a real book...
Back from AWP. Slammed, of course, and LJ is slow-loading today, I presume due to the crisis in Crimea. (Hint: if you were ever in favor of US invasions of Haiti, Afghanistan, or Iraq, try not to break your hand wagging your finger at the Russians.)
Anyway, I went to AWP this weekend, and had fun. People liked my panel talk, and I got what I believe to be the traditional compliment: "You should publish that." I hung out with the mainstream science fiction people, the radicals, the bizarros, and the kids at Westconn who are launching an online journal called Poor Yorick.
(I've already made them agree to meet with me at the next residency to talk fundraising and paying their contributors.) Met Le Guin too!
And I was especially sad to miss this
Mostly I tweeted everything. I also picked up a few books, including MFA vs NYC
, about which I will have more to say in the near future.
|Tuesday, March 4th, 2014|
|Dead Americans and ‘Upon the Body’
Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.
Reviews for Dead Americans and Other Stories are starting to emerge.
Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review and said nice things:
“Ten speculative fiction stories illuminate the talent of this Australian author (A Year in the City). Primarily focused on short fiction, Peek has written about two dozen short works in a variety of venues in the decade and a half since he was first published; this collection represents the best of that body of work. Herein can be found a John Wayne caught in a struggle for the soul of America, famed science fiction author Octavia Butler cast in the lead role of a Butler-style post-apocalyptic tale of asymmetric relationships, Mark Twain drawn into the brutal conflicts of colonial Australia, and immortals who regret too late the decisions that sent them into a second, inhuman life. Also included is a short but informative introduction to Peek and his work by Rjurik Davidson. Failure is always an option for Peek’s protagonists, but even if they can never reach the heights to which they aspire, they can at least envision them, a rarity in a field that too often rejects progress. Although Peek’s appropriation of other people’s lives for his own purposes can be disquieting, readers will be seduced by the outrage that drives much of his fiction and Peek’s undeniable skills as a writer.”
It also picked up a nice notice in the Toronto Star:
The strange stories of Australian author Ben Peek resist categorization, freely sampling from elements of horror, postmodern metafiction, SF, alternative history, and fantasy. But then hybridization is one of his main themes, with different selves often occupying the same body, or, confusing matters even more, the same self in different bodies. Making things all the more difficult, and interesting, is the fact that in Peek’s world none of these mixed parts get along.
Can’t complain, hey?
In other news, John Joseph Adams has picked up my story, ‘Upon the Body’ for Nightmare Magazine. It’ll appear somewhere in the future, and I’ll let people know when, naturally. It’s a Red Sun story – which means that there two new ones this year.