michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-08-01 10:25 am
Entry tags:

Self-Restraint

Yesterday, I escaped from the house in order to start the next round of revisions on The Scarlet Queen. I chose the B&N Cafe as my coffeehouse of the day. I've had some good writing sessions there over the last couple of months since it's pretty quiet.

Big mistake on this particular Sunday.

I had to sit down near the outlets (my battery is nearly dead on my laptop). Next to my table was a large group of boisterous geeks. They were talking about Doctor Who, World of Warcraft, Firefly, and Anime. I figured they were a gaming group or something.

I opened my document, put on my iPod, and began revising. 45 minutes later, I overheard one of them ask the group if they should free write to a writing prompt. I then noticed the reserved table tents.

This was an SF/F writing group.

For a moment, I became excited. Was this the local group I always wanted to join?

Four of the ten wrote for a few minutes as the others continued reading magazines, chatting, and sewing costumes. The four then read their finished paragraphs out loud after exclaiming how much their work sucked (they weren't wrong).

Without critique or commentary, the group then went back to chit chat, mostly about where to buy awesome Steampunk boots. That went on for the next hour.

While they did this, I revised two chapters.

I considered introducing myself, but I realized that I would come off as Victor Kennedy from "Love & Monsters." I would end up telling them that THEY WERE DOING IT WRONG. (Not to mention all of my unintentional obnoxious name dropping.)

I forgot to mention another reason why I write at B&N. From those tables, I can see the SF/F section. I can look up and view the novels and collections of my friends. That's my goal. This isn't a hobby. I'm writing because I must, but also because I want to share my stories with others and earn a little bit of money from the process.

Do these people want the same things? Perhaps a couple , but I doubt it for most of them. If this meeting was anything to go by, writing is just another geeky endeavor for them. It's an excuse to hang with your peeps and screw around on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I don't begrudge them their hobby, but I'm in a place in my career where it rubs me wrong. Writing is hard work. A writing group should teach, help, and inspire. It should make you a better, more focused writer.

So, I didn't find my local writing group. Next week, it's back to the Caribou.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-07-18 10:16 am
Entry tags:

Summer Vacation

Caitlin is on Summer Break until after Labor Day. Since this is coinciding with a massive heat wave, it looks like we'll be watching lots of DVDs this week.

We're starting with the Star Wars saga.

There's not much else going on around here. I'm working on a new short story, but it will difficult to write while watching Caitlin. Lynne is editingThe Scarlet Queen when she isn't working on Chicks Dig Comics or her mystery projects. With luck, I can start the next round of rewrites this weekend.

Caitlin has an appointment with her Pediatric Epileptologist on Wednesday. Her seizures have been under control (*knocksonwood*), so it should be fairly routine.
michaeldthomas: (Lynne!)
2011-07-12 01:41 pm
Entry tags:

Lynne's #1 Fan

So, what's up with my Hugo-nominated wife?

1- The SF Squeecast podcast debuted a couple of weeks ago. In the podcast, Lynne, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, and Catherynne M. Valente squee about their favorite things. Yays!

2- Here's an interview of Lynne done at CONvergence by The Omega Podcast. You might hear her announce something during it that hasn't been announced anywhere else yet.

3- Here's the Chicks Still Dig Time Lords panel from CONvergnece featuring Lynne, Tara O'Shea, Christa Dickson, Kathryn Sullivan, and Catherynne M. Valente.

CDTL Panel Vids )

4- Here are a bunch of pictures of Lynne as a Guest of Honor at CONvergence (check out pages 5 and 42-46).

5- Two books containing works by my wife as edited by Robert Smith? can be purchased or pre-ordered. The first is Time, Unincorporated 3 (co-edited by Robert and Graeme Burk). This book of Doctor Who essays is available for purchase and contains Lynne's essay "Camp Noir," a defense of Torchwood Series 1.

The second book is the academic book Braaaiiinnnsss: From Academics to Zombies. This peer-reviewed academic book contains a paper by Lynne (co-authored with our friend Sarah McHone-Chase) entitled "Maintaining Academic Library Services during the Zombie Apocalypse." It will be released on October 8 and is available for pre-order.

Finally, the new edition of Sarah Monette's short story collection The Bone Key (stories featuring the supernatural world of museum curator Kyle Murchison Booth) will be released on October 18 and is available for pre-order. According to the solicitation text, it features "a new introduction by one of Booth''s "successors" at the Samuel Mather Parrington Museum." Hmm... ;-)
ETA- Book news
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-07-11 09:40 am

I'm Still Here

No, I didn't quit LJ for Google +.

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. We had wonderful times at 4th Street Fantasy Conversation and CONvergence. We're only now just coming back to reality.

I would write con reports, but they would look like this:

1- We hung out with friends. Many of them are in the SF/F industry. :-)
2- We ate with friends. Mmm, food.
3- Drinking might have occurred, followed by gossiping, pontificating, and/or handstands.
4- We learned many secrets and got caught up in some small dramas (no permanent damage).
5- Lynne was magnificent. You should have seen her in that one dress.
6- Caitlin had a great time at my mom's.
7- We miss our friends. :-(

As we become more embedded in the community, there's just less and less I can talk about. It makes for a great life, but it's lousy for blogging.

Other than coming home to dead A/C (now fixed), everything else is fine. There should be a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about my editor wife in a week or two (many of you already know what I'm talking about).

That's it for the next few weeks. Lynne is editing Chicks Dig Comics and working on the SF Squeecast. She should also be finished with The Scarlet Queen by the end of the week. Beta Readers should have it in two weeks.

We're pretty much ready for WorldCon.

Caitlin finishes Summer School this week. I'm working on a troublesome short story.

How are you?
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-06-22 02:45 pm
Entry tags:

The Calm Before the Convention Storm

I did it. I revised my mid-grade fantasy novel, The Scarlet Queen. Since I'm sleeping with a Hugo-nominated editor, I figured she should take a look at it before I give it to my beta readers.

I know it isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't suck. :-)

In other news:

1- We're at 4th Street Fantasy Conversation this weekend. Friends! Drink! Literary Theory! Venting about the Industry! Hooray! :-)

Lynne's on two panels. I'm just watching. We expect good times.

2- Unless, the universe screws us. Last night, a squall line hit the Chicago suburbs with 80 mph winds. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power, including my mother and aunt. If they don't have power by late Thursday night, we might have to bring Cait with us.

3- It looks like I'll be able to go to WorldCon with Lynne. I guess I need a new suit. :-)

4- We went to a movie last weekend. We all really enjoyed X-Men: First Class-- especially Caitlin after I reminded her that having Aicardi syndrome meant she was also a Mutant. She's now waiting for her superpowers to kick in. Based on all of her giggling after the movie every time I said, "Boom!", she seems to want Havok's abilities. Mystique, however, is her favorite.

Caitlin totally wants a "Mutant and Proud" t-shirt. :-)

5- CONvergence is next week. We're really excited about Lynne's first GoH gig. More on that next week. :-D
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
2011-06-13 11:26 am

Weekend ADVENTURES!

We picked up Caitlin's back brace on Thursday. We're calling it her HAPPY BUTTERFLY CORSET. Caitlin doesn't mind wearing it, and it helps her with her trunk control when she's sitting in a chair. Hopefully, her trunk muscles won't weaken too much from using it.

#

After we picked up her brace, we went to 2 different malls so Lynne could TRY ON ALL THE SHOES. She's on the hunt for the perfect pair of shoes for her Hugo gown. She found one possible pair, but the price was too high.

Caitlin bought me some early Father's Day gifts while we were out including a vintage "Hot Rod" Rowdy Roddy Piper t-shirt, two new shirts for con going, and The Very Best of WCW Nitro DVD set. (DON"T JUDGE ME!)

When we got home, the mail contained our new Pertwee DVDs. YAY PREZZIES!

#

We were about to leave the house for my cousin's Home from the Navy party when I discovered a leak from the toilet base. After playing phone tag with the plumber and getting a confirmation from him on my diagnosis, I decided to make the repairs myself.

We spent the night at our friends Sarah and David's house. This was GREAT FUN for Caitlin since she thought it was a sleepover with their baby, Iris.

Our friends Stacey and Dan came over to lend a hand the next day. The repair was easy and cheap. Thankfully, I wasn't surprised with any scary complications.

So far, everything seems fixed. I'm glad that we have wonderful friends. :-)
michaeldthomas: (content)
2011-06-08 10:09 am
Entry tags:

My Writing Update

So, what's going on with my writing career?

1- I'm still revising The Scarlet Queen (my mid-grade fantasy novel with a little girl protagonist with severe disabilities and a weird, mythic America). I'm 2/3 of the way through the revision. It doesn't suck. I should be able to pass it to [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne before the end of the month.

After she looks at it and I perform another round of tweaks, it's off to my beta readers. :-)

2- I have 4 short stories out on the market. I have high hopes for two of them. The other two are running out of pro/semi-pro markets.

3- As I mentioned in my brief WisCon wrap-up, I had the opportunity to hang with my peers during the con. Once again, I can't stress how important it was to talk to people going through the same struggles. It really reenergized me. I feel better knowing that I'm not walking this path completely alone.

4- I have a handshake deal for a possible SEKRIT Project. I can't go into details about that for awhile. I've had a few of these fall through before, but I think this one will happen.

5- A new novel is percolating in the back of my mind.
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
2011-06-04 10:20 am
Entry tags:

Caitlin and 2nd Grade Are So Over

It's time for a Caitlin update. Things are more or less stable. She's still a happy little lady.

Good Things:

1- Caitlin has only a 1/2 day of school on Monday. She survived 2nd Grade. :-) Summer school starts the next week.

2- She still had a monthly seizure two weeks ago, but it only lasted a minute. Hopefully, this means the new Sabril med levels are working.

3- Caitlin was approved again for the state supplemental insurance program. Hooray for us staying Lower Middle Class!

4- She will have a back brace in a week. She totally aced the fitting.

5- All of the changes for state employees didn't affect our health insurance program.

6- She has no pain in her hips. In that way, the surgery worked.

Bad Things:

1- Her knee still hurts from her holding it funny during the recovery from the hip surgery. It also swelled up last week due to intense PT. :(

2- We found out yesterday that Caitlin will have a new Special Ed teacher next fall. This was a surprise. Her current teacher is one of the only people in the district who knows how to program and incorporate Caitlin's Dynavox communication device. I guess we'll see how the district plans on handling this.

3- After 7 years, we're losing Caitlin's Case Manager at our primary health insurance company. We'll miss her. It's scary since she was a pretty good advocate for us in the system.

4- We have to change Caitlin's feeding tube button tomorrow. Not tragic, but always unpleasant.

5- I need to start the process of getting her a new wheelchair.

So overall, things could be much worse. Caitlin still has a wonderful quality of life for a girl with Aicardi syndrome.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-06-01 09:28 pm
Entry tags:

WisCon 2011

I had a great time. I finally listened to [livejournal.com profile] tim_pratt and [livejournal.com profile] matociquala and skipped the whole being-a-panelist thing. I felt a 1000 times less stressed out. At this stage in my career, I just don't get a lot out of being a panelist anymore. I'm also not a great fit for WisCon panel culture.

Instead, I hung out with my friends, met some new people, went to parties, and ate at fantastic restaurants.

I now have too many friends to make shout-outs. However, I miss all of you.

As you can read from [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and Sigrid Ellis, the Whedonistas' party was a monster success. I'm very proud of it. We all worked very hard to make it special.

Now we can try to top it next year with the Chicks Dig Comics' party. :-)

One of the most important things I did was spend time with my peer group. Living in crazy Lynne World means I sometimes forget that I'm not the only writer working hard to make his or her first big sale. My peers help me have a proper perspective. Also, they're awesome.

Next up, 4th Street Fantasy.
michaeldthomas: (content)
2011-05-16 10:15 am

Shiny Happy Monday- 8 Things!

After a few doom and gloom posts, I decided it was time for a shiny happy post.

1- I finally scheduled a physical for myself. It's about 2 years overdue. I feel great, but it's time. My only issue is a small spot of uneven pigmentation on my face. It's probably just part of aging, but I want a doctor to verify that it's nothing serious.

2- I have 4 short stories on the market. I'm very happy with my most recent story after receiving some quality critiques. I think I fixed most of its issues. *fingerscrossed*

3- I'm finally revising The Scarlet Queen (my mid-grade fantasy novel). It's slow-going, but I should be finished by CONvergence. Now all I need is a critique partner who specializes in mid-grade fantasy. :-)

4- All of our WisCon plans are solidifying. The Whedonistas party is going to rock. It's going to be nice to hang out with so many of our peeps. Hooray!

5- We loved "The Doctor's Wife." It's now my favorite story of the Smith/Moffat era.

6- The SF Squeecast will premiere in the next couple of weeks.

7- The first batch of Chicks Dig Comics essays came in without any major drama. Lynne and Sigrid are pleased.

8- We have great friends. Thanks for all of the support. :-)
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
2011-05-09 08:18 pm
Entry tags:

Blue Monday

Caitlin had her next follow-up appointment with her Orthopedic Surgeon today. We've had better appointments.

On the plus side, her hips are healed. He also looked at her aching left knee and hamstring. The doctor feels that they will loosen up and stop hurting if we use Cait's leg immobilizer at night.

Unfortunately, we also had some bad news. Caitlin's scoliosis is now at 50 degrees. That explains her trouble sitting for long periods at school. He wants her to wear a hard back brace for sitting. Using a brace will unfortunately weaken her trunk muscles and make her dependent on it in the future. The brace won't correct the scoliosis or stop its progression. That's the really bad news. It looks like Caitlin will need back surgery in a couple of years. This will be a much bigger surgery than the hips.

:(

I could really use some good news right about now.
michaeldthomas: (Argghh!)
2011-05-02 09:19 am
Entry tags:

Osama bin Laden Is Dead

We killed a monster.

So, what does this mean? I hope many of the people who lost loved ones because of bin Laden's evil feel some closure. I also hope this means we are seeing an end to the hatred, ignorance, and violence that this sick fuck supported. (I think the Spring of democratic movements throughout the Middle East and Africa are an indication that this brand of extremism is already on the wane).

I'm very proud of the brave men and women who spent the last decade hunting this man and his followers down. I will never forget their sacrifices.

I feel no joy about this, though. In the end, Osama bin Laden drove my beloved nation into violence and intolerance-- just as he planned. This should have ended in a trial and imprisonment. We should have been better than him. I know we didn't have much of a choice, but that doesn't mean that I have to enjoy the use of violence to stop violence.

Thousands of people died due to this animal's terrorist attacks. Many thousands more died in the confused efforts to bring him to justice. I choose not to celebrate his death. Instead, I mourn all of the dead at his feet.

I pray that humanity learns the right lessons from this. We can be better.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-04-21 10:17 am

For Research!

Hey F-List:

What are your favorite shows that never developed a huge following? I'd like to hear about the shows that mean something to you that were cancelled too soon, hidden in the backwaters of cable, or have just been forgotten over time.

Thanks!
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
2011-04-20 10:00 am
Entry tags:

Goodbye, Elisabeth Sladen



Elisabeth Sladen and Colin Baker were the main guests at that same convention. Lis called Cait “sweetiepop,” held her hand for the photo, and commented that she must be at least nine, since she looked such a lady. Caitlin grinned, and preened, and generally was really excited to meet Lis (she’s also a big fan of The Sarah Jane Adventures). When we got Lis’s autograph, I happily paid for a glossy, but she insisted that Caitlin pick out a second one, gratis, from Father Christmas, and signed both photos extra with kisses on them just for her. Lis also went out of her way to say goodbye to Caitlin as she was checking out of the hotel while we were in the lobby.

Lynne M. Thomas, “Marrying Into the TARDIS Tribe,” Chicks Dig Time Lords

We're gutted. We haven't felt this sad about the passing of a celebrity since the world lost Jim Henson. Lynne and I both cried many times yesterday. Lis played the most iconic Doctor Who companion. She was my first. She was also Caitlin's favorite. Lis's performance as the plucky adventuress reporter Sarah Jane Smith transcended the show. She was a role model to my wife and daughter. Numerous essays in our book are love letters to Lis and her most famous character.

She will be missed. Our thoughts go out to her friends and family.
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
2011-04-18 09:20 am

Finishing a Hat- 5 Things

1- Caitlin had more seizures on Friday. We didn't have to use her emergency Diastat, but we now know she's definitely back on that monthly seizure schedule. On the plus side, it's still only one bad day a month. On the minus side, they're still massive seizures. Caitlin's Epileptologist/Neurologist increased her Sabril in response. Thank the maker that Sabril is now FDA-approved. That would have been a financial disaster two years ago.

2- Since I didn't have to use Diastat, I spent the whole day hovering over her and watching every twitch and movement. Lynne came home early to help. Yeah, we've had better days.

This colored our whole weekend. Once the crisis ended, we had plenty of time to process and be miserable-- especially once Caitlin went to bed each evening. This is why we fill our lives with work and distractions. It's very hard to watch our little girl go through the epilepsy and pain. It's tough when we stop long enough to think about Caitlin's future. We know that her best days are very likely already behind her.

3- On a cheerier note, crazy doors are opening for Lynne left and right. It seems that every time she completes an awesome project, two more take its place.

4- I'm revising this week. Along with my mid-grade fantasy novel, I'm working on my most recent short story. Most of my crit partners have sent me their notes. Now I just need to work up the courage to read them. :-)

5- The one good thing that happened on Friday came in the mail. We spent the weekend consuming our Kinda and Snakedance DVDs. We still love the hell out of those stories. We also picked up a copy of Sunday in the Park with George on CD. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I'm really learning to appreciate Sondheim.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-04-13 10:18 am
Entry tags:

We're Alive & Well

We had an amazing time at Odd Con. Since we were surrounded by good friends (too many to list), it was essentially a Relaxacon for us. We had many great conversations and meals. As always, Odd Con also had a great BarCon. It's the perfect way to kick off the convention season.

Caitlin behaved for Grandma all weekend. :-)

Last night we popped into The City for a lovely dinner with [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna at Harold's Chicken. It was nice to see her outside of a convention or signing. I wish we lived closer to her.

After a week of shop talk, I need to bear down and revise my mid-grade fantasy novel. I also need to revise my new short story, but that can wait until I have some more feedback from my beta readers.

Everything else going on around here is SEEKRIT. We can't wait for some of these things to go public. :-D
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-04-05 09:38 am

Waiting for the UPS Man

Since I can't do much until UPS delivers Cait's meds, I thought I would blog. Let's see if LJ stays up while I type this.

1- This weekend we'll be at Odyssey Con in Madison. [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and I are only scheduled for the Whedonistas panel on Friday. Lynne will be doing her SF/F Archivist thing (we'll pick up boxes, DVDs, or flash drives if you have them). I'll be hanging out with our friends. This should be a nice, low-key weekend.

This con will also be our friend [livejournal.com profile] truepenny's first GoH gig. If you can, come and support her.

2- That's my only panel for the next few cons. I decided that I'm too burned out to be on any WisCon or CONvergence panels this year. I need to work more on my writing career before I feel comfortable again up on a panel. Also, Lynne really needs me to focus on being her assistant at those cons.

3- It looks like the Whedonistas WisCon party might involve Mai Tais and a Buffy Sing-Along. Good times. :-)

4- My poor wife is BURIED in projects. We really don't think about it until somebody asks us about what she's up to. Then we talk about her normal work stuff, co-teaching her class for another university, a SFWA project, the Whedonistas launch, co-editing Chicks Dig Comics, writing something for a friend's book, writing an essay for another couple of friends' book, writing an essay for a journal, working on the least SEEKRIT SEEKRIT PROJEKT podcast ever, and chairing the Tiptree Jury.

And yet, she still somehow finds time to be an exquisite mother and wife. :-)

5- The Bridging the Rift Doctor Who Podcast features Lynne reading her Tor.com essay about the 11th Doctor. Flames Rising is running the Introduction from Whedonistas for free on their website.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-03-29 10:30 am

Odds and Sods

Slowly but surely, [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne's SEEKRIT PROJECTS are becoming public. She is wicked excited about Chairing the next Tiptree Award jury. It's an amazing group of jurors (Karen Meisner, James Davis Nicoll, Tansy Roberts, and Nisi Shawl). They've been setting things up over the last couple of days. It looks like Lynne has some reading to do over the next few months. :-)

If you know of an SF/F book or story that you think "expands or explores our understanding of gender" from this year or the last few months of last year, please email your recommendation to the jury at nominate@tiptree.org. That's one of the ways they discover these gems.

#

The Whedonistas's launch went well. The publisher is pleased with the sales, and the reviews are positive. It looks like we're having a launch party at WisCon. Now all we need to do is plan it. :-)

In case you're curious, here are all of the Whedonistas's reviews:
Reviews )
#
Caitlin's Spring Break is over, so it's back to the writing mines for me. I need to revise a short story this week.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-03-21 11:33 am

Monday Five Things- c2e2 Edition

It's Spring!

1- Caitlin is off all week for Spring Break. This will be a quiet vacation since Lynne is working.

2- We had a wild weekend. Our friends [livejournal.com profile] michaellee and [livejournal.com profile] frozendragon crashed with us on Friday night and Saturday night at my mom's. They're now off on their pre-honeymoon in Ireland. They also went to the c2e2 convention with us.

3- c2e2 was massive. I'm not a big fan of cons with over 30,000 people, but we had a great time. Lynne talked to some of her and Sigrid's probable Chicks Dig Comics contributors, and then she signed books for an hour at the Alien Entertainment booth with [livejournal.com profile] taraoshea. They had a decent crowd.

We probably talked to a few dozen of our friends over the course of the day. We also met a bunch of new awesome people.

I now own The Sontaran Experiment toy set, and Caitlin owns an Adipose stress toy (her gift for good behavior at Grandma's). I love living in a world where they make all of the toys I wanted when I was 10. :-D

4- We attended The Middleman reunion panel and had a wonderful time.

5- After the panel, we went out to eat in Chinatown with a bunch of people. I would say more, but we were sworn to secrecy by one of our ringleaders. WHAT'S SAID AT THE PHOENIX, STAYS AT THE PHOENIX. ;-)

Good Times. :-)
michaeldthomas: (Default)
2011-03-10 09:32 am

One of those five thing posts...

1- We had a lovely time with our friend, SF/F author Alex Bledsoe, last week. Alex was down for a Friends of the NIU Libraries/DeKalb Public Library event. He finally got to meet Caitlin while we ate German food and talked shop. The event went very well. The SF Book Club loved The Sword-Edged Blonde, and everybody consumed delicious cupcakes.

I love when our author peeps come to visit. Which brings me to...

2- [livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas will be here tonight and tomorrow for the NIU Children's Literature conference. It will be very nice to see Sarah. Along with being an awesome friend, she's also Caitlin's FAVORITE AUTHOR. Caitlin loves her books more than the Harry Potter series. We've been bribing Cait all week with Friday's dinner.

3- Whedonistas will be out next week. [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and Deb Stanish have been busy with interviews and other book launch activities. Some of the contributors are having a book launch event in NYC. There should be a review of the book in the current SFX Magazine in the UK, but we haven't seen it yet.

4- The new short story is starting to roll. I should finish it next week.

5- Since I started exercising in January, I've lost 10 pounds.