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The Flu, How It Burns

Darwin came down with the flu in the middle of the week and gave it to me over the weekend.  My temperature soared to 103 and he took me to the emergency room Friday evening.  It was the worst I'd been sick in years and years and years.  They gave me Tamiflu and other meds and sent me home.

What the hell is in Tamiflu that makes a presciption med?  Why isn't it available over the counter?  I spent two hours in the ER, plus drive time to get it, and all I needed was Tamiflu.  Darwin could have driven to the drug store and back with a packet of it in fifteen minutes.  It's stupid to make a horrifyingly sick person lie in an ER bed for hours for something so simple.

Late Saturday my fever broke.  This is good because Monday (today) Aran has to go back to MCTI.


The Death of Copy

When cloud storage became available and viable, I adopted it.  The idea that I could set my computer life up so that the latest version of all my files were available to me on any device with an Internet hookup held immense appeal.  I leaped into the cloud and never looked back.

But money got in the way.

I hate paying for cloud storage space.  I feel that my Internet service provider, who charges me bend-over-the-desk amounts of money for dreadful service, should give me a terabyte or two of cloud storage free with my monthly beating.  But they aren't interested in anything resembling customer service, so they don't.  I was forced to look elsewhere.

Dropbox was nice--easy to use, played well with a variety of platforms and IOS apps.  But they give a miniscule amount of space (5 gig) for free.  Their pay service grants you a terabyte, but it costs $100 per year, a scandalous amount for mere file storage.

Eventually I moved to Copy, which gave 50 gig for free.  Yay!  I was safe.

But now we copiers got a notice that Copy was going out of the file storage business.  In a few weeks, all our files go POOF!  Well, criminy.

I searched around and discovered that no one gave the amount of space I needed for free.  I would have to pay.

Then I remembered that Darwin already had a Dropbox account.  Some consultation uncovered the fact that he was using the pay version and he was only using 0.1% of his allocated terabyte.  This was a waste of both space and money.

I spent most of an evening reconfiguring my devices so they would use Darwin's Dropbox account as their storage account of choice, then created a new folder in it for my material and, in one giant file dump, moved everything from copy to my new Dropbox folder.

FOOP!  Everything seamlessly moved from Copy to Dropbox.  Now together we use 1.0% of the available space. (!)  I'm paying, but sort-of not, and Copy can now safely vanish.

Another benefit of marriage.


Submitting Like a Man

I found this blog extremely interesting:


The short version is, an editor realized that when she rejected a manuscript but said she liked the author's work and wanted to see more of it, male writers were more likely to send something else right away, while female authors often waited months to submit something--or never submitted anything at all.  Men, the editor muses, seem to be more focused on getting their work in front of an editor, while women read too much into the editor's letter: "Is it rude to send something else right away? Will I seem desperate?  Maybe I should wait a while so I don't seem pushy."  And then they don't submit, or they wait so long to submit, the editor forgets who they are.

Let me chime in to say: DON'T WAIT.  If an editor rejects you with a letter that basically says, "This isn't what we're looking for, but I like your work and would like to see more," the unwritten addition is, "and do it now, before I forget who the hell you are."

Editors (and agents) are sumptuously busy.  They receive hundreds, even thousands, of manuscripts every month.  If one pauses to say she likes your writing, YOU HAVE HER EAR!  But it won't last long.  All that busy-ness will overwhelm her shortly, and she'll completely forget that delightful little piece you wrote about your grandmother's hilarious hoarding habit.

"But," you ask, "if my writing was so delightful and she liked it so much, why did she reject THIS piece?"

Who knows?  Maybe it was too long or too short for her current inventory.  Maybe your protagonist was a were-kitten, and she already has a whole bunch of were-kitten stories and can't use another one for a couple years.  Maybe you sent an historical fantasy piece, and they don't publish historical fantasy.  Maybe the writing was almost there, and the editor thinks your next piece might make it.  Ultimately, WHY DO YOU CARE?  Send the next freakin' piece, and send it NOW!

Look, a manuscript is your job interview with an editor (or agent).  Based on your work, the editor will decide whether or not to hire you.  If you had applied at a traditional job and at the conclusion the interviewer said, "You're not quite what we need for this position, but I like your qualifications, and we have another job coming up that might fit.  You should apply for it," what would you do?  A) Wonder if it's too pushy to apply for the job right away and decide to wait a few months instead; or B) Rush down to Human Resources to make sure your application lands on the interviewer's desk within the hour?


Send something else, and send it NOW.


Getting Used to My Husband

When Darwin and I go somewhere and talk to actual people, we run into awkwardness.  Part of it is my fault.  I'm not used to my husband yet.

My entire life I was explicity and implicity taught by everyone I know that the only spouse a man can have is a wife.  A man doesn't ever use the phrase my husband. Even the LGBT community refused to use it, stupidly settling on the word "partner" as an idiotic way to maintain separateness from the straight community.  So I don't have any precedence for saying my husband aloud myself.

The phrase my husband crackles in my mouth, like a little firecracker.  I wince half a second before I spit it out, and the crack startles other people into silence for a tiny moment.  Then they go on, as if their ears and mine aren't ringing, or they don't smell sharp residue of gunpowder.  It takes courage to light it in front of strangers.

In a restaurant, I flag down the waitress and say, "There's a problem with my husband's food, and we need to take care of it."  Crack.

At a hotel, the clerk asks if Darwin and I want two beds, and I say, "No, my husband and I will share."  Crack.

During a party, someone asks if my wife came, and I say, "No, I'm here with my husband." Crack.

I'm not used to those two words yet, and I still brace myself for some kind of nasty response--jeers, shunning, even a physical threat.  My heart jerks a little and I brace myself to snarl, snap, or even block and punch.  But I've never needed to because no one has ever done any of these things to my face.  Still, a lifetime of faggot still rings in my ears and I brace myself anew at the drop of each firecracker.

Eventually I'll get used to my husband, and I'll stop bracing myself.  And maybe everyone else will get used to it and stop handing me that little pause. 


Covers! Copyedits!

It's been a busy writing week, in a non-writing kind of way.  I got early sketches of a cover for un/FAIR, my upcoming middle-grade fantasy novel.  (Watch for it!)  In a rare and delightful move, the editor was asking for my feedback.  Neat!

Then I got copyedits for BONE WAR, the final novel in the Books of Blood and Iron trilogy.  I'm hip-deep in those now.

Meanwhile, Darwin is sick with a head cold, so he's staying at home and answering work email . . .

The Writer's Epiphany

I was under stress for a Work in Progress.  I was stuck on a plot point, and the book would not move.  It was awful.  Days and days were passing, and still the book wouldn't move.  I tried all the tricks I knew--working on a different project; starting to work on the stuck project, then leaving it to go play video games and watch a DVD; using my patented "what happens next/write it down even if it's crap" system.  Nothing worked.  The piece remained stuck.

And then, very late one night, Darwin and I were in bed with the lights off and drifting off to sleep.  I abruptly took it into my head to tell him about an odd dream I'd had about him.  (I almost never dream about people I know, and Darwin being in the dream made it automatically odd.)  I was halfway through relating this dream to my semi-annoyed husband when--


The solution to the problem thundered into my head.  It was a lightning hit.  I physically jerked and fell silent in mid-sentenced while I processed this.  Darwin became worried and asked what was wrong.

"I have it!" I was so excited I couldn't quite speak.  "It's there!  It's perfect!"

This was less information than Darwin could rightly expect, and he demanded more.  He knew about me being stuck and that I was stressing over it, but not this particular context.  I explained it, trying not to babble.  Darwin didn't know the plot particulars, so I only said I'd solved the problem, and all at once.

I wanted to run for the keyboard, but it was late, and the next day was a work day.  So I went over the idea in my head several times to make sure I wouldn't forget what it was by morning and went to sleep.  (It was still there and still good in the morning, so no worries!)

Apparently, my subconscious had solved the problem, but needed a vehicle to get it to my conscious.  So it made me dream about it and then nudged me to talk to Darwin.  The dream had nothing to do with the plot, but I was able to follow the chain--Darwin to dream, dream to solution.

I've always maintained my subconscious is a better writer than I am.  This only proves it.


Marriage and Fear

Hollywood is at it again.

I know long-running TV shows need a steady stream of conflict, and not just the mystery of the week or the villain of the month, but also character conflict.  Problem is, the latter is always the SAME conflict.

A number of the shows I watch involve characters who dance around the idea of getting married.  Oliver and Felicity in ARROW, Leonard and Penny in THE BIG BANG THEORY, Amy and Sheldon on the same show, and more.  And in every single one of them, the producers draw out the storylines by having one or more characters be afraid of getting married.

Because, you know, that's how it works, right?  Getting married is scary.  Frightening.  TERRIFYING.  It's the scariest thing you'll ever do!  Facing down a Tyrannosaurus Rex while handcuffed to a velociraptor is less frightening than marriage!

What the fuckity snacks is this?

So marriage is so awful and terrible it's something to be feared instead of desired?

Look, I can understand some nervousness.  Marriage is a major life change, and that's stressful.  But where, O Hollywood, are the couples who look FORWARD to getting married?  Never, ever do we see them.  It's always fear, Fear, FEAR.

Darwin and I had to FIGHT to get married.  We had to fight for the right to do it.  We had to fight through social approbation just to be a couple, and fight through more social approbation to be engaged.  When the law finally gave us the right to get married, we threw a "fuck you, we're getting married in at a big wedding BECAUSE WE CAN--in your FACE" wedding, and we looked forward to every moment.

What is this scared of getting married bullshit?  I have no patience for it.*

Hollywood is looking to draw everything out with fake-looking fear because their writers are so unimaginative, they can't think of any other conflict to bring to a relationship.  After the twentieth time, I want to throw a brick at their heads.

*I'm distinguishing between fear of marriage and fear of a wedding, which plagues many couples who want to get married but are afraid they're spending too much on the wedding or who are nervous about getting up in front of a large group of people and saying, "I do."


The great snowstorm missed us.


This is the third big snowstorm of the season to skitter past the Detroit area.  The first one slid past us and buried the Mid-Atlantic States.  The second one rushed up the west coast of Michigan's mitten.  The third one--this one--shot underneath us and turned north to batter the east coast.

This is very strange.  Thanks to the Great Lakes, all of Michigan usually gets buried.  But this year, we've had next to nothing.  A half-hearted blizzard in November gave us some ground cover, and since then--nothing.

My students look anxiously at the weather reports.  They want snow days, of course.  I want them, too.  Snow days are furlough days, and the school district has already reduced my pay by the five snow days we're expected to have.  If we don't have five snow days (meaning I work days I'm not paid for), they tack the extra on as added sick days next year.*

For the immediate future, we have nothing in the forecast.  A few harmless flurries, but that's it.  We got missed.

*But according to state law, calling in sick has to have an impact on your yearly evaluation.  The more often you use your contractually-allowed sick days, the lower your evaluation score. So the district will be giving us sick days we essentially can't use.  Hence the desire for snow days.

Buns! With Beans!

A while ago I took it into my head that I wanted to make steamed bean buns.  Every so often, you have to challenge yourself.

Actually the main reason was Darwin.  He won't eat at a restaurant that serves steamed buns or anything like them, so the only way for me to get them is to make them myself--and then show him that they're delicious.

I'm an experienced bread maker, though I've never steamed it before.  I rummaged through my cupboards and found the collapsable vegetable steamer I almost never use.  I also found my rice cooker's steamer attachment.  Yay!  I was good for equipment.

Recipes for bean buns abound on-line.  I looked up a couple, chose the one that made the most sense to me, and set to work.
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