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A bit o' news

I don't have a lot of short fiction to submit places these days, what with spending any fiction-writing time on my novel, but I did finally get off my duff and submit some of my flash-fiction pieces around. Most of these are from an "alphabet collab" I did with my husband, Tim Pratt and our friend, Greg van Eekhout, where we divided up the alphabet and wrote short-shorts (or flash fiction or "story bombs" or whatever you want to call them) inspired by the letter.

Anyway, not to bury the lede here, but I sold "Excrement" to Daily Science Fiction! I've never sold anything to them before, but they're a fine publication and I'm very excited to see my piece up there soon. "Excrement" (originally "E is for Excrement" but, y'know, selling it outside the collab makes that not work so well) is one of my favorites from that project, so I'm very pleased to see it get a good home. I'll link it up here once it's published.

Thanks to the economy, my hours at my day job were slashed in half two weeks ago, so I'm scrambling to get more freelance writing work. (If you know of any, please e-mail me!) My cousin, Erika, pointed me to a very exciting project that I probably shouldn't go into detail about, but I'm very excited about it and hope they like my resume. So, y'know, fingers crossed on that front!

Also, I'm looking for some part-time admin type job to help fill out the household income. Again, if you have any leads in the Bay Area on jobs, please e-mail me.

My husband, Tim Pratt, has lots and lots of good writing news. You should check out his latest entry for more details.

That's it writing-wise for now! Ciao!

"Little M@tch Girl" up at Escape Pod!

My science-fiction drug story, "Little M@tch Girl" is up at Escape Pod. There's a discussion about it on their discussion boards. Normally, I find discussions of my work terrifying and, often, upsetting, but this one (so far) isn't bothering me much. In fact, I'm pretty pleased with many of the comments. I know: I'm totally jinxing myself by saying that publicly. Still, seeing how other people interpret your work is like catnip to an author, and I just have to acknowledge a good trip.

In other news, I'm working on applying hand-written edits to my middle-grade novel, "Keaton T.: Junior Gene Hacker". It's taking me longer than I thought it would, but then it always does if I don't have an external deadline.

By the way, I have a new website: www.heathershaw.org. I'll be posting writing-related news and updates there, and that'll be the official link that will go on my bios in the future. If you see any errors, or have comments, feel free to drop me a friendly line about it.

For now, I'm going to keep both the journalscape and livejournal journals as places where I can post about more stuff than just writing, but we'll see. I have a feeling I'm making this more complicated than it needs to be :-)

Checking in

I thought I should stop by the old blog here and give y'all an update on how things are going. I'll start with the resolutions!

First, the good news: the diet thing is going awesomely well. I lost 9 lbs in 3 weeks (which is at the high end of a healthy rate of weight loss), then I got really sick and lost another 5 lbs in 5 days (I know!), making the month-end total loss of 14 lbs! This is a full 20 lbs lighter than I was at, say, Blue Heaven, and I can definitely feel the difference. Luckily, most of my clothes are pretty stretchy to begin with and still fit, but my more tailored interview outfits, for example, are suddenly too big because I've gone down a pants size!

Alas, this does not mean new clothes shopping yet because not only have I held on to the hope of losing weight, but also many of the sizes along the way. However, at the rate I'm going (or even a slightly slower rate, since I probably won't get that sick every month) I'm going to HAVE to buy new summer clothes. Fingers crossed! I will try to keep this up, because I want new shorts! Shorts!

Slightly less-good news is that I've only recently begun revising that novel I said I'd have done by the end of last month. Ah well. The upside is this time I'm actually pleased with some things (the dialogue, frex) and noticing pacing issues, which may mean this time I might actually be ABLE to revise the thing. I need to get on this, though, because, in other news...

I got my old job back!!

Yep, after 6 months of being unemployed, my old employer has taken me back! Sooo glad things are going better and that this is possible! It's a more complicated job -- in order to try and make the company work, we've all got to work full-out -- so I'll be doing, in addition to my old buying/ copywriting job, all the social media (Facebook, blog, twitter) as well as events (gulp!) and weekly podcasts (double gulp, because there'll be a record of those!)! It's a TON of writing. Hell, it's a ton of work in general. But, not only is it a job, it's a job I know well, at a place I'm very familiar with (it would have been 8 years in October) with people I'm very used to working with. And, most importantly, although it's a challenge, it's one I think I can rock out, so when I do I'll feel like (to quote Tim) A GOLDEN GOD! Or Goddess. Yay!

So, what else. January was a great month, actually. Early on, Scott and Lynne and baby Graham came to visit. River is still talking about them, mostly in his third "joke": when putting on his socks, he says, "Sock! Lynne! Baby Graham!" (His first two jokes: gorilla/ umbrella and alligator/ elevator.) Graham is a year younger than River, but that gap is feeling smaller all the time; River was clearly delighted by the baby, and it won't be too long before they're playing together on visits.

The Santa Cruz portion of their visit ended with River throwing his glasses out of the stroller, which lead to an hour and a half search along the street in a not-the-greatest part of Santa Cruz. But! We found them in the end! It's a good couple of friends who will not only help you look for your kid's expensive-ass glasses for 90 minutes, but will make you not even feel bad that they did. We love hanging out with them and I can only selfishly hope that the frozen wastes of Duluth will drive them back to the warm embrace of Santa Cruz sooner rather than later.

My birthday weekend was a week and a half ago and it was AWESOME! Our dear friend, Dawson, came out to stay with us, which made it even more special. For my birthday, we went to Pizzaolio (yum!) then out dancing. At dinner, we officially asked Dawson to be River's godfather, and he accepted immediately! I'm so pleased to have someone like D. officially looking out for my kid; he's one of my favorite people and I know he'll do a great job.

Tim had to stay home with a sick River for the dancing, but my sister Holly, D. and I managed to close down TWO different night clubs in San Francisco! My friends Bekah and Michelle and D's friends Malia and Paco joined us for part of the night, making us a nicely sized group of fun folks. I LOVE dancing, but I almost never go do it, so it was the perfect way to celebrate my 37th birthday.

D's visit was slightly hampered by the fact that River's illness (plus our hangovers) made the next day a total laze about day. But, once again, I have to marvel at having a close friend, this time one who can just sit around on the couch all day long watching reruns of the Unit while we all nursed our hangovers (and the sick kid dozing on the couch). D's "inside the fence" with our family, so having him stay with us was simply wonderful, and I'm not just saying that because I had TWO other adults to help me watch River for a change (though it did make it feel like a vacation for me)!

Right after D went back home (wah, he's another one I want to move out to the Bay Area!), all of the adults finally came down with River's cold, which turned out to be RSV (read: the worst cold you can have and still call it a cold). We were sick sick sick for four days (as in, decongestant didn't work, had to take 3 advil to combat body aches, etc.), and it's now the fourth day after THAT and I'm still not 100%. It might have invaded my ears. Ugh.

Anyway, it was a subdued end to an awesome month, but it doesn't diminish the wonder that was my January 2010.

The first weekend of the year

So, on New Year's Day I took River to Ikea, where they were promoting free kid's meals in their (already cheap) little restaurant. Then I let him play with their demo toys, then test the hinges in several of the "rooms" they have set-up. The upstairs at Ikea, on a non-crowded day, is actually pretty cool for a well-supervised toddler. Everything is bolted down well for safety, and the doors, drawers and cabinets are *meant* to be opened and closed over and over again.

If it's crowded, however, it's pure hell trying to keep up with him as he dives through foot traffic.

Picked up a rug for my bathroom (so he won't slip on the towels I'd been using) and a tiny ironing board (so I can iron my interview clothes, should I ever get one of those again). Looove Ikea. I have my eye on at least two pieces of furniture that are on my "to buy when I finally get a job" list that will make our lives more organized/ baby-proofed. But for now, I can only content myself with the stuff that's $5 and under.

When we got home, I tried to nap, given that I'd been up until 2:30 am the night before, but alas I had DAYTIME insomnia, which is just unfair. Had insomnia Friday night, too, so I napped as soon as Tim got up on Saturday morning. Woke to bad headache, which was finally put to rest by sinus meds. Bah! I hate being stealth sick.

I spent two hours last night cooking a sweet potato, raisin and cranberry strudel, diligently following a recipe in my new Savory Baking cookbook. The filling was yummy (I tested it before I rolled up the strudel) and it looked AMAZING when it came out of the oven. Alas, the recipe had called for WAY too much salt, and it was too salty even for me (and I'm from the midwest and like a lot of salt on everything). I choked my serving down, because, dammit, I'd spent two hours in the kitchen and it LOOKED so GOOD. Tim took one bite and pushed his plate away. Fucking recipe. This is the second recipe I've tried from this cookbook that is too salty. I guess if I ever dare try another recipe, I'll just ignore the salt and add it when we eat it, but I'm still pissed off to have wasted so much time and food.

I also did a half an hour on the Wii Fit. Their new Kung Fu exercise is adorable and fun and made me smile, even though it's hardly anything like doing real kung fu. Still, the 10 minutes I did of it (it's a 2-min exercise I did 5 times) left me with really sore arms today. As in, ow ow ow I can't pick up that coffee cup because it's soooo heavy. And I lift weights regularly! I am filled with respect for my friends who do actual martial arts.

I've been diligently keeping track of what I eat and how much exercise I do in my little Lose it! app. It's very handy; it does all the math for me and makes it simple to look up how many calories or how much fat/ fiber/ protein something has in it before (or after) I eat it. Today we went to brunch and, after a few minutes, I could make a conscious decision to go ahead and have the Crab Cake Benedict, even though it's almost half my calories for the day. That's the nice thing about brunch -- it's both breakfast and lunch, so it's not unreasonable to spend a lot of calories there. But, just to keep it balanced, I ran part of the way there (the rest of the way I walked w/ Tim and River) and we're having salad for dinner. This is what I mean about not being stupid about what I eat -- by keeping track, I know I have to go lighter tonight and/or do some exercise.

Now I should stop dilly dallying and go work on my novel. Just as soon as the kid stops fussing and falls asleep for his nap...

River in the Ikea bathroom:

Two pictures from today:

With Daddy at brunch:

At the playground:


Ok, this year, I'm doing resolutions. I'm even making them public. Whoo, accountability!

1. Lose 50 pounds.

A.k.a. get healthier. The game plan here is pretty straightforward. I already go to the gym for two hours at least three days a week -- being unemployed, I have the time, and honestly some days those two hours are the only thing that keep me sane enough to mother my wonderfully rambunctious and increasingly-able-to-climb-everything child the rest of the day. But that alone has only amounted to ten pounds of weight loss, which happened sometime in late September/ October, and while holding steady is a good thing, it's clear if I want to lose the final 11 pounds of baby weight, plus another 40, I'm gonna hafta change my eating habits.

So. The big plan here is to not be stupid about what I eat. I've downloaded a weight loss app for the iPhone (which a kind friend gave me; I use it as an iPod touch, since I can't come close to affording the data plan to use it as a phone). I know from doing weight watchers that it actually helps to write down everything that you eat, and having something I can carry around with me that will let me do it with a nifty program will, I think, help me stick to that. The app (which is called Lose it! and was free) calculates how many calories I need to eat to lose a pound a week, and as long as I'm honest with how much I eat and how much exercise I do, it should keep track of that quite nicely. I figure a pound a week is doable, especially if there are a few weeks where I manage two (still within healthy weight-loss limits), which should mean fifty pounds in one year is within reach.

I could go into *why* I want to lose weight, but I think it's a common enough goal that it almost goes without saying: I'd feel better.

Oh, and there will be a few times during the year where all bets are off. Because ya gotta live a little, and I'm not counting calories on, say, my birthday.

2. Revise and send _Keaton T._ to agents. Draft and revise a new novel.

So, I drafted _Keaton T._ last year, and I had every intention of having it revised twice and to an agent by now. Yeah, that didn't work.

I've done a lot of thinking about it, and I've come to the conclusion that maybe I just don't work that way. See, every time I try to read it, I get to a part that's too recent, and I cringe. And if I can't read it without cringing, I can't revise it, because I can't tell whether it needs to be changed or if I'm just still too close to it.

So, part of my writing goal for 2010 is to figure out how I work best. I'm thinking I should try to learn to draft a new novel while the other one is "sitting", then let that one rest while I revise the first one. But maybe that will be too confusing? I dunno. I'm gonna play around and find out.

Still, before I go drafting something new (and I have two novel ideas I want to write... ok, three), I want to revise _Keaton T._ and get it out. I just do. So, I'm gonna try to do that... er, by the end of January? Sure, why not. A revision by the end of January, hopefully sooner. It's not that long of a novel. Maybe it's sat long enough now.

I'm also going to try to be more diligent about working regularly on my writing. I had it going for awhile this year, but it's sort of fizzled lately with this whole revision thing. So, need to get back on track with that. I have a plan for now (while I'm unemployed) and one for when I get a job, but I'm not going to post them here for complicated reasons. But rest assured, plans are in place.

And that's more or less it. Oh, certainly there are ongoing goals, some of which are related to the above (I'm learning to cook, which goes along with the weight loss) and some of which I already do and want to keep up/ do better (try my best to be a good mother to River, and a good wife to Tim). (And, sure, I have a serious goal of getting a job, but there's not much more I can do about that than what I'm already doing and I'm not ashamed to blame the economy on that one.) I'd like to promise that I'm going to update more, that I'd be quicker with personal email, that I'd do household chores on a neat, weekly schedule, but seriously, I'm almost 37 years old and I know myself well enough to know that if I make twenty resolutions I'll fizzle sadly on all of them. I will focus on these two that really need help (my health and my writing), and stay mindful of the people in my life, and I think I might just get it done.

What a difference a decade makes!

Well, I can't remember the last time I so looked forward to the promise of a New Year. Seriously, 2009, you can suck it. Having my income slashed, then losing the job altogether during the worst economic recession in my lifetime has been and is fucking terrifying. I'm so glad this year is almost over.

I just spent a little time reading my online journals from ten years ago. I am struck by how very honest I was, and by the brazen nature of my writing. I'm a much better writer now, but so much more cautious, and part of me really admires the boldness of my voice in those entries. I wish I could combine that with a good dollop of discretion, but I fear the latter smothers much of the former. However, it's something to think about, especially when working on my YA fiction.

The past year wasn't a total waste, of course. Pretty good writing year, actually. I finished my middle grade novel (twice, actually, since I did a page-one rewrite in October). I went to Blue Heaven and World Fantasy and got to hang out with some of my favorite writer friends. Hell, Blue Heaven was so good I never even had what I call my "oatmeal" feeling (when you cringe over what you said/ did), though I suppose it's possible some of my friends think I should have :-) Still, I think this is the benefit of age -- I've learned (and am still learning) how to have fun and be a bit wild without going too far and making people uncomfortable. And I got great crits on my novel, and got to contribute my suggestions to some of the most astoundingly talented people I've ever known.

I'm also less neurotic about my writing lately. I no longer obsess over getting into SFWA, or getting every last story published in a good market. This is probably due to the fact that I am working on novels now, not stories, but it's a definite relief. I don't really feel like I have to prove myself all the time. I spend that energy on actual writing now.

My writing time is also known as "naptime", which brings me to River. My son has been a joy and a... learning experience this past year, and not having a job means that I get to really hang out with him instead of trying to cram our time into after-work hours. Parenting a toddler is so hard, but so rewarding, too. River hugs now, and snuggles and talks a bit, and he's just so freakin' cute strangers stop me to tell me about it (which I love). His eyesight actually got *better* and he didn't even have to have surgery (though thanks to the glaucoma he was examined while put under twice). I'm so lucky to have so much time with him right now, even if it does mean things are dangerously tight money-wise. He gives my days so much meaning.

Tim and I are pulling through this together. He's been amazing. He's been writing full-out, taking gigs and producing words and bringing in money to cover the short-fall of my unemployment checks (I can't make money writing without risking unemployment stopping my payments for six weeks, which almost sunk us the time it happened). Even when Tim's writing something for hire, his writing is funny, sharp and compulsively readable. I love him and I admire him so much. It's been a tough year for us, but we seem to recover from the bumps in the road, stopping to pick one another up even though we're both tired, stressed and scared. I'm very lucky to have him.

Some of the horribleness of this year has brought me even closer to good friends. It's given me an excuse to reach out, keep in contact, give a call or an email more often. It's not the way I'd like to maintain my friendships, but since you all refuse to move into my neighborhood (or pick one where I can move to be near to all of you), it'll do. Still, I hope 2010 gives me less horribleness while letting me see all of my friends more often.

Ten years ago I was single, living with roommates who were dating each other. I was working as a receptionist at Xinet. I was writing how-to articles for the erotic ezine Clean Sheets. I'd just finished a VERY fun summer dating and hanging out with a married couple, and I was about to enter into a year of really unsuccessful dating. I still went home to Indiana for Xmas (and had so much fun catching up with college friends -- man, I miss that!) and I was about to take my first (and still only) international trip (to Spain). In December 1999 I had the week of auto-drama where I thought I met my future self (I even say in a journal entry that I thought it was me from ten years in the future. Nope. Maybe it was me from eleven years in the future?). I hadn't met Tim yet. I didn't have my son yet. I had never drafted a novel or made a pro sale. I hadn't even met Susan or Dawson or Jenn or Greg or Scott or Lynne or Haddayr or Richard or Bekah or lots of people I consider close friends now! I was awfully lonely much of the time.

Ok, so 2009 sucked, but I've come a long way in the past decade and I wouldn't go back for anything. Still, I'm really really looking forward to 2010. Like, Really.

Incoming Tweets!

  • 13:37 Brutal 1st day back @ gym yesterday = brutally sore chest/ back/ arms today. That + lingering con crud + crazy toddler madness= uuuuggghhhh. #
  • 15:18 Oh, for fuck's sake. #
  • 16:26 @jennreese Black elderberry pills (Nalo's suggestion). Also: humidifier @ night. Tylenol cold during the day, NyQuil @ night. And SLEEP! #
  • 20:04 @jennreese Oooh, you're braving the Neti pot? Let me know how that goes! I've been intrigued, but not brave enough to try. #
  • 22:08 @kbuchtak Oh, Kellie. I'm so sorry! #
  • 07:45 River is tall enough & has figured out how to reach over & open the pressure gates. I suggested we put them upside down, which works. Whew! #
  • 07:49 @sacwentiesister I KNOW! It's so sad. #
  • 08:04 Oh, nm, he just crashes it down now. #
  • 11:41 River's hair has been cut! He cried; to my surprise, I didn't. It's v. cute; photographic evidence to follow during naptime. #
  • 11:56 It's like I went from having a toddler to having a BOY. I keep doing double takes. #
  • 11:58 @SPrineas @chancehatesyou Yeah, I liked the Hunger Games but wasn't as blown away by it as I expected to be. Ditto Catching Fire. #
  • 11:59 @jennreese Yeah, I've felt that way for... awhile now. I'm incredibly sorry if I gave it to you, but not sorry to have spent time w/you! #
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Incoming Tweets!

  • 13:57 River likes to feed me. Sometimes, I let him, and sometimes it's already been in his mouth. Or worse. #
  • 14:05 @paolobacigalupi Wow! That's awesome! And well-deserved! #
  • 15:05 @shunn Awwww! #
  • 15:46 Huh. I wonder if sunscreen will stain carpet. #
  • 23:04 @jennreese That residual WFC fatigue is killing me, too! Oof! #
  • 23:05 @gregvaneekhout Hey, there are hallways in our building! #
  • 23:37 Going to get River's 1st haircut soon. Have spent FAR too much time trying to find right place. Amazing how bad the reviews are around here. #
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Incoming Tweets!

  • 14:51 Was at WFC, now I'm home. Tim went to take a nap. Me and River are hangin'. Miss writerly folks already. Etc. #
  • 15:03 Beginning to think that using self-directed baby-play time to catch up on four days of tweets was not the best use of my time. Maybe. #
  • 15:15 @shunn Sorry we missed saying good-bye! Great to see you at the con! #
  • 15:17 Guess we might try to make this one: 2011 WFC will be in San Diego www.wfc2011.org/html/mainmenu.html #
  • 22:32 Funny moment from #wfc2009: River pronounced Greg's name "Dumb" as in, "Bye-bye, Dumb!" Maybe it's only funny to me and Tim. Poor ol' Greg! #
  • 22:34 @jennreese I loved loved loved hanging out with you at WFC, too! So fun! Can't believe I'm not sure when I get to see you next! Meh! #
  • 22:43 @gregvaneekhout Oh, good! I may call you many things, Gregums, but "Dumb" isn't one of them! Unless River convinces me... :-D #
  • 07:48 @Ginger_Clark Happy birthday! I hope it's fabulous! #
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Incoming Tweets!

  • 13:17 @paolobacigalupi NooooooOOoooo! #
  • 15:25 Lately, I've taken to throwing all the laundry in together, on cold, instead of sorting by color, temp. etc. #
  • 23:49 @kmeisner Amen, sister! My eyes glaze w/ all the sports posts/ tweets! #
  • 00:00 Had a great time reminiscing and catching up with old friends tonight! #
  • 09:32 @susanmarie Ugh, so sorry! #
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