Archive for September, 2009

Weekend of marvelousness

Just back from a writing weekend at the Oregon coast with Kate, Laurel Amberdine and her Chris, Corie J. Conwell, Diana Sherman, Shannon Page, and Executive Chef Jay Lake who tried to kill himself with a knife on the first day and spent the rest of the weekend trying to kill the rest of us with delicious high-calorie goodies. (Mmm, momos.) Despite which we somehow had room for a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for ice cream on the way home.

In addition to the eating, much writing and hilarity ensued. Walks on the beach. Gossip. We decided that the Next Hot Thing will be unicorns, but unicorns as unlike the typical boring sparkly old-hat unicorn as the fast zombies in 28 Days Later were unlike the shambling zombies of yore. We’re talking carnivorous, ancient, implacable, anthropomorphic, shapeshifting unicorns. We’re going to make it happen, just you watch.

I spent my writing time revising a short story and a novella. I realized that the reason I hate revisions is that when you’re drafting, you know when you’re getting close to the end, but when you’re revising — especially if what you’re trying to do is “make the story more (x)”, e.g. “make the character more sympathetic” or “make this plot point more plausible” — it’s hard to know when you’ve achieved that goal and when you need to do more. Double especially when, as seems to be the case more often than not for me, the feedback you’re trying to address is “make the story more (x)” when you already pulled out all the stops and made the story as (x) as you possibly could in the first draft.

We dropped off Laurel and Chris at Mary Robinette Kowal’s new digs, where they will be spending the rest of this week and we were all treated to a delightful vegetarian dinner and conversation. Marlowe the cat decided not to entertain us by demonstrating his Helmet of Invisibility.

A grand time was had by all and it’s not quite over yet. Corie is spending the night here; tomorrow morning we drop her off at the airport. Then we will have another house guest (square dancing friend Mark) tomorrow night. But for now… to bed.

Please help the Hamiltons (

A couple of friends of mine, Eleri and Blade, have been fighting what seems like a losing battle against serious life issues for the past several years. They have two children with a rare genetic disorder that has dramatically impacted their quality of life (the parents’ as well as the kids’), and Eleri has health issues as well that make it tough for her to earn a living. All of this has put them in a deep financial hole.

Now some of their friends are banding together to try to dig them out of it. I hope that you will go to and contribute something, or buy something from the Etsy shop you’ll find linked there. Every little bit helps.

AT&T iPhone international roaming

So we got Kate’s iPhone bill for the month including our trip to Canada. We knew that using the phone in Canada was expensive and she’d been sparing in her use of it, but I was wondering how much they’d charge us. (I carefully monitored my use of my Verizon Treo and kept it down to about $12 in additional charges, but the Treo’s not as data-hungry as the iPhone.)

The bill included $114 in data roaming charges. (!!)

Fortunately, I’d seen a blog post in the last week or so, with the subject “Goodwill”, talking about a similar situation — the poster had made a weekend trip to Victoria BC and managed to rack up a $300 bill. When they called AT&T to complain, they managed to talk with a phone rep for like an hour before the rep happened to mention “oh, there’s this thing I could do that would knock that charge down to $25.” The poster was saying that treatment like this will cause AT&T to lose customers in droves when the iPhone is finally no longer exclusive to them, but thanks to that post, I knew to call AT&T and ask for that retroactive change.

It took quite a while — the rep I got was ignorant but very helpful — but I did eventually get that $114 charge reduced to $25. The magic incantation is “Data Global Plan” and you can find more information about it here: You can be sure I will check back next month to make sure we don’t get charged the same $25 every month going forward.

So the only remaining question is: who was that masked poster? I’ve Googled all over and can’t find the original post.

ETA: An anonymous commenter tells me that the original post was here: Thanks to The Zorg for letting me know this option existed! If not for that I would have just sighed and paid the $114.

Foolscap program

Just got my program schedule for Foolscap. I’ll be auctioneering and appearing on a bunch of programming:

  • Fri 5-6 pm – 20th Century Archeology: Panelists will bring along contemporary objects and make us guess – if we were archaeologists 300 years from now, and we dug it up, what would we think it was?
  • Fri 9 – 10:30 pm – Which Stories Matter? The world contains an infinite number of stories; some pass by and are gone, while others are revisited over and over. Which stories matter to us? To the world? To the future? What makes a story important?
  • Sat 10:30-11 am – Strut Your Stuff – David Levine: Reading
  • Sat 11am-noon – Hats, Chapeaux, Huts, Bunkaquanks & Sombreros: Come talk about what you wear on your head, what you’ve seen people put on their heads, and other hat discussion. Bring examples!
  • Sat 4:30-6 pm – How to Write What You Don’t Know, and Putting What You Know Into Your Work: So you’ve got a great story, but it just so happens to include something – a location, occupation, field of study, something – that you don’t really know much about. If you’re really attached to it, how can you make it work? How do you research it effectively, and then write about it without overwhelming the reader with “guess what I found out” recitations? Similarly, how do you avoid the same problem when you write about what you DO know?
  • Sun 10-11 am – Food in SF Literature: Speculative writing about food can be extremely evocative and compelling, but it’s also often difficult to do well. What’s the purpose of including food in a story? What are some good ways to go about it, and what are the pitfalls?
  • Sun 1:30-3 pm – Auction