2006 Review

Work:
Words written: 95,838
Broken down by project:
Model Species: 15,228
Divine Fire: 29,645
Falling Star: 39,173
Associated Content: 3,558
Other: 673

Doesn’t include rewrite docs.  No, my numbers don’t add up. Yes, that is a pretty low number, but it doesn’t feel like I did that little. Much rewriting was done. Can I work harder? Yes.

Work to do:
Moth short story.
Divine Fire additions.
Finish Divine Fire and Falling Star.

The publishing end of work:
Sent Lucinda at the Window to two small presses. One rejection, need to query the other. Currently, one more possibility to look into.
Sent Pas de Chat to four agencies. Three rejections, might need to query one (it’s been six months).
Sent Model Species to two publishers, five agents. Six rejections thus far.
Other rejections:
Submission to Surreal Botany
Four rejections total for two flash pieces

Work to do:
Those queries.
We’re working on a better query letter for Model Species.
Always looking for potential publishers and agents.


Reading:
I had two ‘resolutions’ last year, both involving my book habits. One was to not purchase any books I wasn’t going to immediately read. The other was to read 30 books. These resolutions were…mostly successful.

Not counting Paperback Swap, gifts or books acquired from cons, I bought 12 books. Six of them are a series that I haven’t read through. Haven’t even finished the first one. I read four of the others. Not bad for a year that included new releases from Peter S. Beagle and Ray Bradbury.

I read twenty-seven books in 2006. This is more than I’ve read in any single year since I’ve been keeping track. Some of them were on the short side. Of the fifteen I have data for, I averaged 78,000 words per book.
Rereads: one
Number of new authors (not counting scripts and short story ‘anthologies’): 8
Gender of authors (again not counting scripts and shorts): 10 women, 13 men

I’ll be renewing my 2006 resolutions.


Health:
I decided near the end of 2005/beginning of 2006 to improve my back health. Keeping in mind that self-evaluation is generally unreliable, I’d have to say that I’m better off this year than I was last year. I started running and that’s been better for me than doing the stretch/strength type exercises. Movement is the key. I’m now trying to do something similar with my hands by teaching myself card tricks.

Quantitatively, I can run five miles now where last year I was happy to manage one. My knees are now a factor. It’s fairly clear that ultimate isn’t the best thing for my back. I was in a good amount of pain after New Year Fest and the Flagstaff tournament in August. I’m still gonna be play ultimate though. I can’t not. It’s too much fun and otherwise good for me. I’m also happy about how my throwing has come along.

On the weight front, I decided to try reducing my calories on a whim and I’ve been pretty happy with the results. I’ve lost 15lbs, and I’m in much better shape than when I was this weight in 1999. The trick will be maintaining what I’m doing. I’ve learned a few things about calorie budgeting, and I should probably try to get along without FitDay. It’s been hard keeping track these last two months with all the traveling and holidays. It will be good to get back to a normal schedule.


Mental Health:
Still working on being a collaborator instead taking every suggestion as a personal attack.  I’m also working on remembering the good comments rather than disregarding them.

My family hasn’t been bugging me much despite their drama.  I just find that I can’t worry about it.  Maybe that’s avoidance, but it works.

I’ve been reading and hearing more from the skeptical movement.  It’s good to be reminded to question assumptions.

The last half of the year has been disjointed feeling.  Part of it is working in the back room, a major change in my environment.  Part of it is probably the writing I’ve been doing.  I’ve started two novels, written for AC, and put some time into shorter pieces all in the second half of the year.  That’s on top of frisbee tournaments, conferences, an impromptu trip to California, the advent of watching a lot of TV on my computer, and Eric strongly considering a career change.  We’ll just have to see how it all plays out in 2007.

Book #27
Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury

The cover reads “The Eagerly Anticipated Sequel to Dandelion Wine.”  Dandelion Wine is my favorite Bradbury book.  Really, any novel of his, especially if it’s on the barely creepy side, rank as my favorite literature.  Yet, I never thought to myself, “I’d really love a sequel.”  And I think sequel isn’t the right word.  Companion would be better.  Bradbury treads over much of the same ground as many of his other stories, as most writers do in one way or another.  What makes Bradbury always seem fresh though is that…  It’s like walking down a street you’ve walked down hundreds of times and suddenly noticing something new, like the way a tree branch is shaped and how the cracks in the pavement seem to spell out some message if you stood still long enough to read them but you walk on by.  In the afterword, Bradbury says he likes to be startled by his characters, and these moments come through.

Book #26
The Black Cauldron, Lloyd Alexander

By the time I was ten years old, I no longer went to see movies with my grandpa. At least not ‘kid’ movies. So while I had seen every Disney re-release, The Last Unicorn, and The Black Hole, I missed The Black Cauldron. Never saw it on video either. Although I thought it looked cool, fantasy wasn’t very well respected in my household, unlike science fiction. That’s probably the main reason I never read any Lloyd Alexander either. I’m sorry about the not-reading. The not-watching, maybe not so much. (THAT’s Gurgi???)

It’s a good kid’s book. Probably, more to the point, a good boy’s book, unless as a girl reader you’re okay adopting some of the values of ‘manhood.’ And that’s okay with me. Up until only a few years ago I was pretty much gender blind in my reading until I realized that, even though I identified with his protagonists, Ray Bradbury rarely (never?) had a young girl character. *shrug*


New York Gets Ready to Count Calories   It’s going to be interesting to see how this works out.  There’s a possibility that it’s going to take some time, and that the effect will be subtle.  The key piece of information that people are missing is how many calories should you be eating.  According to a very rough FitDay estimate, if I do no exercise in a day, I burn 1900 calories.  If I follow the RDA of 2000 calories, I’m going to gain weight.  So really, for most people, it’s just going to be a shame factor.  Do you really need to eat the 1200 calorie burger?  Does shame really work?
Also a comparative article on the trans fat ban.

Minor cold turned into minor flu.  I generally don’t like to take meds, and we only had some very expired Alka-Seltzer Cold in the bathroom cabinet, but the only thing I wanted yesterday was for Eric to go get me something that would either kill my symptoms or put me to sleep.  As it was I spent the day napping between reading and watching a couple movies.  Over the Hedge was pretty funny, but I slept through most of Archangel.

Feeling better today.  The fever is gone and most of the congestion/headache.  Now I’m just coughing.

My apartment is now in not-so-good shape, and I have a lot of work to do.


Book #25
The Line Between by Peter S. Beagle.

I bought this book for “Two Hearts”, but I think my favorite story of it was “Salt Wine”.  Maybe it was because I read it yesterday while feverish, and I can’t stop thinking about how great a film it would make, if the movie-makers could get it right.  There aren’t enough mermaid stories in the world.  I’ll give Beagle one thing if anything, he always knows how to strike the perfect note between beauty and the terrible.

Book #24:
Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis. 

This book was nominated for a World Fantasy Award.  Now, I suppose one can call Lunar Park fantasy, but if you do, you need to allow the entirety of the supernatural horror genre in too.  Move over Jordan and Martin, Graham Masterton and James Herbert are going to start taking up space in the shelves next to you.  Not that I found Lunar Park (nor the best novel winner, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami) in the fantasy section.  Nope, those two as well as Graham Joyce’s The Limits of Enchantment were all in Tempe Public Library’s general fiction section.  Hal Duncan’s Vellum was not to be found at all…

Lunar Park starts slow.  Ellis sets up a fictional reality and then writes a memoir ghost story.  The set up is everything I disliked about American Psycho.  There is a steady stream of details that gets tiring, boring.  Honestly, I’m not sure why I kept reading aside from a certain momentum that pulls a reader through.  Thankfully, this doesn’t last as long as it does in American Psycho.  Once the fictional Bret Easton Ellis is established, the story moves, meticulously setting up  an atmosphere of dread.  I wasn’t expecting a  ghost story or the mild return of Patrick Bateman or a meditation on being a writer and the lives of a writer’s creations.  Getting all three was something of a treat.  And I wonder what epic S&S fantasy reader think of Lunar Park being included as one of the best fantasies of the year.  Or what the ‘literary’ reader thinks of it being shelved in the non-genre section.  Sadly, without the former I would have missed out on one of the best horror novels I’ve read in a long while.

Book #23:
Resurrection Dreams by Richard Laymon.
I was in the mood for a little horror considering the season, and I can’t go wrong with a little Laymon.  The book went in a direction that I was not expecting, which is great.  But with twenty pages left I was wondering, “Just how is he going to end this thing?”  And the answer was, “Oh.  Okay.  I guess that works.” 

One half of the ending, involving the protagonist, is pretty lame.  Didn’t care for it at all.  The other half is just…great…in my opinion.  And I think Laymon gave the protagonist an ultra happy ending to balance the really good part of the ending.  A shame.  What can I say?  I think unhappy all around works better.

Just spent three hours of my life watching Nebraska lose another game.  They’ve only lost the games I’ve watched.  I am Nebraska’s irrational curse.

My mother has watched Torchwood and says it’s good.  Time to hunt down that bandwidth sucker myself.

After I finish filling out my early ballot.  I kinda like doing this at home where I can Google the candidates.

Then work.  No, really.

Book #22:
The Sundial by Shirley Jackson.  Jackson’s books are never straightforward, and this one more so than any others I’ve read.  I’ve read that given the unpleasantness of the characters, it’s considered satire.  That’s an interesting bit to chew on, considering I’ve written a book with an unpleasant main character (which is, I will completely admit, very much influenced by Jackson’s works).  Have I inadvertently written a satire?  Might be the case since I often inadvertently read satires…