In honor of the reason, we're showing my second favorite Christmas movie of all time (I love it, but I have to confess, I love the Alastair Sim CHRISTMAS CAROL even more), A CHRISTMAS STORY.
Jean Shepherd was the great chronicler of what childhood was like for kids of 40s and 50s, and A CHRISTMAS STORY hits all the right notes. A great film. Watch out, Ralphie, you'll shoot your eye out!
As for what the grown-ups were doing in the 1950s, we also have BIG SUR, based on Jack Kerouac's writings.
I haven't seen this one yet, but it looks great.
See you at the movies.
- Current Location:Santa Fe
- Current Mood: mellow
Overall, my strategy has worked very well. People always ask how business has been and they expect me to say it's down a lot since I have such limited hours. But the opposite is true; I'm doing much better now than I had been before. By turning my opening hours into a "special event" people are a bit more likely to pay attention and perhaps appreciate me and the store a bit more. Now, if I could just get people to either check the website or read the sign on the door for upcoming hours I would be very happy (many people stand outside the door, right in front of the sign, peaking in, looking all over the building for something(?) and many times knock on the locked door and ask if I'm open. The lights are mostly off, the flip-sign says "closed" and the hours posted on the door do not say I should be open just then. But frankly, even though I'm at the store most days, it's not worth my time to open the doors since then I can't do the things that need doing; cataloguing, ordering, correspondence, etc. So when I have a special open day, then I know that I'll probably get nothing else done but I will make money. And it is working well.
I'll be open from now through the 23rd. Closed the 24th and 25th. Open again on the 26th, 27th,28th. I'll have more open hours posted later.
- Current Mood: excited
Well, it started out as a lovely idea! And ultimately, all the problems endured were well worth the journey.
Dangerous Women, a new anthology edited by Gardner Dozois and George RR Martin, debuted at #18 on the Best Seller list! I’m extremely happy about this, as one of my stories, “Neighbors” is included in the book.
But before it debuted, I was invited to help launch the book from The Jean Cocteau Cinema, a small theater in Santa Fe that had recently been saved from going dark when it was purchased by George R R Martin. I leaped at the opportunity. I’d never been to Santa Fe, and many of the writers who were attending are among my favorite authors.
So I set out with Robin Hobb’s trusty evil assistant Kat.
Our first hurdle was presented by American Eagle airlines.
When we got to the airport, we attempted to get our boarding passes from American Airlines. Kat’s passport would not scan but eventually she found a number on the e-ticket that American Airlines recognized. It listed our names, Kat selected both of us, and then it printed out a slip that said we were at the wrong airlines. That was all. No hint as to why a ticket purchased by American Airlines was not a ticket on an American Airlines flight. A wait at the counter, and the nice lady sent us to Alaska Airlines. A wait at that counter, and then boarding passes obtained, we started through security.
There at SeaTac, something happened to Kat that previously had happened to Robin Hobb, but to few others of our acquaintance. She was taken aside, her hands swabbed for explosive residue. Okay. On we went. At security, she was taken aside, wanded, and then patted down. Okay. Two ‘random’ checks for Kat. Note that she had used her employee Robin Hobb credit card to book the flight.
At Alaska, our boarding passes would not scan, but the attendant typed them in and we boarded the plane. We enjoyed an uneventful flight to Los Angeles. We had over an hour to our next flight, so our plan was to find our gate, get a bite to eat, and travel on to Santa Fe.
We landed, and deplaned, and looked around for our next flight. Our tickets said American Eagle. The American Eagle flight to Santa Fe did not show up on any of the departure/arrival boards we could find. We had to ask at a counter to be directed to an obscure door where, the Bejeweled-playing attendant assured us, a shuttle would soon come. We were hungry but resolved to find our gate and then eat before boarding. We had 45 minutes left. Surely that would be enough?
The shuttle took its sweet time to arrive. We got on, and then got off. We started to go inside, but were halted. This was not our destination. We boarded a second shuttle. It took us to an obscure gate that appeared to still be under construction. Food was available from one vendor, and about of the quality one might get from a corner convenience store. As the Kat cannot eat gluten, her choices were even more limited than mine. But eventually, yes, we did get on the American Eagle airplane.
We sat and waited. Then we were told the airplane had a problem, so we de-planed. And eventually got on another American Eagle plane. We sat and waited. Then we were told the cargo hatch would not shut. Another wait, and the hatch was finally closed and off to Santa Fe we flew.
We claimed out suitcases upon landing, and rented a car from Avis. Avis apologized that the outside of the Ford Explorer was dirty. The weather was too cold for car washing. No problem! The inside was fine and we liked its road handling ability. Off we went.
The Hotel Santa Fe completely charmed both of us. Big, welcoming fireplace! A nice room. We were late for a welcoming party due to our earlier aircraft delays, but our GPS worked well and we found ourselves driving through snowy roads over the low hills until we reached the lovely home of Melinda Snodgrass. The scent of pinon welcomed us, and we spent a long and lovely evening enjoying hospitality and wonderful writerly company!
The food was very nice, the conversation amazing. I learned that George RR Martin has four minions to my paltry one, but decided I was keeping mine all the same. A light snow began to fall, and so we headed back to our hotel.
The next day we explored Santa Fe a bit. It’s a lovely place. The cold weather kept us dashing in and out of stores, and art galleries and book stores. We consumed excellent food, bought many touristy items, visited a chapel with a miraculous spiral staircase and attended late Mass at St. Francis Cathedral.
The next day we arose, did a bit more exploring, met up with Kat’s friend Rachel who helped us with an insider’s tour of Santa Fe, had a lovely dinner with Gardner and George, and then on the Cinema. The book launch was amazing fun! George Martin did a question and answer session with the attending authors as panelists, we each had the opportunity to do a brief reading, and then we signed books for attendees.
In all, a wonderful experience for me. I had the pleasure of meeting Sam Sykes, Diana Rowland, Diana Gabaldon, Melinda Snodgrass, Carrie Vaughn and S. M. Sterling, as well as conversation with George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois. As we parked the car, Kat noted that a tiny rock ding close to the windshield wiper was just beginning to climb up the glass.
The next morning, Kat and I had time for a bit of Christmas shopping and then headed out to our rental car. It was cold, very cold. And as we drove, the crack from the tiny rock ding began to travel up the windshield. I hadn’t bought rental car insurance, as my business credit card is supposed to cover that. And besides, we hadn’t put the ding in the window, so no worries.
We arrived at the tiny Santa Fe airport to find our flight delayed by several hours. And Avis thought otherwise about the crack in the windshield. We were told we were responsible for it. No matter that a dirty windshield had obscured the ding when we accepted the car. We were liable. First bummer of the day.
We waited a long time for our flight. Bad weather back east had delayed many flights. Then our airplane came, circled the Santa Fe airport, and then flew on to Albuquerque. Apparently there was something wrong with a flap, and it was too serious to be fixed at the little airport. Another wait, and we were told that all flights from the airport were now cancelled. We held back and let others stampede to the counter. Some were quite wroth with the attendants, but really, what control did they have. Kat and I did note to ourselves that this was the 3rd American Eagle plane in a row that seemed to have something wrong with the plane itself. Not reassuring. And when our luggage was returned to us, the collapsible handle of my suitcase was stuck in the half up position. It wouldn’t go up and it wouldn’t go down. Lovely.
By the time we reached our turn at the counter, the shuttle carrying most of the others to Albuquerque had been filled and left. The woman at the counter said we could taken a second shuttle there, then board a late flight for Los Angeles. The airlines would pay for the shuttle ride, and a hotel in Los Angeles.
A driver in a clean, warm car gave us and another lady with a large load of luggage a ride to Albuquerque. The hour long night drive was actually pleasant. I wished I were able to see more of the scenery. The only unpleasant moment was when he off loaded us at the airport and drove off, leaving the poor woman with us standing and looking at her four suitcases. We helped her get them inside and got in line behind her.
Kat’s passport wouldn’t scan. My passport wouldn’t scan. We went to the counter for help. Yes, they could help us get our boarding passes. Could we get a voucher for food. No, they couldn’t help us with that.
At the counter, the attendant accidentally booked Kat’s suitcase all the way through to Seattle and sent it on its way. I was still struggling to get the handle down on mine. After a bit of a struggle, we were able to get Kat’s suitcase back and book it only to Los Angeles. I ended up completely unpacking my suitcase on a chair in the airport, struggling to get the handle down to no avail, re-packing it, and talking them into checking it to Los Angeles as it was.
Okay. A bad luck day, but there it was. We were on our way to LA. We could deal with this.
Little was open in the airport. We looked forward to some sort of a meal in Los Angeles. At security, Kat was swabbed again for explosives. And again, she was randomly chosen for a wanding and a pat down. On we went to the gate, where we waited. Flight delayed. Then the gate was changed. Another trot through the terminal, and then, finally, the flight came. Our boarding passes would not scan, but an attendant typed our information and we boarded the plane. Hurray! We took out our books and settled in.
Ours were the only seats on the flight where the overhead reading lights wouldn’t work. Of course.
We landed at the same miserable half-finished gate in Los Angeles. We stood in line, and were given a phone number to call for a hotel for the night, and a voucher for breakfast the next day. $14. Okay. Off to the main terminal, where we claimed our luggage, and then out to find a shuttle for the Holiday Inn. We didn’t wait long, and were glad to arrive. We were too tired to eat, and nothing was open anyway. A simple room, five hours of sleep, and then we were up and on the shuttle back to the airport. Nothing was open in the hotel for food. Off to American Airlines. We hopped off and went to check in our luggage.
Only, NO, not again! The self-check spit out a note that we were at the wrong airlines. We needed Alaska Airlines. Two terminals away.
So, after a brisk jog down the sidewalk with my recalcitrant suitcase jouncing and clipping me all the way, we managed to check our luggage in at Alaska. They understood about the balky handle, too.
Another trip through security. Another wanding and pat down for Kat. Totally random, of course!
We got to our gate, and found that our $14 breakfast voucher would not feed both of us. Well, had we really expected it would? No. We got some airport food for breakfast, knowing we would regret it later but we were both really hungry.
Then off to our gate, where again our boarding passes would not scan. We were keyed in and got onto the airplane. Where Alaska had given us extra legroom seat. Ah. An uneventful flight home. Fred picked us up and we got to the house and ate real food.
Upon unpacking, we both found slips from the TSA in our checked suitcases. They had both been opened and inspected. Randomly, of course.
So. That is the tale of my adventure, shared at length. Why? Because I do think that some information needs to be shared.
I doubt I will fly American Eagle Airlines again. Nor will I rent from Avis again. Nice people served us at the face-to-face level, but the corporate level fails my expectations. I should not get 3 defective airplanes in a row. And being held financially accountable for a rock chip crack on a dirty windshield is similar to being held accountable for a tire that goes flat, or a radiator leak.
And the other piece of information I want to share. For the past six years, I have been regularly wanded, patted down, had my fingers swabbed for explosives, and had my laptop opened and my keyboard swabbed. I am always told that I’ve been ‘randomly’ selected. My record was on a trip home from Amsterdam, where first my suitcase was ‘randomly’ searched, followed by a ‘random’ pat-down as I went through security, and finally I was stopped at the boarding area of my flight, for a ‘random’ search of my carry-on. I do not know anyone else who has been swabbed for explosives at the airport, let alone anyone to whom it has happened more than once. Only me. And now Kat.
Robin Hobb writes lots of email. It goes out to readers in response from letters all over the world. Unsurprisingly, the word ‘assassin’ crops up in many of those emails. It’s in three of my titles. And I’m sure it’s one of the button words that NSA scans for in email.
I love my country, and I’m probably more of a patriot than is currently fashionable. I want terrorism stopped. But I still deplore private emails and phone calls being screened by the NSA. Even more do I deplore sloppy workmanship. If, indeed, I am being scrutinized because I write a lot of email with ‘red flag’ words, then please, do read the entire email and realize that I am just a writer replying to readers about my books. Just because my assistant booked the flights using a Robin Hobb credit card does not mean Kat deserves to be treated with such a high level of suspicion. While I take pride in being among Dangerous Women, it does not mean we are dangerous women.
Until I watched this happening to Kat, saw her hands swabbed twice and saw her patted down at literally every security check point, I was able to speak about my security experiences wryly. At every point of our travel, our passports and ID’s had to be hand entered rather than scanned. Every single boarding pass has to be typed in rather than scanned.
Before this trip, I could wonder if I were being paranoid, if, indeed, like my bad luck with the flights and the cars, I was simply drawing the ‘search her’ card in a bizarrely regular fashion. But this was just a little too peculiar. A tad too ‘un’random.
Am I paranoid? Of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s without reason. And it’s time to share my experience with others.
I finished Draft 1.0 of Princess X and handed it off to the editor. Right now, I'm powering through the Maplecroft rewrites, for I'm set to hand those in by the end of the week - before I fly to Florida, come Monday. When I get back from Florida, I have to pack up for a trip to Houston; and then I get a week home before I pack up again for Detroit. And of course, I want a draft of Jacaranda* done by the end of January, because I need to start on Maplecroft's followup.
So I hope you'll forgive me if I'm a little quiet, over here. I hope to come up for air this weekend, perhaps - and produce a proper post, with actual content and stuff. Then again, I might just crash and sleep for a couple of days. Hard to say.
ANYWAY. Happy holidays, whichever ones you celebrate - if in fact you celebrate anything at all. Happy December, if that's the case, and a fabulous New Year to all!
* I've added a few thousand words, but I set it aside temporarily - in favor of finishing the Maplecroft rewrites. This way, I might get to do some work on Jacaranda in Florida, in the hotel that inspired the story.
What I demand is:
Best World-Building in SF
Best World-Building in Fantasy
Best Leading Character
Best Supporting Character
Most Mind Blowing Concept in a Work of SF
Most Mind Blowing Concept in a Work of Fantasy
Oh, there can be others too for costuming, make-up, music and the like, but this would make a nice start.
Just last night I started reading a first novel. The writing was rough to be honest, but the world-building was 8.3 times better than most things that win the Hugo. It doesn't have a hope of winning anything. So, your job. Is to make it happen.
Now, does anybody want to nominate for any of the categories in next year's Peadars?
I imagine Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice would be in with a shout for the SF World-Building. What do you think?
This year, I wanted to do something a little special. With the help of the Waygate Foundation, the group of Wheel of Time fans who seek to do charitable work, I have offered to Pat a special event for Worldbuilders, if one of his benchmarks is met. (I believe he set it at 100k in donations, which we’re very close to reaching.)
He lists my stretch goal as something like, “Brandon will live-stream a writing session.” But this is going to be so very much more than such a simple sentence indicates. If we hit Pat’s goal, I’m going to get on Twitch.tv (a streaming site with an integrated viewer chat) and then I’m going to brainstorm and write a story according to audience direction.
That’s right, I’ll let you have a say in deciding turning points, descriptions, and general mayhem in the story. I’ll explain what I’m doing each of the way via Twitch’s integrated webcam feature, and will try to do an extended Q&A as well.
I’ll look at doing this for five hours or so: an hour of brainstorming followed by four hours of writing. If we don’t finish the story (which is likely, as I envision four hours getting us somewhere around 2,000–3,000 words) I’ll try to wrap up what I’m doing in some interesting (but open-ended) way, then release the story into the Creative Commons as something like an extended writing prompt. The challenge to all of you will to be to finish it according to your preference.
Either way, it should be a very unique experience. You’ll be able to not only watch me write, but have a hand in what takes place, as well as ask questions about the process while it’s going on. If you’d like to see this happen, all you need to do is donate to Worldbuilders. (I’ll probably use the writing session itself as a mini donation drive as well.)
Now, there will be some limitations. The chat will be heavily moderated by my team to delete abusive or inappropriate language—be aware, therefore, that we’re going to be a little trigger-happy with deleting comments. Something like this could quickly spiral out of control. If we hit the goal prompting me to do this, I’ll look at doing this session in the coming weeks—I promise it will at least happen before Worldbuilders ends on February 2nd. (I’m thinking second week of January is the likely date, though I’ll give lots of forewarning.)
My intent is to release whatever I write during the session to the Creative Commons. Then, I will probably finish the rest of the story on my own time and donate it to Worldbuilders or Waygate to sell (assuming it turns out well enough to be worth paying for) as a digital download, proceeds going to charity. I do have to warn that though the writing process of the story should be a lot of fun—and will hopefully be very interesting to all involved—I can’t promise the story will actually work. I’ve never done anything like this before. You’re going to be able to see me write a rough draft in all of its ugly glory, egregious spelling errors included. Perhaps that alone will be amusing enough to some of you to encourage a donation. But I’ve been toying with trying this for over a year now, and it’s time to offer the chance to everyone out there.
So, please go to Worldbuilders and check out all of the awesome incentives that authors and other creative professionals are offering. Donate what you can. Then, get ready for something distinctly strange as you all create the story, and I do the writing.