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Robin Hobb is off to another Convention!

And so, of course, I’ll be along for the ride!

Below is a repost of the journal entry from the Robin Hobb livejournal. Just in case you didn’t see it there!

What’s Orycon?  A wonderful science fiction and fantasy convention.  It’s a gathering of readers, viewers, creators, gamers, costumers, dealers and every sort of person who might have an interest in SF or fantasy. There are panel discussions, an art show, a masquerade, an auction, dances, hall costumes, a dealers room and well, too much else to describe! 

It’s a fun time.  You should come.

Orycon this year, in Portland Oregon, will occur on the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving.  We will be at the Portland Doubletree Hotel at Lloyd Center.  If you want to come, and to stay at the hotel, you should act soon, as the hotel block closes on November 6! (After that, you might get a room, but not such a good deal on it!)  If you buy your membership for the convention on line, you will have a much shorter wait to get your badge.

I’m going to have a number of chances to meet with readers and friends old and new.

Here is my panel schedule for the convention:

Friday, Nov. 27   Noon
"I have a story idea.  Where do I start?"
David Levine, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mary Rosenblum/Mary Freeman and me.

Friday, Nov. 27 3 PM
"Alternate History Fantasy"
M.K. Hobson, Alma Alexander(!), Michael Ehart, John P. Alexander.  And me.

Friday Nov. 27 8 PM
"Proofreading, Smoofreading: Copy Editors Untie"
Deb Taber, A.M. Dellamonica, Kristin Landon.  And me again!

Saturday, Nov. 28  Noon
"Theme"  (Theme?  What’s a theme?)
Marilyn Holt, A.M. Dellamonica, Bill Johnson, Kristin Landon, Karen L Azinger.  And, uhm, yes, me.

Sunday, Nov. 29 1PM
"That’s Gotta Hurt!"   (All about why maiming and torturing characters is Good!)
Pat MacEwen, Judith R. Conly, Rhea Rose, Phoebe Kitanidis. And me, wearing a black hood with eye holes.

In addition to the panels, I hope to take over the Hospitality room for an hour or two on Saturday (time is still being decided.)  Kat and I will be there, along with Ben Dobyns, one of the forces behind the movie The Gamers (produced by Dead Gentlemen).  Ben and I will be offering food, drink, and glimpses into future books and productions.  As soon as I know a definite time, I’ll post it here!  For those of you not familiar with SF conventions, Hospitality is where fans of all sorts can congregate to nibble on free food, sip soft drinks and take a break from the mad whirl of the rest of the convention. 

So, it looks like it will be a busy convention for me, and that makes me happy.  Those are the ones where I have the most fun.

I’ll hope to see a lot of you there!
 

Robin Hobb’s schedule

But  I’m posting it here as well, as I expect to be on hand also.  :)

Over the next few months, I’m very much looking forward to getting out of my basement office and seeing daylight.  And readers!  So here is a brief listing of where you might run into me.  For book signings, please be aware the times are tentative, and may be changed when we’re a bit closer.  So please do check back here or at www.robinhobb.com for an update before you hop in your car.

October 23-25   is Steamcon!  This is the first venture of this Steam Punk convention.  It’s close to home for me, at the Marriott Hotel at Seatac. And Tim Powers is the guest of honor. I think I’ve weaseled my way onto a couple of panels on Friday. I always think that’s the best time to do panels, at the beginning of a con, because you start meeting new people right away.  I think you’ll have to take a chance on getting a membership at the door now but it’s a chance worth taking.
EDIT:  Actually, I may be taking part in a couple of the Friday panels early in the con!  I will confirm that when it is confirmed with me!

November 27-29 is Orycon, at the Doubletree at Lloyd center in Portland, Oregon.  Guest of Honor is Patricia Briggs!  I’m looking forward to coffee with old friends there, and meeting new friends.

January 15-17, 2010  is an old favorite con of mine, Rustycon!  James Blaylock is the Guest of Honor, and again we have a Steam Punk theme. Should be a good time.  Again, it’s not far from my home at the Mariott Hotel at Seatac. 

Then . . . .

January 26  EDIT:   7PM The Release of DRAGON KEEPER in the US!  The party is at Duane’s, sometimes known as University Bookstore in the Seattle University District. There will be balloons, hotdogs and clowns.  Okay, well, maybe not those things, but I’ll be there to read and sign books. Please note this has been edited to correct the time to 7PM

January 29  7PM Down to Oregon again, for a visit to Powell’s Books in Beaverton.  With their famous dancing beaver . . . okay, that’s another lie.  But I will be there, to read and sign and look for coffee with friends afterwards.  Please note this has been edited to the correct time of 7PM

January 30  2PM  Barnes and Noble on Black Lake Blvd. in Olympia Washington has invited me to come by and sign some books.

Feb. 6 Noon.  For the first time ever, I get to sign on Fort Lewis!  I’ll be at Building 528 on Pendleton Avenue.

Now, I’m also  starting a rumor that I’ll also be at Imaginales in Epinal France in 2011.  :)   It’s our tenth anniversary, so I’m looking forward to getting back to my French hometown and see all my friends again!

 

Referendum 71, Washington State

Hey. Washington voters. Can we all stop thinking about sex and talk about R-71 for a minute? And what it could mean to a lot of ‘state registered domestic partnerships’?

 

First of all, nothing in the referendum says anything about anyone having sex with anyone else. Let me repeat that. Nothing in the referendum mandates that anyone has to be having sex with anyone. So let’s put that off the table.

 

All R-71 says that if two people of the same sex want to form a domestic partnership, they can. What if we called it a life alliance? What if we are talking about two single dads (and I don’t really care who the dads are having sex with, and if you do, that’s your problem) who rent a place together and share a nanny for the kids and pool their groceries and only have one car? Would it be okay with everyone if we said, “Oh, and you can share health insurance benefits, too?” How about a single mom and her second cousin who happens to be female and their kids becoming a household? What is wrong with that? Share medical insurance, have someone else who can rush to the emergency room with the kid, take out a house loan together? 

 

No one seems to be talking much about what R-71 offers to older couples over 62. It basically says that any sort of couples over 62 can take advantage of the domestic partnership (and you can say life alliance if it makes you feel better) change. It doesn’t even say they have to be having sex!!! So if two old ducks (or drakes, or a duck and a drake) want to share an apartment and car and groceries, and make emergency medical decisions for each other and possibly share insurance benefits, they can. And they don’t even have to have sexto do it!

 

To my way of thinking, the only flaw in R-71 is that it doesn’t go far enough. Why is it limited to same sex couples who might possibly want to have sex with one another and older opposite sex couples? Think of the domestic partnership or life alliances we see every day. My brother and his kids and my sister had a domestic partnership when he was newly divorced. (No, it didn’t involve sex. Are you listening at all?) They all banded together as one household and helped each other. She was listed as the emergency contact for the school, and became a Girl Scout leader for the daughters. He fixed the plumbing and did the grocery shopping. If R-71 had been in effect for them, and they had chosen to register as a domestic partnership,  the kids would have benefited from her Boeing medical insurance. And all that emergency permission stuff and who can know what about the kids when they’re in hospital would have been a lot simpler. 

 

Do you know any grandparent who heads a household that includes a grown offspring and some grandchildren? What if  a mom and grown daughter could be seen as ‘domestic partners’? Do you know how much that would simplify life for some of those households? Grandkids suddenly covered under grandma’s insurance at work, maybe.  If Grandma croaks, the taxable estate is reduced before daughter inherits.

 

Let’s face it. The American family takes a lot of different shapes these days. Any two adults, and I do many ANY two adults, should be allowed the benefits of the domestic partnership without us assuming anything about what goes on in the bedroom. These are hard times, people. Stop worrying about who is having sex with whom, and let’s look at what the referendum actually says.  

Welcome!

Welcome to the new version of Megan Lindholm’s official home on the internet.

Sicker

I’m sick. Lots of people I know are sick.  How about you?  Are you sick already, have been sick this month, or dodging germs?  Because I have a hunch that there are a lot of sick folks in the US right now, and in Washington state in particular. 

So.  What do you do when you’re sick?  Take a pill and go on, mingling with the public?  Or stay home and watch TV? 

Or get on your computer and make posts when you’re not even sure you make sense?  :)

There was a time, when I was a kid, if you were sick you stayed home from school.  Even if you were a kid.  People got sick and stayed home.  Now if you miss school or work, it’s treated as a bigger tragedy than if you infected 50 people that day.

Isn’t that crazy?

Restaurants can be very bad about this.  Don’t read any more of this if you are easily grossed out.

No, Really.

Still here? Okay.  Lots of restaurants will threaten to fire you if you call in sick.  My brother works at a place right now where if he calls in sick, they may actually suspend him for three days. So if he’s sick, he has to still drag in and work and spread it around.  Because he has kids to feed.

My friend Mary Ann (just so you know this isn’t an ‘I heard about this from a friend of a friend) worked at a Tacoma restaurant where you had to come to work, no matter how sick.  She recalled one night when a girl had a bucket in the corner of the kitchen to vomit in, and a bottle of Scope to rinse her mouth so she could go back out and wait tables.  

Right now, one of our big casinos has a policy that people are not allowed to be sick on the weekends.  There was a newspaper story about it in the Tacoma News Tribune.  It deals with the Emerald Queen Casino.  People are thinking only of the dealers here, but I’m sure the kitchen staff and cleaning staff and all the rest have a similar time of it.  I don’t know how policies like this can be legal.  We put people in jail for driving while drunk because they are endangering the public. But we allow businesses to create contamination stations that will definitely spread illness.  Not to mention the individual human misery it creates. 

How can we be so cruel to people?

I know how fortunate I am.  I work for myself.  When I feel like this, I can sit at my desk with a hot drink and a blanket wrapped around my shoudlers.  I can even look at my assistant, as I did last week and say, ‘Your job for the day is to go upstairs and sleep until you feel better.’  And she did, and I’m sure that is why she got better faster.

I don’t know if we are going to reach a stage this flu season where schools and theaters and even shops are closed.  I hope not.  But I also wish we had some labor laws right now that prevented companies from having and enforcing these insane sick rules.

Okay.  Time to go be horizontal for a while. 

Wash your hands, everyone.

M

Sick. Sick. Sicker, even.

Tonight I am sick. 

I’ve been sick most of the week. Sneezy, itchy throat, take a pill and soldier through it sick.  But tonight, I can feel it getting into my lungs and chest instead of my head, and I know tomorrow’s going to be a horrid day.

I went upstairs and tried to sleep.  I’ve got just enough fever to be having those brilliant flash dreams and sudden insights and floaty I’m-not-awake-and-I’m-not-asleep-and-this-is-such-a-cool-state-of-awareness moments.

Earlier today, about three hours ago, I finished the edits of Dragon Haven and sent them back to Jane at HC.  I inserted this whole section in the last chapter, about ten pages I think.  At the moment, it seemed essential that I do so.  Now I’m wondering if I inserted a rambling mess in there and if my editor will think I’ve lost my mind.  Tune in next week, folks.

So, after I did that, I went upstairs and lay on my bed with CSI playing to keep me company.  Drifting in and out so the plot made even less sense to me than usual.  And then I was in a corridor and all the doors were shut except the one at the end.  And suddenly I knew that what my book really needed was another passage through the plot. So I opened a door, beyond it was all sunshine and flowers and birds calling.  And I stood there, wondering if a book would hold up if it had two passages through it instead of one, or if the roof would fall in.

At the time, that made perfect sense, and I was a bit worried because I didn’t want to shut that door.

Then I sort of surfed around, in and out of sleep and the tv show, which had abruptly changed into Monk.  Then I had a brilliant insight.  For most women, we spend a great part of our lives in this immense competition to be attractive to men.  We all succeed at various levels.  Some of us obsess about our weight.  I swear, I have friends who every day, almost every hour, have to say something about what they ate or didn’t eat, or if their weight is up or down by a pound.  One dear friend said to me, "It has been years since I went into a restaurant and really ordered what I wanted and then ate it."  That seems so sad to me.

Anyway, so the majority of women are in this huge competition, all the time, worrying that we are not attractive.  Or not attractive Enough to get what we need to get, be it approval or a man or a promotion.  

And then suddenly, we hit a certain age . . . and it’s lower in the US than it is in Europe . . . and we are suddenly out of the running.  It no longer matters what we do, how fit we are, how skinny, how  pretty we are, because we are past the age to compete.  And if you haven’t won a pretty prize by then, then it’s too late for you.  Your desirability score has dropped. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I know that women can succeed in other areas, in significant areas, be it business or family or what have you. But there will come a time when no matter how hard a woman tries, she’s at an age when she is not going to be the most lovely woman in the room.  And that is seen as a significant loss, no matter what your other victories are. 

Why is that?  Why  do we let that be the reality?

And my brilliant feverish train of thought was, ‘Why don’t we tell women that when they are young?  When they are girls or young women and obsessing about this great competition, why don’t we tell them, ‘There will come a time when none of that will matter?”   There comes a time when no matter how good at it you were in the past, you are not allowed to enter the pretty competition.  So you’d better have something else up your sleeve. 

And wow is my punctuation screwed up in that last sentence.

So I’m sitting here, feeling pretty sick and coughing too much and trying to pass on this sudden bit of inspiration.  It’s this.  You can’t win, girls.  You might win for an hour or a week or even for five years.  But sooner or later, you cannot be the prettiest, no matter how hard you try.  

The sad part is that even when you find the important thing and achieve it, if you don’t win the pretty contest too, it doens’t count so much.

  I see that happen to smart women all along.  There are thousands of Hollywood movies where that is the plot.  Look, she’s smart and successful, but she didn’t win the pretty race.  Oh, but take off her glasses and pull off her scrunchy and suddenly, ‘wow’ she’s beautiful.  And now she is really the winner.

Or is she? 

Aren’t we saying that until you are the pretty one, you are the loser, no matter how smart or successful you are?

I think this is running through my head because I’ve been talking a lot with young women lately, mostly at the high school age.  Talking about colleges and (areyoutoofat) majors and (myhairisgreasy) scholarships and life decisions and(hedidn’tevenaskmeout) real life after high school.  And the signal to noise ratio is awful.  and I am sad for all the girls crying in dressing rooms because the homecoming dresses insult their bodies. I am sad that one dress and one night can be so, so important, as important as your SAT score or whether you were kind to that old lady on the bus. 

Am I saying anything new?  No.  And I’m not saying it very well, even.  I think I should go back to bed and sleep until tomorrow.  kids have a judo tournament tomorrow. Why on earth do weigh-ins have to start at 7 in the morning?  Are we all nuts?

probably.

And probably I’ll read this in themorning and say, ‘wow, I was really sick last night’.  And then I’ll delete it.

Nice Stuff in Tacoma

Just a couple of snapshots from my day.

I went to Tacoma Boys for fresh produce today.  It’s a year round plant and produce store, with lots of local produce. Gala apples were only 49 cents a pound today, in the nice small size that is exactly right for a little kid.  And the nectarines!  I could actually smell their fragrance as I was putting them in my bag. Red and heavy and juicy ones.

But before I even got in the store, there was a huge truck outside, full of pumpkins.  And the guys were unloading it.  They weren’t the store fellows, so I’m going to assume they were from the farm.  They’d formed a chain and were tossing pumpkins down from the truck, across the sidewalk and parking lot and the last  fellow was building a display from them, a wall of pumpkins along the edge of their parking lot.  There was just something about the day and the men and the flying orange pumpkins that was so cool.

There are still a lot of good things in this world.  We all need to stop and watch the pumpkin throwers sometimes.

Megan

Robin Hobb’s assistant is now offically a Hellbent Homewrecker. 

No, I’m not name-calling, even if her cat does think my chair is a scratching post and her son thinks I have a future being ‘a duck with a cape.’  That’s the name of the Tacoma Roller Derby team that has chosen her as one of their new bruisers.  What sort of a gift does one give on such an auspicious occasion?  Perhaps a mouthguard in an attractive carrying case?  Shinguards?  Team colors are hot pink and black.  Hm.  Her cat is already black. Does manic-panic come in hot pink, and would the cat sit still for racing stripes?  I shall have to consult that wonderful volume Why Paint Cats?  It’s a must read for any feline owner. 

Today I have a thrilling schedule.  I have to take my bed quilt to the laundromat, as it is too large for my home machine. For some reason, it looks as if two large dogs have been sleeping on it.  Yet when I enter my bedroom, there are Never any large dogs on my bed.  Only on the floor right next to it.  A mystery, to be sure.

And I have to run a computer down to the shop for a virus check.  Not my computer, thank goodness.  I’m doing a favor for a friend who knows even less about computers than I do. He was researching African safaris and suddenly a pop up filled his screen, warning him that he was INFECTED!  and MUST GET OUR ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM  NOW!   He couldn’t close the ad and shut down his computer, knowing it was already too late.  He doesn’t have a lot of money or a lot of time to fight things like this.  He really enjoys having a computer.  It just doesn’t seem fair for someone like him to get hit with this.  He’ll have the cost of the cleaning, and then he’ll have to pay to update to the new antivirus, which he had been putting off for financial reasons.   I’m not going to rant about the people who create viruses and fleece people by demanding money for anti-virus programs that are actually viral themselves.  That would be a useless waste of time.  Instead, I’ll sacrifice some of that time to try to help my friend get his computer to the shop and repaired.

Then I have to drive down to Roy, fire up the tractor (a task I’ve only done once before) and park it in the building that doubles as both a shop building and a judo dojo.   After a couple of years of angst and miss fires, we now have our permit to remodel the old house down there. So I shall use the pick-up  truck to get down there, and start to haul the last of the miscellaneous possessions out of there.  Some will go to the second hand store and some straight to the dump. Oh.  That reminds me.  I have to put the rototiller in the shop, too.  And finish mowing the lawn. Well, that will be my day’s workout.

But I will also take a notebook and go sit on the rocks by the pond and get some writing done.  And that alone will be worth the trip.

Procrastination

Know why I’m posting this?

Because it’s easier than writing.

There’s a short story one click away on my screen.  it needs to be finished.  It needed to be finished last month, and I was sure I could do it.  Today, I realized I was saying, ‘well, I’ll have it done by the end of this month.’  And it’s only August 19th!  I should be saying, "I"ll finish this today!"

Instead, I’ve paid my bills, balanced my checkbook, vacuumed the house, taken out the garbage, done some weeding out front and bullied my daughter about cleaning up her room.

I’ve also written two paragraphs.  Two paragraphs is not an ending to the story.  Six to Eight pages would be.  I pretty much know what has to happen. So why don’t I just write it? 

Because it’s easier to sneak online and read Emma’s blog (what, no updates since the beginning of the month?) or Steve’s blog or Lucius’ shared blog.  Much easier than writing the next sentence.

Look at all the sentences I just wrote, right up there.  Not one of them is memorable or advances my story let alone my career. But here I am, typing away, sitting at my desk as if I were a virtuous writer.  But not even the cats are fooled. Both black cats, Pi and my loaner cat Bagheera, have abandoned me.  They know I’m not working. Bagheera is taking a nap on the other side of the office.  Pi is probably outside baking her brains out. 

I have no real reason to be typing this.  I have no real news that is worth sharing, no deep thoughts, not even shallow thoughts.  I’m just typing this because it’s so much easier than finishing my story. And later I can say to myself, ‘Well, at least I updated my livejournal.’  Like that counts for something in some peculiar universe where writers are writers by virtue of how many keystrokes they perform in a day. 

And look at you.  I’ve admitted to you that I’m just blathering on, and yet there you sit, still reading this junk.  Don’t you have something better to do?  A cat box to clean, a story to write, a bathroom window with toothpaste specks that is just awaiting your Windex?  What’s the matter with you?

What’s the matter with us?

This is why the Internet is not good for me as a writer.

Now, please don’t send me emails explaining how writers much have a presence on the Internet, or how so-and-so was discovered as a writer because of her great posts or how Another Famous Writer insists that blogging is the true path to glory.  I’ve got those emails already and I can go back and read them any time I like.  They’re archived.  Somewhere.  Anyway, don’t send those emails to me and please don’t send links to this to people who will certainly disagree with what ever I’ve said.

Because none of that matters.  It doesn’t matter if blogging on the Internet works for someone else, or if someone smarter or richer or more popular than I am thinks the Internet is the Cat’s Pajamas. 

What I’m telling you is that it doesn’t work for me.  It gets in my way.  It gives me a way to pretend I’m being a writer when I’m just being a typist.

And frankly, if you are still here and reading this, it doesn’t work for you, either.  Because there you sit, reading a bunch of blather when you should be having a life.  After all, what will reading all this do for you?  What can you learn from it?  Years from now, will you recall it at all, or will this be just another forgettable 15 minutes of your life.

Hey.  Here’s a real thought for you.  How many more 15 minute bites of life do you have left?  How many do I have left?  Eeeek! And look, we each just wasted one on this crap.  You’ll never get it back, you know.  15 minutes of your life gone. Whoosh.  Flush.  Pop.  All gone, all done.  And what did you get for it?

So.  I should be brave and turn it off. Right?  Delete this journal, delete all the on line stuff I do, put the modem in the recycling bin and just get on with my work the way I used to.  Back before someone installed this magic window on my desk that lets me lean out and shout at the world whenever I feel like it.  Back before the internet got its little suckers hooked onto me.

Okay.  I just went and looked at my story.  I think the next sentence will be ‘she came to the footbridge she had crossed earlier than evening.’ 

Inspired, no?  No. But workmanlike, and that sentence moves the story forward and advances the plot a tiny bit.  So I’m going to go type it, and then I’m going to type another one and one after that.  And maybe Pi will come back into the office and be proud of me.

Or maybe I’ll take that jacket down to the dry cleaners now.