18 January 2007

Busy times.

The Apocalypse has hit at work. So far it hasn't been as awful as I imagined it (except when we get sale books with lots of cows that are not Angus, and then I must check each number and each name in each lot, individually, and that gets old quick). However, not a lot of computer time available, so I won't be able to check in as often as I used to for a while.

Just so you all know.

Oh, yes, I got my Cui Jian CD's yesterday, both at once! The Hong Kong disc is copy-protected, but the hits disc, which has 7 of 9 songs off the HK disc, is not. Oh I was happy. Playing the CD and hopping around the kitchen and singing stuff I didn't realize I remembered. It was fun.

07 January 2007

Yes, 15 years is a long time.

I am a happy girl today. Last night we were at a Chinese restaurant. Behind us, the employees were eating, speaking to each other in their own language, when one of them mentioned Hong Kong. And out of the blue I sat up and remembered something I'd been trying to seek out for a long time.

When I was in college, about 15 years ago, my friend Xia gave me a tape to listen to that she'd brought up from Hong Kong. On the cover, a man had a red scarf over his eyes. She said that his music had been banned in China, and that the album was called "I See Nothing."

The music was awesome, a mix of Chinese folk music and instrumentation with Western music. I listened to the tape over and over, after we graduated and moved on, but soon the tape was in danger of breaking, it was so old and listened-to. I would take it out seldom and play it occasionally, always watching the reels to be sure that I could stop the tape if it started to jam, as it had a few times. But Oh! Where on earth could I get a CD of this excellent music that I could blast everywhere?

So after we ate I asked the people who worked there about the tape. They couldn't give me any information on the singer, though I sang part of "I See Nothing" to them (had to fudge the words of course).

"That sounds like he's Cantonese," the guy said.

Ah! A clue.

So, filled with determination, I went home and started googling. I'd googled this before, with no success. But this time I ended up on Wikipedia looking at Chinese rock. Cantonese pop definitely wasn't this guy's style -- he was loud and fast. But this Northwest Wind style sounded more like what I'd heard on the tape, with its fast tempo, strong bass, and aggressive singing.

And I finally found my man. He's the godfather of Chinese rock, Cui Jian! Except he says that "godfather" makes him feel too old. But still! But I found him on MySpace, and when the window opened one of his latest songs started playing, and I was like, "OMG! That's him! That's the voice!"

I went running down the hall to tell my husband, I was so excited. And then I went cruising all over the internet and finally found the album that Xia had lent to me ages ago, only now it's a CD, and it's actually called "I Have Nothing," and it's on its way here from Hong Kong right now! Or at least in a week!

And then I'll order all the rest of his albums, one at a time.

I LOVE the internet! Love it! Oh, I do.

Here's Cui Jian singing "Fake Monk," which is off that album. Oh, and my husband went on MySpace and totally friended him.

05 January 2007

Let the raccoons be themselves.

I've finally figured out why I keep imagining my raccoons acting like little people.

As people, our way of life is based on our using our hands. We use them to touch, pick up things, eat, communicate -- everything.

Raccoons use their mouths. They'll use their hands in order to help them eat, of course, but most of their touching is done with the face, and they primarily fight with their teeth, not their claws.

I've noticed I've had a hard time when a raccoon has to point at something. My first impulse is to have them point with a finger instead of pointing with their head. The same thing happens when touch is shared. I keep imagining one raccoon patting another on the shoulder. No, all four feet would be on the ground.

I've been having a hard time visualizing my characters lately and I think this is part of the problem.

Not sure what the other part of the problem is. Though I did look at my MC's character sketch today and wasn't satisfied with it. I'm missing something that's pretty big. I wish I knew what it was.

02 January 2007

New Year Revelations.

1) Get Symphonians accepted.

Because it's in halfway decent shape, due to all those revisions I've made for FSG.

I do need to send queries to other agents and editors, just to be on the safe side. Because it could get rejected.

2) Get Leavetaking (the raccoon story) "finished."

"Finished" gets parentheses because no story is ever finished, for real. But I can work on revising Leavetaking until I run screaming into the street from it, the way I did with Symphonians. Then repeat.

I do want to get a good draft by May, since I believe I should have news from FSG regarding Symphonians by then. (That's how it worked out last year -- because I sent the story to them last December, too, and they replied in May, sending me back to work.)

3) Teach my kid how to speak Spanish.

By hook or by crook, since I don't speak Spanish myself. So I get to learn the language, too!

4) Fix up the short story collection and send it to Dutton.

I got a nice letter from Dutton a couple of years back saying that they'd decided against making an offer for it due to the collection seeming not all of a piece. I've been piecing it together more securely ever since. I sent a few of the stories to Eileen Robinson of FirstPages for a critique, which should be back by the middle of this month. After that, I need to pull those stories together, tighten up the collection overall, and give it to 'em.

It would be nice if I sent some of the stories to fiction magazines. Or maybe not, depending on what shape the stories are in. Short fiction is so much harder to sell, since there's so much of it out there, and so much good fiction, and so few venues that pay worth a darn. I don't want to send out lousy material, even if I could make a buck off it.


That's probably plenty for me to handle right there. More than enough, really. But the reach has got to exceed the grasp.