Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fly free, little story! Fly fly!

Well, I've done it. I've taken my first official step in the direction of becoming a professional fantasy writer. After spending 20$ on stamps and envelopes, and 7$ (!) on International Reply Coupons, I mailed "My Brother's Own Words" in a manilla envelope, along with an introductory letter to the editor, a SASE (Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope), and two of the exhorbitantly expensive International Reply Coupons. So any day now, my little story will be out in the world, bereft and alone, and force to rely on its own wits and the strength of its packaging to manage the exhausting trek from here in Canada to Hoboken, New Jersey. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I am the Butter Queen!

Bow before me, pathetic mortals! Who among you believes themselves to be my equal? I denounce you then, for you are a liar! How much butter have you sold, hmm? Not as much as me, I'd wager - because I am the Butter Queen, High Clogger of the Canadian Arteries! Bask in my greasy benevolence, you peons of margerine!

Now that that's over with...Not only am I Butter Queen, but I am now bereft of four teeth that used to supply me with wisdom. I have no idea how I'm going to manage my Wisdom quotient without those four bones to help with production, but one does not exactly need wisdom to work in a movie theatre, nor, now that I think about it, to be the Butter Queen.

The dental surgery went swimmingly. I was actually quite terrified about the upcoming procedure - I'd never been put under sedation before, and my only memory of having teeth pulled (I was six - and they were removing a tooth that had set funny after I'd bonked it on a wooden pew as an infant) was not very pleasant. I was afraid it was going to hurt, and that I wouldn't adjust, and that somehow I'd wake up in the middle of the procedure and catch them removing my wallet or molesting me or installing an organ that I wasn't supposed to have.
Instead, they poked a needle into my hand (to freeze my mouth), and put a rubber hose on my nose and told me to breath it in, and in truth it was a lot like going to sleep. I don't really remember nodding off, I only remember praying frantically and feeling somewhat blasphemous when I couldn't remember the words (Dad says I got that from my Baptist heritage, and that all their prayers are made up anyway).

My sister (#1) had it actually worse. I recovered from the sedative rather quickly, and was soon rapidly inventing ways to talk around all the gauze in my mouth. My sister (who was operated on 40 minutes after me) was harder hit by the medicine, and didn't fully awaken from it for hours (we had to wheel her to the minivan in a wheelchair, and I had to hold her head on the ride home to keep her from slumping over).

Eating and drinking with the lower half of my face frozen was somewhat unsettling. The upper jaw thawed in four hours, but the lower didn't for about 10 (because the freezing stuff goes directly into the lower jaw, I think). My mother was highly amused as I ran curious fingers about my face, and as they touched something soft and damp, I asked her if it was my tongue ("Ahs thahs mah tong?"). She replied, "That's your lip, darling." Why did the dentists move it? Drinking with a frozen mouth was difficult, because not only could I not feel anything with the actual parts, but the rest of my head was telling me that somehow, my lips were not only frozen, but moved to a much more inconvenient part of my face. All in all, eating and drinking with a frozen mouth made me feel like I had developed an enormous underbite, with my lower jaw and lip having to rise higher than they were supposed to in order to connect with my upper jaw and lip.

I eventually thawed out, continued to take my medicine, applied icepacks to each side of my face for 20 minutes each every now and then, and proceded to make the most out of a lazy three-day weekend. Sister #1 and I settled our asses on the couch with pillows and books, and proceded to drink every can of Orange Pop and Sprite in the house, gorge on noodles and chocolate pudding and ice cream (neapolitan - three flavours so that I wouldn't get bored eating it all. That's foresight!), and monopolize the television. Truth be told, this was the first opportunity I've had to rely on the Total Parental Service Method for Curing Illness since I was about ten. You know, the kind where you get to lie around and do nothing while your parents do everything for you without accusing you of being lazy. It was a nice touch of nostalgia - for both me and my parents. Me for when I was young enough to demand they wait on me, they for when I was too young to talk. Yup, I had to keep my mouth shut (or as shut as I could manage) to help it heal, no matter how many loopholes I tried to find in the damn situation.

Those three days passed swiftly though, and so I had to go back to work on Monday. Physically, I felt perfectly healthy, but I was depressed to have to go to work again before I was fully able to eat popcorn. Three pieces of good news greeted me as I arrived, however, which brightened the rest of my day considerably. Please allow me to list them:

#1: I'd won the day for butter on my last shift. With the rest of my Chapters money, I bought magazines for writing (before the surgery, we took a trip to the bookstore, where I used the first chunk of my winnings to purchase "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing a Novel").

#2: I'd won the week for butter, because even though I only won three days, the people who worked on Saturday got such horrible numbers it negatively affected their butter percentage. This meant I got free passes! (only four this time, and no popcorn coupons, but I wasn't about to complain!) - along with the free pass I got from my payment statment, and the passes I'd collected from winning the last week, and the passes I got from sending in specially-marked CD cases - this got me to about 11 passes!

#3: The contest ended on July 7th - and I WON! I mean, the WHOLE THING. The contest has been open since May, but I've only been working since late June...but I had the highest overall percentage! The grand prize was a very nice watch.

So that set me up to be in a very cheerful mood, which would have been fine if I hadn't gotten sick in the middle of my shift with symptoms I had NOT experienced during the last three days of recover. Nausea, dizziness, and headaches - today, the dentist's told me that it was because I continued to take one of the painkillers after the time it was strictly necessary. That put me out for Monday, and today as well. So, you can imagine me signing out early, dizzy and sick, all the while accepting prizes from the butter contest and stuffing them, squirrel-like, into my knapsack.

However, this leaves me feeling rather depressed. I had to ask especially for Sunday off- on the employee bulletin board, all the "day off slots" for Sunday had been filled, which meant that no one else was supposed to take that day off. I'd had to ask the manager especially for that day off, for the express reason that I'd have more time to get better so that I'd be back to work on Monday! I felt horribly guilty having to leave early Monday (even though the manager was angelicly understanding - it was Monday afternoon, after all, not very business, and we already had someone experienced working concession), and felt even worse (emotionally, although a little physically) having to phone in sick today.

But, that's not to say that I haven't been productive. Do you like the new layout? It's pink!
And I've customized it to record my comings and goings as a writer. As I may or may not have mentioned, I finished the first draft of my first novel ages ago, and have been in the process of revising and editing. I have now begun to seriously consider my career as a fantasy writer, so I've been working hard on my days off. During my sick days, I was inspired by a crazy idea, and instead of just writing the idea down and forgetting about it, I turned it into a short story that the Proud Mother Times reviewed as "Fabulous! Something I'd Pay to Read!"

So, here's the plan - before I send in my first novel to a publisher, I would like to get an agent, a respectable one, preferably from the Jabberwocky Literary Agency, because they seem to be well known in the fantasy field, handle genre (thus, fantasy) fiction, and represent Tanya Huff, whom I adore and know to be Canadian, like me. To get a respectable agent, I need to have "the right stuff" - hence, credits, and a name for myself in the fantasy community. So, while I revise my novel, I will also write loads and loads of short stories and cart them off to respectable fantasy-themed magazines, so that potential agents-of-mine may read and be amazed. I haven't written a great deal of short stories, mostly because I have so much hope for the ideas that I get that I believe (falsely, in most cases) are simply too grand for a short story, they must be novels! When really, most of the novels I've written (and since given up writing) were abandoned because I'd run out before hitting the 100-page mark. Most of those ideas could have been rather good short stories, instead of mediocre novels stretched too thin.
As you can see, I've finished one story, and have ordered a free trial copy from Realms of Fantasy and picked up some stories from Fantasy and Science Fiction from the University's internet library, in order that I may be get a clearer idea of whether or not they would be willing to accept my story or send me back my Self Addressed Stamped Envelope full of ashes or confetti. I'm aiming high.