LTUE through a cold-fogged lens

As those who went to LTUE can attest, it seems that I caught a bad cold either on the plane or on the moment my foot touched Utah soil, and I was a little bit out of it during the con. But even so, I had a great time, and got to catch up with a lot of old friends, meet new people, and even sit down with some writers I might work with someday. Hopefully I didn’t give them a cold while I was at it.

Normally I’d give a more complete run-down, but others might remember it more clearly than I could due to the fog of this cold, which I’m still getting over. I had the worst time remembering people’s names—I even blanked on the names of long-time friends. 🙁 Sorry, guys! You know I really love you, but names aren’t my forte even when I’m thinking straight, and this week it was very hard to think straight.

I was able to think straight on my panels at least (though with moments of “you go ahead, I forgot what I was going to say”), and my Writing Cross-Culturally presentation was both well-attended (wow, standing room only!) and included attendees who had some great questions. For those who have come to this blog looking for the questions we discussed at the end of class, go to my SCBWI wrap-up, where I summarized those same questions. Also, if you didn’t get the handout and were looking for the links and resources I gave out in class, comment or email me with a request for it, and I can get you the Word document. Or perhaps I can just post it here, but later, once I’ve caught up on all I missed when I was out of the office.


Adding another language to my pitiful repertoire

I post four times in one week, and then I disappear for a week [ETA: whoops, I guess it was two weeks]. Yep, I’m like that. And next week I’m disappearing again, this time not just online but IRL: I’m heading off for a camping trip. I’m looking forward to getting out of the city.

So what’s been happening, everyone? As for me, as any of you who are on Facebook know—because FB is really good about getting the word out about birthdays!—it was my birthday this last weekend. Friday was a Summer Friday for me, as well, so I had a nice long, relaxing weekend involving bike riding along the Hudson River, eating Korean food with friends, watching Cowboys and Aliens, and learning Korean.

That last one: Yep. I’ve been putting off actually learning it for over a decade. I first had an interest back in the late 90s when I roomed with two Korean girls in succession, who were both here to learn English before going to college. Hyun Mi was a culinary arts major who was always bringing us home desserts from school but who never cooked at home. “Cereal,” she’d say, “is the food of the gods.”

We hung out a lot with the Korean student community in Provo back then, and I tended to only get half the conversations because, of course, the other half were in Korean. So I’ve wanted to learn it ever since, but assumed that learning it would be way too hard for me, who didn’t do well even in German and whose grasp of Spanish still involves more understanding than an ability to form coherent sentences.

But with all these Korean TV shows I’ve been watching lately, I’ve decided it’s time to actually do more than mean to get to it someday. And you’d be surprised how much you can pick up when you’re reading subtitles and start to notice repetitions in what you’re hearing. Usually of the melodramatic variety, of course—sorry, I love you, please forgive me, those sorts of phrases and words.

So I bought a very basic book and CD set that teaches some very 101 Korean, and after a week of working on it, I’m already able to start reading a few names in Hangeul (Korean writing)! I can recognize the letters that form the syllables kim, seung, jeon, and a few others. I can now not only say hello (which is the only thing I’ve remembered all these years) but also goodbye and have finally figured out why sometimes Koreans say “annyeong” and sometimes they say “annyeonghaseo.” (The first is informal and only happens with friends and others close to you, the other is the polite way to say hello to strangers/those of higher stature/elders.)

Hey, it’s a start! I’m having fun.

And I can practice a little at lunchtime—I work not far from Koreatown, where I often eat lunch, so it’ll be fun to eventually be able to parse out the signs in Hangeul.

And who knows? Maybe next year I might top off this latest kick with a trip to Korea.

Link roundup

Thanks for all the comments on my last post discussing writing African American characters (Is my character “black enough”?). The perspectives in the comments are great—just the kinds of things that people writing cross-culturally need to hear as they think about their characters. If you haven’t read the comments (and there are a few more on my LJ mirror and on Facebook), make sure to do so.

No news is still good news. I’m reading away on some really awesome submissions, going through revisions that I asked for from some writers, presenting some books to my acquisitions committee, and all that kind of stuff. We come closer and closer every day to having books to share with you! We just still don’t have much to talk about specifically… yet! But we hope to soon.

In the meantime, here are some links that I’ve already shared on Twitter and Facebook, but if you haven’t seen them there, check them out:

Two friends of mine who just sold their debut novels in the YA market talk on Writing Excuses about breaking in:

Congratulations to Howard & Sandra Tayler for ten years of Schlock Mercenary

On the main Lee & Low blog, they’re running a poll about picture books with same-sex parents.

Speaking of the Lee & Low blog, always check in on them on Fridays for a roundup of diversity related links in the feature This Week in Diversity.

And if you somehow missed Elizabeth Bluemle’s post about The Elephant in the Room (complete with hilarious/cute illustrations from a number of children’s illustrators), you need to read it, and all the comments.

Oh, and random star sighting: I saw Liam Neeson on Friday night in the movie theater. No, I didn’t go to see The A-Team (that’ll be next week)—he walked past me. You could tell where he went from all the rubber-necking moviegoers. But no mob as there was for Will Smith IN THE VERY SAME THEATER that I watched Karate Kid in, apparently. I didn’t see him, but the mob waiting outside told me he was in there. There’s of course always the chance that the rumor that Liam Neeson was in the building somehow morphed to Will Smith via opening-weekend movies? (That is, Will Smith directed KK. Liam Neeson starred in A-T. Both opened last weekend. Telephone ensues.)

A reminder, and random tidbits

One last thing [that I just edited to be the first thing, because it’s more important than my ramblings]: If you’re local to Utah and are a writer of the LDS faith and/or writing in the LDS market, remember that LDStorymakers happens next weekend. I believe the deadline is fast approaching (in fact, I just checked, and it’s today!) and there are no walk-in registrations due to the conference’s agreement with the hotel. So if you want to go, register now.

Now, the meandering:

Though little seems to be happening on the blog front, that’s because much is happening behind the scenes. I’m currently working under deadline on several projects, including XDM by Tracy Hickman, Curtis Hickman, and Howard Tayler, and several novels by individual authors (who I never mention by name on here because they’re not “my” projects to mention, and the work I do with authors pre-publication-process is very much behind-the-scenes work). I’m still looking for submissions for Tor, as well, though this week that’s not as high priority as the deadline work. So if you’ve been wondering where I went, well, there you have it.

In other news, though winter was officially banished a month ago, the heavens still seem to be singing Christmas carols. It snowed all morning, but when I ventured out at five to meet a friend, it had stopped and I thought that was the end of it. But noooo. My drive home tonight from a friend’s reminded me greatly of a time in high school, driving to a basketball game in my friend Tim’s ancient green Impala (he was driving—I was a freshman), when he hit the brakes and we just kept sliiiiiiding on past the high school driveway. There had to have been six to nine inches of snow on the road tonight at midnight. I did a few donuts reminiscent of that old Impala, as well, which reminds me that I have needed new tires since, oh, about October. I thought I’d gotten through the winter well enough by avoiding driving in bad weather as often as possible, but it had to snow just one more time, didn’t it?


But no collisions. At least, my car didn’t collide with anyone else’s (though there were a few close calls). I saw one accident, though, and no wonder, with the roads in that condition. I’m sure the snowplows have been put up for the season, given that it’s April.

I had lunch with the Doctor… almost

I was having lunch with a friend today who works at Trolley Corners in Salt Lake, which is a large building built around an open-air atrium. As I walked in to go pick her up, I swear I heard the Tardis landing or taking off. My friend had the Doctor in her building, I just know it. Though what could be very adventurous about visiting a random office building in Salt Lake, I can’t be sure. Must be Daleks or other strange creatures involved.
Come to think of it, there *is* a vacant office space in that building…


Totally AWESOME zombie movie on SciFi right now. As I watch them devour braaains on mute, because yeah, gross, and I’m too tired to change the channel, some thoughts on my day.

Drove up to Salt Lake with  in what we thought would be light snow, which turned out to be a small, gentle snowstorm and lots of slush and ice on the roads. Oh, it was beautiful. But it was also annoying to drive in. Was going to drop in on a friend up there, but she was snowed in up in Park City, so we’ll catch up later. We did make it to the King’s English bookstore for the first time, and what an awesome children’s room they have! I think every time I go to Salt Lake it’ll be a required stop. It was fun to see signed copies on display from so many of my friends who are local authors, and even a book edited by real life and blogfriend Cheryl (Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, which I’ve been DVRing and have wanted to pick up the book). And the snow coming down lightly in front of the store all lit up in the early evening was quite pretty.

We were getting hungry so we ate at Mazza, a really great Middle Eastern restaurant that my friend Cindy introduced me to last spring when I was out here for World Horror. On to Whole Foods, the nearest one of which is up in that area, to get stuff I can’t find in Utah County (whither the good yogurt smoothies without high fructose corn syrup??) and then it was back on the road to hope we made it back to Happy Valley without incident. It had snowed even more, so I was gripping the wheel a little tight, not because I didn’t think my trusty little CRV couldn’t do it, but because I really need to replace all my tires and probably should have let yedijoda drive her even trustier Pilot.

We had anime night later this evening. We’ve been watching the fan-subbed version of Vampire Knight, the manga of which is out in English here in the States but is far ahead in Japan–and the anime hasn’t been licensed here. I’m hoping it will be, though, because it is GOOD,  and I want. The manga is published here by Viz, and if you want to check it out it’s in any bookstore. Similar vampire story to Twilight, but with a really interesting twist: the humans and vampires live in close proximity in a private school, with Day Class students being protected by Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu, the academy’s guardians, because the Night Class is all vampires. Here’s where the superficial similarities with Twilight come up: those vampires, for some reason, think that Yuki’s blood smells *really* good. Great mystery, great storytelling, and a vampire story I can really get behind. Fascinating characters. Complex, deep storytelling.

I’ve been thinking about Twittering all day, and really, I prefer the long version. Blogging is pretty short when you compare it to a conversation in person, but it’s pretty deep when you compare it to a tweet. Right as I was heading out on my afternoon adventures in snow driving, I happened upon a conversation on NPR’s Science Friday talking about Twitter and other forms of social networking as marketing tools and policy influencers. I do agree that a conversation can begin through the medium, and it’s another way to keep in touch and share interesting ideas, but mostly I’m pretty meh about Twitter so far. Those of you who t
witter, why? What’s the appeal? I’ve had limited conversations with teens I know and it doesn’t seem to be a big thing with them (a very limited sample) the way FB is. What’s your reading on the teen barometer in your area?