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My Boskone Schedule

neon gila
I'd love to see any and all of you there!

New Stars: Fresh Authors You Should be Reading
Saturday 11:00 - 11:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Let’s survey some relatively recent additions to the SF/F/H firmament. Who’s white-hot? (We’re looking at you, Ann Leckie.) Who’s world-class but not yet world-famous? We’ll discuss their must-read stories and books, and what makes them so special already.
David G. Hartwell (M), Vincent Docherty, Jordan Hamessley, Beth Meacham, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Dune — 50 Years later
Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Harbor I (Westin)
Frank Herbert's Dune, published in 1955, was an epic science fiction saga that won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award in 1966. Now, 50 years after its publication, we look back at the legacy left by Frank Herbert and his unique vision of a feudal interstellar society that was rocked by political machinations, contentious religious orders, and a very lucrative spice trade — and giant worms! How has this seminal work held up over time? What place might it take in the science fiction hall of fame? Panelists also discuss the impact that Dune has had on their own work as well as on the development of science and science fiction.
Kenneth Schneyer (M), Scott Lynch, Beth Meacham, Joan Slonczewski, Walter Jon Williams, Karl Schroeder

Kaffeeklatsch: Beth Meacham
Saturday 16:00 - 16:50, Galleria-Kaffeeklatsch 2 (Westin)

Editors — After the Draft
Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
An editor can make a good manuscript great. No matter how perfect you think your manuscript is, there is always room for improvement, tightening, trimming ... and editing. Once your manuscript is done, submitted, and accepted, what happens next? What can you expect? What do you do if you don't agree with changes? How many people are involved in the work? Professional editors share tips and techniques for those struggling with the editing process.
Tom Easton (M), Neil Clarke, Jordan Hamessley, Shahid Mahmud, Beth Meacham

Real Magic
Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Burroughs (Westin)
Making magic feel real — and fresh — can be challenging. How does an author invest “she cast a spell” with as much verisimilitude as “he baked a pie” or “it licked its chops”? Rules and boundaries can help, but how do you make supernatural rules seem natural? Panelists discuss the perils and potential associated with using magic in fiction.
Craig Shaw Gardner (M), Myke Cole, E. C. Ambrose, Beth Meacham, Carrie Vaughn

We're going to 4th Street!

neon gila
Yes, both of us. Tappan is coming too I just cashed in most of my remaining frequent flyer miles on tickets to Minneapolis in June. You wouldn't believe it, or at least I didn't believe it, but even this far out the options for using miles to travel are limited. In order to be there at a reasonable hour on Thursday, we have to fly on Wednesday. So, we'll be hanging out all day Thursday. Helping out, I'm sure. Happy to do Things if there are things to be done, too.

Fourth Street is a good time, if you like to talk about books and writing and the Matter of Fantasy. I urge everyone to get in on it. Membership is capped, so act soon, act without hesitation!

Now there's the matter of horse care....

Oh thank god I can talk now

neon gila
I'm free now to talk about what I've been doing all week -- I've been sitting in the jury on a federal criminal trial, and that case was very obviously one of the dangling ends from the ATF's gunwalking scandal, Operation Fast and Furious, and Operation Wide Receiver.

We got a very limited view of it. A 26 year old man was on trial, charged only with a single count of lying on a federal form -- to wit, in 2009 he bought a gun for a friend, but filled out the transfer document saying that he was buying it for himself. We found him guilty, mostly because he sat on the witness stand and told us that he indeed checked off that box on the form and signed the form. What are you going to do with that? So, why do I think this is part of the wider case?

First, because of government overkill. They brought in ATF agents from all over the country. They brought in a handwriting expert from the Atlanta ATF crime labs. They spent a day with that handwriting expert testifying about a completely irrelevant point -- did the defendant fill in the date on the form, or did someone else do it. That point might have mattered if the gun store was on trial, but they weren't. They probably should be, if they have not, in fact, been charged separately. Or maybe they were working with the ATF all along to let these straw purchases go though. I don't know.

The weapon in question is what brought our defendant to the ATF's attention -- it apparently turned up in Mexico a month after purchase -- but we heard no evidence about that beyond the fact. That it ended up in Mexico was mentioned once by one of the ATF agents, to explain why they wanted to talk to the Other Guy. But no one explained how anyone knew that the Other Guy was connected to that weapon. The Other Guy was at one time a co-defendant in this case, but now he isn't. We were not to speculate on that. Don't think of a hippopotomus!

I would feel more sympathetic to the defendant (and I am pretty sympathetic to him, because he's clearly an idiot who got drawn into something a whole lot bigger than he understood) (unless he's an exceptionally gifted liar), except that another thing we know is that another weapon he purchased some years before also ended up in the ATF data base, connected to a crime. I'm not at all sure that the defense lawyer should have allowed that to pass without an objection, but there you are. The fact came into evidence while they were talking about pulling handwriting samples from previous gun purchases. Our defendant had bought 8 weapons previously, including an AK47, and the Glock that was in the ATF's database.

The prosecution was a mess. Not at all focused, spending hours on material that really wasn't relevant to the charge. I suppose this is what you get when you're dealing with a small piece of a larger case -- YOU know why that information is important, and you forget that the jury has no idea. But it's no way to make a jury like you.

The defense was damn near criminally negligent. The lawyer should never have allowed his client to testify under oath that he had committed the crime. The defendant claimed that he filled in the form that way because the gun store owner told him that he had to or else he'd be in trouble with the ATF. He claimed that the form in evidence was a SECOND version that he had come back to the store days later to fill out this if that didn't make the crime more deliberate and conscious. I think that perhaps the defendant could make a successful appeal of our verdict based on negligent counsel, and the judge permitting that kind of damaging self-incrimination.

Additionally, the defense was negligent in voir dire. Six members of the jury were familiar with the Fast & Furious investigations, myself included. Only one juror had never heard of it at all. It gave a context to the case, and probably changed what evidence we weighted. They never asked about that. They asked about connections to law enforcement and the legal profession, and dismissed everyone in the pool who had them. They asked about membership in the NRA, and dismissed all of those. But they never asked about whether you owned or had bought or sold firearms. I suppose they can't. But we ended up with a licensed firearms dealer on the jury, who was extremely helpful in understanding the bits about how weapons are and are not sold, and what the penalties would be for selling a weapon to someone who filled out the form saying he was buying it for someone else (as the defendant claimed he had done originally).

All in all, it was an infuriating four days. Although I will say that the smooth-talking ATF agent from Kentucky telling us about the interview conducted in the parking lot of the Waffle House was entertaining. The drawl, the "oh, we was just making very small talk", the "I was there as training officer for one of the other agents, but I decided to stay back and talk to the defendant because of safety concerns, and he just up and told me that he'd bought a gun for his friend (the guy they were there to actually talk to) just last month", all of it was like a bad TV show. He couldn't testify to what the Other Guy might have told them because he was making small talk about pecan pie with the defendant. Also, of course, the Other Guy is someone we aren't allowed to talk about. There was much talk about the pecan pie, which as far as I know, the Waffle House in Tucson doesn't sell.

The defendant and his mother were very surprised that we found him guilty. I can't for the life of me understand why. Bad legal advice, I suppose. Why anyone would believe that "I did it because someone told me to" was a defense against the charge, I cannot figure out. Neither could anyone else on the jury.

<a href=">Operation Fast and Furious</a>

Sep. 11th, 2012

neon gila
In case anyone's still reading here...

I was summoned to jury duty this week, and have been selected for a trial. And oh fucking hell, I wish I could talk about it. Testimony is supposed to go on through Thursday. One hopes that a verdict will come quickly.

Afterwards, I'll probably have things to say.

Anyone who wants work from me this week is going to have to be patient. I'm sorry.

WorldCon schedule

neon gila
I don't really have enough time to start posting regularly again, but in case anyone wants to see me in Reno, here's my panel schedule.

Thu 11:00 - 12:00, KaffeeKlatsch: Thu 11:00 (KaffeeKlatsch), KK1

Fri 09:00 - 10:00, Stroll With The Stars - Friday (Activity),
Stroll Meeting Spot (OFFSITE)
A gentle, friendly 1 mile stroll with some of
your favorite Authors, Artists & Editors.

Fri 12:00 - 13:00, Science Fiction in the Seventies (Panel), A05
The seventies was a period of change and growth in science
fiction. What were the themes that developed or waned
through this period? How did the business of publishing

Sat 10:00 - 11:00, Life Lived in the Extremes (Panel), A04 (RSCC)
What is it like to live in "extreme
environments" like Alaska? in Viet Nam? in Brazil? in
the desert? in tornado alley?

Sat 11:00 - 12:00, The Role of the Companion: The Impact of the
Companions on the Doctor (Panel), A05 (RSCC)
The Doctor's companions aren't just generic side kicks. Our
view of the Doctor is influenced by his companions. And the
companions change the Doctor, something examined a number
of times over the last several seasons.

Sat 13:00 - 14:00, Tor Books (Publisher Presentation), A11 (RSCC)
Information on what's coming up over the next few months
from Tor Books

Plus I'll be hanging out in the bar, attending other panels of interest, and generally Being There. I hope to see you there!

May. 3rd, 2011

neon gila

Scented bubbles
Originally uploaded by Arizona Grrl.
As last year, Scented Bubbles is the first of the iris to bloom. I'm keeping a log again of bloom dates -- when I divide them and replant, I'll be able to mix them up by both time and color. Cool.

I hope trouble doesn't come in threes

neon gila
To make a difficult day worse, Amy Thomson reports that Joanna Russ died this morning.

Joanna had recently suffered a series of devastating strokes, and never regained consciousness afterward. She passed away in hospice, in Tucson.

Apr. 29th, 2011

neon gila
A Strange Conflicted Sorrow

And all the "ifs" are broken, if he'd been
someone you could have loved, you could have grieved.
And that would hurt so much -- if all these years
he'd been someone to lose, how many tears?
As well as him, you've lost that "never was",
that "if" you should have had, and now "because"
and blame and guilt and sadness all are stirred
into the cup of grief, with bitter words.
It's good to know he's gone beyond the pain
no one should suffer that, and to no gain.
So death's a mercy, death brings him surcease
he's gone, and you are left, he has found peace.
But when a parent dies who's not a friend
there's strange conflicted sorrow, in the end
--Jo Walton

I have the best friends.

Apr. 29th, 2011

neon gila
My father passed away this morning.

Apr. 17th, 2011

neon gila
Goat cheese with fig paste mixed in. I'm just sayin'.

A garden report

neon gila
After the days-long freeze we had in February, I was sure we'd lost a lot of our plantings. But it is not so!

The grapefruit tree is definitely alive, though it has not yet shown any leaves. But the twigs are green, and the branches are building new bark. I don't know if we'll get any fruit this year, but the tree will survive.

The lime tree is putting out new leaves and shoots down around the base, but the upper branches are still leafless. Many of them are obviously dead, but some are possibly still alive. We wait to see how much we'll have to prune back.

The lemon tree is looking worst of all. No sign of green, no sign of shoots even at the base of the trunk. She may be gone.

The orchid rockrose bushes are fine, and already blooming. The salvia (both red and blue) are also putting blooms out, but both lost a lot of branches to the freeze. Still, Alive! The sage is looking around and saying "freeze? what freeze?" A very robust shrub.

The mirasol is quite dead-looking, but it always looks dead at this time of year. So I am not willing to say that it was killed by the deep-freeze. And sadly, both Sonoran nightshade bushes have been killed back to the root. We hope that the roots are not killed. The last time we had a serious freeze, they looked just the same, but regrew from the root. Time will tell. I'm not digging them out.

The willows are fine. None of the big cactus seem damaged.

And the best news of all is that I have iris coming up. I did not imagine that cold would hurt them, but I didn't know if they would survive the heat of last summer. We're right on the edge of their heat and drought tolerance. I have, apparently, lost 5 plants, but the rest are looking quite good. I'm very happy about that.

Well, memage at least....

neon gila

You were born during a Full moon

- what it says about you -

You've spent your life in the middle of things, whether it's between people who oppose each other, ideas that oppose each other, or places that are very different. You're very aware of perspectives outside the norm and good at anticipating how different people will see a situation. You value second opinions, because they give you a feeling of balance. You don't have a single group of friends and the people you spend time with may not have a lot in common with each other.

What phase was the moon at on your birthday? Find out at

Too busy. Too hot. 90 in March? Srsly? Just spent an appalling amount of money on the horses -- spring shots, dentistry for all, tendon ultrasound for Ylla. (She's injured, will take months to heal, but will heal. She's pretty much retired anyway, so no great problem.) Now I'm feeling guilty about spending some money on decent speakers for the computer, but it's where we're getting our music these days. Anybody want an old Sony stereo set? It even has a turntable! And a dual cassette deck!! No? I didn't think so. I'll donate it to some good cause.

There are books. There are horses. There is exercise. I want steak for dinner, but I don't know that I'll get it. Did I mention I'm tired?

A decennial census of my life

neon gila
March 2011: We are living in rural Arizona on a very small ranch. I am still working for Tor. The horse population consists of Ylla, Surprise, Cai (Pluto Castella, lipizzan gelding) and Cori (a lipizzan partbred filly). Angel and Bunny Fluffer Cat remain with us. We have acquired Nefer. I have had two knee replacement surgeries in the past 10 years.

March 2001: Living in the big house in Tucson, but thinking about moving farther out of town. Working for Tor. I was diagnosed as diabetic a couple years before, and am figuring out how to live with that. In the walled patio, a feral Maine Coon cat has just given birth to three kittens. We call her Fluffy, and expect the kittens to be killed soon -- it's perilous out there. We have three horses in the back yard: Ylla, Surprise, and Cobre, and the indoor cat population is Emily, Mouse, Dancer Gray, and Sophie. I've been offered a breeding lease on a lovely Lipizzan mare, Castella, and have taken it. She'll be bred to Knight any day now.

March 1991: We're living in Tucson, Arizona, in a big house with a pool. Working for Tor. I'm still working out all the best ways to manage telecommuting, but it's going well. Lots of traveling, and lots of time online as I figure out the shape of the future. The cats are Sibyl and Lily.

March 1981: T. and I are living in Staten Island, NY, in Our First House, a lovely rehab project that we bought the previous autumn. It's high on the hill overlooking NY harbor, and is a little Edwardian gem. I'm learning about plumbing and wiring, lathe and plaster ceilings, and commuting on the ferry into Manhattan to my new job at Ace Books. I'm an editorial assistant. In the previous few years I've worked in a bookstore, been a freelance writer, and turned my love of SF into paying work. The cats are Lily, Rafael, and Gabriel.

March 1971: I'm living in Boston on co-op, but am about to return to Yellow Springs, OH, back to Antioch. I've fallen in love. I've lived in New York and Boston, on my own and with T., and with my Antioch roommates. I'll be reclaiming my cat, Vesper, from my parents when I get back to Ohio.

March 1961: I'm 9 years old, and living with my parents in Newark, OH. I'm a very serious little girl who reads a lot, and is rather unhappy. I spend a lot of time taking care of my little sister. The family has a dog.

March 1951: I exist, but am not yet born. My parents live in Cambridge, OH, but my mother will return to her parents' house in Newark for my birth.

Where to find me next weekend

neon gila
I'll be at Boskone next weekend, and in New York around it. I do hope to see many of you there! I am somewhat taken aback to discover that the weather is supposed to vastly improve in the northern climes next week. Take the winter coat anyway? What about the warm boots? I bought them special for this trip! What if I don't, and the forecast is wrong? What if I do and the forecast is right? Yeah, I know, layers. But limited suitcase space and an 8 day trip!

My Boskone Schedule:

Saturday 11am Sweet Savage Editors
Ginjer Buchanan
Beth Meacham (M)
Eleanor Wood
From the editor's point of view, must you be cruel to be kind? Are
there edits you hesitate to make, just to spare the writer's
feelings? What kinds of edits often meet the most resistance?

Saturday 1pm The Steampunk Trilogy: 1 -- In the Beginning
Don D'Ammassa
Beth Meacham (M)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Darrell Schweitzer
Where did Steampunk come from? Is it Postmodern Jules Verne or just
what? Are the parallels between the SCA and the Steampunk movement
relevant? (In both enthusiasts dress and live in a fictional
historical world.) If so, what can that tell us about Steampunk?

Saturday 3pm Kaffeeklatsch
Neil Clarke
Beth Meacham

Saturday 5pm What Books at What Age?
Katherine Crighton
Jordan Hamessley
Beth Meacham
Jo Walton
Ann Tonsor Zeddies (M)

Sunday 10am Living with the Green Man
Bruce Coville (M)
Greer Gilman
Beth Meacham
Jane Yolen
Living with the Green Man: Do we mean (A) Composting or (B) Morris
Dancers or (C) In the Land of Faeries? or (D). All or None of the
Above? How do ancient traditions fit into modern life, and do we
want them to?

As you see, Saturday is going to be packed. And lunch will be a quick bite, I hope with friends. I'll be in the bar, hanging with all and sundry, inbetween panels.

Then on Tuesday the 22nd, I'll be at the Geek Week Signing/event with Jo Walton and Charles Stross, and the meet-up afterwards. Flying home the next day, not too early in the morning thank god.

Feb. 2nd, 2011

neon gila
Thank you to everyone who has been so kind about Sophie's passing. It's odd that a cat who worked so very hard to be invisible could have been such a big presence in the house...but turns out she was.

And now I have to get my ass in gear and get a ton of work done the rest of this week. On the bright side, the doctor has me on a beta blocker that is really doing the job of regulating my heart, and with very few side effects. I can think! I don't fall asleep all the time! The bad news about it is that it's a newish drug, a super-expensive brand-name. So I expect that the insurance company is going to balk at it and I'll have a bit of a fight on my hands. Fortunately, I feel up to the challenge.

Happy ground hog day to everyone. I hope the blizzard of '11 leaves you all with heat and light.

Feb. 1st, 2011

neon gila
We buried Sophie yesterday evening, next to Mouse. Not that either of them really cares, but it makes me feel better. We'll plant a fairy duster for her, next week after the coming freeze is gone.

I know it's not the least bit impressive to you snow-bound easterners, but for us temperatures below 20 degrees F are a terrible shock. Even in February.

Sophie 1995 - 2011

neon gila
Sophie died sometime in the night. I knew she was failing, in that steep decline that cats can drop down. I didn't think she was quite that far down the slope when I went to bed last night.

She came to us long ago, from an acquaintance who trapped feral cats, but who was being evicted from her house. She had found homes for all but two of her cats, but these two, the rangy gray and the little tortoiseshell, were still so wild that no one would take them. She didn't want to turn them loose again, and if she gave them to a shelter they would be killed. They really weren't adoptable. So naturally, we adopted them.

They spent the first six months under the couch, hiding and hissing. Then, slowly, they began making friends with the other cats. Sophie became Mouse's best friend. And slowly, very slowly, she became able to endure being touched by people. (Dancer Gray was faster at that, but then she got out of the house one day and never, ever came back in. We fed her outdoors for a couple years, but then she disappeared. She wanted to be wild so badly, I couldn't feel too sad. Sophie also got out that day, but she came back in.)

Sophie became, in time, a funny, elusive, sweet little swirly girl. She liked being petted, as long as you snuck up on her, and started while she could pretend to be asleep. She loved sleeping in hot patches of sunlight, even on the hottest days.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find her lying next to me, purring as I petted her in my sleep. I knew the end was near. This morning, she was dead in my chair. We'll miss her a lot.

Dec. 4th, 2010

OK, yes, I'm still alive.

Since I last posted....

Cai had a relapse of the pigeon fever. A nasty huge abscess in a very sensitive place. The vet came, diagnosed, and lanced it. Ick. Back into quarantine while it drained.

And two days later, he had a raging fever above 105, and was collapsed on the ground. Emergency vet call on a Friday morning, while I Did. Not. Panic. Diagnosis: unknown infection, probably something picked up through the incision two days before, less likely the pigeon fever bacillus back into his bloodstream. He got a giant, and I mean Humongous, injection of antibiotics. I got syringes and another bottle of the same stuff, and instructions to give him a giant shot of it every day over the weekend. And then I monitored him. Every hour, to make sure his temperature was dropping.

Thank god, it did. In 36 hours, his temp was down to normal. In 48 hours, he was feeling much, much better. A day later, he Refused the shot. And by that, I mean he grew to three times his size and informed me in no uncertain terms that he would attack if I tried to stick that thing in him again. He broke the needle. The vet had told me that the stuff burned going in, so I'm not surprised. The scary thing is that he didn't object to the first three shots.

A week of oral antibiotics after that, and he seems ok. No indications that the antibiotics has turned any remaining pigeon fever bacteria internal, knock wood. He's healthy and energetic. But that's the big fear now -- they say that active PF can turn deadly if you try antibiotics, but we really had no choice. He was going to die then and there if we didn't.

I spent this morning cleaning out his quarantine area, and turned him out with the girls. He's not actively contagious any more. I hope. We've had two nights of hard freeze, which should have killed any bacteria that was still alive on surfaces. I'll spray down the ground with a bleach solution to see if I can minimize anything still living in the soil.

And during all this, I've had extensive dental work done, that left me sick as a dog for a couple days. I do not react well to Novocaine, but the worst is over and I only await the delivery of the crown and bridge. There's more to be done, but it'll wait till next year.

The mares remain healthy, with no sign of disease. I hope it stays that way.

Courage is rewarded

neon gila
I'm a dentist-phobe. A very serious one. There is nothing that is harder for me than going to a dentist...well, maybe climbing a ladder, I got problems there too.

So you can imagine what it took to make me call a dentist this morning and make a same-day emergency appointment. Yes, friends, really serious toothache. Like, keep you awake, jaw-throbbing pain. In the past, I probably would have waited a few more days to see if it would go away (it wouldn't, it never does), but this weekend is my birthday and the last thing I wanted on my birthday was excruciating dental pain.

So, I found a nearby dental practice that both took my largely unused dental insurance, and could see me today. And lo! After a rapid and very kind examination, the dentist said that it was not an abscessing tooth, but in fact a gum infection. I have antibiotics to take. It will go away!

In my euphoria of relief, I have made an appointment for next week to have a complete check up and cleaning. Doubtless there will be work to be done. There always is. Not only do I fear dentistry, I have terrible teeth which have required vast amounts of work over the years.

Anyway. No root canal this time! Rejoice!

Nov. 3rd, 2010

neon gila
Happy birthday to janni! And also to windrose! Maybe it be a lovely day for you.

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