<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, April 29, 2004
(more noises of hurt, illness and frustration)

So, the verdict is in. Though I haven't been regularly updating this to tell you all how bad I feel, I have indeed been feeling bad. Very bad. So, keeping my promise to Susan, and going along with common sense and all of that, I got myself the first available doctor's appointment, which was this morning. Apparently, I have bronchitis and an ear infection. Which explains why this is the fifth day in a row that I have a fever.

Needless to say, I'm about worn out. Everything hurts and I can't stop coughing. My brain isn't working right, and I have to start work on Monday, and I have an essay due on the same day.

But, somehow the worst thing of all for me is that tonight is Enter the Haggis' CD release party downtown. I have been looking forward to this since I knew it was going to happen--it was one of the things that kept me going through the last weeks of school when all I wanted was to curl up in a little ball and sleep. I was so, so excited about this and now I'm sweating uncontrollably and am dizzy and everything hurts, and it just makes me so upset.


Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:04 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

That about sums it up right now. Either the cold I had came back meaner than ever, or I caught a new one. Plus I had a migraine for two days. And at one point the coughing actually got bad enough that I accepted Carly's offer of Buckley's Mixture, something I'd swore I'd never take again after that particularly nasty experience of having the stuff come out my nose. ("Death!" I gasped after swallowing. "It tastes like death!")

But, through it all, I managed to finish up my research essay and get that submitted--the thing ended up being over 10,000 words. Man. Course, it was a hell of a lot of fun to write--until the illness kicked in. I can absolutely tell the parts that I wrote with the migraine; my skill with words ... slippped. And there were some sections that didn't get the time or attention that they deserved, so I'm kind of disappointed on that count. But there's only so much that a gal can do.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 6:14 PM (0) comments

Saturday, April 24, 2004
Look, Ma--I Made Goo Pucks!

So we had some bananas that got too old to eat just sitting in the fruit bowl. And I happen to know a good recipe for banana muffins, so decided to do some baking this evening. However, it wasn't until I was adding the final ingredients that I realized that I only had about half the required amount of flour. At this point, it was nearly 10 PM and I had my dinner bubbling away on a pot on the stove (yes, that late) so I couldn't even run to the inconvenience store before it closed--if it hadn't already. (It's not the inconvenience store for nothing, after all.)

So, after looking at my bowl of mashed bananas, etc., for a little while, I just sort of said "ah, what the hell" and chucked them in the oven anyway. The results are ... goo pucks. It's not pretty. The outsides are brown. Very, very brown. Not burned, mind you, but definitely ... well cooked. The insides are absolute banana goo.

And now it's almost 11 PM and so there's definitely no one open who could sell me flour. I don't really know any of my neighbours well enough to ask to borrow some, and no matter how many times I look in the cupboard no flour magically appears. So now I have a choice: put the mix in the fridge and hope it keeps until tomorrow when I can buy more flour, or add random things from the kitchen and see what happens. More baking powder, perhaps? Bran muffin mix? Vanilla pudding powder? Maybe a bit of Jello?

Yeah ... that's what I thought, too.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:58 PM (0) comments

Pointless Ramble About Hooded Clothing

I just realized something: I can wear things with hoods now. Not that I necessarily want to, you understand; but I can. This is somewhat strange to me, since as long as I've been old enough to shop for my own clothes (or at least choose some of the clothes that would be bought for me) I've had to avoid anything with a hood. (While others with long hair might not have this problem, I always found that because of my fine, clingy hair, which had a tendency to latch onto fabric, any shirt with a hood left me looking like hunchback.) This led to the rejection of many otherwise lovely shirts. "Ooh," I'd say, grabbing a shirt off the rack, quickly followed by, "Hood. Damn."

I actually only own one shirt with a hood, namely my classic emerald green sweatshirt. I have had this sweatshirt for years and years, and absolutely love it despite the fact that it's somewhat shapeless and I keep having to sew it back together. I once thought I'd lost the thing, as a large ember from a bonfire we were having at the cottage landed on its hood, burning a noticeable hole through the fabric. (At the time, however, I didn't really notice, beyond muttering something about how someone had thrown something that they shouldn't have onto the fire and that it was causing the most godawful stench.) Yet somehow I just never stopped wearing it, even in public. Guess that says a thing or two about my fashion sense, or lack of one. In fact, I'm wearing it in the picture I posted to show my new haircut.

What? Oh, right. Essay. Working on that. Really, I am.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:00 PM (0) comments

Had a story rejected by the good folks at Ideomancer this morning. Apparently two of the editors really liked it but couldn't sell the rest of the staff on the story, so no go. Ah, well.

Started scrolling through Ralan.com (which appears to becoming more chaotic and colourful and overwhelming as the months roll on--not that I should complain, as it's an excellent free resource and all, but still) and became slightly discouraged. There aren't too many markets that are open to this kind of story, and it's already been rejected by most of them. To be honest, the format in which my work is published is not the deciding factor here--online, print, magazine, zine, anthology, all are good. What is important is that the story is treated with respect, that I'm paid for my work, and that the story finds an audience. After all, it doesn't matter how beautiful the publication is if no one reads it.

I've marked a few markets as possibilities, but I think the more serious work needs to wait until I have bit more patience with it. It's strange, I remember a time when I absolutely loved marketing. I loved scrolling through listings, looking at accepted wordcounts and pay rates and all those other lovely things, and it all seemed so shiny and new and full of potential. Course, it was easier then--I'd realize that a story was terrible after it'd hit only a few markets and retire it, so it took me a while to experience this frustrating "Where now?!" sort of feeling.

As I said: ah, well. In a slightly related note, I saw in my searching that Argosy is now closed to unagented submissions. Nice for them, I suppose. But suddenly I don't feel so eager to pick up the copy of Issue #1 that I've been eyeing in Bakka these past few weeks. My loss, I'm sure.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:44 PM (0) comments

Thursday, April 22, 2004
My Wayward Children

Outlined and started writing one of the two major essays that I've been trying so very hard to ignore for the last while. I suppose I should feel good about this, but I'm just feeling so ... lazy. Yes, that's a good word for it. Tomorrow I'll have to do much, much better.

I made something of an effort to get some of my short stories edited, but perhaps today just wasn't an editing day. I opened "I Breathe" and hacked off the last three scenes, and was shocked by the realization that this left the story at only 2,500 words. And while it has the potential to work as a short story, that's just entirely too short, to say the least. "Oh," I said. "Oh dear." Overwhelmed with the work that the story requires (can you say total rewrite? I knew you could), I closed the file.

Sent "Ohntai" to a friend who'd asked to see it, and it seems that there's nothing like having an audience to made the flaws in a story leap forward. Realized something rather major that the story needs. Opened the file, stared at the story with an irritated "Oh, it's you again" sort of feeling before closing it. Sigh.

Started something new, but have spent most of my time arguing with it over tense.

"Ooh," it says, "I'd be so lovely in present tense."

"Not writing another present tense story," I muttered back. "Two's enough for now, thanks." Then realized that I kept typing "is" instead of "was" and had to overhaul. This is a story that cannot afford to be flashy! But try getting it to agree...

And it is at this point that I realize that all non-writers who are reading this--and likely a good portion of the writers, too--think I'm totally crazy. They may have a point.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:29 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Eternal Sunshine

Despite the fact that I've never actually read anything that he's written, Charlie Kaufman is becoming one of my favourite writers. I love the way that his mind works.

I also loved this movie. I'd loved the concept and what I'd heard about the film, and didn't know that Kaufman had written it until his name came up in the title credits. The story is so simple and so complex at the same time, layered and quirky and lovely. This movie was just so ... so ... me.

Though perhaps one of my favourite lines of the evening came not from the film itself but from a guy sitting in the row behind us. "Woah," he said. "Frodo was a prick, eh?"

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:06 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Today, I woke up to the phone ringing. In an apartment where the phone has been disconnected for over two weeks (which is a very long story) this was a good sign. Soon after waking I felt like reading. And so I did. With only a pause to shower and dress and eat a bowl of cereal, I proceeded to read and read and read until the middle of the afternoon, when I ran out of book. So I went for a walk, and it was so warm outside that I was fine in my t-shirt. I laughed and smiled to myself and climbed a tree just because I could. I talked to a friend on the recently reconnected phone for literally hours and ate some cake.

It feels as if I found a piece of myself that I hadn't realized I was missing.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:00 AM (0) comments

Saturday, April 17, 2004
Rambling, with Sudafed

Went out and about yesterday with Sarah (whose reaction to seeing my hair in-person made me happy). We went to see Hellboy, which was fun, and made me want a kitten very badly. Then it was off to Bakka to show off my hair (which is just so, so fun). After some noodles for dinner, Sarah took me to see the scilla outside one of the U of T buildings near the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum, for those of you who live elsewhere). You know how people sometimes refer to a carpet of flowers? This is the first time I've seen something that merits that description. It was gorgeous. In some places, the scilla was so thick that I couldn't see the leaves through all the blue-violet flowers. Sarah and I chattered happily about how much we love this city as we went to the ROM for the start of Sarah's shift and my impromptu tour.

Unfortunately, it was about this time that I started to crash. See, all week I've been sick-not-sick. I get up in the morning and I feel fine, great, happy and ready to face the day. (Or perhaps sleepy, slightly irritable and ready for breakfast. It's one of the two.) By afternoon, I start dragging a bit, feeling a bit off. By evening, the headache hits and I just want to curl up in a little ball. When morning comes, I'm great again.

When we reached the ROM, I thought "Damn, evening is kicking in." Got myself some Advil and waited for that to work. Sarah showed me around the hands-on biodiversity gallery, which is actually really, really cool. (Though I did make sure that I got out of the way of the kids who wanted to search for the mossy frogs and the queen bee, rather than hogging all the space.) But as I wandered I realized: I was crashing. Fast. As things started to get that glassy look that you have when a fever starts, I decided it was probably a good idea to cut the day a bit short and get myself home.

Curled up in my chair and read for a bit, and watched the hockey game, and then a documentary called Shelter Dogs. (I cursed the latter for being so interesting because I ended up staying up later than I'd intended to, just seeing what happened to all the dogs.) Had a terrible night but the morning's been good again, thanks to my friend Extra-Strength Sudafed Cough and Cold--the big guns. Ate pancakes and read the new Robin Hobb book for a while. Seems that I always read these books when I'm curled up in bed feeling bad--which might account for why I enjoy them more than I should.

Seems my morning editing session on "Ohntai" isn't going to happen, as somehow it's already afternoon and I'm due to be in Palgrave soon. Time to grab my Sudafed, my Robin Hobb book and get out the door. Sometime I'll have time to catch up on all my email ... sometime ...

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:43 PM (0) comments

Thursday, April 15, 2004
In Which I Talk About My Hair, Among Other Things

Whew. Well, that's it, my last exam all nicely written up and printed out. Would have been finished before midnight if I'd made my lazy self work on it earlier in the day (or had chosen not to watch the painfully disastrous hockey game), and I'd say that'd teach me to get things done sooner ... except that I know it won't. Never broke myself of my procrastinating habits in the rest of four years of study, so I don't know why I'd expect it to change now.

Only have two projects left, both of which are fairly large but rather entertaining to think about, as they're on SF and fantasy respectively. And working on projects that interest me? Well, that's no chore at all.

And it seems that the jury of public opinion has returned a verdict about my new haircut: it is hereby declared cute. (This is a definite change for me. Long hair is not cute. It is many things but "cute" is not one of them.) We had a bit of a disagreement this morning, my hair and I, over whether or not it was allowed to flip up. I don't do flippy hair. Just not that kind of gal. Luckily, I (and the hairdryer/curling iron that my Oma gave me) prevailed.

It's strange though, looking/feeling so different after so long. It's strange in ways that I can't even begin to explain. This hair cutting business was a very big deal for me and symbolic in all kinds of ways, most of which I won't bore you with. But simply put, for a very long time my sense of self was very much tied up in the fact that I had long hair. It was a source of pride--sometimes my only source of pride when I was dealing with an acne-covered face in the process of becoming pitted and scarred, with my skin made bright red by the various ineffective creams used to treat said acne.

Sometimes I think that I started growing my hair long to hide my face. Carly's long called my hair "the cloak," which I'd have shield me anytime I was made uncomfortable or embarrassed or made to feel vulnerable. It's true--hair can become a security blanket that's most conveniently attached to one's head.

Over the years people have alternately told me to cut my hair off, all of it, right now, or to never, ever cut my hair, for the love of God, why would I even consider doing such a thing. I always said that when it was time for me to cut my hair I'd know, and, for the most part, did a pretty decent job of ignoring everyone else. And one day a bit over a month ago I woke up and thought, "What on earth is all this hair doing on my head?" It just didn't belong anymore.

Knowing that I was going to cut my hair, I suddenly became aware of all the things that I did with my body, the ways that I acted that were all tied to my hair. Simple things, yes, like keeping it from getting caught in car doors and clothing and preventing it from hitting other people as I turned, but more drastic things, too. And being aware of these things made me more determined to cut it off.

Which didn't make it easy, mind you. Long hair can be a symbolic for others as well as for the self. (This was especially true at Ad Astra.) And there were so many things about it that I loved.

But now it's done, and in New House (waiting for an appropriate padded envelope and postage) is 14 inches of my hair ready to donate to Locks of Love. A good few more inches ended up on the hairdresser's floor. I have a great many hair clips and elastics and whatnot that is suddenly no longer appropriate for me, and far too few hair bands and small sparkly clips that I can use to keep these short layers from my face when I need to pull it all back. But that will change.

You know, I was afraid that when I lost my long cloak of hair I'd be left feeling vulnerable, exposed. Instead I feel free.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:27 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I always said I'd know when it was time to cut my hair. Seven years with the same hairstyle is long enough, I think.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 8:51 PM (0) comments

Monday, April 12, 2004

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:26 PM (0) comments

Sunday, April 11, 2004
I'm visiting my family at New House for a few days for Easter, as is just about every relative who does not live at New House. I love my family and am having a very good time, though it is busy here. There's always two or more conversations happening at one time, and various people experiencing various illnesses, muscle pains, hunger or a thirst that must be dealt with right now! There's no time for writing or editing or anything of the sort. It is only now, as everyone else in the house (three dogs included) has gone to bed, that I have the time to post or answer email. And now I find that my eyes are so heavy that all I want to do is follow the trend and go to sleep.

I have been told a time or two that it's foolish to celebrate Easter when I'm not Christian. The name, honestly, does not matter to me. This is a time that I can be with my family, and bake, and eat good food. This is a time that I can be happy just to be around people who love me, people who love each other. I look forward to tomorrow morning when my cousins will get up bright and early and will bicker over what cereals to eat and who's going to pour the chocolate milk, and then will scurry around with overflowing excitement trying to find those 2+ pounds of chocolate eggs that are hidden all around this place (hopefully few being claimed by the three aforementioned dogs).

To my friends sprinkled all across this globe: I'm thinking of you. I raise a chocolate egg in your collective honour.

Goodnight, all.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:42 AM (0) comments

Friday, April 09, 2004

I just typed the last few words of "Ohntai." The first draft is done, finally done, and comes in at just under 9000 words.

Lord, that was a lot of work and not so very long, considering the amount of time that I've spent on it thus far. (How many months is it now?) Course, it's much longer than I was originally anticipating; stories can be surprising that way. I haven't read it through yet (and am mentally bracing myself), though I fear I will have to get out my long, curved critiquing knives and get cutting. We shall see.

Got a call from my employer today, and will be starting work on May 3rd. They are lovely to me, understanding that I need to get my final exams and research essays out of the way before I feel comfortable starting full time. Though part of me (the part which is aware of how much I'm plowing myself into debt these days) really wants/needs money now, this is really smartest in the long term, I think. So: school projects need to be finished over the next week, and handed in, and then I'd like to get some serious work done on both "I Breathe" and "Ohntai" to get them ready for submission. Need new stories in the mail.

Course, I've realized over the last little bit that I really do have enough stuff to turn "I Breathe" into a novel, especially if I allowed myself to get into Nerene's point of view instead of staying only in Leah's, though it'd be an odd, quiet little novel. (That description alone is almost enough to make me want to write it.) But it can be a short story too, I think, even a halfway decent one, so I have to get this version ready to hit the mail pronto. And hope that the Universe has been kind to me and that my writing instincts have not left me, and that "Ohntai" is actually readable. Wish me luck.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:15 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
The Great Ad Astra Con Report, 2004


My last day of class, perhaps ever. Certainly my last day as an undergrad. Due to the slightly crazy time at which I finished writing my essay and got to bed, and then the even later time when I was actually able to get to sleep, I was tired on Thursday. Very, very tired. (So tired that I actually took a short nap in a public room, curled up on a bench. That was a first.) And yet it was my last day of class, and I had the Odyssey book launch after the day was over, and Connie Willis' Lincoln's Dreams to help me pass all the unfilled time in between the two.

I will not discuss the fact that after writing my ass off to get that essay in on time, and all the hand-waving I had to do to make up for the fact that I didn't have any time to get any real content for this essay because the professor moved the due date up (which, I should add, I have since discovered that she was not allowed to do) the due date was moved back to Wednesday. Almost a week more time. No, I won't mention that, because remembering it might frustrate me again.

Went to the Merrill Collection for the book launch, and, of course, arrived almost an hour early. But since my local branch of the TPL is closed for renovations for a year it's been a while since I've been able to go to a good library, I spent my hour happily wandering through the SF section and amassing a great armful of books, which I subsequently had to put back with but two exceptions: Half the Day is Night by Maureen McHugh and Black Light by Elizabeth Hand. I could not carry more in my already overflowing bag.

The launch itself was a lot of fun, though I'm sure I looked kind of dazed at times. Exhaustion will do that to a girl. Met up with a lot of people that I'd see at various other times throughout the weekend, and feasted on the "light refreshments" that were really my dinner. (Sandwiches! Juice! Deviled eggs! Cookies! It was a starving student's paradise.) And I really enjoyed the mini-readings by four of the Odyssey authors. If I hadn't already claimed a copy from Sarah, I'd have been buying one for sure. (And I suppose that's the point.)

Afterwards, Sarah and I were going out to have some bubble tea with her friend Shannon (who couldn't make it, as it turned out), and ended up bringing some cool people with us: Amanda and Peter, Leah and Roupen, and ... well, a guy with a mustache. It was actually the first time that I'd met Leah and Roupen (though I'd recently found both of their journals) and was absolutely shocked when they not only recognized my name but quoted me. An Eco-Challenge quote no less! I about geeked out on the spot. And then proceeded to talk about adventure racing too much for my own good.

We were in the bubble tea shop for approaching four hours, I think, and though my exhausted self was yawning as soon as it got dark I just didn't want to leave. Funny people, great conversation and this sweet popcorn that came for free. What more could a girl ask for? But there was a con to attend in the morning, and I hadn't even begun packing and so the time came for me to go home.


I tried to sleep in. I really did. But the general excitement/nervousness that always is a part of my convention experiences woke me up earlier than I would have liked. Then it was a whirlwind of business card preparation, laundry and packing. Was ready in good time and headed out to pick up Sarah. We went to Bakka to pick up boxes upon boxes of books, and then with a little creative detouring to add some interest (who ever heard of a "no right turns" sign? Craziness, that) we arrived and unloaded all the books.

Met up with Sarah's sibling, Simon, and Dan (aka Ufer) and went out for food--the first I'd eaten since a bowl of Mini Wheats that I'd had around noon. The unintentional convention starvation diet was off to a fantastic start.

Hurried back to the con for the Ad Astra Odyssey book launch. It was much like the first, but with fewer good snacks and one fewer author in attendance, yet despite it's "Last time on Odyssey book launch" feel it was actually a lot of fun. Sarah impressed a second crowd with her dynamic reading, and I began to get very excited about our joint reading planned for Saturday.

After the launch it was off to Jason Taniguchi's show, which was running late, so we actually ended up seeing the end of the Buffy Sing-along. Now please be aware, I am not a Buffy fan. Never have been, never really wanted to be, was happy to live and let live (or impale, or whatever vampire/demon joke you'd like to add here). So you must understand that this sing-along, both the show itself and the behaviour of the crowd was somewhat fascinating for me. I had a hand waved in front of my hand at least once that I noticed as someone attempted to get my attention--I don't think that anyone quite understood why I was so engrossed.

But Jason Taniguchi came on, and it was ... well ... Jason Taniguchi. Which means funny as hell. That Return of the King was a far better movie than Attack of the Clones could ever dream of being, however, meant that there were fewer really terrible things that he could mock, but that's just part of the game.

After that it was the Meet and Greet, for which the panelists had been given stickers to wear that had a quote from that person's website or a published story which were to be used in a game. I slapped mine onto my shirt without thinking, then looked down. My quote read It does look like a face, the last line from one of my Phone Book stories. I frowned. "You know," I said to Sarah, "there are some quotes that just shouldn't be written across one's chest, and unfortunately mine is one of them."

We didn't stay long as Sarah still had to choose precisely which scenes of her story she'd be reading the next day, and I hadn't practiced my own reading nor knew how much I could read without going over the time limit. So we hurried off to our room accompanied by Simon, and ordered a pizza to help deal with the terrible hunger caused by reading. Sarah got through her first practice reading and I was a page and a bit into mine when the food came, stopping proceedings until a bunch of other newsgroupies crashed our pizza party. Sarah re-read her story to great acclaim. I brushed my teeth.


Julie Czerneda was having a smallish gathering for breakfast on Saturday morning, to which three of my five roommates had been invited or won spots for. I was kind and allowed them to all go in the shower first, as I had nothing much to do until my first panel at 10 AM. Later, as Simon and I sat in the café, I pointed across the room to the gathering of newsgroupies and famous people eating at their large table, and said, "Get a good look at those people. They're all cooler than us."

They were, however, less nervous than I, and for that I was terribly jealous. My stomach had decided to knot itself up, and my breakfast consisted of two cups of tea and the edge of a muffin that Simon got me from the buffet. In retrospect, it was a terrifically good thing that I didn't try to go to the buffet myself, not because of my stomach but because it would have blown my food budget for the whole weekend. Turns out that the buffet was something like $17. Upon hearing the price of the very small amount of food that the two of us had managed to eat, I said to Simon to grab anything that looked transportable, and we scurried off to our hotel room with yoghurt and a paper bag full of muffins.

My first panel of the day was "Show, Don't Tell," and was my introduction to the small, strange rooms in which most of the panels were to be held throughout the convention. They were filled with desk chairs--you know, the kind on wheels, with padded seats and arm rests. All those chairs swiveling around sure made changing rooms interesting if a panel went long--the chairs were rolling and turning, and people trying to get out and in and tripping, while the chairs began to get nervous and caused a stampede ... yes. Exactly like that.

I felt fairly prepared for "Show, Don't Tell," but then, of course, it started taking off in directions that I was totally not anticipating. I said things, but not a lot. Yet this is the good thing about being almost totally unknown: no one's coming there just to see me talk. Though I tried very much to stick to my guns with the fact that there are not simply two kinds of writing, showing and telling, but that any bit of exposition can be showing you one thing as it tells you something else. This made later questions about the ratio of showing to telling that an "ideal" story should have a mite bit frustrating.

Then it was time for me to start getting nervous about my 2:00 panel, "Heroes, Not Messiahs," which I was moderating. Nervousness accomplished, I rushed off to see David Nickle's reading, which I enjoyed, and met up with Genevieve. Then I was literally running back to the hotel room, where I discovered that Sarah's friends Tami and Shannon had arrived; I said a quick hi and wished that I could eat some of the lovely food that had been bought for a group lunch and then I was out the door again to prepare for the panel. (Later, I wished I'd said more than hi and ran around in a flurry, because they were only able to stay for a little while and by the time I found Sarah again they'd left. Sigh.)

Met C.J. Cherryh and Will McDermott, my fellow panelists, and then we weaseled our way into the room which quickly filled to overflowing. Ah, lovely, I thought. A standing-room only panel. So I got moderating, and did my best to keep conversation going for as long as I could, which worked well until the point when I totally ran out of things to say. (In my defense, this wasn't even a panel that I was particularly interested in being on, never mind moderating, but I was doing my damnedest to make it interesting.) About 45 minutes in, though, my mind was blank, my written questions had all been used, and the conversation went dead. I turned to C.J. in a panic and muttered, "Help me!"

"Ah," she said. "That means 'wing it, C.J.!'" And then she just started talking, and the things that she said were interesting and intelligent and totally saved my ass. Whew. So I believe it went alright, though the happiest time for me was when it was all just over.

Then I was able to spend some time with Gen, which was fantastic; we wandered the dealer's room and complained about how absolutely godawful the hotel setup is to people in wheelchairs (stair-stravaganza!) and watched C.J. Cherryh's GOH speech. I also hung around while Gen talked with Julie, which made me happy--glad that these two intelligent women got to meet and have a conversation, and glad that Gen has far more nerve than I do and has been (or will be) rewarded for her foresight and belief in her own projects.

I also spent a good part of the day either admiring or showing off the cover art to Summoned by Destiny (which has now officially been retitled Summoned to Destiny). It is, in a word, gorgeous. And inspired in no small part by my story, so I'm absolutely thrilled. And the quotes--I'm absolutely blown away at all the people that Julie got to give this anthology blurbs. More info when I know I'm allowed to talk about it.

Then came Julie's reading from her upcoming book Survival, which seems to be the usual lovely Julie mix of funny and serious. Wanted to go to the Team Banzai panel, which was next, but that one was full beyond standing room only--it was "stand in the hall if you're lucky" full, and I was going crazy trying to protect the gorgeous anthology cover art from being damaged by the hall-standers, so Sarah and I escaped to go prepare for our reading.

The reading itself went really, really well, I think. We had 20-odd people in the room, some of whom I didn't know. I read the first two and bit scenes from "A Prayer of Salt and Sand." My worry was that it'd be too dull when read aloud, especially when compared to Sarah's quick and funny story, but I just focused on reading slowly, falling into the rhythms of the narrative (which is really what I'm all about--is it any wonder that Cadence is my online handle when one's needed?). Simon said I read like the narrator from The Neverending Story, which I think is funny. I think my only problem was volume (I'm just not that loud, I'm sorry!), but I'll work on that for next time. Because there will be a next time--I'm hooked.

Then there was the masquerade, which was entertaining but seemed seriously short. You could tell when a newsgroupie or child of a newsgroupie went up on stage, though; our entire side of the room would explode with sound. Made me laugh. And then it was Julie's birthday party, in which the combined presents and presence of everyone was enough to make Julie cry.

At this point, I'd eaten: two cups of tea, the edge of a muffin and a small croissant left over from lunch. It was about 9 PM. I was hungry and no longer nervous, and so we hit the green room for sustenance. Why we didn't figure out before that they had good, free food for us panelist types I'll never know.

As for the dance ... well, there was a new DJ. Rumour has it that he went by the name "DJ Eargasm." I'm still laughing about that one; it's just bad in so very many ways. As Sarah said, he had a bit of trouble figuring out that this wasn't a high school dance, but despite a few questionable music choices (and the rather notable absence of some required con-dance fare) I had a ridiculous amount of fun. Sarah and I had been scheming before, and ended up bringing in my mixed Enter the Haggis CD and convincing the DJ to play us a few songs. ("Okay now," I said as we headed up, CD in hand, trying to ignore the bad eighties music playing at the time. "Look pretty!") He played the live version of "Lanigan's Ball," a totally exhilarating/exhausting song to dance to, and then "Half Fast Jam" a few tracks later.

I don't get to dance enough. I love, love, love dancing, and danced happily for hours.

There was a half-hearted attempt to go to parties when we were all danced out, but we ended up sitting on the floor of one party, eating the last few jujubes in the bowl and talking quietly to ourselves. Got to bed at 3, cursing daylight savings time with my last exhausted breaths.


I was awake. Really, I was. I just had trouble forming words so early in the morning. Sarah and I staggered up to the green room to eat some of their fantastic, free food. The people working the green room were just great, I have to say, and they have my undying gratitude for helping me make tea so quickly.

Sarah dashed off to a super-secret meeting while I had a panel called "Enlightenment Machines." I believe I was put on this one as the token girl. It was very much a "boys talk about gadgets" panel, which was actually really interesting, but not a situation that allowed me to say a heck of a lot. I sort of felt like an audience member with a really good seat. But I did jump in a few times, especially to stop people from making foolish sociological assumptions, and got two great story ideas of the experience, so I name it a success.

Then it was to "Myths for the Modern Age," which I think should be renamed "Sarah and Pat Forde Chat for a While About Stuff, With References to Fairy Tales." But I think that title was too long to fit in the program book.

Then it was time to pack up our hotel room and get everything loaded into the car, with a pause for a while to order and eat pizza. (Yay for pizza, boo-hiss terrible overpriced café.) With everything safely in my car and my hands about frozen off from the crazy cold win outside, we finally hit the dealer's room in earnest. I bought a gorgeous pair of dangly, sparkly earrings from the same woman from whom Sarah bought a fantastic bracelet. I also gave in to the terrible pressure and bought a coat that I absolutely fell in love with, literally spending money that I didn't have to get it. But the coat is actually another story whose ending has yet to happen.

"Magic on the Streets," Sarah's last panel, came next, which was highly entertaining as most of it was Tanya Huff and Michelle West saying amusing things back and forth. Stuck around and watched Patrick Neilsen Hayden's GOH hour/interview, which was fun and made me wish terribly that I had something to say, some question to ask, some reason to introduce myself. But I didn't, and besides, it was time to run back up to the dealer's room to pack up all the Bakka books again, get them in my car and, after many goodbyes and hugs, head on home.

Well ... home, with a short detour to get some food, including quite possibly the best brownie sundae I've ever eaten in my life.

And that, in short (no, seriously!), was Ad Astra 2004.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:12 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Blogs for All!

After my father discovered this blog (and became slightly obsessed, yes Martin?) he decided that he wanted a journal of his own. And so when I came home from Ad Astra it was to discover this link in my email. Now the obsession can go both ways!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:19 PM (0) comments

Never Learn

I should have learned this by now: to never, ever say in a blog post that I'll post something "tomorrow," no matter how likely that event may seem. Despite my belief that I was going to be a good student and write an exam, then be a good blogger/SF fan and write and post my con report, I decided instead to be a very tired student/blogger/SF fan who slept until noon and then spent the afternoon reading Set This House In Order (which I absolutely love thus far), attacking the crazy ant infestation, and continuing to mourn the loss of the most gorgeous piece of clothing I think I've ever owned (and which died basically unworn). Started half-heartedly writing exam somewhere around 10 PM this evening, and as I type it isn't exactly finished. But it's due tomorrow afternoon so it'll happen. Somehow.

In the meantime, Sarah (despite being far more busy than my sleepy self) has written and posted her blog report, which is here, and it contains a lot of info about me, too. I still have some stories to tell, though, but we'll just have to see when those get written and posted. Sometime. It'll happen. Somehow.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:21 AM (0) comments

Sunday, April 04, 2004
Home Again

I'm back from Ad Astra. Put simply, I had an absolutely fabulous time. I'm exhausted right now, of course, (the clocks shifting forward an hour sure didn't help--that's just wrong to lose a whole hour like that at a con, especially an hour of precious sleep) but I'm no longer feeling frazzled. I'm feeling inspired and positive and energized ... so much so that I'm almost prepared to tackle the weeks of unanswered email.

Tomorrow I have a take-home exam to write, and then I'll write an post a full report. Now: book. Then sleep. Beautiful, glorious sleep...

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:12 PM (0) comments

Friday, April 02, 2004
Ad Astra Schedule

My panels:

Show, Don't Tell -- Sat 10:00 AM
Heroes, Not Messiahs -- Sat 2:00 PM
Enlightenment Machines -- Sun 10:00 AM

I am also moderating "Heroes, Not Messiahs"--my fellow panelists are C.J. Cherryh and Will McDermott. Why I am moderating, I'm not exactly sure, but it promises to be a story, if nothing else. I think it'll be fun.

I also have a reading at 7 PM on Saturday, with Sarah. There will be prizes!

I'm really looking forward to ths weekend, but I'm already falling behind--haven't packed, haven't done the business cards, key pieces of my wardrobe are wet in the laundry room--so I've got to get going. I'll talk about the Odyssey book launch at the Merril yesterday, and the events of the whole convention, on Monday after I've written that darned take-home exam. Later!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:57 AM (0) comments

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Wow, lord, what a day. I'm exhausted--I've been writing essays literally all day. Over twelve hours of essays. Lord. But now I'm done, and though I feel half-dead, I also have so much caffine in my system at this point that there's no way in hell I'm going to fall asleep any time soon. Sigh.

It's frustrating, though, to read over this essay that I just completed, and know how good it could have been if I'd had more than the span of one afternoon to understand my topic, outline and write the whole thing. As it is, I tried to encorporate some lovely stylistic hand-waving to try to make up for my lack in content. Wouldn't be the first time that such a plan had worked, so it's worth a try at the very least. One never knows. After all, in the past I've gotten good marks on my punctuation alone.

So, tomorrow is my final day of class, perhaps ever. Of my undergraduate career, certainly. I'm down to two exams and two essays to write and that's it. Luckily, the two exams are short and the two essays are the ones that I'm really looking forward to researching and writing. Hard to believe that this is ending. Hard to believe that it isn't over yet.

So tomorrow evening I'm going to a book launch, and am generally going to have a fantastic time. Last day of school, you better believe I'm going to enjoy myself, exhaustion or no. And then I'm going to come home and sleep as much as physically possible, and do some essay/exam work in the morning, then print myself some new business cards, pack my bags and get myself off to Ad Astra, which promises to be equal parts fun and craziness. I'm on three panels, one of which I'm suddenly supposed to moderate. Oh, my. I think I'm crazy to agree to do this, and yet this is all part of my whole just being open and welcoming of the new things that come my way. It'll be a fun challenge, if nothing else. I choose to look forward to the experience rather than being scared. (On the morning of, however, I make no promises.) I also have my very first public reading at this convention, which I wish I had more time to prepare for. I'm likely going to read part of "A Prayer of Salt and Sand" and yet I've only ever read that one to myself a handful of times, so am woefully unprepared. I could also read "Drowned Men," which I know like the sound of my own heartbeat, and can do fun voices for each of the characters. (I tried it. It's fun.) Maybe I'll bring both and ask my audience what they'd rather hear.

(Playing through my earphones at the moment is my playlist I created this evening called "essay." I wish I could tell you how many times I've listened to these same five songs--the whole playlist is 26 minutes and change. More than eight times, to be sure. Everyone knows that I don't listen to anything while writing, and yet I needed something to get me going, to keep me going, and to drown out the sound of whatever the hell the girls who live above me were listening to/watching. Found another Sparta song that I like: "Echodyne Harmonic." I love the title, so I'm happy that the song resonates so nicely, too. Wish I liked more of their stuff so I could justify buying an album.)

Realizing that the above parenthetical comment threatened to become an entry in itself, and that I'm likely misspelling every third word, and that it's after 1 in the morning, I'm going to wrap this up. After all, if I really need to write more I can do so in under six hours when I get up. Now I'm off to steal Carly's stapler.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:07 AM (0) comments

A Quote

This is the quote that I have at the top of my current essay-in-progress (due tomorrow ... er, today):

"I did not know this place, these streets, this stretch of sky above my head, but I did not need to. Not yet. Time itself would introduce us like the kindest of friends." -- Py Donovan

Those who reognize the name will understand the joke. This is why I'm a terrible, terrible student. Ah, well, at least I'm almost done.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:35 AM (0) comments

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