Forward to January, 2006...
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Happy New Year, Everyone!
On the last day of 2005 it's time to reminisce about the year that's gone by.
This has been an incredible year in many ways.
- I've remodeled my house. Construction work started in early spring for sprinklers and copper repiping, and then in the summer the home remodel began of the 2 bathrooms, kitchen, laundry nook, entry way, and back porch security door. It was all done around October 15, and then I refinanced to get some of that money back.
- I've lost two old dear animal friends. Angel the Cocker Spaniel left us on the 4th of July, and Tarasik the Lhasa Apso left us the day after Christmas. There are two holes in my heart. And these holidays have been forever marked by a small silver-white fringe of gentle sorrow.
- Dad had some health scares, but he came through. Mom is doing okay.
- I started taking Tai Chi at a wonderful Tai Chi and Kung Fu school.
- I am still hanging in there as a freelance writer, self-employed -- or unemployed if you want to say, considering how little money is trickling in until I make that real book deal.
- After all the two-year hassle, the Margot Phoenix project has been rejected by the major New York publisher earlier this year, and so I am reworking it -- this time my way. It's all for the best, actually, because had it sold, it would have been a category romance title (4 book continuity series), and would have disappeared off the shelves after a month, but now I have hopes to sell it as a single title 4-book series when it is finally ready.
- I spent most of the year sort of grinding my wheels writing-wise (a lot of it due to the construction going on all round me), but I did gain some insight about the process, and I think it has not been in vain. I am now ready to produce in 2006. After the remodel and refinance ordeal, I felt sucked dry, but now I think the mental clarity has returned, and I am ready and able to create again, judging by the story I just now completed. :-)
- A personal insight I've had recently is that I am depressed if I am not in the middle of a real writing project. This seems like a no-brainer, but in fact I don't have to be actually writing, but I have to be engaged by it, have faith in it, and be excited by it. I think it's a form of logorrhea, the Writing Disease that Erin Cashier Denton talked about in her newsgroup months earlier. Another way of describing it is performing one's natural creative function -- which for me is writing. If I am not, then I don't feel right.
WRITING STATS 2005
I've had several books out or contracted this year, and some of it I managed to underplay to the point that I myself am forgetting about it.... *sigh*
- THE CLOCK KING AND THE QUEEN OF THE HOURGLASS came out from PS Publishing in October, 2005.
- SALT OF THE AIR has been postponed a couple of times at least, once because of my own lateness with the final story ("The Story of Love"), and once because of the cover artist (who's lost the high res cover image). At this point I have been told the release date is February 2006 from Prime Books. This also allows the addition of the corrected version of "Sun, In Its Copper Season" to be added into the collection TOC, and "The Balance" a silly short-short, to be removed. It's for the best. :-)
- DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE, new trade paperback edition from iBooks, with a new beautiful yellow-white cover, forthcoming in April, 2006.
- LORDS OF RAINBOW, a new non-POD trade paperback edition that looks the same as the POD, but with a new ISBN, and with *national* distribution via Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. is forthcoming in May 2006.
- Chapbook edition of "The Young Woman In A House Of Old" is supposed to happen some time....
STORIES WRITTEN (or COMPLETED):
- "Sun, In Its Copper Season" - 6,214 words
- "The Story of Love" - 6,534 words
- "Niola's Last Stand" - 5,577 words
- "Old Farts" - 2,014 words
- "Revulsion and the Beast" - 1,773 words
- "The Ballad of Universal Jack" - 2,913 words
Plus random snippets of other new stories, still in progress, including "In The Kingdom of Glass," all about 1,000.
TOTAL NEW OR EDITED WORDS: 25,000 approximately
STORY SALES in 2005
- "Sun, In Its Copper Season" in Fantasy Magazine, Premiere Issue, and in SALT OF THE AIR (revised draft).
- "The Story of Love" forthcoming in SALT OF THE AIR.
- "Old Farts" on Amazon Shorts.
- "Revulsion and the Beast" in Jabberwocky, Premiere Issue.
- "The Ballad of Universal Jack" forthcoming in STRANGE PLEASURES #4.
- "Demonkiller," forthcoming in SAGES AND SWORDS: Razor-Edged Arcanum, Summer 2006, from Pitch-Black Books.
REPRINT SALES in 2005
- "Mount Dragon," audio podcast (EP flash) at Escape Pod, October 31, 2005.
- "Kihar," up on Fictionwise.
- "A Dance for Darkover," forthcoming up on Fictionwise.
NON FICTION in 2005
- "Home Improvement in Magic Land," Pop culture essay appearing in the BenBella Books Smart Pop Series anthology TOTALLY CHARMED: Demons, Whitelighters and the Power of Three based on the TV show Charmed, edited by Jennifer Crusie, November 2005.
- "The Perils of Publishing" article in Pomona College Magazine.
OTHER in 2005
Chapter 13 of ATLANTA NIGHTS by Travis Tea, January 2005. Paper edition at Lulu.com.
NOVEL WORK IN PROGRESS in 2005
In 2005 I've juggled several novels, including AIREALM and MARGOT PHOENIX RISING and the new DEOGASM and GODS OF THE COMPASS ROSE, but nothing concrete, so not much comment here.
MEDIA BUZZ in 2005
I've received some nice reviews and exposure this year, and had my first radio interview.
- Metro, a daily newspaper in London, UK, published a full-page article speculating on the identity of the mysterious John Twelve Hawks, author of the bestseller THE TRAVELER. The article included betting odds and photos of the four candidates it suspects -- Dan Brown, Kage Baker, Vera Nazarian, and J.K. Rowling. *grin*
- The Dragon Page Radio interviewed me on "Cover-to-Cover" #177, and it ran on XM satellite and was podcast.
- Pomona College Magazine interviewed me and featured my article.
- Locus, Tangent Online, and Strange Horizons loved "Sun, In Its Copper Season."
- Publishers Weekly loved "Revulsion and the Beast."
- The Eternal Night loved The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass.
- Tangent Online loved "The Slaying of Winter" from the Pitch-Black Books anthology LORDS OF SWORDS.
- And, finally, I "Walked the Plank: for Jeff VanderMeer.
CONVENTIONS in 2005
This has been my local cons and events only year. I've attended "Melody of Words" in Los Angeles, and Loscon 32.
* * * * * * * * * * *
That's about it!
Happy New Year, Everyone!
Ten Most Memorable Books of 2005
My list is very likely not going to be like most other people's.
I am perpetually behind on keeping up with the latest books, and as a result any list I make will include works I only discovered this year, and only some of them real newcomers. In addition, my tastes are so eclectic that they are bound to disgust everyone at some point, which is fine -- I like both popular and literary, "trashy" and "highbrow," genre and out, and everything and nothing.
But there is one thing without doubt -- the following books have made an impact on me, and I find them unforgettable.
Here they are, in no particular order, because ranking is one hell of a strange nuisance:
Ten Most Memorable Books of 2005
July 10, 1993 - December 26, 2005
We got Tarasik from the shelter back in 1993, when we originally wanted to get a large dog -- there was a crime problem in the neighborhood where we rented a house at that time and we wanted to have a guard dog who might serve as an alarm and lookout, just in case....
Instead we came home with a small furry hairy mop-dog, a Lhasa Apso.
Actually we didn't come home with him immediately. The little guy was so pathetic in the shelter -- he limped on one leg, and jumped around on three feet, and had sores -- that I bawled when I saw him and had to take him, and so we adopted him.
He was in such a bad shape that he couldn't even come home with us. But he was young, so there was hope! First he went to an emergency hospital where they performed 8 operations (!!!) on him, including a neutering, a hernia, the problem in the leg, various sores, ears, etc. They told us he was approximately 10 months old, and we got to take him home on July 10, 1993.
Since then, Tarasik has been a sweet, amazing dog. Gentle and playful, he regained health, his limp disappeared, and he would race circles in the yard at top speed, leap 6 feet into the air like a bouncing ball. He still had stray dog habits of drinking his own urine and eating poop, but that got less and less with time. And then when we got other dogs he was friendly with them. In fact, he was the friendliest sweetest dog we've had. His breed is not supposed to be all that nice, but this guy *was*! He was gentle and trusting with strangers and visitors, would get up on his hind legs and "beg" just to be petted. He was full of life and vibrant and kind.
Over the years he almost got lost a couple of times when he managed to get out of the yard and went racing down the street, but all was well and we got him back each time. He loved the sun and the yard and the fresh air, but also loved to cuddle at home on his doggie bedding on chilly nights.
Slowly, as the years went by, he lost the energy, and aged gracefully with us. He never had many health problems at all, only chronic ear infections, so overall he was a healthy boy. For the last year or so he was somewhat disoriented and acted confused and a bit slow on the uptake, but hey, he was over 13!
Most recently, about 3 months ago (and at approximately 13-14 years of age), he stopped eating dry food, and could only eat wet, or people treats. And this past week, there was that bloating around his middle. We made a vet appointment this past Friday, but because it was a holiday weekend, we decided to see if we would wait it out, and we did... Every moment was a countdown to Monday....
Tarasik was suffering, and it showed. So today I took him in, a little early for the appointment at 2:20 PM. The doctor saw us at 2:00 PM. She immediately said it was fluid that caused his abdomen distension, and so I left him to be drained. She also ran several tests, took blood and urine samples, and X-Rays, while I went home to wait.
In about an hour, the vet's office called for me to come back in. I had a feeling this was not going to be good. I also had this box of holiday cookies for the vet that I was going to give them, and I brought it anyway.
Indeed, not good news. The vet showed me his X-Rays and it turns out that he had a huge tumor-mass in his lung that was obstructing the lymphatic system function -- fluid was collecting, but could not drain properly, could not re-circulate. There was much blood in it too, and the mass has these weak-points that were possibly bleeding and could "erupt" any time and cause death.
Meanwhile a receptionist came in to ask me to move my car -- I had to double-park since the office was packed, and they found another spot for me, so I went to do it.
When I came back, Tarasik was now in the room -- the vet had brought him in, and he looked tired and resigned and gentle, his usual sweetheart self. He had been drained of the fluid, but therefore dehydrated, so he needed fluids at that point, and it was one of the things the vet asked me to consider, if I wanted to keep him in the office to do that, etc.
There were several options, to run more tests, to put him on fluids and keep him overnight, and ultimately, to spend thousands of dollars on an operation (to remove the mass) in a special off-site center, that was not going to make much difference in the long run.
For the first time I was just honestly unable to make an immediate decision. I started to bawl.
I had never had a dog put to sleep before. Cats yes, of course, but never a dog.
And this was TARASIK, for God's sake!!!
I thought I lost my mind. I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. The vet was perfect, understanding, she left me alone several times, came in, brought water, discussed details, tried to help me make a decision of some sort.
If I were to bring Tarasik home, and just to watch him malinger and get worse for a day or two, that would be hell for Mom and me, and for him too.
But I just could not immediately decide. My mind was a stewed vegetable, numb, and I was just sort of "out of gear," just jarred in place, crunching away like a broken gear. I looked at posters on the walls of the exam room. I remembered looking at them before when putting to sleep another animal, here in the same room...
Like an out of body experience.
I did not want to be in my body.
I went a little crazy, I think, for about 10 minutes. Three times I asked Tarasik to turn and look at me, and if he did, I told myself it would be a sign, I would take him home....
He didn't. He was really spacey and sort of disoriented, as he'd been for most of this past year, and just sat there, the poor dear....
Finally the doctor came back in with water for me, and after another minute or two I made the decision. The vet took Tarasik and left to get ready.
At that point I was just bawling non-stop, making a mess of myself as an assistant came in and I signed the credit card for the other services rendered, signed the euthanasia release form, then handed the assistant the box of cookies and told her it was for the vet and the whole office.
She took the cookies, took the form, and I bawled and hyperventilated.
*beginning to bawl again now, sorry*
When the vet came back with the towel and the IV in his leg, I was just a soft-mashed mess.
The injections happened, I petted and kissed him and cried, and tried to not cry and say his name in a happy, strong, positive voice so that it would be the last thing he heard, but my voice was just FUCKING up and there was no breath control, no ability to not cry....
He was gone, gently.
The vet hugged me, gave me more time with him. I told her those were memorial cookies, and it is a Russian tradition to eat sweets to honor the dead. She said she will go have a cookie right now. She left and told me to take my time.
I looked at him, kissed him, bawled.
*bawling now AGAIN, FUCK IT.*
I left the room after having one last look at him, lying there in peace on the towel, got in the car, got home. Mom was told, she sort of expected it. We remembered, talked, breathed the chill air in the back yard.
Tarasik, beloved friend, rest in peace.
Until we meet again.
Above: The back yard in a previous residence. Tarasik and Marta (big orange dog) are doing the guard rounds of the yard, with Zaika the white cat lounging, the orange speck of Morris on the top in the distance, and one of our gray kitties... Tarasik really missed Marta when she passed away. All three are gone now, over the Rainbow Bridge.
Above: Tarasik and Angel (black cocker spaniel) on Christmas in 1998. Both gone now, over the Rainbow Bridge.
There are more pictures, but my scanner is broken.
Happy Birthday to my Dad who turned 88 on December 22nd! This is the man who was born in the year of the Russian revolution, back in the Caucasus mountains in Tbilisi (Tiflis), Georgia. Way to go, Dad! :-)
I finsihed another draft of the edit of Margot Phoenix first 6 chapters, and now have several kind readers looking at it with fresh eyes to give me yet more suggestions on how to take the crap out of crappy. Which leaves a "py" -- which must be something good, I suppose. ;-)
My older dogs are being sick. Today just brought home Rafik the shepherd-wolf mix back from the vet where he was overnight and had a mole-like bleeding mass removed from his hind left leg. Rafik is fine now and recovering, but Tarasik, the even older Lhasa Apso has a distended belly, swollen like a drum and I have no idea what it is, and I've already made an appointment with the vet for Monday. If it gets worse, however, I might have to take him in earlier this holiday weekend.
Let's see, good things -- Locus (December 2005 Issue 539, p. 12) reviewed the new Fantasy Magazine, and Nick Gevers was kind enough to single out my story and list it as a Recommended Story on p. 58.
"Also distinctly dreamlike is "Sun, In Its Copper Season" by Vera Nazarian, who has long since mastered the languorous, decadent prose colorations of writers like Tanith Lee and Marion Zimmer Bradley; "Sun" is a beautifully meditated and composed account of an ageless woman whose mundane routines dictate the global pace of night and day, and who -- becoming disturbed by the approach of a similarly divine lover -- is thrown into sleepless ferment, with dire consequences for the world at large. Like [Jeffrey] Ford's story, this is allegory, but with the subtle grandeur of the finest adult fairy tales."
Unfortunately... what got published in Fantasy Magazine was a first draft of this work of mine -- by accident. I had given it to the editor as a placeholder, but the layout person did not substitute the final revision of the story, so... major Oops. However, thanks to the good folks at Prime Books, a slightly revised (improved) draft of this story will appear in my upcoming collection Salt of the Air, which should remedy the situation somewhat and give the correct and final draft of the story a chance to be properly seen by readers. I suppose it is a good -- and a bad -- thing that I write very near-final drafts. The good part is that the story is decent as is and passed editorial; the bad, the story's minor tics and some logistical issues got printed when they shouldn't have, and... it passed editorial. Oh well. I wasn't sure if I should have even mentioned anything in public, but I am very proud of this story, and I do want the correct draft to be out there, and yeah, if people will find anything wrong, any plot inconsistencies (there's one) at least I am owning up to it now. :-)
In other news, I want to draw everyone's attention to Anna Tambour's brand new blog, Medlar Comfits. Anna has incredible character and an unmistakable unique voice. Check it out and add it to your blogrolls.
Catherynne M. Valente has a couple of wonderful articles up, on the subject of Narnia, Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time and on fantasy in general, I Am A Fantasy Writer.
My Kung Fu and Tai Chi studio held a Holiday Party this last weekend, and it was wonderful to attend, together with Jenn.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Joyful Kwanzaa, Radiant Ramadan, and a glorious hoary-deep December to all of you! The New Year is just around the corner...
I am in a sort of a lull.
Too spaced and tired to plunge right back into writing after the 4 months of remodeling topped off by the refinance. But the Holiday Spirit is in the air, my favorite month and season is here, and I think I am coming back into the self that got weakened by the insane year. Self is like a muffin baking cup, a holder, a vessel, and when the Spirit of Self shifts, it takes a bit of temporal healing to settle back into the shape that is me.
Two days ago (12-3-05), I put up the New Year Tree / Christmas Tree, and the decorations and the lights are a joy. Instead of writing and working on the December Dare (which was originally the November Dare), I've finished watching the 4 Season DVDs of Alias, in a sort of mindless obsessive marathon. The newly remodeled portions of the house are fine, but my two rooms (office and bedroom) are still a mess. Now, I think it may be easier to sort of reclaim the will to act upon everything, including writing.
Freezing Santa Ana gale-force winds have been pounding the house for the last several days, and the leaves are all over the yard. SoCal winter is here, early, and I don't mind, though the wind-levels have been on the extreme side. Must be global warming that is making the weather so extreme and crazy.... Because it seems that every year things are a bit more severe than, say, 30 years ago when we first came to California, and the US.
Loscon over the Thanksgiving weekend was fun. It was good to spend time with Susan Franzblau, Sherwood Smith, Alan Rodgers, Amy Sterling Casil, Stella and Dave Bloom, Allison Lonsdale, and the usual gang. Not really much of a con report, since I think we spent most of the time between panels lounging in the green room, and eating crappy and overpriced hotel food. Much missed this year was the company of Deborah J. Ross and Dave Trowbridge who both couldn't make the con.
So now, I am thinking, what to work on next? I think, the Margot Phoenix edit is foremost, and then, I am just unsure! Cobweb Bride? Airealm?
Get your act together, already, Vera.
Meanwhile, a couple of nice reviews of my stuff -- Lords of Swords reviewed at Bards and Sages:
"My favorite story in the collection was Vera Nazarian'sThe Slaying of Winter. Nazarian's tale of vengeance, honor, and forgiveness centers on Iliss, a young woman who seeks revenge against the Northsmen who killed her brother and slaughtered her people by killing the very god they worshipped. She finds an unlikely, and unwelcome, ally among the Northsmen, and together they seek out the god Trei. But gods are only found when they want to be, and the ending is poignant and profound."
And a very nice mention in Publishers Weekly:
"Horror and folklore fans will welcome Jabberwocky, an eclectic collection of poems and short stories edited by Sean Wallace. Two of the highpoints are
reimaginings of classic fairy tales, Ainsley Dicks's "In Grandmother's House" and Vera Nazarian's "Revulsion and the Beast." (Prime [www.primebooks.net], $10 paper ISBN 0-8095-5062-8)"
And hey, have you read "Old Farts" yet?
DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE
New - ibooks
Trade Paperback Edition
SALT OF THE AIR
THE CLOCK KING AND THE QUEEN OF THE HOURGLASS
LORDS OF RAINBOW
"Sun, In Its Copper Season"
DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE
LORDS OF RAINBOW
DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE
LORDS OF SWORDS
STRANGE PLEASURES #2
BEYOND THE LAST STAR
OUTSIDE THE BOX
SWORD AND SORCERESS #17
SWORD AND SORCERESS #16
THE AGE OF REASON