This is a mirror of my blog, Obligated to Exaggerate. Feel free to comment here or there. (Though sometimes wordpress plays games with turning comments on and off.)

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Now it can be told!

I've been accepted to the German Studies MA program at the University of Georgia for this fall! I'll be focusing on the linguistic aspects of the language (language change and variation).

I'm not going to get to very many (any?) cons over the next couple years, because of classes and all, but I currently intend to get the new novel WIP outlined before the semester starts and take a couple hours every weekend or something and work on a draft.
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Now it can be told!

I've been accepted to the German Studies MA program at the University of Georgia for this fall! I'll be focusing on the linguistic aspects of the language (language change and variation).

I'm not going to get to very many (any?) cons over the next couple years, because of classes and all, but I currently intend to get the new novel WIP outlined before the semester starts and take a couple hours every weekend or something and work on a draft.
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2015 in review

2015 hasn't been terribly eventful.

I ran another Shatterdome Atlanta, which happened and people had fun. I went to my brother-in-law's wedding on Orcas Island, which took literally all day to get to from here (we had a 7 am flight and landed in Seattle at 1:30 pm and rented a car and drove 2 hours to the ferry, waited another hour + for the boat, then took the half-hour ferry to the island, and then had to drive to the other side of the island to the location, so we arrived around 9:30 pm, which felt like midnight to us, after a really long day.)

I started taking Russian at UNC. It's an interesting language, with a few bits of grammatical WTFery for speakers of Germanic languages (which includes English). A friend said I shouldn't learn it because it's too hard, but I said "pfff" and am doing it anyway. I got an A in 101, and I expect to get one in 102 as well. Going to the class eats 10-12 hours a week, plus another 4-5 of homework. I live half an hour from campus, but I use free parking that's not exactly close to campus, so I take a bus from there.

As to the goals I mentioned in last year's review... I accomplished two and a half. I ran a 5k (36:15), successfully chaired a convention, and made a small dent in my reading backlog. I have not sold a story (not for lack of trying...37 submissions, 37 rejections), and the novel is not in anything resembling a shoppable state (which is entirely my fault; I started learning Russian, which eats up a lot of time.) I'm working on it over winter break, but I still don't think I'll get it ready before classes start again.

I taught some German this year; after May, there was a lot of summer travel, so my whole 3 students and I said we'd reconvene toward fall. And there wasn't enough interest to make a class, so no class.

I read more. I even read books that were published this year! Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Ann Leckie's Ancillary Mercy, and Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown. I liked the first one a lot, the second one a lot, and the third one OK.

For 2016, I'm going to keep trying to sell these stories, keep finishing this damned novel, and start figuring out the next one.
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Whirlwind summer

I've been busy this summer. I spent 4 days in Atlanta for Shatterdome Atlanta 2 (jaeger boogaloo), was home for two days, then flew out to Seattle for my brother-in-law's wedding on Orcas Island, whence his wife hails, to be gone for five days. So we were gone nine of eleven days.

The con was fun, and the wedding was in a lovely location.
view from Doe Bay Resort, Orcas Island, WA.

Sunset over Doe Bay

After that, I spent a blissful two weeks without any travel at all, doing my usual things, like sleeping and running and going to trivia. Then it was off to Boston for Readercon.

I had a lovely time at Readercon, seeing my VP17 folks and people from the internet and meeting new people. I didn't get enough sleep, but I never do at cons. I liked having conversations about books and writing and reading and all that stuff, which I don't generally get to do with my local friend group.

I bought three books at the con: Hild (I'm catching up on books I needed to read two years ago that have sequels in progress), My Real Children (on the recommendation of several friends), and The Goblin Emperor (so I can have it forever and also get Ben to read it.)

I went to several panels, some of which I even managed to take notes on. I tend to find that I plan to go to a bunch of panels, then I get waylaid by excellent conversation in the hallway or consuite or bar. Either way, I have fun, eh?

Here are links to the Evernote notes I made of the panels I went to. Hopefully they work...

Drift-compatible Characters in SFF
Writing in the anthropocene
Language and Linguistics in SFF: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

They are very note-y, as I was typing them with my thumbs on a tablet, and also trying to pay attention to the speakers. The anthropocene panel had mic issues, so I may not have heard everything properly.

Anyway! I may be able to make it to ReaderCon next year, or I may try to go to 4th Street instead. (I can't afford both.) It depends on a lot of things, like how my summer travel plans shake out and when SATL 3 happens. That kind of thing.
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Time marches on

(it's a pun. laugh.)

Right, then. I have the physical certificate for the teaching course in hand, so I am all official on this thing. Woot! I'm teaching my third class at the language school, and it seems to be going well.

My sister had a baby about a month ago, so I have a niece. I crocheted a blanket for her, and it worked out well. My sister texted me a picture of the baby on the blanket.

I have a short story that I'm thinking of self-publishing. I can export it as an epub in five minutes with Scrivener, but I need a cover and all that. I'm also thinking of making some copies at kinkos and selling a print version at cons I go to. It's 5000 words, so it would be folded letter-size.

But I'll deal with that later. Right now I'm supposed to be finishing the revisions on this novel (the one that expands "Something There Is"). My original goal was this Friday, but I have 10 chapters left, and that's looking highly unlikely. Next Friday, then. And then it's off to beta readers. Yay.

Shatterdome Atlanta 2: Jaeger Boogaloo will be happening in three months (oh god).

After I finish novel revisions, I'm working on a secret project (secret because I don't want to talk about it too publicly in case nothing comes of it; a lot of you probably already know what I'm talking about anyway) and con planning, and when I have spare brain cycles, figuring out what the next novel I'm writing is about AND working on the synopsis & query letter and researching agents for the current one.

But that's a ways off yet, so I'm not thinking about it too hard at the moment.
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2014 in review

It's been quite a year, and not even for writing!

In February, I went to Mannheim, Germany, for a little over 2 weeks for a practicum in my German-teaching-certificate program, then I visited a friend in Stuttgart, and we went to see Hertha play VfB (and win).

March saw my first personal rejection for a story. April saw two sick cats, one of whom we lost in August.

In May, I successfully chaired a convention, and we're doing it again in 2015, this time with more staff huzzah.

I spent the last two weeks-ish of June in Berlin, then watched Germany win the World Cup. After that, it was building armor for DragonCon and having a cat die.

I started teaching German at a local language school in mid-September, and I'm cramming to finish the last module I need to get my certificate by Feb 1. (I have until April 1.)

In November I went to World Fantasy Con, met a lot of new people, and saw a bunch of my VP17 classmates. I won NaNoWriMo with a rewrite of my current novel (which I intend to finish a draft I can give to people to read by March 1).

This month involved a lot of baking, planning my next German class (German 2, starting next Tuesday), and visiting my family in Maryland. And crocheting a blanket for my sister's baby, which I finished just in time for her shower.

I didn't read nearly as much fiction as I wanted to, partly because I was either planning a convention, building armor, or reading about the theory of foreign language instruction in German.

For 2015, I want to sell a short story (at least one, preferably more than one; I only have 3 at the moment), get the novel to a state where I can shop it to agents, teach, successfully chair another convention, and run a 5k. I want to make a dent in my to-read backlog (much of which is electronic, thankfully).

I wish you all a happy new year and einen guten Rutsch.
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NaNoWriMo follow-up

Since I blogged that I was going to revise my novel during the November NaNo period, I figure I should say something about how it went.

I got 50,000 words (51,600 or something, actually). I hit the target before Thanksgiving, which was good, because I had company that whole weekend and had minimal time to write. Some may call it cheating a bit, because I was revising; however, I had to rewrite a LOT of scenes, and I threw out a lot of what I had and basically changed the last half of it entirely. So only kind of like cheating.

It was very difficult, and I had to skip a lot of things I usually do (or needed to do, like make lesson plans). I have not yet finished it; I've had a hard time getting momentum to get back into it. I wrote the last scene, yes, but there are a lot of things I need to go back and fill in (interludes of fake documentation, letters, that sort of thing; a lot of description and emotions, especially in the second half/final third), which I will likely do in January, once it's had a little time to sit, and when I've done a bit more research into official documentation.

The next couple weeks I'm devoting to finishing the final module of my teaching-German course, and I'll take the last exam the first two weeks(ish) of January (the school is closed from 12/24-1/6). Assuming I pass, I'll get a nice shiny certificate by spring. Hooray. I also need to make lesson plans and find resource materials for my German 2 class starting in a few weeks. (I need to have enough ready so I don't have to do it while spending 2 hours a day on an exam.)

Once I get back to making a Finished First Draft of the novel, I probably won't dive in as much as I did during NaNo. I would like to get it to a state where I can send it to beta readers by February 15, but that's a target, and we'll see how it goes. I have to give myself a deadline, because otherwise I'll put it off indefinitely.

So that's the state of The Novel (which needs a title, and I am rubbish at titles, so lord knows what it'll ever end up being called). I have a couple short pieces out on submission at the moment, and a piece of experimental flash I want to revise before sending back out. If I make a sale, I promise I'll tell you all here ;)
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"There has to be a word for that in German."

There's a meme that German has a word for everything, and I'm often asked what the German word for some complicated phrase is.

My answer is usually, "There isn't one, but I can make one up for you." (Occasionally there actually is a word for that, like Kummerspeck, weight gained from emotional overeating (literally "grief bacon"), but not most of the time.)

It's very true that German has a lot of long compound words, but the vast majority of them (especially the 5- and 6-word conglomerations) won't be in the dictionary. Yes, Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän is a word, and it has a Wikipedia entry that is largely composed of its usage in machine translation problems and examples of artificial and fictive words composed from it. (I am still of the opinion that it should be Schiffahrt, the Rechtschreibreform be damned. Three f's in a row look ridiculous.)

The German language has a very useful and convenient property that allows for the building of compound (or composite) words, known in German as Komposita. All you need is a stem noun and another noun, an adjective or adverb, or sometimes a verb, which you glom onto the front of the stem noun (sometimes with modifications). Each subsequent addition makes the thing more specific.

Let's use Kapitän as a first example, since we've got the lovely Komposita up there. You have a Kapitän--a captain. You can have a Mannschaftskapitän (a team captain; two nouns) or a Schiffskapitän (a ship captain). Bastian Schweinsteiger is currently the Nationalmannschaftskapitän (national team captain; adjective and two nouns, and the adjective makes the first noun more specific).

Another example: Teller (plate). You can have a Gemüseteller on a menu, and it will be a plate of vegetables. Or you can buy a very nice Porzellanteller, which is a plate made of porcelain. You don't always just smush words together. You wouldn't have a Grünporzellanteller, but you would have a grünen Porzellanteller, if it's green.

It is very convenient to make compound words in German where we would have two words or sometimes a phrase in English. But it's a myth that words for every esoteric concept exist in German. You won't find it in a dictionary, but if you're nice, maybe a German speaker will make one up for you.
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World Fantasy Con 2014 in review

As many conventions begin, mine began with travel. I took Amtrak from Durham to Alexandria, Virginia. For once, my train was only about half an hour delayed. I arrived at the hotel to realize that I should have asked which hotel my roommate for Wednesday, Mur, was staying in.

I suppose I shouldn't go into a minute-by-minute breakdown of the convention, so I'll just say hi to everyone I saw there (my VP classmates Shannon, John, Beth T, Latasha, Mary, and Paul, other VP alums, my roomie JoSelle Vanderhooft, the Helsinki in 2017 bid crew, Carrie, Don) and the people I met (Kat Otis, Laurie Tom, Lawrence Schoen, Ken Kao, Shaun Duke, Chadwick Ginther, Stefon Mears), and the people I spoke briefly to (CC Finlay, the Haldemans, Chuck Gannon, Mike Martinez), and the people I'm forgetting (sorry! There were so many of you!).

Now ends the name-dropping part of this entry.

I had a fun dinner with complete strangers Friday night, after I tweeted asking for dinner partners. So I walked up to 23rd St and had Ethiopian food with Shaun, Chadwick, and Stefon. If the thought of eating with strangers doesn't give you hives, I highly recommend this course of action. There was a chance they'd turn out to be boring or uncool, but I think we got on pretty well.

My panel went pretty well, I think. People said they thought it was good, so I hope they weren't telling me white lies to make me feel better. I went prepared with notes, because I am horrible at extemporaneous speaking, especially at 10 am during a con. (I am a morning person, and I can't sleep past 6:30 or 7, even if I was up until 2 am.)

All the panels I went to were pretty good, though a couple could have used better moderation. All the WW1 panels I went to (all of them except the Great Game, which was really a prelude to it) were fun and informative. Some of them could have had firmer moderation, unfortunately.

There was only one negative panel experience for me, which was Alternate Histories in WW1. One of the panelists didn't seem very well informed on the subject (Germany invaded Serbia! I didn't know that!), said that divergence points were stupid and boring (but isn't that how you get alternate history??), and kept coming back to this one book, The Bloody Red Baron, by Kim Newman. I've spent a lot of time thinking about alternate 19th century history, so I asked a question of the panel that could be summed up thusly: While you were discussing divergence points earlier, you talked mostly about the outcomes of battles or if spies were captured. What would you do to make something earlier that gets into really esoteric neepery interesting? For example, if Friedrich III hadn't died after being on the throne for 3 months, putting a vastly immature Wilhelm II on the throne?

This panelist was the first to speak, and she talked about how divergence points are boring and then something about usurpation. Reader, I may have argued with her. She knew nothing about the Hohenzollern succession! TBQFH I would have been a better panelist on this discussion, and most of my WW1 knowledge is confined to the first months of the war. After she talked around the subject for a bit, I said, "Yes, I know, you don't like divergence points, can we move on?" and another panelist took the question. (I ran into a handful of people who said I raised a good point.) The answer, basically, was to set it X years later, but I kind of wanted to talk about how to figure out the counterfactual history to that point. Maybe some of you who'll be at Readercon will have ideas and we can talk about it there?

I wanted to talk about Leviathan, which is a lot of fun and is definitely alternate WW1 history. But, no, we got all kinds of talk about this book where Dracula survived and married QEII.

Anyway. I had a lot of fun talking to a lot of cool, smart people about writing, WW1, history, books, and all sorts of stuff. I got a "rejected by Clarkesworld" card with an adorable sad robot on it. (I always start with them and Lightspeed, because they send out rejections really quickly.) I don't think I can make it to WFC '15 in Saratoga Springs for financial reasons. (I'm going to Readercon, and I can pretty much only afford to go to one flying-range con per year.) It was definitely a different sort of convention experience than I'm used to, which is good for career-related things, so I'd like to go again sometime. We'll see what 2016 looks like (though I might go to WorldCon in KC.)
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World Fantasy Con

I'm going to my first World Fantasy Con on Wednesday. I'm told this is a very different kind of convention than I'm used to: a lot more professionally oriented, more editors and whatnot around. It's a little intimidating, but I'm looking forward to seeing about a quarter of my VP class there. I miss them.

(All my roommates from THE COMPOUND will be there, me and Tasha and Paul and Shannon, and it will be nostalgic. I learned how to make popcorn on the stove from Paul, and we all sat around our coffee table, one of us in the squeaky armchair, writing and eating popcorn he made and trying not to get too distracted.)

I'm going to be on a panel! Come say hello (or just hear me be a goober, whatever).

Language and Linguistics in Fantasy
Time:  10 a.m. - 11 a.m., Friday, Regency E
Panelists:  Lawrence M. Schoen (M), C. D. Covington, Matthew Johnson, Sofia Samatar
Description:  Foreign languages are often used in fantasy literature to add atmosphere, to show cultural backgrounds, and to bring a richness to the world, as can be seen in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange and Richard Adams' Watership Down.  Some authors rely on real languages, while others, such as Tolkien, have invented entire tongues.  Which stories incorporate other languages successfully, and where have authors stumbled, making much of the work incomprehensible?

I'm also part of a group reading. Come hear me and about a dozen other women read from our fiction.

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Saturday, 2-4 pm, room 1850 (Regency Suite 1).

I will also be helping with an as-yet-undetermined meet-up for the 2017 Helsinki WorldCon bid (likely a bar meet-up). Come find out why you should vote for the Helsinki bid next summer and have a drink (or a soda, if that's your speed).

Hope to see some of you there!

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