Off to a Conference!

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This Friday I’ll be attending the Northeast Modern Language Association’s meeting at the Gaylord National Resort Center. I was invited to be part of a roundtable discussion on teaching science fiction and I’ll be talking about Ray Bradbury and censorship. I’m both excited by and a little intimidated by the event, but I’ve presented papers at conferences before so I have some experience to fall back on.

My event isn’t until 3 in the afternoon, so while I could sleep in I’m going to make an early day of it and take in as much of the conference as possible. The hotel has a pretty good breakfast, so at o-dark-thirty I’ll be dragging myself from bed with the promise of pancakes and bacon.

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Ray Bradbury and Me

I have two chapters in this book about Ray Bradbury. The book is part of Salem Press’s Critical Insights series.

Toward the end of last year I was invited to write a biography and a critical context entry about Ray Bradbury for inclusion in Salem Press’s Critical Insights: Ray Bradbury. The book has been published and I received my author’s copy last week, just in time for the holidays. It’s a lot of work to research and write these kind of articles, but it’s always a pleasure to see them in print and to see what kind of other articles there are in the book.

Last summer my husband and I attended the Maine Astronomy Retreat for the first time. One day we left camp and drove to Belfast, Maine, and spent the afternoon strolling around. I saw a paperback copy of The Martian Chronicles in the window of an independent bookstore, and I was drawn to it, but in the end I didn’t buy it. About a month after vacation I received an email about this book project and all I could think was “Why didn’t I buy that book when I was on vacation?”

Odd things like that seem to happen to me fairly often. I suppose I could claim to have had an intuition about the book, but I think I was drawn to it because I’ve been thinking about rereading some of the books I read as a teenager, and The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 were both on that reread list. I read both while working on the articles, and in fact I devoured them each in a day or two, staying up way too late because I just could not put the books down. I don’t remember that fascination the first time I read the books, and in fact I found The Martian Chronicles a bit hard because I’m more of a novel reader and less of a short-story reader. I always wanted to stay with Bradbury’s characters longer than he did!

My essays are a short biography, “Ray Douglas Bradbury,” and a longer piece, “Big Brother, Little Sister: Ray Bradbury, Social Pressure, and the Challenges to Free Speech.” You can work out from the title what it’s about, so I won’t go into details here. But, I would recommend reading Bradbury’s work, especially if you’ve only seen the movies. His word choices, the characters, the pacing of the stories — those are part and parcel of the atmosphere he brought to the worlds he created. You won’t go wrong spending an evening, or a few days, immersed in his work.

 

 

Bacteria Wars

This has been a rough spring. Not only do I have allergies that turned into a sinus infection earlier this month, but I then I developed a lingering cough that I thought was bronchitis, so today I went to the doctor and it turns out I have strep throat. Well, the bacteria might be making me sick, which is pretty unfortunate since I just joined a gym, but they are not stopping me from writing. I am wondering if I should spray my keyboard with disinfectant. Nah. It would probably short-circuit, and then I’d have to write by hand. And I can’t read my own handwriting after the first paragraph!

Additionally, one of my cockatiels was unwell and so I took both of them to the vet. Poor little things, they both had blood drawn, and while Peachfuzz powered through it like a champ, Zim screamed his head off during the entire exam and then he bit the vet — twice. Guess who’s a favorite at the animal hospital?

Progress on the second Corrugated Sky anthology is going well. We’re revising our first drafts and hope to publish the book early this summer. I’ve completed my last encyclopedia entry on Ray Bradbury, although I have a few things to tackle for the editor to clear up some rough patches and fill in a few gaps. I’ve submitted a chapter proposal for an academic book on the First World War, and with most big projects off my desk I can turn to editing my novel for one last time.

I’ve revisited my thought process about how many words/hour editing should count for and decided that the 1,000 words per hour is really not unrealistic. I was toughing it out at 750 words an hour, but I was kind of cheating myself given the amount of work I was putting into the editing process. I’m happy to say that I am now ahead in my weekly word-count goal by more than 5,000 words, and I intend to stay there.

Stay well, stay pollen-free and bacteria-less, and I’ll see you on the next page!

I Can Has Allergies

I really, really, really need to move. Since mid-March I’ve had a stomach bug, allergies, and a sinus infection. After battling the sinus thing for three weeks and coughing so hard that I pulled a muscle, I realized that I needed more than vitamin C. So, I went up to a local walk-in clinic for antibiotics and some nasal spray. Well, that helped a lot, but I still have allergy headaches, and now I’m having eye strain headaches. I need a vacation, and I need a paradise to escape to. It sure looks pretty outside, but … achoo!

In March and early April I’ve so busy that I’ve had to let the blog “rest” for awhile. I had an encyclopedia article on howdahs to complete by the end of March, and then I had to prepare a paper for presentation on Victorian detectives, detective fiction, and journalism for the 2017 meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of British Studies. And this week I just wrapped up an entry on the cultural and historical impact of Ray Bradbury for another encyclopedia. And all this stuff is in addition to my full-time job.

Yes, I do sit at the computer for a very long time every day! And this is a problem, so I’ve joined a local gym and signed up for four training sessions. My second one is today, and I’ve actually worked out twice so far this week.

I’m slowly catching up on my writing goal of 240,000 words for this year, despite a couple of very unproductive weeks. With this blog post, I’m just about 700 words behind where I want to be, but I still have two days left in my writing work week. On the fiction writing front, I’m starting the revisions to my Steampunk story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology, to be published in late spring or early summer. Seacombe Island is next up; it’s getting a final revision and should also be published this year. I have several nonfiction projects in the queue as well, including a proposal for a chapter in a book on World War I, a book of writer’s prompts, and extending my research and writing about Victorian detectives. Oh, and there might be a cocktail book in the works, too. But that’s for after hours!