Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Status

I had been fairly consistent here for a while, updating this blog at least twice a week, if not more often. Alas, that all came to a grinding halt about three weeks ago. I attended Potlatch 20 the first weekend in March, and then the first FOGcon the following weekend; and last weekend was devoted to taxes (more on that in a bit); taxes can be a definite downer after two con weekends in a row! I typically use my weekends to get caught up: on my own projects (this blog), on watching movies, on household chores (laundry, mowing the lawn, hedging, etc.) -- but none of that gets done when I'm attending a convention, and then the weekend work carries over into the following week, or the catch-up work simply doesn't get done at all, which was the case with this blog. Of course, with this March rain -- like 21 days of rain out of the past 27 -- not a lot of yardwork was going to get done regardless, weekdays or weekends.

But I have been doing my part, helping to pay the bills -- honest.

The Monday after Potlatch, I began work (copyediting) on the June issue of Realms of Fantasy magazine. The June issue marks the 100th issue, and the third issue under new publisher Damnation Books. In addition to the 100 pages of content for this "centennial" issue, the publisher has some special goodies planned as well, but I'm sworn to secrecy. (Well, at least my bribe price hasn't been met yet!) So you'll have to wait until the June issue ships (or offer me more money, whichever comes first); better yet, why not subscribe to the magazine. In addition to those extra goodies, Damnation Books has some (if you'll pardon the expression) damn fine stories in issue #100 as well.

In the middle of working on the copyedits for the June issue, I was sent the PDF layout file of the April issue for my review, which I did, as did magazine editor Douglas Cohen. Quite a few hours were invested in this review. April is the "Dark Fantasy" special issue, and the cover art is pictured here. The issue has already gone to print -- so look for it in the mail if you are a subscriber, or online or at bookstores or wherever you purchase your magazines. But back to the June issue: I can tell you that I copyedited 7 fiction files, 11 nonfiction files, and 4 of those "special" files. And I'm serious; I was really knocked out by the fiction in this issue. In fact, I want to bring the June issue to the attention of all the year's best anthologists; they just might find a worthy story (or two) for consideration in this particular issue.

Regardless of my personal involvement with RoF, I was pleased to see the magazine achieve some recognition recently. On February 22, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced the nominees for the 2010 Nebula Awards. The link will take you to the official SFWA press release. I just wanted to bring to your attention the two stories from RoF that were nominated for this award: "How Interesting: A Tiny Man" by Harlan Ellison® (February 2010 issue) in the short story category; and "The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost and Oludara" by Christopher Kastensmidt (April 2010 issue) in the novelette category.

To continue... My next project was to finalize our taxes. I had completed all the input, but wanted to let the forms and data set for a bit, before I did my final review, after which I would file the Federal taxes electronically, and then print out and mail the State taxes. I made a couple minor changes that didn't affect the bottom-line numbers on Saturday, March 19. When I opened the tax file the next day for my final review, the file wouldn't open. I tried at least 3 times but all to no avail. I thought that possibly it was the TurboTax application itself, so I uninstalled and reinstalled the program, but the file would still not load. Thank gawd I had a backup on an external drive from the previous week; I did not want to be entering my tax data from the beginning, yet again. I made another copy of the backup before continuing; I then redid the 2 minor changes from the previous day, completed my review, printed out, I think it was, four replacement pages, filed the Feds electronically, and all was well with the world. I made the trip to the copy center and post office the following day, so by Monday (March 21) my 2010 tax year was complete. (I have spoken on previous occasions about my redundant backups, so I won't bore you with details other than to say that I automatically back up to an external drive my working files daily, my entire hard drive weekly; and these in turn are backed up to a second external drive.)

But speaking of TurboTax: I always have some kind of problem with the application every single year, and I've been using TT for 10+ years. I always write in my numbers on copies of the forms, do some of the basic calculations, and double-check TT's results every step of the way. I do not inherently trust any of the program's numbers; I've found too many calculation errors in past years. I know, I know, yet I still keep using the bloody program. So, who has a better alternative?

Future MediaOnce I got our taxes out of the way I was able to move on to the next project: the Future Media anthology, edited by Rick Wilber for Tachyon Publications. I had responsibility for copyediting the front matter, all the fiction, as well as the mini introductions to each of the fiction and nonfiction pieces. The project wasn't difficult, but it was time consuming as I had to double-check the text of each manuscript against the "official" published version of the story (or excerpt, in the case of novels by Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, and Norman Spinrad). Some of the authors included in Future Media were quite prescient in their ability to predict the impact of technology on media, as well as the overwhelming impact of media technology on our lives. After reading the min intros to the nonfiction articles, I'm looking forward to some fine reading when the book is published in July.

In between all of the above, I have been dutifully working on finalizing the contents for my Alien Contact anthology forthcoming in November from Night Shade Books. But that's for another blog post...soon.
I also want to write a blog post about a panel/interview/talk that renowned editor Alan Rinzler did at Potlatch 20, but I need to put some thought and time into this first. Rinzler may have edited some exceptional books in years past -- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, to name only three -- but his current thinking and opinions on the state of publishing do not always mesh with mine. I think he skirted some issues during the talk, specifically avoiding answering my question in particular with some sleight-of-hand comments. More later....

[Update: 29 March: I've reviewed my sparse notes regarding the Rinzler event at Potlatch 20 and, unfortunately, I realize that too much time has passed -- and I've been involved in other projects since that event, read too many stories, and articles, and tweets, and Facebook posts, etc. -- to write a cogent discussion. So I'll simply move on to something else. I'm sure that Alan Rinzler doesn't care, one way or the other.]

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