By the great horn spoon, I have finished my book! (Again.)

I finished my novel revisions! *flings confetti everywhere*

I feel less jubilant than that sounds, because the moment I was done it was borne in on me that everything I had written was TERRIBLE and nothing I had done had improved ANYTHING and all I had done was make more problems for myself, that I would doubtless FAIL TO SOLVE. In other words, this Captain Awkward post was pretty topical!

But I am going to let the book sit and stew in its own juices for a bit while I go off and joli katak in Cornwall, and then when I come back I will try to fix some of the new problems I have invented. And if those aren’t all fixed in Draft 5, that is all right, because I will just send it to my agent anyway and she can tell me how to fix it.

Which is to say — and I don’t think I’ve said this in public on the Internet yet — I’ve signed with a literary agent! \o/ The revisions are for her to look at. I queried my novel in early June and then had an extremely interesting three weeks, which I will blog about some day, but not now. Anyway I am very grateful to everyone who took the time to answer my questions about agents.

So that this post isn’t just “I did revisions! Yay! … They are terrible! Woe!”, here are some things I picked up in the course of working on the book. OED Online has been a hugely helpful writing tool (I get access through my library membership — one of many, many reasons why public libraries are a beautiful thing), and I particularly like the thesaurus. One of the things I stumbled across while clicking around was a list of non-religious, non-obscene oaths … and they are pretty amazing. Here is a selection!


By the mouse-foot. As in, “I’ll come and visit you; by the mouse-foot I will.”

Bread and salt. To take bread and salt is to swear. “No other wight, saue she, by bred & salt.”

By my hood and by my sheath. Do you mean … by your penis???

By the pody cody. This is “apparently a euphemistic alteration of body of God“.

What a/the goodyear. This is like what the heck, except it makes no sense. “What the goodyeere my lord, why are you thus out of measure sad?” (That is Shakespeare!)

Splutterdenails. As in, “Welsh Taffy he raves and crys Splutterdenails.” (I don’t understand that either. This sentence is a bit like the kind of sentence you would produce in school when they made you bina ayat to illustrate the meaning of a word, but you didn’t know the word, so you wrote something like “Ah Beng asked the teacher, ‘What does bobrok mean?'” and you were pretty pleased with yourself, but the teacher gave you 0 marks for it.)

Variants are “splutter” (“You are not mad I hope.” “Splutter, my Lady, but I am.”) and “splutter and vons” (“Splutter and vons! you lousy tog, who do you call my master?”) This is a perversion of God’s blood.

I snore. “Used as a mild expletive. U.S.” USians, please tell me that you exclaim “I snore!” all the time.

By the great horn spoon. Also U.S.” If you are American and neither use “I snore” nor “by the great horn spoon” in everyday conversation, don’t even tell me. I don’t wanna know!

By the hokey fiddle. Used in Joyce’s Ulysses. The other examples the OED gives are of variants “by hokey” or “by the hokey”, but I like “by the hokey fiddle” best.

Apparitions, Conventions

Nine Worlds 2013 con report: Part 2

My first panel was at 10 am on the second day of Nine Worlds, and the noble Katy said she would attend, so a whole group of us ended up peeling ourselves off our beds (our lovely, lovely beds) at a disgusting hour of the morning to set off for the con. But because there were so many of us we took a cab, which was great! Since I/my friends have now used it multiple times I can recommend Airport Fare with reasonable confidence: I came across them when they put a card through my door; I passed the details cheerfully on to colorblue when she asked about airport transfers, and then freaked out when her parents booked them. Because what if they sucked???

But they did not suck, and £35 is very reasonable for a four-seater cab from Heathrow to North London, if you are looking for airport transfers. The online form is not super flexible, but they were perfectly happy to pick us up at the Renaissance and do two drop-offs for the price when we called.

Anyway, con report: The Two Towers! I dunno if it will stretch to a trilogy. Let’s write this and see!

Continue reading

Apparitions, Conventions

Nine Worlds 2013 con report: Part 1

I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t … really … looking forward to Nine Worlds? It is not because it didn’t sound cool. I am just really lazy! And Heathrow is so far away, and I had found myself signed up for four panels and a reading, and nearly all those panels involved Real People™, and I wasn’t going to KNOW anybody, and it was going to be like WorldCon ‘07 when everybody thought I was Japanese but it’s not like I could hang out with the Japanese fans since I don’t, y’know, speak any Japanese, and it was going to be like Wiscon only without my friends, who were the best part, and mrr mrr mrr mrr mrr.

But um, it was actually awesome! It was super awesome! A large part was because I did have friends, since happydork (hereinafter referred to as “Katy”) decided to come about a week before, and I cheerfully attached myself to her coat-tails and met all her nice friends. And I was really impressed — by the organisation, because I never noticed it, which is surely kind of astounding for a con in its first year; by the number of non-binary-gender-conforming fans and fans with disabilities (though fewer of the latter, IIRC); by the sense, with the audiences of the panels I attended, that there was a significant number of people there who valued the things I valued.

With the last thing, I don’t just mean social justice issues, which are, of course, super important — but you know, the fact that I could basically sit on a panel of editors and published authors and ramble on about the amazing ‘90s fanfic I read as a teenager, and have multiple people say/Tweet in response: OMG, RIGHT???? At a con not solely dedicated to fanfic, in a track not about fanfic? AWESOME.

And you know, it was not perfect: for one thing, I am gender-conforming and not disabled and omnivorous and extroverted and not overly bothered by crowds and all these things that make cons not as stressful for me as they are for other people; for another, stuff still happened to make one raise a quizzical eyebrow. But I think it says something about Nine Worlds that it was the first time I’ve been in a geek space in the UK and felt so comfortable. (Don’t get me wrong, it would have been even lovelier to see more non-white fans around — there were a number, but I got to recognising the others since there weren’t that many of us. It took real effort not to go up to all of them and creep on them. “You have melanin too! BE MY FRIEND @_@”)

But the word that keeps coming up on Twitter is “safe”. It definitely felt that to me.

So — huge congrats and thanks to the con organisers for formulating and expressing their commitment to diversity and inclusivity so effectively. I am sorry I didn’t believe it was going to be so awesome! orz

On to the detailed con report! … The Fellowship of the Ring. Continue reading

Apparitions, Conventions

Nine Worlds panels what I am on

Nine Worlds is this weekend! OMG, I am so unprepared. As at Wiscon, I plan to make it through my panels on pure charm, i.e. I intend to smile a lot and laugh at everyone’s jokes.

After I painstakingly extracted the details of my programme, I realised I could’ve just linked to my Lanyrd profile. That wasn’t very clever of me. Oh well! My comments in italics below.



Cake or Death? Plot, Pacing & Character Death. With Cake.
5:00pm to 6:15pm, George I, Renaissance
Zen Cho, Paul Cornell, Charles Stross, Liz de Jager, Marcus Gipps (mod)

Some authors want to be nice to their characters, some don’t. And some just murder them all. Come celebrate the opening of the Nine Worlds Books track with tea and cake, and a discussion on writing conflict, danger and character death with some of science fiction and fantasy’s finest authors.

I don’t think many authors murder ALL their characters, do they? I am not actually sure what this panel is about, but there is going to be tea and cake! This is very comforting because you feel that even if you are not interesting, at least the audience has already been rewarded for participation with cake.



Heroes vs. Villains: The Debate
10:00am to 11:15am, George I, Renaissance
Kate Griffin, Stan Nicholls, Zen Cho, Anne Perry (mod), Adrian Tchaikovsky

We kick off Saturday with the ultimate showdown: heroes vs. villains! Two authors argue that villains are the best, two argue for heroes, the audience decides once and for all. Who will it be? Katniss or Catwoman? Frodo or Darth Vader? Starks or Lannisters? There will be room for audience members to speak on the floor, so come prepared to shout, argue and scream for your favourite side.

I am supposed to be arguing for villains but am trying to swap for heroes. If I seem particularly unconvinced on Saturday, you know why!

New Goggles: Diversity in Steampunk
1:30pm to 2:45pm, Britannia, Renaissance
Zen Cho, Alex Dally MacFarlane (mod), Maki Yamazaki, Sam Kelly

‘Anachrotech’ genres like Steampunk give writers, makers, and musicians a chance to tinker with the past, resulting in, at best, a way to reclaim and subvert popular historical narratives and tropes; at worst, a nostalgia that uncritically repeats those tropes. Let’s trade in those rose-tinted monocles for new goggles, and discuss the importance of queering and diversifying the genre.

I feel very unqualified regarding steampunk. /o\ But nostalgia and Anglophilia and reclamation of tropes and historical narratives are all things I can talk about!

New Voices Slam Session: Saturday Edition
10:15pm to 11:30pm, Lobby Room, Renaissance
Den Patrick, Zen Cho, Francis Knight, Tade Thompson, Paul Cornell, Tom Pollock, Laura Eve, Snorri Kristjansson, Benedict Jacka, Catherine Banner

Your chance to listen to short readings from nine more of science fiction and fantasy’s most promising new authors. Bring your drinks, bring your friends, contrast and compare these authors to Friday’s authors, but not too loudly.

We each only have five minutes to fill, thank goodness. I am dithering between my Monkey King story, which would be super fun to read but won’t be available in full till 2015, and Prudence and the Dragon, which is fun to read, a very London story, and available to read online if people are intrigued by the reading — but I’ve done it for a reading once before. Hm, now I’ve put it that way it seems pretty obvious that I should do Prudence. But Monkey King is so fun!



Racefail 101
11:45am to 1:00pm, George I, Renaissance
Zen Cho, Tade Thompson, Anne Perry (mod), Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Stephanie Saulter

Our panellists discuss colonialism, xenophobia and racism in science fiction and fantasy, recommending the best works discussing these issues as well as discussing the problems we face in writing and reading SFF, and what we can do about them.

I have been promised that we do not need to talk about Racefail ’09. It will be cool to be on a panel with Rochita!


I am starting to get excited about this, particularly as the con makes an explicit commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. And the cute logo doesn’t hurt …. Let me know if you are going and we should hang out!