One Hurdle Down

Took the Human Subjects Research Test tonight, and passed it with 100%. I’d have been rather ashamed of myself if I hadn’t, seeing as how it’s a self-administered online test where you can have the tutorial open in another browser tab and check your answers as you go. But in a weird way that makes sense — the point is that you correctly ID how the procedures for Human Subjects approval go, and those aren’t the kinds of things you necessarily need to have memorized. You need to know how to look them up.

If you’re not familiar with it, this whole shebang has to do with the institutions now set up to monitor any federally-funded research (including any research conducted by members of federally-funded universities) that concerns living, breathing human beings. Think of things like the Tuskegee syphilis study, for an egregious example of the kinds of abuses it’s intended to prevent. The procedures get a little bit crazy (frex, you have to submit for approval any questionnaire you intend to use, and if you later decide to drop some questions from it, you have to get that approved, too — let alone adding some), but oh well. It’s the price of doing business in my field.

So I passed the test; now I get to whip up an application for research approval, to be submitted on Monday, reviewed by the comittee on Wednesday, and returned by (probably) Friday. The goal is to jump that hurdle in one go, but it may not happen, as the comittee often has some quibble they want you to amend before they sign off on it. But once I get approved, then I can begin my first actual, official, real-live-anthropologist research.

Okay, I promise I’ll stop posting soon.

Want to read Doppelganger right now?

You can buy it on eBay.

Seriously, it’s just a little bit surreal to find an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of your very first novel floating around the internet. And then disappointing to realize nobody’s bid on it yet. <g> I mean, I knew there was a secondhand market for these books — they get sent out to generate advance buzz and get reviews circulating — so I knew that yes, someday, there would be ARCs of my own work out there. Somehow, though, I just wasn’t expecting it so soon.

(Yes, I was Googling myself. Don’t ask me why Doppelganger got mentioned on a romance forum, but the person there said it was excellent. Woot!)

So I think I’ve entered two new realms of writer-hood today. This review business is one of them. The other, I was reflecting on this morning, as the reports start to come in of the lineups for Year’s Best anthologies.

In 2004, I published precisely one story: “White Shadow”. Other than a brief, wistful bit of dreaming when I heard there was going to be a Year’s Best YA Fantasy anthology, I didn’t give it much thought.

In 2005, I had five stories hit print: “The Princess and the . . .,” “Silence, Before the Horn,” “Shadows’ Bride,” “The Twa Corbies,” and “For the Fairest.” Now, mind you, of those all, only “The Twa Corbies” is more than five hundred words long — I published a lot of flash this year. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have hopes, though; I have a writer’s ego, which is to say volatile and capable of great delusions of grandeur along with pits of blackest despair. We’ll see if it comes to anything; I know Ellen Datlow was eyeing some stories from Jabberwocky, though I don’t know which ones. (I love all my creative children, of course, but some have special places in my heart, and “Silence, Before the Horn” is one of them.)

But the point is that I’m moving into a realm I’ve never been in before, namely, one where Year’s Best anthologies mean something to me as something other than just a reader. I might end up in one. I’m following their construction for the first time in my life, paying attention to who edits what, when they make their decisions, when they get published. I’ve
got seven more stories in the publication pipeline; they may not all make it out next year, but I might also sell more. I’m playing a new game now, and it’s kind of fascinating.

But that’s enough writerly procrastination for the night. I need to take the IRB test, which means getting into anthropologist-head.

I must be a REALLY real author!

Just got a heads-up for the Tangent Online review of Talebones #31, which contains my short story “The Twa Corbies”. Once again, some plot spoilers (some day I shall learn to stop being surprised by their presence), but I can’t complain too much when the reviewer is saying nice things:

I enjoyed Brennan’s characterization of a narrator who regrets the choices he made that enabled him to understand birds. The author’s experience as a folklorist allows her to give this story extra verisimilitude. While I haven’t heard the ballad this story is based on, I have heard many similar pieces in the Celtic tradition, and “The Twa Corbies” does a good job of capturing the feel of those.

So all in all, some nice ego-boosting today (to balance out two rejections, one of which had me scratching my head, the other of which had me politely saying “okay, but I disagree” with regards to what the editor would have preferred the story to be).

I must be a real author!

Harriet Klausner has reviewed Doppelganger.

DOPPELGANGER is a spellbinding, fantastic and unique fantasy due to the cast. Both Mirage and Miryo are two sides of the same coin except that one is a witch and the other a warrior. Although this is Marie Brennan’s first book, she proves she is a talented storyteller and a creative worldbuilder. Although there is a lot of action in this novel, the characters are fully developed and readers understand them because they have similar feelings and concerns as the readers do.

So, who is Harriet Klausner? She’s a woman who’s managed, in a fairly short span of time, to gain a substantial amount of clout in the reviewing world, by dint of the fact that she reads an enormous number of books. You know that challenge, where you’re supposed to read fifty-two books in a year? This woman probably reads fifty-two books a week. Maybe more. And she reviews them all. She’s achieved enough status that publishing companies deliberately send her review copies. Devi told me some time ago that yes, they were sending Doppelganger to her, so it was neat to see this go up.

If you want to read more of her reviews, she has a website, but a word of caution: one gripe I’ve heard against her style is that she tends to give plot spoilers in her reviews. I can vouch for the truth of that with her Doppelganger piece; she doesn’t describe the whole plot of the book, but she does mention something that I would consider to be a spoiler. So if you go browsing her archive, do so with care.

On a related note, the cover for Warrior and Witch is FRICKIN’ AWESOME. Devi and Rachel and I are drooling over it. You’d better believe I’ll post it the instant I get the go-ahead.

A Variety of Updates

If you have not yet seen it, I can give no better description of Casanova than to say that it is a Shakespearean comedy. It has disguises, mistaken identities, cross-dressing, lower-class clowns, and it ends with a wedding (in the sense of characters achieving romantic resolution; that matters more than ending with an actual wedding ceremony). The plot reaches ludicrous proportions of convolutedness at various points, but that happened in Shakespeare too. Very fun, very silly, very much worth watching if that’s a genre you like.

As far as the rest of my weekend is concerned, I should probably (from a practical standpoint) not have spent nearly the entirety of it gaming. But the gaming was fun, and isn’t that what counts? (Okay, look. Once the semester sinks its teeth properly into me, I won’t have much time for gaming at all. I decided to enjoy it while I could.)

In other gaming news, the Parliament is 99% cast, and the boy and I thought up a plot the other day that had me racing to the bookcase to pull out a variety of references and then giggling madly at how wonderfully perfect the idea is. If the rest of the planning for this game goes half so well, then I daresay it might turn out a success.

In other other gaming news, my Concordia costuming proceeds apace. Today I spent a disgusting amount of time working on something that in the end doesn’t look like much at all (finishing touches on the bodice), but I’m glad to have that out of the way. Now I just need to completely redesign the skirt, and I’ll be nearly done. (We’ll pretend that redesigning isn’t such a giant hurdle to leap as it truly is.)

Writing news: the current project is revising Warrior and Witch. Once that’s bounced off to Devi, then I can turn my attention to the pile of unrevised short stories, and also to playing around with the Novel That May Finally Have A Better Title. Which I’m looking forward to. It’s hard to overcome the tendency to be more excited about whatever’s next than whatever’s now; it happens to me in academia, too. I always get excited about next semester’s classes about halfway through the current term, when my enthusiasm for the classes at hand has run out. (And I haven’t even gotten to the endless copy-edit/page proofs stage yet.)

I’ve been going through a drought on the short-story front, not of sales — well, okay, that too; any stretch of time longer than a few weeks has a tendency to start masquerading as a drought, regardless of how silly that is — but rather a drought of responses. I’m waiting to hear back from so many places. At least when I’m getting rejections, I can sling the stories back out into the ether and feel like I’m getting somthing done.

Well, the sooner I get Warrior and Witch done, the sooner I can get fresh stories into the system, which will help. So I guess I should get back to work on, well, everything.

I want a good icon for academia-related posts, since it appears I can have six icons now, instead of three. (Before, gaming and writing won out for Activities Deserving of Icons.)

Any suggestions? I generally prefer the “interesting image” route instead of the “cute text” one.

Parliament Costuming

Need clothes? Shoes? Makeup? Accessories? If you’re in search of items to help you create your costume for the Parliament of the Apocalypse, leave a comment here. If you can fill such a request, or just want to broadcast that you have neat items somebody might find useful, also leave a comment. This seems the best way I can figure out for people to network about sharing costume items, without spamming the list.

(If the above paragraph confused you completely, then you’re not in the Parliament game, and need not worry.)

Non-LJ users can comment as well; just hit “reply to this post” or “post a new comment,” type in what you need, and it will post anonymously. Just be sure to put your name in the comment, too, so we know who you are.

The New Term Begins

First day of classes today; the semester has officially begun. My schedule looks sane on paper — I’m not in class that much — but we’ll see how the workload turns out.

At least I spent the weekend properly enjoying myself. I missed the first half or so of the Week of Parties, but was there for the end. Thursday was eleven hours at the Foxpad, watching two renditions of Pride and Prejudice while working on my Concordia costume; the sad thing is, for eleven hours of work, I have very little to show for it. Mostly I just cut: first the pattern itself, then a layer of satin, then a layer of lace, then a layer of lining, then a layer of underlining . . . I was heartily sick of the bodice pattern by the fifth time I cut it out. Then martini night, as per the usual, and then a quiet Friday before the dance party that night.

I told him this before, but I’ll reiterate it: Drydem can DJ every dance party I go to from now until the end of time, so far as I’m concerned. Because the theme of the party was international, we got all manner of things your average person might not consider dance music, but it sounded a lot like my CD collection (I recognized quite a few of the tunes), and I loved it. I’m finally comfortable enough around this social circle to dance without feeling too self-conscious, which is great. Got some impromptu bellydancing lessons from DCM and Prosewitch, which excercised not only physical muscles that aren’t so much there anymore, but mental ones too; it’s been a long time since I had to try and follow another dancer’s lead like that. Expected to be grotesquely sore the next day, but it actually wasn’t that bad, probably because I had the good sense to stretch after I got started.

That was the official end of Party Week 2006, but for an encore I went to Feyangel’s BHSS game on Saturday, which went grotesquely long, but oh, the wonderful high school angst. It’s interesting, how much fun it can be to play teenaged stupidity when you have the perspective to know just how stupid it is. My character will no doubt be a vampire snack before too much longer, but that’s okay; I expect her to fill the role of “damsel in distress” on a semi-regular basis.

So that’s what I’ve been up to during the days of radio silence when I was preparing to switch my journal setup. Settling into this new home will take a little while, I think, but I’m already pretty fond of it. Bit by bit, my website is turning into what I want it to be.