ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)

Because of a bad headcold, I've had less time and brainspace this year than I would have liked to meditate on what I need to repair in myself, my community, my world. It's something I really like to do during the High Holy Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and is part of the traditional Jewish ritual calendar.  I've written about it here, with some links.

Tonight begins the final 24 hours of our opportunity to dig deep and come out the other side.  We've had 10 days of thinking & talking - now comes the hard stuff, the pure physical endurance of the 24-hour Yom Kippur fast. Can't get too profound then, so seizing my last chance to say something.

I'm going to let Debbie Notkin do it for me.  She's a dear friend of many, many years. You may know her on LJ as [personal profile] wild_irises . Or as one of the amazing women behind the longrunning feminist SF/F convention Wiscon - where, this past year (2012), she was honored as Guest of Honor.  And so had to make a speech.

Debbie's speech made me weep with love - and with the opening up of heart and intellect that a good sermon gives. There was something rabbinical in it - especially since at points what she addressed was weirdly close to the great scholar Maimonides' discussion of "the Ladder of Tzedakah (Charity)," as they called it at Park Synagogue Sunday School - here well-presented as "Eight Levels of Giving."

Which is also apposite for the High Holidays, a traditional time to give help to those in need - as it felt right to me to be spreading the word about a friend who was forced to ask for help from the community this month.  I know it was hard for her to ask . . . And Debbie's GoH Speech addresses that, too.

Here it is, from the Wiscon website.  In typical Debbie fashion, it opens recognizing the occasion, the moment, and everyone in the room; on page 2 it kicks into the universal. I hope you get the chance to read it.  
If you don't want to click through & read the entire thing, here are some bits I particularly want you to see:

Generosity, like anything important, is more complicated than it sounds. ....

[A]ccepting requires its own very particular generosity of heart and mind. I’m not talking here about gratitude or even politeness—we’ll get to that—but simply the choice to accept. Whether you accept generosity easily or (for any number of reasons) you have trouble being on the receiving end, accepting what’s offered is an active choice. 

Debbie talked about giving money, giving time, giving attention.  And then she said:

If all these complications are part of the giving side of generosity, how complicated is taking? ....

Some people take easily; either they are good at asking for what they need and want, or they are good at getting it without asking. I admire them; when being good at taking is done with awareness, it’s a beautiful skill. It makes the givers happy, it makes the takers happy, and balance is maintained. Some people who are good at taking are also extraordinary givers, probably because they’re getting the nutrition they need to keep giving.

For other people, taking is a challenge.  

I find it useful to think of asking and taking as learnable skills, valuable skills, rather than either a character trait I was just born or raised without, or a reflection of weakness. In fact, taking is something we’re all likely to need skill at, and doing it makes us stronger. ....

Giving with a main motive of being paid in gratitude is problematic. Let’s face it, gratitude is lovely. I appreciate it when I get it. But I try not to make it a condition of the gift (especially not one of those internal secret conditions that I never tell the other person about and get grumpy when they don’t follow my secret script). 

.... [T]he power exchange is not as simple as it usually looks. The more I can remember that taking is giving, and giving is taking, the easier the whole transaction gets. 

Debbie, thank you for that speech, and for all that you do for your friends and community every day.

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 ...even though I really really want one (with Felicia Day as Katherine, of course!)!

A screenwriter friend in LA recently wrote me*:

A few days ago I was working with a friend (an A-list feature writer-producer, loves fantasy).  My first pitch to her was TPOTS.  She at once advised me to think television instead of movie.  This was strictly from the point of view of selling the idea to a feature studio.  "Their demographic is entirely male at this point," she said.  She also told me that right now fantasy is a much harder sell than science fiction.  (Again, for features.  This is not the case in TV at all.)  The feature people would have zero interest in a character-oriented fantasy about a girl; they'd far rather have action-oriented SF about a guy.  Even if you could sell them TPOTS, she said, it would become all about the guy teaching her swordplay.  Who would be played by Russell Crowe.  Who would then take over the movie and be given a female love interest, etc.

Aggghhhhh!!!!! (gigglesnort)

Yeah. A Riverside TV series FTW!

Glad we got that straight.

So until that Blessed Time, I'm afraid if you want the Dramatized Version of The Privilege of the Sword - you'll just have to listen to the Illuminated Audiobook!

*Our conversation, btw, was partly sparked by Justine Larbalestier's excellent recent blog post, No, I'm Not Dying For My Books to become Hollywood Movies. I concur.
ellenkushner: (FurCoat)
A lovely dinner last night at Paul Witcover's with Terri Windling & Christopher Schelling (our mutual agent) and assorted friends, for visiting author friend Liz Hand  . . . one of those dinners where the wit and wine flow free, and you wish it would never end (and that you could stop yawning after midnight!). The talk ranged from reading books to writing books to reviewing books (we are nothing if not consistent).  

Much champagne (well, sparkling white from various countries) was drunk to celebrate the publication of Liz's second Cass Neary novel, AVAILABLE DARK (which, if it is even half as good as the first one, is very, very good indeed!). Bottles kept popping open. I drank more than I normally do, but it was over the course of many hours, and accompanied by lots of terrific food. We stayed out later than we normally do, and came home late and happy on the subway.

As Terri & I said good night to each other at opposite ends of the hallway, we remembered the way we used to sit in the scruffy kitchen on 110th St. (yes, the very kitchen in the apt. in my last post), wondering at the fact that here we were, young 20-somethings already successful in publishing, living in New York, and yet . . . and yet . . . . 

Where are the boys with champagne?

we used to cry.  Because surely, once you'd been published, won awards, etc., your life would be an endless feast of beautiful young men pouring champagne - and you'd never have to do the laundry or the dishes or take out the trash or scrub the catbox again?!  And yet.

So; last night.  We were back in the midst of the Glamorous Publishing Thing together. It was just the way we'd always hoped it would be.  And we realized, that, now, finally - and I swear we both shouted this out at exactly the same moment:

We'd found the boys with champagne!
ellenkushner: (FurCoat)
An absolute peach of a day, or so it turned out after a stressy morning following up on last night's dreadful moth revelations (which were Tweeted & Facebook'd in ghastly RT*) - managed to make it to lunch date with Ellen Datlow, Betsy Mitchell (editors of considerable note) and visiting Israeli publisher (and BBF) Rani Graff at PongSri for Thai near the theatre where we then saw Alan Rickman & a remarkable cast of younger actors in SEMINAR on Broadway.  It's all about aspiring writers, and we hooted our way through it, poking each other frequently; after, we retired to Amy's Bread on 9th to fortify ourselves with caffeine & baked goods, and argue about who was cooler, Writers or Editors.  I will not say who won; I think it was the oatmeal-walnut scones.

Then Betsy & Ellen went off to unaccountably do some editing, while those of us who Live for Pleasure ambled up to Columbus Circle, looked at some Crafts and then had an incredibly fine dinner at Sugiyama - turns out even Japanese fancy kaiseki restau's have an Early Bird Special - er, excuse me, Prix Fixe - in NYC.

The marched back down to W. 44th to see On a Clear Day You Can See Forever w/Harry Connick Jr, who wasn't very good, but the rest of the cast was.  [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman is bound to write up a smart review, so I will say only that the newly revised book is absurd yet charming.  I did see the original (in summer stock) when I was 12, and it had a great effect on me.  I am inclined to be critical; also, as a working fantasist, I resent my suspension of disbelief being asked to perform unreasonable acrobatics.  Still, I grinned through most of it, and didn't think about moths.

Walked Rani back to his hotel, where he presented me with some 12 boxes of Galilee Bouquet herbal tea in such divine flavors as Sage & Lemongrass, and Verbena & Za'atar. (I had asked for 1 box of Rosemary & Sage, but apparently Wissotsky doesn't make it any more.  As booby prizes go, the 12 other boxes take the cake bigtime!)

Subway took us home, where I attacked mothy plastic clothing bags with vigor and bleach - until I realized this was really stupid, and just threw them out.

Thank goodness for great lashings of sweet to go with the bitter.  And grant us the blahblah to remember that it's not always one or the other.

And to all, a good night.

*In brief:  Went to uptown Storage Unit yesterday (in rented car) to retrieve winter clothes, and found 4 of our stored Persian rugs seriously moth-eaten. Was not pretty.  Will spare you details.  Delia Facebook'd about it some. She waited for emergency Rug Man to come & take them away.  Will cost a lot to fix, but hope insurance will cover.  HOPE.  Brought clothes home, thought they were OK, but found damage in one, so went out for garbage bags & mothballs (yes, I know now that mothballs do not in fact work - looked a buncha stuff up on internet - including fact that we shoulda put anti-moth in the rugs when we stored them - but who knew?  Our stuff is in a climate-controlled bunker 4 floors underground! It all seems so sterile, there....); this morning took it all to the cleaners....
ellenkushner: (NYC: RSD)
SO EXCITED that [livejournal.com profile] csecooney is coming to stay with us tomorrow!  You all know that her short play is being presented at Manhattan Theater Source's  Estrogenius Festival this week, right?  And that she's going to be speaking to highschoolers at the Center for Fiction?  And going to the Grolier Club for Wendy Walker's book launch (with a panel with John Crowley)?

But best of all:  I have a reason to clean the house!!!

Which really, really needs it.
ellenkushner: (FurCoat)
I think this might possibly be the Best Birthday Ever! (Or at least top 3, ageing memory being what it is....) Last night we went to the second of the Center for Fiction's many Big Read events in honor of Le Guin throughout the month of October. (I'll be participating in 3 of them - details here.) Lots of hugging of friends - and even meeting of fans - the woman sitting behind me had just read Swordspoint thanks to Twitter's #buyabiggaybookforOrsonScottCard drive, and wanted to tell me how much she'd liked it, and another wanted to talk about Thomas the Rhymer. None of this would have happened, I'm sure, if it hadn't been Erev Birthday. But it was, so it did.

To make things even better, our houseguest (til this morning) has been Sherwood Smith (the divine [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, and I would just like to say she's welcome in our back room any time!). As we left the Center, we realized that the Algonquin Hotel, which she'd been wanting to visit, was right around the corner. So we went! (This also afforded me the chance to tell all my Algonquin stories, including how Caroline Stevermer & I once smoked cigars in the lobby, and how I used to meet British author Sarah Caudwell there. Damn, ticking on the years means you've got some great stories to tell!)

At the Center, Sherwood had handed me a box of Jacques Torres chocolates (that she'd bought when out with editor Sharyn November that day), with a cheery, "Happy Birthday!" So while Delia ate a much-needed salad and Sherwood drank fizzwa, I sat in the shadow of the Algonquin Round Table eating Jacques Torres chocolates with a side of decaff espresso. (Yes, I offered them some. They wouldn't.) The staff were lovely to us, gave us postcards, explained the original table was off being renovated, let us take photos in front of it, etc.

And so to bed.

This morning, I had a lovely long birthday Skype with one of my closest and oldest friends, Terri Windling, from England. And THEN it was time for:

Augusten Burroughs to come over and take my portrait!

Friends, I cannot describe it. He is a fellow-client of my agent, Christopher Schelling, and a thoroughly lovely guy. He had sent me in advance a 2 page letter that essentially boiled down to: "Wear no makeup. You are beautiful, and I'm going to drape you in pearls and silks and my camera will do the rest."

And that's pretty much what happened. I ended up leaning by the window in a gold Georgian (18c) necklace he had brought along, his jade ring on one finger next to my face. Before that, there were lights, and silks, and I'm afraid I utterly love having my portrait done by the right people - I get all cat-like (sphinx-like?) and quiet and content. My need to be the center of attention is utterly fulfilled, and in the hands of an artist I can relax and just be present.

He then offered to take a family portrait of Delia and me; we did some shots, and then he looked harder at her and said, "You look like someone. You look . . . like Katherine Hepburn!" And off they went to fuss with her hair and light her by the window.

And off he went, seeming well pleased,* and Delia & I went to Silver Moon Bakery on this amazingly clear autumn day, to get a dear little cake for us to share at a dinner she cooked for me. And there I opened cards and presents. My crazy, wonderful parents sent me this print ("Riverside" by Frederick Mershimer). My best friend from college, Caroline Stevermer, sent me a card she'd made about our long friendship. C.S.E. Cooney sent me one about our new friendship. And Delia . . . oh, that crazy kid.

Delia gave me an iPad.

I really wasn't expecting it. I lifted the box and said, "Hmm, it's not a shirt, is it? Too heavy." I lifted the box and said, "Hmm, it must be some kind of a book . . . paper?"

I mean - usually I get earrings. For her birthday I gave her a Battle Hamster that makes amusing noises.

So I really wasn't expecting this.

I have plugged it in, and it is charging now. While I hate the learning curve for new technology - any new technology - I am completely enchanted with its cuteness. I am already making baby noises at it, and wishing I could knit it little sweaters.

I am very silly. But very happy.

*I do not know when the photos will be ready for the public. But here you may see some samples of his other work.
ellenkushner: (FurCoat)
I don't know why I spend so much time being trivial and cranky, when delightful surprises are so often lurking in ambush. 

Take today, which I was planning to spend being simultaneously extraordinarily tired and answering all my neglected business email after an 8-hour (+ 2.5 hrs subway travel) recording session yesterday.  (The session - for the Swordspoint audiobook - was glorious, but draining: all the emotional, scary stuff around the killing of Lord ---.  You know.)  

But then [livejournal.com profile] 2muchexposition invited me to read Richard III's great "sun of York" speech at her little fete tonight - I've only wanted to do that forever! So I got to look forward to that all day.  

And then, a few hours later, the phone rang, and it was Amanda Palmer (who's been over here before w/Neil - he had to bring her round to meet the family, after all!), rather desperately asking whether she might be able to come over with some friends to use our piano, because they were working on a song and the place she'd lined up (about 20 blocks away) was locked.

So we said Of course.  (Why have a piano when we don't play ourselves, if not for that very purpose?)  So she turned up with the 2 friends, one of whom turned out to be John Cameron Mitchell.  Yes.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  I expressed unbridled delight tempered with a becoming reserve.  Because I know plenty of famous authors.  Just because one can sing - and is a cultural icon . . . Well, we all need water or we'll dehydrate, right?

We left them alone to work - but we did get to hear the song at the end - along with author Maria Headley, who turned up in the front hall halfway through.  I had met her at Readercon, but, true to form, I totally failed to recognize her (See?  It's not just you! I told you so.), and glared at her rather rudely until she (re)introduced herself.  I am, fortunately, very good at apologizing.  You woudl be, too, if you f*cked up as often as I do.

And then we got dressed up and went downtown and saw some friends and read our pieces - and my Richard III came off a kind of  a pissed off punk girl who knows she isn't pretty - hmmm, I can work with that - and now I'm home and I should totally go to bed without passing GO, because tomorrow dawns all too early and I've got another 8-hour recording session, during which some very intense and dramatic things are going to happen to justabout everyone, and I need to be fit and sparky for it.

And [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman still had to do the laundry, and I still had to clean the stove from all the gunk I got on it when I made those cornmeal pancakes.  

That never changes.

But in between, there is music.  And delight.
ellenkushner: (Latvian THOMAS)
Tuesday was epic: We packed up & cleaned up our friend's house (always like to leave a place looking better than when we arrived, if possible! #keytosuccessfulmooching), drove down the  Maine coast a piece - heroically stopping at only one antique shop along the way - for lunch with Liz Hand at her enchanting little writing cottage , which we left all too soon in order to make dinner with my very dear old theatre (both disciples of Bernard Beckerman at Columbia U.) pal Nick & his wife Kate in Damariscotta.  So we got to L.L. Bean around 10 p.m., and of course it's open 24/7, so we rapidly acquired a nightgown, 2 jackets and some other stuff I don't even want to think about - oh, yeah, a foldable cooler - before dragging our sorry carcases on to Kittery to fall into bed at Sarah Smith's family cottage - she wasn't even there, but had kindly left the lights on!

The next morning we did a little Light Shopping at the discount joints, acquiring much fine kitchenware which should lead to good eatin' this winter, and then tore down the road in the pouring rain to Northampton, where we had 10 minutes to hug Gavin & Kelly (Grant & Link) & Ursula (Link Grant), give them their chocolate bread from When Pigs Fly, and make dinner at Great Wall with Andrea Hairston & Pan Morigan (first met at Wiscon, I believe?).  

Next morning I caught my breath while Delia walked into town to buy shoes; then we went to [livejournal.com profile] blackholly 's in Amherst for a meeting of the Mass All-Stars, as I named our writing group when we all lived in Massachussetts.  Had to Skype Sarah in from Boston, and Gavin was at work, but Kelly & Delia & Josh & Holly & I Sat on [livejournal.com profile] cassandraclare 's book, and she seemed to survive the experience.  

Next day we picked up Mim (she of the Writers' Stew) and drove back to NYC - no, wait:  Next day we went to the Small Beer Press offices so [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman could do an interview for podcast with their new associate, Julie (hey, Julie - what's your last name??), who was wonderful - she really brought out the best in Delia as they discussed the story behind her forthcoming novel, The Freedom Maze.   And then we got on the road.  Which is why we got in so late.  But we made it.

So next morning - which would be yesterday - I drove the rental car to Hofstra to do a live performance/recording of a couple of chapters of Swordspoint, for the forthcoming audiobook.

There's more - but for now, that, my friends, is enough. . . don't you think?
ellenkushner: (Default)
"Often the less you do, the less you can do. And the more you do, the more you can do.

"So lighten your load with care, or nothing will get done."

Words of wisdom from my good friend Isabel Swift.* Read the whole thing here.

*We met when we were both assistant editors at Pocket Books, in adjacent carrels.  We shared the pretty Georgette Heyer editions when they came in from the UK.  I quit to write - read her Swordspoint drafts while she ironed clothing for her rise in publishing to become chief at Harlequin.  She stepped down not long ago, and is still figuring out what to do with her time.  I was just there the other night, talking about which of the 2 new novels I've got started has the best chance of survival and endurance . . . . 

And, no, I don't know why it's giving me 2 spaces between paragraphs instead of 1. It's been wonky lately.
ellenkushner: (FurCoat)
"So when a book is about a girl who is the best at something and about the boys (and/or girls) that love her and how she defeats the bad guy, well, that's because she's the protagonist. It is good and right that she be at the center of the story."

My love for Holly Black / [livejournal.com profile] blackholly  ,  it knows no bounds.
ellenkushner: (EK:  Twelfth Night)
ALSO:  Really want to be well enough to go down to Soho Digital Gallery tonight to help celebrate the great writer Carol Emshwiller's 90th Birthday TODAY!

Matt Cheney's put together a website about/for her, The Carol Emshwiller Project, and all day today many writers & friends - including China Mieville - are posting Birthday Greetings.  Come and join the party, and leave a post for Carol! 

I'd met her when she was Guest of Honor at Wiscon a few years ago - and when we moved back to NYC, we'd sometimes sit together at the Friday Author Lunches Ms. Datlow curates here in a noisy restaurant with great fries.   Carol's hearing is poor, now, so it's torture for her - but she gamely shows up when she can, sits at one end and talks to the person next to her.  Her eyes are incredibly bright - and she becomes, if possible, even more animated when she talks about the cabin in the California mountains where she spends the summer hiking.  Although I know she's a favorite of Gavin Grant & Kelly Link at Small Beer Press, I hadn't read her latest novels - but I was riveted when she read aloud at KGB her trickster story, "God Clown,"  from Datlow/Windling's COYOTE ROAD.  And then, best of all - I found out she lives in my cousin Debra's building on E. 15th Street!  Same building.  Really.  Same apartment, too (and let's not talk about how a family of 4 has squoze themselves into a 1-BR for 20 years) - only Carol's  is 10 floors up, and has a terrific view.  We try to visit her every time we drop by the cousins' - and I think they know now who the delicate-seeming, wiry little woman in jeans & hiking boots (them NY streets is tough!)  they meet in the mailroom is.

New York City's celebration of Carol Emshwiller continues Monday in Green Point, Brooklyn.  But wherever you are, drop by online & wish her a happy - and then go read her work.
ellenkushner: (Joan of Arc)
Seldom do I read my Friends' List - but such gems when I do!

[livejournal.com profile] isabelswift  's Advice on what to do when you are at the airport and discover your flight has been delayed, and Advice to young writers, cunningly disguised as a Lesson in Cocktail-making: A Twist of Lemon

[livejournal.com profile] tithenai  on the Teasing Threshold (and Safe Words thereunto)

[livejournal.com profile] deliasherman 's reviews of every play we've seen lately, plus that Census meme

and finally (pasted from [livejournal.com profile] time_shark , because why try to improve upon perfection?)

From Erzebet YellowBoy and Papaveria Press:

All proceeds from sales received through the Papaveria website from Monday, 14 March through whenever will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. Nicole Kornher-Stace is also donating all royalties from the sale of The Winter Triptych to the same. Read her announcement here.

Today is my mother's birthday:  the Ides of March - and yes, she's already gotten that card from me. More than once.  At the age of (now) 81, she flew down to Sarasota today to start combing the fancy GoodWill shops for furniture for the condo she & my dad just bought down there.  I think by now she has even forgiven me for asking her once, when I was very small, "Mom?  Were you born in one of those 'hundreds' years? Like... nineteen-hundred?"

(It may have been shortly after that that my dad decided to teach me the noble game of Cribbage  - so that I would learn how to count!)
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Long silence this week due to wonderful visit from Boston dear friends Mike & Deb - Mike was the PD at WGBH when I applied for a job there; he hired me and promptly left the station, but we became good friends, and he and Deb were a very important part of my life in Boston - in fact, he held one pole of the chuppa at our Legal Wedding in 2004 - and that's Deb's sleeve you see in the background of the photo posted in Kelly Cogswell's terrific article on Delia & me in this week's Gay City News (thanks to Sarah Smith for the photo - and to Jim Freund for editing it & posting it on Picasa along with the other ones from the NYRSF reading last week!  Kelly C. was at the reading, and I was also delighted to see she got such nice quotes from some of the other folks in attendance).

With Mike & Deb we went up to the celebrated Arthur Avenue old Italian district in the Bronx, and brought home just about everything we couldn't eat on the spot.  Deb & Delia prepared bronzino with fennel & fresh linguine (which Mike must've stood online for for over an hour!) w/fresh mozarella & zucchini.  We were nearly too full for the ricotta pie.  Nearly.

On Thursday, Delia & I did our now-annual trip to St Bart's to pay our respects to her parents in the crypt - miraculously, the organist began practicing for the Christmas service as we walked in the doors, so we got a great big glorious blast of that as lagniappe.  Then we wandered up Fifth Ave. looking for the perfect place for tea, but the St Regis was fully booked - we couldn't even snag a seat in the King Cole Bar, so we fell back on the little basement cafe at Bergdorf Goodman, which while short on decor has amazingly good food & nice staff.  Convenient, too, for looking at the store's holiday windows, which are, as usual, spectacular this year.  I tweeted a bunch of the Fifth Ave. windows - you can see links to all of them here, I think (also the pony-riding goats at the Big Apple Circus, which is where we went yesterday!).  And, oh, yeah, then we went to Tiffany's for a wedding gift for D's cousin - you wouldn't believe the price of silver, now!  Delia wanted to send some as it's what her mother would have done (groom's mother recently told very funny story about mailman in small town Louisiana actually trembling as he delivered her high school graduation box from Tiffany's [a small pin]) - so we settled on a very pretty little crystal vase instead.  And then, whaddayaknow - Tiffany's was giving out hot chocolate & candy & cookies to all! It was very impressive.  I had a reindeer, and then a bird in blue icing, which you can see in this photo I took of the entire impressive setup.

Lessee, what else?  Daniel Rabuzzi sent me a link to Annie Lennox's new video God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (which title it took me years to realize is not "God rest you, merry gentleman" but "God rest you merry, gentlemen!"), saying:  Brings to mind Thomas the Rhymer, and Greer [Gilman]'s work. - oh, yes!  And if you youngsters don't already know Eurythmics/Annie Lennox's Here Comes the Rain Again and Walking on Broken Glass videos (yes, that is Hugh Laurie as her dorkish 18c beau), consider them my gift to you this year.  (And sorry about the commercials - YouTube wtf is up with that??!)

Finally:  This piece by Susan Dominus in the NYTimes on today's wedding anniversary of four longtime friends just made me grin (and read every other line to Delia at the breakfast table!).  It also contains some remarkable truths & insights about my parents' generation.  Read it and be glad they were and are with us all.
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Hal Duncan is a friend & colleague, a fellow-author with whom I've had the pleasure of sharing a table (and a certain amount of wine) at conferences from his native Glasgow to the Nantes "Utopiales" Festival in France . . . . Here he joins the voices uplifted to tell teens "It gets better."  I think all teens should see this, not just queer ones - because show me the kid I'll actually like, no matter their sexual orientation, who hasn't needed to hear this:


"The world tomorrow belongs to you; be there to take it."

Thank you, Hal.

(I also sent this link to the Welcome to Bordertown authors - to me it has the right  feel.  And, yes, one of them (Annette Curtis Klause) responded:  "Any miserable misfit angy kid needs to hear that. Kids like I was who are made fun of because they look different, speak different, and look at the world through different eyes. Kids like I was who speak like that--use that language--defy the world and are scared as shit of it at the same time. Kids who want to run away to Bordertown and might some time be able to make their own Bordertown right here and now.")
ellenkushner: (EK:  Twelfth Night)
So on my birthday last week Delia & I flew to Denver with Terri Windling, who was to be one of the 3 Guests of Honor at the Sirens Conference in Vail.  They loaded us all onto a bus to Vail, and I watched the land turn to mountains covered with pine trees, dotted with bright yellow-leaved aspens.  It just got more and more magic.  And my cell phone kept ringing as various family members called to wish me a happy, and had to endure me going, "Oh, look! Buffalo!" or "wait - I think there's snow on those peaks!"

The Sirens folk were terrific.  We had many fine meals & conversations with other GoH's Holly Black & Marie Brennan, conference Fairy Godmother Sherwood Smith (yes, I know you're all on LJ - step forward & identify yourselves & your adorable monikers!) and other authors, readers & young reprobates.  To my delight, our Random House editor for Welcome to Bordertown, Mallory Loehr, was there - she's Tamora Pierce's editor, but at the last minute Tammy couldn't make it, and so I had to step in and do my poor best for what was to have been the "Mallory & Tammy Show!" - talking about the relationship between editor & author (joined by Delia, who's both).  I hope we did some good, or were, at least, entertaining.  I also did a brief version of my Thomas the Rhymer live performance, complete with singing the ballads . . . that's when I found out that the altitude was, indeed, having its effect!  --I'd thought that drinking lots of water & living a virtuous life would stave off the Altitude Sickness everyone'd warned me about.  But when I was unable to get through my little mouthmusic showpiece, "...Nobody, Only Cunnla!" without stopping to catch my breath in the middle of a line, I knew I had somehow not lived quite as virtu-- had somehow not managed to drink enough water, after all.

People were, nonetheless, very kind, and their comments served to remind me that I really must put up a list of Recommended Ballad Recordings on my website's Thomas page.  (Someone remind me!)

So on the bus early Sunday morning back to the airport, I saw snow!  Dustings on the pine trees as we passed them by!  And then we came down through the Pass, and there was no snow, and we checked our bags & had some lunch & got on the litttle plane & got off in Tucson, where it is 88 degrees & sunny & dry & I am altogether happy to be here with nothing to do for 24 hours but sit and rest (and update my LJ). Tomorrow we're going to visit Joanna Russ, who just moved into a nice Assisted Living home, and wants to show it off & feed us.  And, yes, it is still the thrill of my young lifetime to get the occasional postcard from her.  She is one of our great mothers.  (And if you've never heard of her or haven't read her work, go celebrate Coming Out Day by doing something truly great & good, and tracking it down & reading it!  Sure you can send one more Tweet about being supportive, or come out to the checkout guy at Wal-Mart - but honor our mothers by noticing that they lived & worked so that we can do it, ourselves, today.)
ellenkushner: (Latvian THOMAS)
Terri Windling's half-price sale of original art ends this week, so if you've been procrastinating, postponing, deliberating, debating or just saving pennies, now is the time to fish or cut bait!

I posted about it originally  here - including my love of my own collection of Terri's work.

Terri's latest update is here.  She has managed to get her dear relative through the worst of the initial crisis, but, as many of you know, it's always a long haul.

I asked Terri (in Comments to her first post) about how people might help even if they couldn't afford an oil painting; she replies:

I'm setting up a Paypal account and people can make donations there, or even send a check. They should just write me care of the Endicott Studio (endicottstudio [@] yahoo.com] for details, since I don't want to list the address publicly.

He is a lovely guy -- one of those hard-working guys who takes care of everyone else, has looked after all the elderly in the family, and finds it incredibly hard to be in a position of needing help himself. Even now he worries more about the effect that possibly homelessness could have on his cat than on him. He worked hard all his life, paid his taxes on time, etc.etc., and this wasn't supposed to happen. (Welcome to health-care American style, where so many of us are just one big injury or illness away from disaster.) On the plus side, he has family and some very dear friends who love him -- and I'm grateful for the way the mythic arts community has been helping
out too.

So yes, donations are welcome, even small amounts. Hey, five bucks will buy some cat food after all!

(Hey - why the hell don't I have a TW art Icon, anyway?)

And if a painting's not in the cards, you can still order fine prints of her work from Endicott Studio (U.S. only)!
ellenkushner: (EK:  Twelfth Night)
 [livejournal.com profile] teroyks  did a much better job than either [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman  or I at actually describing the joys of Finncon 2010 itself.  He blogs about it here - and I'd like to think that all the nice things he says about us were not just him being a good host.  He and all the members of the Finncon ConCom (say that twenty times fast...!) were superb - and continue to be, as Delia & I wander from town to town visiting local folks/new friends who somehow seem to have found the sweetest hotels, nicest little restaurants, and interesting sights.  LET'S GO, FINNCON!  (Pat Cadigan & Cheryl Morgan . . . we miss you!)

ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
Have you been long dreaming of owning some of Terri Windling's original art?   Work from her magnificent Desert Series paintings, and from the newer "Bunny Girls" series are being offered at half-price to benefit a dear family member who's fallen under the wheels of the recession.  Terri writes:

"I'm raising money for a relative recovering from a serious injury. He has no medical insurance, no way to work or pay his bills, and his state is so broke that they don't have enough staff to process disability claims, which are taking many months on average. We're trying to raise some money to help him get by in the meantime, so painting purchases go to a very good cause. He's a lovely man -- one of those hard-working guys who helps everyone else and finds it really hard that he himself needs help now."

I was just in Terri's studio in Devon last month, working like crazy on our new Bordertown book with [livejournal.com profile] blackholly  - a magical place, as you may imagine, with these paintings up on easels and desktops all around us....  These are amazing works - oil on unstretched canvas, sometimes with words scratched into the paint itself . . . the photos don't fully convey the depth and texture. If you're drawn to one, click on the Details. I promise you, you will love it even more when you have it in your hands.

Please feel free to copy any portion this text (ascribing my parts to me, of course) and spread the word widely.
ellenkushner: (Joan of Arc)
Thanks again to all who participated in the auction for Laurie J. Marks' wife Deb!  The auction site has  just posted an update on Deb's health (carefully edited by Laurie from a letter to friends, leaving out the really really scary bits -  the full story's positively harrowing!).  Please keep them in your good thoughts.

October 2014

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