Wrapping up the year

By this time tomorrow, I should be in Pensacola Beach, FL, celebrating the holidays with my family. Alleleuia! I am so happy for this it's hard to know where to begin discussing it.

In part, I love it because it's an end to a fairly stressful couple of weeks. It started out with getting either food poisoning or a case of the flu, and being sick for a weekend. When I decided to get out and drive over to Decorah, it turns out I did it in a literal blizzard, with whiteout conditions and everything...okay, that was actually kinda fun, but also stressful and not something I want to do again.

Part of the reason the couple of weeks has been stressful is that I've spent a metric crapton of money on Christmas, since I'm flying this year. So I've had to buy a plane ticket and pay to have my car parked...joy. Then my car started making funny noises, which resulted in me taking it into the shop, and my computer's power socket broke, so into the shop THAT goes. That's on top of the regular Christmas shopping. Oh well, I didn't need those saving anyway...

In happier news, a little over a month ago I bought a very nice leather jacket at a thrift shop. This has since become my new favorite item of clothing, and it's caused me to change up my wardrobe a bit as well. I'm pretty happy with it. I don't know what anyone else thinks about clothes, but I like jackets. Utility-wise, a jacket helps keep you warm and if it's made well it has enough pockets so you can feel prepared for any situation. On the fashion side, a jacket can make you feel pretty cool. At least it does for me.

As far as writing, I've recieved about four or five more rejection slips since October, so I've been sending out stories pretty consistently, or at least I was until my laptop broke down. I've gotten quite a few rejection letters, and they've stopped being form rejection letters and transitioned to "Good story but not for us. Good luck submitting it elsewhere!" I think that's a huge step forward, and it really spurs me to continue writing.

BTW, speaking of writing and Christmas, thanks to one Kara Gnome, who I really have been terrible about keeping in touch with, for letting me read the Connie Willis book of Christmas short stories last year. I loved it immensely, and even now I still have some fond memories of the Ghost of Christmas Presents popping up and causing mayhem and chaos, but all for the good of Christmas. In fact, for all of you who like a good Christmas story, let me offer up a little story by Ms. Willis, called "Just Like the Ones we Used to Know." This is particularly for you, Kara. http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0406/liketheonesweusedtono.shtml

Anyway, I am now going to do a little writing and then get to sleep. It's been a great year. BTW, for the few readers of this blog, I was thinking of adding one or two essays I've written. What do you think?

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Finally! October has some proper stormy weather going on, and just in time for Halloween, too! It's very windy out here, a little rainy, and quite frankly the perfect setting for a gothic story.

In the meantime, I've resent one of my stories to "Necrotic Tissue." I call it the "Cabin story," because it takes place in and concerns a cabin in the woods. I'm currently calling it "Good Times in the Country," which is a little ironic, and quite frankly lacks a little something. But I still think it is a good story.

I also submitted a humorous fantasy/horror story to a big name in the sci-fi/fantasy publishing. It'll take a while to hear from them, and it is a longshot, but hey--I did it!

Graduation

Okay, so this weekend my brother Steve graduated from Palmer Chiropractic college. Incredible. After seven years. Hopefully he will be making a crapload of money very soon, because I think when you get a doctor's degree you should be compensated with a very high amount of cash. ;)

After the graduation ceremony, we celebrated with a riverboat cruise, complete with dinner and dancing. This is THE way to see the Mississippi, and I highly recommend it. The food was incredible, the band was lovely, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

The next day consisted of a little more subdued time. We gave Steve a few gifts, then spent a lot of time playing the card game "Bang!" It's a great, great game that is pretty much always fun. What I've realized from this is that I need to get a LOT of games that are easy to learn and kind of quick to play. I'll need to do some research for this--I'm looking forward to it. :)

Dinner on Saturday was at a Japanese steakhouse. The chefs there put on a great show, and I think that they can make simple meat, vegetables and rice worthwhile. Stir-frying is indeed a wonderful thing.

Sunday was a very quick wedding. Very quick. The sermon was from "The Princess Bride," the wedding rings had gems that simulated Magic: the Gathering's color decks, and all in all it was a quick little affair. I know the person only tangentially, but Steve was standing up in the wedding.

Anyway, it was a great time. And now back to the grindstone.

This is just to say...

That I have returned from China. I am over the jetlag, and the virus I picked up on the plane has finally left. So I'm back, and I have to say that the experience was INCREDIBLE. I would recommend going to a large World Expo at least once. I spent two days there, and I can tell you I would have willingly spent four times that long.

Granted, seeing the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City were experiences I would not have missed either. I am so glad Andy suggested them.

If you are interested, pictures are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/chris.c.gottschalk/SelectedChinaPhotos?authkey=Gv1sRgCIqxze_H1cjlKA#

Wow.

It's the night before China, I have to get up insanely early, and I cannot for the life of me sleep. This is going to be such a big adventure I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe it. It is certainly the farthest I've traveled to date.

I'll be back on October 3. Hold the fort down for me!

In Four Days I Leave the Country, and I'm Published!

Yep, in four days I leave for China to go see the World Expo. On some level it's still hitting me.

For some reason, I'm kinda scared. I have never traveled this far to a culture that is more foreign to me since...ever. I've loved reading about Japan, but seriously, this is somewhat similar and somewhat different at the same time. It's also more expensive than I'd anticipated. I figured out that getting there would be the expensive part, but there's also been the matter of buying stuff for international travel, like a money belt, neck wallet, day pack, luggage suitable for both carry-on and packing all your stuff. I'm 95 percent packed right now, and I just need some quick things (mostly stuff that involves preparing for emergencies and hoping they won't happen).

Now for the second bit of news--one of my stories will be aired at the website Flashes in the Dark (http://flashesinthedark.com/)! I'm kind of excited about this. So look for my story on October 4. If you miss it the first time, don't worry--I'll post up a link to it.

Anyway, it's getting late. Will post more later.

I wanted to post something up here

I'm pretty tired, but I had a very relaxing weekend. I'll talk about it later. I've also got some very big plans that need acting on, and you can be sure I'll talk about those later too. I just wanted to let people know I'm still back and I'm still blogging.

I'm back

Okay, so holy crap that was an experience. I did end up telling my editor I had lost the words, and she was more understanding than I had expected, so I was pretty grateful for that. Still, the last week was a mad dash to the finish, and adding in two case studies to the manuscript after it had technically been turned in. Agh.

I've got it back now, and I'm doing edit work on it, which is as fun as you might expect. It's good on some level, but on others it is really a pain in the neck. Not in a specific sense, but more of the "I'm a writer, I'm brilliant, can't you just ACCEPT that?" type of ego. ;)

Also, my birthday was on Thursday. It was pretty nice. The only real regret I have is that I don't really have anyone around I can party with. The two people who would have been candidates for that are taking night courses at a community college, so no dice there. Still, I went down to Cedar Rapids, bought some stuff that I had wanted, then finished up by getting a few necessities:

Casual Belt (the old one was wearing out).
Wristwatch (the old one had stopped working).
Insoles (one foot has been hurting since March. The extra padding is supposed to give it some rest and let it heal).

By the way, funny thing about Dr. Scholl's, the brand I ended up getting. They have a ton of specialized insoles to aid your exact foot type for $50. However, if you take three steps to the side, you can also find their basic $5 insoles. Those seem to work pretty well, and if they don't, well...it's better to be out $5 than it is to be out $50. I do recommend the $5 insoles. They seem to be working.

Granted, to be happy for buying such small things might be seen as a sign of getting old, but I think it's more positive. After all, it's nice to be able to be happy when little things go well. And, quite frankly, the books are pretty nice too.