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Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
Seriously. Hard to believe that an entire month has somehow vanished like a blown away leaf and I haven't posted ANYTHING here. In my defense I was hard at work finishing a novel...

Still, a couple of nice things to report - two early reviews of "Random", the first book in my new serise, have now landed. the first is here, at The Author Visits - which also has a bunch of other great stuff, such as an excerpt from Random as well as a sneak peek at the NEXT book - but "Random" is labelled a "must read" in this four-star review. Here's a quote to whet your appetite:

Random is also a story about roots, history and the philosophy, shedding light about the Were-kind, their existence and the hierarchy of a world that is perhaps more complex than that of the humans. The book examines the metaphysical nature of the Were-kind which in and of itself is unique and consuming.

Alma Alexander is a methodical story teller, peeling back the layers one by one, focusing on the big picture then slowly unveiling the details like a good mystery. Random is a complex emotional journey of a young girl looking to make sense of a sense-less event that impacts her life and that of her family’s.

The quality of the writing is stellar. Well composed and thoughtful, Alexander chooses to give Jazz a mature voice that I appreciated as an adult reader.


Go read the rest.

The second review surfaced this morning, at Angela's Library. And it's WONDERFUL (another 4-star one!) Look at this blurb-worthy snippet:

As you’ve probably figured out by now, Random isn’t just a story about shapeshifters, it’s a story about humanity. It’s about what it means to be a member of a family, a culture, a race. This is an ambitious undertaking, but Alexander handles it with grace and skill.

(Oh, and tomorrow, on the Angela's Library site, she's going to post her interview with me - and it's a DOOZY. You should definitely go read this thing tomorrow. You can also register for a giveaway copy when you do!)

The Author Is Happy.

"Random" is due out end of the month. Currently still available for preorder here - so get the jump on it - or, alternatively, if you want to consider this as a Christmas present for a reader in your life, here's an option. I'm screening the replies to this post; if you are interested in a signed copy of "Random", leave me a comment with a contact email address and a mailing address to which you would want a book sent, toether with the name of the person to whom you might want to have the book personalised to. I will then obtain books from the source on your behalf, they will come here to me and I will sign them, and I'll put them back in an envelope and they'll be on their way to you. $22 would cover book and postage. We can discuss method of payment in email.

But this is a good book, apparently [big wacky grin]. People LIKE it. And I promise you this - #2 in the series is with the publisher as we speak, and I've just finished writing #3 - it just gets BETTER. I'm inordinately proud of this series. Some of the best work I've ever done.

Come help me celebrate!
Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
Before you can write about life, at least adequately, you have to have lived it. In some way, shape or form. And I don't mean vicariously on Facebook, or even online at all. There's more than five things, of course. But these are pretty broad. You can feel free to add in subcategories, or nuances.

1) DO SOMETHING DANGEROUS. Know what an adrenaline surge REALLY feels like. You cannot possibly write about one without that visceral knowledge. And "dangerous" is huge - you can fit in a lot of things under that umbrella - do soemthing that your mother might have warned you about, or something that society considers "unsafe", or something simply exilarating. Here's a few of my candidates:

- three of my (young, female) friends and I once climbed down from Table Mountain in Cape Town, on foot, in the dark, sliding down scree slopes and falling into the switchback roads, until we finally ended up hitch-hiking a ride the rest of the way down in a solitary car coming down from the topside parking lot, with a single male occupant inside. He was nice. We were taken down the mountainside and deposited at its foot without any incident at all. I was in my twenties; this was half my life ago. The adrenaline rush remains to this day.

- I jumped off a mountain. WIth an instructor, to be sure, in tandem, but still - I parasailed off a mountainside. I have pictures to prove it. When my father saw them - unexpectedly, before I did, long story - his response was, "If you survived that, when you get home, I'm going to kill you." Yeah. Adrenaline.

- I swam off the edge of a coral reef. The adrenaline of THAT makes my teeth ache right now while I am thinking about it. The experience can still make my heart race.

- I gave my heart completely. And had it broken. And it HURT. And I'm the better off for having dared to do it.

2) TRAVEL. You will gain only a very limited understaanding of humanity if you seek it only with people who live in the small town where you were born, and you're too afraid to venture beyond the edges into the great wide world beyond. Learn at least the basics of another language in which you can communicate with people who are NOT LIKE YOU. The world will open up like an unexpected dream. It's fun if your destination is far flung and exotic, but it doesn't have to be. Take a road trip. A train ride. If you have to start small, begin by going an hour, two, four, six, outside your comfort zone. THen,if you feel ready, tackle the world. Some of the places I've been:

- Fiji and Tahiti (learned a few phrases of the Micronesian/Polynesian vernacular, learned to snorkel, swam with doplhins, saw an octopus and a coconut crab in the wild, made friends with local people and learned their dreams.And I WIll never forget the colours of the coral lagoons, nor the black depths of ocean that lie beyond them. The colours of the world.)

- Vienna (walked the polished wooden floors of Imperial palaces and the cobbles of its streets, listened to waltzes, drank young wine in the wine shops of Grinzig, tasted Sacher Torte in the Sacher Hotel where it was born.)

- Kruger National Park, South Africa, and Etosha National Park, Namibia (saw lions and leopards in the wild, saw an elephant pace slowly and majesticlaly away into the purple African twilight, breathed in the dust and the heat while watching herds of Impala and zebra and wildebeest. Learned that rhinos are the firemen of the African savannah, and run TO a fire instead of away from it, and stomp it out with those hard-soled stumpy little feet of theirs if they can - which means that they can be damned dangerous to campsites when they blunder into the midst of fragile human campers.

- Japan (the first and only place on this earth where I was ever totally functionally illiterate - but I managed. Learned about the Shinto and the Buddhist faiths, and what each means to the Japanese people. Saw many beautiful temples. Saw many beautiful gardens. Been aware that I walked the ground where an ancient and vivid civilisation had thrived for CENTURIES, and felt breathless with that knowledge, particularly when gazing, in a museum, at a samurai sword from something like 1452 - still bright and shining steel and still probably capable of cutting a hair in half as it floated down upon its edge.)

But you get the idea. The world is a wide and wonderful place, and it is FULL of gifts.

3) FEEL REAL GRIEF.You cannot know what it's like to lose a living thing that you love until you do that - until you lose the cat you've had by your side for the last fifteen or twenty years of your life from a simple and inevitable advent of old age or watch a beloved pet waste away before its time from something you cannot do anything about and make the decision on their behalf that they have suffered enough, or sit by the bedside of a grandparent who is slipping away and holding the soft wrinkled hands in your own knowing that they may not feel your doing so but that somehow, somehow, they know that you are there. Real grief is raw and bitter, and tastes of tears. Before you write of it, you have to have had it tear your own heart apart. Because everything else will feel inadequate to those readers of your future work who HAVE known such grief, and will know if you speak the truth.

4) FEEL REAL ANGER. *Something* should make you feel your way down to your core, until you find that cold hard ember that is at the heart of you, not the swift mundane attacks of being cross about someone cutting you off in traffic or being rude to you on a subway. Something should reach all the way down to that primeval thing, the cold fury, the anger that does not leave you blinded with temporary passion but leaves you clear headed and clear eyed and knowing that ALL OF YOU hates this thing that you are seeing, hates with every fiber, and even though you may not be able to do anything at all about it (or maybe not RIGHT NOW, anyway) leaves you considering and discarding options of what to actually DO about that thing that has taken you to this place.. True fury needs few words, that's for sure, but if you want to write about it you have to know what it FEELS LIKE. What it feels like to be REALLY that angry. So look for something. Cruelty to animals. Cruelty to children. Pointless war. Something precious being willfully wasted. Ignorance and bigotry. Hypocrisy. SOmething, anything, something that you consider to be IMPORTANT ENOUGH to tap that cold fury in support of. Know it, understand it. Only then can you own it.

5) FAIL. Because you will. it is inevitable. Do what you need to do anyway, knowing that it may meet this fate. Because fear of failure is otherwise going to put the brakes on too many things that you need to do or want or know in your life before you can understand any other human being alive deeply enough to write their story. You HAVE to know what it means to fail. The lives of the very rich and the very happy seldom make for good story fodder - because these people are insulated from failure. Everything is handed to them, and if failure becomes a looming option then a scaepgoat is found to take the weight of it leaving the one who truly failed unscathed by it all. The most interesting stories come from people who have failed HARD, and then learned from that failure, and risen up like proverbial phoenixes to touch fire again. DOn't be afraid to fail. Just be afraid of not trying.

Any questions...?

A year.

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
bayside cemetery gravestone father

I lost my father a year ago.

A year.

It doesn't seem possible that such a long time has passed. it seems like everything happened yesterday.

We did not put him in the ground; this is not not his grave, or anything like it; his ashes lie scattered in the blue waters of Puget Sound. But I went looking for this image in my files, a picture I took at Bellingham's Bayview Cemetery six years ago. I remember taking it; I remember a frisson of superstitious horror as i took it, thinking, "One day..." There was nothing there other than that single forlorn stone. No name. No date. Just "Father". And somehow... somehow... this inability to name a person, a date of death... this urge to memorialise but the recoil from saying a name which no longer belongs in the register of the living... I can understand this perfectly. Today, I remember him, like I remember him almost every day. But today, I remember him because today is the day he left me. And there is a stone raised on this day in my spirit and in my heart, a stone that simply says, "Father".

He is gone. A year has passed. His eyes look upon me only from photographs, the memory of his hand survives in dedications he wrote on the flyleaves of books he bought for me. And inside of me, because he is part of me, he lives.

For the rest... there is a stone. WIth moss growing on it. That simply says... "Father".
Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
So this turned up on Craigslist in Boston a week ago, apparently (although I am having a hard time believing that's it's really real...):

"Emotional Writer Needed For Support Community for Affluent Individuals (Boston) © craigslist -

compensation: $30 per post

contract job
telecommuting okay

Special community for people who have earned a lot of money or been born into a wealthy family needs a blog ghostwriter. The focus of the community is providing psychological support for the problems money brings -- family tensions, unfulfillable expectations, boredom, etc. To do this you must be intimately familiar with the problems faced by wealthy people. If you grew up wealthy or through some other means can write detailed blog posts on this topic, please get in touch.

The posts need to be highly personal, emotional and have a strong editorial voice. These are anything but generic lectures. We are looking for 3 posts per week and each post pays $30. If you're interested, please send a brief cover letter with some suggested topics so we can see that you really can come up with specific topics which touch the hearts of people from affluent families along with some writing samples of your personal, emotionally charged writing. It should all be pasted into the body of the email. We can't open attachments. Thanks
!"

The whole thing is here, if you don't believe me.

So I thought I'd apply. Right here. If you dare me I'll send them the link.

Dear Arbitrator of Advertised Job and Speaker for the Affluent Individuals of Boston,

I'm writing to apply for the advertised position of ghost blogwriter who will be tasked with chronicling the woes of said Affluent Individuals. Tackling individual points from your ad in order - let's skip the compensation part for now, we'll get back to that later - but starting with your first paragraph.

You're right. It's a special community of people.

Whereas a large number of those outside the great closed gates of it have long since woken from the thing once known as the American Dream, a lulling and now rapidly shredding melody played on instruments that nobody really has the time or the money to keep in tune any more - the special community inside is still dreaming, gently, beautifully, wearing clothes made from floaty fabrics that sparkle in the sunlight and walking with narrow bare aristocratic feet on soft grass which is kept clipped and watered and properly cared for where it laps the edges of sapphire pools set into natural fake rocky landscapes with trickling artificial waterfalls splashing into the deeper end and mimicking the long lost romantic wildernesses which sound so absolutely enticing when described in pages of books or (well, maybe you guys don't read so much any more) watched vicariously on big screen plasma TVs that make it seem ALMOST like you're there yourself but without having to cope with the bugs and the heat and the pesky native tribes who insist on spoiling the scenery by walking around nekkid except for dirty loincloths which you really curl your lip at because you don't believe they've EVER seen the inside of a washing machine. And it's a dream they'll do a lot to protect and preserve.

You say that the focus of the community is to provide "...psychological support for the problems money brings -- family tensions, unfulfillable expectations, boredom, etc." Oh, I can understand this, and I can SO cater to it. I can completely understand that you can get so bored with your fake paradise because you absolutely know there is nothing inside it that can possibly hurt you. I can understand completely the family tensions that arise when one sibling feels like the other has received a coveted latest gadget BEFORE them, or has got in first when wheedling something out of Daddy which means that by the time THEY get there Papa is already bored and the one who got late to the game now must think of something new and different to demand in order to keep family interest up. There's no such thing as "unfulfillable expectations", by the way - that's for the hoi polloi outside the gates. If you've got enough money you can buy any expectation that you want, really - kid wants to go to Harvard? Just buy them a new lecture hall or provide a large endowment. You want to play major league sport? Well, you might not be able to quite keep up, yourself, but you can always buy your own team. You want your brand new young wife (and I mean young) to be in the movies? Buy a production company and make your own (and you can always pretend to be "indie" - indie is HOT these days). And trust me, I can and will show you a million ways not to be bored.

Yes, I can be intimately familiar with the problems faced by wealthy people. You'd be surprised how many of us can. No, I didn't grow up wealthy - but you see, I have these other sterling qualities that will stand me in good stead in this job. I listen well, I write beautifully the things I have heart, I have empathy, I have heard (those latter qualities may not last me long in this position, but for the nonce you can buy those too with enough money... but we'll get back to the compensation, like I said).Yes, I can write DETAILED blog posts on the pains of being rich. I can imagine quite a few, and you'd be astonished at the detail that I can provide. ASTONISHED, I tell you. You want to put me to the test? I'm game. Give me a topic.

Yes, I can write highly personal, emotional posts with a strong editorial voice. I've made people cry before. I can do it again. I will never provide anything "generic", least of all a lecture. If you're interested, let me know and we can hammer out a list of topics - but they might include

"I'm devastated - my Bichon Frise just chewed the heel off of the left shoe of the first pair of my new Christian Louboutin boots - the black pair - luckily I bought three pairs in different colours which will go with different outfits and I can always wear the purple pair to the fundraiser dinner for the new Governor tonight."

"My child's school costs more than the annual salaries of four of my employees but they are doing SUCH a bad job - I mean, they actually insisted that she read something other than 'Twilight' for her book report last month - and she was so upset when she came to me with this problem - but I do know how to fix it, they can always use a Spa Wing at her school and I can put my name on it and it can be tax deductible."

"The new media company I just bought because it badmouthed me on the Internet needs to be re-launched with a more me-friendly theme to it which caters less to issues I have no interest in - women's rights, for instance, or the rest of the OPP topics (that's Other People's Problems, for those acronym challenged) - where do I find a web designer whom I don't have to pay all that much - maybe some kid straight from school, laden with student loans and hungry to get whatever he can to make a dent in those...?"

"My new lobbying campaign to the halls of government has stalled - what are the best 'gifts' to offer to the right people, and who are the best people to offer them to...?"

"The joys of hiring and firing - anyone from housekeepers and gardeners to hedge fund managers and company VPs who aren't pulling their weight straight on up to your own personal Senator..."

You want samples of my "personal emotionally charged writing" - I think I'll direct you to Amazon, and a little book called "Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax" Yes, I know you don't read. Much. But you wanted samples. And you really won't break the bank by buying a copy of that book. Go, browse. I'll wait. If you can't open attachments I don't know that I want to trust stuff to email either - got get the damn hard copy and read THAT.

Now, about remuneration (I told you we'd come back to that). Here's the thing. You get what you pay for - and you CAN pay for this, I know this (that word "affluent" in the subject line tells me that, My vocab is AWFULLY good.) And if you get me, you get everything you asked for, and more.

I will make those people crowding at your gates WEEP for your troubles. I will make the people of Detroit whose access to water was cut off even when they PAID their arrears bills shed hot tears over your troubles. I will make the homeless shudder over the fact that you haven't redecorated your third vacation home in THREE YEARS. I will make the workers leaving their homes and their young children to go to their second jobs on squalid and inadequate public transport weep over your ten-car garage filled with - oh, the horror - LAST year's models of hot SUVs and the occasional indulgence like your red Ferrari convertible (well, that's got a few years on it, doesn't it, but it's VINTAGE...) I will make those without the money to pay this month's power bill scream at the described sight of the wash of light that pours from the windows of your many-roomed mansions, even from those rooms which are empty. I will make those waiting in line at low-end grocery stores filled with unhealthy foods clutching their food stamp coupons in their hands drool at the thought of the feasts which I can see - and describe, with all the right senses - on the laden and groaning tables of your opulent dining rooms with all the correct silverware in all the correct positions. I will make the poor slobs waiting in line to be groped by "security" agents laugh wildly as they watch you sashay past them on your way to your gleaming private planes.

I will do all these things.

But just in case that this was NOT your intended audience (it wasn't? How odd...) I can also write sob stories which will make your peers want to tear their hair out, too. I can make the Keeping Up With The Joneses (or would that be the Kardashians, in your world? or the Kochs?) into an art form. You will come out of this smelling like roses, and I don't think you'll mind too much that it isn't REAL roses, I can manufacture enough artificial chemical perfume to make the illusion live (and we won't ask where that came from). You want emotional, and heartfelt, and passionate? I can do that. I can do ALL that. Better still, I can make the most insignificant of problems assume the approximate dimensions of the Himalayas, and I can scale down things that look insurmountable to the size of a pea (ridicule and satire are powerful weapons, and I can use them...) I can do it all. I can stroke your ruffled feathers, I can make you look magnanimous for the poor, I can make you look movie-star perfect so you can dazzle your peers.

But for this, you're going to have to pay a LOT more than $30 a post.

See, I know you can afford it. The word "affluent" again, see? And what's more, now that you've put this ad out into the wild, *I know you need it*. You need someone good, someone who isn't going to make things worse for you, someone to soothe you and to cocoon you ever further into your little pod from which you can pretend that the rest of the world really doesn't exist and you don't have to deal with it. I can be that shield. I can be that mask. I can be that writer.

But you pay me a minimum of $10,000 a month.

Yes you can get it for less. *Far* less. But now that I've put this into your head, here's one of the greatest problems of the "Affluent" that the "Affluent" will ever have. You can - and probably will - get someone to scrunch out your precious little three-times-a-week posts for $30 a pop - but now you KNOW you can do better, so much better than that. And what guarantee do you now have that your neighbour, the"Affluent" person who lives on the borders of your own estate, *won't* go one higher, one better, and hire me? And because THEY're paying me, what guarantees do you now have that I won't dig up stuff on YOU and use it in those posts they are paying me so handsomely for?

Do I hear $12,000? $20,000?...

I'll be over here, smirking.

You guys, you have fun. ANd I might just write some posts about you anyway.

For free.

Tags:

Spamology

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
"DEARLY BELOVED, SAVE HUMANITY!" says the subject line on one the messages in my spam box.

I am tempted to send an autoreply.

"You have reached the Messiah Hotline. We value your call. Due to the heavier than usual call valume, you may have to wait a little longer than usual for a response. Your expected wait time is approximately 2000 years. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you momentarily."

Lifetimes pass quickly

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
Twenty five years ago, far away in a different country on a different continent, I fought for breath, inexplicably and without any cause, without knowing that back in my home town my grandmother was dying. When the phone rang, later that night, much later that night, even without the telltale fact that my breathing had suddenly returned to normal, I knew - I KNEW. I screamed. The worst of it was that for just a moment there the blackness around me was so profound and so absolute that I could not call to mind her face, the face of that gentle woman whom I loved more than anything in the world and who would have sold her soul into eternal damnation if it would help me take just one more breath. We were special, she and I. We shared a rare and glorious love. We belonged to one another.

Twenty five years ago today, exactly, they buried her.

I was not there. I was still in that different country, on a different continent, far, far away. But they sent us pictures, afterwards, of that funeral.

My grandmother married at 18, had her first child at 19, lost the second when that second daughter was barely two and she herself in her early twenties, had her third and final child a couple of years after that and bled out so badly, in the home delivery, that blood was dripping through the mattress of her bed and pooling on the floor below. They took everything out, after, and there were no more children - until my mom, that oldest daughter, produced me. And to me, she gave everything that she had left.

She had a limited education, as was not uncommon for girls in her era, but was fiercely intelligent for all that and read a lot and knew everything that was going on around her. She never worked for a day outside her home. But come the day of her funeral, CROWDS turned out to say goobye to her. Everyone who had brushed her life even just in passing, they all knew what she was, what we had all lost. I wept when I saw those throngs, standing quiet and respectful a few paces behind her casket at the service, before it was taken away for cremation. I wept because I knew why they were there. We would not see her like again.

She was seventy three years old. It now seems... so young.

She's been my guardian angel, a part of my soul, ever since. Her picture sits on my bedside table and from it she smiles at me, watches over me. The picture is signed to me on the back, in her careful schoolgirlish handwriting. It is something she gave me, she touched, she once held. I wear the worn gold band that was once her wedding ring on my own finger. I miss her, still, every day - every day of these past twenty five years, this quarter of a century that now separates our shared past from my today. I miss the softness of her voice, the warmth in her eyes, the sound of her laughter.

She left me a lifetime ago.

I will miss her always.

(This is one of my favourite photos of the two of us. She's not yet fifty in that picture. I might have been a year old, or just over.)
grandma and me

Your daily dose of spamfun...

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
From my spam filters today, in order of appearance:

"Hi, we want to give you $591!" - well, that's nice. I suppose you need my bank account details and my SSN for that. I'll get right on it.

"Keep an eye on things." - I am, thanks ever so. That's why this message was in the spam bin.

"Dear Alma, Laser Eye Surgery from $17.34 a month..." - that's to help me keep an eye on things...? (Oh, and I love teh PRECISION of it... beautiful... calculated that to the cent, did you...?)

"IF YOU DON'T READ THIS NOW YOU'LL HATE YOURSELF LATER" - you know, cookie, there's a logical fallacy to this one you might want to explore. If I don't "read this now" I don't know what is in it - and therefore there is little reason for any specific regrets in the aftermath. I may hate myself for spilling my coffee over my keyboard or forgetting to take the garbage out on garbage day but I sincerely doubt that those reasons will have had anything at all to do with my not having read your oh-so-important missive. Bzzzt. Try that again, why don't you?

"The DANGERS of too much exercise" - eh. knew that. 's why I'm sitting here with my butt in my chair. I don't want to put myself in danger, do I, now?

"IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED!" - agreed. Cheers.

I know. I am wasting precious time on these things. But am I the only one who sometimes finds spam utterly hysterical....?

...and then today.

some days...
I may have seen Jay Lake before this moment which I call "first", the moment in which he entered my consciousness directly, but my first real (official as it were) memory of him was... laughter. It was almost painful watching a panel with him and EllEN Klages on it, because they fed off each other, and by the time the panel ended most of us in the audience were doubled over and weeping with laughter. I told Jay, later, that there ought to be a law against him and Ellen on the same stage at the same time because it was dangerous to people's health. ANd again, there was laughter.

That began it. I was never a close friend, not a bosom buddy, but he and I were friends, over a number of years - friends and collegaues, sometimes sharing panels at cons we both attended as visiting pros, sharing meals, sharing conversations.

I remember a panel at the Japan Worldcon, where we both committed memorable things - I, because it was almost unbelievable that a globetrotter such as myself would completely space out on the International Date Line and arrive at the con a day later than I thought I would be, and Jay because he did the inconceivable thing of travelling across half the planet to be at that Worldcon for ONE DAY. We were on a shared panel, that day, and it turned out that it didn't have a registered moderator - whereupon I told Jay that tag he was it in both acknowledgment of and punishment for that amazing trip. He acceded, and then told the panelists to introduce themselves, as is traditional - and it was at that point that I realised something. WHen it came to my turn, I gave my introduction by saying that I was the odd one out at that panel because I was the only panelist who did not have a J in my name. Jay snorted his soda, caught by an unexpected giggle. I made Jay Lake laugh. My debt was paid. My work there was done.

I remember him sitting with Beth Meacham and myself when we were Guests of Honor at a past Radcon ( a thing which he later referred to as "watching Beth Meacham and Alma Alexander interview themselves") - and his reaction of utter delight, a grin lighting up his entire face, at one of my convent-girl tales that came up in conversation (and the name of the nun who had charge of me, a Sister Fausta, which he seemed to find inordinately entertaining).

I remember him acting as patient decoy for the Great Rabbit Gambit of a different Radcon, when he was the innocent party in the entire practical joke but was perfectly content to sit in the front row and keep Bob Brown's attention focused on himself (because of a past stellar record of practical joeks between the two of them) leaving those of us who were REALLY in on the joke to work unimpeded behind the scenes.

I remember the Jaycon I attended, when I asked if there was someone who would offer me a couch to surf on for the occasion... and Jay found me a berth with his own family.

I remember putting together my anthology, "River", my maiden voyage as anthology editor, and approaching a number of my friends and colleagues for contributions to the volume. Several of them reluctantly declined, citing pressure of other work. Jay, sitting at the top table of yet another shared panel when he was accosted by me about this project, merely said, "When would you need it by?" and graced my heart-child anthology with a story.

I remember the last time I saw him, at the Orycon Powell's great writers' gathering and book signing group event at the Beaverton store - he was sitting behind me, wearing white gloves because of side-effects of his chemo and a knitted hat, looking drawn and tired but never grumpy - I remember taking our leave of one another at the conclusion of the event, hugging as two friends do, both of us aware that it might be the last time.

And it was.

I read his accounts of his battle with his cancer, and was full of rage and of pity and of powerlessness. But he - he was never powerless. He would not let himself be powerless. He fought the beast with everything he had, with heart and mind and spirit and failing body, and right until the bitter end he would not yield.

...and then, today.

Today he lost that last battle.

I cannot begin to fully understand what his inner circle, his closest friends and his family, must be going through right now, and my heart goes out to them all. And I mourn the dreams left unfinished, the stories left untold.

There is a Jay-shaped hole in the universe.

Goodbye my friend. Thank you for your words, your spirit, your friendship. I will miss you.

(now with pictures, at my other blog

Tags:

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
So I'm reproducing it in full. It is a gem. Make sure you aren't drinking anything while you are reading it. My comments in caps, interspersed.


FEDERAL MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
GARKI-ABUJA.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
[OFFICE OF THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION]
FINANCIAL SECTOR SURVEILLANCE.
GARKI-ABUJA.

Attn: Beneficiary.


Sir/Madam,
[IT'S A SCHRODINGER"S LETTER. THEY DON"T EVEN KNOW IF I AM MALE OR FEMALE BUT IT IS A SAFE ASSUMPTION THAT I WILL BE EITHER A SIR OR A MADAM...]

Our Ref: Outstanding Payment. Your Ref: ..... Date: 27/05/2014.


As regards to the just concluded World Economic forum in Abuja mandating all outstanding payment owed to foreigners be settled/paid on or before the end of this 2nd quarter of the year 2014 to enable foreign investors entrance into the business scope of this country, we wish to state that your overdue Payment outstanding reflected in our Central Computer among the list of unpaid contract/inheritance claim and we have to update you through your email contact for your immediate confirmation response back to this office as your name appeared among the beneficiaries who will receive a part-payment of US$7.500,000 Million (Seven Million and Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars) and it is now approved for payment by the Federal Ministry of Finance .

[THEY DON'T KNOW WHO OR WHAT I AM BUT THE FEDERAL MINISTRY APPROVED $7.5 MILLION TO ME? AMAZING, THIS. ALSO, YOU GOT TO LOVE THE CAPITALISED "CENTRAL COMPUTER"...]

However we received an email from one Mr.Morrison Law, who told us that he is your next of kin and that you died in a car accident four months ago . He has also submitted his account information to the office department for transfer of the fund payment credit to him as your inheritor of the fund stated herein .We are now verifying by contacting your email address as we have in our records before we can make the transfer into his account and for us to conclude confirmation if you are dead or still alive. Please confirm to this office if you are still alive. With your confirmation we will expedite action on your
payment immediately without further delay .


[OKAY THIS IS WHERE I CRACKED UP BIG-TIME. "PLEASE CONFIRM TO THID OFFICE IF YOU ARE STILL ALIVE"? HEY, SCHRODINGER. YOUR CAT IS CALLING. AND YOU GOTTA LOVE THE IMPLIED THREAT OF "GIVE US ALL YOUR DETAILS, AND I MEAN RIGHTNOW, OR ELSE THIS OTHER DUDE (WHO WE ABSOLUTELY KNOW HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH YOU SO HOW FAIR IS THIS, DO YOU *WANT* TO GIVE HIM A FREE PASS TO ALL THIS MONEY THAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS?"]

Sir, we sincerely apologize for all your past inconvenience delayed in paying your fund to your account .


[WAIT, IN THE HEADER I WAS SIR/MADAM... NOW YOU DECIDE I AM A SIR AFTER ALL... WHAT TIPPED YOU OFF?]

Thanks.

[AAAAND WE END NICE AND FOLKSY, NO "SINCERELY YOURS", NO FORMAL SIGN OFF, JUST "THANKS"...]

Alhaji Mustapha Haruna.
Secretary to the Accountant General of the Federation.


[GOTTA LOVE THE TITLE. POMPOUS ENOUGH TO COMMAND ATTENTION, VAGUE ENOUGHT TO GO EH, WHUT? THIS THING IS A WORK OF ART...]

I'd stay and chat but I have this letter to write to a Secretary to the Accountant General of the Federation (may he live long and prosper) telling him the rumours of my death have been grossly exaggerated and can I have my millions now please...

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