March 25th, 2010


World Horror Convention

We're off to WHC 2010 later today. The anthology The Bitten Word from NewCon Press is being launched there: it includes my space-beetle vampire story 'Cold Rush.'
It will be our first WHC -- we were lured by the GoH -- Tanith Lee -- and the location in Brighton. I'm looking forward to it.

Ada Lovelace Day

This is a day late: apologies.
I don't want to write about a figure from the past, although they're important. The woman I have in mind is a good friend of mine, a working scientist. She isn't famous, she doesn't win huge research grants or get her name on papers (on in the papers). But she is a life-saver every day.
She works in a hospital behind the scenes. Without her and her colleagues, the doctors would find it far harder to diagnose accurately and to ensure patients receive the correct treatment. She works hard and for little reward and because her work is not flashy and not face-to-face, her profession is often forgotten about. She doesn't get big pay increases because the public love their nurses but forget everyone else, and increasing nurses' pay wins votes, but, due to limited budgets, has the knock-on effect of depressing pay for other NHS staff (whoa re usually dismissed as 'administrators').
Without my friend and her colleagues, hospitals could not run as well as they do. They are highly trained, highly qualified scientists and they are vital. They are underfunded, and overworked and their labs are understaffed. It's a graduate entry profession requiring years of subsequent training on low pay. It's shift work, 24/7, 365 days a year. Hospitals often treat them badly, ignore them, nag them and talk down to them. They work for very long hours in clean labs that lack any natural daylight, be in awkward places, be cramped and unpleasant. This is my friend's experience, yet she loves her job. She talks to me of the beauty of the SARS virus under a microscope, of her fascination with the science of epidemics, of the ingenuity of viruses and bacteria.
If you've ever had a blood test or a biopsy or a tissue test or anything else of that kind, these are the people who carried it out for you.
A lot of them are women. One of them is one of my very best friends. She's magic.
Goth marquise

Vanity of vanities

A while back, Mary Robinette Kowal published a very sound piece on the sfwa website on the value of good presentation for writers at conventions.
My morning so far has included the following:
leg waxing
hair dyeing (purple, by request of the marquis)
underarm shaving
much exercising (which is a daily thing)
face scrubbing
careful selection of clothing (two dresses, both just above the knee, the longer of my two mini-skirts, my posh frock just-in-case, tops, underwear, nightwear, outer wear) make-up and jewellery for wearing at the con.
All of which is part of my normal pre-con ritual. The professional writer bit? Ummm... remembering to take a couple of copies of LWG in case.
It's official. I'm vain.