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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Sometimes it Pours

Woke up at 4am because of the cat.  Stayed awake because I’d been having an awesome dream about being a stowaway on an alien ship that then got attacked by pirates and knew it could be a super cool short story.  Normally when I have a story idea it has to brew for a week or a month or a year.  Apparently all this one wanted was about 4 hours.

Well, it’s a story anyway.  After 7.5 hours of nearly continuous writing, the monstrosity that is “Crawlies” is now complete.  After a “oh god how messy is this” editing pass it stands at 7715 words.  Bleh.  I was aiming for 4000.  Is this what plot does?  Cause baby, this story has plot.  Hell, it’s got everyting. Provided that everything means aliens, pirates, an 11 year old protagonist, bombs, and exploding head jokes.  My research firefox window currently has open windows from wikipedia for oxygen toxicity, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and squid.  Lord save me, there’s even slang.  It was like this character waltzed into my head and wouldn’t shut the hell up.  Of course, she’s 11, she doesn’t shut the hell out anyway.  I wish writing was always this easy.  Even if it doesn’t let me do anything else.

Now that my work day is gone, I’m going to go eat something (sorta forgot to do that in the ‘writer will finish or she gets the hose again’ fog I’ve been in most of today).

In the other kinda of ego-boosting news (no, not the yet again “close but try again” rejection I got today), one of my poetry chapbooks sold at the bookstore COLD.  As in a random stranger who is no relation to me chose my little self-published being sold on commission chapbook all by himself with no arm twisting from my mother and paid COLD DELICIOUS CASH for it.  I feel pretty good about that.  Poetry is hard to sell, and this means that mine was good enough to attract a random human’s interest.  Or you know, so bad he couldn’t resist buying it to chortle at the next wine and schadenfreude party.  I’m going to believe the former.  For my peanut-sized ego’s sake.

Ok, now, to post this monstrous new baby of mine somewhere for critique.  Oh why oh why is it so long?  Curse you baby.

But I love you.  In fact, today (and probably only today), I love writing.  Thank you writing gods.  Now, can I please have a nice compelling dream about how to finish this novel? K thanx.

Oh yeah, and if you think I was kidding about my mother arm twisting people, you should talk to Ken Scholes*.  I’m surprised he made it out of there without a chapbook.  Lucky bastard.  You know you’ve hit a sad sad hole in your social life when your mother has to do your networking for you.  Thanks mom.  28 is just like 8, somedays.  At least she didn’t try to arrange a play date or anything.

(*Ken Scholes is, in fact, as far as my limited mother-twisted arm contact with him has gone, a supremely tolerant and nice guy. Buy his books).

Writing Progress Report and Lists!

Because we know how much the internet loves lists.  Sorry, no bullets.

First, got another nice rejection.  I entered into my tracking sheet and then for fun counted up the number of rejections and looked at how many are form and how many came with a note.  I have 15 rejections so far for short stories.  6 are form letter, 1 is a negative comment, and 8 are ‘positive’ rejections (good writing, well received, send more, that sort of comment).  So the positive rejections out number the negative or form letter ones.  Apparently this is a good thing and a sign of tremendous progress.  I’m just keeping my head down and figuring out where to send what next.  15 down, 485 rejections left to go!

On to the lists!

Things in progress:

Chwedl: 61,000 words so far, but I’ve hit a snag since I realized I needed to go back and add an entire thread of motivation to make the actions of my main char in the events ahead far more plausible.  I aim to have the draft of this done by mid September.

Casimir Hypogean: rewrite is sitting at about 9k I think.  This is what I’ll get to before the end of this year.  I aim to write the two sequels next year as soon as I’m done with the rewrite.  I thought long and hard about bothering to write sequels to an unsold book (conventional wisdom says don’t!), but I think I’m going to ignore that wisdom this time.  I’m unpublished, which means I don’t exactly have deadlines on other things at the moment, plus given an optimistic publishing time-frame, say this book was picked up for publication and then they wanted the sequels written.  It could be anywhere from 3-6 years from finishing the first before I’d even begin a sequel.  That’s too long for me, right now.  I have the story and world firmly in mind and while the first book works fine as a stand-alone, the second two are definitely tied together and I want them to work well as a unit.  Even if I spend another year writing these three books, I’ll still have learned something about writing (and writing a series) whether they sell or not.  So that’s my justification.

Steampunk detective novel:  started doing some research for the setting of the first one.  It’ll likely be a year before I start writing it, but I do love me some research.

Romance novel that has hijacked my brains:  I might start this just to see where it goes.  Series romance is only 70k words generally, so maybe I can tinker with it in my “spare” writing time.  I certainly love to read romances, so maybe I’ll try writing one.  This one involves a girl with a beautiful singing voice and a violent past and of course a handsome composer/violinist, an opera house, and dark secrets.  (No masked men living underneath the opera house, sorry…)

Werewolves in Space: now a novella!  I had the idea at Worldcon to turn this into a novella sort of prequel to a later novel.  I’ve actually cut the werewolf and love story from the plot.  I wasn’t sure this novel ever had enough plot to really sustain 100k words, so I think this will be a good compromise.  Now I just have to keep it under 17k words.

Short stories:  I have so many percolating in my brains at the moment, I’m going to have to write one a week just to clear my plate.  I’m hoping I can revive Monday Short Story Day starting next Monday.  Sampling of stories includes: Rusalka story, ‘glitter kitten’, ‘shrub daughter’, ‘I, vermin’, jellyfish in space, ‘sparks’, time traveling thief, ‘Tesla’s Daughter’, world as we know it ends (telemarketer) story, ‘The insanity of Mr Leads’, ‘Maskmaker’, and Bloodgood’s cat origin mystery story.  My notes make more sense than this list, somewhat.

On the plus side, I now have 9 short stories out making the rounds, which isn’t bad considering back in Feb when I started I only had two.

Time to prioritize and write like a madwoman.  It’s funny, before Worldcon I never considered myself that prolific, but I think I’m right in the middle as far as I can tell from the sampling I got there about other people’s work habits.  The last six weeks have been a total momentum killer, however.  Between Worldcon, Flu, Alaska, and moving, I’ve gotten almost nothing done (1 short story written, 2 revised, only about half a chapter on Chwedl).  Time to get back in the habit of the everyday and get some projects finished.  I’m giving myself a mini-deadline on the Werewolves in Space novella because I’d like to have it done in time for this quarter of WoTF contest.

So that’s the report for August 2009.  We’ll see where I’m at in December or there abouts.

Worldcon Report (of a sort)

and then I’m getting back to writing about writing, I swear *grin*

I got home from Worldcon with the flu, so I’ve been medicated out of my head and curled up with a fever and racking cough this whole last week.  It has especially sucked because one of the good things to come out of Worldcon was that I came home with ideas leaping out of everywhere for all of my current projects and some totally new ones.  I feel like I just lost a week of my life, thanks flu!

One of the things I meant to do right when I got home was give a more in-depth report on Worldcon.  But there are con reports out there and it’s been a week anyway, so I’m just going to mention a few thoughts and highlights.

The workshop was well-run and while I won’t say it was a bucket of fun, I found it informative and helpful.  This was the third time I’ve workshopped Space Bones (and the third form the story has been in), and this workshop liked it the least over all, though I’ve read through comments on the drafts that were handed to me and there are some nice comments that no one bothered to say aloud in the workshop, which is ok but did give the impression that it was universally panned when it wasn’t exactly.  However, I think that this story has reached the point where I need to shelve it or rip its guts out and try something a little different.  I know the story I’m trying to tell.  I read over the comments and my notes and I see that the story I want to tell is getting lost somewhere in this version.  I like this story too much to give up on it, and besides, it got a very near miss with one editor, so it can’t be that far off something *someone* would like to read.  I have some ideas on how to change/fix it, so we’ll see if I can make it work better.  I found the level of crit in the workshop on par with Baen’s, blunt but understandable/helpful on a whole.  Plus it was good to get to talk to people and meet them without having to introduce myself to strangers.  Context is a good thing.

Another highlight of the con was meeting a bunch of  local Portland writers. A bit funny that I haven’t met a single local writer until I went thousands of miles away, but oh well, I’d have to probably leave my house and put up with that whole introducing myself to strangers thing more often.  I have new blogs to follow and hopefully a few local connections for people to chat about writing (or whatever) with.   I also connected with some of the not-local to me writers whose blogs I follow, though that involved a fair bit of stranger talking to, but I held it together, mostly (I think a couple people caught me on the zomg 1am oversocialized talky edge of things, heh…sorry).

Some of the most fun panels I went to were the Odyssey, Clarion, and Anti-workshop panels.  I mention them here because in some ways I’m glad I didn’t get into CW this year (sniff).  I’m much better informed now about what the different workshops entail and what might be the best fit for me.  The Odyssey grads were especially helpful in this, and I think it’s moved to the top of my list for next year (pending what the instructor list for Clarion SD looks like, of course…).  Not that I won’t apply to all three, but I’m thinking of seeing if I can get early acceptance to Odyssey since they do that.  Of course, after my sound rejection from CW, who knows if I’ll get into anything next year, but I’ve been working my ass off to try to improve and getting the “almosts” to prove it.  Hope and Spring and all that.   Oh, funny thing about the Anti-workshop panel and the Clarions panel, they almost ended up being opposites.  The Clarion grads all admonished people to be sure they knew what they were getting themselves into, while the anti-workshop (really, the hey you can do it without a workshop panel) ended up agreeing that it can be really helpful.  Go figure.

This leads up to the strongest message I took away from Worldcon after listening to countless professional writers and editors.  Everyone gets there on their own path.  No ones methods look the same, no one followed some careful formula for success (well, other than work hard and write a good story), no path to publication or agent or finished drafts look the same.  Which was comforting, because sometimes I feel like I’m diving in face first and hoping thats water down there.

Over all, I’m glad I went (flu notwithstanding).  Now, back to real life.  I need to revise my list of things to do and add in the new ideas/plans.  It’s about time for another “things to get written” post, so I’ll work on that for sometime this week.  First, however, I need to reread a few chapters of Chwedl so I know what I was thinking when I quit (has it really been a month since I worked on it? Eek. Momentum loss, anyone?) and then start the writing.  And maybe do something with the stack of hotel stationary I scribbled all over in Montreal.

Worldcon Briefly

This is the Worldcon overview.  I’ll do a panel/workshop/shoutouts post or three in the days following since I’ve just gotten home, had two hours of sleep, and only want to dump a few thoughts before I crash out in front of netflix and my 450 post RSS feed (apparently the internet keeps going even when I’m not staring at it…).

First impressions upon coming home:

The bad:  I got pretty lonely much of the time.  Apparently I’m not one of those people safely split from my significant other for more than 3-4 days at a time.  7 is too many.  Good to know.  We’ll see what those roaming charges on my phone look like (eek).

The first day (Thurs) was the hardest.  I felt like the new kid entering senior year of high school where it feels like everyone else already knows each other and has plans and things.  Part of that is my own damage, since despite being talkative, I’m really quite shy and have trouble inserting myself into (or staying put in) any situation where I  feel remotely awkward.  People were extremely nice on the whole, but in a “good to meet you, moving along now” sort of way rather than a “hey I’ll stop and chat for a while” sort of way.  It was the first day of the con, and much like the first day of school, it felt like everyone was reaffirming acquaintances and catching up.  Great for them, not so much fun for the new kid.

Friday went much better, the workshop helped break some ice and the panels were some of the best of the whole con.  I ended up braving the parties on Friday, which was a mixed bag of awesome and awkward as well.  Anyway, blah blah blah lonely blah blah blah shy blah blah blah awkward etc…  On to the good before my tired brain runs in a circle of whine.

The good:

People were super nice.  I met two agents and had a lovely time chatting with them.  I met lots of people I didn’t know, a handful of people who I stalk follow online, and the panels were on the whole informative and/or entertaining.  I got a couple things signed (spent a day’s worth of food money on books…sigh), had some entertaining conversations, and (I think?) didn’t make a total ass of myself.  I also came home with mad scribblings of ideas for stories, a good notion of how to rip the guts out of Space Bones, and a new appreciation for how far I’ve come as a writer (it was drilled into me this weekend that getting positive editor comments only a few months into subbing things is a *really* good sign and I should probably just STFU on the whole ‘never gonna sell anything evar!’ rant).

Now. I go collapse.  Montreal is *really* far away when they route you through Vancouver and Calgary…

(Oh, and massive gratz to the Hugo winners.  I’m please that most of the people I voted for won.  Though I silently curse that Metatropolis didn’t… grr)

*note to self, next Worldcon, bring more than 90 dollars to feed yourself for 6 days, please.  Saltines and peanutbutter gets old fast.  (Also, check out the free food in the con suite before Sunday next time…)

Last Post til Worldcon!

Well, until after Worldcon really, since I’m not bringing a laptop and most likely won’t be checking the net while I’m there.

Finally got a response  about Delilah.  Great response short of a sale, sigh.  They held the story for over 5 months, but in the end decided that due entirely to the biblical retelling nature of the story they had no spot for it.  Apparently they loved it otherwise though and want to see something else.  *rubs hands together*  Fine! Something else you say? I has something else for you…

Well, I’ll have something else for them after Worldcon.  I’m beyond oh god oh god I’m full of lame panic and into the “I hope all those reservations I made back in Jan still are good” and “where did I put that thing I totally need for the trip” panic.  I made a list, and now I can’t find my list.  I’m made of organized, really.

If anyone wants to catch up with me at Worldcon,  I’ll be the terrified looking one with the short blue and orange hair.

I’ll be taking notes while I’m there and hopefully posting the funny, strange, or useful stuff here afterwards.

Anticipating Anticipation (Worldcon)

I’ve been getting zero writing done due to moving and now to travel plans.  First Alaska, then I’m home for two days and finally off to Worldcon in Montreal.

I’m super nervous about Worldcon.  I know absolutely no one going, I’ll be totally alone.  I’m not so worried about the travel part of it since I survived traveling in Europe by myself no problem.  I’m just not sure what to expect and what will happen while I’m there.  I’m also slightly sad because this will be the longest my husband and I have been apart, pathetic as that sounds (sigh).  I know I’m probably freaking out about nothing and that once I’m there I’ll be fine.  There will be things to do and probably people to talk to.   But I can’t seem to help being a little nervous.  I’d unrealistically hoped to have sold a story or two by now so I’d at least be a SFWA member and have an icebreaker that way, but I likely should have started subbing to markets before Feb of this year if I’d truly wanted that to come about from the real world standpoint.  Oh well.

I’m going to take Kim Stanley Robinson’s advice and just go and enjoy myself (I had the good fortune to be able to talk to him about Worldcon this last Spring).  And bring a notebook.

I also have little simple business/calling cards now.  They’re very basic with name, email, link to this blog etc…  I wasn’t sure what to put as the title part, so I just went with writer and editor.  I’ve actually been paid to edit things professionally (unlike writing fiction so far…sigh) so I figured I should put that on the card.  But since I’m writing full time I added that anyway.   Someday I’ll be able to change that to “Author”.  Someday.

Speaking of that ‘someday’, I have a story into the workshop at Worldcon.  It just came back with a rejection, though again a nice one.  I’m close, I can feel it.  I haven’t gotten a form letter for the last seven or so rejections, however, they are still rejections.   I also have two stories that seem to be in serious contention for publication and are being held for “further consideration” whatever that might actually mean.  I suppose for 6 months of submitting, this is good progress.  It feels slow sometimes and whenever I talk to my family I get frustrated because they don’t seem to understand that a writing career can and likely will take years until it’s paying at all and likely will never pay all our bills, ever.

I don’t know.  I think I’m just at a slump.  Once I get home from Alaska and Worldcon I’ll dig into Chwedl.  I always feel better when I’m writing.  Maybe I’ll take a notebook on the boat in Alaska and do a short story or two.  I’ll have nothing but time, after all.  Time to worry about Worldcon.

News Quickie

Apparently they are doing a workshop at Worldcon.  I sent in two stories, so far I’ve heard they’ll likely have a spot for at least one of them, so we’ll see.  My NorWesCon experience was nice and positive and very helpful.

So I’ll get to be workshopped by some more pros, which is awesome.  Hopefully they can tell me how to get my stories over the “this is really good, but no thanks” hump…

Whew

Even with insomnia, this last week I got a story up off the ground from rough draft through two edits (thanks OWW people!) and off to the Shine Anthology before their deadline of July 31st.   I’m not sure it’s optimistic enough and who knows what they’ll think of the contents/theme, but I figure it’s the first near-future story I’ve written and I think it’s a fairly sweet tale, so maybe they’ll like it.  If not, oh well, on to somewhere else.

So far the story a week is happening.  I just started the next one, though I need to do more research before I get more than a few opening sentences down (I want the turn of the century Ukraine feel to come across properly).  I think I’m getting sick, however, so this story might happen more slowly.  Just as long as I get three more written before I go on vacation, I think I’ll be satisfied.  Then they can go up on OWW and collect some reviews while I’m gone.  Once I get back I can edit, submit, and then buckle down and get the damn novel finished.  It’s on like Donkey Kong after I return from Worldcon.  That damn novel is taking too long and my wonderful novel edit exchange partner has been doing a great job of sending me critiqued chapters.  I need to get the final third written so I can do the edits I so conveniently have piling up.

Then… tackling Casimir Hypogean.  It’s almost time.  Once these next three shorts are done I’ll have 12 stories in the submission cycle and hopefully the edited Chwedl as well making the agent rounds.  After that there’s no excuse not to finish the rewrite of my bane novel.  I have the suggestions I got at NorWesCon, I’m armed with the plot, and damn it if I’ll let this stupid project die without giving it a shot.  Besides, I really do want to write the sequels.  Kinda have to write the first one… you know, first.

All right. Drugs and then sleep. I will not be sick. I will not be sick.  I’ve got too much to do!

WotF and Sadness

Well, I took the plunge and submitted a story to the Writer’s of the Future contest.  Wish me luck.  I have no idea if they’ll like it, but it’s on the longer side and good old science fiction, so maybe it’s to their taste.  It’s my first time. Meep.

In other news, I got yet another rejection in the flavor of “we liked X about this, but it’s not right for us/we can’t use it at this time, submit more”.  I feel so near the top, yet in the end it’s functionally the same as being at the bottom.  No sales. Grr. Argh.  Oh well, head down and sending that story out again.

I’ve been on a very strange sleeping every other day sort of schedule lately for no good reason, so writing has been really sporadic.  I think I might abandon writing cohesive whole chapters for the next couple weeks (we’re packing and moving) and work on editing and writing some more short stories.  I’ve been reading lots of award winning stories lately trying to pick out what makes them tick/win.  I think I’m going to try to get out of my comfort zone and write a few stories using elements I don’t tend to gravitate to, like specifically happy endings and linear, clear plots.  I don’t know. I have some ideas.

Meanwhile I’m trying to avoid reading Clarion West blogs because man, that’s depressing.  I’ve got over half a year to get some stories to the point that I’ll have a chance.  Of course, the story I submitted last year is still one of my all time favorites, so clearly I’m no kind of judge of my own work.  That story has since garnered a near-sale and a few nice comments on rejections, so it can’t be totally bad.  Once it gets back from the latest submission place I might post it in the JBU slush and let the grinder that are those commenters take a stab at it.  Or maybe it’ll get bought, finally.  We’ll see.  So yeah, NOT thinking about Clarion West 4 hours to the north for the next few weeks. Nope. Not at all.

Days Like These

Finally started a new short story, one of three I intend to write this month.  It’s going to be a bit of a challenge because I’m trying to keep it under 4k words and write about two star-crossed lovers on a dying Earth who happen to be teenaged boys.  It’s different, but I feel like writing a love story.  It will get me back in the mood to work on Chwedl, or something.

To write the beginning I ended up watching rocket take-offs on youtube.  For research. Really.

And people wonder why I choose to write science fiction and fantasy? Heh.

Now to find that awesome article in one of my Analogs’ about lunar bases and space stations.  And figure out how I want this story to end.