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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Getting Down to Business

I’m quitting my MFA program.  Though money was partially an issue, in the end it came down to me not enjoying the program and my classes not helping me as a writer.  I think that I’ll be more productive on my own for now.  I have the Online Writing Workshop for my critiquing fix.  So the plan is for me to work on the current novel projects this year and come next year apply to a couple of other MFA programs.  I’m thinking Stone Coast and Seton Hill, since they offer Popular Fiction tracks.

In the good news from all this, however, a girl in my workshop who writes pretty delightful regency romance has agreed to do chapter exchanges with me.  So I’ll be emailing her chapters of Chwedl and she’ll give me chapters of her current novel project.  Editing novels is tough partially because they’re so damn long that getting people to read all of it takes some doing.  It’s been my experience so far with the OWW that novel chapters don’t get as many critiques as short stories, plus there’s often no one to look for continuity errors or flow since people might only read a few chapters and not the whole book.  I’m thrilled that this girl and I will be exchanging chapters.  We’ll both get eyes on the whole of our novels.  Not to mention that I’ve read the first couple chapters of her novel and am totally hooked.  Hopefully she’ll feel the same about mine once she sees the first chapters (she’s pretty brave to want to exchange without seeing the novel first, but she has seen two short stories of mine, so I guess that’s something).

I aim to have Chwedl finished by the beginning of July with an edited version ready by the end of August.  At that point I plan to write up a query letter and start the fun and exciting agent hunting part of the writing life.  I have a short list of agents I want to query and it’s my hope that I’ll maybe get to meet and chat with a few at Worldcon, though I intend to keep that informal.  It would be nice to talk to some of the agents I’m considering, however, so I can get a feel for it this project is right for them.  And of course, I have to find a real title for the book since “Welsh word no one can pronounce” probably isn’t going to fly.

Hmm… “Aine and the Hounds”? Nah. “The Hounds of Clun Cadair”? Too Holmes-ripoff.  Grr. I’m not good with titles.  If only I could bribe Elizabeth Bear into thinking up titles for me, hers always rock.

Another Tiny Update

Rejection number 10 (form letter) came in yesterday.  Time to send that story out somewhere else.

On the “dancing, not quite from rooftops” level of awesome, I queried about another story that had been in the ether fora  couple months and found that they’re holding it for consideration/second opinions.  I’m going to interpret this is a win, even if they don’t take the story.  It means I’m getting past the first glance, which is a mark of improvement.  Go me.

I have an edit of that story also, so I responded thanking them for letting me know where I stood and offered up the edit if they’d like to see it.  I like both versions (one is cleaner since more eyes went over it) but who knows what they’ll want? Anyway, I’m psyched that I’m at least being considered.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the novella which will never sell.  Seriously, who buys fantasy novellas?  I’m going to try to keep it under 17k words so I can at least enter it in the ‘Writers of the Future’ contest.  I just finished Ken Rand’s (may he RIP) “Ten Percent Solution” and intend to put his ideas into practice to reduce the draft of the novella to as short as I can get it without hurting the story.

Then I need to type up Sparks and finish it.  I know where the story is going now, and the logistics of the fort.  All that I need to do is add some kick ass fighting and I’ll have story.  I really like the concept, but I’m not too sure I can write good fights.  I think I’ll enlist my husband to help me keep things realistic while still awesome.  There’s always a balance in fight scenes between cinematic kick-ass and “he did what with that sword?”

After Sparks and A Prince Called Courage are finished, I swear I’m going back to Chwedl.  I haven’t added a single new word to the novel in months (though I did do a bit of editing of the first 60k words).  Time to finish that baby so I can move on to finishing my Albetross (ie Casimir Hypogean).

All right.  Back to work on Novella that Won’t Sell.

In Life, There is no Partial Credit

I *almost* sold a story.  Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a nice balance between rejections with comments and form letters.

On the one hand, I’m glad to know what kept the mag from buying my story.  On the other hand, it’s tough to know that one small thing (ok, a central premise of the tale which I’m not sure will ever be to that reader’s taste…) kept my story from selling.

With a little help from my friends, however, I should be able to edit and clear that up at least a bit (already started on that part, so we’ll see).

But darnit. Almost. There.

Edit to add:  I wrote and asked if they’d look at a rewrite, and they will!  So there might be hope yet.  Go go go little story.

Meanwhile, back to edits on things and stuff.  And maybe some fricken writing.  I really want to be done with this novel draft already.

But first, back to ‘research’.  Also known as reading 17 Drizzt books.  Every one of those books made the NY best seller’s list, so I’m picking them apart to see what worked.  (Or you know, devouring the silly DnD heroics like candy, which is almost the same thing).

I think my stories need more kick-ass heroes.

So, To Sum Up My Rejection Woe

Clarion West: Rejected.

Space Bones: Rejected (by CW and the place it was out for submission)

Total rejections counting CW now: 5  (four form letter, 1 personal)

It’s almost enough to make a girl start drinking again.

On the plus side, I’ve come up with a cool story to write this week and solved a problem that I was having when thinking about the world of my Giant Novel of Doom that I’m still a decade away from writing.  So at least my stupid brain goes on despite my heart trying to tell it I have no chance and will never ever amount to anything.

495 rejections left.

Tired of Editing

I think the subject says it all.   I’m sick of editing things.  I haven’t actually written anything wholly new for a few weeks now, though I think being sick/in hospital combined with trying to keep up with submissions and school work is partially a good excuse.

Edited Delilah today, so whenever it gets rejected I’ll at least have a new better faster stronger draft to send out.  I actually kind of hope it does get rejected, because I like this version better.  I figure best case senario though, they buy the story and I can offer them this draft as a “hey! this is like totally way better, want this version?”  since the draft isn’t that different from the original.  I removed a couple scenes and added a couple, so the length is about the same and I think the character development/motivation is hopefully more clear now as well.

I really should edit Blade Bearer, but I think I’ll wait on that until the peeps at NorWesCon tear into it.   I’m being workshopped by such awesome pros as Cat Rambo, Lizzy Shannon, Brenda Cooper, and Jeff Carlson.  It’s pretty darn cool they’re giving time out to do critiques, as much as I’m super nervous that I’ll get the nice version of “don’t quit your day job” (and then have to explain I already quit my day job…).

This week though I think I’ll start writing again, new stuff.  I’d like to have a rough draft of Chwedl by April.  Spring break is coming up (I think I’m done with class in about a week from Wed) and that should give me plenty of time to finish up whatever I don’t get to in the next two weeks.  15k words a week should do it.  I’m not sure how Aine is going to solve the problem in front of her, but I’m sure something will come out while I’m writing (and if my solution sucks, it would be a fairly easy rewrite given the structure).

They’ve started calling people about Clarion West.  No word yet either way for me.  I’m trying to just keep my head down and work and not stress over whether or not I got in, but damn it’s hard.  I really like the story I submitted, but I can see where it might get a mixed reception, so we’ll see.  Hopefully they’ll think I have promise and give me a shot.  I think it would be an amazing experience, at the least, and a step I’m ready for.  I’m keeping my game face (mostly) on and thinking “next year!” if I don’t make it this one.  But I really want to make it this year.  The line up this year looks amazing. (Ok, it pretty much always does every year, but still…)

No word on Space Bones or Delilah either.  I hate wait.

The Deep End

I jumped with both feet, so to speak.

Space Bones has been submitted to a pro market,  Rusalka (poem) as well.

Now, I wait.

Oh, right, I hate wait.

Meanwhile, time to see what my workshop class thinks of the first three chapters of Casimir Hypogean.

Let Me Explain

No wait, there is too much.  Let me sum up…

So far my workshop class this term is going far better though I’ve discovered sort of alarmingly that I really don’t like workshopping other people’s work (selfish as that sounds).  It often devolves to arguing semantics, which is fun for a while, but week after week?  Also, there was one story turned in by a published author that I didn’t actually do a critique response on because I found the writing and story impossibly boring.  Not bad, just completely uninteresting in pretty much all ways.  I couldn’t think of a nice way to say this, so I didn’t say anything.

And I just finished up my Clarion West application and sent it in.  I formatted the two stories I wanted to send and realized that in the different font they were pages longer than they had been.  So I had to choose between the two.  I finally settled on Space Bones since I think the character interaction and dialogue is probably sharper than in Delilah.  Also, the plot is more ambiguous and less biblically inevitable (as one friend put it).  So there’s that.  This is going to be the longest month ever, isn’t it?  I’m not sure I dig the whole submitting thing.

So, to sum up:

I hate wait.  Also, Nobu, finish the damn novel.

That’s all.

New Year: Writing Resolutions

It is technically the start of year 2 in the 10 year 10 novel plan.

I won’t say I’ve failed so far. While 2008 didn’t entirely go as planned, I did manage to get more writing done than ever before in my life. On various projects I’ve written over 150k words this year counting editing and rewrites. I hope to double that this year.

2009 will hopefully look like this:

I’ve submitted the first three chapters of Casimir Hypogean and Bladebearer to the writing workshop at Norwescon. This will be my first non college work-shopping experience.

I’ve edited and polished my two submissions for Clarion West and have only to format and send them in. If I get in, awesome. If not, at least I tried.

I’m going to finish the rough draft of Chwedl, edit it, and prepare a synopsis and query for it. This will officially be my first of the 10. Actually selling the novel or getting an agent is out of my hands, but my goal is to begin the process and not give up until I get there (which might take years, I accept that).

I’m going to finish Casimir Hypogean this year, at least the rough draft.

I’m going to write 5 more short stories.

I’m going to find homes for the 6 short stories I already have that I think are marketable.

I’m going to finish and polish A Prince Called Courage and set the novella aside until I can find a market for it.

These are my goals for 2009. Perhaps ambitious, but I don’t feel they are unreasonable.

Happy New Year!

First Term and Future Plans

Heh, wordpress looks strange again. Grr.

Anyway, I survived first term of graduate school.  It was underwhelming.  Hopefully next term will go better.

I’ve decided to attend a couple of cons (specifically geared towards spec fic/writing/etc…).  The deadline for the workshops for the first con I’m going to is the 14th of this month, so I’d better get my ass in gear.  I think I’ll send them Bladebearer because it’s a complex little story and has some weird problems I could use perspective on.  You can send two pieces, so I’m tempted to send in the first 3 chapters of Casimir Hypogean.  I still hate that novel, but maybe feedback on it would somehow make the path clearer.  Or at least give me a few better ideas of what is going so wrong with the whole thing.  I’d have to write up a synopsis, however, which could prove problematic since I’ve never written one.  It’d be a learning experience.  Well, we’ll see how far I get this week.  Otherwise I’ll send Monsters as my second piece.

The second con is World Con, which is in Montreal this year.  I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal, and I think Chwedl will be in at least polished draft form by then and (cross fingers?) ready for agent hunting, so it’ll give me something to really peddle around at the con.  Plus the panels should be informative and I’ll get to vote for the Hugo winners.  Which means my summer will be full of reading the nominated books, never a bad thing.

I’m also, this month, polishing Space Bones and Delilah for my application to Clarion West.  I’m terrified I won’t get in and I’m terrified I will.  It’s like a perfect lose lose situation.  But really, I want to go.  I think it would be fantastic and horrifying and awesome all at once.  Besides, then I could stalk EBear in person (note, this is a joke, unless you consider reading someone’s lj stalking…).  I’m just jealous that she has a cat. Seriously.  Stupid renting with no pets rule.    Moving on…  I think that the two aforementioned stories have the best shot of showing how I write.  They’re  also now the most polished of my spec lit pieces and Delilah is still one of my favorite things I’ve written ever.  It might be a risk considering the very Christian overtones and the linear inevitability of the plot, but I hope that the characters and stylistic tones will override that and punish the reader with its awesomeness.  Seriously, I like that story.  And Space Bones has grown on me.  I wrote it mostly for the title at first, but after about four drafts I finally feel a connection to what is going on in the story and to the characters.  Hopefully this will all translate into the Clarion peeps thinking I’m whatever they’re looking for.

By the end of December I hope to have the draft of Chwedl complete.  Then comes the editing and pain, but I already see things I can do to help it along.  This novel, to repeat myself, is nothing like Casimir Hypogean.  It’s such a breeze to write and the language flows nicely instead of feeling forced and choppy as all hell.  I wonder if I haven’t written the world of Casimir Hypogean too bleak, its characters too unsympathetic.  After all, why should a reader care about chars who hardly care about themselves?  It’s a strange dilemna.  More reason probably for why I should edit up those first 3 chapters of the rewrite and send them off for critique.  Maybe the novel is dead and I’m still pining for a ghost of a thing that shouldn’t be.  It’s hard to tell such from my close perspective.

NaNo Update Week 1

I’ve written just over 19,000 words and have six chapters done.

This novel, for whatever reason, is proving hella easy to write.  The characters are talking to me, the setting is coming together, the plot is all there.

I think this is due in part because compared to the setting and many-layered plot of Casimir Hypogean, Chwedl is a simple creature when it comes down to it.  Instead of having to bring together a city-wide conspiracy and a hodgepodge group of misfits and criminals in a quasi-scientific setting that also has some magic with very subtle rules, I only have three main protagonists and bringing them together and figuring out the motivations is blissfully simple.  There is no villain to build up and motivate, no betrayals to figure out how to realistically manufacture, no complex setting built from whole cloth.

Chwedl starts at point A and goes to point B.  The villain, such as she is, isn’t really evil or much of a villain.  She’s selfish, sure, and just kind of cruel in a way that is Other.  The struggles are mostly between personalities.  No gunfights, no highrise escapes, no twisted sex or weird drug addiction.  Just good old Welsh-esque fairytale fun.  (Okay, it is one of my stories, so there is of course blood, death, and some very implied sex).  I don’t think anyone gets murdered in this story, however.  That’s probably a first for me.

I’ve already added to and moved away from my original outline.  I see outlines as being much like the Pirate Code.  They’re more like guidelines really, not set in stone “this is how the story will unfold no matter what damnit” sort of things.  I add and destroy and fix as needed, though I try to keep some version of an outline current so that if I have the rare brilliant idea about where the later story bits are going I can refer to it later.

Stay tuned for week 2 in which I’ll probably ramble about the challenges of the great swampy middle and writing a plausible romantic thread into a story.