Sunday, August 31, 2008
But considering that I wrote almost 11,000 words yesterday and almost 12,000 words today, and my previous best was 10,000 words in one day and that was way back in around 2003, I'd say I've done pretty darn good.
Besides, the story holds up well. I don't think there are any big holes, although I already know a few things I need to go back in and change. That's okay, because I have one whole day left to edit and add stuff!
And I got a request for a full this afternoon from an agent, one I'd really love to have. So it's been a pretty good weekend all in all. Now I get to go to bed and watch TV without guilt. Because I have finished my 3-day novel in two days.
I'm about to start chapter 7, and I'm 18,500 words in. I've deviated so much from my outline today that it's going to be useless pretty soon. I expected that; I just hope what I've written in place of the outlined plot will actually work.
I can actually see the light here. I basically just have the big climax and the short denoument to write and it'll be done. Go me!
On Thursday I bought a big new bag of cat food (to the tune of twenty bucks) because the cats were almost out of food. I got Nutro Max Cat as usual, indoor formula, chicken flavored. They had the fish flavored last time, so I thought I'd mix it up a little. They like that.
They ran out Friday night so I started using the new food yesterday morning. Last night Vincent kept acting like he was staaaaarving. And both the cats tried to sneak some of the dog's food from his bowl; Vincent always does, but Angel only tries dog food when I bring home a brand new bag, because I guess she wants to make sure it's okay, or that I'm not slipping Jasper the good stuff. Then this morning I went to refill the cats' bowl and they hadn't touched the food from yesterday.
So I drove out to Walmart and bought them some Purina One junk food. They're in there eating like starving refugees right now. I don't know what's wrong with the old food--it looks okay, no mealworms or anything. I even looked online to see if there's a recall out. So then I did something I hadn't done since I was a kid: I ate cat food.
First a piece of the old cat food, and I must say it was nasty. It had a really strange aftertaste. Then I had a piece of the new cat food, and it was okay. I wouldn't want to have to eat it every day, but it wasn't revolting. It just tasted like cat food, and believe me when I say I have eaten a lot of pet food--I used to really like Meow Mix when I was a kid. Yeah. Anyway, for a complete test I also tried a piece of dog food, Nutro Max High Energy Formula because poor old Jasper is so skinny these days--he's almost twelve years old, a Newfoundland dog. The dog food was the best, with a pleasant aftertaste and toothsome texture. If I had to eat pet food for the rest of my life, I'd choose that. Or Meow Mix.
Anyway, if anyone else has had problems with Nutro Max Cat chicken flavor bought recently, let me know. I hate to throw it out, but obviously there's something wrong with it. My cats aren't picky eaters.
Oh, and I'm 13,500 words in and am about to start on chapter 5!
Now I'm up and ready to start chapter 4. There are ten chapters in my outline, so I'm only about 1/3 of the way through (the last chapter will be very short, so I'm not worried too much about it). Today's my big push day. I want to write at least 15k today and get as far as I can. If I can finish today, or mostly finish, that would be awesome. Tomorrow I want to keep open for some editing if I can manage it--plus I'd kind of like to relax before I have to go back to work.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I had crab rangoons for supper. I thought they were microwavable, but it turns out I had to use the oven to cook them. My oven is awful, awfulawfulawful. It's like trying to cook in a volcano. The directions said to cook the rangoons at 400 for 10 minutes. I set the oven to just under 350 and cooked them for five minutes, and they still burned a little. They were okay--not as good as the ones at Harvest Moon, my favorite cheap Chinese food place. Unfortunately, I also burned myself--just slightly--on the oven door. I have a nearly limitless capacity to hurt myself in baffling ways.
I need to take a break, but I want to finish chapter 3 first. But there's still a lot of stuff to put into this chapter--the meal with Dominick, Dominick's attempt to kiss poor messed-up Hilda, the payment of the entry fee so Justice can enter the tournament, and finally a minor info-dump about Justice's past. I'd better get to it.
I'm going to eat some yogurt, then jump right back in. When I finish chapter two I'll take a break.
I've written chapter one and the first part of chapter two. I've been at it two hours and I've only written 2,300 words! I have to throw some clothes on and go to work now, and frankly I'm glad.
This is going to be a rougher weekend than I expected.
Friday, August 29, 2008
I need more books, obviously. Poster above the small shelf is of Duo from Gundam Wing, incidentally. Poster almost hidden by the chair is Gorillaz. Poster mostly hidden by curtains is Kung Fu Panda.
The picture of Vincent investigating my outline follows in a few minutes, and then I absolutely have to get to bed!
I will be checking in occasionally throughout the weekend to post, and probably vent incoherently. The house is spotless. If my landlady walked in right now, she'd burst into tears of joy at having found The Perfect Tenant. (Except that one of the cats would probably barf on the carpet then.) I have nothing to distract me from my task. I even put flystrips on the kitchen and study windows to trap those damned gnats!
Speaking of the study, Mom took a picture of my new bookshelves. As soon as she emails them to me, I'll post them. She took a picture of my outline, too, with Vincent the cat investigating it. I hope that one came out.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Anyway, if Cinema Spec doesn't want it, it's perfect for Every Day Fiction and I haven't sent them anything in a while.
I'm gearing up for this weekend. I've cleaned the kitchen, bought groceries, and I even remembered to get a menu from the only pizza place that delivers to my tiny town. They sell spinach pizza! I even got cash to pay the delivery guy. At the moment I'm working on killing the gnats which have infested my house in the last month or so. I really hate them. I got one in my ear a few weeks ago, which was disgusting, but no more disgusting than the most effective way of killing them, which is smacking them with my bare hands.
Incidentally, if an editor really wants stories under 1,000 words, she needs to put that in her guidelines instead of changing the pay rate for stories 1-2,000 words long and thinking that'll keep people from sending her stories 2,000 words long. Witness the guidelines for Cinema Spec here, and the editor's blog about story lengths here.
At least now I can put all the fun character bits back in to the story that I had to take out to get it under 2,000 words. I am not a 2,000-word-and-under story writer anyway. Only one of my published stories (not counting flash, which is a different animal) is under 2,000 words, and it just barely. By the time I'm done with the rewrite, this story will probably be around 3,000 words and it'll be something I can be proud of.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I did intend to write a flash story or two this week to keep my hand in before the contest, but I can't think of anything. So I'm just going to hope that I'm so ridiculously competitive--which I am--that I will write and write and write this weekend even if every word has to be forced out of my brain. My outline is covered with scribbled notes. I feel like I've mentally written this novel already.
Tonight's vegetable: green beans.
*Yes, the same Sawmill Road of the story, which had only a gloss of fictionalization applied.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I totally 100% did not expect this. I've only sent them a few stories before, but none of them has even passed the first round of readings. My story will appear in issue #40, thus fulfilling one of my unwritten new year's resolutions--get a story into an issue (of any magazine) in the double-digits.
Oh, and I'd link to ASIM but their site seems to be down right now.
Monday, August 25, 2008
There are twelve chapters, one paragraph per. I gave each chapter its own page and printed it off, and now I'm going to go over it and make notes. I keep thinking up details I want to add. I wonder if I'm the first person to enter who is not just writing a book, but who has built an entire new fantasy world solely for the book. I started pretty much from scratch at the beginning of August and the world feels pretty rich to me, and it's different from anything I've tried before. Even if the book turns out terrible, at least I've got a new world to play in.
I guess this time next week I'll be desperately trying to finish up so I can get a decent night's sleep. I just hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew.
Speaking of which, tonight's vegetable: okra.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Anyway, from now until next Saturday morning, I'm in training for the 3-day novel contest. I will go to bed at 9:30 sharp, get up at six, and eat a green vegetable every night along with supper. No caffeine except maybe tea in the mornings. My house is clean, I changed the sheets on the bed and washed my favorite nightgown, and in a few minutes I'm going to put the finishing touches on my outline.
I am serene. I am ready. I am not wondering why the fark I paid to write a novel in three days.
Oh my gawd. All that from a haircut.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I desperately need bookshelves. At the moment, I only have a stepback that isn't particularly large and a small, ugly set of shelves that leans forward a little, so that I expect it to dump all my Terry Pratchett books on the floor one of these days.
I'm deleriously happy to be getting bookshelves, and Mom's happy because she gets to come over to my house this weekend and help me rearrange my study, one of her greatest joys in life. I may have to move some of my animation posters, but it'll be worth it not to have books stacked all over the place. Maybe I'll borrow Mom's camera and post a picture when the study's all fixed up!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I just got a very nice email from the editor who requested the full. She explained about the imprint closing. And she said she had been planning to make an offer on my book.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I just finished House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones. I've been meaning to get a copy for weeks and finally did. It's a fun and often funny sequel to Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air, although I do admit that of the three, I think this one's the least good. Still marvelously entertaining, of course, but not as dense and layered as the others. It's also not as long--it looks long on the shelf, it being a thick hardback, but the print is big, the margins are huge, and there's lots of space between lines. It's not a long book.
Charmain Baker is the main character of House of Many Ways. She's been brought up to be proper, although she doesn't much care for being proper. She just likes to read. And it turns out, when she's told she must take care of her great-uncle's house while he's away, she doesn't know how to do anything much except read. She doesn't know the first thing about taking care of the house, particularly this house, which is magical. Then her great-uncle's new apprentice shows up unexpectedly.
I won't tell any more of the plot because even saying what Charmain does after that would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that Jones is much more inventive than most other writers.
I went out for a walk with my MP3 player afterwards, and when I got home all sweaty, I kept the earbuds in while I cleaned dog poop out of the yard and took out the trash. Raccoons or something had gotten into the trash, so I even brought out a big clean bag and managed to cram all the trash into it. Unfortunately, when I pushed the garbage down to get it all in, something stuck out and sliced the back of my fourth finger across the first joint. It didn't hurt that much, but by the time I got the trashcan lid jammed on and clamped down, I was bleeding all over the place.
So I went back inside and washed the cut out carefully and dried it, and dripped blood all over the bathroom, and held a Kleenex over it until it mostly stopped bleeding, and slathered it with antibiotic cream and stuck a Bandaid over it, and then got an ice pack from the freezer because I figured that might help. All while Norah Jones and then Flogging Molly played.
I can still type, obviously. That had me worried. I guess that'll teach me to leave the lid askew on the garbage can.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
But that's not the uh-oh part, although I shouldn't be buying MP3 players on my budget. The uh-oh part comes after I charged up my Sansa, loaded it with tons of music, and went on a long and enjoyable walk around town. While I walked, I came up with a new idea for the Cinema Spec anthology--because they've rejected both my submissions, dammit--and it seems like a pretty good little story. By the time I got home, I had the whole thing worked out and sat down to write for a while before bed.
And, uh oh. Because writing the first few hundred words was like chipping gravel off a block of concrete with my fingernails. Two weeks from now I have to slam out a whole novel (or at least novella) in three days. I can't lose my flow now.
I'm worried that taking August off from writing was a bad, bad, bad idea. The only solution is to jump back in and write for the next two weeks and hope that limbers me up. But I can't write anything in-depth that might grab my imagination right before I have to focus utterly on Hilda and Justice. I predict I'll be writing a lot of flash stories in the next two weeks.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Last weekend I went with my mom to the airport to wait for my brother (hi Richard!), and I took my notebook. While I talked to Mom, I designed various types of markings for the dragons. Then I gave my notebook to my mom while I ran to the bathroom, and when I got back--well, my mom had designed another creature. Hell, I might put him into the book.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I like those Space Squid guys.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Even if you're not interested in the article, scroll down to the bottom of it where there's a little sidebar thingie comparing Neanderthal Man and Modern Man characteristics. Even if we did live in a Geico commercial, where the possibility would exist of the article being written by a Neanderthal, that sidebar would be a total clue-in that a Modern Man [sic? I mean, we've got Modern Women too] wrote it. Compare the adjectives associated with Neanderthals (heavy, strong, thick-set) with those associated with Moderns (graceful, softer, gracile). I think it was the phrase "graceful chin and jaw" that annoyed me. That is so totally subjective. Species-centric much?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This weekend I'm going to outline my 3-day novel contest book, tentatively (sigh) titled Hilda and Justice. Because I am terrible with titles, that's why. Anyway, I know pretty much what's going to happen in the book; it's the characters and details that I will have fun with. The plot isn't scintillating, although I did manage to answer all the whys; since three days is too little time to focus on beautiful writing, the characters and details are going to have to knock the judges' socks off. I want them not just sockless, but heck, pantsless too.
Hehehe. I said pantsless.
Monday, August 11, 2008
So I went for a walk and thought and thought and thought, and when I came home I made popcorn and cut the entire climax of the story and rewrote it from scratch. On balance, I added almost a thousand words. The story is much, much better now. Even if I don't sell it to this market, I'll sell it.
Tomorrow night, after letting it rest for a day so I can go over it one more time with fresh eyes, I'll send it back. I do not like letting rewrite requests sit around weighing me down.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I guess I could start querying smaller publishers, but--let's face it--they all suck. If they didn't suck, they'd be big publishers. I might be generalizing just a little bit here.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
It's a fascinating book, and it's a fast read. I'm not sure which book I'll move on to next, but I'm glad I chose this one today.
My plotting/characterizing/worldbuilding is going well. By next weekend I may be to the point where I can start a real outline. Just three weeks left until the contest starts!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Anyway, I think I'll read River Rats next, by Caroline Stevermer. I've been meaning to read it for about a year, even though post-apocalyptic YA isn't my cup of tea either. But I do like Stevermer's other books.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I'm reading Dead to Me by Anton Strout first. It's an urban fantasy about a psychometric paranormal investigator in Manhattan. I got it because of the psychometry angle. Good hook, and I've always been interested in psychometry. Unfortunately, the book is short on psychometry readings except for boring stuff; instead, it seems to follow lock-step in the Dresden Files mold. That's fine if you happen to like the Dresden Files books. I read the first three and found them competent but not terribly interesting, and was actively put off by the clumsy characterization and transparent plotting. Same with Dead to Me, although I am enjoying it enough to keep reading it. It's just not my thing, I guess.
Next up will probably be Dog Days by John Levitt, but I may not be up to another urban fantasy so soon after this one. We'll see.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Why why why whywhywhy? Why does Hilda want terrible revenge against the guy I haven't invented yet? Why is Justice living on the outskirts of the drake colony after being brought all the way to the city at great expense? Why can't I dredge up anything except the most banal of plot points?
Ice cream might help. Ice cream, or a really long walk around town so I can think. And then ice cream.
Monday, August 4, 2008
So that's out of the way. I'm finishing stuff up to get ready for the 3-day novel contest, incidentally. That's part of the reason why I cleaned the house this weekend. Of course, I've still got four weeks before the contest starts. Mom thinks I should enter, and I do have a kickass idea for the book. I'm allowing myself to spend August plotting and worldbuilding (and cleaning house), so I'll be rested and ready when August 30 comes.
I think I'll have a bowl of ice cream and curl up with a notebook to jot down notes. Or--even more fun--I'll browse through The Baby Name Wizard (my favorite name book evar) and name my main characters.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
It just goes to show that reading nonfiction is at least as important as reading fiction for generating story ideas. Within pages of starting this book, I realized I had the perfect plot for my NaNoWriMo book. Sorry, Charmed Circle, you've been pushed back yet again.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I also cleaned my entire house today, top to bottom. My mom came over to help. She said my house is so small she felt like she was playing with a dollhouse. After all the upheaval of vacuuming and moving furniture around and so forth, the dog is asleep, one of the cats is drowsing in a window, and the other cat is drugged out on the new cardboard scratcher thingie that I put way too much catnip in. I think I'll take a quick shower, change into clean pajamas, and spend the evening reading and eating ice cream.
Oh, and Mom also bought me some tennis shoes. They're black and make me run really fast!
Friday, August 1, 2008
Never mind that the rant hasn't changed in decades, no matter who's ranting, and never mind that anything I say about publishing is sour-grapes flavored since I'm just a tadpole in the publishing pond (how's that for a mixed metaphor?). I can't stop myself, so here it is.
A prospective author used to have to rely on Writer's Market and word of mouth to find out where to send manuscripts, which had to be mailed through the actual mail. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't cheap. These days, anyone with a minimum of Google-fu can find up-to-date information about markets, which increasingly accept electronic subs. Click click boom, the manuscript is in the slush pile, along with thousands and thousands of other people's manuscripts.
At the same time, and probably as a result, fewer publishers accept unsolicited subs. The smaller publishers have either been eaten by bigger ones or gone out of business. The big publishers only release so many books a year. Look closely at the books in your local bookstore next time you're there, and in the SF/F section at least, you'll see the same half-dozen or so logos on almost all the books.
And the economy is not just in the toilet, it's been flushed into a decaying and overfilled septic tank. People don't have extra money to buy a lot of books, even people who love to read.
And even people who love to read spend a lot of their free time on the internet, or playing video games, or watching movies or TV, or downloading music (I know I can happily while away weeks doing nothing but mixing CDs), or, um, blogging. Know how much time I spent reading books today? About five minutes. I used to read a book a day when I was in high school. Yes, okay, I read during class, which is why I don't know any algebra and didn't learn how to study until I was a sophomore in college, but that's not the point. If I'd had the distractions in high school that are available to people now, I would have been texting friends during class, not reading. And my thumbs would be as big as Volkswagens.
Now head back to the SF/F shelves of your local bookstore, this time with a measuring tape, and take a look at the length of those books. I just checked DAW's guidelines, and they don't generally consider manuscripts under 80k words. Baen likes books at least 100k words long. When's the last time you picked up a slim volume that wasn't a reprint of something published a few decades ago? No, the emphasis is on brick-thick paperbacks. They're expensive to print and ship, which means a higher cover price, and they require a lot of dedicated time from readers.
To sum up:
1. More people sending submissions to fewer publishers.
2. Fewer people buying books.
3. Even avid readers spending less time reading.
4. Publishers publishing great big long books that no one can afford and no one has time to read anyway.
4. Kate hasn't had any stories accepted since May, and she seems bitter about it.
5. Also Kate doesn't actually text people, she just wanted to get the thumb joke in.
6. It wasn't very funny, was it?
7. In the time it took you to skim this post, you could have read several pages of a worthy novel.
This sucks on any number of levels, and not just for me and other agentless authors who had a shot at making it in on the ground level of a new large publisher. It sucks in a big way for the authors signed by Discoveries--including J.M. McDermott, whose book Last Dragon came out this spring--and especially for authors who were signed but haven't had their books released yet. I hope they all got at least part of their advances.
The most monumentally crappy thing about this is that Discoveries was doing really well. Its first releases got great reviews and deserved them. But from what I hear, Hasbro--which owns WOTC--wants to focus marketing on their new edition of D&D, and apparently they only have about fifty bucks allocated to marketing and just can't do two things at once. It probably cost more to start and shut down Discoveries than they will save in the next ten years by not having the imprint.
Now where am I gonna send Evil Outfitters, dammit?