Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last post for 2008!

Happy new year, everybody! I got a haircut today, which is about all the celebrating I can stand.

Also I built a fire in the fireplace and sat by it and spun up the last of some ugly teal wool I've been putting off finishing since, like, May, and plied it too, and watched Kung Fu Panda (again--it's my favorite movie of 2008) with my mom. And ate pizza and popcorn. Also we made smores, since where there's fire, there should be smores. I'm going on a diet starting in about 50 minutes, so no smores in 2009.

I didn't get any writing done today, but my newest nightgown, which is currently my favorite, smells faintly of woodsmoke. It's a tradeoff.

I hope everyone has a fantastic 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

EDF 2008 anthology is awesome!

I got my copy of the Every Day Fiction 2008 anthology today, and it's very, very nice. You can order it here. I have two stories in it, but there are 98 stories by other authors in it too. I sat down to browse through it this morning, and the next thing I knew I'd read half of it. There are some stories that I loved that didn't make it in, but considering that EDF published 365 stories during their first year and could only fit 100 into the anthology, it's natural that not all of my favorites would make the cut.

I've bogged down on writing and started revising--Stag in Velvet currently; I've managed to hack more than 10k words out of it so far. Since my writing goes in rough cycles of write-revise-rest, I'm not surprised I've stopped work on Blood and Taxes. I may take part of tomorrow to work out an outline for it, though. That way when I come back to finish it, I can finish it quickly.

If I mention undead sharks one more time, I bet I can get to #1 on the Google search.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

bad dreams

I got my first response from an editor in about a million years, and it was an acceptance! That's a nice change. My story "Shortcut, with Traps" will appear in Beyond Centauri next summer.

That story was inspired by a dream, and I am very leery now of dream-inspired stories. "Never Be Alone" was inspired by a dream too, and I can't give that damn thing away (never mind that it's 13,000 words long). But "Shortcut, with Traps" is less than a thousand words long, a humorous fantasy story with fun science fictiony elements, so it doesn't make any sense that I'd have spent so much effort on it. It was the last story I had critiqued at my old writer's group, Pittsburgh Worldwrights, and I must have done half a dozen intense revisions since then. I'm glad it's found a home so I don't have to fool with it anymore.

I'm not sure why, but this afternoon I opened Stag in Velvet and just started cutting. I've cut more than 6,000 words already and moved some stuff around, and tomorrow I'll cut even more drastically. It feels good.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Books and shoes

I googled "undead sharks" a minute ago, and my blog comes up second. Just sayin'.

Mom and I went shopping today and bought nothing but books and shoes. Life is good. We visited four bookstores (a used bookstore, an indie bookstore, a remainders-only bookstore, and B&N), had lunch at Olive Garden, then hit the mall to buy shoes. I bought four books and a magazine (Discover), plus a pair of really cute gray suede flats for work, and only spent a little over thirty bucks.

And this evening after we got home, we went to my aunt's house for dinner, and I managed to find a few minutes to ask Mom some plot advice about Blood and Taxes. I had plotted myself into a corner--that's the problem with working without an outline--but she helped me figure some details out. Then we all played what my family calls the game, a fiendish card game with the real name of Manipulation which we've been playing for at least twenty years, and on the last round I was dealt three jokers and went out on my second turn, catching everyone else out. Since that'll never happen again, I thought I'd immortalize it on the internets by blogging about it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Vampires and Sharks

I just finished reading Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. It was okay. It's a nice change to read an urban fantasy that doesn't have a main character who owns lots of guns or can beat up bad guys with her bare hands, but I still found Sookie an annoying character to have to relate to. The characterization was good, but dammit, woman, quit being so damn needy.

It didn't help that the vampires in the book--like the vampires in practically every urban fantasy I've ever read--are ferociously strong, nigh-invulnerable, cold-blooded killers who are unaccountably fascinated by the main character. In fact, that may be the core of every vampire story ever, which makes me think that as a whole, women who like vampire fiction--and yes, that includes me--are pretty fucked up, actually; but that's a topic for someone else to tackle.

My problem with ferociously strong, nigh-invulnerable, cold-blooded killer vampires is that they naturally become the driving force of the story. The main character is left to react to the vampires' actions until the very end, when she exploits The Weakness she has discovered over the course of the story to destroy the bad vampire. (Dead Until Dark didn't actually do any vampire-destroying, but I bet it happens in the sequel, which I am not going to read.)

Making your main character react instead of act is a bad thing. Making your vampires so strong that the main character has no chance of acting against them without Special Knowledge or help from another vampire is even worse. And funnily enough, while I can accept, in any given fantasy world, that vampires can exist, I cannot accept that vampires can exist without humans having evolved a way to destroy them that doesn't involve learning a Closely Guarded Secret and heading out at dawn with a stake. Because when a shark evolves a new way to swim faster, all the slow fish die and the fast fish survive and reproduce, and then the shark's speed is no longer that much of an issue anymore. That applies to undead sharks too.

I hope you all had a great Christmas or whatever you celebrate!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The uses of boredom

When I'm writing or revising, I try and pay attention to the shape of the story--the plot and characterization arcs, the pacing, how the subplots feed in to the main plot, and all the myriad other details that make up the whole. When I finish a project, I let it rest overnight and then read the whole thing in one sitting if I can. That gives me a good idea of the shape of the book and tells me where I need to make immediate fixes. Then, once I've done the initial revisions to take the book from a rough draft to a first draft, I set it aside for at least a few months.

During those months, without really consciously thinking about it, I get a real sense of the story. And when I come back to it, I already have a good sense of where I need to rewrite to pick up the action or the pacing, what I need to cut or add. But first, I reread the whole thing. Then I make the changes. If I make drastic changes, I'll reread it again afterwards to make sure I haven't wrecked the flow or left out details. Then I'll set it aside for a while longer and see if it still seems okay when I reread it again.

I read my own stuff countless times. The more problems a book has, the more I read it, work on it, read it again. The best thing about so many rereadings is that after a while, I notice myself skimming some parts as boring. And then, those parts must go. Boring to me = boring x 1 billion to readers, who don't have all the energy invested into the book that I do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

How did I do in 2008? How will I do in 2009?

Because I am bored. Let's look at 2008! Here were my writing resolutions for the year:

Sell a novel or novella
Make my first pro sale
Make at least four other sales
Write two novellas and a novel
Write at least four short stories
Finish revisions for Stag in Balance and Jack of All Trades
Finish writing Stag in Velvet

I actually did really well. Not counting Trunk Novels, I did actually sell a novel in 2008. It's not a big huge deal, but I am getting cash money for it plus royalties and it will be available as an ebook or POD print book. That's Jack of All Trades that I sold to Cyberwizard Productions sort of by accident (long story) and I'm going ahead and announcing now because I'm tired of waiting.

I also made my first pro sale this year, "Sand-Skin Man" to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which will be released on January 1, 2009! I continue to be impressed with BCS's quality.

I sold more than four stories this year (just barely), most of them early in the year: the BCS sale, a story to Fictitious Force (which then promptly went on indefinite hiatus), a flash story to ASIM, a flash story to Space Squid, and the recently released "Gaming Real Life" to MindFlights.

I wrote only one novella this year, Hilda and Justice, which was for the 3-day novel contest. I wrote only one novel, The Taste of Magic. But I did a lot of rewriting in the middle of the year, so I'm not counting that lack of a novella against me.

I wrote more than four short stories, and sold a good percentage of them. Short story production has trailed off into almost nothing, though, after a strong beginning to the year.

I finished revisions for Stag in Balance (renamed Stag at Bay) and Jack of All Trades. And I finished writing Stag in Velvet, a book which turned out to be a ridonculous 130,000 words long.

I also redid my website with its own domain name (thanks Richard!) and have released a couple of old stories for free on the site's main page. If I'd thought about it last year, I would have made that a goal on my resolutions.

So...what will I resolve for 2009?

I'll be a bit more aggressive this year with the goals. Here they are, in all their unattainable glory:

land an agent
sell a novel
sell a novel to a major publisher (i.e. one which will get my books on shelves)
sell at least four short stories
sell a story to a SFWA pro market
write at least six short stories (flash doesn't count)
write at least two novels
finish writing White Rose

Oh, and I'm about over my cold, but grouchy because I'm at work with NOTHING to do; thus, I blog. Oh, and I still haven't heard from Mundania. Or the agent who has my requested full. Or anyone else.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I join the great ranks of Jamie Eyberg and a bunch of other people by having a tiny story accepted at Thaumatrope. It'll appear on June 30, 2009. When I signed up for Twitter, I wasn't thinking and used saanen as my handle. That's the handle I use on various newsgroups and things, but it's not, as you notice, my actual name. So my June 30 Thaumatrope story may the the first and only one attributed to a type of dairy goat.

My cold has appropriated my head for snot production, which doesn't leave a lot of room for anything else. I'm in Panera at the moment, pretending to write but actually just sitting here wishing I could taste my hot chocolate and actively (no doubt) giving my cold to everyone in here. I think I'm going to leave in a minute. I think I may have a fever, so I ought to get back to bed. Or maybe the hot chocolate is hotter than it seems.

I did have a cough-drop-fueled brainwave and changed the title of my work-in-progress to Blood and Taxes. That's much more fun than Blood Treasure and actually makes more sense with the story. Other than that, I haven't done much work on the book. I want to write, but I also want to go back to bed with kleenex stuffed up my nostrils so maybe I can sleep for more than five minutes at a time without waking up choking on yuck.

I am unlovely. I hope you weren't snacking while you read this.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Read me at MindFlights!

My story "Gaming Real Life" is up at MindFlights! Go read it! If you ever doubted I was a super-geek, now you know. And if you understand all the geekdom injokes in the story, you're a super-geek too! Although I could easily have made it much worse, but then it wouldn't have been readable.

Things are finally back to (reasonably) normal at work, and I only have two more days and then I'm off for the holidays! So I will hopefully be returning to my normal overactive bloggish presence here, and maybe I'll also get some writing done.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just checking in for like one second

Because I am not dead, but probably people are starting to wonder. Or not.

I got an email from Mundania Sunday saying they're making their final decisions on manuscripts within the next two weeks. Last night I dreamed that I got a rejection from them. And today I see on Duotrope that someone has reported an acceptance. So I am feeling sort of stoic and doomed every time I check my email today.

Even a weekend did not catch me up on anything. I'm feeling sort of guilty about some stuff I've promised to do and haven't gotten to, and guilty about not doing hardly any writing lately--although since I've been thinking through the plot, I think taking a brief writing hiatus is actually good. I don't have tomorrow off, either, which is a bummer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mt. Miniature

Okay, sorry, I'll stop being a complaining complainer now. I'm home, I'm full of rather indifferent Wendy's chili, and I'm wearing my green pajamas that have pine trees and deer on them. And I have a real two-day weekend ahead of me for once.

Yesterday at work, in an excess of wretchedness, I wrote a draft of the synopsis for The Taste of Magic. I don't know a single writer who likes doing synopses. They're horrible. You have to take a novel the size of, for instance, Mount Kilamanjaro and reduce it to something about the size of a Hershey's Kiss.

Jettison the subplots! Do not mention most of the characters! Collapse events that happen days apart into the space of half a sentence! Ignore everything except the high points of plot and just enough character bits so that anyone reading will know that there is character stuff going on! Reduce reduce reduce!

And of course, don't forget to make it PUNCHY and HOOKY, and make sure it reflects the flavor of the book! Which is not actually possible in 500 words!

But it's done, at least, although it needs more work than the actual novel took. Next is the query letter, which is much more fun although just as difficult.

My crappy life, part 2

Was supposed to get to leave early from work today.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

My crappy life

I got stuck working today. And my computer is totally screwed up. And the new blank CDs I got to burn Christmas music onto aren't recognizable as CDs by any computer in this house. And it's raining, and by the time I leave work at 7:30 tonight, all this rain is going to be turning to ice.

And tomorrow I get to get up and go to work again. I feel like I never come home anymore except for long enough to take care of some of the shit that piles up because I'm never home.

Yeah, the honeymoon phase of my job is over. This is why I temped for so many years, you know. I get BORED with anything after about six months.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quick update! And it's boring!

My recent bloggish silence has everything to do with it being the end of the semester and the beginning of the Christmas insanity season, and nothing to do with anything bad or alarming. I don't think I've even checked the lolcats site since last week.

I did swing by Trunk Novels this afternoon briefly, and they are not dead. They have a new book up, although it's not mine, so presumably eventually mine will show up. I'm not exactly worried, since I'm not going to make anything off the story--mostly I just wanted to order a hardcopy of the thing for myself. How's that for a good reason to give away a manuscript?

No rejections and no acceptances since last I posted, although I seem to have had yet another story disappear into a black hole after hitting send. If I don't kill publishers, the internets swallow my emails. One way or another, it's a wonder I ever see print.

What little free time I've had this week has been spent knitting a scarf that I started last year (almost finished!) and reading the sequels to Patricia Briggs's Moon Called. WANT MOAR. The next one in the series won't be out until February, which was a nasty surprise since I thought it was already out.

I haven't talked to my brother since he left for home after Thanksgiving, taking my cats' Advantage with him, but I did ask him how he was liking Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin when he was about halfway through, and he said he was finding it amusing fluff, and he liked Raine's snarkyish attitude much more than I did initially. The third book of that series is not out until, what, April? I'm not sure I can wait until then. I reread the second book over Thanksgiving for a bit of comfort reading during the move, and that really is a fun series.

I have done zero writing in the last week. I'm talking nothing. I don't feel particularly guilty since I wrote so much over October and November, but I don't want to get out of the habit of writing every day. So since I can probably hold off sleep for another hour, I'm going to write right now. And tomorrow maybe I'll actually find time to post again and read other people's blogs as well as their books.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dead Publishers

I think I must have killed Trunk Novels. You know, they were supposed to publish Weaver's Shroud in November, and then the site wasn't updated so I figured they were waiting until December, and now it still hasn't been updated. So since I haven't received any notice from them either, I figure they're dead. That makes at least the third publisher I've killed this year. They're in good company, though, since I had a hand in killing WOTC Discoveries and I think I've killed Fictitious Force.

Not much going on here after all the excitement of the move. I'm writing the tentatively-titled Blood Treasure and I still haven't figured out how to work in the titular blood treasure part--I mean, I know what it is, but I don't know how it fits with the plot I've come up with. Still, I forge ahead, because that's better than writing short stories!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's all connected! Tangentially!

Does anyone out there know anything about computers? My desktop is driving me crazy since the move. I can't post blogs from it or even comment, and Duotrope's not working correctly, and myriad little things like that. What would cause that? What am I missing? I suspect something to do with Mime, but since I'm not entirely sure what Mime is, I can't move forward on my hunch.

Thank goodness for my eee, that's all I can say. And yay for wifi!

I got the proofs of my story "Gaming Real Life" today and found out that it will be up on MindFlights on December 19. I do like that story. The trolls in it are very similar to the trolls I put in The Taste of Magic, too, which I didn't even realize until I read the story over at lunch. That goes right along with Jamie Eyberg's blog today, where he talks about how he approaches stories--starting with an idea and then seeing where the idea takes him. It's interesting to read the comments to that thread, as different writers talk about how they approach stories. It's actually something I've been thinking about lately, as I notice how so many bits and pieces of my other writing have sifted into The Taste of Magic.

Using a version of the trolls in "Gaming Real Life" is one example. Another is the main character, Ana, who is a healer--because the novella I wrote for the 3-day novel contest had a main character, Hilda, who is a healer. And the issue of race relations as translated into a fantasy setting is one that I keep revisiting; again, it's in "Gaming Real Life," but it's also in the Weredeer books. And so on.

Jamie's post was inspired by Aaron Polson's recent post about how to define horror as a genre. And Aaron has a story newly posted to MindFlights, "The Tiger in the Common Ground," which is really good! Everything connects! Everything connects! Everything connects!

Monday, December 1, 2008

November post-mortem

So everyone else is doing it, and now I will too. How did I do in November? Writing-wise, I mean.

I sent out one story, which was rejected. That's it!

Okay, I also won Nano and finished writing The Taste of Magic, and started the sequel. I also made one sale, but I still can't tell you about it. *heavy sigh, because I'm tired of sounding all secretive and impressive* It's not a big deal, I promise, but I am proud of it and want to tell you all about it. I wrote zero short stories in November.

I've got several stories out, one being held for further review (I should hear back in a few weeks). I have a requested full still out with an agent--not sure when I'll hear back on that one; soon, I hope. Mundania has had The Weredeer for one full year as of today and it's still under consideration.

Oh! I almost forgot. I put a new free story up on my website, "Home at the North Pole." It's a Christmas story--not much to it, but it should put you in the holiday mood without cloying you to death. It's available as a PDF and as a Stanza download for iphones.

Yes, I have survived the move.

Okay, so I'm now officially moved in with my mom. Again. She just can't get rid of me.

The move was punctuated by frequent small crises, like the $50 worth of feline Advantage I bought disappeared and turned up in Pennsylvania, which would be a whole lot funnier if it didn't have a good explanation. (My brother and his family accidentally packed it up with their stuff and took it home with them.) A big shout-out to my mom and brother, incidentally, who did the bulk of the packing and moving for me while I was at work.

I didn't do a whole lot of writing over the last week, but that was good in a way because it gave me time to think about the new project. I'm still working out the plot, but I'm further along than I was.

It's been snowing today! Just flurries, but flurries excite us here in East Tennessee. A call for accumulation sends everyone running out to the store to frenziedly buy milk and bread and hot chocolate.