Thursday, January 31, 2008

To the streets!

Anonymous is calling for RL protests on Feb. 10, with directions on how to go about doing so properly:

I snagged this from EBear'sBlog, but it's not exactly hard to find. I am so into this. It reminds me of the mid-90s, when I had friends in the Knoxville Anarchist Black Cross. Okay, one friend. And he was the only member. But it was real, man. It was real and on the streets.

White Rose has surprised me. Yesterday I killed the leathery-winged avian with a well-placed wisent stampede, and had to put in a little scene of--not sex, but perhaps titillation--just to keep me interested enough to keep writing past the stampede so I could get my day's 1,000 words in. This is the raunchiest novel I've ever written, I swear. I feel like I should shower after writing some days. Anyway, I was contemplating the days ahead, when I would be writing about the tedious trip over the sea of grass to the elvish city of Setthrem, when I got An Idea. And it's a good one. And now I'm all excited about White Rose and starting to wonder if maybe it's going to turn out to be a real book instead of a parody of one.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fairy Tales, Geez

I got my rejection back from CatsCurious this morning, but it was a very pleasant rejection and certainly not unexpected. I think I'll do a version of Rumpelstiltskin next. It's got lots of possibilities for drama and humor alike, and it includes spinning. What could be sweeter?

That leaves me with a 10,000 word humorous fairy tale retelling on my hands, and nowhere to send it. I think I'll go over it again this weekend and see if I can trim a few thousand words. It'll mean cutting some funny stuff, but it probably needs some finetuning anyway.

Gosh, I'm kind of excited about Rumpelstiltskin. But it seems such an obvious choice that I bet they gets lots of Rumpelstiltskins. Mine will be funniest, though.

I'm nearing 30,000 words in White Rose, incidentally (and incidentally, I accidentally typed Shite Rose first, which is not too far off the mark). I killed off a horse and had one of the characters spill the beans about the missing last stanza of the ballad. Tomorrow I'll have the party be attacked again, but this time they'll destroy the attackers by stampeding a herd of buffalo at them. I mean wisents, not buffalo. Then they'll reach the trade road and I can hurry them along to the big city, with at least one incident in an inn along the way.

But right now, I'm going to go watch a few episodes of Gundam Wing. Box set, baby.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Anonymous p0wnzrz teh internetz

If I didn't read the cool kids' blogs, I wouldn't have any idea of what's going on out there in the big wide internet. Probably everyone who drops by the clunkily-named Noisy Typewriter to see what I'm up to (hi, Richard) already knows all about this, just like everyone knew about lolcats before me. But I just found out and I'm all excited.

I read it first on Elizabeth Bear's blog. There's a person, or a group, or an entity out there determined to take down the Church of Scientology! I am all over that, even if I do enter the Writers of the Future contest religiously (only tangentially affiliated, I've been assured). They're spreading their message with viral videos like this one, and it's so totally awesome, dude, that it makes me talk like a TMNT and jump around in excitement, because life just got a lot more like a video game, didn't it?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stories, stories

I sent off my Writers of the Future entry today. I didn't enter last quarter because I didn't have a story ready, but I think this one's pretty good.

I was stuck filing invoices all day yesterday (at work, I mean--I don't ordinarily spend the day filing invoices at home). I relieved the aching boredom somewhat by coming up with another story idea, which I then wrote last night. It's only about 2,200 words. Considering that it's a light (and slight) SF piece played entirely for laffs, it was damn hard to write. It's about the filming of a porno flick with an alien, who has no idea what he's actually doing, and I had to work doubly hard to make it funny without being in poor taste. I think it turned out pretty good--I like it, at least. Now I need to find a market for it, and I'm not entirely sure one exists.

I've been writing a lot of stories lately. I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting better at writing stories or if I'm trying to avoid working on White Rose, which is frankly getting pretty dull. Maybe it's time for something to attack Rose and her companions. Maybe I'll kill one of them off.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Since I have nothing else to write about, and I'm trying to post every day if I can, I will now share a poem I wrote in college, six million years ago. 'Tis a masterpiece in its almost childish simplicity. I especially like the way it gets caught in my head in a most annoying way so that I repeat it to myself several times before I realize what I'm doing. Note the intentional use of "a egg" instead of "an egg," which creates a glottal stop that I find very pleasant, for some reason.


I like to carry a egg around
In my pocket I like it
Round in my hand
A hardboiled egg
Still warm from the pot
And the water hot

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm a proud member of the silly club!

Hehe, I got this today from one of the editors of the silly anthology I have a story in. It's gonna be a fun antho, that's for sure!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ice and websites

We had freezing rain sweep through the region this morning. On my way to my mom's house, where my dog Jasper stays while I'm at work, I heard the traffic reporter say that over 50 wrecks had been reported in Knoxville already. So instead of dropping the dog off and driving on into Knoxville where I work, I stayed at my mom's house until after eleven, when it had warmed up and wasn't so icy.

While I was hanging around eating everything my mom had in her kitchen (she buys much more interesting food than I do), I messed around on her computer and got Core FTP set up. Also Nvu, since I like that editor. And I updated my website, which otherwise wouldn't have gotten done for at least another week--probably longer. It's still excruciatingly dull, but at least it's up to date.

Now I have to finish my day's 1,000 words, even though I would much rather go to bed and work logic puzzles. But writers write, even crap like White Rose, so I'll stay up a little longer and write. Or at least type.

Monday, January 21, 2008

And three!

Cue music: "Tomorrow Comes Today" by Gorillaz. I've sold another story, which makes three sales in two days!

This one is a reprint of "Trompe L'Oeil," which appeared in Staffs & Starships #1 last summer and netted me my first two reviews, both of them very positive (here and here). It will appear sometime this summer in Big Pulp, a new online magazine that looks very interesting. Obviously they have good taste in stories.

I have eight stories out right now. Four of them are old, but the other four were written within the last few months. As the new ones come back, I think I'm going to send them out only to pro markets and see what happens. Last year I started to assume that I can't sell to pro markets yet, but I think I'm about there now. Not that I'm the best writer evar or anything, but my writing definitely improved during the latter half of 2007, and hopefully it'll continue to improve.*

*except in White Rose, where I allow sentences like this prize piece of corn: "Tallander stared at the bird [a crow spy, of course], and his expression grew grim."

We have two--do I see three?

I got another acceptance email, this time to the not-yet-titled silly fantasy/SF anthology coming out this April from Cyberwizard productions and Residential Aliens. There's no money attached, but it was a really fun piece to write--it ends with a horrendous pun. I figure I'll give my comp copy to my nephew Isaac, who should appreciate it.

Now I've had two shorts accepted in two days. Let's see what happens tomorrow!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

First sale of 2008

I just got the acceptance email, which made my day. Byzarium has accepted "Silent Skies," although I don't know which issue it'll be in yet. This is a story I had decided to retire after it was rejected three whole times, back before I realized being rejected by--let me look here--one pro market, one semi-pro market, and a quarter-final placement in Writers of the Future--didn't mean the story, you know, sucked. I like this one a lot, too, so I'm glad it will have a handsome home.

I just realized that I don't have any kind of FTP set up on my laptop, and I'm not savvy enough to install it using Linux. I had trouble enough setting up FTP on my old XP computer with step-by-step instructions from my brother on how to do it. So I can't update my website with the sale, darn it. Maybe I can use my mom's computer to do it next weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

And I wrote and wrote and wrote!

I finished Thursday's story, although not until late last night. It clocked in at about 3,500 words and is pretty darn good. And this evening I wrote another flash piece for a specific market--just 800 words, but it was fun to write. And I've been working on White Rose on and off all day. Tomorrow morning I'm planning to take Bunny the Adorable Tiny Laptop to Atlanta Bread Company and get White Rose past the 20,000 word mark if I don't make it tonight.

In other words, just look at what I can do if I don't have to enter data all day! If only writing paid as well as data entry.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Filling the empty hours

Okay, so I've established that I currently have the most boring temp job on the entire planet. People in third-world countries who work 16 hours a day painting the eyes on cheap plastic toy dinosaurs probably feel sorry for me (or they would until they realized that even though I'm completely broke, somehow I still found the money to buy pizza and a Coke tonight). I've spent every day this week updating invoices on a computer that I think must be running Windows 1923.

Last night I decided I would have to use my brain for something, and since the company I'm working for is content to pay me solely for my ability to manipulate a mouse made in the fourteenth century, I decided to spend the day working out short story plots. I have a lot of trouble coming up with satisfying conclusions to short stories. Why not use my mental down time to do something about that?

I spent the entire morning turning over ideas in my mind like jigsaw pieces, and fitting them together, and by lunchtime I had a complete story put together mentally. After choking down my peanut butter sandwich, I hunched over my laptop and wrote for the rest of the hour. So far the story is actually pretty good, and the best part is I know where it's going.

But...but, but, but I wasn't able to keep writing! I had to go back to updating invoices, when every fiber of my being, even the bits that usually just keep track of what I'm going to have for supper, wanted to keep working on my new story!

So I'm going to write all night, and hopefully get this story bashed out before I go to bed. Because tomorrow I'll have to start from scratch with a new story, because if I don't, my head will explode.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh look, I'm another semi-finalist in an acronymed contest.

I nearly forgot that I'd entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest last fall. I just got an email saying my entry is one of the semi-finalists. You can look at it here and even download the first few pages to review, should you so wish. Whatever. I don't know how many semi-finalists there are, but the maximum was 1,000. This is a little bit less exclusive than the Writers of the Future semi-finalist list.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The most boringest job in the world...

I has it.

Oh well, it's a job. And it's not like it's, you know, hard or anything. A trained monkey could do this job, and they wouldn't even need to change the payrate because I'm already working for peanuts. **rimshot**

I have a second story up at AnthologyBuilder, "Final Episode," which I do adore. It came THIS CLOSE to being published at Strange Horizons--one of the editors said he loved it, that he had tears in his eyes after reading it, that he fought for it, but the other editors thought it was just too slight. I sold it to the 2007 Triangulations anthology, End of Time, which netted me the most money I've ever made from a piece of fiction so far. Not that this is saying much, but you know.

I saw The Great Debaters yesterday, and highly recommend it. Excellent movie! They'll heap Oscars all over it next year. Which reminds me--I watched the stripped-down Golden Globes last night, and frankly I wish they'd do it that way every year. I did kind of miss the goofy outfits, but on the other hand--no acceptance speeches.

I got not quite 700 words written over lunch--not great, but it's better than nothing. The trouble with writing at lunch is that I have to go back to my achingly dull data entry job just when I really start to hit my stride writing-wise. My brain is a lot more interesting than data entry. But then, anyone's brain is more interesting than data entry.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The last hours of freedom

I start my new job tomorrow. It will be great to have money coming in to pay my bills (although it doesn't pay all that well--but it's better than nothing). On the other hand, I'm going to really miss having long lovely hours in which to write. I have actually gotten quite a lot done in the last two weeks. I've written 15,000 words of White Rose, revised one story, finished another, and partially rewritten a third (when I say rewritten, I mean actually rewritten, without even reading the original version). Oh, and I wrote a 500-word flash too, although flash pieces almost don't count. (If I sell it to a pro market, it will count.)

I have an hour lunch at my new job. I'll be taking my laptop and packing a lunch, and I will make it clear to my new coworkers that I use my lunch break to write, not to socialize. This is only a temp job anyway, so I don't care much about making friends.

[DIY lolcat--pretend there's a cat pic right here]
yor doin it wrong

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Knitting without guilt

I was hardly home all day--I've got family in, and of course I want to hang out with them. It was almost 9pm when I got home, and then I went ahead and got ready for bed, and then I was going to go on to bed early and watch part of a movie and knit. Then I realized I hadn't typed one single word all day long, and if I didn't do my thousand words I'd have screwed up a new year's resolution before January was even half-over.

So I sat down and wrote a thousand words on White Rose. It didn't take that long, and now I can go knit with a clear conscience.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

All is well--I start the new job Monday, I sold some CDs I don't listen to anymore and got $25, and I had a story accepted to Anthology Builder. It's already up--they work fast. It's "Night Court," a sweet little fantasy story that was first published in the first issue of Cats With Wings this past summer. It was also my first fiction sale ever. (I'd link to Cats With Wings, but their site seems to be down right now, and their mirror site is clogged with so many popup ads that I refuse to link there.)

Anthology Builder is a really cool concept and so far I've been impressed with the way it's run. It's still in beta right now, but they're adding stories daily and have a call out for artists to do more cover art. All the stories are reprints; there's no up-front payment, but every time the story is used in an anthology, the author gets a small percentage of the royalties. No one's going to get rich off it, but it's a great idea--I'm having fun browsing the stories and marking my favorites for when I put together an antho. They also have public domain stories--I contributed Kipling's "The Maltese Cat," one of my favorite short stories ever--and the proceeds from public domain sales get shoveled back in to get more public domain stories available.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Many words

I finished that CatsCurious story I've been working on (fitfully) for months. It clocked in at just under 10k words, and I like it. The problem is, CatsCurious has a tiny mention (which I noticed belatedly) that they prefer well-known fairy tales--and mine isn't. I wanted to find something different, figuring they'd get a thousand retellings of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, so I dug a little and came up with a weird 17th century French tale and used it as the basis of my story. Oh well. I just hope the editor is not going to wait until the submission period is over before looking through the subbed stories. If they reject this one early, I still have time to retell Cinderella.

I was hoping I'd have started my new job today, but it turns out that not only do they not want me yet, there's no guarantee they'll want me at all. Dammit. That's why I spent all morning writing and all afternoon cleaning the house. Both things needed to be done, and both kept me from wigging out with anxiety all day. I am SO BROKE. I think it's time to start selling CDs and DVDs for gas money. Did I say dammit yet?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I have a map...and I'm not afraid to use it.

I noticed today that my writing studio (the spare bedroom where I keep all my books and the computer) looked unusually writerly. I'd been checking reprint rights to see if I had anything available and not out to send to Anthology Builder (an awesome site), so I had my laptop open as well as the binder where I keep story submission info, and I also had a tidy stack of papers that--from a distance--looked terribly important. Up close, the papers are actually a lot of badly drawn maps of imaginary places.

Twenty years ago, when I was but a slip of a girl in high school (seriously, I'm getting ancient!), I spent much of my spare time reading and writing very bad fantasy books. Fortunately, I have lost all the writing I did back then, but I did save The Maps, or at least four of them. They're pretty goofy, these maps.

For instance, one map drawn on a single sheet of notebook-sized quad paper has two different mountain ranges--the Jade Mountains and the Southern Mountains--and is marked with The Endless Forest and The Scarred Lands, as well as lots of rivers and towns. In one corner young-me drew a line perhaps an inch and a half across and labeled it "15 miles." Which makes the mountains really small, to say the least. And all the maps have rivers snaking around in every direction--one even has two rivers that cross at right angles.

The other night I settled down with a blank sheet of slightly yellowed quad paper that had somehow made it through all those years without me throwing it out or drawing on it (or using it to map a dungeon or a cross-stitch pattern or something). And I drew a new map for White Rose.

It's not as complete as the other maps, because it really doesn't need to be. I have one river, one mountain range, half a dozen cities and towns, and I drew a buffalo under the Sea of Grass (although I plan to call them wisents, which was the name for wild oxen in the old world). That's about it.

It's funny, though--when I looked at my old maps, three of them were like maps of a place I'd lived in for a long time. There are lots of towns (although the towns do sort of float around from map to map), lots of homely-sounding placenames, like the Builded Hall, Hornet's Coronation, Travelsend. I know these places, even if not another soul on the planet does. When I see The Riders' Warren marked on a map, I see the bones of an idea I later used in Stag in Balance; when I see the cluster of placenames in the middle of a mountain range, I remember the otherwise long-forgotten story I wrote about Jertie, a very old dragon who had to save a kidnapped egg from some evil humans--an idea that I later reworked (considerably) into the story "Sea and Sky," which is appearing in the Black Dragon, White Dragon anthology.

But then there are one or two maps that show lands that are unfamiliar, because I meant to write about them but never did. White Rose takes place in this part of the world, in what I used to call the Green Realm. I'm excited to finally be exploring the Green Realm--it always sounded so mysterious--even though I know it's mostly just full of wisents.

Incidentally, each map shows Endra (except one, which has Endra's earlier name, Lanor, which I never liked as the name for a country). The Weredeer and its sequels take place mostly in Endra, as does my story "The King's Messenger," which of course will be in Renard's Menagerie #5. (Have I managed to plug that one often enough yet? No, I don't think so. I'm proud of that story.) White Rose was going to take place in Endra, but once I started writing it, it didn't fit--instead it starts in the Kinwida Hills, which is near the eastern border of the Duchy of Allaramal, which is in turn on the northeastern border of Endra. According to the map.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Teh internetz is down

My brother's email server went down last night, probably something to do with all those storms blowing in from way out west. And I can't check my email every three seconds as usual, which makes me itchy and nervous. It looks like the server's back up now--at least I can get to the login page--but I still can't get my email and WHAT IF THERE'S AN IMPORTANT EMAIL IN BETWEEN ALL THE SPAMS??

There won't be, of course. It always works that way. If I was in charge of Schroedinger's cat, I'd be dithering over the box thinking about collapsing waveforms of possibilities, and the cat would saunter in from the next room, because I'd forgotten to put him in the box after all. That's my life, right there.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reading and writing

I had big plans for the day, but they were derailed. I went to the used book store to get some research books--the corniest, most cliched fantasies I could find. I thought I could read them and get some ideas. But I couldn't find anything I could stand to read; every one I picked up started off SO S-L-O-W that I gave up after a few pages. It's a firm rule with me that I will not bother reading a book if I don't learn who the main character is within a paragraph or two. So I didn't buy any fantasies, but I did pick up The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

And then I got to read half of it, because when I got out to my car I had a nearly-flat tire and it took two hours for me to get it fixed. And it was only a faulty air valve; just think how long I would have waited if I'd actually had to get a new tire or something.

So I had to give up my plans of reading part of a corny fantasy, working on a map for my own corny fantasy (more on that probably tomorrow), and spending the rest of the afternoon working on revisions to a short story. But since I am STILL unemployed, I guess I can do all that tomorrow. In between starving to death and making arrangements to move into a cardboard box.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Oh, I am sick of this waiting thing!

My impatience knows no bounds. I just simsubbed two stories, because the freaking markets I sent them to MONTHS AND MONTHS AGO are taking too long. In one case I'm pretty sure they never actually received the story and I'm not really interested in resending it; in the other case, I just realized I subbed to a non-paying market, so I'll probably withdraw it anyway. At any rate, I have absolutely no respect for markets who pay rock-bottom prices and yet still sit on stories for months on end. If they can't keep on top of the slush pile, close to subs for a while or get someone to help slushbust.

I also wrote a flash piece and sent it off, and sent a query off for the venerable manuscript Weaver's Shroud. Other than that, and finishing my jigsaw puzzle (minus two pieces the cats lost), I have done zero things today. Compulsively checking my email doesn't count, especially since all I ever get are offers to enlarge a piece of human anatomy that I don't actually have.

Time to do some work on White Rose, which continues in its corny, well-worn groove. I'm actually kind of having fun with it. Today the party will set off for the mountains, where they hope to find the immortal wizard Somebody-whose-name-I've-forgotten the Dragon, who will help them find a gate to another realm, which is guarded by the white stag. Our heroine Rose is pretty damn excited about the white stag.

I'm having so much fun with White Rose, in fact, that I went and took the Mary Sue test to make sure I wasn't, you know, having too much fun. But Rose scored really low as a Mary Sue, and the whole thing gave me the idea for that flash piece I wrote this morning, so all is well.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Overheard at the county clerk's office

I got my new license plate today, and while I was waiting I overheard a pregnant woman say, "This kid is loving spicy food--the hotter the better. I swear he's going to look like a monkey when he's born, all covered in hair."

I got my thousand words in for the day, and wrote my piece of doggerel--I mean, wrote the ballad. I didn't want to resort to anything quite so obvious as heroic couplets, or ABAB CDCD and so on, so I ended up with a complicated rhyme scheme with lots of internal rhymes. Bad idea. I wasted a lot of time muttering, "ands, bands, cans, Dan's, fans...." after I'd used up stands, lands, and hands, and still needed one more line. At one point I got sick of it and typed "da da da da da da da ands" as a filler, but I went back and fixed it before I finished. I only did two stanzas really, plus a repeating chorus that changes slightly every time, but I'll add another stanza later that will turn out to be Hugely Significant, that the bard is keeping from Rose at the moment.

I'd post the ballad here, but it stinks.

I've decided to give the elf prince some kind of kink to make him more fun to write. Maybe he has a foot fetish.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I've written a little over a thousand words today--not as much as I'd like, but I was busy trying to find a job most of the day, and then I had to help my mom move some furniture at my grandmother's, and also I'm working a thousand-piece puzzle with a picture of London Bridge bathed in an improbably pink sunset. Hey, working this puzzle is important.

I have introduced the adventurers to Rose and had the bard explain that there is an ancient prophecy about a white deer who will Save the World. That makes me realize that if I don't write a doggerel ballad about the prophecy that is at least a page long, I'm no fantasy author. So tonight I'll go to bed early with a mug of tea and a spiral notebook, and I'll write a crappy ballad. Only it won't be all that crappy, I swear; the first writing I ever got paid for was a poem, so I don't want to embarrass myself. Much.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy new year! 2,400 words!

I leaped into my new project this morning, writing at typing speed and not doing much to pretty things up. I don't expect this book to be all that good; I just want the fun of guddling around with cliches.

I've combined the cliches with my Katie Cruel project, and it seems to be working. Originally Katie Cruel was going to be a heavy, dark book about a woman's efforts to find herself, generally by sleeping with unsuitable men. But that in itself is a cliche, and it's not much better than a save-the-world plot. So now the main character is renamed (tentatively) Rose, and the title is now (tentatively) White Rose. How corny is that?

Let's see how many cliches I've hit so far:

1. Rose is different from everyone in her clan--she's a weredeer instead of a wolf or panther, and her fur is white [here I have masterfully combined the eye-catchiness of a white horse and a deer on the prospective cover]. Rose complains that no one understands her because she's different.

2. Rose is about to meet the party who will insist she accompany then to Save the World. The party consists of a bard of mixed ancestry and unknown magical skills, an elf healer woman, a human fighter, and an elf mage of noble birth. Straight out of Diana Wynne Jones's Tough Guide to Fantasyland, honey.

3. I even managed to quietly make this Book 2, because Book 1 would have consisted of the elves and so forth journeying to find the White Doe who has been prophesied to be the one to save the world. Except of course why would I want to write Book 1? Boring.

I'm having a lot of fun so far. It's writing without a net--no outline, no backstory, no nothin'. Why would I need any of that stuff, after all, when this book is going to follow where so many other books have gone before?

I figure this one will be a bestseller.