Monday, June 30, 2008


Remember how last week I said I had a story out that I reread and it was horrible? I just got a note from the editor, and they're holding it for a second look.

I now see that I am completely unable to evaluate my own work.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anonymous, ticks, and other important stuff

For those of you who don't read Elizabeth Bear's excellent blog, she posted a link to a fantastic site that keeps track of Anonymous's activities against Scientology. I've never read a word of her fiction, but I love Bear's blog. Maybe I'll pick up a paperback of hers today as a way to thank her.

I'm meeting my mom to see Wall-E today! I've heard good things about it, but didn't get a chance to see it yesterday. Instead, I did a decent amount of writing during and after work, then went out to pick blackberries. I got enough to make a very tiny cobbler, I think. I may pick up some peaches at the store to bulk the cobbler out a little. Then again, that may turn out really nasty; I've never tried a blackberry/peach cobbler. The flavors may not blend.

I made the mistake of wearing shorts to blackberry pick--not shorts, actually; I guess they're some variety of crop pants, where the cuffs hit around mid-calf. I forgot to change into jeans and paid the price. By the time I got home, my ankles and calves were so scratched up that I looked like I'd crawled out of one of the milder horror books, maybe one for younger readers, maybe subcaptioned "Was it berry juice--or blood?" Also, I got two ticks on me, although that's not bad considering that I was wading through what amounted to Tick Country, USA.

Now it's a cool and rainy morning and I have only pleasant things to do today. And the Fourth of July is coming up! Life is good.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bunny will have a mouse

I just ordered a mouse for my eee. It's blue! The mouse, I mean, not the eee--Bunny the Laptop is white (although still very pretty, of course). I'll probably get it around August, but maybe I'll get lucky and it'll arrive in July.

Work tomorrow, ugh. Hopefully it won't be too busy and I can get lots of writing done. I'm almost to the masquerade scene (Yeah. A masquerade.) and then I'll have the abduction scene and then the big chase, and that's it. Except for the revisions.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vaccuuming the cat

I forgot to check my starting word count, but I'm now 112,000 words into Stag in Velvet. I'll probably get another thousand words before bedtime. This book is so freaking full of stuff! I keep remembering things I have to include. I suspect the revisions for this thing are going to be a real bugger.

I would have done a lot more writing today except that I slept late, and then I had to play some Exile III (I'm at the Tower of Shifting Floors, which I hate, so since I wasn't having fun I figured it was somehow good for me to play Exile III instead of writing), and then I had to walk up to the town center for a Coke, and then I had to--well, you get the point. But I did finally settle down to write around 1pm. I think I've probably written a good solid four hours today, all told. Not bad.

And yet, somehow, I still feel as though I wasted the day. How can this be? Even if I hadn't done any writing at all, at least I cleaned out the refrigerator and picked up all the dry dog poo from the yard. Doesn't that count for anything?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Not even a little bit of cleaning

Tomorrow is Thursday, and those of you playing along at home know that means I'm off work. I'm going to write all day. Yes, I am! I have no plans, except I have to call to make an appointment for my car's oil change and I want to walk up to get the mail and a Coke while it's still cool.

I will not turn on the TV. I will not run out to the store for anything. I will not, God help me, go see Kung Fu Panda again. I will not even clean the house. Nothing but typing all day long. I'm really close to finishing this book. Wouldn't it be freaking awesome if I could finish tomorrow?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dreaming in Ink

I'm interested to know if other writers ever dream about their characters, or if their characters show up as people in their dreams. Because mine never, ever do and I often wonder why.

The people we know best and spend the most time with show up in our dreams all the time. I dream about my mom, my pets, my coworkers. And yet I spend more time with the characters I'm writing about than with any real person in the world.

I used to think it's because I don't dream about fictional characters at all--but characters from TV shows or other people's books do sometimes appear in my dreams as bit players. Then I thought it might be because the characters I write are really just aspects of myself--but aren't all people in dreams just aspects of the dreamer? Now I've decided that it's a vital mental-health issue, that somewhere in my subconscious I feel the need to wall my real life self off from my fictional character selves. I suspect that's the real reason, although it feels vaguely creepy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Almost the first thing I did this morning was turn on Bunny the Adorable Laptop. I finished a scene I started last night, and then on impulse I opened up White Rose for the first time in months.

I read the first 30,000 words or so and you know what? It's not nearly as bad as I thought. It's kind of scary to think that what I write when I'm allowing myself to write badly isn't actually much different from what I write when I'm making an effort to write well.

Once I'm done with Stag in Velvet, I think I'll finish White Rose. By the time I'm done with it, it'll be close enough to November that I won't want to start a new long project and I can hopefully get some short fiction written. And then, NaNoWriMo 2008! I've been saving Charmed Circle for NaNo, incidentally. Can't wait, can't wait!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chicken burrito = fail

I am doubtful about this microwave chicken burrito. It fails the smell test. That is, it smells like the inside of a filthy diner in Podunk, Indiana, the one with greasy dust on all the windows and dead flies on the windowsills. It may be the best thing I ever ate, but I think I'm going to throw it away without finding out. I think I can stand to waste 38 cents plus tax. Besides, I have a beef and bean burrito in the freezer that I know I'll like because I've been eating them for lunch all week.

I've been writing for hours, but it's going slowly. I'm at a low point in the action before it explodes, and I want to get through this part tonight and hopefully get a big chunk of the climax written tomorrow. I'd like to finish the rough draft to Stag in Velvet by mid-July (if not sooner). For one thing, I want to work on something else--not because I'm sick of these characters, but because if I didn't make myself work on other stuff, I'd happily write about these characters forever.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Right here, right now

I'm 97,000 words into Stag in Velvet, and I've finally reached the first part of the extended climax. This evening I wrote up to the end of a scene that I wrote a year and a half ago. Now I'm off the map--although I do have an outline.

After I reached that stopping point, I wasn't entirely sure where to start the next scene. I put my shoes on and went out for a walk to think about it. It's a gorgeous, perfect day here, and as I walked around town and thought about the story, I had one of those "right here, right now" moments.

I live in a small East Tennessee town, with comfortable neighborhoods where people wave at me as I pass and cats stare at me, and where the shadowed and jungly East Tennessee forest backs right up against people's houses and everyone's fine with that, thanks--leave your soulless tract developments at the door. I was planning to move closer to my job this fall when my lease comes up, but I think I'll stay. I'd love it here even if I didn't grow up in this town, but having so many years of memories tied up in this place makes me feel like I'm living in a big security blanket.

My life is admittedly dull, even if my neighbors do seem determined to fill their yard with things that belch flame, but I'm happy with it. I'm even happy with my writing career--I may not have left the runway yet, but I've lifted off the ground. I wouldn't trade anything about my life for anyone else's, not even J.K. Rowling's.

Well, okay, I'd take the money.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Weirdest thing I ever washed

I did a load of laundry this morning, and when I went to get them out--I found my plastic bottle of spinning wheel oil mixed in with the sheets. It must have fallen off the linen closet shelf into the dirty clothes basket. And my washer is also a dryer, one of those tiny apartment models that take forever to work and get VERY HOT. I picked up the oil bottle with a washcloth, figuring it would be half-melted at least.

But no, it's fine. So is the oil. The cap didn't come off or anything. My gawd, I am one lucky person. For one thing, now I don't have to buy more spinning wheel oil. Or sheets.

It's Thursday so I had the day off, and as usual I wasted it entirely. I think I've written maybe 250 words all day. I need my day job for more than one reason, obviously.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The book puzzle

The neighbors have installed a waist-high citronella burner in their yard. It is disconcerting, to say the least, to be typing along and notice an open flame eight feet away from me, even if it is outside on the other side of the hedge. Which is going to catch fire any second now.

I've gotten a lot of writing done in the last two days. I have so much I need to cover in the rest of this book that I've had to give up on the original outline. I've now got a point-by-point outline set out by day, so that I know exactly when everything happens in relation to everything else. There is a mystery involved as part of the plot, so I guess I'm getting a taste of what a real murder mystery writer has to do.

It's kind of fun. Like putting together a puzzle.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I have a toad living under my deck. I just saw him. I hope he eats up all the slugs that ate up all my bean plants.

I saw guy-who-looks-just-like-Alex again today. He's so cute! I know I sound weird and stalker-ish, but the guy looks so much like I imagined that character that it's almost eerie. Alex is an extremely minor character, but he was meant to have a slightly larger part so I'm fond of him all out of proportion to the two small scenes he's in. If I'd known he was going to drop by to get tutoring in algebra, I'd have given him a bigger part after all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Les Bonnes Fees and grilling

Hop on over and read the first issue of Les Bonnes Fees, a new fairy tale magazine. I have an article in it, "Spinning in Fairy Tales." The rest of the issue is a lot of fun too--I've been reading it and enjoying what I've read so far.

In other news, my mom surprised me with one of those cute little $10 grills they sell at Walmart, and we got together this afternoon and had grilled chicken, broccoli, and rice (broccoli and rice not grilled) with lemonade and, for dessert, orange Jello and whipped cream with raspberries! I've never had a grill before--or at least, I've never had a grill that I've used before (my last house did have a very nice grill, but it was propane fueled and I figured if I tried to use it, it would explode and kill me and burn the house down too). I like my little Son of Hibachi. It's the perfect size for my tiny deck.

I hope my neighbors were jealous when they smelled that sweet mesquite chicken grilling. I didn't invite them over.

Friday, June 13, 2008

not really a weekend, not really work

I can't take working on Saturdays seriously. It's just a five hour shift anyway, so it doesn't seem like a big deal. Also, I wear jeans.

I haven't been keeping track of how many words I'm writing a day, but my productivity has shot way up since I started my new job. I keep a spiral notebook with me almost all the time; I use it for taking notes on stuff pertaining to my job, but mostly I use it to write in when I have some down time. At lunch I pull out Bunny the Adorable Tiny Laptop and type up anything I've written in the morning, and add some more if I have time. When I get home in the evenings, I type up anything I wrote that afternoon and add some more. I figure I'm averaging at leat a thousand words a day, probably closer to two thousand, and it's totally painless.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday evening whine

Today's Thursday, which means I have the day off. I intended to get a lot of writing done today, but--surprise--I didn't. Instead I spent the day playing Exile III (got sweet sweet revenge on those damn troglos and totally reamed out their castle) and watching Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (finally got season 1 on DVD). And I made rice pudding and burned it--or rather, my terrible oven burned it despite me turning the temp down to 300 and taking the pan out ten minutes early. I have never in my life encountered an oven that ran so hot.

I went over my sub list and made a few unpleasant discoveries. The story I sent to Heliotrope two months ago--never got there. The story I sent to Coyote Wild one month ago--never got there. And the story I sent to Abyss & Apex four months ago--well, I read it over and it's really, really terrible. (Incidentally, I seem to be cursed about Coyote Wild subs. This is the second one I've attempted and they never received.)

I sent the Heliotrope story to Fantasy Magazine, the Coyote Wild story to ASIM, and dumped the Abyss & Apex story in the "retired" folder. Then I realized that I don't have a story to enter this quarter in the Writers of the Future contest. And I am totally out of story ideas and don't want to write any short fiction right now anyway. I think I'll just eat some burnt rice pudding and play some more Exile III instead.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Title Woes

I saw the guy-who-looks-just-like-Alex today, which made me happy. I was starting to worry about him, since I hadn't seen him since the first day of classes. I almost didn't recognize him--he'd put his hair back in a little ponytail, probably due to the heat. So adorable.

I tried very hard today to come up with a title for the book that comes between The Weredeer and Stag in Velvet, but without luck. I did think of The Hunted Hart, but it's not really all that good. I may end up going with Stag at Bay, which was the original title of The Weredeer. That won't confuse me at all, oh no.

The mimosa trees decided overnight that it was summer. They're all blooming! God, I loves me some mimosa trees.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Books about deer

I'm tired of waiting to hear back on The Weredeer sub I have out to a small press, so I decided yesterday that it was time to take a hard look at the book and send it out to a bigger publisher. It's not like I've given an exclusive to anyone, and it's ridiculous not to try all the big publishers who'll look at unsolicited subs.

I ended up rewriting the first chapter almost entirely, adding about 1,500 words, and I reread the whole book and made some small changes. You know what? It's an excellent book. I might be a wee bit biased, of course.

So I didn't get much actual writing done this weekend, although I now know who did the murders in Stag in Velvet. Unfortunately I'll be proctoring all day tomorrow and won't be able to write, but I'll make it my goal to come up with a decent title for the book that comes between The Weredeer and Stag in Velvet.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kung Fu Panda is stuffed full of awesome!

Finally, a movie that exceeded even my high expectations! Honestly, Kung Fu Panda is the best movie I've seen so far this year and the best animated movie I've seen since Ratatouille. I highly recommend it. The animation is fantastic, and even better, the writing is fantastic too. It's so sad to see a beautifully animated movie with a crap screenplay, or a finely crafted screenplay with crap animation. Kung Fu Panda, though, is pretty much a perfect movie--and in fact, I venture so far as to say that Kung Fu Panda is the best animated movie in history that contains a panda who learns kung fu. Panda Fu!

Friday, June 6, 2008

But to what purpose?

I'm in the middle of writing the midnight tryst scene, where a girl tells Kristof Important Things related to two murders. Um, trouble is, I don't know what the Important Things are.

Time to stop and think for a bit. I know what needs to happen for the plot; now I need to figure out who's behind the murders and what precisely they're doing. Maybe I should have thought about that before, huh? I mean, I'm only, what, 75,000 words in? Yeah, I'm gonna have to cut a lot from this book.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

including the kitchen sink

I had today off work, so I've been doing a lot of writing in between doing stuff that is essentially wasting time (like giving the dog a shower; I don't have a bathtub, but it turns out that showering isn't a very effective way of cleaning dogs). I'm out of the transition doldrums, finally, although I haven't quite reached the midnight tryst scene as planned, because I'd forgotten all the other stuff that needed to come before it.

I'm having to fight a strange problem that I don't think I've ever had before in writing: I keep wanting to put in too much detail. This book could easily end up 250,000 words with a meandering plot but lots and lots of fascinating stuff going on, if I didn't guard against it. Then again, not only this is the third book in the series, it's one I started a year and a half ago and then set aside to work on other projects. It's had lots of time to percolate, and the worldbuilding and story construction are so rich now I have to keep myself from throwing it all onto the page.

I've also decided to keep a bit part character, the market thief. He wasn't supposed to be anything more than a plot device, essentially, but he's turned into something more. Just like every other freaking detail in the book! Oh well, I'm having fun writing this monstrosity; I can pare it down later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


There's a old-fashioned farm more or less behind my house, Lonas Farm. They keep cows there. When I was in high school, some friends of my mother's boarded their mules at Lonas Farm, and whenever they (the friends, not the mules) were out of town, I'd go feed them (the mules, not the friends). That's where I learned the noise local farmers make to chivvy cows out of the way, a sort of hissing "ssst" sound.

Anyway, as I say Lonas Farm is behind my house beyond a narrow band of trees. I hear the cows all the time and don't really notice them. Cows sound angry, incidentally. Call it lowing if you like, but I prefer to call it shouting, because sometimes it sounds like the cows are inciting to riot out there. But this morning I woke from a sound sleep, alarmed, to the distinctive noise of a donkey greeting the sunrise.

I like donkeys. I'm happy to share my little corner of East Tennessee with a donkey. And there's absolutely no point to this post at all, but I'm 100% out of interesting--or even uninteresting--things to say. I got a lot of writing done today, at least, and tomorrow I have the day off.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

9pm and dark under the trees

Oh, MAN, it's 9pm already. I just got home from work! And I have to be at work by 8am tomorrow. This sucketh.

Still, I like my job. I was hoping I'd see guy-who-looks-just-like-Alex today, but no luck. I did get a fair amount of writing done and I see the end of the transitions swamp I'm in (a section where the main character travels repeatedly back and forth, which I can't currently change due to plot constraints--although the rewrite is going to take care of it, I assure you). I'm hesitant to push the bedtime envelope tonight, but I do want to get everything typed up that I wrote out longhand today, and then I'd like to finish the theft scene and get to the midnight tryst scene--which should be much more fun. But I suspect it would be midnight in real life if I tried to write that much tonight, and I'm already running a small but definite sleep debt.

On the other hand, I do have Thursday off. I can sleep on Thursday!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Short story long

Tomorrow is my weekly long day, when I start work at 8am and don't finish until 7:30 pm. I have a new spiral notebook, and hopefully I'll find some time to write. At the moment I appear to be stuck in a mess of transitions in Stag in Velvet. How can I have nothing but transitions for page after page after page? I just hope it doesn't read like nothing but transitions when I'm done writing this section.

I got a reject from Asimov's today, so I took another look at the Longass Story. I managed to cut about 100 word (on balance) and fixed a few minor things. It's up on Baen's Bar now doing the public slush thing, which scares the bejeezus out of me. But if Baen's doesn't want it, I'm pretty much out of markets unless I manage to cut 3,000 words, and I don't think that's possible without gutting the story. Frankly, the story wants to be a novella--it very nearly is already--but that gives me even fewer markets so I'm going for the downward push.

Frankly, I'm pretty sick of short stories. I'm just not very interested in reading or writing them, and there's no money in them--just a little ego boost. But since I'm not selling my novels, I guess I'll have to keep writing short stories so I can keep considering myself a working writer instead of someone with a reclusive hobby.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Story up at Big Pulp

Technically it doesn't go live until tomorrow, but the link is up to my story "Trompe L'Oeil" at Big Pulp! I'm sure they won't mind if you go on and read it a few hours early. That story originally appeared in Staffs & Starships #1. Yay for reprint rights!

I just reread the story for the first time in months and months. I do like that one. If I wrote it now I think I'd add a little more and change a few things just a little, but it's a solid story. With robots! No story can go wrong if it contains one or more of the following: robots, zombies, or monkeys. That means the best story in the world would be about zombie robot monkeys, or perhaps robot monkey zombies.

I have had way too much sugar today, apparently.