Wednesday, September 30, 2009

end of Sept and WIP Wed, all in one!

Unless I get an acceptance in the next five hours, September will be the first month this year in which I didn't get an acceptance. On the other hand, I don't have much out right now. I did have my story "Meet Mary Sue" appear in ASIM #40 this month, which delighted me considerably.

And I'm writing. Boy howdy, how I'm writing! At the very beginning of September I had the merest idea for an urban fantasy, which ripened when I went to DragonCon. When I got home I started writing it, and now I'm halfway through, with about 45,000 words written.

You know what? Yesterday I was disappointed that I only had time to write 2,000 words. Only 2,000 words in one day. There have been many months this year where I've barely scraped 2,000 words in the entire month. But this seems to be my regular rhythm the last few years: I'll write very little in spring and summer, but at the end of August I bust loose and write like crazy for several months. Last year I wrote the novella The Price of Justice (formerly Hilda and Justice), and the novels The Taste of Magic and Blood and Taxes between September and February. This year I've written half of working-title The Bell Men already, and I hope to finish it before NaNoWriMo. Oh, and I wrote a short story the other week too.

So sure, I haven't sold anything this month, but I'm writing. That's the important thing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pacing woes

I got to 35,000 words on Bell-Men last night, mostly by reminding myself that Nano is coming up really soon and I want to finish this project before then. I'm aiming for 80,000 words minimum, so I'm almost halfway through the book.

So why does it feel like I'm not very far in? I read over the whole book so far yesterday, and the pacing seems all right. I just feel like I'm still waiting for the plot to bust open so it can really move forward, but almost halfway through and that hasn't happened.

Which tells me that I'm either not halfway through--and 90,000 words would be a good length, too, which would make me only about a third of the way through--or I've got a real problem with my plot and/or pacing. For now, I guess the only thing I can do is smash my way through to the end of this draft and try and fix it on the rewrite.

Of course, I'm a writer who gets very impatient with even 1,000 words of not-much-happening, and I just had to write several thousand words of (essentially) exposition. Today I'll be writing an argument between Cam and Thomas, Cam's going to talk to the bad guy's family and steal something of his from them (and angst over it), and then, thank goodness, in the story timeline it'll be the dark of the moon and I can finally get Cam into the bell-men's world again, this time semi-permanently. And then the plot will bust open like a pinata. I hope.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And that's why I didn't get any writing done.

I opened up the Bell-Man document earlier and was finally starting to read over what I'd written the night before, when my cat Vincent started making mighty-hunter mews from the doorway.

Vincent is not a mighty hunter. All he knows about hunting is what Angel taught him--Angel was a damn fine mouser. I once saw Vincent pick up a mouse by its hind leg, and of course he got bitten. He looked offended at the mouse's audacity.

So anyway, Vincent tends to make mighty-hunter noises when he's caught anything. Once he caught a marshmallow I'd dropped on the kitchen floor and paraded it around the house proudly, which was the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. So when I looked up and saw what looked like the curved edge of a ponytail holder sticking out of his mouth, I just smiled and told him what a good hunter he was.

Then I realized he didn't have a ponytail holder. He had a lizard.

It was one of those little fence skinks, I believe, the kind that shoot around like lightning and eat bugs. How it got into the house I do not know, and how Vincent caught it I simply can't imagine, unless it was trapped in the house and half-starved. I tried to get it away from Vincent without making Vincent bite down harder--ew ew ew--and it slithered away and disappeared. I mean, seriously, neither Vincent nor I saw it go. I know I didn't--and I was checking my pants cuffs thinking maybe it shot up one to hide--and I know Vincent didn't because he was literally checking his own paws and looking underneath him to see where it had gone.

I finally found the skink hiding under the bottom of a nearby curtain, which is long and drapes on the floor. I took Vincent outside for a few minutes so he'd forget about the skink--he has a memory about four seconds long--and when I brought him inside, I put a few catfood kibbles on a saucer, cut them into tiny pieces, put a little water on them, and took the saucer upstairs. Because maybe skinks will eat wet pieces of catfood, that's why. But the skink seems to be gone again. It's probably sneaked off somewhere unreachable to die, and I won't know where until the smell starts.

Somehow Bell-Men seems a lot less interesting than my own life at the moment.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Scary stories and rainy days

I stopped by the post office on the way home from work, and my copy of the new 52 Stitches came! I can't think of a better thing to read on a super-rainy September day than a collection of scary stories!

Unfortunately, when I walked in the house and said to my mom, "Hey, look what I got!" she plucked the book from my hands and sneaked it away to read it first. But that's okay. I know where she lives.

52 Stitches, of course, is edited by Aaron Polson, and I'm a member of his fan club that Cate Gardner started. If you join the fan club now, you can beat the rush. :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

So very, very stuffed full

I haven't written very much yet today, but I exceeded 30,000 words last night on Bell-Men. Cam is angsting a little bit, but she spent the night in jail so she's allowed.

Last night I also made chapchae with bulgogi, Korean dishes that my sister-in-law makes but that I've never tried myself. It turned out really well! I went off an online recipe I found and changed it so that it seemed a little closer my sister-in-law's recipe (she doesn't actually use actual recipes, since she is a brave woman and knows what she's doing in the kitchen, unlike me). Here's how to make it, mostly so next time I won't have to reinvent the recipe I used:

Traditionally, this is marinated beef that's grilled at the table. My sister-in-law uses a pressure cooker, but I don't have one. I used a packaged bulgogi marinade mix, cut the beef into thin strips, marinaded it in the fridge for a few hours, and then stir-fried it in sesame oil with a diced onion. My sister-in-law says chicken works great for this too.

Remove the meat and onions to a bowl and reserve. Return the pan to the stove to stir-fry the vegetables for chapchae (below).

sesame oil (around 3 Tbsp)
3 carrots, sliced into thin strips
1 can water chestnuts
thumb-length chunk of ginger, minced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 cayenne peppers, minced
black pepper
smallish handful brown sugar
(and snow peas would be awesome with this but I didn't have any)

Mix it all up and stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

While doing this, soak a package of glass noodles in warm/hot (not boiling) water until they soften. Just before the vegetables are done, bring the noodles to a boil and cook about two minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water so they won't overcook.

Add the vegetable mixture and bulgogi mixture to the noodles and stir as well as you can--glass noodles stick together and resist stirring. Eat fast while it's all still hot!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Turning the sizzle down to a simmer

Since The Bell-Men is an urban fantasy of sorts, and since UF is such a strange category--taking on aspects of fantasy, horror, romance, and mystery pretty much equally--I thought I'd ask you all for a bit of advice. Actually, this is less of an urban fantasy question than it is a general character/plot question.

Within the first 10,000 words of The Bell-Men, Cam has met Thomas. Within a few hundred words of meeting him, she's got him in bed. I intended to give them a flashpowder romance--burns hot and fast and then turns into a charred mess that leaves soot marks everywhere--but they're not cooperating. There's chemistry between them, and more than that, they seem suited to each other. I can adapt the plot to them staying together without Thomas trying to take over the plot and/or rescue Cam, but it means that I'm writing with almost no sexual tension in place. Obviously it can be done, but does this make for a good urban fantasy? A good book in general?

I'm not being flippant, really. I can't think of any UF I've read that hasn't sizzled with sexual tension, and since I'm writing on the outskirts of the subgenre as it is, I don't need to do anything to tilt the story too far in the direction of any one genre. Also, UF heroines typically fall for the bad boy and then angst about it for a whole series, in between bouts of adventuresome sex with him. Thomas is not the bad boy. In fact, he's a cop--which works for UF--but he doesn't have a dark past or secrets. I could, of course, give him a dark past and/or secrets, but it wouldn't fit very well with his character, which is open and straightforward.

So my only other option is to give Cam a secondary character to supply some sexual tension, although it might be difficult to make it feel natural when she's so happy with Thomas. Should I even bother, though? I'd love to hear your views on this, no matter what genre you read and/or write.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WIP Wednesday: the engine's revving again

After a mid-week slump--I blame the vampirates--I'm back in the saddle for Bell-Men again. I finally finished typing up all the longhand writing I did the last few days, and I'm at 27,400 words. I was at 18,000 last Wednesday, which means I'm going to write 600 more words tonight before bed.

The plot is moving again, and I have some excellent scenes to look forward to. Cam's roommate is going to talk her into breaking into someone's walled garden tonight, for instance, and they're going to get caught. Muahaha. I think I'm going to have Cam arrested, which is going to lead to a fun-to-write argument with her boyfriend, who's a policeman. Oh, and she's going to discover something odd in the garden too (although I don't know what yet).

I also wrote a short story this weekend, so go me. It needs a bit of work, but I like it.

I love fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The words, they BURN

I just finished Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper. It was very bad. Not Return to Quag Keep bad, but definitely "Little, Brown published this?" bad. Spoilers ahead--lots of spoilers--so if you are fool enough to want to read Vampirates, you might not want to read on. Or then again, maybe you ought to.

First of all, the two good things about the book: the cover art, which is truly awesome, and the idea of vampirates. They're vampires and pirates!

In the hands of a decent writer--note that I don't even require a good writer for this, just a decent one--the book might have been a lot of fun. Grace and Connor are 14-year-old twins who have grown up in a lighthouse that their father owns and runs. When he dies, they set out to sea to avoid the orphanage, but a storm sinks their boat. Connor is rescued by a pirate ship, but Grace is rescued by a vampirate ship. Each worries that the other is dead.

The problem is, Somper is a terrible writer. His prose is leaden, his dialogue stilted, his characters completely one-dimensional, his pacing lethargic. Here's a fine example of his writing, from page 99:

"'Drink the hot chocolate,' said a voice inside her. It belonged to a whisper inside her head. 'Drink.'
"She had heard that voice before. It belonged to the captain."

Somper is a master of telling instead of showing. I've read self-published books whose authors didn't have such a perfect grasp of telling. We're told that Connor is a brilliant athlete and that Grace is blindingly intelligent, and that despite these gifts that both children have always felt like outsiders. Apparently their blinding Mary-Sue-ishness repels people, as well it should. (Oh, and Grace hides her intelligence so well that she comes across as dumb as a stump and about as perceptive as one too. Despite her obsession with the vampirate sea chanty her father always sang to her and her brother, it takes her a week to figure out she's on a vampirate ship.)

But the writing is only part of the problem. After the twins are rescued separately, they have separate adventures. Here's where major spoilers come in, because I want to contrast the twins' adventures.

Connor, on the pirate ship, is accepted by the pirates, makes some friends, saves the captain from two thieves who smuggled themselves on board to assassinate him, is given a swordfighting lesson (he's a natural, of course), takes part in a pirate raid, drinks part of a beer in a tavern to celebrate, and then rushes to save his sister when he learns of her whereabouts. Also, his dad gives him advice from beyond the grave.

Grace, on the vampirate ship, is locked in a cabin for her own safety, protected by an Irish vampire named Lorcan (he doesn't actually sparkle, but I wouldn't have been surprised), talks to the vampirate captain briefly, wanders around belowdeck and finds the kitchen where she helps the cook chop vegetables, is menaced by a vampire and rescued by the captain, and finally is rescued by her brother. Her father does not give her advice from beyond the grave, possibly because the only possible advice is "Wait here until you're rescued again," and she should already know that.

Who has the more interesting adventure? The boy, of course. Boys have adventures. Girls help cook and get kidnapped. Grace even remembers at one point that she learned porridge is good for her in home economics class. Um, home ec had already been discontinued from school curricula when I was a kid, and that was back in the 1980s.

And let's just talk about the setting. The book takes place in the year 2505 for no apparent reason. There are a few vague mentions of there having been a cataclysmic flood, but it doesn't seem to have made much difference in the world except that, oddly enough, there's very little technology. The pirate boats seem to be galleons, although from the number of crew (at least 120, from what I could figure from the numbers given in various spots), they're galleons the size of the Queen Mary. That would explain why the pirates each have their own cabins, with beds and everything. It would also at least partly explain why the ships seem to be so completely free from ship-like motion. The pirate ship pulls up next to its victim and apparently parks there while the pirates run across on metal bridges. I'm not making this up.

I can see that Somper might want to make up his own fantasy world in order to keep from having to research olden times. It's clear from the labored sections on swordfighting that he was already exhausted from reading Wikipedia and had no energy left for researching pirates, ships, history, or anything else. What I cannot forgive is sloppy worldbuilding. I can accept that this is 500 years in the future and a giant flood has somehow caused technology to crumble, but please, just explain to me right now why the ships should have cannons but there are no guns. All the pirates fight with swords--lots of different swords! Like broadswords! Because broadswords are totally appropriate for fighting in the close quarters of a ship.

I didn't mean to make this so long, but I must touch on the character of Cheng Li. Somper doesn't describe anyone except for eye color and hair color, but I'm pretty sure Cheng Li is Asian. I'm also pretty sure that's a Chinese name. So that explains why she uses katanas as her swords of choice, because of course a Chinese pirate would use a Japanese sword.

Shoot me now. Better yet, shoot this godawful book.

Rip it up and throw it away!

The Bell-Men WIP has bogged down in a swamp. Not a literal swamp. A swamp of bad ideas and poor characterization, I'm afraid.

It's Ruby the roommate who's the problem. I never intended for her to be a main character, but I made her a little more important to the plot and now I realize I don't have a handle on her personality. Is she silly and fun? Is she practical and organized? I know she teaches dance, but that's about it.

So this morning I decided I had to give her an Issue to deal with. I decided she wasn't happy with her job and was thinking of quitting before she's fired. Then she started yammering about wanting to start a business with Cam, the main character. Every word I've written today feels false and stupid. I'm going to have to pitch just about all of it, I'm convinced. In fact, I'm about to go in and draw big X's over the pages I've written already.

Then I have to rewrite it. The honeymoon is over with The Bell-Men; now this is work, and I don't have any scenes lined up that I'm looking forward to writing. Worse, I've set it up so that the spell that drives the whole plot only works on the full moon, which has just passed, so now I've got a whole month to kill before the plot moves forward. Something tells me I'm going to have to change that.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mini-flood waters

Here are some pictures of the storm/flood yesterday that I tweeted about all night. Because East Tennessee is a profoundly rainy place under normal conditions, we don't flood much here; when we do, the wet-weather creeks and streams carry it all away quickly. To look around now, you'd hardly be able to guess we got three inches plus of rain in about an hour last night. Even our driveway has new gravel now.

Above is a shot of the little culvert that runs down the side of our front yard. It doesn't ordinarily look like this when it rains, obviously, or we'd have moved the chairs. The big clump of plants behind the chairs are some very happy Tennessee water iris.

Above is the back yard, taken from the upstairs hall window. That's my car getting washed by God right there. The back yard floods every time it rains, but not this badly. You can see it's all washing down into the neighbor's yard, where the bamboo forest thrives in the swampy conditions. Do not talk to me about invasive plant species or I will have an apoplectic fit.

Here's me, drenched despite my umbrella. You can see the lower part of the side yard behind me.

That was a surprise

Five hundred words into my Bell-Men writing today, and I had to stop and write a short story. I guess when you're hot, you're hot. :) I finished "Blood Oranges" a little while ago and love it so much I'm quite sure it's the worst story I've ever written. I can't decide if I should let it rest a while before I look at it again, or if I should send it off immediately before I start to hate it. Maybe I should just keep it to myself forever and ever because I love it so much I want it to be mine, all mine.

It's about a vampire who likes to cook. Yeah, a chance comment on a blog post and it gave me a real story idea--not just flash fiction either, this puppy's a trim 2,400 words long, which means it counts toward my "write six short stories in 2009" goal. Woot!

Friday, September 18, 2009

*smack smack* Wake up!

I only have four stories out right now. Unless I write some new ones or rewrite some retired ones, that's all I've got. It's not urgent to me that I sell them--I've made a lot of sales this year and I'd be churlish to complain--but dayum editors, wake up!

I've got one story subbed to Weird Tales. WT seems to have imploded with shock after they won a Hugo, and they don't appear to be replying to subs at all. Since I'm now way over the response time for them and don't have much hopes of selling to them anyway, I simsubbed the story to an anthology. And now that antho is not responding either. Is it me?

And I've got another story out at the only market that might want it, a market that does not actually even pay. I'm basically just dumping the story. And--yes, wait for it--they too seem to have stopped responding to subs!

And what's up with Everyday Weirdness? One of my stories is out to them too (and has been for a few months), and yesterday when I tried to go to their website, Firefox told me no way Jose, they're covered in viruses. Or whatever. And according to Duotrope, they haven't responded to anyone in about a month.

I don't know what's up with all this, but I'm getting kind of fed up. The main reason I write short stories anymore is for a quick egoboo. If these editors don't snap out of it, I won't even have that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Names redux

I've changed Cassie's name to Cam (thanks for the suggestion, Alan), short for Cambry. Cambree is a name in The Baby Name Wizard, but I thought the double-e ending had too modern a feel. I also changed Cam's last name from Key--because Cam Key sounds awful--to Reeves. Cam Reeves doesn't sound too great either, though. Hmm. May have to keep working on her last name.

But once I changed Cassie to Cam, I had to change her roommate's name again, because I'd changed her roommate's name from Ivy to Em. Cam and Em sound like two cartoon characters. So I changed Em's name to Ruby. I also changed the last name of Cam's new boyfriend from Bowman to Key, because Thomas Key sounds better than Thomas Bowman and the name Key was just floating around.

This is too hard to keep track of. I think I'll play video games for a while.

To keep this post from being too unutterably boring, I'll ask a question. What names do you keep going back to for characters? My default names for female characters seem to be variations of Terry ("Cult of the Butterfly," the swashbuckling fantasy), Elizabeth (Liza in Weaver's Shroud, Lizzy in an abortive mystery novel), and Anna (Anna in a long-trunked novel, Ana in The Taste of Magic). My default names for male characters are variations of Christopher (Kristof in The Weredeer), Robert/Robin (Robin in "Night Court," Robbie in "Never Be Alone") and Thomas ("Final Episode," Bell-Men).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Bell-Men

I've written 18,000 words on the Bell-Men WIP since last week. Not a bad word-count at all! I've come up with some ideas for the plot and have thrown in a murder too. Murders are as good as cowboys and ninjas for moving a plot forward.

I still haven't renamed poor Cassie. It's getting urgent. So since I'm off work tomorrow, here's my Thursday goal: write 2,000 words so I'll be at a tidy 20,000 for the week, and figure out the perfect name for the main character. I think if I change her last name I'll have a lot more options; I can't choose a one-syllable name for her while her last name is also one-syllable.

But right now I want to watch Ghost Hunters and read Cybermancy by Kelly McCullough. It's a nice short book, sequel to WebMage, which I rather liked.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

insert plot here

I wrote 3,000 words today, longhand, and just finished typing them up. I'm going to try and add another 500 or so before bed, too.

The only problem is, I've pretty much written all the early scenes I had planned. I've written my way to the edge of a cliff. I can see the plot continuing on the other side of the canyon, but I'm damned if I know how to cross.

Time for some outline action tomorrow, I suspect.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The frustration of names

Oh noes! Another post about character names! Somebody stop me!

Yes, okay, I put way too much thought into my characters' names. I happen to think it's important. I'm going to have to change the names of the two main characters in Bell-Men, and here's why.

Character 1: Cassandra Key is the current name of my main character. She goes by Cassie. Unfortunately, I have too many characters whose names end with an -ee sound, and that gets repetitive. Also, there's at least one other urban fantasy series out there whose main character is named Cassandra-goes-by-Cassie. Not to mention that the name Cassandra has baggage; like the character in Vivien Alcock's excellent YA book The Haunting of Cassie Palmer, Cassies are often people with strange otherworldly powers. Or at least they can see ghosts. My Cassie isn't like that, and I don't want to give the reader the wrong idea before the book even starts.

Character 2: Ivy, Cassie's roommate. I chose her name before I'd read any of Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan books, but now that I've read the first two (which I reckon works out to about 300,000 words in all--those are some long honking books), the name Ivy is permanently in my brain as equaling vampire. Also, it's weird that I independently chose Ivy as the roommate's name when it's the roommate's name in the Rachel Morgan books.

See? These are valid and important reasons to change character names! It's not just me liking to mess around with my characters' names. Really!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The vampire might be a gourmet

I forgot that September 1 was the two-year anniversary of this blog. Hard to believe I've been complaining here for that long.

The Bell-Men (working title, of course) is coming along great. I'm at 8,500 words now and I want to get to 10,000 words by tonight. This may be hard because the Food channel is running an Iron Chef marathon this evening. If I try and write while watching Iron Chef, my characters will suddenly get very interested in food. And since the next scenes are going to include main character Cassie's first meeting with a vampire, which will not go well for her, adding food would be really peculiar.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why all books should be paperbacks

Mom slacked off and took this picture while I was moving my piles of books from her room to mine. She labeled it "katebookhoarder."

This spring, Mom and I swapped rooms for the summer since the master bedroom stays hot and the smaller bedroom stays cool. I like heat and Mom doesn't, but we were planning to switch back after summer. When we talked it over this week and decided we liked the rooms we had, I said I wanted my bookshelves in my room instead of the ugly old wardrobe I wasn't using anyway.

I will not dwell on the misery of getting that hideous wardrobe down the stairs and out to the shed. The bookshelves weren't nearly as hard to move. Now, of course, I have to put all the books back--but that's fun because I get to sort them as I go, and I can add books to my LibraryThing that I haven't added yet. Unfortunately, I have to do this before bedtime because most of the books are on my bed. If you'll excuse me, I'll be busy for the next five hours.

(Oh, and to keep this writing-related, I've typed up the first chapter of the Bell-Man WIP and I've got 3,000 words already! That's a lot more than I thought, and I have a few more thousand still to type up.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And she's off!

Some of the best book ideas come to me very quickly. That happened last October with The Taste of Magic, which went from "hey, that's a fun idea" to "THE END" in about seven weeks. It looks like I may end up with the same schedule this month.

A week and a half ago I got an idea for a story. Of course, I couldn't do any work on it, right, because I'd finally started writing again on the untitled swashbuckling fantasy and was enjoying it, and I'm not one of those writers who can actively work on more than one story at once. So I set the new idea to simmer.

Then I went to DragonCon, and not only did ideas start pouring in from different directions, I nailed the main character's profession during lunch on Saturday. At which point, my brain was off and running and I was just hanging on to the reins trying to stay in the saddle. Which is a really weird metaphor to use for a brain.

Yesterday I worked out the main plot points, named and renamed the characters, and started writing. It's all longhand so I'm not sure how much I wrote, but I'd say I'm only about 1,000 words in. But I like the main character, Cassandra Key (who goes by Cassie), and I think the world's interesting. It's an urban fantasy, although it approaches it from the other side, so to speak: Cassie lives in a steampunkish world with elves and fairies but no humans--humans are imaginary monsters called bell-men--until Cassie witnesses something that draws her into the dark side of the elves' caste system, blah blah blah, and she ends up visiting the human world to try and save an abducted high-born elf woman. And the book has two kinds of vampires!

As for titles, I'm thinking something like Blood Key, although not Blood Key because that's awful. Any suggestions? I'm always more comfortable if I have a working title early.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I got home from DragonCon tonight around 4:30pm. It seemed to take me a lot less time to drive home than it did to drive there, probably because I spent the drive home in a near-fugue state from exhaustion. Fortunately traffic was light. I occupied my brain by plotting out a new story I've been thinking about (because I don't have enough book ideas stacked up waiting for time to write them). I think it'll be fun to write.

I didn't get any writing done while I was gone, but I had a great time. Just being in the middle of so many intelligent, well-read, interesting people was exciting. It gave me the same mental fizz that the start of the new semester always does at work (I work at a college, incidentally).

Next time I go to DragonCon, I'd like to stay in one of the convention hotels. Also, I'd like a million dollars and a pony.

Oh, and I discovered something about myself that I never realized before this weekend: I find guys in kilts totally hawt. Who knew?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Food from many lands

Day 2 at DragonCon and I'm really loving this! I can definitely see me making this a yearly thing if at all possible. I've really been enjoying everything about the con, especially the panels. So far, every single panel I've attended has been intelligent, well-run, and fascinating. My favorite panel was one from this morning, What Women Want in SF/F Roles, with Lois McMaster Bujold as one of the panelists. The room was packed, and not just with women, which was nice to see. At the beginning of the panel, the moderator mentioned that this panel was about "what women want." That made everyone titter a bit. Then I realized I was sitting squished between a long-haired gamer dude and a man Edward Gorey might have described as a "well-set-up older gentleman," and I realized also that I was pretty close to what I want. :)

Anyway, I met my friend Kevin for lunch and we went to an awesome Brazilian restaurant where they bring meat around on skewers and carve bits off for you. It was excellent, and I ate so much I kind of assumed I'd never want to eat again. It was also wonderful to catch up, since I hadn't seen Kevin since the late 1990s--hard to believe. Then after the afternoon panels I got together with my cousin Molly for supper; I figured I'd just have a small salad and tea or something, but she said, "Do you like Mexican?" Oh yes I do. Oh my yes. So we went to this tiny but excellent place called Pancho's and had enchiladas and margaritas, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to explode.

I'm completely worn out but having a wonderful time. Tomorrow I've got three more panels I want to attend, and then I'm heading home, where I will spent the rest of the three-day weekend eating nothing but crackers and ice water and not much of that. Also I will sleep a lot.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Safe and sound, and free wifi!

I may be staying in a craptastic cheap motel in Marietta, but it's got free wifi. It's also really close to downtown Atlanta.

So yes, I arrived safe and sound around noon today, got checked in at DragonCon, and hit a few panels before coming to the hotel. My gawd this is a huge convention! I'm now intimately familiar with this area of downtown Atlanta, because the con is spread out over four huge hotels and I've been roaming among them along with many, many other people. Lots of folks in costume, but I haven't really looked at them because, you know, don't make eye contact.

I'm killing an hour or so before I head back to meet my old friend Kevin (who I haven't seen in about 15 years) for an MST3K thing. That should be a blast any way you look at it. Then tomorrow I have my itinerary all planned out, and fortunately everything I want to go to takes place in the Hyatt so I don't have to do a lot of walking. I'm starting off with a panel on What Women Want in SF/F Roles, which should be interesting.

Oh, and so far? No books. Geez, people, where the hell are you hiding the booksellers! Horrible thought--maybe there aren't any. Good thing I came prepared!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The road food's in the car

I'm more or less ready to set off for Atlanta and DragonCon in the morning! This has been a busy day.

oil change/tire rotation/brake inspection (all AOK)
washed car, cleaned it out, topped off the tank
washed and ironed clothes
made five more bookmarks, dozens more stickers for the free table
packed everything I don't need tonight
printed out directions, hotel reservation email
put Kevin's and my cousin Molly's phone numbers in my phone (I always forget I can do that)
cleaned bathroom, mowed lawn (neither have anything to do with DragonCon, but they were on my to-do list)

Still to do before bedtime:
Type up the writing that I did this morning
Burn CDs!
Quadruple-check that my DragonCon reservation card is in my suitcase

I'm taking Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint with me, just in case there aren't any books available at DragonCon. Heh.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WIP Wednesday FTW

I've finally gotten back in the rhythm of writing. In fact, I've written over 8,000 words just in the last few days. It feels good! I'll be taking my laptop with me to DragonCon, and I hope to make some time in the evenings and/or early mornings to write.

Of course, the outline I worked on so carefully a few weeks ago is totally useless. It was totally useless within 1,000 words. I kind of expected that, though; this is a swashbuckling adventure, and I wanted to be free to add details and chase subplots as I thought of them. I'm only about 19,000 words in total so far, and I'm really happy with the way things are going. There's not a lot of swashbuckling so far, but that's about to change fast. Right now Our Heroine and her expedition-mates have been captured by bandits, but she's going to escape (with some help). Very soon she's going to acquire a sword and a few good reasons to use it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's spelled S-H-A-W

Aaron Polson tagged the whole planet with this meme. Here's the rules, and I wish my last name was longer:

From the biggest bookcase you have, pick out one book whose author’s last name starts with each letter of your last name. If you have no books by an author whose last name starts with a particular letter, go to the next letter. If you have two of the same letter in your last name, get two separate authors, not two books by the same author. Bonus: If you can, pick the first book you haven’t read off your shelf, unless you’re one of those people who’s read all the books you own.

- Post the first sentence of each book, along with the author and title. Feel free to skip prefaces and such, especially if they’re by a different writer.

S is for Lisa Shearin, and I'm a total fangirl. From Magic Lost, Trouble Found: "Sorcerers weren't normal, sorcery wasn't natural, and Quentin Rand didn't like either one."

H is for Barry Hughart. From Bridge of Birds: "I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world."

A is for Richard Adams, and I don't even have to look at the book because I have the first line and most of the first paragraphs memorized. From Watership Down: "The primroses were over."

W is for Patricia C. Wrede. From Dealing with Dragons: "Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable."

That was fun! Now it's your turn!