Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pay attention!

Here it is, the only picture of me you're ever likely to see here, at least without me half-hiding behind something. I don't like having my picture taken. Halloween, though--that's different. Here I am as a rather pleasant-looking witch (a costume I threw together from stuff I already had, when I realized the little kids are already out trick-or-treating):

That's my cat Saint Vincent I'm holding. And yes, I'm looking rather annoyed because Mom kept telling me to smile. I didn't want to smile. You can't tell from the picture, but I'm wearing orange and white stripey socks. Happy Halloween!

Do you have any Halloween pictures? Let's see them!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just in time for Halloween

I just found out that my story "Voices" is up at Everyday Weirdness (actually it was up yesterday). You may recognize the influence on my fiction of me watching way too much Ghost Hunters. (Speaking of which, live show tomorrow night, woot! Yes, I'm spending Halloween night watching TV.)

ETA: My mom just posted on her blog about the naming of Skunk Cat Book Reviews, for your reading pleasure.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review blog up

I've started my new book review blog, Skunk Cat Book Reviews, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing.

Two days and a few hours until NaNoWriMo, and I have made peace with the fact that I have no freaking idea what my NaNo book will really be about. Serenity now, serenity now. I have a title, what else do I need? Also I've already named my main character, so I don't have to sweat over that. Everything else will be pirates and ninjas, if necessary.

In book-reading news, I have just over two months left in the year and ten books left in my "read 50 books in 2009" thing. Since I won't be reading much in November, I'd better start sorting my to-be-read books by thickness again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Because I don't have enough to do

I've decided to start an informal book review blog, mostly so I can keep track of which urban fantasy books I've read and which ones only sound like ones I've read. Well, also I think it might be interesting. I'll probably recruit a few folks to post reviews too--I've asked my mom and she said sure, which is cool.

Anyway, I can't think of a title for the blog. I'm hopeless at titles no matter what I'm titling. Any suggestions? It's not going to be themed to a particular genre or anything.

As you can possibly tell, I'm deep in denial about Nano. Why yes, it's only three days away and I have no plot. Of course this is a great time to start a book review blog.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More words! More words!

I just found out today that my story "Orcs and Trolls" will be included in the Every Day Fiction 2009 Anthology! I really didn't think I'd be in this one, although I have two stories in last year's anthology, which you should totally order. Every Day Fiction will be publishing another of my stories soon, "Fall or Fly."

I wrote a bunch of new scenes for Bell-Men today. I need to type them up, but as of last night I was up to 94,500 words. I suspect I'm closer to 98,000 words today. Eventually I'd like to, you know, stop writing on it. On the other hand, the scenes today were fun to write. Cam got beat up a little (again, poor thing) and she retaliated by hitting the guy in the head with a glass paperweight. Yeah.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saving the world

Oh yeah, I have a blog, don't I? Maybe I should post.

I've been adding to Bell-Men this evening. There's a lot I want to change and add, which is worrisome. NaNo starts next Sunday! I don't even really know what Tiger's going to be about; I had planned to spend the week thinking about it, but Bell-Men won't let me go yet.

I've noticed that the Bell-Men plot is morphing into something more fantasy-ish than I originally had. I try and stay away from the "hero saves the world" fantasy plot, but it's hard to resist. I think "more is at stake than the hero initially realizes" is one of those tropes woven right into the fabric of the genre. Well, you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finally, I can read again

Mom gave me the new Terry Pratchett book for my birthday, Unseen Academicals, and I spent many lovely hours today reading it. It's awesome. I had to set aside Jim C. Hines's The Mermaid's Madness to read it, and in turn I had set aside Fritz Leiber's Swords & Deviltry to read that. I am surrounded by awesome books. And now that I'm done with Bell-Men, I can read them all muahahaha at least until NaNo starts next Sunday.

Next Sunday! And I'm already wondering if maybe I should throw out Tiger and write a YA story I have in mind instead--but I think I need to spend more effort worldbuilding and plotting and ultimately writing the YA story. Tiger is just a fun throwaway idea, perfect for NaNo.

And despite the reading, I find Bell-Men creeping into my thoughts frequently. The writing is solid, and the plot and pacing is good up to about 3/4 through. Then things feel rushed and the ending frankly sucketh mightily, with a bonafide deus ex machina. I'm already coming up with ways to fix all that. I wasn't intending to tinker with Bell-Men until probably January, but I suspect I'll be writing new scenes for it this week. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the final wordcount comes to 100,000.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Now I can stop yammering about it.

I finished The Bell-Men last night. Somewhere along the line, the working title stuck and I think I like it as the real title. I'm taking suggestions for improvements, of course.

The word count ended at 91,063, although that's already changed a bit. Because what did I do a few hours after I typed THE END? I opened the file again and started rereading it. I told myself I was insane, but actually, it's an important step. I'm going to set the book aside until probably January, but my brain will be working on it quietly until then. I need to know the shape of the book--its pacing, the characterization, the plot, etc.--to get a better idea of what needs to be fixed. Until this final readthrough of the draft, I don't have a sense of its weaknesses.

This reading also gives me the opportunity for a very light editing pass. I'm making final name changes (Thomas is now Tomas, a minor character Robert became Kilian), adding a line or two here or there to fix the flow, taking out a line or two that seem redundant, eliminating adverbs and adjectives, fixing typos and grammatical bobbles, and so forth. I actually like doing this. It makes me feel like I wrote a real book.

Once I'm done, I can start thinking about Nano! Only a week and a half!

Monday, October 19, 2009

What I will do if I finish Bell-Men today

I'm so close. Also, finally, I think I know how I'm going to end this thing. The only problem is getting butt in chair and bashing out the last five thousand or so words.

So: reward time! If I finish Bell-Men today, I will go out and buy a carton of Ben & Jerry's (I'm not sure what flavor, since they no longer seem to make The Gobfather, which is my absolute favorite). Then I will change into my pajamas, get into bed, and read Fritz Leiber's Swords & Deviltry while I eat as much ice cream as I can hold.

I guess I should change out of my pajamas first, huh?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's cold, and the virtue has gone out of everything.

Someone needs to tell Mother Nature that it doesn't get this cold in mid-October in the Tennessee valley. We had to turn the heat on today. I have my flannel sheets on the bed along with a heavy blanket and a comforter and five pillows, and I was still cold last night.

I've cracked 80,000 words on Bell-Men, but the words are a bit of a struggle today. I still don't know how the endgame is going to play out, and I don't have a whole lot of time remaining to figure it out before I have to actually write it. All I know is that it's about to start snowing where Cam is, because why the hell not?

I'm tempted to go to bed and watch a movie or something until I fall asleep, but I still have about 1,500 words to write on my self-imposed daily wordcount. Dammit.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

5k day

My 10k day turned into a 5k day, but I'm happy. It didn't really take me long to write 5,000 words, either, considering I didn't start until 1pm and took a lot of time off to do important stuff like drive into Oak Ridge for Big Ed's pizza (best pizza in the world, even worth risking Oak Ridge's ridiculous traffic cameras for, and the place hasn't changed since I was a kid).

I'm 77,500 words into Bell-Men. I'm to the "exhausted, miserable, want to finish" phase of the book. I spent half the afternoon weeping gently while I typed, because poor Cam is having such a rough time and I have no clear idea how I'm going to tie all the subplots and the main plot together without a deus ex machina.

I keep forgetting I've got Monday off work. I'm going to try my damnedest to finish the draft by the end of Monday.

That's not what I'd planned to do this morning.

Fifteen minutes after I dragged myself out of bed (late) and dressed, because I was determined to be efficient today and write 10,000 words, Mom came in and said she was having trouble with her new Sony Pocket ereader. Specifically, the Sony elibrary crap program was no longer able to put books on her reader.

I checked it out, and sure enough, it wouldn't. Microsoft ever so helpfully informed us that "A problem has caused the program to stop working." A problem. I love how they're so specific. Mom had found a workaround online, but when I tried it that didn't work either. I tried a few other things and nothing worked. Her $200 ereader was now a $200 paperweight.

She only bought the thing a few weeks ago, so she's now returned it and I've given her my ereader, which I haven't used much since I bought it this February. I'm disgusted with Sony, which can't even make its own software work properly, and I'm disgusted that I couldn't use Mom's reader on my computer because my reader was already registered to my computer. It's sort of like Sony is saying, "The reader you spent a small fortune on is not actually yours, and the books you bought in good faith are not actually yours, and while we're at it, we'll take that computer too." Lame. Sony's now on my shit list and frankly I'm already tired of my ereader, which had too many minuses for me to want to enjoy the pluses. I'll try again when the new generation of readers comes out, maybe next year.

In the meantime, I have all these paper books that work just fine and which I can reread and loan out and sell to a used book store if I like. In fact, I got my used copy of Fritz Leiber's Swords & Deviltry in the mail today. I've been wanting to read it for years but it's been out of print. I finally broke down and bought a copy, and if I weren't so close to finishing Bell-Men, I'd say bugger off to 10k day and just read instead. Lord knows I haven't written a single word all morning anyway.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday: the end-game is nigh!

I just finished the day's 2,000 words on Bell-Men. I'm now 72,545 words in, which is a little over 10,000 words this week. That's a lot more than I thought I'd written, so I'm pretty pleased.

Tomorrow is a 10k day, which LMEighmy turned me onto. I have tomorrow off work since it's an ordinary Thursday, and I'm going to write as much as I can. I don't know if I can hit 10,000 words, but I'd be thrilled with just 5,000. I'm close enough to the end of Bell-Men that I think I can finish this week.

Let me say that again, because it's awesome to be able to write it: I THINK I CAN FINISH WRITING BELL-MEN THIS WEEK! Thank goodness!

Monday, October 12, 2009

This book's not going to finish itself

Last week I wrote 17,000 words on Bell-Men. I haven't counted up this week so far, but the count is pretty low. I don't usually get a lot done on the weekends--I seem to feel I have lots of time left, and then suddenly it's Monday morning--but good grief. 1,000 words over the weekend? Pathetic.

I've got around 20,000 words to go on Bell-Men. If I knuckle down, I can have the draft finished in another week or ten days. And since I'm running out of October, that's good.

So here's my solemn pledge. Let me raise one hand in the air, solemnly. For the next week, or until the draft's done, my minimum wordcount per day is going to be 2,000 words. If I miss the wordcount, I have to write an extra 1,000 words the next day.

Oh, and I'm going to start tonight. Since I've only written around 500 words today, I'd better get to work. Only five hours until midnight.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Let's kill some vampires

Okay, so Bell-Men has two types of vampires. One type of vampire is more or less traditional. You have to cut their heads off to kill them. I need to figure out how to kill the other type. Even the traditional vampires don't know.

Stakes are out--they just slow vampires down in this world. My imagination has dried up completely (or rather, it's shut down in the face of illogic--I mean, how could cutting someone's head off not kill them?). Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bee Zombies! They eat books!

Yes, I've been looking at the search terms that led people to my blog. "Bee zombie" is one, which absolutely charmed me. And if you Google "Embarrassing lines," my post of the same title comes up as the second hit currently. But embarrassing lines are not as cool as bee zombies.

I got my Amazon order today. Ten books go into the already overflowing "to be read" stack. Actually, it's a pile now, taking up valuable carpet space behind a chair in my room. It's full of lots of delightful books, absolutely wonderful books that I can't wait to read--but I can't read them now, I'm writing Bell-Men. I don't have time to read!

I've noticed lately that I've turned into an "in one gulp" reader. I've always tended to this, but lately it's just gotten worse: I'll start a book, and if I like it I read straight through and finish it as soon as possible, even if it means staying up half the night and acting like a zombie (or a bee zombie) the next day. I think that's a big part of why I prefer shorter books. But I didn't realize until today that I've also become an "in one gulp" writer. Witness my mad gallop through Bell-Men, where in roughly four weeks I've written almost 65,000 words. Any time spent not writing or thinking about Bell-Men is time wasted as far as I'm concerned, because I want to get it finished.

But after I finish, dammit, I'm going to read and read and read.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Bell-Men

Last WIP Wednesday I was 45,000 words into Bell-Men. Now I'm 62,000 words in. 17,000 words is a pretty good week's wordage; pardon me a moment while I smirk.

I'll get to 65,000 words tomorrow even though--ick--I have to work unexpectedly. Usually I have Thursdays off. Then again, usually I waste my Thursdays-off by playing video games, hiking, watching TV, and reading other people's books. I'll miss the hiking, but I can go this weekend.

The pace of Bell-Men has picked up, although I've got a lot of ground to cover before the end of the book. At some point soon I'm going to have to sit down and map out the last few chapters. I have a handful of images and scene snippets I want to include, but I don't know how they all tie together. I suspect that on some level I do actually know where everything's headed because I keep dropping clues as I write, often without realizing what I'm doing until it's already on the page. Huzzah for subconscious plotting!

Monday, October 5, 2009

In public and everything

I've only written about 1,000 words today. I think I will force myself to write at least another 500 before bed.

But posting my wordcounts is getting boring even to me. Unfortunately, I absolutely cannot think of anything else to blog about. The weather isn't doing anything exciting, Vincent has not caught anything interesting lately (he did re-catch the skink a few days ago and I managed to get it outside, where presumably it immediately sought out a skink therapist to treat for PTSD), and my job is dullsville, man. I could tell you how interesting I found the book The Deer of North America by Leonard Lee Rue III that I read yesterday morning, and how I was excited to discover that it was an inscribed copy (I picked it up at a used book store), but I suspect no one but me wants to talk at length about the deer of North America. Even though really, it's an excellent book! It's full of esoteric information that I've never come across anywhere else despite searching for it actively while I was writing Stag in Velvet; for instance, I now know the typical gaits of deer, including average speed and length of stride while running, something I actually do need to know as a minor plot point. Also the book has lots of information I never would have dreamed even existed, like the fact that during the rut, stags masturbate. Yeah. There's even a picture.

Anyway, so I'm the most boring person in the world and I am reduced to blogging about masturbating deer. And I am very tempted to just erase the last couple of sentences, because I really really do not want to see the search terms that lead people to this post.

I'll try and do something interesting tomorrow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I've wasted my whole weekend!

Maybe 'wasted' is a bit strong, but I'm not even quite at 55,000 words on Bell-Men and I'd planned on 60,000 by now. Cam's in the bell-men's world now and she's about to meet her first real vampires, and her first bell-men vampire hunters.

It should be interesting to write, but I'm finding it hard going. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because it's forcing me to do a difficult juggling act: not only do I have to keep the main plot and subplots going, but I'm introducing a lot of new stuff that could overwhelm the story if I'm not careful. I'm introducing new characters and settings with their own subplots that have to tie into the main story. The last thing I want is a feeling of disconnect for the reader when Cam leaves her world for the bell-men's. Also, I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to end this thing--and I need to figure it out soon, since I'm into the last third of the book now.

Incidentally, I found these lines incredibly fun to write:

Melody’s not with Shadow. He thinks some vampires have taken her. What are vampires?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never heard the word.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's that time of year again!

I just updated my NaNo profile for 2009! If you're going to be doing Nano this year, hop on over and buddy me. I hope they've fixed the bug where the page only displays 11 of your buddies, because I love being able to see how other people are doing and race them.

I've tossed my hat in the ring for Tiger, an odd little idea I've had floating around for a while. I may end up changing my mind, but Tiger is the perfect kind of project for Nano--quirky, of questionable salability (I don't think that's the right word, but you know), and short.

Jack of All Trades was my 2007 Nano project, incidentally.

OMG say it ain't so!

I totally, seriously, truly got this email from
Amazon this morning.
Please, no one ever let me know if Jack of All
Trades is as bad as Vampirates.
Dear Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased or
rated "Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean" by Justin
Somper have also purchased "Jack of all Trades" by
K. C. Shaw. For this reason, you might like to know
that "Jack of all Trades" is now available. You can
order yours for just $13.22 ($3.73 off the list
price) by following the link below.
Jack of all Trades

K. C. Shaw

List Price: $16.95
Price: $13.22
You Save: $3.73
To learn more about Jack of all Trades, please visit
the following page at