Sunday, May 30, 2010

Worldbuilding Made Easy

Oh, man, I haven't posted since last Sunday. I'd plead a busy and interesting life, but, well.

I'm about 8,000 words into The Trickster Society. I'm finding it interesting to write--and, in some ways, really simple. I've set it in present-day Knoxville, Tennessee, because They say you should write what you know. Well, I know Knoxville. I lived there for about ten years and have worked there most of my adult life.

That makes it super easy to worldbuild. I don't have to make stuff up! It's right there for me to check on if I need a detail! This morning I drove into Knoxville and spent some time walking around in the Fort Sanders area and parts of the UT campus. I jotted down notes, particularly about things that have changed in the decade-plus since those were my stomping grounds, and particularly focused on places where I want to set a few scenes. It was fun and easy research, and quite pleasant on a sunny Sunday morning in late May.

I haven't set a book in the real world in a long time, and I've never set a book in a part of the real world I know thoroughly. If I'd known how damn easy it is, all my books would be set in Knoxville.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A tiny moon orbiting the novel

I started The Trickster Society yesterday, because it feels ripe. I'm only about 1,000 words in but I think I have the voice down right, and it's unfolding nicely already. Best of all? I have an idea for a short story with two of the main characters, set a year before the book's events. It's been so long since I wrote a short story (last September, actually, not counting one horrible flash story that's getting retired as soon as the rejection comes back) that I'm delirious with excitement about possibly writing a new one.

I need to be more disciplined about writing every day. That's why I like NaNoWriMo so much, but of course that's half a year away. Time to make a chart and break out the gold stars. I have too many projects going to waste any days.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why I read so fast

I've figured out why I've developed into a read-it-in-one-sitting-if-possible reader. Maybe I've said this before and just don't remember (I have a terrible memory, but that just makes my life a cheerful series of discoveries and rediscoveries and rediscoveries), but I have trouble reading while I'm writing. Reading other people's books while I'm trying to write my own, that is. It's not that I pick up another style after reading--I find that I slip right back into my own style easily after rereading a few paragraphs I've written. No, it's that once I've become involved with another writer's book, my own really feels boring to me until I can disengage with the one I'm reading. The best way to do that is to read really, really fast.

So I've finished book #26 out of 50. Go me.

Unfortunately, reading a book in one sitting a lot of times means staying up really late to finish it. Since I'm one of those people who really needs a solid eight hours of sleep a night, that causes other problems. What to do, what to do? Well, for one thing, I plan to go to bed really early tonight. *smacks hand back from Cory Doctorow's For the Win, which I bought today*

Thursday, May 20, 2010

25! Stayin' alive!

Tonight I made it to 25 books read in 2010, and it's only mid-May! Not only that, but fully five of those books are published by small presses, which means I've kept up both parts of my new year's readolution. (Um, that word sounded cleverer in my head than it actually is.)

I've also reviewed every single one of those books over at Skunk Cat. Big pat on the back for me. In fact, I might even go so far as to say 'huzzah'!

Now for the next 25!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Inevitably, here we go

It's a lazy, stormy-drizzly-stormy-sunny Sunday afternoon. I have a chicken roasting in the oven, I'm sipping hot tea to help my headache, and the fan is blowing because it's stuffy in my room. It's an absolutely perfect time to write, which is why I'm researching Cherokee trickster myths for the urban fantasy I really dammit don't intend to start writing for months.

Actually, I may start the book much sooner than I expected. Adventures in Zoology isn't going anywhere, after all--I'm far enough in that I know I'll finish, even if I take a break--and the new book feels like one I would tear through with white-hot intensity once I started. Without really meaning to work on it, I've somehow amassed many pages of notes on Cherokee myths and history, Nordic myths about trolls, and trickster legends from many lands. Now I need a detailed map of Knoxville, because I plan to set the book in the Real! World! OMG!

I'm pretty sure my main character's name is Ivy (I've been itching to use that name since I started Bell-Men last fall). I know the first two important scenes in detail and how they'll kick off the plot and two important subplots. As soon as I figure out what happens next--that is, why Ivy gets the job she's going to be interviewing for in the opening scene, and how her friend's new club the Trickster Society ties in with the main plot--I suspect I'll have to start writing. There are worse fates, hey.

Hmm, The Trickster Society has a nice ring to it as a working title.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

stacked up waiting to land

That urban fantasy I've been thinking about keeps distracting me from Adventures in Zoology. I'll be trying to figure out the next plot step (does Terry kill that one guy or just rob him? and how can I give her a compelling reason to basically turn around and retrace her steps after she just arrived in town twelve hours ago?) when I catch myself thinking about my new urban fantasy heroine. I've got her voice, that's the problem. Now she wants to talk to me.

Finding a character's voice is exciting, like hearing a baby's first words. This new character is very different from the others I've been writing lately. She's stolid and quiet, but inside she's full of amusing snark. How do I know before I've even given her a name or written a single word? Well, she's been telling me, of course.

I think Terry's going to have to kill that guy so she has to leave town fast. That'll jog the plot along just fine, and I've got a lot of writing to finish before I can start that urban fantasy. I would hate for Terry to have to lay the smackdown on my new character if she horns in too much on Adventures in Zoology.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Best-laid plans

Well, the farmer's market in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, City of Assholes was a bust. Although I've sold there before with no problems, it turns out you actually have to be a "member" to sell--which involves both a fee and an inspection, which of course means backyard gardeners like me are automatically excluded. The old battleaxe who told me seemed delighted to run someone off. She must live for moments like that.

On the other hand, I got rid of a flat of peppers before she muscled in on me, and had some interesting conversations with some nice people who didn't seem to mind that I was practically pushing plants into their arms ("no, really, you can have this one for a quarter--or actually, just take it").

I don't have to be at work until noon tomorrow (although I have to stay late tomorrow night), so in the morning I plan to go to the municipal building in my little town and make sure that the farmer's market here doesn't require me to pay anybody anything first. It turns out that our farmer's market is on Monday afternoons--gawd knows who decided that--so if I'm given the all-clear, I'll need to arrange to take a few Monday afternoons off work over the summer. Twist my arm.

After yesterday morning's disappointment, of course I spent the afternoon updating my agent queries list and making new and ever-more-discouraging spreadsheets to let me know just precisely how each of my novels has fared in the agent search. Short answer: I still don't have an agent. I also sent off five more queries for Bell-Men even though I've only heard back from ten of the twenty I queried at the end of March.

Usually when I update my records like that, I get a few coincidental rejections within a few hours. Alas, this weekend I have received nothing. In every possible way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This is so much easier than selling fiction

Preparation for the farmer's market is coming along just fine. Today is my last Thursday off for the next month--we're now between semesters and the testing center is closed; for the next four weeks or so, I'll be working Monday through Friday with real weekends off. That means I can take my peppers to the big Saturday morning farmer's market in Oak Ridge.

Today I bought a card table and a folding chair. Mom made me several signs (on bright neon cardstock) and last month she bought me a couple of bright-colored plastic tablecloths and some half-price Easter baskets. I think I'm ready to go with accouterments (Blogger seems to think that's spelled right, but it really looks wrong to me). Also today I transplanted a few pepper plants, made labels for the ones that didn't already have them, and set aside three flats of plants for the sale.

Saturday morning at around 7am, I plan to be out back pulling radishes. Then I'll pack my table and chair, signs and baskets, pepper plants and freshly pulled radishes in the car and drive into Oak Ridge for the morning. Oh, and I'll bring a book in case interest in buying peppers is even lower than I expect.

Worst-case scenario: I sell not one single thing and read all morning and spend my own money on other farmers' produce. Best-case scenario: I sell every single damn thing I bring and can guiltlessly treat myself to Big Ed's pizza for lunch. Either way, I think I win.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Unwelcome Ideas

Yesterday I caught myself putting together ideas for an urban fantasy. This is cool, except that I'm 35,000 words into Adventures in Zoology, or about a third of the way through, and it really needs all my attention. I don't need any new project ideas!

I was actually asked the classic "where do you get your ideas?" question the other day, and I sort of flubbed around trying to answer it without sounding insane. How do you explain that ideas are generated most often when the brain is working flat-out on a similar project, that when you immerse yourself in books and reading and writing and more books, ideas bubble up all the damn time?

I've got the rest of 2010 booked solid for writing projects. (If I can write two full-length novels this year, I'm absolving myself of my new year's resolution to write six short stories.) I intend to finish Adventures in Zoology by mid-summer, and after a short break and some time for research, I guess I'll be writing that urban fantasy I just had the idea for. If I have time after that, I intend to go back to the untitled romance novel and finish it. Three books in a year! Of course, by the time fall rolls around, I'll have had 10 million even better ideas and the urban fantasy will feel boring.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How the peppers do grow

It's May 1, so here are my first-of-the-month pepper pictures. First up is the back garden, the big one with the hot peppers in it. In the middle you can clearly see the crooked rows of radishes that are doing very well, with peppers (and tomatoes) growing on either side. The bottom part of the garden is actually sown with zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds, and other hardy flowers since it turned out to be nothing but clay and gravel--not good soil for peppers.

Now here is the front garden, where the mild peppers are. It's not nearly as big but it's much better soil and gets lots more sun than the back.

And here are the eleven flats of pepper plants and seedlings that are waiting to be planted--preferably in other people's gardens, since I'm out of room. Today was my last Saturday that I have to work until June, so next Saturday I'm taking some of the bigger plants out to the big Oak Ridge farmer's market to try and unload them.