Thursday, July 29, 2010

Week of the Mighty Novella

Finally! My novella The Dragon Whisperer--last year's NaNo book, the one I wrote at breakneck speed so I could get back to rewriting Bell-Men--will be published as an ebook by Double Dragon Press! DDP published my novel Weaver's Shroud this spring and I'm very happy with them, so I'm glad they liked The Dragon Whisperer too.

Also in novella news this week, Cate Gardner has just announced that her novella Theatre of Curious Acts will be published by Hadley Rille Books! Congratulations to her, and huzzahs all around for the great and fabulous novella!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ooh, colors!

I don't know why I'm posting so many pictures lately. I still don't have a camera, I just bug my mom to take photos for me.

Mom was a party to my latest insanity, though. I saw a picture somewhere online that showed a set of bookshelves where each shelf held books of a different color. I went from "how cool" to "I could do that" in about fourteen nanoseconds, and the next thing I knew, Mom and I were surrounded by books piled everywhere. And here is the result--not as spectacular as the original picture I saw, but still pretty cool.

And yes, I will never be able to find the book I'm looking for. I can definitely see a complete rearrangement of my shelves coming up soon, but they needed it anyway. I can incorporate the new shelves.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The fruits of my labors

It's not the first of the month, but have a picture of my peppers! These are a few varieties that have started producing. From left to right, top to bottom: the very long ones are immature cowhorns (they get really big if you let them grow), then a pair of mammoth Jalapenos, then two smallish cayennes, middle row a banana pepper, my first sort-of-ripe Habanero, two puriras, and bottom row is a Tabasco and two NuMex variety peppers--Sunrise, I think, but possibly Twilight. I planted both and failed to label them properly, but I think Twilight peppers stay purple instead of turning red. Also they sparkle.


My acquisition of books continues apace as usual, faster than I can read, although I did read the one I bought today. It was one of those one-gulp books, but since I snagged it before the official release date, I've scheduled the review to run on Tuesday. Hopefully. I've also got three other books for immediate devouring sitting next to the bed, and several books coming in the mail. Dammit, why do I have to work? It's seriously cutting into my reading time!

I had planned to do a lot of writing today, but at least I got everything typed up that I'd handwritten. I'm now 31,000 words into The Trickster Society and about to ratchet up the tension a notch. Looking forward to nearly getting my heroine Ivy arrested for a very serious crime. Muahaha.

Oh, and you know the 3-day novel contest that I entered two years ago? Since I won't be able to go to DragonCon this year, dammit (I can't get off work--see, work just ruins my life), I've decided definitely to enter the contest again AND Mom agreed to collaborate with me! Since she's not really into fantasy, we're going to write a quirky middle-grade book instead. Mom's writing can be extremely funny, so I'm looking forward to working with her. It'll be an experiment for both of us, and if the book turns out good, even if it doesn't win, we can market it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Look what I made!

I finally decided I had to do something about all the books on the floor of my bedroom. My to-be-read pile is out of control and taking over. Accordingly, I moved the loveseat out of my room to Mom's--I never sat on it anyway, as it was piled with books--and put together these ubercheap brick-and-board shelves in the awkward spot under the linen closet. All the books on the new shelves, with the exception of Prowlpuss that I like to display because I love the cover, are my to-be-read books.

I also ordered three more books today since Powell's has free shipping today, and I bought two new books yesterday while I was out looking for shelves. If I didn't spend all my money on books, I could afford decent shelves, but then I wouldn't need them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hike like you mean it

I read The Magicians by Lev Grossman a few days ago (and reviewed it over at Skunk Cat), and I keep thinking about it. I recommend the book even though it's kind of depressing. One of the things the book does is look at fantasy worlds--in this case, both the hidden-magical-world a la Harry Potter, and the portal-world Fillory, a la Narnia--and how real people would behave if suddenly given access to them. In Grossman's book, people continue to act as they did before, only with new things to angst about.

That's probably pretty accurate. As the main character in The Magicians discovers, changing circumstances doesn't change the person appreciably. Even if you get precisely what you've always dreamed of, you will always want more. That's human nature.

Then again...I don't know, sometimes I feel like I'm the last person on earth fighting the good fight against entropy. I still assume most people--if given the right circumstances, the right chances--will be brave and good and noble. I'm probably wrong. But I want to be proven right when I'm reading; I want characters to rise to the challenge when it counts, I want them to struggle and overcome adversity--whether it's a bad guy or just their own inner demons. I want characters to change for the better over the course of the book.

And if, say, a group of characters sets off for a grand adventure in a magical world, I would like at least one person in the group to have a tiny little clue about hiking and camping. Please! Spare me from imbecilic city characters!

Okay, actually, this is not where I intended to go with this post. But what the heck. Buy good hiking boots and break them in carefully before you leave on your first trip! Pack light, but pack for emergency weather conditions! Research your destination before you leave, using up-to-date sources! And lighten up, for God's sake--you're supposed to be enjoying yourselves! Oh, and don't get drunk and talk to a tree. That tree is bad news and if you weren't drunk you would have figured it out.

I feel slightly better now. Also, if I weren't suddenly, deliciously writing The Trickster Society at a proper breakneck-can't-finish-it-fast-enough clip, I'd be going back to Adventures in Zoology, where Our Heroine, a zoologist, does actually end up in a magical land she's wanted to visit for decades, and she brings her properly broken-in hiking boots. Because she's not stupid.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Other people manage to get endings right

I can't think of a thing to write about, except that I cleaned out my closets today (even the linen closet!), and no one wants to hear about that. I dusted off a couple of old stories this afternoon and sent them off. I thought up a short story idea that might actually work, if I can figure out how it should end.

That's always my problem. I never know how a short story should end. Endings are my nemesis. Nemeses. Whatever.

The reason I cleaned out my closets, and cleaned my room, is because I just finished reading a book called Snoop, by a guy named something-Gosling, which is all about how your stuff and the way you arrange your things tells a lot about you. When I mentioned the book to Mom, she said, "Anyone looking in this house would think we read all the time, and do nothing else." Which is pretty darn accurate, actually.

Maybe I'll go on to bed and read.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Editing doesn't count

Over the long weekend I opened up Bell-Men and hacked and slashed my way through it line by line. I managed to cut 6,000 words--my goal--without taking out more than a few dozen from any one passage. All the words I cut were completely unnecessary. Now the book is much trimmer at a bit under 118,000 words by MS Word's count (OpenOffice always gives me a higher count; it thinks the book is 120,000 words). I've given up on agents for this one and have sent queries out to three publishers. Onward and upward.

I haven't written much lately. Occasionally I open up Adventures in Zoology or The Trickster Society and tap out a few words, but nothing substantial. I think both projects are a lot of fun, though. I intend to finish both before the year is out. I suspect neither of them will ever sell--AinZ is about a 40-year-old zoologist who's chosen to go on a trip to fantasyland; Trickster Society is about a troll woman (yes, seriously) who...well, never mind, since there's not a single agent or publisher in the world who will get any further than that upon reading the query.

I'm getting fed up with myself for not finishing anything yet this year. Editing doesn't count. Editing is fun and easy. I think I am going to do NaNo this year, but only to see how many projects I can finish during the month.

Also, I'm thinking of taking up fencing. Really. I have an aunt who used to fence; next time I see her, I'm going to ask for a few lessons in basic footwork. Because she's my aunt and loves me, she won't look at my fat, bruised legs and say, "You're not shaped like an athlete and you're clumsy as hell." At least, I hope she won't.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bad Publisher! No Cookie!

A few weeks ago I read (and reviewed) the awesomely-titled and fun book The Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper (pen name of Brendan Halpin). Turns out he's having trouble with his publisher, Night Shade Books, which is screwing him over regarding ebook rights and his royalty statements. There's a good overview of the situation over at The Speculative Scotsman, or you can go to Halpin's own blog for a bit more information. Apparently author Liz Williams (author of Snake Agent, which is sitting close to the top of my to-read pile) is having similar problems with Night Shade Books.

Night Shade is (was) a well respected small SF/F press. Now they're proving that they have the business ethics and practices of a start-up POD publisher run by a failed PublishAmerica author out of his apartment. And the really scary thing is: Night Shade Books doesn't take unagented submissions. The authors being screwed over not only have agents, they have very good agents. If even a good agent can't get a respected publisher to A) return calls, B) fulfill contractual obligations, and C) issue corrected royalty statements, what kind of treatment can we unagented authors expect from less-well-respected publishers?

A few months ago I was offered a contract by An Unnamed Small Publisher for The Taste of Magic. The contract they offered me was a shocker. I forwarded a copy to Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, and emailed the publisher to request clarification and see if any of the offending points could be negotiated. The contract wasn't negotiable so I withdrew my manuscript, and good thing too: Victoria Strauss wrote me back and pointed out a few other things wrong with the contract that I hadn't known enough to flag.

It's a dangerous world out there for writers who want to be published, even if we're careful and do our research. I'm starting to see the wisdom of joining a professional group like SFWA or The Author's Guild just for the legal backing they can provide in situations like the ones going on now with Night Shade Books. I just hope the Night Shade authors can get their issues sorted out fairly without having to resort to legal action.

Update: Night Shade Books have apologized to their authors and readers and promise they'll do better. Halpin talks about the apology here in an update to his blog.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The garden in July

It's July 1, and that means a picture of my garden! Whee!

Actually, the garden's not doing as well as I'd like. Many of the peppers seem to have contracted some kind of fungus or something that has killed some of them and has slowed pepper production to almost nothing in others. Some of the plants seem either resistant or just lucky: the NuMex Twilight and Purira peppers are producing like crazy, many of the Fish peppers are getting big and looking handsome and healthy, and at least one Habanero has escaped the blight. Next year...not so many peppers.

I've planted two yellow squash plants in hopes of getting some squash before the inevitable powdery mildew claims the vines. I need to get out there tomorrow and yank up the lettuce that has gone to seed, which will free up some space for, I don't know, maybe a few more tomato plants. Some of the tomato plants aren't doing so well, but several are taller than I am now and loaded with green tomatoes (and one ripe one as of this afternoon!).

The sunflowers are about seven feet tall, as you can see from the picture--it's about all you can see from the picture--with zinnias blooming like crazy in front of them. Mom put up a makeshift fence of deer netting over bamboo poles to discourage the local deer, who were trimming back the tomato plants (but not the lettuce or the flowers; go figure).

So anyway, that's the garden. By August 1 it'll look like a jungle, or possibly a desert.