Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking into 2012

Things feel very unsettled for me right now. I don't know what to expect day to day with Mom's health, which makes it hard to plan for the immediate future. But my writing schedule is pretty well set for the year. Here's what I have coming up in 2012.

January 6
My steampunk novella Goldie will be released from Musa, for only 99 cents! I have cool bookmarks ordered that I'll be giving away as soon as they arrive next week.

My novelette "Never Be Alone" will appear in the spring issue of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine, and I'll also be the Featured Writer of that issue.

I just found out (adding this January 1) that my novel Evil Outfitters, Ltd will be released from Double Dragon in July, more than six months ahead of schedule!

My novel The Weredeer will hopefully be released from BeWrite Books. We've had a lot of delays, none of them anyone's fault--my editor had to have eye surgery, my mom got sick, etc. But the editing is nearly finished and hopefully soon I'll have some cover artwork to show you. This is my favoritest book I've ever written. I can't wait to share it with the world.

Labor Day Weekend
I'll be at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago this weekend, where I'm hoping to meet up with some of the other writers still waiting to hear our final decisions from Angry Robot Books.

I've got some other stuff I'm working on, some rewrites and revisions that will hopefully bear fruit by the end of the year. I have a short story and a novella already scheduled for release in 2013, and if The Weredeer does well the sequel may be released in 2013 also. I'm also messing around with doing some self-publishing, starting with that misguided romance I wrote last year (I'm just not a romance writer). And I'm going to try to write more short stories this year, since I miss that instant gratification from sending a story out and getting a yes from an editor in weeks instead of months (or years).

All the best to everyone in the remaining hours of 2011, and good luck to all of us in 2012 and beyond. Assuming the world doesn't actually end next December, and I'm pretty sure it won't.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

One thing I did right in 2011

I've flossed my teeth every single day this year. No matter what. Before, I was a floss-sometimes-but-not-every-day person. On January 1, 2011, the one new year's resolution I made was to floss daily. And I have! Even while I was staying with Mom at the hospital, I flossed every day. And now, I cannot imagine going without flossing.

With this success, I'm sure I will accomplish even more in 2012.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

I guess I should update. It's not like I haven't been around, I just haven't had anything to say. Mom is not doing well. She's on hospice now, which is end-of-life in-home care. Yesterday a friend of hers visited and told me to call if I ever needed someone to sit with Mom while I napped or ran errands or whatever. She said she could read while Mom slept. I didn't say so, but reading while Mom sleeps, or just sitting with her and watching a stupid TV show, is precious time for me. Those are the good times. The times when I wish I could call someone in to take over are ones that I would never delegate to anyone else: like half an hour ago when I wished Mom goodnight and turned out her lamp, and immediately heard her start vomiting up her evening meds. I had to jump into crisis mode--crisis mode is a daily occurrence now, which is why I'm always exhausted--and get her cleaned up, the bed stripped and remade with clean linens, her back in bed, and now I have two loads of laundry to do.

So. Well, maybe I shouldn't have posted tonight after all.

I hope everyone out there has a peaceful and non-vomit-filled holiday season.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cover time!

Oh, and after hitting "publish" on that long, rambling post a few minutes ago, I just remembered what I was actually going to post about. I have a cover for "Goldie," my steampunks Goldielocks novella being published in January by Musa. Isn't it beautiful?

The trouble with ebooks is that it's not practical to hold giveaway contests. It's not like a print book where you have a copy you can pick up and sign and put in an envelope and send to the winner. But maybe I can think of something else to give away when "Goldie" is released. Any suggestions?

Read like the wind

Goodreads is giving people badges for their pages if they meet their reading goals. That's it, I have to spend the next few weeks doing nothing but reading. Fortunately, that's precisely what I was wanting to do anyway. And I only have 21 books left to meet my goal!

Mom's started back on her chemotherapy this week, and her new schedule is miserable (although at least it's not giving me migraines the way it is poor Mom). Before, she went in once every three weeks for a session that lasted about six hours. It was a long, wretched day but I could spend most of it reading or writing while Mom napped or listened to her MP3 player. Now, though, she's been switched to a one-hour session every day for a week (M-F) and then two weeks off. That means that I have to drive Mom to her session in Knoxville in the morning, drive her home and get her settled, drive to work late (I'm using three hours of sick leave every day this week, more than I have, so I'll be into leave without pay again by the end of the month), and drive home. I'm putting over 100 miles on my car every day. And there's not enough time for me to read more than a few pages per her chemo session, and all my free time is spent in the car.

So if I don't get my Goodreads badge, blame Mom's oncologist. I plan to.

I've been reading a lot of mysteries lately, especially an awesome police procedural series I discovered a few months ago by Barry Maitland. They're the kind of books I was hoping to find earlier this year. Unfortunately for my book count, they're long and densely written. Maybe I'll make up my Goodreads numbers by reading a lot of picture books. That counts, right?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Read and finish

It's been a grim and exhausting week, and a few nights ago I opened Word and clicked on my Bloodhound file. I wanted to read something dark and bleak, yet full of violence with a noble purpose, and at the same time I needed it to be something I'd already read so I wouldn't have any nasty surprises. So obviously I chose my own book.

I'm giving it a careful reread with some revisions on the way. When I get to the unfinished ending, I'll just finish it. I know what I want to do with it, and I want to finish it before the end of the year.

The end of the year. How did 2011 flit by so quickly?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One star is still a BIG FAT SHINY STAR

I got my first one-star rating on Goodreads. I guess that means I'm arrived! I wish the person had done a review so I'd know what they didn't like about the book, but at this stage of my career any rating--even a one-star--is good.

I hope everyone out there had a good Thanksgiving, or a good weekend if you're not in the U.S. My little vacation is almost over and this week will be crappy, since I'm punished for having a holiday weekend by having to work Monday-Saturday this week. No Thursday off.

My NaNo book is still hovering around 15,000 words, about half-done. I'd hoped to write a few chapters during my time off, but of course that didn't happen. Sometimes I think holidays are more stressful than not actually having the time off at all. On the other hand, I don't give one tiny damn that I'm not going to cross the NaNo finish line this year, which just tells me I shouldn't have bothered with it this year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hey, there's a book by me available...

I can't believe I forgot.

Seriously, I forgot I had a book releasing today. I forgot about it entirely, in fact. It's Blood and Ashes, original working title Blood and Taxes (which I preferred until suddenly I realized just how much better the new title was), sequel to The Taste of Magic.

I feel I've done a disservice to Etopia Press, who released both books. Mom was still in the hospital when The Taste of Magic came out, so I wasn't able to do anything to promote the book. Then I posted a while after its release and complained that I'd tried to reread the book, and I no longer liked it. Way to talk up the book! Then, and this is simply inexcusable, I totally forgot about the release of the sequel--a book I've always loved and which I think is much better written than the original (which I also always kind of liked, although not as much as Blood and Ashes).

So I was going to go all link-happy in this post to encourage people to buy the book, or both of them, but when I went over to Etopia's site, they're doing some kind of an upgrade and they don't have anything about my new book posted at all. So here's a link to Amazon, where you can buy the Kindle edition of Blood and Ashes for $5.99. Rah rah rah!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

19 books behind

At the beginning of 2011 I set myself a goal on Goodreads of reading 50 books in the year. I figured I could do that, and I certainly did--in fact, I was so close to reaching my goal this spring that I upped it to 100 books.

Then Mom had her stroke and I stayed with her in the hospital for an entire month, and I was incapable of reading for about three weeks. I couldn't face fictional angst when real-life angst was so painful at the time. And even after I started reading again, for at least another month I wasn't reading at my usual pace.

Then we moved to our new house, Mom and I, and I sold a bunch of books at our local used bookstore. I need the shelf space. And since I like my Goodreads shelves to reflect exactly what's on my real shelves, I deleted the books I sold from Goodreads. Which took them off my list of "read" books, which dropped my count for the year.

Since then, despite gearing back up to my normal reading rate, I've been consistently 19 or 20 books behind my goal. And there are mere weeks left in the year. And I don't count books I don't keep. So I still need to read 30-odd books that I like enough to keep on my shelves by the end of the year.

Why do I do these things to myself? Oh yeah, and I'm 15,000 words behind on my NaNoWriMo book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Undead shark for the win!

I almost forgot to mention that my story "Red Teeth, Red Sails" has been accepted by Big Pulp! It'll appear in the March 2013 print issue. 2013! Dang!

Since I've been complaining about it so much, I'll give everyone an update on my Apex submission. I sent a note this week asking if I'd missed their response, and got back a note that I should have heard, but maybe my story had fallen through the cracks during a problem they'd had with their email, and did I want them to pass it along up to the new editor? *heavy sigh* No. No, I guess not. So I waited over a year for nothing.

And still nothing from Angry Robot. There's a lot of waiting in this game, isn't there? Sort of like baseball.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I didn't realize how little writing time I actually have these days until I started NaNo last week. I'm still just over 4,000 words, despite a complete outline and a pleasant interest in the project. I manage about 500-1,000 words a night, which means I'm desperately behind. This may be the first year I don't cross the finish line, although if I actually finish writing The Cabin on Wildwood Hill (young MG, estimated total words 25-30k), I'll consider myself a winner.

Of course, I did have some free time yesterday afternoon. It was wonderful. I curled up in the living room with Mom and watched a big chunk of Project Runway season 4 on DVD. She loves that show and I ought to hate it...but I found myself sucked in and really enjoyed watching it. I had my laptop open, but I only wrote a few hundred words.

But this morning when I left for work, Mom said, "I wish you could stay home with me today. We had so much fun together yesterday." So the down time was worth it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Short on sleep, short on words

It's Day Two of NaNo and I've written, um, 659 words. That includes the title and 'Chapter One.' But I work ten hours on Tuesdays and I'm still short on sleep, so I didn't have time to write last night. Tonight will hopefully be different!

Still no word from Angry Robot. Still no word from Apex. On Sunday, it'll have been my one-year anniversary of that story's shortlisting at Apex. I plan to write and ask if I maybe missed their response. A year+ on a 2,400 word story is just ridiculous.

State employees got a one-time bonus this month, so I have a little extra money. I think I'm going to buy a block of ISBNs and go ahead with some self-publishing. Everyone else is doing it, I feel left out! My goal is to make back the money I spend on the ISBNs.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breaking things

We're down to three regular-sized bowls and one small decorative dessert bowl, because I am a klutz. I broke two bowls at once today. I should have known that stacking them while I took them out of the dishwasher was a bad idea.

On the other hand, I put together our new coldframe (9 square feet!) without any trouble at all this afternoon. Mom sat on the patio wrapped up in about twenty shawls because it was still chilly, watching me and occasionally saying, "Can I help?" in a slightly smug tone of voice--knowing that of course I'd say, "No, I'm fine, thanks."

And I've spent the last four hours putting together a document of the best of Mom's blog posts. She wants to self-publish it as a collection for family and friends, so we have to do it fast so we can order copies in time for Christmas. I didn't break anything doing that one, although my right foot is inexplicably sticky--I think from some Jello I must have dropped earlier. On the rug. The white rug.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Mom got out her camera and between the two of us, we managed to take some pictures (she has trouble with some fine motor skills like getting the fiddly little camera's memory card in and out of the slots; I have trouble with knowing what the hell you do with a camera at all). So here's a picture of my car with the tree I planted. I crammed that tree into my car!

We were supposed to have rain all day today. Fortunately it held off, since we finally got the guy out to build a tiny deck out back so Mom can get to the patio easier, and a handrail along the front of the house. We'll paint both white once the wood has weathered properly, probably early spring. So here is Mom standing on the front porch of our new little house.

I planted daffodil and tulip bulbs this afternoon and mowed the front lawn. We are ready for Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A gallon in a pint pot

I really wish I could post pictures I took on my phone. I'm sure there's a way to get the picture off my phone and onto the computer, but it would probably cost cash money and I already spent my money on the tree.

Mom wanted a ginkgo tree in the worst way, so last week I called around and found a nursery that had them. Two hundred bucks for a six foot tree! But I got some unexpected birthday money from my good and deserving Aunt Barbara, and I figured buying a tree with part of it would be good karma. Plus, I like ginkgo trees too. So Saturday after work I went by to get the tree.

First of all, it was much taller than six feet--probably eight or nine. And it was half price! HALF PRICE! See, the karma already kicked in.

So with the help of three nursery workers, we stuffed this gigantic tree into my Mini Cooper, with about three feet of it sticking out the passenger side window. I was certain I'd be pulled over by an incredulous cop before I made it home (a half hour drive), but I made it and got the tree planted in the front yard where Mom can see it from her bedroom window.

Then I ordered some books with the left over money, because that's what I do.

If you ever run into me in person, ask to see the picture of the tree in my car. It's most amusing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Filled with anticipation

I found an outline for a younger middle grade book, an outline I wrote a year or two ago and promptly forgot all about. I looked it over today and thought, "Whoa! Here's my NaNo book!"

It's the perfect NaNoWriMo project, light and silly. It's about a group of wild animals--a deer, a raccoon, and a fox--who find a cabin in the woods and decide to make it look like people still live there, which will make it a safe den for them to hide in. Just go with it, okay? It'll probably only run about 30,000 words and I doubt it'll find a publisher, but I want to write it.

In fact, I can't wait to start. I have a wonderful, detailed outline and I made up names for all the characters today. It's so tempting to write just a smidge of it, maybe the first chapter--or two. But I have to wait.

I'll try to come up with a decent title before November. The working title is The Cabin on Wildwood Hill, and that's pretty awful. Any suggestions? All my creativity went into naming the Raccoon character Delicious-Smell-of-Walnuts (he goes by Walnut).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bring me candy, minions

Halloween is coming up! Today Mom and I went shopping and bought some decorations--nothing fancy, just a garland of jack-o-lanterns for the porch, some cute little yard decorations (a ghost, a skull, and a jack-o-lantern, all smiling benignly), four big bags of candy, and a big orange bowl to put the candy in. We live right across the street from the elementary school now, so we're expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters. If not, I'll be forced to eat all that candy. Mom may discover me on November 1, passed out in the living room surrounded by wrappers.

I finally arranged my books properly on the shelves. I'd crammed them in all anyhow while unpacking. Now I can find what I want to read! With some judicious arranging and stacking, I've made room for everything with a little extra space to spare for new books.

My birthday is Friday. Mom bought me a new phone. It's blue and has a querty keyboard, and I got a new cell plan with unlimited texting. I'm now living in the same decade as everyone else! And my monthly bill actually only went up like five bucks, which is cool, except that actually it went up forty bucks because I got Mom's plan hooked together with mine so we only have one phone bill, and I'll be paying for hers. But overall we both save money, so that's a good thing.

And since my birthday is Friday, I expect that to be the day Angry Robot sends me my rejection. They say all twenty-odd of us still waiting for final decisions should hear this week. At least I have Halloween candy to console me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Soon we'll all be reading the same book over and over

Harry Connolly, author of the awesome Twenty Palaces series of kickass, blood-soaked urban fantasy, posted an announcement today. His publisher, Del Ray, has dropped the series after disappointing sales.

A few months ago Moira J. Moore, whose Hero series is set in one of the most unique and unusual SF/fantasy worlds I've ever read, posted a similar announcement. Her publisher, Ace, has dropped the series.

And earlier this summer, mystery writer Karen E. Olson, who is one hell of a writer and whose books ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to study character and voice, announced that her publisher, Obsidian, declined to extend her Tattoo Shop series contract.

I could probably find several other examples without trying too hard, but these are three authors whose books I love and whose books deserve much more attention. I just don't get it. Ebooks were supposed to save publishing, right? So why are publishers nosediving like this? Why aren't books selling, if everyone's buying Kindles and Nooks? Why the hell am I trying to break into a field where I'll be lucky if I get a few thousand bucks advance per book and will probably see my contract dropped after three or four books?

If you read this, please go out and buy a book this weekend that you might not otherwise have bought: a book by an author who doesn't get tons of advance hype and all the reviews, who doesn't have an HBO series based on his or her books, who maybe only has one or two books on the shelf instead of half a wall. I guarantee you'll discover a great new author.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What a query is good for

I am pretty sure all my obligations are currently met. I returned the edits for The Weredeer and Blood and Ashes, and I read and critiqued a (very good) YA book for someone. And I still have three weeks before NaNoWriMo!

I still want to finish the Misfits revisions. It's the first book I've written where I knew immediately that I needed to fix something, but I couldn't figure out what, so rather than convince myself I was wrong and it was ready to query, I just set it aside. Of course, I was busy with other stuff at the time. But it still counts as growth!

Figuring out what was wrong with Misfits turned out to be easy. When I started writing the query, every time I got past the hook I had to stop. I couldn't put my finger on the main theme of the book, which meant it wasn't clear enough. So once I had time, I jotted some notes down on ways I could focus the book--and then I had to do those damn edits, and never did get around to the revisions. Not until now.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Old and sad

Ugh. I was all set to start reading The Lightning Thief today, but when I got to work my coworker had brought me a mystery I'd expressed mild interest in last week. She'd finished reading it and gave it to me. Now I have to read it. The pressure!

Mom wanted to watch a movie this evening, and as it happens I'd brought home "Clerks" a few days ago. I found it in the $5 DVD bin. I hadn't watched it in probably 15 years, although for a while in my 20s it was the number one movie to quote among my friends. Say "THIRTY-SEVEN?!" to any one of my friends and we'll scream with laughter, and we'll probably answer with "That's his fuckin metal face." I'm admitting both my age and what I was like as a 20something when I say that Clerks is the quintessential GenX slacker movie.

So we watched it and laughed a lot, but now I feel really depressed. It only seems a little while ago that I was living in a crappy apartment and hanging out with my friends Wolfgang and Qathy, and planning revolutions that wouldn't require, you know, a lot of effort. We were going to change the world someday. In the meantime, we drank a lot of Slurpees and published zines and didn't have any health insurance because we were all young and healthy and couldn't get real jobs.

I think I'll go read that crappy murder mystery my coworker loaned me. It'll probably make me feel old.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Books as sacred objects

I worked at a used book store years ago, and one of the things I learned quickly was that it's okay to destroy and throw out books. We used to have many, many copies of certain popular books, too many to resell. We bought them for very little, so we'd end up pitching a lot of them. For paperbacks, the easiest way to make a book unsellable is to strip it: rip the front cover off and throw the book itself in the trash. Since we were a used book store, we also trashed the covers; new book stores return the covers to the publishers for credit.

But many people bringing books in to sell to us would bring us books that were already stripped, or falling apart, or water-damaged, or otherwise virtually unreadable. Sometimes the person would say, "I found these old books that someone just threw away," with the same air of pride that you'd expect from someone who'd just rescued a nest of kittens from being eaten by trolls.

People value books way more than they value even comparably more expensive household items. Not very many people would see an obviously broken-past-repair toaster oven on the side of an alley and pick it up, thinking indignantly, "Who threw away this toaster oven?" Many people actually get angry at the thought that a book could be considered disposable--read it once and throw it out.

We're taught to respect books as small children, when library books are vulnerable to clumsy little hands, and in school when textbooks are too expensive for schools to easily replace. But I think there's more to it than just that. Most humans respect books because they're repositories of our collective knowledge. Even showing disrespect for specific books takes on a ceremonial air. Hate groups don't hold book-trashings, they hold book-burnings. The wrong knowledge has to be destroyed by fire.

But please, people, respect your local used bookseller. Don't fish books out of the dumpster and try to sell them. Because that's just gross.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In for a seventh time

Today I ran into a friend I hadn't had a chance to really talk to for about ten years. She's working on a nonfiction project that sounds really, really good, and is planning to write fiction for NaNoWriMo. It was awesome to talk to her, and she also has a book blog that I would totally link to except that IT'S INVITE ONLY, KELLY, DID YOU REALLY MEAN TO DO THAT OR IS BLOGGER JUST MESSING WITH ME? We talked for an hour and a half in the YA corner of a bookstore. I'd forgotten how great it is to talk to someone who knows you're a writer, who's also a writer herself so she knows exactly what you mean when you complain about something writerly, and I'd especially forgotten the fun of bouncing ideas back and forth. So IT WOULD BE TOTALLY NICE IF YOU COULD INVITE ME TO YOUR BLOG, KELLY.

In similar news, a few Saturdays ago at work one of the instructors came in wearing a NaNoWriMo T-shirt. I said, "Hey, I've got that shirt too!" Turns out that teacher knows one of the English faculty who's just started a creative writing group. She invited me to join and I had to decline since it meets while I'm at work, but she also said they were going to do some NaNo write-ins this November. Hopefully I'll be able to go to some of those.

So I guess this means I'm doing NaNo again this year. Not at all to my surprise.

ETA: It's Book Dirt. I can access it today. Who knows what was going on last night?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The exhaustion sets in

I know I whine a lot lately about how busy I am and how tired I get. I'm even finding myself insufferable. I want to smack myself lightly about the head and tell myself to suck it up. Lots of women have full-time jobs and take care of kids by themselves; compared to a bunch of kids, taking care of Mom is easy.

But the truth is that I'm worn out almost all the time. A lot of it is probably stress. Some of it's pure physical exhaustion, especially the last few weeks when we were packing/moving/unpacking/cleaning the old house. Some of it's lack of sleep, since I'm one of those people who needs a full eight hours every night, and quite often I don't get that much lately. And, of course, there's the added detail of trying to keep up my writing career (such as it is) while also working full-time and being sole caregiver of my mother after her stroke.

So today, despite my best intentions, I fell down on the writing job. I just could not make myself do one thing with words. Instead, I did some cooking, some cleaning, wrote out checks for the monthly bills, went grocery shopping, watched some TV with Mom (who was feeling very bad today, which further stressed me out), and finally gave up entirely and picked up a Georgette Heyer murder mystery to read. Now it's about 8:30pm and I'm about to go to bed--not to read, but to hopefully fall asleep. I'm too tired to read, and it makes me feel guilty.

I promise this will be the only complaining post for the entire month of October. I have used up my quota! Tomorrow I will be little ms. sunshine. Assuming I can get to sleep now.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I don't need a reward. Really.

Something's messed up when as a reward for finishing my Weredeer edits, I am allowing myself an evening to do revisions on Misfits. Of course, I had so much to do before I even turned on my computer this evening that I won't actually have time to open the Misfits file.

I have to address the Blood and Ashes edits this week, and this weekend I promised someone I'd read and critique their YA novel. So really, I shouldn't be slacking off with any darn revisions anyway. Yeah.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

There. Was that so hard?

I am amused to see on Duotrope that as of today, Apex started sending out responses to writers who've been waiting even longer than I have. I like to think that Cat Valente (is she still editor for Apex?) happened upon my yesterday's post, was consumed with guilt for leaving poor me hanging so long--or perhaps was filled with fury that I called her out publicly--and went into her files to reject me. Ha! You still didn't get mine! Mine's the one with vampires in it, which is why I knew full well going in that it would be rejected, and now a year later I'm still waaaaiting.

But I kid Ms. Valente.

I am happy to report that I have FINISHED THE DAMN WEREDEER EDITS. I sent the file off to my editor, who is way more patient with me than I am with, oh, you know, magazine editors who don't respond as soon as I think they should. I hereby swear most solemnly that I will never again be late with edits.

I guess I should get to work on those edits for Blood and Ashes, huh?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tap tap tap

I haven't written many short stories in the last few years, I've managed to unload almost all of my older stories, novellas, and novels, and this summer has been crazy anyway so I haven't been keeping track of things as closely as I used to. But seriously, where are my responses? My Duotrope pending reports are all red.

I don't mean Angry Robot, which can keep Bell-Men as long as they damn well like--I enjoy the taste of hope, even if it isn't very filling. I mostly mean Apex, which has now had an entire year to decide whether they want to buy my 2,000 word short story (eleven months if you go by the shortlisting date). I also mean the other, less significant markets that have had various of my short fiction for months past their stated return times.

I don't bother to send status check emails for short fiction. If I don't hear back within a reasonable amount of time from a market--and I'm very generous about what's reasonable--I just figure I'll never hear and start sending the story somewhere else. That's why I have more than four listings on Duotrope, as it happens. Simsubbing, my friends, simsubbing.

But dammit if the markets I've simsubbed to are also not replying. I want to tap my email and say, "Hello? Is this thing on?"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Will Not Complain

Okay, I will not complain about anything in this post. Nothing, not even the fact that my new tube of apricot facial scrub vanished before I was even able to use it once.


*more crickets*

Um, I loved Stacey Kade's book The Ghost and the Goth so much that I rushed out and bought the sequel, Queen of the Dead, and I can't wait to start reading it.


Friday, September 23, 2011

How I Spent My Day Off

I have a weird work schedule that involves Saturdays and evenings and getting most Thursdays off. Yesterday was a Thursday, and I was off work, which in the olden days meant I could have caught up on my writing/reading/editing/painting my bathroom bilious pink. But right now things are still in crazy mode.

Rather than claim I'm too busy to do any editing, I'll just list the things I did yesterday, from the time I got up to the time I fell into bed with a throbbing left thumb.

7:00am Wake up, luxuriating in sleeping late for a change
7:05 up, dressed, more or less presentable
7:10 Help Mom with her shower. She is insufferably chipper at this time of the morning.
7:30 Make breakfast for Mom. While she eats, I update my website. I forget to make myself breakfast.
8:00-9:00 Laundry laundry laundry, how do we use so many towels in a 24-hour span? Also, put away clean dishes from the dishwasher* and make a manful attempt to unpack some of the boxes in my closet.
9:00-10:30 Go to old house we've moved out of so I can clean the upstairs. Take a huge bag of trash to the dump. Forget to stop by a fast food place for breakfast.
10:30 Take Mom into neighboring town so she can look at a walker with a seat. She chooses a cool wine-red one that looks like it was a 10-speed in a former life. She is so pleased with it that we decide to go on into Oak Ridge, City of Assholes, to go shopping before her doctor's appointment.
11:00am-1:30pm Shopping with Mom, which is exhausting even though at least now I don't have to struggle with her old wheelchair. I buy a book, a valance for my bathroom (purple! with daisies!), a bedskirt, and a lamp. Mom buys a pair of sunglasses that make her look surprisingly dangerous. I also eat lunch, none too soon.
2:00-3:00 Mom's doctor's appointment. We are both relieved when it's over. Drive home from Knoxville.
3:30 Mom didn't eat much lunch, so I make her mac&cheese. I'm not hungry yet.
4:00-7:15 Mow the old lawn for the last time, drag brush out to the corner for pick-up, and pack my car with the lawnmower, garden hose, and recycle bin, which I take back to our new house. Mom is worn out and watching TV in a half-asleep stupor. She's hungry again. I'm starving.
7:15-7:30 shower shower shower, I really am disgusting
7:30 Mom eats leftover mac&cheese. I attempt to eat leftover mac&cheese, but since it's made the only way she will eat it (overcooked until the noodles are mushy), I only manage a few bites. I drink a Coke and eat some yogurt instead.
7:45 Put my new bedskirt on the bed, a more difficult prospect than it seems at first since I'm fussy and have to get it completely even, which entails taking the mattress off so I can arrange the bedskirt properly on the box springs. I am insane. Install new lamp, unpack another box from my closet.
8:15 My aunt stops by to admire Mom's new walker. When she leaves, I make sure Mom has her evening meds and get her settled in bed. I promise her (since she's worried that I'm tired) I will go right to bed myself.
8:30 Pop two Tylenol. Hang valance in bathroom, which involves having to hammer in a couple of nails while standing on a rickety chair. I am not good at hammering and whang my thumb. Mom hears hammering (and cussing) and comes to admire valance. It is awesome in its purple daisyness.
9:00 Mom back in bed. I turn on my laptop to check my email. I have received a fresh set of edits, which means I now have two novel edits to finish. Email back and forth with the editor a few times about rewriting a scene.
9:20 Realize I forgot to iron clothes for work tomorrow. Set my alarm for twenty minutes earlier than usual.
9:30 Lie in bed. Can't sleep. My feet hurt. My thumb hurts. I ache all over. I'm hungry. The Tylenol have not helped appreciably.
11:30 Get up to admire bathroom curtain. Realize I am actually sleepy. Go back to bed. Next thing I know, my alarm is going off.

Now, normally I don't have to clean or do yardwork in a house where we no longer live, and we're getting close to being finished unpacking, so hopefully soon things will settle down and I can get some writing done. But as you can see, it's a tiny bit busy around here right now. I am frantic to address these edits, and even more frantic to do some revisions to Misfits. Maybe I should just get up and edit when I can't sleep.

*I love having a dishwasher! OMG!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nice emails

It's weird, but except for a little cluster of agent rejections (four or five of them that for some reason all came on the same day), I got almost no writing-related emails all summer after Mom's stroke. That's good, since a rejection from, say, Angry Robot, would have hurt all out of proportion what with the other stress I was under at the time. But it still kind of made me feel like I had stopped existing as an author.

But a few weeks ago I got a good email. I've been meaning to post about it but haven't had the time. My steampunk Goldielocks novella has been accepted by Musa Publishing, a new publisher launching on October 1! It'll be released in 2012 through the Urania speculative fiction imprint as an ebook.

Still haven't heard from Angry Robot. Still haven't heard from Apex.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Exhaustion and bliss

We've moved to our new house. We've moved! And for the first time since Mom's stroke on June 23, I will sleep in my very own bed tonight, on my very own sheets, with my very own pillow, and all my belongings around me. Yes, most of my belongings are in boxes or crammed into the closet for sorting later, and I can't find a blanket anywhere in this whole house, but I don't care.

Mostly what I have in my room is books. I was excited because I finally have all three of my bookcases in my room at once--before, one of the big bookcases was downstairs with Mom's books in it. Finally I would have room for every one of my books! But when I unpacked the 15 or 16 boxes of books and crammed them willy-nilly into the shelves...they only just fit. Dammit. I still need more shelves.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oh, editing, how I despise you

I meant to work on my Weredeer edits this weekend, but we're closing on the new house Thursday so the weekend was filled with last-minute packing and cleaning and perusing of paint swatch cards. Also, it rained a lot today and Mom wanted to drive around in the rain. Until we move, she's lamentably divorced from the full effects of weather. She's the kind of person who sleeps with her bedroom window propped open a little no matter how cold or hot it is out, and who sleeps with her head as close to the window as possible (in our old house, she actually slept with her head at the foot of the bed for just that reason). Now we're staying with my aunt and uncle, and the windows in her room don't open and are too well insulated for her to even hear the rain.

I'm about a third through the edits. They take soooooo looooong and I have to cooooncentrate on them, dammit. And I've recharged from writing Misfits this summer and I think I'm ready to write again rather than edit. My attention veers from finishing Adventures in Zoology to finishing the major rewrite of The Trickster Society to finishing the tail-end of Bloodhound. My interest in editing anything is at an all-time low. Yet, edit I must.

Also, I'm way behind in my reading. Why are there so few hours in the day?

Part of the problem is that I'm back at work now, which I hate. I mean, I hate having to work anyway, and I hate having to leave Mom during the day (although she's doing much better and her main problem is boredom), but I also hate that there are certain things I can't do while I'm at work. Like editing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Home again

I haven't updated or tweeted since I left for DragonCon because it turned out that the Westin Peachtree does not have free wifi access for guests. I wasn't able to check my email for days! Not that I had any emails when I got back, but it's the principle of the thing.

Anyway, I did have a little journal with me, so I kept a running account of my days. And here it is, unedited, so if something doesn't make any sense that's why.

Sept. 2, 6pm
Fuck no, I'm not paying $15 a day for wifi access, not when the hotel room is almost $200 a night and valet parking is $26. Last time I was in Atlanta I stayed at a piece of shit motel in Marietta for $85 a night and wifi was free. It sucked, but it was free.

I have given blood. It hurt. I gave blood to kill an hour before the 5:30 pm panels, and it took so long I missed them and now have another hour to kill before 7pm. I am hungry and have no internet access. This is dreadful.

I plan to steal all the hotel room's little soaps. No free wifi my ass.

Sept. 2, 8:25pm
I just attended the wrong panel. Like, a a million percent wrong. I got in the wrong line and instead of seeing Ghost Hunters, I learned all about a new Xbox shooter game called, um, Gears of War 3, I think. Apparently many people are enthusiastic. The guy running it was kind of funny, at least. I did not get a T-shirt.

I've now made it to a panel on writing deadlines one I'd intended to attend. Whether it will be as dull as I suspect remains to be seen. I do expect it to make me feel guilty about not working on the Weredeer edits that are so, so very overdue.

Peanut M&Ms have more protein than this granola bar I don't want to eat.

Sept. 2, 11:45pm
In the bath. I am fighting an inexplicable desire to put my clothes back on and go out to get drunk. Or find a tattoo parlor. Or both.

I saw Kevin and met his wife Felicity, who seems very nice. Kevin introduced me to several people whose names I have (predictably) not retained even after I just saw them 15 minutes ago. They were also quite pleasant people. We all attended a Skeptic Track panel on Vampires and Ghosts that was interesting and fun, then walked back to the hotel via skybridges.

Sky bridges.

I am so tired my eyes feel dry and I keep blinking. Every so often I think, "I should take my contacts out." I am not wearing contacts.

I am looking forward to sleeping in a grown-up sized bed for the first time since Mom went into the hospital in June. I hope she's doing okay. I hope she had a good supper and wasn't too bored or worried while I was gone.

Oh, great, now I'm crying. Good thing I'm not drunk.

The deadlines panel was interesting. I even ASKED A QUESTION about scheduling when it's edits and not new writing, and all five panelists said edits can only really be dealt with by dropping everything else to focus on them. So I will get on that as soon as I can, which feels like it will be never.

I got a T-shirt for giving blood. It saved me $30 to buy a con T-shirt. I will probably wear it tomorrow because I feel boring without a costume or a T-shirt with words on it.

Very few hot men in kilts this year, which is disappointing. I saw a freakishly good Snape on the way back to the hotel tonight. Like, he actually did not look like he was wearing a costume. Don't know how to describe the difference between "this is a costume" and "these are my clothes." Also I liked his hair, which was likewise not costume hair. But mostly he just looked kind of tired, which nailed it.

Tomorrow morning I hope to spend some time in Starbucks before the parade, enjoying the free wifi OH RIGHT. Enjoying writing more in this book, which is free, and drinking a vanilla bean frapuccino, which is $5 off if I decline maid service tomorrow, which I will because A) I am not a slob and B) there are two beds.

Sept. 3, 8:45 am
Vanilla bean acquired. I woke up with a headache and haggish bags under my eyes, which is just not fair sine I didn't go out drinking last night. I put on too much makeup to compensate.

Kevin and I have left each other one voicemail so far this morning. At least I know they're up.

This cheese danish is tasteless except for the cheese part, which tastes like sugar. Starbucks does not understand food.

Sept. 3, 11:20 am
The parade was fun even though it was hot and crowded and my feet hurt and I couldn't see very well. The steampunk X-Men were my favorites. Overheard: "The Netherworld people are scary. They're actors so they're even scarier than usual. They're scary without costumes." It feels good to sit down for a few minutes. I may get lunch somewhere after this, maybe something to go so I can take it back to my hotel room and check my email NO I GUESS NOT. Kevin said he thinks there's a cafe or someplace with free wifi around here, but even if I could remember what he'd told me it was called, I'd never be able to find it. Maybe I'll go to that Pratchett panel at 1pm instead of lunch. Or maybe I'll just pick a panel at random and see what it's about.

On the other hand, I really, really want a piece of pizza and an ice cold Coke.

Sept. 3, 1:10 pm
I am full of adequate burrito and Coke. The line for pizza was too long. I have found a corner on the floor just behind a pillar in the skywalk area between the mall food court and the Marriott. I can watch people as they stream pass and no one bothers me or (so far) trips over me.

The Women in SF/F panel was good but left me irritated. It was all about how to fit in, ultimately, and a lot of that seemed to boil down to "things you can do to keep men from bothering you or how to manipulate them." Also, dress nice because you're a professional. I'm all for professionalism but if I can't stand or fall by my writing alone--no trappings, not even a flask of scotch--I don't want in. Most readers do not give a tiny little rat-sized shit if I wear a costume or a nice outfit to cons, or even if I attend cons. I think a lot of writers take themselves way too seriously.

You know what would have been great with this burrito? A beer. I don't even drink beer. I've been possessed by an alcoholic, an ineffective one since I'm drinking Coke.

Kevin said he didn't get in overnight until about 4am. It must be nice to be an extravert. He knows everyone.

I hope Mom's okay.

Sept. 3, 2:25pm
I have spent money. I got my nephew a gift at the dealer's room, so that's one Xmas present sorted. I also found myself a purple necklace of plastic dice, a la Mardi Gras beads, to use as a lanyard for my badge.

Now I made it just in time to an Archetypes in YA lit panel. It's surprisingly full, this room.

Now that I have spent some of my cash, I am burning to spend more. Good thing I plan to attend panels until I fall down from exhaustion today.

They give out prizes in this panel, apparently. Maybe that's why it's so full. I would like another T-shirt, but I never win things.

The next panel I want to attend is also in this room. Good thing, since it was very hard to find. Of course, I find everywhere hard to find.

Sept. 3, 3:40pm
I won a book! Fancy that. The Lightning Thief, which I've never read.

I now have a pretzel and a Coke. What was I thinking? I'm not hungry. And it cost $5, which is just crazy. And an hour ago I was actually feeling a little sick from that gigantic burrito.

Some sort of emergency warning sounded during the last panel, but nothing came of it. It woke me up, though. The panel wasn't boring, but I am definitely flagging. I'm not used to so much activity these days; for two months plus I've been mostly sitting quietly with Mom or having small adventures with her, like going to Target or to a movie.

But I am enjoying myself enormously. It's a similar energy here to the start of a new fall semester, but without the stress.

I wonder if I could get a tattoo before I leave Atlanta.

Sept. 3, 7pm
This pen is running

Sept. 3, 9:35 pm
It feels much later than that. I ducked out of the 8:30pm panel I attended--it wasn't what I expected, since the SF/F lit track schedule was FUBARed this afternoon. I missed the What Women Want panel that was the one I really, really wanted to attend, because they moved it up unexpectedly.

So anyway, I ducked out of the 8:30 panel early, found my way back to the Westin and to my room, and dumped most of my stuff, and packed up my laptop so I wouldn't forget it tomorrow. I'd sweated most of my makeup off, not that it makes much difference, so I slapped some powder on and went downstairs to the lobby to sit and catch this account up. I have a bottle of water and some chocolate. No booze--because I don't really want to sit here by myself and drink, and anyway I've spent too much already.

I don't want to go up to bed. It's still pretty early, and once I go to bed DragonCon is over for me. I'm going home tomorrow morning early. Real life is intruding on my little vacation: Tuesday Mom has chemo, and Wednesday I have to return to work after my leave of absence. I'd much rather hold on to the last few hours of DragonCon instead.

I wonder if they sell nachos at the bar. I am more likely to find nachos than a tattoo parlor. I can't really go out and get a tattoo at home--well, I could but I wouldn't, but on an outing like this if I came back with a tattoo people would raise their eyebrows but not be too surprised.

Not that I really care. I just wouldn't do it under normal circumstances.

How did I get on the topic of tattoos?

You know, this hotel building is really unsettlingly large. It's round, and there are a bunch of truly enormous pillars that are probably holding up all those dozens and dozens of floors above.

There's not much going on in this hotel. I could go to the Marriott and look at costumes for a while, but there's nowhere to sit and I'm tired. I suspect it won't be long before I give up and go to bed.

Ordinarily I'd be online right now but, you know. I do forgive the Westin slightly for no free wifi because the beds are so, so comfortable and the soap I have stolen is green and shaped like a leaf.

I cannot tell if the group of Asian men in identical pilot uniforms over there are actually pilots or if they're costumed as pilots. One of the panelists earlier today said she ran into a baffled hotel guest from France at the zombie walk who asked her, "Is this some sort of ceremony?"

I think they're real pilots. They all have suitcases like they just arrived. I wonder what they make of the people in con garb.

Maybe they think all Americans dress like this every day.

I kind of wish we did.

Sept. 4, 9am
I woke to a white morning sky and decided just to leave although it was still early. When Kevin called I'd already been on the road for almost an hour, weeping gently and listening to Silly Wizard's "The Queen of Argyll" over and over. I decided I'd better stop for breakfast. The maudlin was too overwhelming without eggs and orange juice. And grits. I stopped at a Waffle House. I think I'm only about 30-45 minutes from Chattanooga.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ready, set

I spent the day going going going. Not only did Mom have a doctor's appointment and her weekly labwork today, but I had to get ready for DragonCon. Getting ready, in my case, included washing the car, doing laundry, cleaning Mom's bathroom, getting all her pills set out for the time I'm gone so she'll know exactly what to take when, getting a haircut, grocery shopping, packing, getting directions to the hotel, and charging my phone. Yes, I did all that AND MORE. Tomorrow I just have to do more laundry, clean the kitchen, and take the trash out. I plan to leave for Atlanta around noon, maybe eleven.

Mom told me today, sternly, not to worry about her. Both her sisters and a brother-in-law are going to be around to keep an eye on her. Plus, of course, she's perfectly capable of doing most things herself.

So I'm going to do my best not to worry about her while I'm gone. I promised her! And then she said, "But please be careful and don't get into a wreck, or lose your car key, or get your purse stolen."

Mom, don't worry about me!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So, about that vacation

Mom and I were planning to go to DragonCon together this Labor Day. We have our passes and the hotel room booked. Mom, however, doesn't want to try to go--she gets tired easily now and would be so worn out from the drive down that she thinks she wouldn't be able to enjoy the con. But she wants me to go by myself.

I'm hesitant about that, but she insists she'll be okay. And she is getting around much better now and doesn't need me hovering over her. She'll also have both her sisters around to make sure she takes her meds on time and gets decent meals and so forth. I don't need to worry. But, of course, I will.

In fact, I'm so worried that I'm dreading leaving rather than looking forward to the con. I'll only be gone two nights and one full day, plus two partial days--I'm leaving Friday afternoon and will ideally arrive home by around noon on Sunday. That's not long. But Mom has a doctor's appointment Thursday and her next chemo Tuesday, and on Wednesday--ugh ugh ugh--I have to return to work. And we're still packing up to move house. I just don't have time to take off for a weekend.

But, you know, I think it will be good for me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I posted!

The days are rolling along so fast I can't keep up. I didn't even realize I hadn't posted for weeks.

I got a new laptop, too, so I have no excuse. I liked my little Asus eee PC netbook so much, but it was starting to really tear up--garbage screens occasionally, the second keyboard is going out again, etc. It was time for another one, and I decided to go for another Asus netbook, but a bigger one. The timing was perfect, since I got royalties from DDP that came close to paying for it a few weeks ago.

Speaking of Double Dragon Press, I went ahead and sent them Evil Outfitters, Ltd, and they accepted it already. I don't have time to self-publish anything right now, and I'm doing very well with that publisher.

I still haven't heard from Angry Robot about Bell-Men. From what I hear, only about 25 manuscripts were moved up to editorial, so I'm in a rare group. But they can't accept all 25--they may not accept any, who knows?--and I expect to be rejected in the fullness of time. Since I can't interest an agent even at this stage, it's possible DDP will get Bell-Men eventually.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I finished Misfits tonight. It's just under 86,000 words. That's a lot more than I intended, but I'm sure I can cut 5,000 words easily and probably 10,000 words if necessary.

I like it. It's not perfect, and I want to set it aside for a while to ripen while I work on other things, but I like it. And it's done. I've written 86k words in about two months. Not NaNoWriMo speed, but not bad--especially considering most of it was written while I sat by my mom's hospital bed.

Next I have to finish Bloodhound, although I've got edits still pending that have got to be done first. The problem with edits is that I have to do them at my desktop, and I don't have a lot of desktop time under ordinary circumstances. I'll just have to grab half an hour here and there instead of trying to work on the edits in big chunks of time. Maybe that'll make them easier, actually.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's the little things that get you down.

The situation:
1. The house Mom and I rent together has stairs, and after her stroke she has a lot of trouble with stairs.
2. We're staying with her sister, my aunt, until we can buy/rent a house all on one level.
3. I have keys to my aunt's house.
4. I forgot those keys today.
5. At about noon today I discovered we were locked out.
6. We are now spending the afternoon at our old house, which is fine for me since I have no trouble with stairs. Mom is less thrilled, although she's lying on the couch watching a movie and drinking a Gatorade, so I don't feel quite as guilty as I did.

But now I feel guilty for being upstairs at my computer while Mom's stuck downstairs. A few months ago that was the norm--not Mom stuck downstairs, but Mom preferring to hang out in the living room while I'm on my computer. It feels normal to me right now that I'm blogging and I can hear the Lord of the Rings music downstairs. Then I realize I need to check on Mom to make sure she doesn't need anything. Then I feel bad for feeling so content at having a chunk of computer time.

Anyway, I'm at 72,000 words on Misfits and closing in on the end. All I have left to write is the main character's date with his new girlfriend and the big scene where a friend of his needs his help, then a scene of reconciliation between two estranged friends. Hmm, that sounds like more than I thought. It'll probably go over 75,000 words, but then again it's not like I need to keep the wordcount low.

I'm not sure about Misfits. I really like it, and I think it's a good book, but I've also stopped believing I'm ever going to get an agent or sell a book to a big publisher. Misfits is a YA book with no speculative elements at all, with a central theme of the bonds of friendship--but it's got strong LGBT themes, which means it's destined for a small publisher no matter how good it is. And I don't know anymore how good a writer I am. Last week I started rereading The Taste of Magic, a book I only wrote a few years ago and which was just published last month, and I couldn't even finish it. I didn't like my own writing style. I don't know what to make of that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

68,000 words

I'm closing in on the end of Misfits. I'm guessing it'll top out at 75,000 words, which is a bit on the long side for a YA novel but not ridiculously long. I'm 68k words in right now.

Writing it has been strange. I became obsessed with it a week before Mom had her stroke, and it was only natural for me to continue working on it at the hospital. But one part of the book concerns the main character's trouble with his mother; he's sixteen and doesn't always get along with her. It felt really weird to be writing arguments between the two when my own mother was lying in a hospital bed next to me and I was doing everything I could to make her comfortable.

I did a lot of thinking about my own teenage years. I was a pretty good kid, but Mom and I fought a lot--about stupid stuff, in retrospect. I'd scream at her and make her miserable, and those memories made me damn miserable in the late evenings while Mom was sleeping and I was trying to write. I wish I had known as a teenager just how tolerant and kind my mom really was.

But it's those memories of screaming at my mom that she was unfair that allow me to dig into the mind of a fictional teenager and really understand how he feels. So I guess that's just one more thing my mom did for me.

I have, of course, apologized to her repeatedly for my teenage self. That she finds it all amusing now says a lot about her.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The kindness of strangers

Mom's home from the hospital as of a few days ago, although "home" right now is her sister's house. I'm staying in my cousin's room (and I love love love her bathroom, which is like my favorite room in the whole wonderful house--when I grow up and have my own house, its bathroom will be like that one). Mom's doing much better; we even went out to see the new Harry Potter movie the other day, which she loved. We'll probably see it again next week.

My aunt's house is across town from ours, which sounds like a long drive except that we live in such a tiny village. It takes me about three minutes to get from one house to another. This afternoon Mom settled down for a nap and I ran home to get some stuff and attempt to tame some of the yard. I haven't had a chance to mow in almost a month, much less weed the garden.

Well, when I pulled into our driveway I was shocked to see that the lawn was newly shorn. And when I parked in back, I saw the neighbor across the street on his big riding mower, finishing up. I'd never even met him, but he said he was a good friend of another of my cousins when they were young, and he was out mowing his yard and said he decided to get ours at the same time.

There's been so much kindness shown to Mom and me over the last few weeks, it's overwhelming. Mom keeps exclaiming over the unbelievable number of cards she's received, all the flowers and notes and emails from people wishing her well. I told her that if only we could harness all the goodwill, we could probably solve the energy crisis for good. Clean goodwill energy for all!

I wonder if I can persuade someone to weed my garden for me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Release day!

My paranormal romance/fantasy novel, The Taste of Magic, is now available as an ebook from Etopia Press! I love the cover, and this is a seriously fun book. It's the one I wrote back in, hmm, 2008 I think--in fact, if I remember correctly, it was my NaNoWriMo book that year.

I wish I were in the position right now to run a contest, but that will have to wait until probably next week. Until then, you can contest yourself with merely buying the book and reading it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Long Update

I asked for and received permission to post details about what's been keeping me away from the internet for so long. My last post was vague because I didn't want to share information that concerned others--specifically, as is probably pretty obvious, my mom, who is a private person.

Anyway, last month on June 23 Mom had a mild stroke. It's a long and frustrating story of tests and doctors and more tests and more doctors, but here's the short version: Mom has advanced cancer of the uterus, which caused her blood to be abnormally coagulative, which in turn caused a clot in her lungs, which in turn caused her stroke. She's now on bloodthinners to reduce the clotting and on chemo to address the cancer. Without treatment (chemo and bloodthinners), her life expectancy could have been as little as three months.

I've been staying with Mom at the hospital, with only flying visits home to do laundry, shower, and get stuff Mom and I need. For the last week she's been in the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center's intensive therapy inpatient program, where she'll probably be for another week. She's doing very well, I'm happy to say. Her stroke was mild, leaving her with only mild physical issues (weak right arm and leg leading to some balancing problems and difficulties doing things like tying her shoes and buttoning clothes) and moderate expressive aphasia, which is a fancy way of saying that somewhere between her brain figuring out exactly what she wants to say and her mouth forming the words, the words vanish into nothing. She's already regained a lot of speech, but it's incredibly frustrating for her--especially considering how eloquent and articulate she's always been. But she's very fortunate that her cognitive abilities are not affected.

I've taken a leave of absence from work until at least the end of August. I have been writing, though. I dusted off Bunny the eee and have typed up everything I wrote longhand during that horrible first week in the hospital. Now that Mom's in therapy most of the day, I write mostly in the evenings. I'm at 50,000 words in my YA novel, Misfits. My novel The Taste of Magic releases from Etopia Press tomorrow and the cover is awesome--I'll try to post it tomorrow if I get a chance. Blogger and Facebook are two of the sites blocked by the hospital's wifi, so I can't post or read blogs unless I'm at home, and I'm not home much.

I feel unbelievably disconnected from the world and from my online friends. I hope everyone's okay. I read Carrie Harris's awesome new book Bad Taste in Boys the other day, but I wasn't able to post on her blog and congratulate her. I know a lot of you have had triumphs and disappointments in the last three weeks and I wish I'd known so I could celebrate and commiserate with you. Once Mom's home, things will be a little easier, and slowly, gradually, I hope life will return to normal as much as it can.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Radio silence

Rather than have people think I stepped down a manhole and disappeared, let me post very quickly and very obscurely. One of my close family members has had a mild stroke and is in the hospital. I've been staying with her. I'll probably not be posting here for a while since I don't have internet access in the hospital and I need to be available pretty much 24/7 for her at the moment. Other family members spell me occasionally while I run home and shower, change, wash clothes, and so forth.

I do have a couple of spiral notebooks with me. In the evenings after she's settled down for bed but before the light from the windows fades, I write write write write write. It helps keep me centered.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Priming the pump

I got an idea for a new book on the way home from work. I think it'll be fun to write when I get around to it, but it's not ready to write yet. I have an idea, not a story--certainly nothing resembling a plot.

By the time I got home, though, I had worked out the main character's problems and how he's going to attempt to solve them. So I sat down and wrote 1,500 words. Now I'll set it aside for a few months or maybe even a few years while my subconscious works on the story and I finish other projects.

So why did I write those 1,500 words if I don't plan to continue right away? I do this a lot and it has several purposes. The main one is just to remind myself about the idea in case I forget. Also, gets my brain thinking about possibilities. And when I do come back to it, I have something to build on.

I'll probably throw out everything I've just written. But that's okay, it's just an idea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thought for the day. Er, week.

As my use of Twitter goes up, my blogging goes down. Or maybe I've just run out of things to say that take more than 140 characters. That would explain why I haven't written any short stories for so long.

Still not finished with Bloodhound. As I recall, I had the same problem with Bell-Men when I was writing it, only I rushed the ending and had to rewrite it later. I will not rush the ending this time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Proud member of the non-sequiter society

I'm thinking today might be some kind of official catch-up day for agents. I had two responses to queries I sent so long ago I couldn't even figure out which book one of them was about. They were both form rejections, not much to my surprise.

I've got a bad headache (although not as bad as it was, since I took some aspirin about two hours ago) and as a result I can't concentrate on anything more difficult than this Edward Eager book (Magic by the Lake, not one of his best). I'd planned to finish work on my novella edits--I swear I've put more hours into the edits than I put into the original writing--but I can't do it tonight. I'll have to finish tomorrow after I get home from work.

I'm wondering if it would be foolish of me to take a walk downtown, where I could buy a Nutty Buddy ice cream cone. I think a Nutty Buddy would help my headache. No, dammit, it's after eight and the store's closed. Dammit.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I now have a contract and a set of edits to work on. In fact, I've been concentrating on the edits all day and I'm only halfway done. I shouldn't have been so hasty with my email.

I've decided to name my self-publishing "company" Rain Daisy Books. Rain Daisy is the name I picked out years ago for my farm, when (and if) I can one day afford some land. What do you think?

And for those of you who are curious, it looks as though we've decided on Blood and Ashes as the new title for Blood and Taxes. Thanks, Cate, for your comment that helped me come up with that title!

I bought three paperback books yesterday. I need more hours in the day so I can read more and still get all my other stuff done.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Help with titles

I'm so bad at titles. I got the word the other night that Etopia Press has accepted the sequel to The Taste of Magic (which is still slated for release next month!), but they don't like the title. I was awfully proud of the title, Blood and Taxes. The editors like the word 'blood' but they aren't too keen on the word 'taxes' in the title, which I guess is understandable. Any suggestions for better titles? I told my editor I'd give her some possibilities pretty soon.

In related begging, I'm also trying to come up with names for a little self-publishing outfit for Evil Outfitters. I figure I might as well do it right, and Lightning Source and the ISBN people both require a business name. Any suggestions? I want something memorable but not goofy or overly self-important. So I can't name it after a cute fuzzy animal the way I'm tempted to.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When is impatience justified?

I know publishing is a slow process. I'm an impatient person, so I always remind myself that I'm being unreasonable to expect agents and editors to respond within days of my emails.

But sometimes I'm not being unreasonable. For instance, once a manuscript is accepted, I feel I should get A) a contract and B) edits if applicable, and I should get them in a timely fashion--within weeks for a contract, within three or four months for the edits. I'm not dealing with gigantic New York publishers here, where the waits will be even longer (and even then I'd expect the contract within weeks).

So I just sent off a couple of thisclosetosnarky emails to two editors. Both editors accepted manuscripts from me last October. I have the contract for one but no edits; for the other I don't even have a contract. At this point I'm frankly starting to regret signing the contract for the first manuscript, since I suspect the editor has lost interest and has moved on to shinier projects. And since I have no contract for the other, if I don't get a satisfactory response within two weeks from the editor, I plan to pull the story. Because ridiculous is just ridiculous.

(And don't even get me started about the wait time for Apex Magazine, which is getting close to a year, when I know whatshername is going to reject my vampire story instantly.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'll drive all night

Since I drove around all weekend long (seriously--I now have 500 miles on my car), I hardly did any writing. And my brain seems to be tired of Bloodhound, since it keeps suggesting I work on other projects for a while. No way, brain! I can't quit now!

But tomorrow is the start of a new month, and I really want to work on something else. So I'm going to try (once again--it's never worked very well in the past) writing two projects concurrently. If I work on Bloodhound during my lunch hour and something else--Stag in Ruin or Little Sparrow or Adventures in Zoology--in the evenings, I might get more done.

Or I might get nothing done. I won't know until I try it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A perfect day

With all the excitement of my new car, I completely forgot to mention that I sold a story! "Never Be Alone" will appear in the spring 2012 issue of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful.

It's been a lovely weekend so far. I actually took Friday off work so I'd have a four-day weekend instead of a three, which was a great idea. For one thing, I doubt the car I bought would have still been available if I'd waited until today. For another, I've got a longer time to write.

Of course, I haven't done much writing. This morning I went out to Starbucks and did write a few pages, but before long I had to go back out to my car and drive around. I ended up at Target, where I bought a picnic basket with a cheerful striped lining. And that was the perfect choice, since when I got home around noon, Mom reminded me that the Fellowship church downtown was having a barbecue. We bought barbecue chicken dinners (that turned out to be wonderful), packed them up in the basket with a cotton check blanket, and drove in my Mini to the river to picnic.

The weather was perfect, the river lovely. We packed everything back up after we'd eaten, and on our way back to the car, we happened upon a small wedding group. A couple was getting married right next to the river, so we stopped (because we didn't want to be rude by traipsing through their party with a picnic basket) and watched the rest of the ceremony. It was an absolutely charming chance event.

Now I have Bloodhound open and hopefully pretty soon I'll start typing new words.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Look, it's a mid-life crisis car!

I...I traded my Toyota Yaris. You know, the car that I was going to have paid off in another year. And after that I'd planned to funnel the money I would have used for the payment onto my student loans. In my plans, I'm a responsible, frugal adult.

So of course I went and traded my car today. And got a Mini Cooper--you know, the car I couldn't afford.

It actually wasn't all that expensive. I got a great trade-in and it was a hail-damaged car (although repaired) so it was cheaper than it would have been ordinarily. My payment only went up about $15. Um, with a six-year note.

But it's beautiful. It's exactly what I wanted. And I am feeling very, very smug.

Green, with white racing stripes. Hell yeah.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Endless words

Argh, I still haven't finished Bloodhound. It's just over 100,000 words and I still have a lot to write before "the end." On the other hand, that's how Bell-Men was too. Endless. But geez, I've been writing Bloodhound for almost six months now! I don't think I've ever taken so long to complete a book. I have a three-day weekend coming up; maybe I'll just push through and slam out all the words, and fix them later.

Of course, since I've been browsing deviantART with an eye to finding an artist I can bribe--er, pay to make me a cover for Evil Outfitters, I may not get any writing done for weeks. It's as addictive as TV Tropes. Well, almost.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Whoa. Emails.

I got several emails this morning. The best one was from Angry Robot Books, who emailed to let me know Bell-Men has made the next cut and has been advanced from the slush reader to an editor. Every time I think about it, I start to hyperventilate.

Two of the other emails I got were from small publishers. One was a royalty statement letting me know that I'd sold zero books in the last quarter and earned zero dollars. One was a form rejection for Evil Outfitters, Ltd. I think there is a lesson to learn from these two emails.

Evil Outfitters came very close to being published by a large commercial press several years ago. It's a quirky, humorous fantasy set in the same world as Jack of All Trades, and I think it's awesome. But it's made the rounds and I can't interest any other publishers in it. I was trying to find another small publisher to send it to earlier, and the thought of finding a publisher, sending it off, waiting several months, and finally getting another rejection so I have to start all over--it just makes me tired.

I think I can probably manage to sell zero books in a quarter on my own, without a publisher. So maybe I'll self-publish Evil Outfitters, although...well, the thought of formatting, figuring out a cover, navigating the contracts for various online venues, reformatting for each venue, spending cash money on an ISBN and listing fees, etc., just makes me tired too. That's why I want a publisher. Ugh. Maybe I'll just trunk it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday nattering

We're gearing up for final registration at work, so I haven't been home much. When I have been home, I've been reading. For the first time since starting Skunk Cat Book Reviews, I'm behind getting my reviews written. Last night I posted a review of Aaron Polson's excellent The House Eaters and tonight (if I have time--I have to stay late at work to give a placement test) I'll post a review of Kevin Hearne's Hounded, which I also loved. Of course by then I may need to post another review, since I'm halfway through a third book.

Anyway, it's been busy. But tomorrow I get off at noon and have a real weekend for a change. Mom talked me into going by the Mini Cooper dealership tomorrow to test drive a Mini. I can't afford one unless it's used, and I swore almost ten years ago that I'd never buy another used car, but it's a Mini and they're so cute! I have a Toyota Yaris hatchback which gets excellent gas mileage but which I've never loved. And since I drive 45-minutes-one-way for my commute five days a week, I need a good gas mileage--but I'd also like a car I just love to drive, since I spend so much time in it. Thus, I will be test driving a Mini tomorrow afternoon, but if I come home with one it will only be because hundred-dollar bills showered on me from the sky. Geez, the cheapest new Minis they sell start at the same amount as my yearly salary. And I have student loans, so my debt-to-income ratio makes accountants blanch. That's why I live with my mom: I can't afford rent. I certainly can't afford to trade my aging Yaris. Please allow me a heavy sigh at this point.

I have no news on the writing front, as usual. Just now I was going down the list of my pending submissions on Duotrope and caught myself muttering, "Too soon for that one...I don't think that market's going to respond...they're not going to respond either...that publisher never responds, I don't know why I bother with them anymore...another month for that one...I don't think I'm going to get a response from that market either...." Depressing. Frustrating.

I have to get dressed to go to work now, to drive 45 minutes and stay there until late this evening and drive 45 minutes back. Because that's why they pay me the big bucks.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Congratulations to Alan Davidson, who won the Leather, Denim & Silver anthology and the little devil stamp! Thanks to everyone who entered!

And thank goodness Blogger finally came back up today. I was in withdrawal.

You can still enter!

Don't forget you can still enter the contest! I won't be picking a winner until I get home this evening. Just email your name to kcshaw [at] gmail [dot] com if you haven't already. Details here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Off the grid, man

Frequently I complain, usually on Twitter, about our lawnmower. It is--was, rather--one of those gas-powered push mowers that you have to hold the little bar or lever up while you mow or the engine shuts down.

It finally died the other day. Mom decided to buy a new one, but we talked it over first. We both agreed to try one of those old-fashioned hand mowers, the kind almost everyone had when I was a kid.

Well, I love it. It's light, maneuverable, and requires no gas. I just push it along and it goes whirr and cuts the grass--and does a much better job than our old mower. We're lucky in that our yard, though large, is relatively smooth; there aren't many little hillocks or tuffets to navigate. It's so fun to use I want to mow every day.

So here's to trying something old and finding it works just fine! But don't expect me to go back to typewriters.

(If you haven't already, don't forget to enter my contest!)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Contest! Devil-hunters in ink and an inky devil!

I've been meaning to post all week and haven't had time to do it justice. But here it is! It's a contest for a copy of Pill Hill Press's Leather, Denim & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter anthology. If you win, you also get this awesome little rubber stamp that I had made specially years ago, of the Underwood Deviled Ham devil logo*. One-of-a-kind! (Well, actually, the lady who made it for me liked it so much she made herself one, so it's two-of-a-kind. But that was like ten years ago and I bet she's lost hers.)

To Enter: Email me your name at kcshaw123 [at] gmail [dotcom] and I'll put an entry in the hat for you. One entry per person. The contest runs all week. I'll draw a name on Friday, May 13, because giving away a devil stamp and a copy of a monster hunter antho is an appropriate action for Friday the 13th.

I've been reading the anthology and it's awesome--excellent stories full of mayhem, blood, guts, horror both gooey and psychological, steampunk battles, hard choices, things with tentacles and fangs, and one fine story by me. There are thirty stories in the anthology, which as you can see from the picture is enormous. Definitely a coffee-table book. :)

[While I've got you all here, I can't stop myself from mentioning that I'm running a sale at my etsy shop. Enter MAYFLOWERS when you check out and you get 25% off your order!]

*Please Mr. Underwood Deviled Ham Company, do not sue me. I quite like your deviled ham and eat it all the time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rewrite Request Retire

The day I went to the beach, I got a rewrite request from a large small publisher (heh) for one of my billions of useless novellas. Obviously I haven't had a chance to address the rewrites yet, but I've been thinking about what I want to do. I've got a good idea of how I should fix the motivation problem, but there's a worldbuilding issue that has me flummoxed. I need to set aside a few hours to work on the rewrite. Maybe Thursday.

Last month I got another rewrite request...on a 900-word story. The editor was confused because she expected the story to be spooky and it wasn't. I have noticed that that particular market doesn't seem to recognize humor when they see it. Since the story wasn't much good to start with, I just deleted it. Flash fiction is disposable.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunburned Days

Dawn yesterday on Folly Beach, South Carolina. Mom took that picture, but I was with her. We left a few hours later, and now we're home.

The beach was amazing and awesome and wonderful. We all had a great time and got sunburned. Thursday night I stayed up with my brother, sister-in-law, oldest nephew, and a cousin and his wife to play D&D; I didn't get to bed until about 1am, and was woken at 4am when Mom, my sister-in-law's mother, and an aunt got up to watch the royal wedding. I didn't want to watch the wedding and couldn't get back to sleep since I was sleeping on a pull-out couch on the upstairs balcony right above the TV, so I went outside and walked three or four miles along the beach. When I left it was dark and the crescent moon was shining on the wet sand. By the time I got back, the sun was well up.

It was hard to leave, but I was glad to get home to my garden and my own bed. I just wish I didn't have to *groan* get up early tomorrow and go to work.

Not entirely to my surprise, I did not do any writing while I was gone. I still haven't finished Bloodhound.

Here's our beach house; in the foreground is the sand turtle with a castle on its back that we made on Thursday, that was still there on Saturday when we left.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Electricity and Me

As you may know, or you may not, for my day job I'm a test proctor at a state college. I do a variety of stuff, office work as well as test proctoring. One of the things I do occasionally is proctor standardized placement tests like the ACT.

Twice this month I've had to travel to one of our site campuses to give placement tests (note: not actually the ACT, but you won't have heard of the test I did give and it's not important anyway). Two weeks ago when I tested, we were two freaking minutes away from the end of the timed writing when the power went out. Boom, there went the test! The students had to start over with a different version of the test, and no one was happy. The proctor was very cranky that evening.

Tonight I remember thinking, "Well, no matter what happens during this test, at least we won't lose power."


Lightning loves me. What can I say?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Four days passed like lightning

Well, let's just bury yesterday's whiny post as soon as possible.

I got my edits done. I didn't actually break the mower after all, just flooded it, so I was able to finish mowing the lawn. I've also typed up all the handwritten pages for Bloodhound. That's all I got done this long weekend, although I did buy two pairs of shoes and some clothes. Now I am broke, but I look stylish.

I also bought a copy of Weird Tennessee, which is giving me ideas for roadtrips and stories.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heavy sighs all around

For about half a year, Jim C. Hines has been running First Book Friday, which I've really enjoyed reading. They're posts by various authors--usually fantasy authors, but not always--talking about their first sales and how they came about. In my memory, all the stories are atypical--no one ever does what we're supposed to do: writes a good book, finds an agent, and the agent sells the book to a publisher. This afternoon (because, you know, I don't have enough to do) I went through all 33 posts and reread them, and actually kept track of how each author got his or her first book sale.

It actually was pretty surprising, although admittedly it's a small sample. I made very broad categories as I went, and here they are:

Got an agent, got a publisher - 14
Approached publisher directly - 5
Tie-in novel/revived career in different genre - 3
Helped by established pro - 8
Self-published/got small publisher first, then agent - 2
Self-published only - 1

Where there was a year mentioned, I jotted it down--1985, 1987, 2000 (three reports), 2003 (two reports), 2004 (two reports), 2007 (two reports). A few authors mentioned how much easier it was to find a publisher ten or fifteen years ago compared to now.

So after reading all those accounts, I'm now bitterly depressed (although breaking the stupid lawn mower earlier today probably didn't help). While many authors said that they'd written lots of books before they sold their first one, I don't think anyone has written as many unpublishable books as me.

Seriously, here they are--and these are just the ones I can remember, and doesn't even count the awful books I wrote when I was in middle school, high school, and right after college:

late 1990s - The Ghost in the Snow, The Rooftops of Simminee Soo, some book about a dragon I can't remember the title of, Weaver's Shroud
early/mid 2000s - a different book about a dragon, Evil Outfitters Ltd., The Weredeer, Jack of All Trades
late 2000s - Stag at Bay, Stag in Velvet, The Taste of Magic, Blood and Taxes, The Dragon Whisperer
2010/2011 - The Trickster Society, Shadows over Oakhill, Bell-Men, Bloodhound (well, Bloodhound will be finished this week, anyway)

That's 17! And yes, I've sold three to small publishers with two more under contract to other small publishers. But where's my big payoff for years and years of hard work? I've queried 43 agents about Bell-Men, which is easily my strongest work, with only two partial requests and no interest whatsoever. Yeah, Angry Robot still has the full, but the odds are very slim that it'll make it to the next tier of reading. Meanwhile, I'm writing more books and editing/revising old ones, and working hard all the time to improve. I know I'm not a bad writer. I know I'm writing at a professional level. I just wish someone else would see that.

Hmm. I didn't actually mean to end up ranting. I really, truly meant to just give some interesting statistics about those First Book Fridays. Oh well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The To-Do List

I don't usually write actual to-do lists for myself. I keep 'stuff I need to do' in a mental drawer that I check pretty much constantly, sort of like my email. But right now the list is getting so unwieldy that I'm worried I'll forget something important.

1. Address The Taste of Magic edits.
I got them Tuesday! I haven't even opened the file! I feel really guilty about this, especially since I try to make edits a priority once I have them. I've got to do this first thing tomorrow, even if it takes me all day. At least I'm off work for a change.

2. Type up Bloodhound handwritten pages and finish writing the freaking book.
I'm close. At least, I'm pretty sure I'm close. Who knows? But I really want to finish this thing before I leave for the beach (!) early Wednesday morning, because if I don't I know I won't get around to it until I get back late Saturday night.

3. Mow lawn.
This wouldn't be so complicated except that first I have to go out and get gas for the mower, which is smelly, messy, and time-consuming. On the other hand, I suspect I'll be desperate for a break from editing tomorrow and can get it done then.

4. Finish crocheting this shawl.
My etsy shop is down to only seven items. I've been working on a shawl like the one I made my Mom for Christmas, and I need to finish it; I was hoping to get it done in plenty of time for Easter orders, but, um, that didn't happen. I estimate it'll take at least six more hours of work before it's done, and that doesn't include adding the beaded fringe at the very end.

5. Read the Leather, Denim & Silver anthology and start the contest.
I got my copies of the antho today, but since I'm leaving for the beach (!) Wednesday morning and not returning until Saturday night, I don't want to run the contest until I get back. So this is one thing that's not quite as urgent--in fact, I think an anthology of monster hunter stories is perfect beach reading.

6. Read an e-arc and post a review on Tuesday.
I wouldn't stress over this except that I requested the arc from the publisher and I'm honor-bound to follow through with a review. I just forgot about it until today. The book releases Tuesday. Another e-arc I requested and forgot about releases on May 1, so I need to get to it too before then.

7. Fill up my MP3 player with interesting stuff.
Since I'm going to the beach (!) Wednesday, and since I'm riding down with my mother and my sister-in-law's mother, I need to make sure I have many hours of listening pleasure on tap. Otherwise I'll be tempted to read while riding in the back seat, which will give me a raging case of carsickness. I'll probably go for This American Life episodes, but if anyone has any suggestions I'd happily welcome them.

8. Pack.
Because I'm going to the beach (!).