Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The words, dear god the words!

This weekend I decided it was way, way past time for me to catch up on my typing. I've been doing a lot of writing longhand lately, and it was piling up. I hadn't even finishing typing up what was in my old notebook and I was halfway through a new one.

So I made a real effort to type everything over the weekend. I wrote down my starting wordcount so I could see how many words I'd written longhand. But I didn't finish the typing over the weekend, so every night this week I've typed some more--not helped by the fact that I kept writing in that same notebook during the day.

I caught up tonight. My starting wordcount for Bloodhound: 60,853. Ending wordcount now that everything is typed up: 75,929.

Holy crap. No wonder that took so long to type.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

R.I.P. Diana Wynne Jones

I was twelve years old and my family had just arrived at a motel for the night: me, my little brother, our grandparents, and an uncle, all of us on the way to the beach. I'd seen the beach before, but not since I was three. Our motel was in North Carolina somewhere and we didn't really need to stop--it's a ten-hour drive from East Tennessee to the Carolina coast--but our grandparents liked to leave early and stay overnight on the way so that we'd arrive at our beach rental house around noon instead of late at night and tired.

I remember being excited that the ground next to the parking lot was sandy. We were almost there!

And I remember lying on my bed in the hotel room and opening a new book I'd brought with me for the trip: Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones. Within a few sentences, I'd forgotten all about the sandy ground outside, the beach tomorrow, the argument I'd had with my grandmother about my toothbrush (I'd forgotten it and she wasn't happy with me). I was Sirius, a godlike creature punished for someone else's crime by being banished into the body of a dog on Earth, nearly drowned at birth, and rescued by a girl in nearly as much trouble as I was.

It was my first introduction to Diana Wynne Jones's books. Since then I've read almost everything she's written. Dogsbody remains one of my favorites, together with A Tale of Time City, The Homeward Bounders, Deep Secret, Dark Lord of Dirkholm, and all the Chrestomanci books. I don't know any writer who could capture a child's way of thinking quite so perfectly. Her books are endlessly inventive and lively, funny and tragic.

Diana Wynne Jones died yesterday. It almost feels like something bright has vanished from the world.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

He lives!

I had to drop something off at the cashier's office at work today, and who should I get in line behind? The guy-who-looks-just-like-Alex! I hadn't seen him in several semesters and had assumed he'd transferred to another college or graduated. I must have been right, because he was paying for a transcript. He smiled at me too. He smiles at everybody, because he's just that nice a guy.

That was a bright moment in an otherwise exhausting and dismal day. At least tomorrow I'm off work (I swapped with today, my usual day off) and I can sleep late and get caught up typing some of the thousands of handwritten words I've written on Bloodhound this week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ditch Digging

No writing news, so here's some more talk about the great outdoors. Specifically, the ditch I dug.

We live on the side of a low hill that slopes down behind our house to a back yard that floods every time it rains. We've got a culvert in the side yard that theoretically carries rainwater from the other side of the street down our side yard to the back yard to the wet-weather creek that runs down into the woods. Until last week, the concrete culvert was silted up at the bottom and the ditch that leads from the bottom of the culvert to the bottom of the yard was nearly filled up with dirt, roots, weeds, and grass. Because the ground stays so boggy around the bottom of the culvert, Mom planted two big clumps of Tennessee water iris there and they've taken off.

Old picture of the water iris at the bottom of the culvert after a rainstorm (we have since moved the chairs, obviously):

Well, after all the rain we had a few weeks ago, the landlord wanted us to move the water iris because he thought it was diverting water toward the house. I decided to try digging out the filled-up ditch and removing a lot of the silt from the culvert, which was a job of work (although the flower gardens have benefited from the excellent rich dirt). Then Mom pointed out that the downspout just visible in the picture above, on the corner of the house, had no drainage and water just came down it and flowed along the side of the house. So I dug another, narrower ditch curving down from the downspout and connecting to the culvert.

And then I waited for it to rain. Which it did, finally, this evening.

So that was why I spent half an hour this evening standing with a flashlight in one hand and an umbrella in the other, watching water flowing down the ditch into the culvert, and watching water flowing freely down the newly dug-out culvert and into the back yard the way it's supposed to, without flooding. It was storming, did I mention? Fortunately I did not get struck by lightning.

While I was out there, Mom opened her bedroom window just above me, and said, "Are you still out there?" Then she said, "I think the iris are safe."

And I said, "If the landlord still wants us to move them, tell him I plan to put in tiny boat docks and bridges and railroad cars and possibly a complicated system of locks made out of Legos instead."

I hope it rains again this weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good fences

I've been threatening to post pictures of the garden, and finally I have. Here it is, in all its bare-dirt glory. (Actually, I have radishes and snow peas up already, but of course you can't see them.) Look at that beautiful fence! I did that! Mom helped, mostly by holding things for me, but I did it almost completely by myself.

This year we're going to eat well, oh yes. Look at that, there's even a gate.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hell YEAH I'm American

I forgot about this picture. This was from last weekend, when Mom made hamburgers. I looked at my plate and said, "We are so American." That tickled Mom so much she took a picture of my lunch. And now it is forever immortalized on the internet.

Apparently, this blog post is brought to you by French's mustard.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quick-draw mcShaw

You know those old cartoons where someone has to stay awake and they prop their eyelids open with toothpicks? That's me right now. (Well, not literally. I've always thought eyeballs and toothpicks should never be in close proximity.)

The time change caught up to me this morning. My alarm went off at its usual time, and as I always do I turned on my lamp and turned off the alarm. Then I thought, "I can lie here for a few minutes and still have plenty of time to get ready for work." FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

The next thing I knew, it was 7am. I usually leave for work at 7:10am. I rolled out of bed, threw some clothes on (and thank goodness I did laundry last night), buried my face in a bag of flour--er, put some powder on so I wouldn't scare small children, and ran out the door with a hairbrush in one hand and a cheese stick in the other.

I made it to work on time, too. But I can't say I paid all that much attention to what I was doing all day. And now, if I don't get to bed soon, I'll have to get out the toothpicks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Waxing Gibbous is a good name for a band

You were born during a Waxing Gibbous moon

This phase occurs right before a full moon.

- what it says about you -

You like to question things and have issues settled before going to work on a problem. You appreciate art, elegant forms, and efficient designs. You seek deeper meanings in things that you see and want your actions to make the world a better place.

What phase was the moon at on your birthday? Find out at

Incidentally, the picture above is inaccurate. It shows a waning gibbous moon. Maybe the picture's always the same, I don't know. I just didn't want anyone to be confused. Also, I'm showing off that I do actually know my moon facts.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Egg plots

I'm at the point with Bloodhound that the plot threads are starting to pull together. This is one of the most difficult parts of writing a draft for me. From here through the ending--which is difficult and emotionally draining--I'm going to be sweating it constantly.

I keep most of my plot ideas in my head, using the parts of my brain that aren't already taken up with song lyrics, phone numbers from my childhood, and what number the cable company has changed the History Channel to this time. This is why I can't do algebra; there's no brain-storage space left.

So at this point in the writing of any long project, keeping all the plot and subplot elements, character arcs, and physical description in mind as I write (and presumably strive for decent prose) feels like holding a very fragile raw egg. In my mouth. If I'm not constantly vigilant, I could crack the egg or even break it, or just choke on it, or just spit it out for a little while, that turns into a long while, that can easily turn into forever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Line Self-Indulgence

Elizabeth Bear does this thing on her blog occasionally where she posts the first line of all her works in progress. I've always thought that was pretty cool, but since I'm not Elizabeth Bear I've never done anything similar (that I recall). But I'm off work today and not sure what to do with myself, and our new neighbors are moving in next door and blocking the driveway so I can't go anywhere, and I can't turn on the TV because I'll get too overwhelmed with horror over Japan. So I opened my WIP file to work on Bloodhound, and noticed just how many WIP files I do have. Maybe posting the first line will help me focus.

First lines, in alphabetical order:

Adventures in Zoology
Of course I was prepared for the expedition. I'd been preparing for it my whole life.

Blood Drive
On Tuesday afternoons, Mama and Alessandra had their weekly appointment at the dressmaker's, followed by tea at one of the better tea-houses on Dawnowl Street.

I arrived in the foreign city of Farlin via a goddess's spell cast by a murderer.

Charmed Circle
Dottie was living up to her name, as usual.

Darla Dare, Girl Detective
When I got the call from the temp service, my first thought was, "Finally!"

Little Sparrow
Sparrow had chosen the perfect night to change his coins into gold.

How Christopher Kaplan Learned to Lie
Chris found Ojo sitting under a forsythia bush one drizzly Friday afternoon.

"Rio Tesoro"
Isabella arrived in Rio Tesoro on her twenty-third birthday, on foot and carrying everything she owned in a saddlebag over her shoulder.

"Shades of Gray"
Mayra pulled her mule to a halt at the sight of the overturned wagon.

"The Shepherd's Apprentice"
The treeless hills looked like a newly shorn sheep's flank.

Stag in Ruin
My brother Gabe had fallen. He'd fallen down the stairs.

A lalo had found Tea, and it wouldn't leave her alone.

All of the short stories and some of the novels will undoubtedly languish on my hard drive until I realize I'm never, ever going to finish them. Then I'll delete them, and they'll deserve it. But I fully expect to finish the rest. Eventually.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nothing but transitions

Bloodhound is now 57,000 words long. My writing has slowed as I have to work out plot points so that they're going to tie together and actually make sense at the end, but I'm still going pretty fast. I have the next few scenes plotted out and should have managed to write them today.

But I'm stuck in a section where the main character has to travel to several places in a very short time, and while in those places she has to visit different rooms and talk to different people about different things. In other words, I feel like I've been writing nothing but transitions for the last thousand words!

I think transitions are one of the hardest things to get right. Mess them up and the writing is clumsy, slow, and unconvincing. Get them right and no one notices. Every time a character moves to a new location or changes the subject during a conversation, or the action has to change in some way, it's yet another transition. For all the effort I'm putting into this section of Bloodhound, I'm going to have to revise the hell out of it to make it read smoothly in the final draft. But I have to finish writing it first.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Holy Crap!

Angry Robot just requested the full of Bell-Men.

*falls down dead from shock*

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Seriously, that was a spam email I got today. What am I supposed to say, "No, I'm dead"?

It's raining again. I do love rain, and it's still warm out, but I also wanted to mess around in the garden today. It's muddy enough already; we don't need anymore rain at the moment, thank you very much. Hopefully it won't wash away the seeds I planted Thursday.

No news on the writing front. Here, I'll jinx myself, which will at least get things moving: I've had a story shortlisted at Apex since November; I'm waiting for one contract and four sets of edits; Samhain has had my romance since the beginning of January; all three of my other available short stories have been out on sub for several months; and of course Angry Robot has had my Bell-Men query for almost a week (although since I've heard they started requesting fulls the first day they opened for queries, I'm guessing I'll be getting a form reject pretty soon).

There. If that doesn't get me some responses, I'll have to start simsubbing to move things along.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Here we are in March already

It's March 1, so I sent my Angry Robot submission in. Hope they like it. For one thing, I love the publisher's name.

I was going to post a picture of my March 1 garden, which is tilled and fenced properly this year. But we've had nearly a week of rain culminating in ferocious all-day storms yesterday, so the garden looks more like dirt soup and it's far too wet for me to have planted the lettuce, radishes, snow peas, and spinach that I'm dying to get into the ground. Maybe next weekend.

I do have some pepper seedlings up. No cayennes yet, but I have high hopes that I'll get some of those up soon. The cayennes particularly excite me because A) they're my favorite pepper, very hot and yummy, and B) these seeds are from a volunteer plant that seeded from a cayenne I planted two summers ago. I don't know why it thrills me to have third-generation cayenne plants, but it does. Simple pleasures, I guess.