Monday, December 30, 2013

Chibi marathon

If there's a writers equivalent of a marathon than doing the prep work for Dean and Kris' workshop might be a good candidate. I'm used to diddling around with a short story for a two or three weeks before I polish it and send it out. It sounds lazy but it's not. Since short stories aren't worth outlining I tend to approach them like a jigsaw puzzle. I know the overall picture and I spend a couple hours at a time staring at the pieces until I figure out where one goes. Then I'll go work on something else for a while until I feel like staring at the pieces again. However this time around I don't have the luxury.

It's frustrating and stressful as hell but at the same time it's good to be pushed like this. Spending that much time on a short is kind of ridiculous and being able to finish the puzzle faster will be a good skill to have. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to placing those pieces. I've done enough "impossible" tasks this year that I don't doubt that I can do it. I just need to sit down, focus, and prove myself right.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Umm...was that Monday that wizzed by?

I completely forgot about this week's blog. Honestly, I did. I was trying to survive Christmas, managed that, but it wasn't until this morning, at an obscene hour that I remembered. Of course by then I was too tired to do anything than watch a Doctor Who marathon and think about how I should be blogging but wasn't because I was too tired. So...yeah. 

I promise I won't flake out next week. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Runners up

Today I'm driving north to deliver the 2013 Trojan gift (the whimsical shape of which never reflects what is inside), which means that I'm short on time. So this week I thought I'd share the book covers that weren't quite bad enough to make my top ten. Enjoy.



It's comforting that even though the people of the future may have hovercars, some things never change. 

So You Think You Can Dance season 57? In space!

Hmm...when it comes to potential causes for the apocalypse I'm okay with giant gold coins raining from the sky.

So this is what a bad trip looks like.

The title on this one says it all.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Hiding the corpses

Saturday morning I finished editing the cyberfunk. It took me a week longer than I'd planned but November was also far busier than I'd anticipated. Those of you who have been following me for a while are probably thinking "you say that every year." Well yes, I do but this year was particularly harrowing. I had two days off all month. That's it. Two. I wasn't twiddling my thumbs at the day job either. I was working two or more jobs per day and then editing a few pages before I passed out from exhaustion. So to do all that and edit 50K to boot, that's a freaking win. There are no more excuses. I've murdered them all and buried the bodies in someone else's basement. (I can't bury them in my basement because I haven't got one. Besides hiding the evidence where I live would be really dumb.)

Normally I'd start a new book now but sadly that's not the case this time. I can't even go back to working on F&F yet. Why? I have to write six short stories by the end of February in preparation for Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch's anthology workshop. I was able to secure a coveted spot so now that the great edit of 2013 is complete I can put everything else on hold so I can focus on putting my best work on the page for them. I will finish F&F. I swear I will. But this workshop is a fantastic opportunity and I'd be an idiot not to give it my all.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Can I put him out of my misery?

I've heard a number of writers warn against putting Strawmen in novels. If you're not familiar with what a Strawman Character is take a moment to read up on it. Finished? Okay.

I understand why they're not the ideal but I didn't fully understand how they could damage a story until I saw Catching Fire a couple nights ago. Now I will preface this with the disclaimer that I haven't read the books. There aren't enough hours in the day to read everything I'd like to so I have no idea whether the character in question was as bad in the books as he was in the movie. That aside, he was glaring aberration that should never have been put on the page. So out of all the personalities on screen, which one did I want to direct the holy flamethrower of death upon? Commander Thread.

Yes, I know that we're meant to hate him and that goal certainly was accomplished in the film. However, that was no excuse for the screenwriters to make him an ignorant grunt that doesn't care whose toes he tromped on. It's counterproductive. His character has a given job to do, but the speed and blind efficacy in which he does said job hurts villain's cause -- the very person he's working for. Instead of being a character that added depth and conflict to the plot, he detracted from it and made the villain (and the writers as well) look like an idiot for not foreseeing the outcome. In some ways it also undermines the hero/heroine. Instead of their choices being difficult and their plight harrowing it became a "well it's about time someone did something about that mess" scenario.

Not all strawmen are this detrimental. Thread's character was so over exaggerated that his affect was more widespread but it does make it pretty clear why the trope is justly frowned upon. In some ways I feel bad that it took such an overt example for me to understand that. Oh well. At least I can count it as a lesson well learned.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Seventeen chapters in six days

So, in the great tradition of NaNo, I have too much on my plate. My social schedule is crazy (as usual),  my work schedule is crazy (more than normal), and the result is that I'm behind on my chosen project for the month (as usual). So, as much as I'd love to share specifics and my sneaky, ninja enlightenment of the week, I'm going to bow out this week so I can catch up on the edit-o-rama. Despite my hectic schedule, it's imperative that I finish the edit this week. I'll explain why next week but for now, I'll simply wish you a happy Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah, and depart.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An answer to a dare

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine posted the link for a list of the most bizarre fantasy novel covers. While there's some true "what the frak?" covers on the list, most struck me as meh. I agree that they're not the most beautiful covers, but for me a lot of them are dated art, not bad art. This isn't an art snob or "I must defend the artist"opinion. It's one that comes as an occupational hazard. When you spend eight hours a day surrounded by books, you kind of develop an immunity to a certain level of schlock. The art itself can be quite good, that's not a requirement. For a cover to stand out as being truly atrocious among booksellers it needs to make you wonder if you're really seeing this or did someone just slip you acid? With this in mind, my friend dared me to come up with a better list. After much consideration I've compiled my top ten.

                                                   #10: Even unicorns know how to sieg heil.


#9: It took me a full minute to realize that the earth was being eaten by a giant snake skeleton but it doesn't explain the presence of the dove and it certainly isn't much of a CRISIS! I mean, come on. The snake doesn't have a digestive tract so it can't be that bad if it swallows the planet.


                                               #8: This one gave me a Captain EO flashback.

#7: Quick! There's no time to explain. Get in the triceratops!

#6: Anyone want to play whack-a-mole?


#5: If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I don't want to know what this keeps away.

#4: Tentacle porn?


#3: I got nothing. This one is just plain weird.


#2: Excuse me miss, I do believe your vagina is barking.


#1: 
(drumroll please)







The dancing cocker spaniel of death!


("hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal...")

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

The disapproving llama

You know those "you should be writing" memes with the scowling celebrities? As wonderful as those are, it occurred to me that they're not as effective as they're meant to be. When I first started writing I definitely needed the encouragement of others. That's why I asked Brandon Sanderson to sign my writing folder. Every time I opened it I would see this and be reminded that I really could do it.


I still need the occasional encouragement of others (one can never get enough) but since I don't use that folder anymore, I've switched to another method. The disapproving llama. You see, I know that I can finish writing a novel, I just need a reminder to actually sit down and do it. The llama's glare reminds me that I can't sell it if I don't finish it. In short, that I should be writing. This brings us back to the memes. It occurred to me that if a picture of a Hollywood celebrity can motivate people to write, why not one of their favorite authors? 

With that in mind, I took pictures of a few of my well known friends and favorites, looking disapprovingly, in the hope that others can find the motivation that they need to keep going -- especially since it's NaNoWriMo. And because I also have faith in you, I've included the disapproving llama in each shot. Feel free save these to your computer, send them to your writing group, tape a copy to your writing desk, or wherever it needs to be to remind you. I'll continue to take these pictures as I travel about and post them but this is the first set.


                                                    John A. Pitts says you should be writing.

                                                 Ken Scholes says you should be writing.

                                                    Jay Lake says you should be writing.

                                                Brent Weeks says you should be writing.

                                         Diana Pharoah Francis says you should be writing.

                                            David D. Levine says you should be writing.

                                               Devon Monk says you should be writing.

                                      Bryan Thomas Schmidt says you should be writing.

                                                Irene Radford says you should be writing.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Forget me not


Last week a customer traded in the mother of all classic sci-fi collections. 35 boxes! For those not familiar with how many books can fit into an average packing box, that roughly adds up to 3,000 books. However it’s not the size that made this the mother of all collections, though it usually would. What made this collection extraordinary was that it was accrued over a lifetime (if it was printed between 1960 and 1994, this man owned it), a lot of the authors I’ve never heard of, and most of them were never read.




As I processed them last week, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have felt if one of my novels were in these pristine stacks? While it would be great for my book(s) to have been picked up by a major publisher and found their way into someone’s collection, it would pain me to learn that it sat unread for thirty plus years. I want people to devour my books and anxiously await the next. I don’t want them to sit in a storage unit, forgotten. That’s the stuff of nightmares.

It would also pain me to know that after a lifetime of writing and promoting, no one remembered my name. Yes, it happens. I realize that. And yes, just because I’ve never come across their name doesn’t mean that they’re obscure (though I think that fifteen years in the business is enough to say that they are) or that they didn’t warrant that kind of legacy. But still, I don’t want a sci-fi guru to pull my works out of a box and say, “who the hell is this?” Or worse, have a used bookstore employee say, “I’m sorry, we can’t sell this because no one reads them anymore.” I think that would be worse than never being published in the first place.

A lot of work and care went into each of these books. Heck, some of them even have beautiful cover art from Rowena, Darrell K Sweet, Frank Frazetta, Tom Kidd, and Royo.


     (From left to right: Kelly Freas, David Mattingly, Luis Royo, Michael Whelan, Darrell K Sweet, and Richard Hescox)


It made picking through them very difficult because as a bookseller, I knew that a lot of these are going to sit on the shelves for a long time. But on the other hand, as a writer I understand what the hopes of everyone involved in each book’s creation were because I have those same hopes. I know how much work went into novel and I don’t want it to have been in vain. I’m as excited to show these forgotten treasures to the public, as I am dismayed that they were forgotten in the first place. It’s an uncomfortable dichotomy, one that is almost as uncomfortable as the question itself. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A slight break with tradition

Normally for NaNoWriMo I try to finish whatever novel I happen to be in the middle of. That means that I should be preparing to race to the end of F&F. Well...I'm not. In fact, I haven't worked on it in about a month. Why? I decided that I needed to stop sitting on my manuscripts.

Typically after I've finished drafting and editing a novel I'll send it out to whatever venue I think is the best fit for it. While I wait for the inevitable rejection I work on another story, finish said story, read the expected rejection, and start the process all over again. In theory it's a sound system since it means I usually have one in the slush, one in process, and a lot more in the queue. The trouble with it is that because I have a new a wonderful story to send out, the earlier pieces never get sent to the next venue. In addition, when I take part in an online class or short term writing group I have to start a new story for that (personal choice) which also postpones the editing and sending of the other manuscripts.

I'm putting an end to that cycle by putting off F&F for a while so I can edit and submit all the things. As I said a few weeks ago I've already sent out one and I'm working on the first editing pass on the Cyberfunk. I'm eight chapters in and I know I have to fix a pacing problem later on by writing a new chapter so I figure that completing the full edit and getting it out to my beta readers by the end of NaNo is a worthy goal. It's certainly going to be a sizable, yet attainable goal. I will eventually get back to writing F&F. But I feel it's important to do this for my career. I can't make a sale by sitting on manuscripts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Curse you technology!

I'm not a tech head by any definition. However, since the Cyberfunk is set in the near future I've done a lot of research into devices and technology that are in development so that I can speculate what the tenth or even fifteenth generation device will be able to do. Unfortunately setting it that close to the now means that commercials like this give me a panic attack.


Curse you Samsung! I shake my mighty fist of doom in your direction.

Okay, I do have to give them props for creating a long awaited device. Every nerd on the planet will want one because, as the advert shows, it's a freaking wrist communicator. My first thought when I was "this is frakking cool!" My second was I need to rethink some of my tech because it's not that advanced anymore. It's really hard to stay ten steps ahead of tech since new devices come out every few months and new discoveries change the potential of devices.

After looking at the specs I realized that I'm actually okay (ah ha! Behold the power of research!). My device is different and advanced enough that I can leave it as it is without anyone crying fowl. Huzzah! In some ways I regret choosing a near future setting but it's too late to turn back now. It just gives me more reason to find an interested agent and/or editor so it can be printed before someone really does create what I wrote.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Binging on Brandon's Books, A.K.A., the Bingerson

I binged on Brandon Sanderson this past week. I finished reading The Rithmatist, I saw Brandon at the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association) trade show, went to his Powell's signing, Started reading Steelheart, and oh yeah, I had lunch with Brandon too. Good times, that.

It's always great to see Brandon and the Cedar Hills Powell's does such a wonderful job running their events. But I bet what you really want to hear about is the books.

The Rithmatist was a good read. I'm a bit surprised that it was released as a YA because the story felt more middle grade to me. It didn't diminish the story, it's just one of those weird publishing moves that I can't find a reasonable explanation for other than price point. Anyway...like I said, it's a good read. Even though it's been out for a few months I won't post any spoilers. Brandon did an excellent job, as usual, of explaining the magic system so that the reader doesn't need a geometry degree and the names of the various defenses are fun. The diagram of the Shoaff defense made me laugh out loud. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the revelation of the villain. It wasn't who I expected (even though it was foreshadowed). Normally that's a good thing because I'm well read enough that I can pick up on those clues. However, I still felt a bit cheated because it was like watching a new episode of Scooby Doo only to find out that the special guest was Harry Potter's muggle neighbour's former roommate.

What I found really interesting were the changes he made from the original. No, I haven't read the original draft, but I did read the first three chapters when he posted them on his website. I don't know if they're still there or if they were removed during the site's redesign. If they're not then check out 17th shard. If anyone has them they will. Anyhoo, the reason I bring up Scribbler (the original draft) is that it was fascinating being able to compare the two. The opening chapters were very different and I can see why he changed what he did. It made me sad that I don't have access to the full draft of Scribbler so I could compare and contrast the rest of the book. I'm really curious about what else he changed.

Steelheart is a very different book and I'm enjoying it a lot. I've only read the first half and I'm curious as to where he's going to take this series. Again, I'm not going to give out any spoilers. Since I haven't finished it that's pretty easy to do. In fact I'll hold off reviewing Steelheart until I've finished it. However, I will say that out of these two books I'd recommend Steelheart over The Rithmatist because it has some excellent violence and a Japanese supervillain. That's two happy buttons right there.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Waiting for the Rejection Carp

I sent off another submission last night. I don't feel as anxious about this one as I have in the past and I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps it's because I feel better about this book than I did last year. I've thoroughly edited it (again) and it's so much better than the previous draft. I can honestly say that this book, despite being my first finished novel, doesn't suck.

My lack of nerves might also be because I've been visited by the Rejection Carp before. What is the Rejection Carp, you may ask? The best comparison I can think of is that he's your least favorite relative. You're not excited to see him again because he never has anything nice to say and he kinda smells, but you know that encounters with him are inevitable. He is family, after all.

Either way, if the Carp glubs more bad news I can honestly say that it's not because my manuscript is covered with food pellets. I made sure it was pellet free before I e-mailed it. Sooner or later someone out there will like it enough to buy it so I can hire a sexy guy to feed me mochi and Tim Tams while I write my next book. (What? I can be productive and live out a fantasy at the same time.)


(Note: I'm posting this a bit early because I'll be at a trade show with my boss and while I might find a few minutes to post this during my customary timeframe, I'm not counting on it. The show is also why this post is shorter than normal. I'm writing this in the hotel room before I meet up with her.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

If you let a girl hold a Hugo...

If you let a girl hold a Hugo, she's going to want one of her own.


That means she will have to write a terrific story.



When she's finished, she'll send it out to publishers who will send her lots of rejection letters.

Then she will want to do another editing pass to make sure it doesn't suck.

When she reads it again, she will notice some parts that can be better. She'll probably ask her friends and some other writers to look it over to make sure the changes don't suck.

After they've finished, she will read their suggestions and make a few more changes.



(She may get carried away in the process.)

When she's certain that the book is suck-free, she will send it out again.

The wait will drive her crazy. To take her mind off of it, she will write another story.

If the story she sent out does sell, she'll do a big happy dance.

Once it's published, if the story is really good and she's really lucky, it might be nominated for a Hugo.

If she is so fortunate to win one, she will happily let her writer friends hold it.

Because if you let a writer hold a Hugo...

          ...they're going to want one of their own.

Monday, September 23, 2013

To tell or not to tell

You've already heard what I learned about surviving large Cons, but I'm sure you're wondering about the really cool "Oh, my frak! That's amazing!" stuff. Well...I can't do that without bragging. I know, I know. Assurances that there were indeed cool happenings aren't going to be enough for you. Hmm... Maybe if I tell the cool stories in a blase way, it might counteract the brag factor?

No, that's a terrible idea.

Ok, how about I keep the coolest of the cool to myself until the end and then I'll decide whether or not to share it. That sounds good.

Alright, to start off with I came home with some great books. The book on top I purchased, the three in the middle were free at registration, and the rest were given to me. I wasn't expecting to bring home a haul so this was a pleasant surprise. I'm really excited to have both of Jean's books. I loved her romances and I've been wanting to read her sci-fi for a while. I've also been wanting to read Sandman Slim. It's been highly recommended by a friend.



One of the activities was a lovely regency dance lesson. Unfortunately I only remember about half of each dance we learned but we had good time. I even learned how to properly curtsey from Mary Robinette Kowal and thanks to her clever mnemonic, I won't forget that.



While passing famous authors in the halls wasn't shocking, it did provide ample opportunity to take stealthies that I could use to tease friends (because I love them that much).


(The gentleman in the gray shirt on the left is Robert Silverberg. We were on the same flight.)

The fact that the hotel was attached to an upscale mall. How upscale? They had a Peruvian folk band playing American top 40 in the riverfront cafe by the foodcourt. You haven't lived until you've heard "My Heart Will Go On" played on a pan pipe.


But some of the most amazing sights and experiences were pure serendipity. Like this:


The man operating K-9 was very nice and we had a lovely chat about his collection (which included a working Dalek, and a DRD). I confess, the DRD made me squee. 

But undoubtedly the best part was becoming closer to my friends, making new ones, and being among my people. Whenever I go to an event where there are a lot of geeks and writers, that place automatically becomes a home away from home where I don't have to be afraid to belt out the Lumberjack song in a bar at one in the morning. (Yes, that happened and it was awesome.) It makes going home that much harder and yet, it gives me more to look forward to at the next event.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ironman of conventions

As I eluded to last week, in order to get the most out of WorldCon you have to pull some long days.  Now, I knew this going in. I've had long days like that before. I made it through a six hour tech rehearsal before giving my all on stage during the first dress rehearsal and I did it without turning into a zombie. I figured if I can do that, this would be no problem.

Oh, no no. This was much, much more.

This was like babysitting all four of my nieces, then doing to tech rehearsal before swimming five miles. And then five hours later you have to get up and do it again. All I have to say is thank heaven there was a Starbucks within fifty shuffling steps of the elevator. (If it's not a Conventions site selection rule yet, it should be.) I may have to do some endurance training before my next WorldCon because Saturday morning, not only did I hit the proverbial wall, I was pushed through it by a truck, run over, and dragged for fifty feet. Not only did I want to sleep for a week, I had no motivation whatsoever, and my feet were incredibly sore. Ok, wearing four inch heels at the Tor party may have had something to do with that last one, but that's just between you and me. Shh!

(Side note: It took two weeks for the blisters to heal so next time I'm definitely taking heels that are no taller than three inches.) (What? Don't look at me like that. Fantastic shoes make me feel more confident.)

I will admit that WorldCon is longer than the average Con and I wasn't the only one who was partied out and in desperate need of cruellers Saturday morning. The way I see it, this gives me even more reason to pace myself better next time because my networking abilities on those last two days were severely hampered by fatigue. I also think this makes it even more important to be there on the first day so I can meet as many people as I can when I'm refreshed and can make the most of the opportunity. Hopefully I'll remember these lessons. I don't expect to make it to another WorldCon until Spokane in 2015, but we'll see. Miracles can happen.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I came, I saw, I Con-qured


The biggest thing I have to say about WorldCon, other than that I’m so glad I went, is that it is not a place for the shy or unprepared. First of all, there are a lot of people. Not as many as at SDCC or Emerald City but still a lot. I could walk the floor without having to wedge my way through a crowd, which was nice. I’m not fond of the salmon swimming upstream experience (the odds of being consumed by a bear are too high). I had heard that most of the attendees don’t arrive until Thursday and leave early on Monday and that was certainly true. There were twice as many people on Friday and Saturday than the rest of the weekend. It was one of the reasons I was glad to have arrived early so that I could check in and get my bearings beforehand. I don’t think would have made it to Friday and Saturday’s panels on time if I hadn’t.

Speaking of panels, there was no shortage of things to do. Besides panels there were lots of workshops, filk performances, kaffeeklatsches, sight seeing walks, dances, awards presentations, literary beers (a kaffeeklatsch with booze instead of coffee), and of course the never ending BarCon. There were so many things that I wanted to attend and didn’t make it to because of one conflict or another. In fact, it’s a good idea to look at the programming either before you go or right after you check in (preferably before). I spent about three hours going over the programming guide the day they posted it online so I could plan out the entire weekend. I marked the panels and events that interested me during each hour of programming and picked the one that I felt was the informative or advantageous. Even then, about a third of what I picked was pushed aside at the last minute.

I made the mistake of not scheduling in time to rest or eat. The fact that I regretted not scheduling that time may sound ridiculous, but when there’s that much to do and that many people to meet it really does have to be scheduled in. I also want to emphasize the or in that sentence. The chances that you'll get plenty of both are pretty slim. I ended up skipping a late afternoon panel everyday so I would have an hour to pursue one of those options before the parties and BarCon. I usually chose food so I wouldn’t be tempted to snarf snacks at the parties. It’s really hard to make a good impression or pitch a novel when your mouth is full of Gardetto’s. Just saying.

I'm definitely going to keep all of this (and a few things I'll talk about in the coming weeks) in mind when I go to other Cons, particularly for Spokane in 2015. This year's Con definitely whetted my appetite for Conventions. Fatigue and crazy hours aside, it was wonderful. I loved every minute of it and I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dead author walking

I love WorldCon! I'll fill you in on the many cool and wonderful events in the next couple weeks but I need to decompress a bit and sleep before I can actually turn those memories into words. What I can say is that I'm more thankful than ever that I went to Superstars. Not only does it prepare you for the business side of being a writer, it prepares you for a few of the better happenings at cons: the parties and running into scores of famous authors.

I remember the first time I passed one of the Superstars instructors in the hall (I won't say who so I can preserve some dignity) I nearly froze. Despite the number of authors living in the Pacific Northwest, I usually don't run into them at the grocery store or the car wash. Usually it's only at events, both public and private, that I get to see them. I was unprepared for the commonality of it and as a result got a bit starstruck. Superstars gave me the chance to acclimatize to it.

Yes, the number of bestsellers and living legends at the seminar is a fraction of what I encountered at the con, but there's no way I could have walked by George R R Martin, Robert Silverberg, and Harry Turtledove without gawking like a newb.

I also learned at Superstars the importance of parties and BarCon. There are a lot of parties at WorldCon and if you're a writer you can't miss out on them. Likewise, you shouldn't pass up a little downtime in the hotel bar. Important contacts can be made and insider information can be acquired at both, and usually from those in a position to know. There were a lot of writers here and quite a few of them never set foot in either and they really missed out.

I know I keep plugging the virtues of the seminar, but really. How can I not when I'm still discovering the lessons I was unaware of? If I hadn't gone to the seminar I wouldn't have had a clue how to been able to deport myself nearly as well. So what are you waiting for? Go sign up for Superstars Writing Seminar. You need it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wisdom and bear hugs

To borrow a line from my favorite movie, Surf Ninjas, "I've got nothing." For the first time I actually can't think of what to post about. Shocking, I know. All I can think about is what I have to do before I fly to San Antonio in...thirty-two hours. Yikes! My nerves haven't taken over yet and thanks to a lovely pep talk from Mama Bear, AKA my favorite director, I don't think that will happen.

ACT was in need of ushers for the penultimate performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie so I went down to help out. The show had sold out and I wanted to see it so it worked out well. After a fantastic performance I chatted with the director and my friends in the company. (Since I retired from the theater in order to pursue a writing career, they rarely get to see me. That's why I go down there once or twice a year to usher because no matter how busy I am, it's nice to get away and see old friends. The fact that I get to see a show in my theatrical home away from home is a bonus.) When I told Mama about my trip she said "have a wonderful time." The only response I could give was a strained "I'll try." I tried to walk away because there were a few more people I needed to say hi to but Mama stopped me. She looked me in the eye and said "Be safe, have fun, and don't stress out. You're smart and capable. Show them how talented you are. You've got this."

After hearing that I realized that this was like any audition. As long as I learned my lines (in this case my novel pitches) and present myself as a dedicated professional, it'll all work out. Even if I don't get what I'm after this time, I can rest assured knowing that I did my best and that no one will think ill of me. There's always next time.

I still find it funny that I can hear the same advice, put different ways and from different people, but it isn't until it's phrased and delivered exactly so that it finally sinks in. That's how it was with Write the F*#%ing sentence and Chuck Wendig's succinct motivational messages. Lots of dear friends have wished me luck this past week and expressed how much they believe in me, and I appreciate each and every one of those remarks. They've helped stave off the effects of my own psychic sabotage. But sometimes it takes a different approach to really get through to me. I don't know if that makes me thick headed or simply unique. I'll assume it's the latter. So don't worry about me because I've got this. I'm going to WorldCon and I'm going to have a safe, fun, and stress free week.

Heh. I guess I knew what to write after all. Must be proof that Mama Bear knows best.




In case you missed it, I did another guest post on The Fictorian Era about the writing lesson I learned from my favorite video game.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Waterfowl fellatio

No, I'm not venturing into critter erotica. Since that's now out of your mind I will say that this blog's title isn't a tease.

I've been getting everything I need for WorldCon ready. List of what to pack: done. Business cards: printed. Pitches: in progress. List of panels to attend: getting longer. Confidence: M.I.A.

I'm a worrywart. Always have been. Once my head is filled with worst case scenarios there's no going back. I know myself well enough to recognize the warning signs so I can stop my brain before it reaches critical...most of the time. The times I can't are when the stakes are high. Right now, the stakes are high because I want this BAD. I want to be a full time writer. I've wanted it since high school, which coincidentally was the last time I had freak out like this.

At my high school, not only did we have to pass all of the requisite classes, we had to complete the Senior Project (Dun, dun, dun). I don't remember the specifics of the project (it was a long time ago) but in short it involved writing a very long research paper, a service project, and giving an oral presentation to a panel. Anyone who failed to complete any of these three items with a passing grade didn't graduate. The last item, the oral presentation, was done the last week of class so if you screwed up, you were up a creek without a poodle.

There was no school the day of the presentation so the building was filled with stressed out seniors memorizing notes. I'd memorized mine the night before so I had nothing to do while I waited for my turn. A friend saw that I was unnecessarily freaked out and took it upon himself to provide a much needed distraction -- breaking into the teacher's lounge and pulling up illicit things on the internet. This was in 1997 so that meant logging into Netscape and waiting for the dial-up connection to load the desired content one trickle at a time. So during the half hour we spent in the lounge we were only able to listen to two short audio files. The first was a Thundercat outtake of Mum-Ra talking dirty to Cheetara and the second was of Donald Duck getting a blow job from a goat.

I know, it's unorthodox but it did the trick. I laughed until I cried. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much and I completely forgot about all those worst case scenarios. My hands still shook during the presentation (a panel of judges can unnerve a girl) but I got through it with a passing grade.

So next week I plan to bring lots of fun entertainments for the flight to San Antonio. One friend has already pledged to give me a long awaited chapter to read, I've got Kevin Hearne's books to read, and I've got technology that I can fill with raucous sound bites to take the edge off of my nerves. By the time the plane lands I should be good to go.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The strong, silent type

One of the characters in F & F (Flame and Filch) is very old, very bright, very male, and can't speak a word (ladies and gay gentlemen, feel free to make comments about him being the ideal man). I've had a lot of fun coming up with dialogue for him. No, really. I have. Just because he can't speak doesn't mean that he can't communicate. In fact, he has a lot to say.

So, how did I solve this silent problem? Well it was as hard and easier than you think.

The first possibility that came to mind was to use ASL or a form of it. The problem with that though was how the heck to describe the hand movements. Sure I could have described every finger wiggle and accompanying expression, but a single line of dialogue described in that manner would take an entire paragraph to complete. Plus it would be incredibly confusing if the reader didn't know ASL. I'd hate to force them to have a picture dictionary nearby just to read a conversation, so that possibility got nixed.

The next possibility I thought of was to use telepathy. It's an easy and well established method in fantasy novels so I certainly wouldn't be confusing any readers. However, I also wouldn't be doing anything original. I didn't like this possibility because I felt that this was one of those situations where taking the super easy route would hurt the story. All those italics would make it very obvious that there was dialogue on the page, which may cause the reader to skim, and that would be bad. That doesn't make this option weak -- in fact I've read books where it was used really well -- it's just not a device that I can use heavily.

What I finally decided to use was body language and to treat that the same way I would dialogue. Everybody uses non-verbal cues to communicate -- a nod, a wink, a shrug of the shoulders -- and it's something that's already incorporated into my stories. Granted, I'm more accustomed to accentuating dialogue with it, not replacing it. Non-verbal cues also have a similar problem to ASL in that I have to quickly and clearly describe the gesture or expression, while making it unmistakable what he said.

Describing the non-verbal cues succinctly was easy enough since it's typically one or two motions. As for the rest, I discovered that the dialogue was easy enough to understand because we already know what certain cues mean. A wink = I'm being playful. Slumped shoulders = disappointment. A nod = I agree. I didn't need to add anything to it. It's clear enough on it's own. The one thing I have to be careful of is to not sacrifice his strength for a conversation. Every non-verbal cue that I can think of is used in reaction to something, whether it be something someone said, or a situation, it's still a reaction. I have to walk the fine line of having a reactionary character without making him weak. I may have to incorporate some selective, magical telepathy in order to give him an opportunity to be an instigator. We'll see. For now this method works well enough.

Monday, August 5, 2013

JayWake

I know there were many people who wanted to go to the wake and couldn't for one reason or another and I count myself fortunate to be a local. There's no way I could have afforded it if I wasn't. Heck, even then I still debated because of the time I'd have to take off of work in the midst of the bookstore's big move. The reason for the wake is a sad one and I'm not close to Jay however, it was one of those rare occasions that I knew I would regret passing up. Besides, I've never been to a wake, let alone a wake/roast and I don't know when or if the chance will come again. I realize it's a strange reason to go, and I'm not eager to see anyone die but there it is.

I expected to only know a couple people there from the local community and there were a lot of people I didn't know. Friends and fans of Jay's came from all over the world to attend. However, there were quite a few people that I did know including Howard Taylor from Utah and Ruth Nestvold from Germany. The event itself began with Jay's casket being carried in by a dozen strapping men. In true Jay style, he promptly popped out of his own casket. Apparently it was hot and stuffy in there.

After an amazing meal the love fest and jibes commenced. A friend from New Zealand sent a hilarious video sharing some embarrassing memories of Jay (beware the Japanese cat poo candy) and because he's an evil opportunist, he Rick rolled us. Another friend asked the female attendees to raise their hands if we hadn't slept with Jay. He then pointed at each of us and told Jay that he couldn't die yet.

The night progressed in this fashion. More jokes at Jay's expense followed by a hearty laugh from all. Occasionally Jay would fire back a witty retort. The Merry Mourners sang songs, recited poems, and told a lot of bad puns. Then another friend would step up to roast Jay. A couple times Team E shared a piece of pilfered writing from Jay's basement, including "How to Buy Toilet Paper". A piece that Ken Scholes wrote for a past JayCon was read aloud by a friend since Ken wasn't able to be there in person. The final speaker of the night was Jay himself who gave his heartfelt thanks to everyone. He also shared the wonderful news that he may have more time left than originally thought.

I spent far more than I should have on merchandise but Jay is worth it. Oh yeah, I also did this:


I'm a part-time vampire. How could I resist the chance to lie in another man's casket? (It's really comfy and I wish I'd brought my fangs.)

Despite the fact that I was very fatigued from work I'm really glad I went. There was so much love and joy and mirth in the room that the solemn moments couldn't overshadow it. If anything can be taken from this night it's that one should always live life to the fullest because we don't know how much time any of us have left.

Monday, July 29, 2013

In the wake of the Wake

Saturday night I attended Jay Lake's pre-mortem Wake. I'd like to share my thoughts on it but the fact of the matter is that I'm too tired. The bookstore I work at is moving to its permanent home and all that heavy lifting has not only left me too exhausted to collect said thoughts, it has also put me in a considerable amount of pain. (Anti-inflammitories are my best friends)

I'm going to take today off to recuperate. I may get some writing done, I may not. It depends on how my wrist is feeling (I strained it while packing boxes). But do not fret, dear readers. As serendipity would have it, I have another guest post at The Fictorian Era. It's on one of my favorite subjects: Dracula.

Enjoy, and I'll fill you in next week on all the raucous goodness of the wake.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strangers with candy

This afternoon my mom and I passed a couple of kids selling lemonade on a street corner near our house. It made us a little sad that my step dad wasn't around because he's a sucker for these things. My mom and I however, are not. We won't succumb to cuteness until we hear the kids give their sales pitch. Heck, when we see Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the grocery store we won't open our purses if the troop leader gives the pitch, even if we already intended to buy. We insist that the girls give the pitch themselves. We're not doing it to be mean or obstinate. We do it because we know what they'll gain from the experience.

My family has a long history with the Camp Fire Boys and Girls organization. My mom was a member as a child and a club leader as an adult. When my siblings and I were old enough, we joined up as well.  For those who aren't familiar with Camp Fire, it's the Boy Scouts' sister organization. I know a lot of you probably thought The Girl Scouts held that title, but no. It's Camp Fire. Like the Boy Scouts, we learned outdoor skills. When we weren't foraging for fagots (as in a bundle of sticks, not a homosexual)(believe me, the latter are harder to find in the woods), we did a lot of handcrafts and service projects. In order to fund all our escapades we sold candy every winter.

Yes. We were dealers. Instead of being taught not to take candy from strangers, we were taught how to sell candy to strangers. And you know what? We were really good at it too. My sister and I were the top sellers in the city two years in a row. We've got the badges to prove it.

Here's what we learned:

It's not easy giving a sales pitch. Practice helps a lot, but it still can't completely prepare you for the butterflies that do a polka in your stomach when the big moment comes. Let me tell you, it's not easy selling candy to grumpy vets on a Saturday morning, especially when they answer the door with a handgun tucked into the front of their pants. But if you can find the courage to open your mouth and give your spiel, you can be pleasantly surprised. That same scary vet turned out to be one of our best clients. He bought at least five boxes every year.

Write a good pitch and memorize it so you can recite it with confidence. Nothing kills a potential sale faster than "Um...I have some stuff to sell...if you're interested, maybe." Their time is just as valuable as yours so get to the point quickly. Tell them what your selling, and what is special or unique about it. That's all the information they need to make up their mind. If they want to know more they'll ask.

If they say no after hearing your pitch, don't badger them or try to change their mind. Thank them for listening and move on. Just because they say no this time doesn't mean they'll say no every time. If you're not annoying than they'll be more likely to give you a chance the next time. Plus, moving on brings you closer to the person who will buy from you.

As is usually the case, I had no idea back then that all those hours spent hauling twenty five pound boxes of candy uphill to knock on someone's door in freezing temperatures would serve me well now. But it's because of those lessons and my experience that I'm not nervous about pitching to agents and editors at WorldCon next month. I'm nervous and excited about everything else, just not the actual pitches. There's no way I'm going to deprive future generations the chance to learn that same lesson. One of those kids may grow up to be the next J.K. Rowling.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The magic of the moment

Magic systems have never been my strong point and I tend to avoid enchanted items for similar reasons. Perhaps it's because I'm so enthralled by the plot that I can't keep my hands still long enough to think up of one. Or maybe it's because I didn't play enough D&D as a kid. I don't know. Either way it's a problem.

Now, I 'm not asking for help on the subject. I know there's a lot of different ways to build magic systems, I just haven't found a method that I really like yet. It's something that I'm going to have to play with a bit.

Anyway, this week as I worked on F&F I got a cool idea for a magic item. It's an item that I'd already worked into the scene and intended to only feature this one time before it disappeared with a little smoke and mirrors. Maybe some fancy hand waving too. But the item is really, really cool. It would be a shame to let it disappear so quickly. That was when it occurred to me that if I gave the item a magical compulsion, I could combine a character's weakness for said item and use it against them.

I don't know if this is a sign that I have more of a magical (for lack of a better term) way of creating magic systems or if this was more of a brilliance of the moment type of thing. Considering how much I have on my schedule right now it's not something I can experiment with in depth right now. But it is something for me to consider in the future. It's also a good reason not to completely avoid creating systems/items in the first place. Having a magical item in F&F is going to add more complexity to the plot and it'll probably open a few doors for more magic in the story. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out as I work more on the book.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The masochism chapter

Last week I started writing in earnest the first chapter of F & F. At the moment it's just going to be a novella but that may change once I really get into it. Provided this chapter doesn't kill me first.

I know some of you are thinking "If the first chapter is that hard, then scrap it/change it/find your muse" and any other time I'd agree with you. When my brain doesn't want to focus on a story or a scene it's because there's something not right with it. That's not the case this time. This time the reason I'm having problems is that I'm writing in a gender neutral third person.

It's more difficult than composing a dialogue scene with no blocking or tags, more difficult than writing an argument between five people (AKA tag hell), and more difficult than getting through a Japanese business party scene without the American pissing off the company president.

Most of my writing is in third person, so that's not what's hanging me up. It's the gender neutral part. I like having the choice between using the character's name and the myriad of gender specific addresses (he/she, his/hers). Variety is the linguistic spice of a story and the spice must flow.

Well, in this chapter the spice is flowing like mud because this time I can't use any of the above. Hell, I can't even use the character's name because that's a dead giveaway too. I have to use their professional nickname instead. The same word, over and over again. I spend half of my writing time wracking my brain for other ways I can phrase a sentence so I don't have to use their nickname again and even then, three times out of five I end up using it anyway. It's driving me crazy (I know, short drive). I'm seriously tempted to use ______s instead. It would be a lot easier. What do you think? No? Is that your final answer? You still have three lifelines...

*sigh*

Yeah, you're right. It would look pretty stupid to have  ________ in every third or fourth sentence. That means I'm stuck slogging through the spicy mud that I want to be a half melted chipotle chocolate bar but is in fact, just mud that I have to shape into something appealing. Doing the difficult thing now will make the later reveal much, much stronger. I have to keep reminding myself that the effort will be worth it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hi ho, hi ho...

Today's post is going to be quick since I have to leave for work soon. It's kind of weird, this whole working on a Monday thing. I think the last time I tried it was back in 2004 and I didn't like it very much. Oh well. At least today is a one time thing (I swapped shifts so I could have Gaiman day off). But do not fear dear reader, there is still a post for you. It's a bit more scholarly than my usual posts and I mean that in a good way. I discuss how ancient myths and legends have influenced sci-fi. It's a good post, if I do say so myself, and if you haven't read it already (it went up on Friday) I encourage you to do so. This post even has Ken Scholes' stamp of approval (which made me squee a little).

You'll find it here on The Fictorian Era.

In other news, Harrison Paul (one of my writing group members) recently put his novel, Kaybree Versus the Angels up for sale on Amazon and Smashwords. It's only an e-book at the moment but I encourage you to check it out. It's a YA fantasy and the first in a seven book series. I really like it and if you like it you won't have to wait long for book two. (It's just as good. I'm beta reading it right now.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Dark Contest

Last week I heard about a contest that made my inner child squee. The Jim Henson Company in partnership with Grosset and Dunlap are looking for someone to write a YA book in the world of The Dark Crystal.

I love The Dark Crystal.

In my opinion, it's one of the few kids movies that has gotten better with time. The story and characters are solid, the world is engaging...in short it's one of the few sandboxes (that aren't mine) that I'd love to play in. When I heard about the contest I thought this would be my chance to do just that. Well....

After reading the official rules I had to take that desire out back and shoot it execution style. It was for my own good, really. You see, according to the rules, all entrants have no independant rights to their entry, name, image, or anything else in conjunction with the contest. I understand why they don't want the entrants to sell their work independently. Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Brian Froud worked very hard to make the world of The Dark Crystal what it is and I can't blame the company for wanting to protect that, especially in light of the recent fanfic ruling. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to let them have the rest of those rights. If I sent in a short story and I won, the story would become their property and there's nothing I could do to stop them. The simple act of sending an entry means that I would have agreed to ALL the terms and conditions. There's no room for exceptions or negotiations. It's a package deal.

But oh! It doesn't end there.

The winner is contracted to write a YA novel that may or may not be based on their winning entry and there's no mention of payment. Grosset and Dunlap also reserve the right to not award a prize if they don't think the entries are up to snuff. Take a moment to think of all the twisted implications of that. They will have all those entires -- and the full rights to said entires -- that they can publish to their heart's content and not only do they not have to pay the author(s), they don't have to award grand prize to anyone. Everyone loses but the publisher.

Now, I may not have much of a love life, but I'm not that eager to be screwed.

If there's one thing I took away from the Superstars Writing Seminar (other than the importance of reading contest rules and contracts) it's that it's impossible to make a living as a writer if you throw your rights away like rice at a wedding. The old sayings "Look before you leap" and "Cover your ass" need to be tattooed on the back of a writer's hand. Heeding those two phrases will prevent a lot of pain and heartache.

I do want to make perfectly clear that I'm not writing this post to tarnish the Jim Henson Company's good name. I love what they do and the passion they have for their work. But they're puppeteers and artists, not publishers. If this worst case scenario plays out the blame will be on the publisher for screwing over the unsuspecting entrants. Granted, I don't have proof that they're going to screw anyone but Grosset and Dunlap (and their parent company, Penguin Group) have been doing this long enough to know exactly what they're doing. I sincerely hope that their intentions are good and they do intend to award the prize and a contract that involves more favorable terms (including payment) to the winner. However, I'm cynical and wary enough that I don't want to jump into bed with a publisher without a pre-nup.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dona eis Requiem

This weekend I finished reading Requiem by Ken Scholes. The book comes out tomorrow (6/18) and it's the fourth book in The Psalms of Isaac series. I love this series, I love Ken's writing, and this book doesn't disappoint. It's hard for me to gush about someone else's work without going into Spoilerland but I'll do my best.

It continually amazes me how much better Ken gets with each book. The Psalms of Isaac isn't a simple tale, it's a Whymer Maze that spans millennia. Each installment shows us a portion of that maze while giving us tantalizing hints of what is yet to come. In Requiem, Ken brought together the events of the previous books in delightful, heart wrenching, and surprising ways. There were a couple parts that creeped the hell out of me but again, that was because Ken did his job really, really well.

One thing that this book has that the others didn't is a handy, dandy glossary. If you're one of those people who skims glossaries before reading the book, I strongly suggest that you don't do it on this one.  Some things shouldn't be learned too early. Trust me on this. However, do refer to it while reading. As I said, it's very handy. I even referred to it a few times while finishing Antiphon. If you want a bit of extra insight into Requiem and the Psalms of Isaac as a whole, read AWeeping Czars Beholds the Fallen Moon and The Second Gift Given. These two short stories will bring a lot of things to light.

I will confess that I have one teensy problem. Now that I've finished Requiem, I have to wait for the next book. Wah! Ok, reading the first four back to back to back may have spoiled me a bit. I guess that'll give me lots of time to commit Requiem to memory.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Time makes the pen grow sharper

Last week I started editing a novelette that I wrote last year. In fact, it was exactly a year ago that I wrote Expendable. I had a lot of hopes for this story when I sent it to The Writers of the Future Contest. It was the best story I'd written to date and I was a nervous wreck while I waited for the results. Well, the story was rejected and coincidently my heart was broken.

I'm not talking about the "I'm never going to love again" kind of broken. That kind of heartbreak is too pink and fluffy for my taste. It also wasn't the "My life is over and I'm never going to have a career" kind of heartbreak. I'm not that emo and I had no desire to use all of my black liquid eyeliner in one night. This was the "What did I do wrong this time?" kind of broken.

I did multiple passes on the story to make sure everything was clean and complete, I passed it around both of my critique groups, I even e-mailed NASA to fact check some things (they never responded, by the way). After all that work it still wasn't good enough. What got me through, other than encouragement from a couple good friends, was the knowledge that Dave wouldn't have rejected it without good reason. At the time I had no idea what that reason may have been, just that somewhere in the document was a flaw.

Those of you that have followed my blog for a while know that I had to revisit the story during NaNo because I wanted to write the sequel novelette. That's when I found a couple of big typos of the "I can't remember what this character's name is" variety. It was humiliating but it dispelled the mystery around the rejection.

When I revisited it last week, it was with the intent to improve the opening and do one final pass to make sure I didn't overlook anything else before I sent it out into the world again. I spent two days on the opening to make sure all the changes fit in seamlessly. Two days was a little longer than I wanted to spend on it but it wasn't unprecedented. Besides, it was all worthwhile in the end. What I didn't anticipate was spending the next week cleaning up the first half of the story. That's right. It was just the first half. What's worse was that I spent two days on six paragraphs. Six paragraphs!

If I'd known how rough it was I wouldn't have submitted it in the first place -- which is the point of this blog. I didn't know. My skills are more refined than they were a year ago. All the purple prose and unfinished thoughts that I've been fixing were invisible to me back then. Heck, they were invisible to me back in November when I re-read the story. This has left me in a strange state. Usually I detest editing. I do it because it's a very necessary step, I'm just not masochistic enough to enjoy it. However this edit has been a joy because each mistake reaffirms how much I've grown in a short amount of time. It's actually made me excited to dive into my flawed short story from March.

When I've finished editing Expendable I'm not going to resubmit it to the contest. Instead I'm going to send it to market. Why? Because I still believe in this story. Despite all the flaws of last year's draft it's still a damn good story and I'm very happy that my increased skills have allowed me to once again make it my best short work to date.

Monday, June 3, 2013

When a house party really is a house party

I finally saw Iron Man 3 this weekend. My friends have been raving about it for a month and now I know why. It's fantastic! I'm still on the fence as to whether it's better than the first, but man, does it blow the second out of the water. I know I'm probably one of the last people in the US to see it but just in case...

SPOILER ALERT

The pacing of this movie was, for the most part, right on. The story moved quickly and things that needed to be foreshadowed were without bringing the narrative to a dead stop. The action sequences were top notch, both in regard to the storytelling and the special effects. It had just enough humor, Pepper got to kick ass, Tony had to pay for past sins, and it had a spectacular red herring (I love me a good red herring).

The best elements, in my opinion, were in regards to Tony's PTSD. With a conflict as FUBAR as New York was in The Avengers, someone on the team was bound to get it and there's no reason why it wouldn't be Tony. He has the least experience with weird, life threatening alien stuff. Watching him deal with those issues throughout the film grounded it in reality and made the regenerating/exploding people easier to accept. The kid was also a brilliant addition. His innocence, and uncomplicated view of the world was exactly what Tony, and coincidently the story, needed to help Tony see past the trauma and what he couldn't do so he could regroup and use the assets he did have. That never would have happened without the kid.

There were a couple things that I wish were explained a bit better. One of them being the mark 42. When Tony put the suit on Pepper I assumed that he'd already implanted the ID chips in her body under some sort of security protocol ruse. When he put the suit on the Mandarin, that theory was thoroughly defenestrated. I get why they did it. 42 was a handy solution for those perilous moments when Tony had to do something incredibly clever to save his (and Pepper's) ass. I just wish they had laid a clear foundation for what the suit's requirements were for transfer. I can only hope that a deleted scene will demystify the mark 42.

Another element that bothered me was the regeneration aspect of the DNA modification. If it can regenerate lost limbs, why then would it not repair permanently damaged and discolored skin -- A.K.A. tattoos? The Mandarin's tattoos were cool, but there was no reason for them to be there.

Of course both of these faults are nit-picky, "show me the science" stuff and no one goes to a Marvel movie for the science. We go for the "Hulk smash" moments and to see our favorite heroes and heroines on the big screen. In that regard, this movie is full of win. I applaud the scriptwriters on a job well done. They delivered what we ultimately wanted while answering the questions that needed to be answered to move the overarching story along.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ring the bells and bang the drum!

Kim, you've just finished another manuscript. What are you going to do now?

Start the next project.

I wish I was going to Disneyland instead. That would be nice but a writer's work is never done. Especially since I'm taking part in an online summer class that requires me to write 50K. Oh, and the class starts next week. Yeah, I kinda screwed myself on that one. I usually take a week off between novels so I can, you know, clean the house. I think I've mentioned before that a lot of household tasks get pushed aside when I'm finishing a novel. It's not procrastination, I just want to finish the manuscript a lot more than I want to scrub the shower. That's why I spend the days after the novel completion celebration catching up on all those tasks. It restores my sanity (such as it is) before I begin worldbuilding the next. Because I finished the Cyberfunk a week later than I wanted to, I have to jump right into the new book.

So, what's the new project? It's a story that's been percolating in my brain for a couple years. The working title is Flame and Filch and it's about a thieving duo and the city guard tasked with stopping them. It sounds like a simple task but the thieving duo is comprised of a very distracting woman and a dragon.

As you can tell it's a fantasy. It's also one that won't be as challenging to write as the Cyberfunk. In fact, I didn't realize exactly how much I'd challenged myself until I started working on F&F. Because it's simpler, I'm hoping that I'll be able to get a buffer built in a couple week so I can devote some time to cleaning the house. I want to clean up a couple short stories as well. I need to start submitting stories again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hello deadline...goodbye deadline

Another self-imposed deadline has sailed by and I'm exhausted. I've been writing at full speed for over a month and the novel still isn't done. Clearly I'm not one of those people who can write a first draft in seven months. Granted, if I only had one job or was able to write full time, that would be different. However, with the demands on my time being such as they are, I do not have that ability. Lesson learned.

Lesson aside, I feel that I have thoroughly established that the "I don't have time to write" myth is invalid. If I can crank out 6-8K while working two jobs and attending book signings, than anyone else can to.

I'm close to the end. I've only got about another 13K to go and come hell or high water, it will be finished this week. I've got fun and merriment planned for Memorial Day in honor of the book being complete and I am very much in need of a fun day. I also want the intended reason for the merriment to be justified so I MUST FINISH.

And on that note, it's time to dive back into the manuscript.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A slight delay

Because I must finish the cyberfunk in the next week or else, I won't be writing a new post this week. However, through the magic of the internet, you'll still get a dose of Kim. I wrote another guest post for The Fictorian Era on the why I chose to become a writer. The post goes up tomorrow and I'm excited to see your reactions to it. You get more than a peek at how my mind works in this one. In fact, writing it made me laugh out loud more than once.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Changing positions

First up, I have some news. Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I hate writing poetry? Well...I'm reconsidering my position on that.

Shortly after that post went up the oft' talked about Tracy talked me into entering Ken Scholes' The Named Lands Poetry Contest. I had originally decided no to do it because well, it's poetry and with my insane self-imposed deadline I really need to focus on finishing the Cyberfunk. However, knowing that Tracy wouldn't let me live it down if I didn't submit something, forced my hand. I wrote a quick collection of haiku and sent it off. (Don't look at me like that. It was just six poems and haiku only take a few minutes to compose.) Last Sunday the winner was announced.

Me.

Fraking A.

I've never entered a poetry contest before. Heck, my writing period hasn't won any accolades yet so to find out my first was for a medium I only do under duress kinda really weirded me out. Add to that Ken's comment that he and the judge were "blown away" by the best of my six and you can guess how much my mind was blown. I was in a state of disbelief for a couple days.

So, yeah. Because of this (and something Greg Manchess teased me about the night before my win) I'm reconsidering my long standing hatred of poetry writing. I don't know if I'll start entering more poetry contests because of this. We'll see. For now I'm just going to try to ease into a more positive position so I'll feel more comfortable dabbling with the form. Baby steps are important. Especially when I have an imminent novel deadline. Speaking of which, I need to get to work.

__________________________

I have another guest post on the Fictorian Era coming up on Tuesday, May 14th. You won't want to miss this one. I laughed so hard when I wrote it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

By the power of ink, I banish thee


"We interrupt your regularly scheduled writing session for a bit of personal drama."


This message has been running through my mind for the past two weeks. Usually when there’s drama that interrupts and/or postpones my WIP it’s something that has happened to someone else and because I care about that person, I feel obliged to help. I don’t mind helping out and I never resent them for it. It’s not their fault that a monkey was thrown into their plans. However, when the drama is mine and it’s caused by a personal demon, I take exception.

I’m not going to go into specifics since the persons involved have no idea that their words and actions raised an old demon – and I don’t want them to know. The issue is mine and since our paths rarely cross it’s unlikely that something like this will happen again. Besides, I thought I’d banished this particular demon a long time ago.

Fortunately, re-banishing this demon is a simple matter. It involves some cathartic writing. The first time I tried this method I had mixed feelings about it. The cathartic story succeeded in helping me work through the anger and angst that attracted the demon in the first place, but the story itself ended up in the trash because it was too emo to see the light of day.

That was several years ago. I’m a better writer than I was then and I’m hoping that when I’ve worked through this that the end result will be something respectable. I don’t care if it’s publishable. While that would be nice, that’s not what I’m aiming for in this regard. What I’m aiming for is a return to normalcy so I can resume work on the Cyberfunk. The strong emotions this drama has affected make it hard for me to concentrate on anything else. Even though I really should be working on the Cyberfunk today (I have two weeks to finish it) I need to take a short break from it so I can clear my head. If I don’t the negative emotions running around my skull will sour the story and that’s the last thing I want. By channeling it into a random short story that I don’t particularly care about, I can exorcise my psyche and move on.

As I said earlier, I am a better writer now, so I have a small hope that the cathartic story will be something worthy of submission. If it’s not, it will have served it’s purpose so it’s still a win in the end. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Memories of Light

It's been long enough that I feel comfortable sharing my spoilerific thoughts on A Memory of Light. If you haven't finished reading it, feel free to bookmark the page and come back to this post.

Ready?


This is your last warning.


I took my sweet time reading it -- you don't rush the end of the world -- and I have no regrets and no complaints. I can't even complain about the 190 page chapter. This book lived up to the definition of Epic Fantasy. There were times when I had to stop reading and hug the book for a while because of how a passage or a chapter moved me. Likewise, there were parts like Rand and Matt's bickering in the garden, that made me laugh out loud. Though, I couldn't laugh too loud. I didn't want to spoil it for my mom (who still hasn't finished it) (Grr!).

I know some have criticized the series in general for being so battle heavy and so laden with tactics that it bogs the book down. I've never been one of those people. In fact, they're among my favorite scenes. The battle tactics used in the many assaults of the last battle made me squee. No, really. It did. I'm such an ancient battle nerd (it's one of the many hazards of being a fantasy writer) that I recognized strategy X as being one used at the battle of _______ by General So-and-so.


Ok, I have to take a moment to gush about the new passages from The Cycle of the Dragon and other prophesies. It was as if everything quoted before now was a warm up for these. They read like scripture. I want to frame each one and hang them on my wall. If I was any good at calligraphy, I would. 


I was upset that Egwene, Gawyn, Bela, and many others didn't live through the last battle but allowing everyone to live would have cheapened the moment and the battle. As much as I hate to say it, we needed to lose a few near and dear ones. Like all long time fans, I was as emotionally invested in the outcome of the battle as the characters. Seeing their lives come to an end in both glorious and terrible ways, made the battle more real. Their loss was my loss. When the time came for their part in the tale to end, I was ready to let them go. As for those who had near brushes with death, I'm so freaking happy that they were saved in time. Some people need to live for the happiness of all. Even Moridin.

Overall, I'm pleased with the end and the journey to it. In the end, everything made sense and everything had a purpose. No, I don't think Rand's fate was a cheat. It's only right that he get the chance to live a normal life, to be anonymous for a change. He's more than earned it. If he had died in the way the prophesies implied, the end would have been too dark. The forces of light won the battle, after all. A conclusion full of sadness and woe wouldn't have conveyed that. Not in the way that a man with a heart full of hope and an impossible spark does. Besides, there were still a couple of Min's prophesies that still needed to come to pass and we all know that her viewings are never wrong.

Oh, if any of you were wondering, I didn't need to rescue my copy from the land of lost things. I bought my mom her own copy. My copy is tucked away on the shelf with its brethren and that is where it will stay until it is time to let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.