Showing posts with label My Writing Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Writing Life. Show all posts

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover

Otherwise, I don't know who would read this one...
It was recommended so I put it on hold at the library, checked out sight unseen. I don't know if it would have made it home if I'd gone shopping for it and had to consider this cover. However, it was recommended, so I will assume it is good... uhm.... between the covers.... behind the.... uhm... if I can look past the boobs.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hello New Year

Today is the day we're supposed to re-evaluate our lives. I think it might have to do with the traditional heavy drinking party the night before, but it might just be dating that first thing 1-1 -- and remembering we need a new calendar.

But looking back, my resolutions for 2010 were:
  • Submit 12 short stories somewhere.
  • Finish my three current longer stories.
  • Re-edit Seeing Zombies
  • Have one of those four long stories ready for submitting by December.
  • Attend a writing conference/seminar/workshop.
  • Choose one non-writing skill to practice/become certified in - possibly tech or library-related.I'd originally thought to get certified in Database Management, but that's a GIANT freaking book. Maybe something smaller to get back into learning with?Any suggestions?

How have I done? I submitted short stories. 

Yep. 

That's it. Nothing else is finished. In fact, the story I'm working on now hadn't even been considered when I wrote those. I stopped working on Seeing Zombies when I realized the story needed a complete rewrite, not just another trip through editing. Long stories choked and stalled. The writing conference idea was tossed over for a trip to Chicago. Non-writing skill.... ??? Well, I'd already been sewing but I do have a new non-writing obsession. That counts right? Of course it does.

So short stories and non-writing obsession-- uhmm-- skill.

For the non-writers reading this I want to start my reflections with a well-known... I don't think it's a proverb, or a quote, but... a saying. A well-known writerly, writing, saying. 

Successful writers are those who submit one more time than they are rejected.

Yes, of course I offer up my excuses first. Because I have stacked up the rejections and rejections hurt even knowing there are a thousand short stories written and offered up for each available slot in magazine or anthology. 16 form rejections and 4 personal rejections (saying they'd love to see my next story). My only story published this year was accepted last year. For those of you who haven't chanced this rejection yet, it's all true about varied tastes. Story1 got a personal rejection from Asimov and a form rejection from Lightspeed. Story4 got a form rejection from Asimov and a personal rejection from Lightspeed

Yeah, I seem to be writing more scifi than usual -- especially in my short stories.

But now to learn from my experiences. 

Rejection is disheartening. And it's harder to stick with writing when you've been... disheartened? The many sick days of the year don't help either, but I can't do anything about them. Also, putting time into submitting stories and writing new shorts for submitting made it harder to concentrate on one primary story. I haven't spent long blocks of time concentrating on any single story this year and I think it shows -- you know, in lack of completed novel.

So this year, I'm narrowing my goals.

This year, I will finish a frakkin' novel.

I'm not saying I won't write or submit any short stories -- I might get inspired by something --  but I'm saying I probably shouldn't and that they're not a goal. 

This year there is only one goal.

Finish.
A.
Novel.

And I will. 

How about you?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Preresolutions Uncontest

The Rejectionist is having a pre-resolution uncontest. We must make our New Year's resolutions on the first day of December to try them out. Even better, she suggests, we should make them excessive so the REAL resolutions are easy.

My resolution will be 3000 words each weekday in December. Why, if I couldn't do it in November during NaNoWriMo, would I think I can do it in December while trying to get ready for Christmas?

I don't know, really.

I had two sick weeks in November and I'm hoping that was the end of the winter illnesses not covered by the flu shot. I'm hoping certain family members don't make me upset enough for my annoying but non-fatal health condition to act up. But mostly I know that if I want to be a writer I need to actually get words on paper. All the education, all the books, all the blogs, will not help me if I have nothing to submit and nothing ready to publish.

Yes, I've "finished" one, but for now, that one is what I think they call a drawer novel. Finished -- as in written all the way to end and edited to hell and back -- but not quite right, not quite ready for publication. That means, I currently have nothing and I need to have something. And I need to figure out how much progress is reasonable to expect from myself.

In January, I should be able to use the December experiment to figure out what I can really do.

Who knows, maybe I'll be able to do it. Maybe if I can convince myself to look at it like this is my job, rather than the thing I fit in when the children are playing pleasantly together without needing me, then I might be able to do this for a living some day.

Another resolution would be to go regularly to the gym -- which is not one of the forbidden weight loss resolutions, but because my stomach issues are lessened by regular exercise. Unfortunately when my stomach is acting up I'm in too much pain to go to the gym so it sort of defeats the plan all on it's own.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I was doing well

But then I stopped. Or was stopped.

I can excuse it with the flu, right? I think it's fluish. Oddly, it started with muscle-aches. Three days of muscle-aches before the sore throat, swollen tonsils, or headache. Usually my winter illnesses go the other way.

I have two good chapters of my new story, and intend more when I can find the correct types of medicine to allow me think again.

I have four new monster-purses -- from when it was only muscle aches -- and one of them is the new house favorite.
Mister Manyeyes. Little Boy insisted on sleeping with him his first night, swearing that if he had two Mister Manyeyes he could double-sleep. I may have to make more of them, more of him.
Creature was much more difficult than I'd expected him to be and the difficulty wasn't the many layers of leather making his scales, but for some reason the sewing machine kept skipping a certain section of the zipper.  You can see the spot right under his nose. I tried over and over and it ended up attached but looking a little messy. Very sad, because other than that, I think he ended up very cute.
Devlish is OK, but I think I should have made him shorter. As long as he is, I think he may look like he's missing a nose.
Whooo turned out better than I expected. My idea was the zipper being the branch Whooo sat on with the feet concealing it a little. It worked! (That one toe isn't as crooked as it looks, it got tucked under the bottom lip before the picture.) I'm trying to decide whether my neighbor would like him or if he should join the others on Etsy.

Also trying to figure out how to make an elephant version without the trunk being too intrusive. The Cthulhu versions open and close easily enough, so perhaps I should just sew it out rather than over-thinking it, but occasionally I think that over-thinking things is sort of my hallmark. Or, more accurately I suppose, switching back and forth between over-thinking and rushing headlong into a situation without thinking at all. Sometimes I do that too.

Oh, I also finished Little Girl's sweater. --When I went to get yarn for knitting the witch-hat she asked if she could choose a yarn. I let her and she asked for sweater so I chose a free Lion Brand pattern that I then altered quite a bit. I sometimes worry that I have difficulty following instructions. (I made the sleeves longer and added a crochet trim to the bottom.)
I'm working on this one for little boy. Not a sweater, just a hat. I want to make him Sackboy because Bill brought that game over and he loves it, but he chose black during the same shopping trip and I need to make him something out of it -- and I thought he'd like the button.

But finally I have a story I'm excited about. The one I'm writing, that is. I want to know what happens next, but with my head pounding like this, I'd rather read it than write it. I've gone through five books today that couldn't hold my attention, but Princess Froglips -- Isn't her booth wonderful? She's gone fully into a hobby where I can't follow, I'll do knit and a little crochet, but I can't add spinning and dyeing. Anyway, she gave me some new-to-me Georgette Heyer and a new Jennifer Crusie (perhaps only new-to-me?) -- I think it's called Wild Ride.

Usually, I love those two.

I wonder if Georgette Heyer's paragraph-long sentences and page-long paragraphs will work with headache. Somehow she makes them work, but it takes a tiny bit of brain twisting when you start reading to fit into her groove. Crusie would probably be easier, but that one is hardcover and hardcovers are harder to curl up with. Oh, the conundrums of headache.

Does anyone have a favorite sick book to recommend? Husband is very good to me. I could probably convince him to make a bookstore run.

Between flu and holiday, I probably won't be writing here again until next week, however, I will come back for comments and commenting. Hoping you will all have the best of holidays and those of you working on NaNoWriMo not only win, but really like your stories when you're done!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fawn

Reading Nora Roberts The Calhoun Women and I think I must remember to name a character Fawn someday. "'I know your type,' she muttered. 'Born rich and above the common man. Your only goal in life is to make more money, regardless of who is affected or trampled over. You have big parties and summer houses and mistresses named Fawn." Has anyone ever written about poor little Fawn? (Really, have they? Let me know if they have! I want to read it!)

On my actual writing.... That's not going so well. I'm not going to win nano this year either unless I manage a stroke of inspiration so deep I write several days straight without stopping. Unlikely. I think one of my issues is that I've been reading to many books on writing and now I can't get past the first few pages without knowing where I'm going and that part has been hard to figure out. My past usual way of writing is making a character and following her for a while. I have the characters, but I can't follow them because I keep stopping to try to figure out all the where's she going part.

I'm not so good at the leading, it seems. Or I keep doing the second-guessing. And the really-what-do-i-want-to-write-ing. Urban Fantasy covers a lot of ground -- requiring only a modern or futuristic setting and paranormal/fantasy beings. I like computers and the internet and the possibilities modern tech provides. I also like magic and mystery and myth. But do I want to focus on romance like Keri Arthur? Do I want to focus on mystery like LKH or Jim Butcher? Traditional fantasy leans more toward finding their way or quests like Kim Harrison (though she does throw in a mystery or two and a romance or two). I really like the mixing of magic with the modern of Urban Fantasy, but the very openness of the genre added to all the hints and clues and ways of the books I've read (especially the structure books) has me choking.

Also, something in my house smells like incense and is giving me a headache. I think it's probably a garage sale book. I just have to figure out which one. Or which several since I think I'm smelling it in several rooms.  I'd say it was the Nora Roberts one I've been reading and I was smelling it on my hands, but I smelled the book directly and it's not. Worst case scenario (and what would be true were I in a novel rather than real) would be brain tumors and phantom scents. See, that part works.

But if I'm going down the mystery trail, I need to add a hint or a murder. If I'm going in the romance direction, a man has to show up pretty soon. And I'm stuck. Hopefully the rest of you are doing better (even those of you not writing).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Scrivener

So, about a week ago, Jodi Meadows (another writer -- far ahead of me, she already has a contract for three novels, almost all done already) mentioned Scrivener, writing software, in glowing terms. Then, on NaNoWriMos main page, it also mentions Scrivener, with a -now for Windows- tag. So there it was, twice, in such a short period of time. Of course I had to check it out.

Now I have the beta version on my computer and I've been playing with it. About a month ago, I started looking around at writing software and downloaded 7 or 8 free trials and didn't find any of them better than MS Word, but this one...

So far I think it was worth the hype.

I'm already worried about the beta expiring December 12th and the Window's version not being released for real until sometime in January. I hope I can keep it the whole time between now and then.

What do I like about it?

On the side, where in Word I'd usually keep the document map, it has something even better. It starts off with two main tabs. Draft and Research. Under research I can put whatever I want in hierarchical folders. I can write things down about how I KNOW the world I'm creating is going to work. And I can put little empty labels there for things I need to figure out but haven't quite yet.

Right now I have an upper level folder for Characters, Beings, Jobs, and Stuff. Inside characters, I have my four people I've thought of so far. Under Beings is Gods, Vampires, Werewolves.... These are mostly empty, with little notes on things I've thought of that will make them different. Like a possibility that it's not the cross that drives the vampires away, but the cross is a symbol of people who is more likely to have ... I think it's called sacrament?? People who have symbolically eaten the flesh of Christ and drunk the blood. (crackers and wine, in actuality I think -- As a non-religious person and a non-vampire, it seems weird to me, but I'm sure there's a reason -- which I do need to look up)

I like the way it lets me think of the differences in the world I'm writing from the world I'm living in and I don't have to sit here and think vampires for twenty minutes. I can think that they will be there and one or two differences, but I don't have to know everything before I go one. And it's all sitting there nicely organized for when I want to get back to it.

This may all be a way to avoid thinking of how far behind I am, nanowrimo-wise, but I'm really enjoying the software -- and the world I'm using it to put together. But maybe that's because its not the world I started writing in for nano. With only a note here and there about the other one, I think this new one is already more fleshed out than that one had been.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Should be Writing

Today is the second day of NaNoWriMo and I'm not as awake as I should be. (My stomach is acting up again so I haven't been able to eat solid food since Thursday which I bring up because I think that might be catching up with me. I went to bed at 9 last night so I should be all well rested, but I swear I could go back to sleep right now if I wasn't responsible for the children.)

For good news, I did figure out how to see who had 'buddied' (like Facebook's 'friended') me there and connect back. Hooray, for that. (It doesn't send emails, you have to look yourself.) And I managed to get my words in yesterday. Not so sure about today though. At some point I have to tell Little Boy that he can't play Lego Star Wars all day for two days straight.

For bad news, (unless you'd been wishing I'd shut up for a while) I will probably not be posting here quite so much until I've either given up completely or NaNoWriMo is over. I did spend some time crafting, and put pictures up to be published on Thursday, so you'll get to see my latest non-writing burst of creativity before I bury myself in nothing but words.

On the completely selfish, needing information I'm too tired to research angle -- I've been getting weaker. I couldn't open Little Boy's Halloween candy today without resorting to scissors. My guess is lack of food makes my body start using the more quickly accessed muscle tissue -- despite the fact that I have plenty of fat which is supposed to be stored energy.... But back to the question-ish part. I think I should go to the gym to remind my body that I still need those muscles, but I am tempted to stick to something easy like the treadmill. Do you think that's enough or should I push my way through the other exercises too?

(For calories, I'm drinking heavy-on-the-milk drinks like cocoa and chai lattes. Those supposedly nutritious energy drinks/diet shakes make me throw up as fast as solid food does, so I've picked up some V-8s claiming full servings of veggies are mixed in -- actually the one I've tried so far was a Fruitable but I've been able to keep that down so I'm hopeful).

But today I'm supposed to talk about writing.

And I have nothing. Or nearly nothing.

Today's writing will make my main character face (insert ominous music -dah-dum).... Her family!

And off I go. To nap. Errrm. To write. Yep, writing. All day. That's me. Writing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thoughts on Books

This may be something I've read before, finally sinking in, but it felt something like an epiphany today.

Character
Setting
Plot

Those are the common words I had to put out there after I translated from the three in my head. People, Places, and Plot. One of the first two has to be compelling. Do you always hear that word in Zack Whedon's voice as said in the musical commentary from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog? --I know you do, Princess Froglips. The third, has to be done competently. Excellence is nice here, but not required.

I should also add an 'excuse me' to the well-known authors whose work I use for illustration as I try to explain my personal epiphany the rest of the world probably already knows. My epiphanies always come with examples of things I've read to either prove or disprove them, but....

Laurell K. Hamilton excelled at setting. I was never greatly fond of Anita Blake as a person. She's OK, but I never loved her. The plot is basic mystery whodunit. But I loved her world. That's why I fell away from her series as more and more of it took place in Anita's head and we got less talk about the world. I loved the idea of laws making vampires people, and the issues we would have in enforcing laws on the paranormal -- on creatures who are individually far stronger than any normal human. I enjoyed seeing it change through the first several books. She had some serious Setting.

Carrie Vaughn has people. I almost didn't make it through the first Kitty book because Kitty, the character, was so weak that I didn't really like her. I read the second book more on the promise of the first than the actuality. But the growth of Kitty from someone weak to someone strong made the series so much more than it would have been had she started off in a better place. Her world is good, but isn't amazingly unique. What she has is... Character.

Most of my absolute favorite authors have characters, really. Kim Harrison. Jim Butcher. Their worlds are good, and well thought-out, but we read to find out what happens to Rachel Morgan or Harry Dresden. Or Ivy, Jenks, Mister or Mouse. Romance and mystery books work because they do something to make the people catch our attention -- after all, the basic plot will always be the same. It's the people who will be different. And the place, environment, background.

Plot, however amazing, doesn't seem to be enough to carry the story on it's own.

Plot is what Hubby talks about after I handed him my recent reading failure to see if I've become limited in my old age and can't bring myself to enjoy an Urban Fantasy with a male main character. He said he wants to know what happens, but feels no connection to the main character. So glad to hear it because I didn't either. (He's actually been reading fiction lately! He read Hunger Games in a day too; the first time I've ever seen him stay up late to finish a book.)  But for the book I couldn't finish, he said the setting was interesting, but the descriptions weren't quite detailed enough for him to really understand where they were or what was going on. This book has fascinating plot a-plenty, but not enough people or place to drag the reader along. At least not this reader. Or him. He didn't finish it either.

Plot is a necessity. You can't do without it. But plot is what happens to People in a certain place or to a Place because of certain people.

Now the only question is  whether or not I can figure out how to make use of this new idea.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Go Random

Alright, I'm always a little bit random. But I think I'm a little worse than usual.

I have a new project that I'm struggling through -- not the usual breeze through the first hundred pages then stall. But struggling already on page three. I think it's because I'm making up a whole new world and every time I start to write, I stop and start surfing online to learn more about secret societies, or clarifying the Succubus legends in my mind. Or I have to decide on how many family members the characters have and what that means to them. How close they are.

Then I got the duotrope update email and it listed firstline and their looming deadline which caught my attention. Because I'm going so slow with my current, as yet untitled, story I decided to write that. I'm nearly as far in this story as the main one. Already. But I'm lacking in direction. I need to find one soon or the whole story aspect of the short story will be missing.

I'm also distracted with a few other short possibilities. Paranormal Romance for Ticonderoga. A superhero story for I Made That. And possibly Erotic Horror for Bloodbound Books. Well, maybe less on that last one, in that I have nightmares when I read horror and what will writing one do to me....

But the first line thing is fun. The writers who visit me here should go check that one out even if you skip all the  others. Writing prompt go! For the non-writers, should I fail to complete it in time or should they chose someone else's story for publication I'll stick my random musings on the subject up here for your amusement.

Also, I'm losing (badly) the Vampire Bunny Contest and there are people with no votes at all! (I tried to vote for all of them, but it won't let me vote again -- which does make sense.) So go vote for someone.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Children's Costumes Accomplished


We're slow on these things. Only recently did we start watching this cartoon -- on Netflix Instant.

The children loved it. (The adults liked it quite a bit too.)

Little Girl decided to be Katara.



Little Boy decided to be Aang. I did better making her costume than his. Sigh. Oh well. Knowing I wouldn't be able to get him to try it on too many times in the day, I took the pictures when I had him try it on to place the wrist straps so there are now straps on the other arm too. With snaps so it's easy to put on, but keeps the look.

Now I only have Hubby's costume left to sew. Hooray!

And don't forget to visit UNICEF's Book or Treat! Fun and a good cause. They have some neat Halloween stuff there. (And books are part of it. What could be better?)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mama, I'm coming home

That one is an Ozzy song in my head. I think there may have been others to sing that too, but I know the Ozzy version. It's to illustrate my epiphany of the day.

Most of my stories are... ummm... less homecoming, but more home discovering. People finding that place to belong. To feel whole, complete, and, well..., home.

That's sort of the idea with romances as well. The Happily Ever After (HEA) isn't so much the man/the relationship as it is finding that particular person that can become home. Like Hubby is for me. But it could be friends or a job or anything that just fits.

Still, I may need to read more romances. Study and take apart, style reading.

It's an interesting thought though. To discover I'm writing the same story over and over.

I must think more on this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And I Ca-a-a-an't Understand, No I Ca-a-a-an't Understand....

OK, I just read books 2 and 3 of the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance so obviously I need books 1 and 4 -- which seems to be the all of them, or so I gather from the listings on GoodReads. Because I currently have much the poor, I look on eBay to see if I can luck on someone selling the two books I want for something that feels especially affordable.

There were some for maybe a dollar off bookstore prices after you factor in shipping, but no really exceptional deals. Which is reasonable I suppose. People don't have to sell used books at prices that convince me to have ramen for a day so I can convince myself that I'm not dipping into the grocery money in an attempt to overfill my bookshelves. Now I'm able to resist the splurge and wait till I can afford to get it new (unless I stop having this allergy dizziness so I can drive out and see if they're available at the local used book store). But I'm still really confused about the auction with books 1-4, for 32.99. All four books, it exclaims, but new these books are 7.99 each. Times 4 makes it 31.96. You can buy it for MORE used on eBay than you can new at your local store.

On eBay, you might avoid taxes, I suppose, but you're probably also avoiding sending money to the author. If I go to my local store, they might not have all 4 on the shelves, but every time I've asked, they order the rest. And they don't charge shipping either. It costs 7.99 on the shelf. It costs 7.99 when they order it for me. And because they buy it from the publisher the artist gets paid for this copy.

Why on Earth would I pay more for a set of books I enjoy in a way that doesn't even pay the author for writing them? Why would anyone? But then why would they auction it at those prices if they didn't think they could get it?

In other news, if you search Cassandra Palmer on eBay, you'll see a bunch of Art listings. Someone drew all the characters. They aren't exactly the images I have in my head what they look like, but they're interesting to look over. If you've read the series, go look, then tell me what you think of the Pritkin picture.

If you wonder about my own writing progress -- I had an idea. I had been wandering back through the zombie story, but wasn't thrilled about the idea of spending nearly 4 years straight on that one story (except for a few shorts and a few other beginnings). But I have a new idea (unlike all my other new ideas with 10 or so pages each) that I'm researching nymphs, sirens, and ondines for. I have a rough idea of the world and the Main Character and what changes she's going to go through in the book, though I'm not absolutely sure how I'm going to accomplish those changes.

I'm getting excited about writing it. Now I just have to make the excitement last. Or muscle through anyway. What was that quote? The writer who sat down every morning at 9 am to wait for inspiration. But if it didn't show up by 9:05, he started writing without it? Like that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bad Case of the Lazies

Or maybe it's a bad case of the Indecisions. One way or the other, nothing is happening here. I've been filling out the structure form from edittorrent (Protagonist, Antagonist, Goal, Obstacles, Consequences of Failure, Motive, Challenges to Self-Image, Inciting Event, Complications, Final Reversal, Outcome) for each of my beginnings trying to decide which story to work on, but I don't have all the spaces filled out for all of them.

I should look and see which one does have all the spaces filled out and work on that one, but I keep flipping around and looking at the empty spaces. Like empty spaces ever helped anyone. The biggest draw for me, right now, is a story I haven't written a single word on. It's just an idea, percolating in the back of my mind. Characters and a Complication. I've come up with a goal and the consequences of failure, but that's it. I'm not even sure of the genre.

But I worry. Is the draw that this is a good worthwhile story? Or is it that it's new?

Then the other story I'm leaning toward is the old one. My only ... completed?... novel length story. I know it's not done and not good enough and I am tempted to start over, rewriting it with the same basic idea, the same characters, but adding in all the things I've learned since I started reading agent blogs, writer  blogs, and all these books on structure and plot. I don't want to spend forever on that one story, but part of me doesn't want to go on until I've fixed it. And really this time. But I'm worried about that too.

I could stall, stuck in this story the rest of my life, never getting it just right. I know what's wrong with it now. But I might know what's wrong with it next time too.

What about you? Bad case of anything?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Write, She Writes, We all Writes

Remember that online writing conference I brought up a few weeks ago.... 

I signed up for a 'writer's web page/platform' workshop, and the teacher wants to get an early start at looking at what we have and discussing how to change it to what we need so I sent her this url. (I don't have the energy to keep up another one).

She says I have too many things going on and I should create a writing only page to provide focus. 

And she's quite possibly right. 

But this is advice I can't take. At least right now. First, I have no idea what to say to fill a writing only site. Hey, here I am writing again? Or more accurately, at least lately, here I am NOT writing again? I'm not writing often enough or getting published often enough to have news to fill a whole site. 

How-tos? There are plenty of those out there and I don't have anything original to offer there. 

Excerpts from stuff I'm working on? I don't want to fall into any publishing traps where I've accidentally used first rights I should have saved for someone else.

My site is pretty random, I admit, but my favorite author websites are not entirely writing related. Jennifer Crusie talks about her books, but she also does some serious studying. You can listen to her rip apart romantic comedies for the parts that make them work in her Popcorn Dialogues podcasts. But she's more than just a writer. Kim Harrison talks about gardening and restoring her home along with the occasional tour date or new release announcement. MaryJanice Davidson's latest post was about her tour of a potato chip factory. Carrie Vaughn is posting travel pictures. As is Keri Arthur

I prefer to read about things other than writing. Perhaps I'm just a slacker, but I have books for that. And ... How do I say it? I don't need to see every step used by my favorite authors to get to the books I enjoy. I know, I want to do it too, but I also know everyone will have a different process. 

I may not be famous enough for this to work for me, but their websites are what I'm emulating. I asked Hubby how horrible it was that I'm ignoring her first piece of advice, and he says happy agreeable things so do feel free to let me know how wrong I am. 

I think her other (related) piece of advice is spot on though. 

She said she can't even tell I'm a writer from my page. She asked if I wrote YA. YA! (young adult, for the non-writers here) I can barely read YA.

That I write should be obvious, as is the fact that I write Urban Fantasy. I may have to replace the Fierce but Cuddly tagline with something more writerly. Maybe Fierce but Writerly? There's no fantasy like Urban Fantasy? But I'm sure she's right. Even if I have a life outside writing and do other stuff regularly, people should be able to tell right away that I'm a writer. 

Any suggestions?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Holiday Monday

Well, to start with... Happy Holidays everyone!

Today, I'm writing random thoughts running through my head. Aren't you excited? (And wasn't that a wonderful number of r's in that sentence?)

If I told you I was thinking Firefly, it would better, wouldn't it? I knew it would.

So, here's the thing. I've watched Firefly a number of times. Not only me, either. We've watched Firefly a number of times. A few years ago we had a giant New Years Eve Firefly marathon, starting early morning Dec 31, planned to end at midnight. The point is, we've watched it several times. All of it. Every little bit and the movie too.

But my ears have been ringing lately -- probably the many medicines I'm on. I already have an appointment to talk about it. So I don't like quiet lately. I put something on in the background always to quiet the ringing, when the rare occasion happens that the children are quiet. And I've run out of 1-800-Missing, so ... Firefly. It's on Instant, and I've watched it before, (we actually own the dvds, but Instant is easier) so it should be great background material right?

I put the first episode on Saturday evening when Hubby and children were playing a video game on his computer. He walks through the room to check on me and, I think, head to the bathroom. And he .... stops. He stands, watching it with me for ten minutes before he finally sits down to watch the rest. By this time, I've put my book down and I'm watching too.

WE CAN'T HELP IT!

I put the second episode on Sunday night. Hubby was out running -- he's doing another half-marathon in February so this will happen a lot. He gets back halfway through and before he even heads off to the showers, he's hooked. He stands up three times during the show trying to head to the shower and watches from the center of the room as if he'll leave any second, but he can't quite get away. He finally leaves as River whimpers in the corner -- oh, about 30 seconds from the end.

I know, my last few writing-related posts have been bringing up a show that catches me and saying -- this is what I need to learn how to do, but I'm doing it again anyway. This is it. We've seen it a dozen times, but still we'll sit and watch it again. There aren't many shows I can say that about. I even love how Jayne is made to be hated. (I knitted Hubby a Jayne hat for his birthday two years ago -- hey, I think it was that year we watched the marathon, 'cause Hubby's birthday is New Years Eve).

But that's what I want. I want to write stories that people can't help but read. That they have to finish. That they'll keep reading as they try to lower it to the table beside them then, give up and carry it to the phone or the front door with them because they can't stand to be away from it that long.

Where am I on achieving that goal? Not there yet.

I've spent most of this year putting off getting serious about writing.

I can psycho-analyze myself and recognize the holding pattern I'm falling into as I wait to find out what happens with my health. Whether I'll ever be able to get off blood-thinners. If I'll ever stabilize enough to stop the weekly checkups. If I'm likely to have another life threatening event. I know I have a tendency to fixate. And the need to have things settled before I can move on. But I can't wait a year to do this, to start my next long story.

I told Barbara I'd make a decision on a story by the end of September and I will. I'm nearly certain.

How about you? Are you stalling on something you should be doing already? Or are you rushing something you shouldn't? Or is your life running just perfect?

Or you can tell me your thoughts on Firefly, if that's easier than serious introspection. It's certainly more fun. What's your favorite part? I'll understand if you have to watch it all again to narrow it down. I know, I'll hear back from you in a few days.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Favorite Fictional People

I've been watching "Missing" on Netflix lately. It's an old missing person show from 2003, FBI with a psychic whose gift only works for missing people. On IMDB it's called "1-800-Missing".

I'm on season two now -- after the psychic has gone through training and become an agent -- and I have to say... I like the bossman. I really like him. He's bureaucracy personified. Every case goes through him as how-will-it-affect-me. He wants to take cases that they have a better than average chance of solving and he tries to hand off any case that looks difficult when he can find a reason that it might be considered someone else's jurisdiction instead.

He acts totally self-serving, but there are flashes of good. He lets the psychic cling to him when she's rescued at the last second from being shot while telling her quietly that this will not be spoken of in the future because it messes up his image. He's very strict and nearly antisocial, but then when they rescue a child, he's carrying her through the agency on his shoulders. Somehow, in a show with women as main characters (something I strongly approve of, by the way) it's still the odd antisocial man that I like best.

We watched a season or two of Allie McBeal years ago, and had the same issue. I should have loved the strong female leads, but my favorites were the little squirrelly wanna-do-gooder and the self-centered egoist that started the agency. I loved those two. And the only Star Trek episodes I watched were the ones with Q. On Fringe I like the slightly criminal son and the mad scientist. On Covert Affairs I like the blind guy. (Not good with names people, I've admitted this before).

I'm a little frustrated that my favorite characters are guys, even on shows where the women take the lead roles. On Buffy, I thought Buffy was the flattest of all the characters, and loved Xander -- and Willow until she went from super-crush on Xander and dating the werewolf to being gay. That seemed to have a serious lack of consistency.

But I'm sure this is important somehow.

Maybe I don't like the hero, but the sidekick? Oh, for girls, I love Penelope in Criminal Minds and Abby in NCIS (but Gibbs makes that show work). I'd like Fiona (from Burn Notice) better if she weren't so skeletal, and maybe if they were played up her competencies more than cute-girl-make-men-stupid. We were all thrilled last time when she couldn't get the guard to abandon his post just by making smalltalk, but my favorites are the ones where they have an innocent in danger and she goes all mother-bear on the bad guys to prove there's something inside her other than arms dealer. -- Oh, and when she and Sam get a life outside of Michael's.

I think these are things I need to figure out before I sit down and start writing again. (Yes, I seem to have stopped, but not for too long.)

Who are your favorite characters? Book, tv, or movie, doesn't matter. Are they someone you're supposed to like? What's your favorite thing about them? Do you know why they hit your list? Sometimes, I don't.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

C'est Moi!

Nope, don't speak that language either, but I took enough classes in high school that I can say that and Bonjour, je m'appelle Clothdragon. Et tu? Oh and Como c'est va? Unless some of that is Spanish, which I took a semester or two of in college and I occasionally mix up because I never learned either language to a functional level. I know window is either fenetre of ventana, but I don't know which is which or where I should be putting the accent marks.

Today I'm thinking about over-scheduling or maybe unhelpfully incomplete scheduling. I have time on my calendar scheduled for writing, but in that short period of time I try to fit in blogging, checking writing blogs, reading books about writing, checking on the few sites about writing that I have a membership to -- or at least the new ones I haven't gotten bored with or forgotten about yet (I've been on SavvyAuthors and AgentQueryConnect lately and have things I like about both sites), and occasionally reading a book in my preferred genre with an eye toward how it is put together. And I think it's been a week since I checked in on the Sleuth class I signed up for on SavvyAuthors -- I'm probably four lessons behind (not very Savvy, am I? They're going to have to revoke my membership because I just don't fit the title!) -- and I only remembered that I'd forgotten because I got a reminder that the How to Write a Romance class is starting soon.

How can I forget something so completely so quickly? I was there for the first class last week! And I loved the instructor's amusing informal style, writing the class like an old fashion PI story, full of colloquialisms and what the agents call 'voice'. She's just fun. --Let me check... Taught by Linnea Sinclair. A name I recognize, but don't think I've actually read. I'll have to look her stuff up later. That would be two instructors whose books I want to buy. Weapons and Violence taught by Rory Miller who has a book on that subject, and this one by Linnea Sinclair. Must remember to think of a class I can teach there if I ever do get a book published. Perhaps my students will like me enough to buy a book too.

Anyway, do you separate out your writing activities? Do you have scheduled time for writing and writing alone, and that means text editor and typing writing rather than all the other stuff like research or brushing up on grammar? Do you schedule blogging separate from writing? Or does it all come more naturally for the rest of you, that you sit down and write one hour every morning without fail and you're never even tempted to stray from your page during that time?

How does it all work for you? (Julie, you can feel free to replace 'writing' with scrapbooking (or jewelry making if that hobby has taken over all time from the other -- and Greg, you know, unless you still have the geo-caching filling up your not-at-work, not-at-home time, I'm not sure what's there). But older with family I know we all have so many things to fill up our days. Do you do better at scheduling your other activities than I do? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flash! Ah-ah.

Well, a flash fiction thing I wrote on challenge for the class I took last month. The challenge words were: escalator, pique, impostor, and litter.

I don't think it's quite right yet. The instructor kept asking questions about something that I didn't intend so I may have something in there that's misleading, but I didn't feel up to continuing to fix it -- especially while my attention is so scattered across these four other stories I've started right now and every day is full of headache.


Famous


“Impostor! Impostor! Wait!” It sounded a little crass without the British accent I’d grown used to. I turned, lifting my chin to better look down my nose at the small crowd of approaching teens, my expression full of pique. Really, I was thrilled to be recognized outside the kingdom, but it wouldn’t do to let on. Waiting by the escalator, I tapped my foot and glanced at my watch as if I had somewhere to be other than the empty hotel or emptier concert hall. I’d run to the mall to escape.

They moved like a miniature solar system, rotating around either the thin blonde in thick eyeliner or the shorter brunette with silver spikes on her collar who walked together in the middle. I waited to see who talked first, but it wasn’t either of the girls I’d expected. It was one of her groupies.

She had groupies.

I’d had groupies once.

“You’re Impostor, right?”

I tossed out a quick nod as I scanned the group again. They giggled and bounced off one another. More of them watched the brunette than watched me, but the blonde smiled with fluttering eyelashes. At least she seemed to notice me. The brunette watched the rising stairs rivaling my level of disinterest, but I wasn’t fooled. None of her orbiting planets would have had the courage to say anything if she hadn’t known my name.

They dug out slips of paper and soda receipts for me to sign without a single flash of recognition. One girl stood at the edge, not really part of the set, but not entirely out either. I’d been there too.

Maybe I was there again. I added my trademark line drawing, an oversized diamond ring circling my signature and was paid with a hesitant smile for my effort.

Once the last slip was signed I stepped on the lowest moving step, watching in the reflective ceiling as they proffered their small prizes to their Sun, the center of their small world. The brunette did pique and disinterest so well I should take lessons. My poor outlier was chosen as the obvious best and she grinned after me, nearly dissolving into happy tears as I looked on. The rest of my small effort became litter, scattered across the marble floor. One sheet might have made it to a pocket and I was happy to see the blonde duck away to scoop a scrap. From the next floor up, it looked like an early snow.

Maybe the hotel would be better; less embarrassing at least. Crowds filtered in and out of the many shops on the upper level, going about their business. I walked through them unnoticed without a paparazzi to be seen. There had been a time I had dreamed of doing this. Now it felt empty and flat.

Music boomed from the arcade at the end. Not my music, but not too far off. Maybe they’d change for a free cd? In my youth, I would have asked. One more floor, one more lap, and I’d go back to my hotel room where my manager would come and pretend I was still all I had been.

Still famous.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tell-All Tuesday

So I got a rejection this week. I know, not the first, won't be the last, and I'm not supposed to grouse about them because it makes me look bad, but I'm going to anyway. Just a little.

I sent a short story off to a magazine I subscribe to. A few weeks afterward I get a renewal notice along with a letter telling me they're having financial difficulties and to help them, please renew now rather than later. Reasonable. And I've enjoyed the magazine so I send a check for another year or two. (Hey, it was at least three weeks ago, I can't remember that far back!) Then , another few weeks later I get a self-addressed stamped envelope back and I'm thinking -- okay, here it is, a rejection. Sigh and sadness. But I open it up and find an obviously much-photocopied form letter inside about how they've asked their subscribers to step up and help with their financial troubles and they have, but not enough. Please renew my subscription early.

So I stare at the letter in confusion. I look at the envelope again. Yep, my handwriting and my stamp. I look at the plea for money again. Nope, nothing about my story. Confused, I set it aside to go through the rest of the mail and notice a tiny blue paper on top folded in quarters, making it about the size of ... oh... a votive candle. And that's my form rejection.

Does this seem wrong to anyone else? As a subscriber, certainly send me the renewal form early. Certainly tell me you're having trouble and need certain subscriptions in order to be able to budget effectively. As someone looking for a job (temporary as it might be) telling me you're having budget issues and -- effectively-- calling collect in order to do it seems wrong.

So, yeah, that happened.

On the what have I accomplished side of things, I've been having some troubles. I now have three short stories started alongside the longer work that is currently on my to-do list. I'm getting plenty of new ideas, but am having trouble pushing through the old ideas.

I have finished one pair of knitted socks (that might have been last week), a crochet washcloth and most of a (very tiny) blanket. I made three "solid color collared shirts" because our county school board voted in "uniforms" of a sort and everything my little girl has worn up to this point has prints or trim, something to make it unacceptable in the new year. (You may read in all sorts of anger and hatred of our school board here, because I've certainly thought it.) We put pretty buttons on the shirts we made though, so hopefully that's acceptable. Glarg.

But in writing, really, I haven't accomplished much at all. Troubles deciding which job is my main job. Mommy or writer. Sometimes there isn't time for both.

Better weeks for the rest of you? Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Many Publishing Blogs Do You Follow?

Richard Nash was recommended in one of followed blogs today and I like his ideas.

Especially when a lot of other people are suggesting charging writers for the privilege of being read.

I like his discussion on limited time rights instead of the publisher getting lifetime rights for whatever they publish. Considering that.. Twilight isn't my favorite, but I can't deny her popularity... but with this in mind, I'd assume she is still paid the beginning writer contract for her first book no matter how well it sells and is probably making more money on books 5 and 6 than she is the first few. Intriguing thought.

I like the idea of renegotiations on occasion - and particularly being able to sell elsewhere if the publisher makes a mess of your book during their time with it. It gives the writer some small measure of power instead of making us into desperate begging things just hoping someone with money or power will read our words.

The agents, of course, are looking out for themselves -- and they should because they need to be able to eat too -- but it's my opinion that reading fees won't help anyone. It's just one more barrier and one more way to make us feel like supplicants needing their approval to succeed. And about that discussion that agents are being asked to do more now than ever -- well, so are writers. We're being asked to do all that too. (Well, not me in particular, but others -- published others.)

And we're being asked to get paid less to do it all rather than more.

And be happy about it.

I'm not sure Richard Nash right on everything. I would like more choice in my reading materials than ebook or work of art. I absolutely love mass market paperbacks. The prices are the most reasonable, the format is the easiest to hold in my hand for the several hours of reading. And I don't need to buy an expensive device to get access to it. Personally, I don't care which other forms it's published in as long as I get my mass market. I am one of the truly sad when my favorite authors get popular enough to go hardcover and I then have to wait two years to read them instead of one. But I'm getting distracted.

My point is that taking the publishing problems out on the poor unpublished writer is not the way, should not be the way, and really should have been the last thing to come to mind. It should have started with which books are earning out and which ones aren't. It should have started with figuring out where the money loss is going.  If it's an issue of certain editors buying crap books for too much money, get rid of them. Having competent employees is a good first step toward solvency -- if only the banks would figure that out too, because those CEO's they're clinging to and paying out the nose for aren't that great, having led them into bankruptcy.  If it's an issue of advances, then get rid of that.No one gets paid until the book has made some money. I can see that as a reasonable solution. It leaves the starving author starving a little longer, but it does not require them to pay people to glance at their years of hard work. It doesn't reduce the beginning writer even further than they are now, not only begging for a scrap of attention but paying for it.

And it doesn't turn publishing into nothing more than another hobby for the rich.

Because, let me tell you -- when that happens -- that's when I'll stop buying books. I couldn't care less what the Kardashians or Speidi is doing -- except in the form of The Soup where I get to laugh at them once a week.

But if publishing is broken -- there are people making money in that field, and I am not yet. I am on the lowest of the low rings, barely understanding my own step on the ladder let alone the steps above me, but one thing I do know -- on those steps above me, there are people making money -- those people need to earn their salaries, look at the world the way it is and try to figure out how to make it work with the way they want to be.

Innovate.

Fix it.

Try something new.

But don't ask me to pay you for the privilege of working for you. Don't ask me to pay you to be allowed to submit an application to work for you.

For free. 

In hopes that I may someday make less money.