Month: July 2010

I have a member blog!

Things are getting closer with the League Entertainment book.  Check out the “Member Blogs” section…

And, soon…

Story alienation

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with my latest novel, currently called A Chance Damnation.  I had been plugging along with more or less success, turning the occasional nice phrase, moving the plot along, etc.

Then, suddenly, I had no connection to my characters.  I couldn’t feel them, couldn’t imagine what they were doing.  I couldn’t hear their voices in my head.  Every line was pulling teeth.

But when I went back and read those days, I found the writing was, if not pretty, compelling.

Today, I wrote almost 10K.  It took a while, but it all came out.  Again, not as pretty as the earlier stuff, but I found out things I had no idea were in my brain…and yet had set up in previous sections.

What happened?  I have no idea.  Usually, when this kind of thing happens, I throw my hands up in the air and cry “Yield!  Uncle!”  Since I started doing NaNoWriMos, I’ve cut back on that kind of thing, but this one was pretty severe (admittedly, they all feel pretty severe).

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-25

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A few Taltos guesses.

During the course of a pretty bad month, I managed to finish the rest of the Taltos books out to date.  I ended up with some guesses; don’t read any more if you don’t want to hear anybody else’s thoughts on the matter.

  1. Tiassa: Khaavren will be in there. (Yay!) We will find out that Pel is still around, and, in fact, HAS been around for quite some time, right under our noses.  The Demon?
  2. Pel is behind most of it. I’m not sure why; something’s wrong with him. He probably went to the Jenoine for more power or something.
  3. Laszlo has been around for quite some time, and is an Easterner. Vlad will find out how this works.
  4. Zerika is going to start falling apart, my guess is over the death of Laszlo, at the hands of Verra.
  5. Zerika will break the cycle (somebody will).
  6. Norathar won’t make it. If B. is being particularly ironic, she’ll get sucked into a Great Weapon which Cawti will then bear.
  7. Vlad will, briefly, take the orb, through some twisted logic of being the next Dragon heir, by blood (a lot of unexplained blood swapping happens, you know?). Not sure how he’ll go after that.
  8. I don’t know how the Tekla/Easterner thing is going to work out.  I really don’t.  Vlad is going to do something cataclysmic about it, acting instead of reacting, as it were.  I suspect war against the Jenoine.

No proof, just speculation.  And incomplete speculation, at that.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-18

  • Time to pry Ray out of bed. #
  • Made it back from SD again. Just exhausted. #
  • Trying to get through my e-mail, but people keep sending me more. [Head spins.] #
  • Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor – one of the better retellings of Lewis Carroll; inventive but not especially whimsical. #
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay – 3 gory thumbs up (not mine). Ending went too fast. More scenes, less cute on the epilogue, 'kay? #
  • Uhhh…this story turned out better than I thought it would. An experiment in world-building. #
  • The Cliff House: "That’s power, all friendship and sudden threats." #
  • Want: #
  • @doycet That's a good one. in reply to doycet #
  • @chizinepub Reading Choir Boats. The first page grabs already. #
  • Get free @chizinepub PDF book Choir Boats, by Daniel A. Rabuzzi: #
  • @ianthealy Should not be afraid greatly: Some are the birth are great, some achieve greatly, and some have are pushed greatly in them. in reply to ianthealy #
  • #shakespeareinengrish FTW! #
  • Going through the motions today. I need to figure out how to get from this attitude to somewhere better. #
  • …And "Just wave your magic @#$%^& wand" ain't gonna cut it. #
  • These kinds of day are a lot harder when you don't do lots of caffeine. But you get so many more of these days when you do. #
  • I need to watch more movies. #
  • Writing with an outline is like drawing the edge of a fractal using a few simple rules. #
  • Just so. RT @wwbhjd Little Gods #
  • Okay, okay, the Old Spice Guy is brilliant already. #
  • @ApexBookCompany I am easily amused. in reply to ApexBookCompany #
  • Click send! Out the door. #
  • @DaphneUn I have a significant number of cousins I have never met. I have nth-degree cousins, though. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • Cliff House is out: "I’ve grown so used to dirty bread that I would miss the taste if she didn’t drop it." #
  • @DaphneUn My family is close-knit. There are just HUNDREDS of them. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @ChuckWendig Mandolines also punish you if you do something stupid. It looked like I flipped off the wrong guy for about a month. in reply to ChuckWendig #
  • Coming down with a cold, I think. Time for some juice. #
  • @HumanTextuality That was a pretty funny linking error, actually. in reply to HumanTextuality #
  • Odd & the Frost Giants – Neil Gaiman: charming but…give me Diana Wynne Jones's Eight Days of Luke instead. #
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson: Real horror, not the jumpy outy kind. A masterwork. #
  • @ApexBookCompany Sheesh. Calm down, will you? Windup Girl is next. in reply to ApexBookCompany #
  • @catvalente I'll be your huckleberry—zzt, beta reader. in reply to catvalente #
  • @lablib Always glad to bring someone else over to the Ox side. in reply to lablib #
  • @ChuckWendig @laurakcurtis I loved my mandoline and it done me wrong! in reply to ChuckWendig #
  • The inside of this tea mug looks like a tobacco stain. The dishwasher cannot defeat the tea. #
  • Goodbye, my fair friends. When next we meet, I will have finished a chapter. #
  • C14 Chance done: "But her father could send her out to pick flowers for the altar in January and she’d come back with *something.*" #
  • Hungry. Peach salad with fresh mozz and prosciutto. Wooo! #
  • Sorcerer's Apprentice mentions Tesla and has the guy from How to Train Your Dragon. I might have to see it. #
  • C15 done. "He was pretty proud of himself until he realized he couldn’t find the switch to open the damned door." #
  • @DaphneUn I like strange names, like Aloysius. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @Dabeak Near…Far! in reply to Dabeak #
  • Song for the Chance soundtrack: Yes, it's from True Blood. I didn't know that at the time. #
  • Another: Ukuleles and girls with sweet voices. And yet I still hear Tom Waits in it. #
  • C16 Chance done: "He was yelling at the top of his lungs and his heart was pounding so hard he couldn’t hear himself." #
  • Another song for Chance: Not a big Nirvana fan, and the lyrics don't work, but the tone is perfect. #
  • @DaphneUn "Mature" MG readers have to read up to YA. The difference between MG and YA seem arbitrary, a market rather than a natural split. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @DaphneUn Or that could be an area of useful agenty advice. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • Okay, time to do yoga and prepare myself for my NOSH experience this evening. Think hungry thoughts… #
  • Personal rejection from Orbit. Mixed feelings 🙂 #
  • I think I just burnt the bottom of my foot on a piece of dark-painted metal. #
  • Quizzing glass: single magnifying lens on a handle. #
  • YESSS! Choir Boats mentions "Tlon, Uqbar, and Tertius Orbis." #
  • @ianthealy Alien Blue to Devi Pillai @ Orbit, 3 weeks ago, forwarded to Jen Watkins, rc'd July 13, full page, what else do you want to know? in reply to ianthealy #
  • @ianthealy "Interesting premise, story doesn't draw me in." in reply to ianthealy #

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Short Stories

I’ve been writing a lot of short stories lately, pushed by something that Dean Wesley Smith said at the workshop – at one point, he wrote 44 short stories in a row, one a week.  Another thing he said:  if it takes more than a few hours to write a short story, you’re wasting your time as a writer.  (I have a feeling he said it better than that, but you get the point.)

Hell, I said.  If not now, when?

So I’ve been trying to write a new story every Tuesday.  That makes three new stories in three weeks.

I didn’t get it done until Wednesday this week, mostly because I was trying something new (deliberate world building), and I started with a setting before I had a plot in mind, and it thhhhhhbbbbt did not work.  I started over on Tuesday night with a plot, then (look over there!  Baby wolf!) sneaked it into the setting.  I don’t know why it made such a big difference, but it did.

What I’ve learned so far:  it’s not that hard, once you’re at a certain point in your skill set, to turn out a short story quickly.  What you need to know:

  • How to write quickly, no matter how badly. NaNoWriMo is good for this.
  • How grammar works, in general (nobody wants to do days of cleanup on commas, and short stories have to be just about perfect before you send them).
  • How a character voice works, that is, how to make your characters sound and act like themselves and not someone else.
  • How a plot works, that is, how to set up a beginning, middle, and end.
  • How to create a setting that reflects character voice.
  • How to open up and trust your instincts and your emotions (very difficult for me).  You don’t have time to think about it; you just have to have faith.

Sorry.  Simple statements of complex life lessons, as a writer.  But it’s not like you have to be a Master of the Short Story in order to start writing them, just have the (extremely complicated) basics down.  These last three stories aren’t great, but they’re not half-bad, either.  If I’d come across them in a magazine, I would have enjoyed them.

Also, no matter how bad you think a story is, finish it.  This last one, I was cursing myself for a fool and an idiot until I got almost to the end, and then I liked it.  For me, it has a touch of grace, a completely undeserved gift from a higher (if nastier) being.    Not a deus ex machina ending, but a mysterious judgement that the main character has difficulty accepting.  I like that.  Okay, there are a couple of points I’m still not sure about, but I’ll let a few rejection slips talk me out of them instead of second-guessing myself before I even send it.

The last thing is that the patterns that I find in the subjects I pick is slightly horrifying.  Not the plots, but the themes.  Really?  Is this what I think about?  But maybe it’s a type of therapy, burning out my issues in stories much like Picasso painted through his Blue Period, and when they’re gone, I’ll never be able to write this type of story again, so I may as well use them up while I’ve still got them.

So, total novels out:  2.

Total short stories out:  9.  Wish me luck; I’m on the short list on one of them.

I think my goal for next week is to write sci-fi with an actual what-if idea.  I don’t write much of it, mostly low (non-world-building) fantasy.  Fantasy set in a sci-fi world won’t count, I think, unless I get stuck on an idea, and that that’s what I get.

Oh, and a note:  if you start writing a short story, and it turns into a novel, and you’re not under contract for a short story?  So what?  The novel I’m working on now started out just like that.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-11

  • We are safely home in COS. Had pollo con crema to celebrate. #
  • I apologize; I'm waaaay behind after the SD trip. I'll get caught up ASAP. #
  • Done with Procrustean Mirror. Taking break to unpack. “What’s in the box?”
    “Your marriage.” #
  • Ambergate by Patricia Elliott – Beautifully flawed characters in character-driven plot, first of series. #
  • Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey by Efisio Farris – cover-to-cover Sardinian cookbook. #
  • I'm in a mood. Funny, it's not time for PMS, but it feels similarly wonky. I'll probably just go with it. #
  • I think I figured out where to send Chance Damnation – to ChiZine, not a NY house. I suddenly feel much better about the book. #
  • There's always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby It's a deal, it's a deal: #
  • A zorcico is a type of Basque music/dance. #
  • @ChuckWendig Oh, God. I take back all the poo jokes I made this week so far. That's tragic. in reply to ChuckWendig #
  • @doycet !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in reply to doycet #
  • @doycet I told Lee. He was less than comprehending for thirty seconds. in reply to doycet #
  • @doycet No, it was like, "What does that mean?" in reply to doycet #
  • C13 Chance done. "When a man runs away from the table, you don’t go looking for him, not unless you were his girlfriend or something." #
  • @chizinepub BLUSH. in reply to chizinepub #
  • @chizinepub True…but thanks for being around, eh? in reply to chizinepub #
  • @syrimne1 One "we don't take no steenkin ms" and one "thanks, I got your ms, will look at it later." Not from same house 🙂 in reply to syrimne1 #
  • @syrimne1 You? in reply to syrimne1 #
  • The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg – gleefully read every word. Next book's not out yet, dammit. #
  • Finally made it to Trinity last night. Good beer, great food, wonderful company. #
  • @syrimne1 Sent out hardcopies to everyone I didn't otherwise hear from on both books, then an e-query to a new ed to replace the rejection. in reply to syrimne1 #
  • Working on a good project…but OW my head hurts from hitting the wall. Ungh. #
  • @syrimne1 There's nothing like a day of mailing out packages to give you incentive to finish that chapter you've been putting off 🙂 in reply to syrimne1 #
  • @kknippling Send them both my keeeses. in reply to kknippling #
  • At the marina in Chamberlain in case anybody needs to know. (Knip reunion.) #
  • Sunset, river. #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-04

  • Ungha. #
  • @ChuckWendig Woot! Congratulations on your new house! in reply to ChuckWendig #
  • C4: Any minute, the flames would spread to the dry grass outside the church, and all hell was going to break loose, if it hadn’t already. #
  • These chapters are running shorter than usual, about 1500 words to my usual 2000. #
  • Hm…is 72K too short for a horror/dark fantasy novel? #
  • Sometimes I love the unknowns implicit in an outline. "HOW am I GOING to pull THAT off?!?" #
  • C5 Chance done: "And thinking about Maeve maybe being pregnant when she’d died wasn’t making him any less nervous, either." #
  • Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey: conffusingly enjoyable. #
  • Pondering how to make a predictable short story perversely enjoyable… #
  • All right. Ray's at karate camp. If I can get four chapters out by noon, I'm going out for lunch. Goodbye, my tweet! #
  • C6 Chance done. "It smelled bad, sour sweat and vomit, and he knew the demons would never find them where they had gone." #
  • C7 Chance done. "The gold-tag demon grabbed the Bible out of Sebastian’s hands and ripped it right down the middle." #
  • Dang it. Still midway through third chapter. Need food….maybe tomorrow. #
  • Ray passed her belt test and is now a high yellow belt! Woooo! #
  • Also, the first day of karate camp went swimmingly. When I came in, they were just finishing the plum flower sword kata, sans footwork. #
  • @syrimne1 Good article. in reply to syrimne1 #
  • @DaphneUn She says (graciously), "Tell her, I said thank you." So poised. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @doycet Heh. in reply to doycet #
  • Ray's book has been sent out for e-subs to five eds. Still awaiting printer cable… #
  • @Three_Star_Dave She says,"Yay!!" in reply to Three_Star_Dave #
  • Ate at Tomo to celebrate belt test success. In a yakiniku-induced stupor. #
  • @kknippling Sent e-mail. You're welcome to hang out with us on the third, too, if we get things figured out. in reply to kknippling #
  • Tuesday. Short story and one chapter day. #
  • Just finished a creepy, horribly predictable short story. Heh heh heh. #
  • Lunch is OVER! Back to work! #
  • @kknippling Nope, to Is that NOT your email? in reply to kknippling #
  • Yay! Start work on an online story for the book tomorrow. #
  • @kknippling Okay, added your other addy to my contact list and forwarded to correct addy. in reply to kknippling #
  • Don't wanna! I'm not sure what it is that I don't wanna, but I don't WANNA. #
  • Mailing mailing mailing… #
  • @doycet Write first! #
  • @doycet Somebody mentioned that about Cage yesterday to me, too. Jinks! in reply to doycet #
  • The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford (ss collection): surreal whiskey shots, one per story. #
  • Sep 10 Analog: Pupa, Eight Miles (is that steeeampunk?), Spludge, Red Letter Day, and stuff that didn't click for me. #
  • @ianthealy I think Spludge was more your style than mine, though 🙂 in reply to ianthealy #
  • @doycet Or just now answer most of it at all, if you listen to Seth Godin too much. in reply to doycet #
  • Oooh, ten NIAs for $50. #
  • Today is doggy bath day. If you never hear from me again, that's what happened. #
  • K. To work. #
  • Ditto. @doycet Crochet "Robot Droid" Hat. Want. #
  • C9 Chance done: “I don’t know. It seems more likely than that the demons want a little half-blood girl.” #
  • C10 Chance: "Saying you don’t believe in magic is like saying you don’t believe in miracles. It’s like saying you don’t believe in God." #
  • Hitler's Angel by Kris Rusch: Just so. I have trouble with that same question. #
  • Heading out of Kearney. Five hours to Soo Foo. #
  • Omaha. #

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