Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's Better Than Zero

NaNoWriMo is officially over for me as the last time I had to write in November was last night. I made it to 12,092 words. While it feels good to have made progress (and pushed The Masque past the 20,000 word mark), I was hoping for a better showing. Granted, a few circumstances beyond my control really got in the way of the writing schedule I put together, and December isn't going to be much better with all that holiday stuff. But I think I can do at least 15,000 words before 2005 hits. My overall goal for this project is to have a draft and some sort of synopsis finished by the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. I'd like to pitch it to an editor and/or agent. I think it's got real selling potential, much more so than Human Dignity. I'm still thinking about shipping that one off to a couple more agents and also either Tor or Daw. I think Daw is the better house for that book, but I think Tor or Roc are best for the rest of my projects. Plus, there is a slight chance that my name is on a watchlist at Tor since I've worked with Teresa Nielsen Hayden before. That's a really big assumption to make. Hence my dilemma. I also keep wavering between just shoving HD in a really dark corner and giving it a thorough going over. It's an excellent first book, but it's very much a first book. And as I get further and further into The Masque, I'm realizing that the two are pretty darn similar, and The Masque is by far the better attempt, as a good second book ought to be. So the dilemma congeals further. If I send HD around more, and then want to send around The Masque by the end of 2005, is anyone going to be paying enough attention to wonder why I'm writing similar books? I mean, the books are different, but the inciting element and one of the key plot points is the discovery of illicit research being done on humans.

I'm really digressing here. That above paragraph kind of disintegrating into a blogging version of thinking out loud. At any rate, I'm very happy to have gotten 12,092 words down in November, even if it wasn't close to half of what I had challenged myself to do. And congrats to those who got to 50,000 and beyond. Maybe next year for me.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. She had enough time to say, "Brad took some shrapnel. He's OK. There was an explosion." Then my cell phone decided it would be a nice time to drop the connection. In the minute or so it took before we connected again, I felt numb and listed all the ways we could drop everything and fly to wherever my brother was, if he had been medivacked out of Iraq. Turns out that his wound is so minor that he didn't need even a single stitch. The three other Marines in the vehicle weren't as fortunate.

Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. An improvised explosive device went off to the left of my brother's vehicle during a patrol somewhere in what has been oh-so-comfortingly called the "triangle of death". The driver was bleeding, and the two men in the back were ejected from the vehicle. While the rest of the convoy laid down cover fire and called in the medics, my brother the sargeant had to attend to his wounded men. He got them all to safety and started trying to save the life of one who was severely injured. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for that Marine.

Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. As she told me what had happened, an image kept playing over and over in my mind. I pictured a woman busying about the kitchen, preparing a nice turkey and all the fixings for a family gathering when her doorbell rings. She hurries to answer it, thinking it must be someone with a pumpkin pie. Instead she opens the door to uniformed men with horrible news. I fought hard to grieve for her loss and still be thankful that my brother was alive and relatively unscathed. It made for a rough day.

My thanksgiving holiday was hell until my brother called at 5AM this morning. That's when I found out that the shrapnel was the size of a nickel and had nicked his tricep. He's on R&R with his portable DVD player and the copy of "50 First Dates" I sent him for his birthday back in October. This will be the first time he's been able to see the movie. And, yes, he will be nominated for a purple heart now, an honor I would've been more than happy my brother never received.

I am thankful that my brother is surrounded by good men who know that he's going to need some help through the aftermath. I am thankful that my mother was in the company of good friends when she found out. I am thankful that my father was in the company of my stepmother's family when he found out. I am thankful that I was in Mark's embrace all day yesterday. I am thankful my brother was able to call me this morning and tell me himself that he was OK. I am thankful that yesterday is over and today is another day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brother Can You Spare 1,500 Dimes

OK, so if anyone's got $150 hanging around somewhere, collecting dust, not being used, do you think you could pick this up for me for Christmas? Just wondering. And if you've got extra cash you have no need for, go ahead and send it my way too so I can stock up my book shelf with all the books I need to read. A small request. :)

Just In Case I Haven't Mentioned It Lately

I love my husband. He read what I've got of the draft of The Masque and came up with some amazing comments. Particularly insightful was the realization that my three main characters have three distinct qualities and that using words describing those qualities interchangably was a problem and made these unique voices blend into one, which is bad, bad, bad. So Deb is perceptive, and all words that are clearly related to perception and such will be reserved for her. Alex is determined and very much grounded in the here and now, so she gets words closely associated with that attitude. Lydia is exteremely intuitive, giving her the monopoly on those words. I'm not sure I would've ever picked up on such a clever way of keepig my characters distinct and separate. I'll pay better attention to character traits and be more discriminate with my vocabulary as necessary. This is such an awesome comment, one that really can help me bring my writing to another level. I'm still buzzing from it, and just had to make sure I had said again how grand my man is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Missed That One

One of my favorite authors has started up a blog again back in September, and I completely missed it. This is what I get for not hanging around the same places I used to. Anyway, after you're done looking at the Darkyn site that I told you to visit, check this out.

A New One

I just got an email from someone pitching their book to me. It was addressed "Dear Literary Agent" and that misnomer (and horrible intro to a real query letter anyway) was quickly followed by the vague but trying to be specific "After finding your email address on an online writer forum, in which it implies that you are currently accepting new projects...". I'm really curious how this genius not only found my email address but also deduced that I'm a literary agent taking new projects. Did he go to Forward Motion and assume that everyone there is an agent? Did he do some odd blanket email that included any email found on any website remotely dealing with writing?

I'm very tempted to write some kind of cleverly worded response to him, but I'm afraid of the scam factor. Even though the guy has a very swanky looking website and has already had his first book published (via a print on demand press disguised as a self-publishing house, I think), I still can't shake the idea of a scam. But if this guy ever makes it to the real publishing world, I'm going to laugh myself silly. And whoever publishes him will be crossed off my list of houses to submit my work.

I don't know how to seque into this, but it really should be obvious to anyone that this would not be something a professional writer would include in a query letter: "You may search for [this book] on www.Google.com. By doing so, you will find that [this book] has reached readers as far as in Europe and even in Japan." Wait, this could be a great idea. Maybe in my next query letter, I'll suggest the agent read my blog and provide my site stats so he or she can see how widely read I am. Yeah. I can see the lucrative contracts flooding my mail box now.

I would link to his site so you can read a quick snippet of the laborious text, but I don't want to give this guy free publicity. Plus, he'd probably read this post and think that he got it wrong and I'm really a publisher, not an agent, and try to submit his work to my private little slushpile (here's a hint: sure, I've got a slushpile; it's got a match right next to it). Part of me really wants to send a note to this guy trying to describe where I think he's going way wrong because I don't want any newbie writer to start off their career so horribly. But I think he's beyond amendment. Well, at least he provided me with a morning's entertainment.

Monday, November 22, 2004

March 2005 Is Too Far Away

Stop everything you're doing and click here. And then count the days until this book's release. And then put this sort of treatment for a book on your Author-To-Be wishlist and hope you one day have the clout/numbers/success for it. Excuse me while I drive home drooling.

Good Weekend, Overall

As you can see by my sidebar, I did make some writing progress. Not enough to get me to 50,000 by the end of the month, but I think I should be able to hit 20,000 or 25,000, and that's awesome for me. If I can consistently write 25,000 words a month, then I can finish a draft of a book every four months. That's where I hope to be at some point in the future, but I know my muse well enough to know that 25,000 words a month won't always be possible anytime soon. I still have a decent amount to learn about the craft, my particular spin on it, and how to manage my life in general.

But I got a step closer yesterday. I realized that part of the issues I have with conflict and passivity center around the big career shake up I had two years ago. I had slotted 2000-2006 to be my grad school years, getting to Arizona by 2010 after some postdocing somewhere. Well, all that changed in 2002, but not really as Mark will be in grad school until 2006 and may have to do a postdoc after that (depending on what's best for his career goals). Instead of using this time to do anything, I somehow managed to convince myself that "real life" couldn't really start until we got to Arizona. My options are, in a sense, limited because I have to be here and working as long as it takes for Mark to finish. But translating that family necessity into an "I'm just stuck in the mud for now" mentality hasn't done me, my writing, or Mark any favors. So I'm changing it.

Yes, sometimes I can't force my writing. Sometimes the muse has a deathgrip on inspiration for a particular scene or chapter. Instead of just staying put and letting that downtime beat me up, I'm going to step to the side. If I block a time for writing, I have to do something creative no matter what. If the writing won't come (and I have to try for at least a half hour), then I have to work on another project or do some research for a future project or do something else creative--even if it's just coloring in my Muppet Babies coloring book (don't knock it; coloring with crayons and markers is extremely therapeautic). I've got a built in creative outlet for crunched writing times in making those ornaments I do every year.

I'm very excited about this rule. It finally gives me the control I always had but never realized or allowed myself to feel and use. Hopefully this will translate into getting more writing done as well. And maybe some blogging too. :)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Promises, Promises

I'm 0 for 2 this month. I haven't been doing what I wanted to with the blog, and I'm tanking miserably with NaNoWriMo. I'm hoping to change that this weekend. I don't want to make any promises, though. I've got this wierd trick where I turn fun things into a burden in my life with deadlines and promises, and I want to stop doing that. Not that I don't have good excuses for the lapse in blogging and writing. It's hard to blog at work when your cube walls have windows and you're not allowed to use a privacy screen on your computer. I really don't like all of my coworkers being able to see what I'm blogging just by walking by my cube. I would use my lunch hour to do that, but I'm trying to make that a time just for writing or keeping up with my email (another arena in which I'm dropping the ball). As for the writing, I had a major breakthrough this week. I struggle with a regular writing schedule because I have an issue with conflict. I prefer to avoid it. And seeing as how a novel needs conflict and tension in order to do anything.... This is why my main characters end up being passive. That way they're not doing anything thing about the conflict really. Everyone else is getting things done around them. This is a problem. One that I'm fixing, but a problem all the same. I though that by starting my current WIP with my MC decking some jerk in a bar would fix the passive issue. But no, three chapters in and she goes from that active response to passivity. *sigh*

So that's the status of things. I hope this weekend and next to do much to resolve this issues, but who knows. Part of me suspects that as long as my Baby Bro is over in Iraq dealing with real, awful conflict that I'm going to continue my tendency of conflict avoidance and passive characters.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Holiday Help

Struggling to find that perfect gift? Try the Giftmixer 3000. It does spit out some serious ideas (all things you can buy at Borders, of course, since they sent me the website), but it's a pretty funny and neat thing. Have fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Awesome Art

Went into one of those "new age" sort of shops today with some coworkers at lunch and stumbled across some beautiful artwork by Amy Brown. I took one look at her faeries and realized that I was finally seeing what I had envisioned my fayries would look like on Veloria, that fantasy world that has been growing for a couple years now. Enjoy looking at her galleries!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's Ba-ack

After a two month absence, the Squeaky Mattress has returned. In a debut that critics are calling touching and a rollicking good time, the Mattress began its new season of romping adventure and loud action. One long-time sufferer of this phenomenon, however, called the Mattress's recent offering repetitive and a bit of a letdown. The creators of the Mattress hope to boost ratings with a sweeps week rumor of performance enhancing drugs.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ready to Roll

Voting made me sick. Honestly. The stupid wobbly "booths" and all those rectangles to fill in triggered a nasty dizzy spell that put me out of commission for Thursday and Friday. And Wednesday wasn't a picnic, either. Joyous. So I only managed to get up to 4,560 words for NaNo, behind the 10,800 words I hoped to have by the end of the weekend. Oh well. The good thing about being under the weather this was that I was able to plot out the next three chapters in a much better way than they were before. The storylines are exciting to me again and weave better with the entire book. Once I get past those three chapters, I should be past this "beginning" slog and into the middle. Usually I hate middles, but things should move pretty well with this one.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Ah, Election Day

My data set isn't too plentiful for this grand event, but damn are there a lot of people voting! I had to wait over an hour to vote this morning, when it only took me ten minutes last time at the same time and location! This is nuts, but in a good way. Well, good that everyone's voting, bad that our polling places may not be able to handle it. I'm not looking forward to tonight's analysis and tomorrow's headlines. Which is why I'll probably go to my crit group and then hop right in bed and watch SG-1. Leave the poll analysis to people who actually find Ted Koppel saying the same thing in slightly different ways for two hours entertainig.

Aside from all that hoopla, I started NaNo yesterday and got 1728 words. I was aiming for 2000 even, but I'll take what I got. I'm going to put that information on my sidebar somewhere so ya'll can monitor my progress.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Oh, How Cute

Seconds after posting about how my Argh post got eaten on Saturday, *poof* it appears. I wonder if that will work for my con report? *crosses fingers*

Quick Linking and Argh

This just up from Holly, a take on the economy of writing. I've only had time to skim it. More on this later. The "Argh" is becuase I typed up a very long post about the rest of my con experience, which Blogger ate. Then I tried to post about how that post was eaten and Blogger ate THAT too. Guess it was hungry Saturday. I'm not sure I can repeat such an indepth post, but I'll at least try to hit the highlights. As for the writing contest, I did manage to crank out a decent synopsis and mail off my submission this morning. Decided against the short story, though. I realized that I'm crazy, but not completely insane as yet. There's still time, though. :)