Thursday, April 30, 2009

New month, same as the old month

I can't believe it'll be May in a few hours. We're 1/3 of the way through 2009.

I had one acceptance in April, two rejections. So far I've made one sale every month of the year. It'd be cool if I could keep that up, but since I've pretty much decided to stop writing short stories--unless the mood just takes me--that's probably not going to happen. I've only got four or five active short stories out in submissionland now, and two of those need to be reworked before I send them out again.

Still haven't heard back from the agent who requested my full last fall. I think I can safely stop expecting to hear back from her ever. I'm pretty sick of the whole agent thing right now anyway. The whole #queryfail, #agentfail issue recently did two things for me: it humanized agents, when before I sort of thought of them as an abstract collective entity, and it also made me realize that agents, like a lot of other humans, are jerks. Add to that the zero interest I've gotten from agents about The Taste of Magic--which, dammit, is an extremely good book--and the fact that fully half of the agents I've queried about it haven't never bothered to respond at all (eight rejects out of fifteen queries in February and March), and I'm fed up with having to deal with a middleman anyway. Agents can go jump off a bridge.

Still haven't heard back about my novella, either. I sent a status query to the editor this afternoon, since it's been three months and the editor said it would probably be two months before I heard back. I hope the attachment wasn't eaten by the internets.

And I haven't heard back about the rewritten time travel story, although I no longer care. That was the story that killed short stories for me.

So basically, the last month has been just like the previous several months: I hear nothing from nobody, and the ringing silence makes me doubt my worth as a writer. Do you know, that time travel story derailed me so completely that I think I've written maybe 3,000 words all month? I really need to stop brooding over things I have no control over and just damn well write--but what's the point, if sending the new stuff out means even more editors/agents ignoring me?

These end-of-month posts make me grim. Maybe you hadn't noticed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good books make life worth living

I just finished reading Lisa Shearin's The Trouble with Demons. Lots of fun! I downloaded it yesterday morning to my ereader, after a duh moment while I was getting ready for work--the book was released yesterday, but the day starts early and I didn't actually have to wait until I got off work to buy it. So yay for my Sony reader yet again! And yay for good books!

Now it's about 8pm, I'm off work tomorrow, and I just got paid. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No axe-grinding here, of any sort, promise

Quick addendum to my earlier post--I hope I didn't give the impression that anyone who doesn't get out of my stories exactly what I thought I put into them is *stamp* misunderstanding my genius. Once a story's published, it's up for interpretation. Like it or dislike it on your own terms: that's your right as a reader, and I respect that utterly. I just didn't want anyone to think I had some kind of religious axe to grind in "God of Worms."

I find the word "inspirational" blasphemous

My story "God of Worms" is up at Every Day Fiction. It's not speculative, although before I sat down to actually write it I had intended it to be a little fantasy story. Instead I trimmed it down until it's just about a woman in a relationship with a jerk.

Unfortunately--and as a writer of fantasy and SF who doesn't have particularly strong religious notions of my own, I didn't really think it through--the story can be read as inspirational. That squicks me a little, mostly because I don't want anyone to think I'm championing any particular religion, particularly not in my fiction. Even if I was deeply religious, I'd keep it out of my writing.

I made the mistake of reading the comments over at EDF, which I should never do. (Because half the comments are from grammar nazis, that's why. What, do they expect me to revise a story after it's published? Do they think they're part of a critique group? Do they think I give even a rat-sized shit that an apostrophe was misplaced?) Ahem, anyway, grammar nazis aside, the comments seem split into two camps: people who think the story is not religious in the proper way, and people who think it's a beautiful inspirational story that speaks to them. Only one or two people liked it for the relationship issue that was, to me, the core of the story.

So next time I come up with an idea for a story that isn't SF or fantasy, I'm going to lie down until the idea goes away. Or I'm going to turn all the characters into elves and trolls to make sure it's fantasy. Oh, and I'm never going to read the comments for any story over at EDF again, especially not for my own. (And don't even get me started on that awful star-rating system.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy about a book

Tomorrow is release day for Lisa Shearin's third book in the Raine Benares series, The Trouble with Demons. I am crazy excited about this one. Somehow, between reading the first book last fall and liking it okay, and reading the second book shortly thereafter and liking it a lot, and then rereading both books a few months later and loving them, I've turned into a rabid Lisa Shearin fangirl. I do not say this lightly, because I have very few authors on my (as they say) auto-buy list. I haven't even read Terry Pratchett's Nation yet, and I've been a Pratchett fan since back in the 80s when you had to mail-order his books because they weren't in U.S. book stores.

Anyway, so I'm excited about the book. It's great to be excited about a book coming out. I just wish books were released on weekends instead of Tuesdays. Don't these publishers know I work late on Tuesday nights? I'm planning a special trip to the book store tomorrow after work, which means I won't get home to read until probably close to nine, which means I'll be a zombie at work on Wednesday--because of course I'm going to stay up late to finish the book. (I thought about downloading it to my Sony reader instead of going by the store, but I want a paper copy. It's the sort of book that's perfect to shove in a pocket or purse to reread at odd moments, and I'm too careful with my ereader to let it bang around like that.)

So if you're interested in reading a fun, light, secondary world fantasy that's not epic (all of which seem to be a rarity lately, dammit), I recommend the series highly.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fast typing made slow

I have three spiral notebooks sitting next to me right now, giving me sad, disappointed looks. One of the notebooks has a big chunk of White Rose scribbled in it, months old. The other two have much more recent chunks of Little Sparrow. I've been meaning to type up all of the scribbling, but there's so much of it!

That's the main problem with writing longhand. Eventually it has to be typed up. I'm an extremely fast typist (typically I score between 90-105 wpm when I've tested for various jobs; I used to work as a transcription typist), and I like the free editing pass I get when I type up my handwritten work. If I keep on top of the typing, I hardly notice it.

It's when I let it slide that I have problems. The more typing I have waiting for me, the less motivated I am to type. The only thing that will really get me to work on it is the knowledge that I can't throw the stupid notebooks away until everything's typed up, saved, and backed up onto a flash drive. And honestly, it doesn't take that long!

I'll do it tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pulp it up, KC

I finally figured out how to find the goofy search terms that have led people to my blog! I must say, this is the most fun I've had in days.

Most of the search terms aren't particularly interesting, admittedly. A lot of people are searching for various Shaws, or for free downloads of books I've mentioned or reviewed. (Actually, for my blog that would have to be "reviewed.") But there are many gems to be found among the boring.

For instance, someone in Australia searched for "pulp it up kc" and got my blog. Of course! And someone wanted to find out about "anthologies of awesome," to which I reply, anything I'm a part of, honey. Someone else found my blog by searching for "lack of ideas." I'm all over that, yes. I don't know what to say to the person looking for "word for out of control," because I can't think of it either.

I'm rather charmed at the search for "snowlamb," which I've only ever mentioned, I think, in the label "sleep little snowlamb." I use that label when I'm complaining about lack of sleep, and I made it up when I was running an acute sleep debt. That's why it makes no sense. I think I was thinking of "glow little glowworm." Maybe I'll write a story one day about a snowlamb, but it will be hard not to make it cloying.

But three search terms kept coming up over and over, from all over the world: horse story, horse stories, and write a horse story. I can't help but notice also, from time to time, that my LibraryThing list has a disproportionate number of YA books about horses on it. Maybe I have missed my calling here. Obviously I ought to be writing horse stories, and the general public agrees.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Favorite characters!

I think Danielle Ferries started this meme, but everyone I know has picked it up and run with it, and now me too. I've been thinking about which of my characters are my favorites, and I've settled on some mildly surprising choices.

Of course I love all my characters, even the most despicable bad guys. But some characters intrigue me more than others, in a writerly way. These are the characters with a lot of surprises up their sleeves, one way or another, the secondary characters who are as vibrant as the main characters, the ones who for whatever reason make me want to write about them forever and ever and ever. Here they are in no particular order:

Kristof Hart--Viewpoint character of The Weredeer, who also appears in the short "The King's Messenger" (which appeared in Renard's Menagerie #5, although I think I have the reprint rights available now and may do something with it). He's not the shiniest spoon in the drawer, but he's ferociously loyal to his family and friends, and he's a good person besides. I feel kind of bad at the awful things I make happen to him.

Ash Cutsaw--Ash is a troll, and he was only supposed to be a minor character in The Taste of Magic. He sort of took over. He's a musician, and a damn good one, and he makes a great foil for Ana, the main character. Ana is talkative, impulsive, warm-hearted, and a little unsure of herself; Ash is cautious, quiet, and knows his place in the world. He's also been in jail!

Rone--Rone doesn't have a last name because he wasn't supposed to have a name at all. In Stag in Velvet, the (um, second) sequel to The Weredeer, he's a market thief Kristof catches and lets go, because Kristof feels sorry for him. He turned out to be useful to the plot so I kept him around--but he's also a fascinating character to write. He's the kind of guy you want to hug one second and smack the next. Kristof isn't sure what to make of him.

Tavrax the Lich--In Evil Outfitters, Ltd., Tavrax is a former warlord lich who has settled down to run Evil Outfitters. He's not a central character in the first half of the book, but I got so fascinated with him that he ended up with a much more important role in the second half. He's intelligent, well-mannered, rather smitten with Madeline Muir, one of his employees (who is also the viewpoint character for the second half of the book), and he also still loves committing the occasional murder.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Every last word

I picked up The Weredeer again yesterday to finish the latest round of revisions. I'm discovering that the last round, which were pretty substantial, still didn't get everything I needed to address.

When I'm revising, occasionally I'll wrestle with a line or a paragraph or even a scene that just doesn't quite seem to be working, and after a while I'll give up on it. "Good enough," I'll think, and go on to the next bit. Quite often I'll also think, "I'll go back to that later," and sometimes I do but sometimes I don't.

Now, though, I'm not giving up on anything. If I sense there's a problem, I'm fixing it. Because while I'm sure I'll go over this book again, I don't want to find anything I need to fix next time. I think this is a good habit to get into, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How much is too little?

I decided it was time to get back in there and try and hook an agent for Evil Outfitters, Ltd. That's a book I wrote in, hmm, 2006? Gosh, it may have been late 2005. It still remains one of my favorite novels that I've ever written, and I think it's probably my strongest. That was the same one that the editor from Wizards of the Coast Discoveries said (informally, after the imprint was shut down) that she had planned to make an offer on. (I still *headdesk* whenever I think of that, so I don't think of it often.) Anyway, I'd sent it out to an agent last summer who asked for a full but who never responded (so I guess that's a no either way--No, she doesn't want to represent me, and no, I don't want her to represent me).

So I sat down with my old list to see which agents I'd sent the manuscript out to before I'd tried to sell it directly, and here's the result:
2006 four agents
2007 one agent
*wrote new query and synopsis in 2008*
2008 one agent (who requested that full)
2009 two agents

Add to that: 2006 one publisher, 2007 two publishers (one of which never responded), plus WOTC Discoveries, and you see that although I've been thinking of the manuscript as sadly All Used Up, it's hardly been out to anyone.

I'm bad about doing this, though. I'll send a story or book out three or four times and give up, because unless I actually sit down and count the rejections, I think I've sent it out to way more places than I have.

Off to make a new list of agents for Evil Outfitters, Ltd.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pictures of Clear Creek

I borrowed my mom's camera and got a few shots of Clear Creek when I went out hiking this afternoon after work. I won't post too many, but I wanted to share what I get to experience ANY DAY I LIKE, because I am SO LUCKY to live here.

Above is Clear Creek itself, taken from the little bridge next to the parking lot. A lot of people just come here to let their kids play in the creek and have a picnic lunch nearby.

I stopped here because I saw the hugest king snake I've ever seen in my whole life, but sadly I couldn't get a picture of it before it slithered away. I would swear it was four feet long, but let's assume I was overestimating due to its being moving and me being shocked at the size of a snake the length of oh, I don't know, a VW Beetle, and we'll say it was maybe three feet long. Anyway, I took a picture of the slope I'd just struggled up, but I don't think you can really tell how steep it was. It was darn steep, believe me. And I wasn't even at the top of the ridge at that point. I only had to rest once on the way up, although I do admit I was puffing like a steam engine.

And here's six people on horses. I am very jealous of these people, whoever they are. This picture was taken at the top of the ridge, on a track used by rangers, which is why it looks more like a wagon track than a trail.

After that, I started down the White Pine trail, which I typically refer to as the Squashed Frog trail since the first time I hiked it, I almost stepped in a very large, very dead frog. That sort of thing stays with you. White Pine trail comes down off the ridge on its other side, then loops around and meets Clear Creek again, whereupon it turns into Lower Clear Creek Trail. It gets greener and greener as it goes along, with wild oats and periwinkle blooming by the sides of the trail.

I think the road to Rivendell looks sort of like this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Waiting for the critique

I revised "The Neverstone" today at lunch and again when I got home from work. Then I saved it as a pdf and stuck it on my Sony reader so Mom can read it. She's working on it now.

I am torn between the "oh cool!" factor of using my ereader to help with my writing and the "oh gulp" factor of using my mom as an emergency beta reader. It's not that my mom doesn't like my writing, but she doesn't read much fantasy and doesn't really like it. I dread what she's going to say about the story. I basically just want to make sure it makes sense, doesn't have any gaping plot holes, and is entertaining. If it passes all those tests, I'll send it to the editor and go on with my life.

I am a bit concerned that I can hear the opening strains of the Star Wars music coming from Mom's bedroom, where I thought she was reading my story. I am pretty sure I did not embed any music in the file.

Update: Okay, it's passed the test and I've sent it off. If the editor asks for another rewrite, I'll tell him I died.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Small Dramas

I went out to Clear Creek this afternoon, of course, since it was sunny and warm and I was sick of sitting in front of the computer. I found a big stripey bird feather (from a goose, maybe?) and explored a new trail. And I witnessed a strange event in miniature.

I had stopped to listen to a tock-tock-tock sound, to try and decide if a bird was making it or a frog, when I noticed the rustle of leaves just off the trail. I thought maybe the wind was moving them, but when I crouched down I saw a snake heaving about under the leaves. It was just a slim little snake, not sure what kind except it wasn't a garter snake or a copperhead or a rattlesnake. I thought it might be finishing up shedding its skin. Then I saw a whiskery mouse nose poke out of the leaves, and the snake slithered off with its tail crooked up, and some very obvious mouse bites on the tail. The mouse disappeared the other way, only the rustle and slight movement of leaves to show where it was.

I wonder if the snake and the mouse met in the musty, shadowy, beetle-filled world beneath the leaves and the snake tried to eat the mouse, who fought back. Or maybe the mouse saw the snake, assumed it was going to attack, and decided to attack it first. I'll never know.

Also today, I sold my Twitter serial story, "Unicorn Chase," to Thaumatrope! It's 41 tweets long and the editor said it will likely be posted throughout July. The word count all told is about 1,000 words, but it sure took a lot more effort than an ordinary flash story. It was an interesting challenge, but I don't know that I'd want to do it again.

I found a four-leafed clover today too. I used to find them constantly, without trying--I'd just be walking along and see one. I never thought anything of it; it's just pattern recognition, right? But then I stopped finding them. I bet I hadn't found one in 15 years, and then this afternoon I was walking along and boom, there was a four-leafed clover. I stuck it into The Magic of Oz to press it.

And...the time travel story rewrite is DONE. I had to finish it today because the editor emailed me and asked how it was going. So I got all nervous and wrote him back and said it's going great, it's a much better story, I just want to do another editing pass and I'll send it to you tomorrow! And then I had to, you know, sit down and write it. I don't know if it's all that good, but it's sure a lot better than the last version. I changed it so completely that literally only a few sentences are the same. Oh, and the new title is "The Neverstone," which I'm rather proud of. Now I just hope the editor likes it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deep breath. Better now.

Long Tuesday is over without too much pain, and I started writing the new, improved version of the time travel story today. I'm not too far in--maybe 1,000 words (longhand; I'll type it up tomorrow night)--but it's going well. I will finish it by Friday. Then I can go back to Little Sparrow, which I haven't been allowing myself to work on until I finish the time travel rewrite, which means I basically haven't done any writing at all.

I am further heartened by the realization that no book, however awful, will ever be as awful as Return to Quag Keep. Sure, there will be badly written books I have to suffer through, and there will be books that I actively dislike for various reasons, and there will even, alas, be books that take a cherished old friend of a book and destroy it utterly with sequelitis--but no other book will ever be all of these at once in such a huge way. It's sort of freeing.

(I really hope I don't come across as full of bile on this blog. I'm really not like that. I just feel betrayed when I read a badly written book published by a big publisher. I mean, I'm not even a snooty reader--I read lots of junk and enjoy it, so when I say a book is badly written, I swear to you I'm not just being hateful. It's by gum badly written.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Worst book ever. A rant.

I just finished reading Return to Quag Keep by Andre Norton and Jean Rabe. It was published in 2006 by Tor in hardback (although I bought it at a used book store for six bucks) with a cover price of $24.95.

I hope no one paid $24.95 plus tax for this book. Because it is the worst book I have ever read and ever will read.

Here's why:

Item A) I read Quag Keep by Andre Norton (published in the late 1970s) when I was in middle school, which was just the right age to appreciate Andre Norton. I've reread Quag Keep many times--it's sort of a guilty pleasure now. It would be hard to match that sort of personal cult classic feel in any case, even by Andre Norton at the top of her game.

Item B) This book is badly written. It is badly written. It is BADLY WRITTEN. And not, I suspect, by Andre Norton. It doesn't feel like Norton's writing at all--and I believe Norton died right about the time this book was published, so I suspect she wasn't physically capable of writing and that in her collaboration with Jean Rabe she was probably as more of an idea person. I could be wrong, of course: Norton was an uneven writer, sometimes brilliant and sometimes not very good. But lordie, she was never this bad. I blame Rabe completely.

Item B1) The characters are virtually interchangeable. They all speak alike, act alike, react alike, and are all Too Stupid To Live.
Item B2) The characters are nothing like the original characters in Quag Keep.
Item B3) The writing is so clumsy, stilted, awkward, and amateurish it's actually painful to read. And the headhopping is so out of control that sometimes even the author seemed uncertain as to whose eyes she was looking out of in any given paragraph.
Item B4) Infodumping! About things that aren't important! Like when the song "Danny Boy" was written and how big Mammoth Cave is!
Item B5) Passive voice. Constantly.

Item C) The plot of Quag Keep felt like a D&D adventure run by a really good, inventive gamemaster. The plot of Return to Quag Keep felt like a D&D adventure run by a lame gamemaster who can't think past all the cliches she's steeped herself in. And no, it wasn't parody. Let's see: Characters get drunk and start a fight in a tavern, end up working as guards in a caravan (no, seriously--that's like Cliche #1 in the Big Book of Cliches), get attacked by skeletons, get attacked by brigands--and it just keeps going on and on and on, without getting any better. And don't forget the deus ex machina teleport spell!

Item D) The character I liked best in Quag Keep was the lizardman, Gulth. I even had a stuffed animal alligator I named Gulth who sat on top of my jewelry box to guard it (look, I told you I was in middle school when I read the book). Gulth appeared in chapter one of Return to Quag Keep, long enough to tell the others that he was dying and was going to travel somewhere to try and find help. Then he disappears from the book entirely until literally the last three pages.

Items E-ZZZ) The issues clumsily raised over the course of the book ARE NOT RESOLVED AT ALL. The ending SUCKS. There is NO CLOSURE. I HATE THIS BOOK.

In short, everything about this book is gratingly bad. That it was released in hardback by a major publisher is simply appalling. It's an insult to Andre Norton's career, an insult to people who enjoyed Quag Keep, and--worst of all--it's an insult by Tor Books to their readers, since the implication is that Tor assumes that their readers will buy anything with Andre Norton's name on the cover, regardless of quality.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Weather Is Fun!

We had weather today! In fact, we had weather all day long. First, I woke up to gentle rain and gray light--which was wonderful, especially since I had the day off work and didn't have to get up. I did anyway because I was awake, but I didn't have to. Then it cleared up for a while, and I went out to Clear Creek for a few hours, which I enjoyed even more than usual since everything looked different in the rainy light and under a super overcast sky; all the new green leaves and flower petals seemed to glow. By the time I made it back to my car, thunder had started to rumble. I got home just in time, since storms were moving in fast. We even had a tornado warning for a while, and a tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warning for hours.

Exciting. I love this time of year. I haven't done much writing today; I'm still working on a serial twitter story to send to Thaumatrope. In its own way, it's fully as difficult to write as an ordinary story. Each post has to be entertaining on its own, has to contribute to the overall story, and has to make sense--all in 140 characters. Challenging, and more fun than rewriting the time travel story!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Short story bits

My flash story "Realer Than Real" is up at AlienSkin. I'd almost forgotten about that one, so it was a nice surprise to notice it.

Someone reported an acceptance to the Dead Bait anthology on Duotrope, so maybe those of us who received hold notices will hear soon. I hope they want my story, since it's not going to be easy to place a story about undead sharks anywhere else.

is open for submissions again. They're a Twitter magazine, and I really enjoy reading the tiny stories they post every day. In addition to the individual stories, every month or so they run a serialized story, which is extra cool. I've been wasting time this evening writing a serialized story to submit. It's a lot harder than I expected.

And...I spent four hours this morning helping Mom put together her new gazebo tent thingy out back. While we worked, we discussed the awful time-travel story I have to rewrite, and she helped me work out a completely new plot. I still don't want to write it, but at least it won't suck like the current version does.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Honest Scrap

The awesome Aaron Polson has named my blog as Honest Scrap. I am humbled. Or maybe he just misread the award as Honest Crap. :) ETA: Jamie Eyberg got me too! I'm cool twice!

The award and rules goeth:

This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.

The rules are as follows:

1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

2. Choose a minimum of 5 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have five friends. Show the five random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

It's (2) that gives me trouble! I never know who to choose, because by the time I get around to blogging everyone I know has probably been picked by someone else. So if I'm doubling up someone's award--well, that just means they're extra cool, I guess.

I name these five bloggers:

Aaron Polson, who didn't say no tag-backs. He's always starting interesting discussions on his blog, plus he's a hell of a writer.

Leigh Dragoon
, who doesn't read my blog, actually, but I read hers. So, you know, why not? She posts often about difficult subjects (notably women's rights and related issues), but she also links to great comix. Plus her artwork is great.

Carrie Harris
, who is an expert on lots of important things like Batman eyebrows, ninjas, and Richard Simmons. Her Ward the Merpire excerpts would even make an emo kid laugh.

Jackie Jernigan, who doesn't read my blog either, and who has no excuse for not reading it because she is my mother. My actual mother does not actually read my actual blog.

and BT, who nominated Aaron, who nominated me. We'll just go in circles forever! BT's blog is always interesting and frequently updated. I don't know how he finds time to get so much done, either.

And here's 10 honest things about myself.

1. It's 7pm and I'm already in my nightgown.
2. I'm a pretty picky eater. I hate onions, dislike tomatoes, will not touch organ meat of any kind, will only eat peanut butter if there's literally nothing else available, and don't even like ketchup. But I will eat cat and dog food without hesitation.
3. I've never been drunk. Tipsy, yes, but not actually drunk.
4. I will turn 40 years old. Eventually. Yeah, not saying when.
5. My attention span seems to be shortening the older I get (see #4, above). Also my tolerance for stupid.
6. My left elbow is much more calloused than my right because I lean on my left elbow when I'm reading in bed, or (as now) when I'm lying on my bed typing.
7. Oh yes, I can type lying down while leaning on my left elbow.
8. I spend an inordinate amount of time playing Wordtwist. That wouldn't be so bad except I'm not very good at the game.
9. I love spinach. Loveitloveitloveit. I also love raspberries. Eating a huge pile of unadorned spinach as a meal and then having raspberries for dessert sounds perfectly reasonable to me. (See also #2, above.)
10. No tag-backs!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hit the road, already!

I got a little work done on Little Sparrow this evening--not much, but more than yesterday. Sparrow and Hildy are preparing to leave town. They've been preparing to leave town for weeks now, real-time, not book-time. I keep coming across things that I absolutely have to include for the plot to make sense, even if they're not very interesting or fun to write. The current scene? Hildy is about to go to the bank. Whee! No one will remain seated during the banking scene!

I hope to skim through the bank in a few hundred words at most, but then I have to take Sparrow and Hildy to buy supplies for their trip--it can't be avoided, since Hildy's going to meet Gavin the Bad Guy there. Hildy doesn't know he's the bad guy, of course. She's going to find him terribly attractive. Sparrow knows he's the bad guy, but Sparrow's going to be off somewhere, shopping.

Geez, I've got to get these two out of town. All this banking and shopping has to stop so that monsters can attack.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Plot bunnies and bats

It was such a warm, sunny day when I got off work that I went out hiking above the dam. I don't think I'd ever been there before, even though it's not far from Clear Creek.

The narrow road that goes down to the trailhead was lined for a good quarter of a mile with parked cars and I was all excited, thinking that I'd found a really good, challenging trail and these were all hardcore hikers. Then I saw the trail, which was the width of a sidewalk and almost perfectly level.

So I decided to set off on a little narrow trail I noticed heading up another hill, up through a field of kudzu vines just starting to come back to life for spring, which meant it was all sunny there because the trees were dead. For about ten minutes I was all alone and happy on my trail, and then it plunged abruptly down a near-cliff. I edged along the narrow, muddy trail with a few hundred feet between my boots and the river far below.

The trail led to a cave entrance, which was cool. I stuck my head in to look at the cavern just inside, which was unfortunately decorated with graffiti and beer bottles, and then kept going since the trail continued. Around the next rock outcrop was another entrance to the same cave, and then I edged around more dripping rocks--and there was another cave mouth WITH A HUGE IRON GATE ACROSS IT.

Plot bunnies were everywhere! What was lurking in that cave that had to be kept in with a gate that HAD NO DOOR? As it happens, there was a sign up, so I know. Gray bats, a federally protected species that are easily disturbed by, say, idiots getting drunk and spraying rude things about people's sisters in their caves.

The trail ended there, so I retraced my steps and discovered a very narrow trail heading straight up to the hilltop. This appealed to me since I wasn't looking forward to slithering back the way I'd come, only it turned out that it wasn't so much a trail as a potential fall. I clambered up it somehow, grabbing at tree trunks and vines and roots and rocks, trying to keep from stepping on any rare plants. I know I'll sound hysterical, but it really is the truth that if I'd fallen at that point, I would have died. I looked down once and saw, a few feet from where my boots were sliding out from under me while I clung to a sapling dogwood, a very pretty patch of wildflowers--trillium, ferns, and a delicate columbine with one flower--and below them, thirty or forty feet of empty air. Then rocks.

Finally I made it to the top of the hill. And then I went back and strolled along that 3.2 mile loop trail with every other person in East Tennessee, or so it seemed. I took the loop backwards from everyone else and I must have passed more than a hundred people, I swear, including old ladies with purses, couples with dogs, a woman with fancy photography equipment, entire extended family groups with backpacks and walking sticks like they were hiking the Alps, and--no lie--two nuns in full habits.

So yeah, that's it for the dam. I'm going back to Clear Creek.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Google fills the empty hours

Boredboredbored. What would The Tick do?

I Googled "weredeer" and discovered I've fallen down on mentioning weredeer in all my blog posts: I don't show up at all, at least not in the first five pages that I checked. Of course, the book isn't out on sub anywhere so it's not as important for me to be on the first Google page (um, not that it's important anyway). I do think the rewrite has made the book much, much stronger and I'm still tinkering with it in smalls ways. If Double Dragon ever opens for subs again I'll try it with them. That will completely exhaust the teeny-tiny list of small publishers that are worth subbing to (ones that accept fantasy, I mean), at which point I'll hold onto it for when I've had lots of other books published. And no, I don't ever plan to trunk it.

Maybe I'll amuse myself (and keep myself writing short stories occasionally) by writing Kristof and Gabe stories. Because those are the characters from The Weredeer. Just ignore me, I'm rambling.

I also Googled "undead sharks" and I've totally fallen off for that one too. Which reminds me--has anyone heard anything from Dead Bait? I was hoping to hear from them by now with my undead shark story.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I got an insane number of things done today--picked up my contacts prescription (after only five months!) and ordered a set of contacts, bought seeds for the garden, mowed the lawn, put deer netting up on the garden fence, hiked two hours at Clear Creek, made strawberry shortcake for supper, and lots more. I did not do any writing, although I did carry Bunny the eee around for a while, so at least I looked as though I might start writing at any moment.

I got my comp copies of Space Squid in the mail today, too. My story "Comparative Anatomy" is in it--you know, the raunchy story. It really is a lot of fun, in a horrible way. Perfect for Space Squid.

I think the keyboard is going out on my eee. Some of the keys don't work well anymore unless I mash them really hard, and others put a space in after the letter a lot of the time. Does that sound like something I can fix with a good cleaning, or do I need to think about getting a plug-in keyboard? My poor little Bunny is a year and a half old now and gets daily use. I suppose I should be glad it's just the keyboard causing problems.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I must have more spare time than I thought

I discovered LibraryThing today.

I'm not entirely sure what it's good for, but it appeals to me in every possible way. I get to make lists! About books!

Someone's put one of my short stories in too, which is cool, and which is how I found out about LibraryThing in the first place (although I've heard of it before). Apparently there's some other writer out there called K.C. Shaw, so I had to join so I could split my entry to show that the K.C. Shaw who wrote "Sandskin Man" is not the K.C. Shaw who wrote whatever it is that other story is that isn't by me. Apparently I have a new evil twin.