Sunday, January 31, 2010

February is the month of romance

Yeah, I've got my plot. My characters are all named and they all have motives. I've researched henbane poisoning and sheep care, and I even know what fictitious town the story is set in. I don't have a title, but that's a mere quibble at this point. Everything else is planned out, right down to the ending where the main character discovers the poisoner and wins the love of the hero.

The guidelines say that Harlequin Intrigues should be 55-60,000 words long. I'm going to shoot right in the middle of that, 57,000 words. I think I can do it in 28 days. February, here I come!

I'm glad I've read eight books already in 2010, because I'm going to be too busy writing a crappy romance novel to read much in the next four weeks.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Faux me

I read that Harlequin Intrigue today. It wasn't as bad as I expected, although it wasn't very good. Very clunky writing, lots of laughable dialogue and unintentionally hilarious lines. The plot was a surprisingly decent mystery; there was only one sex scene and it was really, really tame (much to my surprise).

Can I write one of these? Oh hell yeah. On my head.

So that's my next project. I need to pick out a pseudonym, which is the funnest part.

Red Right Hand

We got about 5 inches of snow overnight before it turned to sleet. I got bundled up to walk down and check the mail, but halfway there I realized that it would be so much more fun to build a snowman. So I did.

Then Mom and I walked around so she could take some pictures. This is a picture of me, sort of. Apparently I was gesticulating wildly as I talked, which is no big surprise.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let it snow...

I feel bad about posting since I've hardly read anyone else's blog today. I'll catch up tomorrow when we're snowed in!

Maybe snowed in. So far it's been snowing for about five hours and we only have about three-quarters of an inch or so. The weathermen swear that the worst is yet to come, that the snow will get really heavy overnight and will continue through tomorrow, but that just seems so illogical. We never have snow for very long. Usually it would have stopped by now and tomorrow it would all melt off. But this is an unusual snowstorm.

I haven't done a damn thing today except watch the weather on TV and talk about the weather and watch the weather out the window. They let us leave work early today, fortunately, and I don't intend to leave the house until at least Sunday.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The snow is coming!

Evidently we're going to get just piles and oodles of snow tomorrow night into Saturday. Really! This time they really mean it and it's not going to fizzle and turn out to be half an inch that melts off in two hours. In fact, it sounds like my little town is going to get hit with between 3" and a foot of snow, depending on who you listen to.

I'm...skeptical. Still, I spent the day getting prepared: $70+ worth of groceries, car's oil change, a big basket full of kindling brought inside to dry out, the stack of firewood on the front porch replenished and covered with a tarp. I'm about to saddle soap my hiking boots and put them in the car along with a wool blanket, just in case. Because of course I have to work tomorrow and the college may or may not let us out early.

I was so busy getting prepared, and reading, that I couldn't do any reading today and hardly any writing. Hopefully I'll be snowed in for days and can do a lot of both (along with a lot of lounging around in my pajamas and watching old movies on TV).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From the sublime to the ridiculous

I've been reading Peter David's Tigerheart, which I was really excited to finally read. I've heard excellent things about it. I'm about a third of the way in and, well, I'm not sure about it. One second I think, "this guy is really doing interesting things with narrative and reality," the next second I think, "this isn't groundbreaking, it's arch and studied." My snobby lit-major me is at war with my practical, straightforward me. I can't decide if I'm being sucked into an elaborate practical joke or if I'm just immature in my literary choices.

Anyway, wrestling with this book, and myself, has kind of depressed me, not helped by yet another rejection received today. I've been working on Little Sparrow the last few days although I still don't really know where it's going. Mostly I just wanted a project to work on, and Little Sparrow was in my head already since The Price of Justice is set in the same world and I just finished revising it.

But I think tomorrow I'm going to start the pursuit of the Ignoble Experiment. I will read the Harlequin Intrigue book I bought at Goodwill last month, carefully examining it for evidence of tropes and commonplaces that I need to know, and then I will attempt to write a book for that series. If I can. Because frankly, there's a slightly better chance I could sell one of those than the books I've already written.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Life is like a box of low-fat yogurt.

I've been on a diet since the first of the year and I'm doing really well. I'm proud of myself: no chocolate, no ice cream, no great big helpings of anything. Even my reward for finishing the Bell-Men rewrites this weekend was modest: half a dozen animal crackers. Whee!

But it's still so early in my diet that I don't see much change in my appearance and the way my clothes fit. All the cute little skirts in the back of my closet seem so tiny it's hard to believe I was wearing them just a few summers ago. I know that if I stick to it I'll start seeing a big difference soon, but it's easy to get discouraged and give up at this point.

It's the same with selling stories--maybe even worse, since so much of the process is out of my control. For months I've been shopping a story I really like. I think it's one of my best, so naturally enough I started at the top, subbing it to Strange Horizons and Fantasy Magazine. They said no, so now I'm working on the prestigious but lower paying markets. And still I keep getting no, no, no.

It's discouraging. It's enough to make me want to give up. Getting a sale to a good market--or any market at all, lately--seems just as remote as me stuffing myself into one of those little skirts. But if I give up, I'll definitely never get the sale. And at least if I keep dieting, I can wear cute clothes while I'm getting rejections.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bring on the rewards

Hey, I did it! I finished the Bell-Men rewrite yesterday at long, long last. It sucks, and I'm going to have to do a lot of editing, but it's done. Again.

I'm going to give it a rest for a while and see if I can manage a short story or two first, though. I spent last night and today editing The Price of Justice, the novella I wrote a year and a half ago and haven't done much with. When I read it last night, I realized its main problem was that the main character, Coral, just isn't very likeable. I worked hard today to make her a little less neurotic and a little more warm. I also added a short but vital scene halfway through. I'm not sure if it's much better, but at least I worked on it.

Now I need to come up with some short story ideas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time to Type

I just finished reading Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies (review up at Skunk Cat), which of course means I spent the evening reading instead of writing. I can't even stay up very late writing since I have to work tomorrow.

On the other hand, I did get some writing done today and the words flowed pretty easily. I wrote longhand, which is actually good for me: when I type it up, it'll be very easy to just keep typing when I run out of handwritten words. I just need to find time to type.

Of course, nothing I write will ever be as good as the book I just read. I typically don't compare myself to other writers--but damn, do my little stories seem like unimportant fluff right now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Just because I have absolutely nothing to report on the Bell-Men completion front doesn't mean I have to stop blogging, I guess.

I don't know what my problem is with (re-)finishing Bell-Men. It's weird. I've never had trouble like this--it's like I've run into a solid wall of 'now what OMG what next?' and can't get past it.

Actually, I have had this trouble before, some three-odd years ago when I was rewriting the sequel to The Weredeer (that still doesn't have a really good title--I call it Stag at Bay despite its being generic). Like Bell-Men, Stag at Bay was a true rewrite. I had a finished draft that I hated, so I cut the entire latter half--and I do mean cut, almost every word went away--and rewrote it entirely. Then I wasn't happy with the result and by God I did it again. I like the book now, but it about killed me at the time.

The main problem with that book was a lack of plot. I hadn't done enough plotting going in, and then I'd muscled through anyway without knowing what I wanted to do with the book. During the rewrites, I remember spending hours stripping wallpaper from the bathroom while talking out loud to myself, trying to work out a new plot. That I actually preferred stripping wallpaper to writing shows just how desperate the situation was. (I did a terrible job on the bathroom, incidentally. I just hope the writing was better.)

Alas, I have no wallpapered bathroom to deal with now. I'm just going to have to stop reading other people's books for one stupid day OMG and knuckle down for an old-fashioned plotting session. I am literally within two or three thousand words of THE END. There is absolutely no excuse for me dragging my feet like this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

At least now I can hear

I woke up at 2am with a searing sore throat--just on the left side of my throat, which I know from previous experience means (for me) a middle ear infection. I managed to get back to sleep, but I had bad dreams wherein I was being chased by vampires. So I had the fun fun fun of going to the doctor this morning. I only go to the doctor for emergencies, and a possible ear infection counts as an emergency.

This lolcat will demonstrate the same discomfort I feel around doctors:

So I had my ears cleaned out (which they needed a lot, apparently; I no longer feel like my head is packed with cotton) and sure enough, I have an ear infection. Fortunately, I got to the doctor right away and the infection is still mild--not like last time, when I thought I just had a bad sore throat, and didn't go to the doctor until the infection had spread to both ears and my eyes ew ew ew ew ew.

I went ahead and took the whole day off work. I'm eating soup and amoxicillin, and I'm thinking about finishing Bell-Men today. Why not?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WIP Wednesday: final Bell-Men installment

At least, I hope I'll be done with the Bell-Men rewrites by next Wednesday. I'm to the point at the ending where I'm stripping out almost everything I wrote in the first draft, so wordcount is actually shrinking--which is good, since at the moment it stands at 123,000 words, which is about 20,000 words too long. The next revision pass is going to be cut cut cut cut cut.

I'm truly so close to the ending I could finish it in about an hour, except that I'm still not 100% sure how to end it. The bad guy is dead, Cam and Tomas have been reunited, but I still have to resolve the murders and set up for the sequel. You know, that actually won't be as hard as it seems right now. Maybe I should just settle in and write the rest of it tonight (yeah, right I will).

I've been thinking of retitling the book from Bell-Men to Bell-Men and Bloodhound. What do you think?

I've been thinking all day that it's January 14. Apparently it's only the 13th. I feel like I won a free day in the lottery or something.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The horizon keeps receding

One of the things I'd planned to do this year was blog more frequently. Over the last several months I've been blogging less and less frequently. I don't know why. I mean, it's not that I'm any less interesting than I was this time last year, although I'm certainly no more interesting than I was either.

Maybe it's Twitter. The more I twitter, the less I blog. Uh oh.

This week I've received three rejections, which is sort of amazing considering how few subs I have out there right now. On the other hand, I did get a payment for a story I'd forgotten about, so I guess it's a trade-off. I guess.

I know I've been saying this for weeks--possibly months--but I'm very, very close to finishing the Bell-Men rewrites. In fact, I think I'm going to open it up and work on it right now.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reducing the backlog

By my current count, I have six book-length manuscripts and two novella-length manuscripts in need of homes. Yes, three of the books are sequels so they don't really count, but that's still a lot of books that are just languishing on my harddrive.

Yesterday my employer (a college) closed due to the weather--not much snow, but ice on the roads and no chance of it melting until probably tomorrow afternoon--so I spent most of the day getting manuscripts ready to send off. I mailed two, emailed one. I also went over The Dragon Whisperer, my NaNo book that I thought needed so much work. Turns out it holds up just fine at the length of 41,000 words, so I did some minor revisions and found a small publisher that might want it. I emailed the submission this morning.

I feel good now that I've got some possibilities out there. Now I just need to buckle down and finish the Bell-Men rewrites before the world ends in 2012 or whatever, because if I can get the rewrite done correctly and then the edits, I think this one will nab me an agent. Of course, I thought the same thing about The Taste of Magic last year and no one wants it, but, well, that was last year.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Everything is sticking to everything

I'm stuck at work until 6:30 tonight, the very night we're having our very own snowpocalypse! The world is turning white outside. Mom left me a voicemail earlier telling me that the snow is coming down fast now and that "everything is sticking to everything." I'm picturing cows stuck to pigs, birds stuck to trees, and the house covered in stuck-on leaves like a winter coat.

It's been really really really really really busy at work this week--it always is during registration--so not only have I not been writing (or reading anyone's blogs, which is driving me crazy!), I haven't been doing much except breathing and getting through the day, and in the evening I read a little bit before falling into bed. I figure things will settle down after next week. Assuming the snowpocalypse doesn't bury us all!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New SFWA qualifying market

SFWA has released its updated qualifying markets list, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies has been added! Not only that, but they've made it retroactive to the first issue--which means that I'm now 1/3 of the way to SFWA membership!

Congratulations to BCS!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How long can I keep this up?

I have read one book every day this year. So far. That's two books. As you can probably tell, I am doing my best to get well ahead of the game. If I can reach my 50 book goal well before the end of the year, I get a cookie.

I'm still working on the Bell-Men rewrites. It's not that I'm not actually working very hard, it's that every time I think, "I'm almost done! I can finish this today!", it turns out that I'm wrong wrong wrong. This is precisely what happened to me when I was finishing the first draft, and I rushed it and ended up with a pile of junk. I'd really like to be finished with the rewrite so I can move on to work on the swashbuckling fantasy again, but I am not going to screw up the rewrite too.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Suddenly it's 2010. A new year to be conquered! I need some goals! I suspect this is going to be the Year of Editing.

2010 goals:

Find an agent
Become eligible for SFWA
Write one novel
Write six short stories
Sell six short stories
Finish writing the swashbuckling fantasy
Revise Bell-Men
Revise The Dragon Whisperer
Revise The Price of Justice

I think all these are perfectly doable. Note how I cleverly avoided pinpointing how I become eligible for SFWA. Either I can sell a novel to a SFWA approved publisher, or I can sell three short stories to SFWA approved publishers. It's all good.

I'd like to add "finish Little Sparrow" to the list, but I don't want to make it too long. If I can get to Little Sparrow, great. If I can't, I'll finish it in 2011.

I'll also be reading 50 books in 2010, ten of them small-press published books if I can manage it. And of course I've started my usual diet, which will hopefully last longer than last year's diet lasted (about four days) because I've got some really cute clothes in the back of my closet that I can't fit into and I'd like to wear them again, dammit.