Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ennui and Me

Boo! I'm boring! I have nothing to post about so I haven't posted.

Well, okay, I saw a downy woodpecker today. That's exciting.

This week has been impossibly miserable at work, which has left me very little brainpower and willpower to write. I'm also bored silly with my romance, so I've been pecking out a few (very few) words on the untitled swashbuckling fantasy, which I'd like to get back into--but I don't even have the gumption for that.

It snowed this morning. Yes, it melted almost immediately, but seriously, can we just quit with the snow thing? I'm ready for spring. The downy woodpecker agrees with me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts to keep you up at night

Your favorite book, the one you would have reread until it fell apart, the one that would have changed your life forever, will be published a year after you die.

Or no--it's already been published. Self-published. It's up on Lulu, badly edited with a terrible stock cover. You'll never find it.

Or no--it hasn't even been written. The writer started it but got so discouraged that he or she never finished it. The first half is on the writer's hard drive. Tomorrow the writer's going to delete the only copy.

Writers! Write faster and don't give up! People are depending on you!

*cue inspiring music*
*fade out into the sunset*

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Queries and birdwatching

I found out this morning that Pyr Books has opened to unagented submissions of certain fantasy subgenres, as of yesterday. Since as it happens I'd rewritten my Bell-Men query yesterday to make it a little less generic (I spill the beans about elves, for one thing), it seemed like a sign. I shot off a query to Pyr. Once I get the form rejection, I can go on and shop it to agents.

The weather here is finally warming up just a bit, thank goodness. I'm thoroughly ready for spring. Mom got a birdfeeder a few weeks ago and I've started sketching birds, which will be a lot more fun when I can actually sit outside (sitting very carefully still at a distance) to sketch. I'm also getting really into the whole birdwatching thing. I bought a cheap pair of binoculars today, and I've got three bird identification books close to hand while I sketch. I've already identified several birds I never knew the names of before.

I'm especially excited about the binoculars, the wildlife sketching, and the little pocket animal identifier book I bought a few weeks ago. Once spring really is here, I can take the show on the road--or the trail, anyway--and see how many animals and birds I can identify and draw out in Clear Creek. My goal, of course (since I'm obsessive this way) is to draw every single animal and bird that lives around here. I think it will take me approximately 200 years, which should keep me busy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stop! Query time!

No new writing today, but I did write the query for Bell-Men. It is, if I may say so, a marvel of obfuscation. The bald, ugly truth of Bell-Men is that it's about an elf who goes into the world of scary monsters that turn out to be humans in order to save another elf from vampires. Also, there are fairies. No one in the universe would want to read a book described that way, though, not even me. Thus, my query (which still needs polishing, but you get the idea):

When security guard Cam Reeves is hired to trace an abducted woman, she thinks it will be a straightforward job. Instead, she finds that the woman has been taken to the world of the bell-men--nightmare creatures from old legends. Cam's always been a little superstitious, but she never really believed in the bell-men. Now she's not sure what else might be true.

The more she digs, the more she discovers that her world isn't as peaceful as it seems. The ruling Thanes maintain a spell to keep the bell-men exiled, a spell that requires blood sacrifices on each full moon. Worse, one of the Thanes has turned rogue and is behind the abduction Cam is investigating.

With the ruling Thanes willing to kill Cam to keep their secrets, and the rogue Thane wanting to take her captive for his own schemes, Cam reluctantly crosses into the bell-men's world to escape both and find the abducted woman. But even here, things aren't what Cam expected. The bell-men are victims, not monsters. Cam has to choose which side to fight for--assuming she can survive to fight at all.

See? No mention of elves, fairies, or vampires. Now I just need to write the synopsis.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wasted weekend, sort of

Well, I didn't get any writing done today despite having the day off work due to SNOW--yes, more snow, it's crazy!--and I didn't get any writing done yesterday or Saturday either.

On the other hand, the Bell-Men edits are done.

Yup, that's what I did this weekend, starting Friday night. I read over Bell-Men with a careful, critical eye, fixing anything that struck me as awkward or off. I also made sure the chapters were all about the same length and numbered consecutively, and that I hadn't accidentally changed anyone's name halfway through. I had originally intended to cut at least 10,000 words and I probably could if I had to, but the story doesn't seem padded and every scene I'd thought about cutting actually contributes to the plot. I only ended up trimming about 500 words, which makes the final wordcount a stupendous 124,500 words. Now, of course, I need to write the query and synopsis--ugh ugh ugh.

I think the book's good. Whether it'll interest an agent I don't know, since obviously I haven't had any luck interesting agents in any of my books so far. Eventually I'm going to run out of legitimate agents to query, too, since once an agent has said no to one project, I don't typically query about another project. When I do find an agent, I want him or her to represent all my books, not just the one that interested them initially. If they've already said no to one book, they're off my list.

I suspect I won't get an agent until I've sold a book to a big publisher, which means I probably won't get an agent until, oh, 2015 or so.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You can't just keep poisoning the same person

I'm only 17,500 words into my romance book, which is way behind schedule. Still, that's almost a third of the way in and I'm having some plot trouble. Specifically, I'm running low on plot.

I do this too often. The main reason, I think, is that I'm an impatient writer with a linear view of the world. I have a plot, and I go straight through it to the end without very many subplots or diversions. That's bad. Fortunately, I'm also easily bored, so while my plots may be straightforward, I tend to include lots of action. The last thing I want as a writer or a reader is big chunks of book where nothing happens except a lot of thinking or conversations.

Well, guess what the typical romance novel consists mostly of? Yeah, thinking and conversations. That's fun to an extent, since I can ratchet up the sexual tension and, of course, the romance. I like my two main characters, Avis and Nick. They're meant for each other but they have lots of obstacles in the way of their happiness, primarily the fact that SOMEONE is poisoning Nick! And he doesn't even realize it! He just thinks he's turning into a vampire!

The problem is, I can't just keep having him poisoned every night. Eventually he will die, which will mess up the happy ending. I'm going to have to make Avis realize he's being poisoned earlier than I intended, which means I still have 30,000 words in which to get Avis to figure out who the poisoner is--and she's not all that stupid, so it's not going to take her 30,000 words. I'm going to have to introduce another character, I suspect, someone really horrible who will provide a subplot. Would it be too cliched to make the character a mean woman who tries to take Nick from Avis?

When I'm done with this, I'm going to write something about aliens fighting zombies. With laser eyes!

Friday, February 5, 2010

More books! More words!

I got my Powell's book order today: Wild Hunt by Margaret Ronald (published by Eos, and a sequel to her Spiral Hunt, which I quite liked), Year of the Horse by Justin Allen (published by Overlook, a small publisher), and Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Karl P.N. Shuker (published by CFZ Press, a small publisher). I honestly do not know which one I want to read first. All of them!

I've also been writing up a storm today. I haven't typed up everything I wrote longhand during the day--that's what I'm about to do as soon as I hit "publish" here--but I suspect I've cracked the 10,000 word mark. My goal for Sunday night is 15,000 words. That'll bring me more than a quarter of the way into the book.

Of course, I'm starting to worry I'm going to run out of plot. I always worry I'm going to run out of plot, but this is a romance--there's not a whole heckuva lot of plot to start with. I'll have to think up yet more obstacles in the way of true love.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

thoughts on Amazonfail

In case you've been living under a rock or have actively been avoiding reading about it, last weekend Amazon got mad at Macmillan (because Macmillan dared to suggest that maybe Macmillan should set prices on Macmillan's ebooks, not Amazon) and in a fit of pique, Amazon yanked all of Macmillan's books--print as well as ebooks--so that no one can buy them. At least, not from Amazon. That was last Friday, and by Sunday Amazon was acting all wounded and claiming that it was just acting in the reader's best interests--I guess because all those print books from Macmillan and its imprints were full of POISON and Amazon didn't want anyone to die. The pro-Amazon camp says that Amazon just wants to keep ebook prices low, conveniently not noticing that Macmillan wants to increase Kindle ebook prices by a few bucks upon initial release and then drop the price to well below $9.99 once the book's been out for a while.

On Monday, Amazon said maybe it could probably, you know, act like a business and not a bunch of toddlers, and that they'd probably be making the changes Macmillan requested. But as of today, as far as I know Amazon has not reinstated the sale buttons on Macmillan books.

That was it for me. I'm no longer an Amazon customer. This past weekend I ordered three books from B&N, three books from Powell's, and one book each from indie presses (um, and indie press guys, I'd kind of like to receive an email that you know why I sent you my money and that you're going to send me my books real soon now). I received the B&N order today--New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear (published by Subterranean), When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer (published by Tor, which is owned by Macmillan), and How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (published by Bloomsbury, and I'm still not real happy about their recent cover fiascos, but that's not the author's fault). I've also changed all the links on the Skunk Cat Book Reviews page to reflect B&N instead of Amazon.

So that's how I feel. Amazon's acting like a giant baby and there are lots of other book vendors out there.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Five thousand words and more!

I wrote 3,300 words yesterday--all longhand, and I just got it typed up this evening. I wrote more longhand today but I don't know how much until I type it up.

So I'm probably 7,500 words in by now and the book is shaping up quite well. It helps that it's going to be short. A 57,000 word fantasy would be considered a long novella, but it's my target length for this book. Yay for short books!

Tomorrow would be a day off work for me, but I said I'd go in to give a test in the afternoon. Even so, I'm sure I can get at least 2,000 words written tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 1: 1700 words

I started the romance novel today. My goal is 2,000 words a day but I've already got a 300 word deficit. Still, it's a good solid start. The first chapter is always tricky for me--I always sweat over getting the right tone and not infodumping in the first few pages. I'm sure I'll have hit my stride in a day or two.

I was worried I'd lose interest in this one since it's set in the real world and is full of boring old humans and no magic or anything fun like that. Fortunately, I included Jacob sheep in the plot. I did that primarily because I used to keep Jacob sheep myself, years ago, so I have some real-world experience to bring to the story. Hey, write what you know, right? But I like sheep so they'll keep me interested. Plus, of course, the hero is convinced (for reasons that actually make sense) that he's turning into a vampire. That lets me include lots of angst and pseudo-paranormal scenes. Fun!