Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here we go!

Less than two hours to go until NaNoWriMo!

I've decided to do it this way: Tomorrow I will open a brand new file on my computer. Every day during November I will type into that file, no matter what project I'm working on. At the end of the day, I'll copy the day's text and paste it into the appropriate WIP file. That way I can keep track of how many words I've written while still working on more than one project. With 50,000 words, I'm bound to finish at least one project even if I mess around and add to all of my six projects during November. Yes, six. Freaking crazy.

For those keeping track at home, I'm actively working on Adventures in Zoology, the steampunk Goldielocks story (tentatively titled "Goldie"), How Christopher Kaplan Learned to Lie, Little Sparrow, Stag in Ruin, and the untitled romance. Seven if you count the revisions I need to do for The Trickster Society.

I'm also going to have to spend NaNo working on edits--not just for The Weredeer but for my novella coming out soon from Double Dragon, The Dragon Whisperer. Which was last year's NaNo project, as it happens.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I don't have anything to say, but I need to blog. <--words people dread seeing at the top of a post.

I am so completely unprepared for NaNoWriMo. Two freaking days and that's it! I'd planned to outline the rest of Adventures in Zoology but of course I haven't. I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

I have come to the conclusion that I'm not actually done with The Trickster Society. As soon as NaNo's over, I'm digging in for a complete overhaul of the plot. I pretty much know what I want to do although I still need to decide what the bad guy's motivation is and how that will affect Ivy. I think the rewrite will only take a few weeks; hopefully I'll be able to go back to querying by the beginning of 2011.

But by hook or by crook, I'm going to finish Adventures in Zoology this year. It's waited long enough.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Awesome. Just awesome.

My copy of Cate Gardner's awesome book Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits came today! I can't wait to read it!

As if that weren't great enough, I also got a great big box from my brother's family, full of birthday goodies! Seriously, I don't know which part I like best--the Clan Shaw T-shirt (awesome) or the Halloween throw (awesome) or the B&N gift card (awesome! because of course I don't have enough books) or the drawing from my littlest nephew (fridge-door-worthy awesome).... Anyway, it's all awesome.

It's pouring rain here tonight. The only task I have for myself before bedtime is ironing my work clothes for tomorrow. Then I can get into my pajamas (who am I kidding? I'm already in my pajamas) and read all evening while I listen to the rain. Again, awesome.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The me of 20-some years ago

The summer before my sophomore year of college, I started what I called The Sandwich Diet. I had a sandwich for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and a sandwich for supper. Usually ham, because I like ham sandwiches. Every afternoon I walked down to the store and bought a 3 Musketeers bar, which I ate. When I started back to school that fall, I looked fantastic. Not that I thought I looked good. I still thought I was fat.

I was thinking about that as I walked back from the store today after buying a 3 Musketeers bar (I'm not on the Sandwich Diet. I just wanted some chocolate). I was wishing I could pop back in time to meet myself as an 18-year-old college student, to tell her to enjoy being young and trim with her whole life before her. I also wished I could give her my sword and tell her to join a fencing group, because then I'd already be a good fencer and wouldn't have to be nervously putting off joining a local group until I lose just five more pounds.

And after that, of course, I wished I could just sit down and talk to my 18-year-old self. I think the conversation would go something like this, once I'd convinced her that I was actually her older self....

2010 Me: I've brought you a book about how to study effectively. You're going to need it next year. Oh, and don't take any classes from Dr. Sears.

1988 Me: I have to. He's the only one who teaches that class on the Romantic poets.

2010 Me: He's going to retire next year. I've also brought you a reading list. These are books I wish I'd read when I was your age.

1988 Me: These books look boring.

2010 Me: Yes, I know, but trust me when I say that you need to read Dorothy Sayers right now. Now, this box here contains printed-out copies of manuscripts. You'll have to retype them before you send them out on submission, but do not change one freaking word. They've been edited by someone twenty-three years your senior--that would be me--and I can't give them away because of the economy. Here in 1988, publishers will buy anything.

1988 Me: I have to type all this? Don't you have floppy discs in 2010?

2010 Me: No. No, we don't. Just type them. Here's some money for the 1989 Writer's Market. Look, if I get back to 2010 and I still have my dead-end job, no agent, and no contracts with major publishers, I'm going to come back in time again and kick your ass. And I'll take this sword back, see if I don't.

1988 Me: I'm kind of too busy to type this much stuff.

2010 Me: You are not busy. You've spent the entire summer sitting around reading horse books and listening to the radio. Speaking of which, you need to get a job. Seriously, it will do you a world of good.

1988 Me: I'm a sensitive flower. I don't think I can handle the pressures of a job. I also have a massive intellect and shouldn't have to work for a living. I'm a writer.

2010 Me: No, I'm a writer. You're a poser. Hell with it, I'm going to kick your ass just for the exercise.

Flabby 2010 Me kicks 1988 Me's ass thoroughly, since 1988 Me is weakened from her three-month diet of nothing but ham sandwiches and 3 Musketeers bars.

2010 Me: Now sit down and type this stuff up, get a job at a book store, and join a fencing group.

1988 Me (wiping her bloody nose): When I'm your age, I won't be such a bitch.

2010 Me: Oh yes you will. You just won't notice it happening.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I haven't been able to settle to anything after finishing The Trickster Society, which surprises me. I finished it some two months ago and NaNo's coming up. I should have dug into something new by now, but I can't leave Trickster Society alone. I keep going back in and rereading parts of it. I even did a full editing pass earlier this week.

Last night I realized the problem. It's not done. This is not a good realization when you've got 20-some queries out to agents.

The problem is the beginning, which is unusual for me. Usually I have trouble with endings. The book starts way too slow and the inciting incident doesn't occur until a third of the way in. I spent an hour last night trying to figure out how to rearrange a very closely-plotted book to make things start faster, and finally moved the book's opening back about twelve hours of book time.

Now there's a brand new first chapter where something alarming takes place, which hopefully will add a sinister pall over events in the next few chapters. I was able to introduce the shadow people properly in the new first chapter, too. I plan to cut several thousand words from the scavenger hunt since it's no longer as important (and just drags on way too long). I'm also shortening chapters when I can, which will help the pacing seem faster.

I wish I'd done this before I'd started querying agents. I should know better than to start querying so soon after finishing revisions, since I always come back to a book after a few months to fix stuff. But there are still a lot of agents out there I haven't queried yet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Six! Six reviews ah ah ah!

OMG, my brother (who goes by Lertulo sometimes online and sometimes just goes by his name, Richard) has posted FOUR reviews over on Skunk Cat tonight, and I've posted one! That's FIVE REVIEWS in one evening! This is, like, the best day ever!

NO HE JUST POSTED ANOTHER ONE! *faints* That's six reviews tonight!

NOW SEVEN! *faints again*

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yet another bunch of plans

I didn't get much writing done this weekend, but I did catch up on a lot of other stuff. The upstairs bathroom is finally really clean (well, except for the floor) and I bought myself a new toothbrush and lavender soap, and made some awesome beef stew with the best turnips I've ever seen in my life, and finally planted the winter radishes and cleaned out the garden a little, and read someone else's book that I'll review tomorrow, and did laundry. I have my usual end-of-October feeling of setting things right for winter--compounded, of course, by the feeling of getting things sorted before NaNo.

The steampunk Goldielocks story is going well. I'm not as far along as I want to be, but I think it's really good so far. I'm definitely on track to finish it by November, at which point I'll pick Adventures in Zoology back up and finish it over NaNo.

No one believes me anymore when I set out my writing plans. I don't believe me either. Oh well, whatever works. As long as I'm writing and finishing at least one book a year, I think I'm good. Of course, my "need to finish" projects are piling up.

I've still got two and a half months left in 2010. I want to finish the Goldielocks story, Adventures in Zoology, Christopher Kaplan, and possibly even the unnamed romance this year, but I'll settle for any two of the four.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Awesome book time!

I almost forgot to post this! Cate Gardner's book, Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits, is now available! It's a collection of her wonderfully strange short fiction. You can order it from Amazon or directly from the publisher. I just found out I get a limited-edition bookmark with my preorder, and also because I am SPECIAL.

Cate's fiction is truly awesome! If you haven't sampled any of her stories before, you're really in for a treat.

What is fantasy? How does it differ from SF?

A brief post yesterday at The OF Blog has set off a number of other bloggers. What's the difference between SF and fantasy? The post doesn't really speculate, just brings up the topic in an "I've been thinking about this lately" kind of way, but a few other bloggers have followed up with more in-depth thoughts.

Spiral Galaxy responded with a post arguing that in fantasy, certain special people are "born with the power." That is, only certain people can wield magic, while anyone can use technology. There's a follow-up at Smith Orbit that agrees and goes a little further, stating that fantasy contains a "romantic notion of authenticity"--that is, in fantasy, certain things or places are more pure or sacred or special and therefore contain power, while in SF, places and things are subject only to natural forces, which do not include "specialness."

Me, I'm inclined to follow Orson Scott Card's advice that SF contains rivets and fantasy doesn't, a short-hand way of differentiating between technology-driven SF and non-technological fantasy. But that's a bit simplistic too. Not all SF is about spaceships. Not all fantasy is about magic. When I shelved the fantasy section at a used bookstore years ago, I used to argue with our fiction director about where Anne McCaffrey's Pern books belonged. I wanted them in SF because the dragons were bioengineered creatures on another planet, the dragons' teleporting abilities were explained (in a handwavy way) as using natural processes, and while the people on the planet Pern had mostly forgotten about their past and had reverted to a much less technologically advanced society, they had originally arrived by spaceship. The fiction director wanted the Pern books in fantasy because, well, they had dragons on the covers. We were both right.

I don't really agree with the bloggers I linked to earlier, since I think they're using fantasy in a very narrow way. As I say, not all fantasy has magic. (Think of Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint). Giving fantasy all the people with special abilities ignores the varied abilities of real world people. For example, some people are tone deaf and literally cannot hear music as music, which doesn't make the rest of us special for hearing music where others hear cacophany. Likewise, ascribing specialness to things and places that are not actually any different from similar things and places is a human attribute and shows up in all kinds of fiction (the lucky penny, the sacred grove, the Indian burial ground, the magic sword, the holy book).

If this post is coming across as disjointed, that's because I've been working on it on and off for about two hours now. Basically, everyone draws the line between SF and F in a different place. Sometimes you don't even need rivets.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanks, brain. Thanks a lot.

Just a few weeks before NaNo starts and what have I been doing? Have I been finishing up Christopher Kaplan like I'd planned? Have I been jotting notes for Adventures in Zoology? Maybe I've just been too busy editing The Weredeer to do much writing at all.

No, indeed. The last two days I've spent my time obsessively plotting out a steampunk version of "Goldielocks and the Three Bears." Today I started writing it and I'm 1,000 words in.

Seriously, that's what I've been wasting my time on. "Goldielocks and the Three Bears." WTF, brain, WTF?

Actually, this isn't a novel and I've been meaning to write it for weeks. CatsCurious Press has opened for submissions to its second Faery Taile double-feature and I wanted to try it out. What could be more of a challenge than a 12,000 word retelling of "Goldielocks and the Three Bears"? It's a story with hardly any plot to speak of. Take out the actual, literal bears, turn it into a gritty steampunk drama (but not too gritty, because this has to be appropriate for the 12 and up crowd), and make sure the bad guy--Papa Bear, now a steamworks part-owner (a "bear") named Jimson Ramsey--has plenty to do off-screen for the companion story, and it's even more challenging. So yes, that's what I'm working on right now. Why do you ask?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Now it can be revealed

I have the okay to announce this already! BeWrite Books has accepted The Weredeer for publication--maybe even as soon as this December. We've already done one round of edits, which has me cringing at my overuse of certain words and phrases. Time to edit everything else I've ever written. They're also interested in the sequel. That's doubly awesome, but I need to do some work on it before I let anyone (much less an editor) see it.

I'm thrilled, since The Weredeer has long been my favorite of all the books I've written. I've learned an awful lot about writing from it, too. I can't wait to see the cover once it's done!

So it's celebration time for the Weredeer!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A tiny message

I have good news*! Which I can't share yet! But I will soon!

Um, so, that's the extent of my blogging abilities tonight. I tried to get some writing done today at lunch but accidentally picked up a book instead. I've been reading a ton of YA/MG books lately. I just seem to be in the right mood for them right now. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how much fresher stories for kids feel right now? The fantasy I'm reading for grown-ups feels formulaic and mostly 'safe,' whereas the YA/MG books go off in fun and unexpected directions.

*Which does not involve anyone having any babies! Especially me!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eight Questions

The lovely and talented (um, that phrase is only half-working right now) Alan W. Davidson has tagged me! You should definitely check out his blog, if only to see him in a fez, although definitely stick around for the thoughtful posts, photographs of Canadian wilderness, and of course the excellent fiction!

I have to answer these eight questions.

If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?
I want the flying superpower. That's it. I'm not picky. I think it would be completely awesome to be able to fly. And think about it--you could swoop up and rescue people when they were about to fall from a high place, or from the top of a burning building, or cats stuck up in tall trees.

Who is your style icon?
I'm pretty sure I'm not smart enough to answer this question. I don't know what a style icon is. I'm 100% sure that my style icon is not Lady Gaga, though.

What is your favorite quote?
"Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb."
No, wait, that's not it! Really! Actually, I'm terrible at remembering quotes, even if they're important to me at the time. I had a quote by the brilliant animator Seamus Culhane taped on my computer monitor for years, and I can't even remember now what it was about, much less what it said. Um, my favorite quote is by Seamus Culhane.

What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Like all writers, I remember the negative comments jot and tiddle, and can't remember the compliments. For that matter, I do that in my regular life too. I guess I'm just one of those sensitive, high-maintenance people.

I'm not doing a very good job of answering these questions.

What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now?
As it happens, I've got Pandora Radio playing in the background this very moment. It's playing "Wild Horses" by The Sundays. Oops, it finished and now it's playing "Run Run Run" by Concrete Blonde. Concrete Blonde is one of my very favorite bands ever.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Morning person, definitely. My mom said she loved waking me up in the morning when I was little. She'd have to go into my brother's room repeatedly to make sure he was actually out of bed and reasonably mobile. Then she would go into my room and say, "Time to get up, hon," and I'd jump out of bed and say, "Hi, Mommy!"

Do you prefer dogs or cats?
I like them both equally. Millions of hugses for the dogs and cats! I miss my Newfoundland dog and mixed-breed cats fiercely. All my pets are waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge.

What is the meaning behind your blog name?
It's from the poem "Forester's Song" by A.E. Coppard. The relevant lines are "And I leave a knotted thicket / As a chamber for the stag." I love that little poem far more than it probably deserves.

Of course, my blog is where memes go to die, so although I'm supposed to tag some other folks, as always I will say "if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where's my fanfare?

The princess is going to bed. Where is her fanfare? Her ladies-in-waiting scattering rose petals? Her handsome young man playing the harp?

Oh well, at least she still has her lovely, lovely bed.

I got my canopy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Now that's what I call a TOC

The TOC for the Distant Realms novella antho has been announced!

Katherine Shaw, "The Price of Justice"
Trent Roman, "The Battle of Transvaal"
Alfred D. Byrd, "The Seventh Proficiency"
Eliza Granville, "Snatchlings"
Robert J. Santa, "Turning Point"

As it happens, Rob Santa was one of the first editors I ever worked with. He bought the third story I ever sold, and the first story I wrote specifically for a market, "Sea and Sky" in the awesome anthology Black Dragon, White Dragon. The world of writing is a small one.

I'm really looking forward to this anthology! I think novellas are sadly underappreciated these days; hopefully this antho and its SF companion, Distant Worlds, will help change that.

(I should point out modestly that the Katherine Shaw listed up there is me. The editor listed me on the website by my full name, although by the time we do edits and proofs and all that good stuff, I'll be properly listed as K.C. Shaw.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gearing up for November

I've typed up everything I had written out longhand for Christopher Kaplan. I'm at 13,000 words! That's more than I thought, and I figure it's probably a third complete. Since I know precisely where the story is going (well, minus the details), I'm going to try and work on it for the next few weeks. I'll see how far I can get before NaNo.

Don't forget to sign up for NaNoWriMo! I've already signed up and donated. If you want to join me in the race to 50,000 words this November, buddy me. My handle is Saanen and you can find my profile at here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Gardening

The pepper plants are turning out peppers like they're on an assembly line. I've sent off all the peppers people ordered; if you still want some, drop me an email. There are lots left, and will continue to be lots until our first frost, which probably won't be until late November (or even December).

I think I've chosen my NaNo finish-it project for this year. And the winner is...drumroll...
Adventures in Zoology
. It's two-thirds finished already and it would benefit from the zany details I tend to shove in when writing at breakneck NaNo pace. Better yet, it only needs about 25-30,000 words, which means once I'm done I'll have to pick up another project to finish, probably Christopher Kaplan. It's a twofer!

Dear God, I never thought I'd use the word 'twofer' ever in my whole life.