Hey, Is This Thing Still On…?

If you’re reading this, you can see that I’m back, and know that I’ve been absent. Again.

In addition to life, and the novel, and “the upcoming move that freaked me out,” my face turned “worse sunburn of your life” red, and blistered and weepy. It was gross, it really hurt, and to say I was concerned is putting it mildly. Fortunately, it turns out it was contact dermatitis–i.e., I have an allergy. An allergy patch test showed sensitivity to (get this! I’ve learned to both spell and say this–cool, I think?) methylcholorisothiazolinone / methylisothisazonlinone. Turns out, it’s a synthetic preservative that was in my sunscreen. Every time I slathered sunscreen on my face, my face flared–making me think that, somehow, I’d gotten sunburn despite the sunscreen. Puzzling, as I rarely (like, once a decade) get sunburned. Ironically enough, while this is one of the 36 most common allergens contained on the standard allergy patch test, it’s in most “hypo-allergenic” dish soaps. Oh, the ridiculous things I keep discovering in this world…

My move has not yet happened, so I’ll likely go missing for a week or so in early-mid August. Just a warning.

Other than that, let me show you what’s up:

Sorry, I ate some before I took the photo.

Sorry, I ate some before I took the photo. OK, I’m not really sorry.

Raspberries! They are lush and delicious and overflowing the canes that grow wild in the nearby park. Warmed by the early morning sun, they explode with sweet-tartness in my mouth. I have a small container of them yet, and I’m pondering what to do with them. On cereal (seems like a cruel thing to do to something so divine), on yogurt? Mmm, maybe in scones…

This isn’t to short-change the blueberries, let me say. They are awesome, and they came ripe first. But they’ll linger, ripening all through summer, while the wild raspberries are here and gone again too soon.

Finally, I’ve been writing–on the novel and on flash fiction. It’s contest time in my writing group, and I’m writing a flash fiction story once every 2 weeks. So far, I’m doing pretty well (better than I anticipated, in fact) in the scoring–not that the scoring means much. Some of these stories are so amazing they hurt to read. Others aren’t there yet, not in this incarnation, but I can see the stunning gems they’ll become with polishing, now that contest time-constraints are off. So the scoring really means nothing at all. It’s the comments that are the real gold, as these will help me edit the stories into something better (and salable, I hope).

These are the ups and downs of the summer for me. The season’s half over (eek! how?), and I hope it’s been good to you. Here’s wishing you raspberries!

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Failure, Success, and Keeping On with Keeping On

I’ve been busy lately: battling health issues, traveling, dealing with house hunting/moving, and yes, even writing. So I’m sorry to have let the blog here slip, but, well, something had to give. It was this or what little remains of my sanity, and, well, hubby dearest is rather fond of my rare moments of sanity.

That said, I’ve got things on my mind (uh-hunh, and when don’t I?) and I’d like to share them. First off, Hugo voting. Wow. There are some amazing contenders for these awards. The artist categories are blowing me away. I’m reading the Novellas now, and again, just…wow. I hope to come back to this later, but let me encourage you to read some of the nominees in any category.

And now, a thing that’s been preying upon my mind for some time, bothering me. When I started thinking about writing seriously, I–like many others–read books on learning the craft of writing. I wanted guidance. A helping hand pointing the right way, and barring the wrong way. I found some of that, and am grateful for it.

But I also got ambivalent about trying to write, even afraid to try, when I read, over and over, the advice that goes something like: Writing is tough, so if you can walk away, if you don’t have a burning need to write, just don’t. Do something else, anything else, instead.

Well, I thought. I don’t have a burning need to write. Not really. If I learned I had 6 months to live, I’d quite writing in a heartbeat. Honestly, I would. That said, I do love writing. I enjoy the written word, and always have. But I value living my life more, and I think that, for me, this is the right way to go about things. And so the newbie writer in my wondered: Does this make me a bad choice for a writer then? Should I just give up now? After all, so many writers say just that.

Fortunately, I am (as my grandpa would say) full of piss and vinegar. The surest way to make sure I do something is to tell me not to, to tell me that I’ll fail and therefore shouldn’t even try. That kinda makes me mad, and contrary. So, I kept at it, writing even when, deeply depressed by rejections, I remembered those words and wondered if they were really right, that I’d never make it since I didn’t burn with the need.

Just recently, I’ve read two separate posts on just this topic, and both have made me cheer, and punch the air. Yeah! So there! that little voice inside me cheered. And, Yes! I’m not alone in this feeling.

Let me give you these links. First is a post from Josh Vogt. It’s a sideways look at the subject, but one that really resonated with me. What is success? Does it only come in one size: writing full time for a living? Or can I make it something else? Read his post and see.

The second hits the target squarely in the eye. (I have to thank Philip De Parto of the Writers of the Weird for bring this  one to my attention.) It’s a Locus Online posting from the incredible Kameron Hurley titled “Busting Down the Romantic Myth of Writing Fiction, and Mitigating Author Burnout.” Here, she comments on “not having the passion” vs “having the passion” and what that truly means in everyday terms. And she makes a surprising, and yet vindicating, conclusion. If you’re wavering, wondering if “this writing thing” is for you anymore, you may want to read this. Pronto.


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A New Way to Motivate through the Move

2014-Participant-Vertical-BannerThis move is really starting to stink, in a big, messy, triplets-with-diarrhea kind of way. It’s really screwed up my June novel-writing plan; I’m writing more than 1000-words a day right now, trying to play catch-up, but in no way will it work. I’m too far behind. (sigh)

That said, my “plan” held room for slop at the end, so I’m not totally freaked out by this. Not yet, at least. It’s just…frustrating. And the move itself hasn’t even happened. Isn’t even fully planned and dated and ready to roll yet. (Really, let’s just not go there–it’s that bad, that hair-ripping-out-maddening, and completely out of my control.)

So, /breathes/ here is my motivation plan: I’ve joined up with Camp NaNoWriMo.

Unlike the normal NaNoWriMo, during Camp NaNoWriMo, your goals are your own. This sounded great to me. At the urging of a VP cohort, I joined into a private cabin, where my cabinmates and I will spur one another along to meet our individual goals for the month of July. My current goal is to somehow manage to meet my “25,000 words in July” goal that I’d made before the move became “The Move that Ate My Life.” I hope that by August 1st, I’ll have good news to report on the writing front.

There’s still time for you to join Camp Nano. Check out the link if you’re interested. And don’t forget the bug spray!

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Hey, Guess What…?

We were gone overnight last week. When we got back, I discovered my fish had had babies. Gee, who would have thought?? /headdesk/ It’s only, what, the fourth (or is it now the fifth?) time.

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Silence in the Library’s Stretch Deal

Exciting news! Silence in the Library Publishing is right now running a Kickstarter for their next anthology, HEROS!  From the Kickstarter page: HEROS! is “a collection of short fiction about superheroes, not-so-super heroes, and everyday people who find the hero within.”

Since I’m not in this anthology, how does this relate to me? Sidekicks!, an anthology I am a part of, is now being offered as a stretch goal. If 350 people sign on to support HEROS!, they will be rewarded with a free copy of Sidekicks!…and they’re almost there! There are 19 days left, the project is fully funded already, and as I write, there are 344 backers. So, if this sounds like exciting  reading to you, I urge you to support the effort and get Sidekicks! thrown in for free!

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The Morass in the Middle

So, here’s the thing: writing a novel? It takes time. Shiny, new things wink and glitter, while your “graceful idea” metamorphoses into sludge between your brain and the page. You drag yourself to the altar of Novel, sacrificing yet another day to the Unending Drudgery story that’s eating your life.

Does that mean it’s a bad novel idea? Should you just pack it in and start over, fresh? Maybe pick up one of those shiny short story ideas flirting from the shadows instead?

Not necessarily. It may just mean that you’ve hit the Swamp in the Middle of the Novel. I’ve been assured it’s “a thing,” this bogged-down sensation where you think you’ll never be done. I’ve been assured that the only way to overcome it is to stride on through it. In other words, keep on writing.

I’ve just found the edges of this Swamp inside my novel. Fortunately, early planning has my way mapped out for me, so I have a trail of crumbs (or, in this case, Scrivener’s 3″ x 5″ cards) to follow, preventing me from wandering in circles. All I have to do is write the scene that I’ve put onto that card. Then the next one, and the next. See? It all works, I tell myself. And reading over the flow of those cards, it does. So I have faith, and just keep writing.

T-shirt found at Buzzy Multi-media that sums it up!

T-shirt found at Buzzy Multi-media that sums it up! While there, read some fiction, too!

Today, I found this T-shirt over at Buzzy Multimedia. It pretty much sums it up, and it made me laugh out loud. I mean, how perfect is this? Looking at this, I’ve just hit Step 5: “I’m still writing my book.” Looks like the real fun is still to come :-/

Oddly enough, I’m still jazzed about the story, and about the characters. I think that just knowing “The Swamp” exists, that it sucks in the most dedicated novelists, is helping me to stay motivated, and that keeps me writing my way out of the middle. To paraphrase: All who wander are not lost; some are just writing a novel.

Also, knowing that revision is a thing that exists for a reason–wow! That’s another huge relief. I’m not trying to make this “perfect” the first time. I’m just trying to get through it, you know? Perfection–or my attempt at it–can come in later drafts.

If you have experience getting through the Swamp, I’d love to hear it in comments. If you’re there in Swampland, keep going. We’ll come out on the other side, and have a first draft of a novel to show for our work. And how awesome will that be?

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Goal Posting

Holy bananas! It’s June, and the year is half over. How did that happen?!?!?

Well, however it did, it’s time to get in a quick check on how I’m progressing on my goals for 2014. Let’s see, my original blog post is here, or for the TL;DR version:

    • W1/S1
    • Novel plan/outline
    • Slush reading gig
    • WFC

Write 1/Sub 1
I did great things with W1/S1 until mid-April. At that point, I started focusing exclusively on the novel, its outline and plotting and planning. I expected that to be the case, and hoped that I’d still be able to crank out a short story (flash) once a month when I started actually writing the thing itself. That hasn’t proven to be the case, since this silly thing called “a cross-country move” has reared its lovely head and eaten all my spare attention and worry. So, I don’t know. What do you think? Is this a check, a half check, or a flail?

Novel Plan/Outline
My printed goal was originally to be underway with the outline by June. I later changed that, to further challenge and push myself, to start writing the first draft by May 1. That goal has been met. I’m now just over 20,000 words into the first draft. It’s proceeding fairly well, despite the disruptions of said upcoming cross-country move. I’m a few thousand words lower than my very optimistic third plan, which called for 25,000 words by June 1, but I’m not sweating that, since it was very much a stretch goal, and again–move. (why is this sounding like a refrain about now??)

Slush Reading
Finally, a clear and definitive check! Yippee! As you know if you’ve been reading here any time at all, I’m happily reading slush over at Fantasy Scroll Magazine. It’s awesome. And I mean both the online magazine itself, and the slush reading thing. Some of those stories…just, wow! Keep sending in those amazing words, everyone.

World Fantasy Convention 2014
It doesn’t start take place until November 2014, but my membership is booked and my room reserved. I’m calling this one a clear check, as well! Will you be there? I’d love to see you…

OK, now for some stats.
For the record, here’s what I’ve submitted/received thru May 20, 2014:

Submissions: 40
Acceptances: 4
Rejections: 28
Personal: 17
Form: 9

This tells me that W1/S1 and the Flash Fiction Challenge have really helped me a lot. Writing new things, challenging myself to work faster than I thought I could, and having fun with others doing the same thing–these things brought out some stories that would otherwise never have been written, including my first pro-market sale!

Novel-in-progress: my goal is first draft finished by end of August. This goal, again (fill in the refrain) was made before the move was conceived, but I’m still shooting for the same timeframe. That goal (fortunately) included a couple weeks of padding, just in case–you know–life happened, so I think it’s still attainable if I buckle down and focus instead of freaking over stuff I can’t control. Root for me?? Either way, I’ll let you know by the end of the year.

So, how’s your year progressing?


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Upcoming: Publications and Absence

It’s been a week since my last post, which is kind of a long time for me. And it’s going to be spotty going here at ye olde bloggue as the upcoming move comes up more and more. I’ll be gone for a few days, in fact, on a house hunting mission. When ya move, ya gotta move to somewhere. If you have any extra good luck, send it my way for traveling and in looking for a new home, will you?

Looking forward, I want to mention two upcoming publications that will feature my work. Liquid Imagination will run my story, “Something Wicked,” by the end of this month (or the very beginning of June, at the latest). This story is about families, and differences, and taking your own path while not “selling out” your present for your future. I’ll give a direct link to it once I return and it’s available. For now, the link above takes you to the Liquid Imagination homepage, where you can view all the month’s current stories. While you’re there, why not read something else, too?

Also forthcoming in early June is “Ghost Dog,” over at Aurora Wolf. If you’re interested in such things, this is the story whose original (this has been edited a bit since then) got me into Viable Paradise Writers’ Workshop. It was inspired by a very bad year: I moved, my sister died, and then my dog died. The dog in the story isn’t exactly the dog that died, though. Riva, the story dog, is more an amalgamation of both of my boxer girls into one.

Looking backward, have you purchased a physical book from Alliteration Ink? Maybe Sidekicks, which my story “Worthy” appears within, or the awesome What Fates Impose, or perhaps the amazing Steampunk World? First, thanks. And second, now you can get an ebook version free when you register that copy. Check out the notice here, and get the ebook version of any book Alliteration Ink has published, even those before this went into effect. How cool is that?


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