Buddy


And we’re back!

The quick excuse for my absence? Some seriously ugly nausea and exhaustion for the last four months has bumped this blog to a back burner, as much the rest of my life. But in nineteen more weeks John and I should have a baby girl. Everybody’s telling me the puking is worth it, and that I might even forget about it once Baby Josie’s here, so there you go. At least now I want to drink coffee again.

As if tax season and pregnancy weren’t enough, I’ve given myself nineteen weeks to get the first draft of the first Harvester book finished. I’m at 43k right now, so it’s not entirely unthinkable, although since I’ve yet to hit that momentum stride, most mornings it seems a lofty, ridiculous goal. But I am able to get up at 5 am these days, when I couldn’t a month ago, and I consider that a terrific step forward. I’m intending to use this blog as a check-in for wordcount and momentum, at least weekly, and hopefully that will help me get back in the swing of things. Plus, it’s a place to complain about the issues I’m having.

For example, blocking. That’s been on my mind a lot, given the mistakes I made with the three books before this. All were YA, so not only am I having to do a lot of revising as I actually go in order to keep this from being too Harry Potter, but there where there was previously (in the last books) a lot of waking up in the morning, getting from one place to another, going to sleep, etc…now there’s just me staring at the page, wanting to avoid that issue completely. Problem is, in a lot of places I just don’t know how, especially when Heloise’s City is every bit as much a character as her. So that might be an issue I grow with, or I let it be ugly and wrong as I write, and then go back and fix upon revisions – which is easier said than done.

In the meantime, some worthwhile links:

  • This Lev Grossman article, which vastly encouraged me. I have such strong opinions when it comes to books (and short stories, for that matter) and this was written so eloquently that I found a good deal of encouragement in it, both for the state of the market and the eternal why-do-people-like-the-shit-they-like question.

And because this is Valentine’s Day, some four-legged love.

The beginning of the 4th week! I’ve meant to blog far more than this, but the weekdays are packed and the weekends have been spent recovering, either from the stress of the week or too much stress relief on Friday nights? Ah, yes. But here I am, more mentally tired than physical, and longing to sit in front of the television and turn my brain off just for an evening.  Or actually eat some different and amazing, food – I have never had such dreadful food in my entire life, and being only 7 months into the vegetarian thing, its somewhat distressing. (And I know I should not complain, but…yes.)

There are four ways (that I know of) to walk the fifteen minutes to class. Here is my favorite:

Walk to Class

I’ve also made it to the beach, which was simply gorgeous.

Sea

I miss John dreadfully, which in a way has helped me to work harder, just to keep from focusing on that. But then he sends me pictures like this:

This week marks the 4th story I’ve written (which makes me very happy – 2 more to go!), but I’ve warned my classmates it might veer more towards torture porn than they are likely comfortable with (myself included). Because I had hit a wall with inspiration after Bear week, I had figured I could write something Kiernan/Lee-esque (of course), since that’s what I enjoy so much. However, then the story veered into a social commentary on class with a main character who clearly has psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies. (And there goes the wider range of market possibilities!) But I have also tried to do this immersion thing within the wider scope of intrusion – as if the other elements weren’t enough of a challenge.

So that will be critiqued tomorrow (and turned in this afternoon, as soon as I find the courage to do so), with all my fingers crossed.

Also, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned so far…at least the things I’ve managed to scribble down. What I’ve actually learned is likely too broad to write down, but here is a taste (and the initials of the instructor it came from):

_____ is a story about ______ who must _____. We will know _____ has succeeded when ______. (EB)

Each character is an aspect of the same person (a common literary structure, insert inner curling shape, like the shell of a snail curling around its core). (EB)

What the character wants is in direct opposition to what the character needs. (EB)

Internal conflict is then driven into crisis, reinforced by external conflict. (EB)

Give antagonist try/fail cycle! (EB)

Only use exclamation points when: The! Galaxy! Is! On! Fire! (EB)

To keep a reader from getting ansty about not enough information: Set up first mystery, set up second mystery, answer first. Set up 3rd mystery, answer second, etc. (EB)

Right person right place wrong time? Wrong person right place right time? Right person wrong place right time? (NKH)

Option: The reader changes throughout the story rather then the main character! (NKH)

David Anthony Durham, our instructor this week, has already said some fantastic things regarding world-building, but I couldn’t find my pen quickly enough to write them down – hopefully that will change in the next few days.

Also, I have learned that reading about unicorns in stories doesn’t work for me, unless the unicorns are Diana Peterfreund’s, and/or have killer tendencies. Or, something else very creative that doesn’t result in Lisa Frank resemblances. Perhaps I just need to admit I’m on Team Zombie and that is that.

Also, in pimp-my-friends, The lovely Brooke Wonders reads for form and theme, and has been teaching me to do so, too – already I feel it’s improved my stories dramatically. Bonus, the equally as lovely Peta Freestone is teaching me how to grow citrus trees and what best I can buy and plant in our new house, upon the end of Clarion.

Tonight, David Anthony Durham’s Mysterious Galaxy reading. This weekend: SD Comic-Con

With the title quote in mind, here are two things, no, three:

I finished Daryl Alexander’s Pandemonium, which was a delightful read. Thoroughly engrossing from the first page, intriguing, accessible, without an extra word anywhere, yet not sacrificing in lyricism. His first novel, too. I wasn’t very fond of the way things wrapped up – it felt completely different than the direction the first 3/4ths of the novel took – but I still recommend the book, very much so. It encouraged me, too, because it made Harvester the book so much more possible. I also realized that I try too hard in writing this book. I make too much effort, when really, I should let the action carry itself. It took a large weight off my shoulders when I realized that (for probably the umpteenth time, so hopefully I can remember it…), and I’m actually excited to get back to the book today.

Oh! And my interview with Elizabeth Bear is up on Lightspeed today! Go read. She’s a very interesting woman, and an excellent author. (I’m quite looking forward to her week at Clarion this summer.) Also, her tweets are most enjoyable.

And then to end on a downer, Kitty has been in the hospital for 4 days, although I’ll hopefully be able to pick him up later today. It’s kind of devastated me, not having him at home; even with the demanding and affectionate dogs, there’s a big gap without him. Buddy couldn’t care less that he’s gone, but I think Nellie know’s something’s up; she keeps roaming around, looking for him, and whining when she can’t find him.

But oh, there was a very adorable moment with the dogs. Actually, it lasted nearly thirty minutes, while we watched Game of Thrones on Sunday night:

Buddy was too comfortable to care that Nellie was sleeping on top of him; usually he grunts or growls and then gets up. And look how big Nellie is! She’s so unbelievably cute, and floppy.

>MORE on the pets, because I’m procrastinating on “Undertow,” the tentative name of the current short. I keep thinking I’m not good enough to write it the way it wants to be written – the discomfort of something new. I did want to stretch myself with something I hadn’t done before, but the resulting story wasn’t what I’d intended. That just means the alien story I really wanted will happen later down the line.

We took at least ten pictures of these three, with Nellie in a different position every time – she’s so squirmy. And Buddy is the only one who listens (mostly). Kitty was irritated that the dogs were so close to him, but apparently the presents were so comfortable that he decided it wasn’t worth it to get up.

He did get up, though, after John started decorating him.

>I’m unusually spry this morning (yes, I’m an old geezer) for a Monday – it’s refreshing. I’m not certain why, but I’m not complaining. So far: slush read, one OWW crit done, and I’ve got another friend’s revision up next, and some nits to “Child of Fortune, Child of Labor” before I tinker around with the worldbuilding a bit. Or maybe the new short for the Anywhere but Here anthology, in case the venue where CoFCoL is currently out at decides to take it. But I liked X6 so much that it would be silly for me to not try for something in a couer de lion publication.

And then there’s “Fish out of Water” to work on – less cliche characters, Ilan says. And the alchemist short which I haven’t touched because either I’ve taken a wrong turn, or it’s not the right time to work on it. I’ve got six other shorts out there right now, and as I hear back, that will mostly likely mean more revisions. Which is good – I need to do all I can before tax season, which is already looming over me.

Oh, and I need to read the rest of the Apex Magazine Muslim/Arab issue (I loved, loved, loved the El-Mohtar,) the Toblar and the Daly at Fantasy Magazine, and some Electric Velocipide, too, in case they ever open again to submissions. I’m not sure if anything I have will fit there – which is why I need to read them.

Cute, aren’t they? The difference in the size of their heads is hilarious to me. John made Buddy sit next to the cat, who got up and left right after he snapped the picture. They’ve both been so sweet lately – aside from the cat trying to escape for freedom every time we open the front door, which is the only obstacle from sweet killing of birds and feline HIV. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I warn him of the latter, it never sinks into his cat brain. He just wants to kill, kill, kill.

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