Nellie


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.

A quick post before I decide there’s too many other things to do, which has been my state of mind for the last week. I sit here smelling of sunscreen and the outdoors, having just come in from a run with the puppy. She loved every bit of it (with the exception of storm drains, which frighten her), while I cannot say the same for myself , as there’s been too many cookies and not enough runs lately. But hopefully that will change with the cooler weather.

One of my first short stories, “The Bringing Moon,” was just published in the new magazine “The Colored Lens,” and the first e-book is available here. I’m so happy it found a home – that story was always special to me, inspired by my relationship with my little sister when we were much, much younger.

I have about four critiques to give, and my own words for today, so this will be short. Somehow, it’s been more do-able to tackle Harvester the book rather than the eight stories I have to revise/rewrite, both from Clarion and earlier. Usually I have such a hard time writing new stuff – it’s the revision process I love. But not right now, when I struggle to find motivation and encouragement amidst the slim statistics of markets and the knowledge that I still have so unbelievably far to go.

Clarion 2012 instructors have been announced: Jeffrey Ford, Marjorie Liu, Ted Chiang, Walter Jon Williams, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. No reason not to apply – it’s so worth it. There’s so much I’ve intended to blog about regarding Clarion – the 4 hours of critting and class in the mornings, the 4-6 hours of writing the story for the week in the afternoon (solitary, for me – I cannot write with other people in the same room), the evenings of more critting/writing/socializing, the pros, the cons, the inbetweens, and everything I learned, but I’m still letting it all sink in. Regular life is again taking over, although I spent most of August and September feeling sad that I no longer had the communion of my Clarion class, nor those long, beautiful uninterrupted hours to write. Now I have to get up at 5 am or earlier if I’m going to get a good chunk of writing in, which is as hard as it sounds. But how much I have learned, which is invaluable, and I wouldn’t trade that even for the disappointment of it all ending.

And now for the next step, and the next.

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.

>On my mind to write about: bread and soup and cookies and flashes versus short stories (go read K.K. Rusch’s “The Observer” up at Lightspeed to see an amazing example of how best to use 1500-ish words) and emotion in stories and the short story markets and my thoughts on anthologies and the names that sell them and so much more. But somehow, the last few weeks have flown by despite the grief around Mom’s birthday and the 1-year anniversary of Grandma’s passing the day after. Putting my somewhat fragile-ish thoughts up here seemed ludicrous, not to mention somewhat silly considering the frantic puppy energy at home all the time.

Damn cute, isn’t she? (Although not related to the aforementioned frantic energy.) And Buddy doesn’t mind her anymore, for the most part. She also runs to him when she’s in trouble (which is far more often than it should be, considering the fact that she was supposed to be mostly potty-trained). And, she’s a bit of a bully at the dog park; she wants to be in charge and shows all the other dogs that, even the year-old spotted Great Dane there last week, who was as large as a Shetland pony. I’d like to get her (Nellie, not the GD) to sit still long enough to weigh, so we can see exactly how much she’s grown.

She’s taking refuge with Buddy, here, whose eyes are especially bloodshot in this photo. It’s normal for him, the later the hour grows.

Tonight we’re going to put ribbons on all three of the animals and force them to sit for pictures. Kitty won’t like it a bit. Poor Kitty – I was worried that Buddy might get less attention when Nellie joined us, but I think Kitty has been impacted the most, for the worst.

I finished a new short today – it’s still very raw, and even ugly. The filling hasn’t filled in yet. But it’s exciting nonetheless, and I have decided not to pressure myself with this one. I know what I want it to be, and it may take some time to fill out, and that’s okay. In some cases, forcing oneself through the muck is a good idea, but with this story, that won’t work, and I don’t want to overdo it, or frustrate myself more than necessary.

And a few other subs seem to have made it through the slush readers, which makes me hopeful. Perhaps there will be some good news in the next few weeks, or maybe come January.

In the meantime, I’m sacked with crits to do, and “The Harvester” short (as opposed to the Harvester book, which is about 40k long presently, and on hold) will be an Editor’s Choice on OWW, going up on the 20th. Meaning more feedback, which I have mixed feelings about, considering it’s mostly what I want it to be already, conflicting opinions or not. (Because everyone has either loved it passionately, or had serious problems with it. It seems to be an all or nothing piece.)

And John gave me a splendid slow cooker as an early Christmas present (like Nellie). We had the most AMAZING pork ribs last night. Amazing, amazing. Now I have no more excuses to not go to the gym after work (too tired, too tired to make dinner, blah, blah, blah) – so I did last night, and got my ass handed to me in an iron kickboxing class. But wow, is it good for the frustration/aggression/anything you need to get out. Krista’s been telling me this for months, and I finally got it.

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