stuff to read


Am I back? Not sure. I’ve been meaning to hop on here forever, but don’t I always? Maybe I can work myself back up to semi-regular posting, little by little. Although I’m in the throes of tax season at work, and at home, kept so completely busy by an almost 8-month-old, which doesn’t even make sense to me. Wasn’t I just pregnant? How is she this old?

happy

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Anyway, everything seems to be a blur. Amazing, but a blur none the less. I’m trying to take as many pictures and videos as I can, because she’s probably going to be in college before I realize it.

My first Clarion short story to be published (not the one I expected, either) appears in Innsmouth Free Press Issue 12! The issue can be purchased here, and will be out on the website in a few days. This story is, well, let’s call it strongly PG-13 rated, so not one I’m likely to be talking about much on Facebook. I’m very glad it found a home, and a good one.

What else? It’s sunny outside, this Valentine’s Day, and I’d love more than anything to go for a run. Instead, I’ll bill some tax returns! Whoo!

It’s been so long, and unfortunate, too, as I really would love to be prolific with blog entries. It’s interesting how we’ve finally found a schedule at home, now, but it does little to allow for extra time, even writing. I know that will come back as Baby gets older, and when breastfeeding is no longer a marathoning extravaganza because there will be too many toys and dogs and cats to play with, and then suddenly bed. So until then, I’ve come to find peace in this being my life right now – at her beck and call, for as long as she needs me. It’s really quite exciting, because every day there’s something brand new that happens. People say “oh, they grow up so fast,” and wow, nobody was kidding. Only yesterday she had scrawny little limbs and big solemn eyes and today she’s plump and holding her head up for ten minutes during tummy time and squealing at her mobile. Yesterday she actually grabbed for a toy while on her belly. I’ve never been so proud.

16 weeks old!

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So as sad as I am about how quickly she’s growing, I’m also thrilled … it makes me feel so unbelievably successful. And at the same time, it’s helping me become ready to pick up Harvester again – the lack of writing time has somehow made the plot churn in my brain (in a motivating way). Plus, I’ve been craving books more, and taking more chances on reading things I’m not sure I’ll like. Based on all that, I am fairly confident I can make the book work, which is very exciting.

In other news, I’ve decided to step down from Lightspeed Magazine. It’s been a terrific two + years, and I’ve learned more than I could even describe and met some truly lovely people.

What else? Finished The Passage, which started off strong, and then for me went limp about halfway through, dropping any emotional resonation. Read the third Mira Grant novel, the first half being new and entertaining, and the second half containing just about the same content as the first two books and all kinds of dancing around the main relationship instead of letting us actually experience it. Just started the new Datlow/Windling anthology, After …. and I hope its everything it promises to be.

And one last thing – I’ve been trying desperately not to comment on too many “Go Romney” posts I see on Facebook by my friends… and John keeps telling me to not mix friends and politics. But if you can’t, then who can you speak about politics to? I guess what it comes down to is that I cannot understand how ANY woman would vote for Romney, given what he and Ryan have said/claimed/voted for in the past. This is even before the “Binders Full of Women” thing the other day; that was just a dumb comment he made while floundering to stand up to Obama. And so I see these smart women choosing to (proudly!) vote for a man who does not empower women, who wants to control their reproductive rights (and frankly, their HEALTH), and who would rather give all the power to men than dole it out equally. (And don’t even get me STARTED on the environmental issues…) So yes, there we go. If you’re a woman, you shouldn’t be voting for Romney, not with his policies. If you care at all about the future of our environment, the same. And Obama isn’t perfect (who is?) but at least he’s aware of those two things. Which are really the most important to me, I suppose.

John says we’re moving to Canada if Romney gets elected…I suppose we’ll see what happens in 3 weeks.

Quickest blog entry ever today, before I miss another week from drowning in taxes. Six more weeks of this.

Broke 60k on Harvester the book! Not without fighting myself over lack of inspiration (what the hell happens next? I’ve got the larger picture, but the smaller?) and the predictable how-on-earth-did-I-think-I-could-ever-ever-ever-pull-this-off chanting in my head nearly every morning. And the entirety of every day when I think about all the short stories I’m not writing in order to get the first draft of this book done. And the ever-present nausea, which continues to be an issue even six months into this baby-carrying thing. And I miss running so much. Onward ho!

Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl came out yesterday, and I read Chapter 1 last night. I’m going to try and savor this experience as best possible.

The really big news is that John’s iPhone game is out! Carl the Spider, now on the app store.

Carl

I’m playing through the game again since its official release, as the testing phase is off my phone. I’m loving the progression from beginning to more advanced levels, as well as trying to catch all the ladybugs (although I’m dreading the ice spikes in the Winterlands, which seriously give me heart palpitations). John is working on the first update, which will let the player see the tutorial any time they want/need to; I’m lucky in that I’ve learned how to play as he’s coded the game. That damned double jump is tricky, and is absolutely key to getting through the levels. Oh, and he’s got the iPad version coming up, with the art in retina mode (I think I said that right?), and a whole new level set to build – the Firelands. I’m most excited for that.

Oh, and the youtube video, in case you need any more convincing. Go on, buy it!

We’re going to bite the bullet and see John Carter this weekend. I know, I know. Could regret it. But we’ve both agreed to enjoy it for what it is. Plus, I’m going to need some fun since I’ll likely be at work a good deal of Saturday.

Adios, for now!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on short story writing versus noveling, but I’ll save that for another day, perhaps when I’m done with this book.

Speaking of the book, Harvester/Alchemist/Heloise Book 1 reached 52k this week, although not because I added thousands of new words. While I did some, I also managed to rehab the outline even further, and work in some of the chapters I’d cut out from before, having thought them unusable. It sort of feels like cheating, but given that they fit now, I’m okay with that.

And now I’m very, very close to having no other “safety net” words, and only dozens of blank pages before me. That’s actually been the scary part of this week – dealing the crap my mind throws at me to intimidate me, specifically regarding the Julian chapters and the wrong turns I may potentially take (or have already taken and have yet to realize). What if I don’t even need his point of view? What if I cannot pull off a dual point of view? What if I can’t do the political thing and keep him occupied until he turns into crazy socialist dictator? Far too many what-ifs going on here … and that was this week.

In the chapters to be written/cleaned up this next week, the alloy is going to succeed, and both Heloise and Julian are going to start thinking much, much bigger. Or at least, Julian will, and conniving will become his middle name.

Other super exciting news – John sent Carl the Spider off to Apple! He should hear back in a few days and then it will be up on the App store.

Honestly, I still have a few levels to beat. I think I’ve made it through the Grasslands, the entire first level set, but some of the Winterlands levels are unrelenting. For this impatient player, the result is a lot of yelling and saying words that I probably shouldn’t type, and trying not to throw my phone every time I go too fast and impale Carl on an ice spike. Yet I keep trying, since the levels are just so neat.

I started reading Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City this week. Truthfully, the book has sat on my floor for two months given the hideous large print and how irritating I find it to read. But I pulled it out on Tuesday and within the first page, forgot about the size of the words. While I’m not usually much for noir and am mostly over present tense, neither of things mattered to me once I started reading, and I’m utterly floored at the color of the book. Not so much of Zoo City itself, but of Beukes’ fresh narrative and how she colors even the simplest of actions.

Clarion pal Brooke Bolander has a story up at Strange Horizons this month, one that caused quite a bit of discussion amidst our class; another unique tale well worth the read.

Work continues to be madness – but only seven more weeks of tax season left!

Oh, and this? SO EXCITED FOR IT.

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.

Title brought to you by one of my favorite Nine Inch Nails songs from the album The Fragile. I listened to this song on repeat after Mom died. Well, the whole album, really.

My little sister had her first kickboxing match on Saturday. I’m so proud of her, and holy shit does she have a strong right hook. Even if the other girl plays a little dirty about a minute into this first round. Way to go, Krista! (She’s in the pink and black shorts.)

Story idea of the day? Singularity. When it’s not explained. I’ve had that on the brain for a few weeks now after reading this very clever story that danced around the idea without tapping too much into the science of it, and I loved it. Maybe something will come of that in my own writing.

Story to read for the day? “Substitution,” by my terrific friend Brooke Wonders, possibly one of the most ridiculously brainy people I’ve ever met. (The ONLY thing I can possibly out-knowledge her in is short story markets and maybe classical music, if I’m lucky.) This gorgeous tale came out in Daily Science Fiction this month, and is mixed with equal parts lyricism, intelligence, and that uncomfortable emotive note at the end that left me still thinking about it two weeks after my first read. I cannot wait for the day when I can get my hands on Brooke’s first short story collection; the creepy and surreal resonance of her writing is exactly the sort of thing I look for.

I finally finished the beast of a revision of “North like a Star,” my first-week story at Clarion. Cleaned up the drama, but it still needs a good hack and slash, says my first non-Clarion reader, of which I agree. Too many conflicts have overtaken the main inciting incident, so if I can narrow out 3 or so of those and figure out a new reason for why Bellis gets to the factory, the problem might be solved. And, keep the draft under 5k – right now its pushing 6,500 words. The downside is that I despise the story (after two months of trying to get through this revision), so maybe if I put it away for awhile, some of that will take care of itself? Which means its time to pull out Harvester the novel (again – it seems to fluctuate) or write something new; I think I’ve burnt out my revision momentum for awhile.

What I’d really like is to write a flash. Something brief and sweet or sharp, and clever. A palette-wetting read. A palette-wetting write, so I’m up to tackle longer things again, instead if feeling burnt out.

Article of the day? I avoid politics on Facebook and Twitter as much as I can, simply because while I believe as strongly as the next person, there’s no way to convince anyone to change their point of view in a medium like that, especially when I grew up in a state like South Dakota and now live in Oklahoma – I am the minority amidst my peers in both states. But here’s a link to the article more than worth reading; not to pit one political party above another (which the author gets a little dramatic about – I think his point is made without needing to be so excessive?) but because of the truth in it, not the least being our troops are out of Iraq, health care reform has begun (I haven’t yet met one person opposing this who has been personally affected by it or lack of it – of which now John and I can relate), gay rights in the military, and a push to fix the economy, all done against opposition and hate, despite proclaiming to have the same religious beliefs (which honestly baffles me). Anyway, I found the article very encouraging, and lately, I’ve felt hopeful about the state of our country.

What I’d really like for Christmas is a Caribbean vacation. Instead, we’re staying home, and John’s family is coming over for mimosas and brunch. Then, we’ll likely join the rest of the city at the movie theater? We’ll see – happy Holidays to all!

Oh, I do have a blog.

In the last month (and in no particular order), I’ve had two coworkers quit, another replacement hired only to quit three days later, job responsibilities increase, my father get remarried, multiple people in my life diagnosed with ugly things like cancer, and more news that will eventually get shared, time permitting. It’s not been an easy nor pleasant November, but now its December, and I love the cold(er) weather and hope we get snow this afternoon. And that things eventually become sunny and lovely again, even in winter.

But the real reason for this update – some excellent fiction.

Chris Stabback, a fellow Clarionaut from this last year, published a story in Clarkesworld which is up today. Gave me chills when I first read it, and inspired me. Nothing is better than a story that inspires you to write one of your own.

Caitlyn R. Kiernan’s collection Two Worlds and In Between has as few remaining collections left on Amazon (I’d bought mine directly from Subterranean Press). This is hands down the best collection I’ve ever read – and considering that I own nearly as many anthologies as books, that’s a pretty lofty statement. And, it’s her early work. But it’s a must-have, in addition to being a stunning hardback book.

I’d also be amiss not to mention the Lightspeed Year One book, also available, which is also quite gorgeous, and full of excellent reads – both originals from Lightspeed and reprints from our first year. I’m very pleased with it, as it well represents all the work we’ve done there and the great words that have been shared!

More soon – happy holidays!

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