Sunday, December 30, 2007

My New Favorite Song

"Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven. Enjoy it, peeps.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post #300

Aren't you glad you're here for this momentous occasion?

On the writing front: back to the grind today after taking some time off around the holidays. Over 600 words on the antho short story. I think I've finally stumbled onto the right idea. Now it's just a matter of putting it on paper and getting the tone right. It feels good to be back in the saddle. After this story is done--I'd like to have a rough draft done this week--I'll work on a story for the market I posted about a few days ago. That one sounds like a lot of fun and I've already got a good idea for that. After that I'll work on a pirate short story for yet another anthology I've been invited too. Yes, you read that right--I've been asked to submit a story for the next Blue Kingdoms anthology. It's not due until March, so I've got plenty of time. Good thing, too, because I don't have a good idea yet. Of course, between all this is work on the YA book Through the Portal. I've got plenty to keep me busy.

Oh, good news about the Blue Kingdoms anthologies. Walkabout Press has been working hard to make the books available on Amazon.com. If all goes well, you'll be able to buy a copy of your very own over the Internet after the first of the year. This is such good news for everyone involved. It'll bring much-needed exposure to the Blue Kingdoms world and the authors that have gotten to explore it, not to mention Walkabout Press. I'll keep you all posted about that development.

Oh, yeah, I got another agent rejection today. Never fear. I'm too busy writing to worry about it much.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my blogland peeps. Stay safe and sane, and I'll see you all on the flip side.

I Am Legend--movie review

Ken and I saw I Am Legend on Friday Night. It was ... good. Will Smith did an excellent job protraying a man on the verge of insanity. The special effects were cool; the vampiric humans were scary and the deserted New York was impressive. There were a few themes that weren't fully developed (I'm told they were in the book) and there was a time-shifting method of story-telling that wasn't that effective. My vote: go see it, but don't pay full price.


The movie was good, but our theater experience sucked. For one thing, we saw a 7:00 p.m. showing, which was probably our first mistake. Our second mistake was not moving when the frat brothers behind us couldn't shut up during the previews. The dudes laughed and heckled their way through the movie, which made it hard to be as emotionally wrenched as I wanted to be during a few painful/suspenceful scenes. Also, a few girls in front of us kept saying things like "Oh my gosh, oh gosh, that did not just happen," during tense scenes. It took all my will not to either strangle them or yell at them. Who raised these people to not shut up in a movie theater?!? I want to see several movies in the coming weeks--Charlie Wilson's War and National Treasure among them--but now I'm rethinking it. If we do go, it'll be at 4:00 p.m. on a Wednesday.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Market gem

Here's something from CatCurious press:

There are two sides to every story...And we here at CatsCurious Press think that our readers deserve to read BOTH!A Call for Submissions... of the Faery Taile Kynde!CatsCurious Press will open to submissions starting January 1, 2008 for all well-written, humorous fairy tale re-tellings! But there's a catch -- these stories must be written from ONE POV only... the protagonist's.Why would we be so strict, you ask? Because Jim C. Hines, author of 'Goblin Quest', 'Golblin War' and 'Goblin Hero' has already gotten on board to write a counterpoint story! That's right -- once I have plowed my way through the slush, Jim will review my favorite stories and then choose ONE from among them to write a counterpoint to.The end result will be a double-sided book with two covers (one featuring artwork for Jim's story, the other featuring artwork to coincide with the protagonist's point of view). Stories will be printed upside-down from one another -- flip the book over, and start fresh from the top! I can't wait to see the end result!Here are the requirements:Story length must be between 5000 and 10,000 wordsStories must be single POV, from the protagonist's point of viewStories must be humorousStories must appeal to a broad range of folks -- from twelve years old to adult (so no raunchy humor, please!)Submission period: January 1st, 2008 to midnight March 31st, 2008Any fairy tale is fair game!The payment? $.05 per word (up to $500 maximum) and seeing your name next to Jim C. Hines'!


Come on, you know you want to give it a shot. I know I am.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time for you to shout out, peeps.

Time for a little meme cribbage:

I know very little about some of the people that read my blog. Some people I know relatively well. (Some I know too well. You know who you are.) I read your journals, or we have something else in common and we chat occasionally. Some of you I hardly know at all. Perhaps you lurk, for whatever reason. But you visit and I thank you for your interest in my words.But here's a thought: why not take this opportunity to tell me a little something about yourself. Any old thing at all. Just so the next time I see your name I can say: "Ah, there's so and so...they listen in rapture to the love-music of she-turnips." I might feel compelled to mock your musical taste, but I'll certainly remember you.I'd love it if every single person who reads would do this. Yes, even you people who I know really well. Then post this in your own journal and see what gems of knowledge appear.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

Just finished this book last night. I've been a fan of Dean Koontz since his "recombinant DNA" sci-fi/horror days. He's mellowed out in the past ten years or so, and this book is a reflection of that. While not a trilogy, Brother Odd is the third book featuring Odd Thomas. Odd can see dead people, and that's just as much of a pain in the ass as you'd imagine. He's had a hard time recovering from a horrific event (detailed in the first book, Odd Thomas) and so has escaped to a monastery to find peace. Several of the monks have colorful pasts (one is even a former mafioso). The nuns are sly as foxes. And someone or something means to harm them all. In the course of events, the very nature of God and creation are put in question.

I loved Odd Thomas--the book and the character refused to leave my head for several days. I read Forever Odd, the second book in the series, but it didn't leave much of an impression on me one way or the other. I fear that Brother Odd will be the same way. The idea had potential, and if the story had featured any other protagonist, I probably would have really enjoyed it. For me, the first book in the series was so amazing and heart-wrenching and beautifully simple that the others just can't compete. Unfair? Perhaps. Will it keep me from reading another book with the same character. Probably not. I'll keep chasing perfection.

Housekeeping

One more rejection for SW.

Note that I've changed the comment settings. While I still don't allow anonymous comments, I do allow "openID" comments, which means you can use your livejournal url to comment here. I'm not sure how it works, but it seems pretty flashy-dashy to me. Give it a whirl, won't you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas memories

1. Ken asked me to marry him on Christmas Day, so that's obviously my favorite. We were living together at the time, and so it was our first post-college Christmas. We opened gifts before eating a nice breakfast of french toast, sausage, and orange juice. As I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, Ken said, "Hey, Santa left you another gift." I walked into the living room to find a little Precious Moments birthstone chest. I opened it and there was the ring. I looked at it for awhile and finally Ken said, "It's an engagement ring." That broke my amazement enough for me to tell him yes.

2. Decorating sugar cookies with mom and dad. Dad would bake them, mom and I would decorate them. Dad didn't usually want any part of the decorating business but he'd watch. He'd also purposely burn the last batch so he'd have cookies to dunk in coffee. His sugar cookies were of the puffy soft variety, and I loved them. I need to ask him for that recipe; somehow I don't have it.

3. Stealing Christmas lights. This would be when I was a teenage houligan, probably around 14 or 15. Remember the old-school lights that if one bulb burned out, the whole string shut off? Well, a group of us walked around town and pulled one light off of random strands of lights. At least, I pulled them out; I figured it'd be easier for the owners to find the reason their lights went out. One member of the party only loosened one light so the homeowner would have to twist every light to find the defective one. Ah, youth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Planetary alignment question

Is Jupiter in retrograde Capricorn or something? Okay, I have no idea what that meant, but listen to my day.

First thing this morning--I'm talkin' 7 a.m.--I had a periodontist appointment. I have a 12 mm pocket behind my distal #14 molar, and it had to be scraped clean and stitched down so the gum could reattach to my tooth. Good times. I told the doc I didn't need Darvecet and would just use ibuprofen. He gave me some amoxicillin and special mouthwash and sent me on my way.

So I finally get to work a little after 8 a.m. We had our computer upgrade yesterday and today was the first day for most people to work on the actual live system. Sure, we'd been working on the test side for months but it's just different when you're actually live. I'm the Superuser for Micro, and so it was pretty important that I be there. Then around 9 a.m. I got a phone call from Ken--when he started his car the cabin filled with smoke and so he didn't want to drive it. Could I take a long lunch so we could car shop? I got very lucky because we had extra people on hand for the upgrade and so I was able to leave work around 10 a.m. Ken drove a Saturn Vue, then we had lunch ....

.... where I tried to eat chunky soup in a bread bowl. No dice. I ate the soup without chewing and passed off the bread bowl to Ken. Mouth pain at a definite peak, so I popped more ibuprofen before we hit another car dealership ...

... where we spent four hours looking at two cars. The dealer let Ken bring home a Hyundai Sante Fe for the night. Ken's leaning towards the Saturn, but at least this way he'll have a way to get to work tomorrow.

When we got home, I found another agent rejection in my mailbox.

So. My mouth hurts bad enough that I can't eat solid food, we have to buy a car, I didn't get to the gym tonight, and I haven't written anything in three days. All I want to do is curl up under a blanket and suck on a piece of cake.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blatant commercial rip-offery

Three collapsable cat carriers: $36
Three rabies vaccination tags: $30
Three rabies and distemper vaccinations, plus distemper boosters and well-kitty visits: $159
One peed- and pooped-in collapsable cat carrier: Free
One cat scratch: Free
Three kitties with a clean bill of health: Priceless

A side note: Moonshine is a petite 6.25 pound kitty, but she is ALL CLAW. Shove her in a carrier at your own peril.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Milestone

I reached 10,000 words on the WIP tonight. Last night a funeral scene tried to make me stumble, but tonight I owned it. That whimper you hear? That's the scene begging for mercy.

Lifted weights, too. If I can walk tomorrow I'll be a happy girl.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Spirit





I had a moment of sadness when I hung up the stockings because I had to leave Bailey's in the crate. So I hung up the fish-shaped stocking instead. It made me feel a teensy bit better.
Since Ken and I are doing the whole "Biggest Loser" business at the gym, the cookies are going to work tomorrow. Ken doesn't like sugar cookies and the fun for me is decorating them, so it's all good. Note that I gave the gingerbread man with a broken leg a little bit of red-icing blood.

New post ...

at the Writer's symposium. Go clicky the linky on the left.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

accomplished

It's only 2 p.m. and I've already been to the gym, mailed Christmas cards, and survived the grocery store. I say "survived" because we're at the beginning of an ice storm the place was nuts. I didn't see any fights break out or anything, but I think I personally bumped into about 20 people. I don't know why everyone was there--yeah, we've got an ice storm coming, but it's going to be 52 degrees tomorrow. It's all going to melt, people!

Ken and I were at the grocery store because we've joined a "biggest loser" program at our gym. This morning we got weighed and measured, which motivated us to buy lots of fruits and veggies and fiberous cereals. I'm actually pretty jazzed about it. Between working out and writing and reading and internetting, I won't have time for much else. But let's face it, what else do you need?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Raise the roof!

Got a request for a partial tonight. Score another for the writer!

Monday, November 26, 2007

What the ...

How the hell did it get to be almost December already? I don't get it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

funk

Today I feel blah. I wrote 600 words on the WIP and tried to start the anthology story, but I'm just not feelin' it. I had intended to put up the Christmas tree tonight, but I'm not feeling that, either. Christmas cards? Meh. Laundry? Ditto.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Another rejection ...

But the zoduko website is down and so I can't update the meter. Ah, well. I'm not that down about it, though; the editor said the tale was well-written and that I should consider her again. You can bet I will. However, I fear this editor has seen most of my shorts I have out in circulation. Humph.

It just occured to me I should write a few shorts set in my Stormy Weather world. For one thing, it might be fun to explore different aspects of the world; for another, it'd be cool to have a few stories in circulation if the book actually ever sees the light of day. A few of the stories that are circulating now are set in my Gemstone Prophecy world, and they were a lot of fun to write.

So, a list of current and future projects:
Through the Portal
Anthology short story
One or two shorts set in SW world


I've got a lot to keep me busy. Sheesh. It would be so great to do this full-time. Sure, I'd probably be broke, but the more you write the more ideas you get, so I'd always be busy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

17.5%

7,000 words.

That meter won't be moving tomorrow. Going back home to see dad and then eat a belated Thanksgiving with mom and her husband. I'm bringing the pumpkin bars. I feel fat already.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, peeps

A time for reflection before I head off to the gym. I'm thankful for:
My husband, who keeps me sane.
My job, because I'm never bored and the people are cool.
My middle-class lifestyle. I grew up poor, so the idea that I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and can buy whatever we need without thinking about it too hard is absolutely wonderful. Note I didn't say "want." It's nice to want things.
My writing. Every day I learn something new; every story I produce is better than that last.
The blogging community. You guys keep my chin up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It must be the glue

What is it about sealing the envelope on an agent submission that makes the contents instantly suck?

Ah, hell. Word on the street is this agent responds quickly to partials. I'll know soon enough.

Nine hundred words today on Through the Portal. I think they all sucked, too.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This is Kelly's brain on adrenaline.

Tonight, I got an invitation for an anthology and a request for a partial for Stormy Weather. I am so frickin' excited I can barely think. Of course, the agent could reject me and the story might not ultimately be accepted, but tonight I'm on cloudy nine. Past that. Cloud fifty-three.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oh, yeah, baby

Nine hundred words today, as well as a critique and laundry and lounge time. I still have a few hours left to play Guitar Hero III and watch a movie! Woot. This story is just frickin' flowing from my fingertips--for now at least--and I'm riding the wave while it lasts.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sign me up!

$4140.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth.

Talk Dirty to me ...

Or not. Maybe it's best to keep quiet sometimes.

Courtesy of my husband Ken. He's got a blog now over at krswails.livejournal.com. Go on over and give him trouble.

Leaps and bounds

1700 words today. Better yet, I feel pretty good about them. I wrote a little bit of sibling rivalry and angst followed by a torrid hook-up session in a locker room. Next up: death and mayham. Go me!


So I've been in a funk lately about all my rejections. One of the writers I met at WFC offered to take a look at Stormy Weather, so I sent it off. I expected her to take a week or so with the critique, but she got back to me within 24 hours. She loved it, had lots of good things to say about it, and said the first chapter needed work. I agreed with that; it's just I've re-written the first chapter three zillion times (at least, it feels that way; it's actually more like four or five times) and I can't figure out why I can't get it right. Anyhow, I believe her exact words were "You're no amateur" and so my ego got a much needed boost.

bloggin' from panera

So I'm writing from a bakery/coffeeshop this morning. I'm surrounded by hazelnut coffee, retirees, and free wi-fi. We'll see how many words I produce before I pick Ken up for lunch.

Ah, yes, lunch. Today we're car-shopping for Ken during his lunch hour. His Contour is close to biting the dust, so we're going to give a few cars a spin and see what he likes. We're checking out Saturn and possibly Nissan or Honda. Probably more shopping will ensue over the weekend. I'm all about getting a hybrid but Ken's wavering on a hybrid, a two-seater, or a truck. We really don't need another sedan so really, he can get whatever the heck he wants. He mentioned a Mustang but I think he's too young for his mid-life crisis car.

ETA: Yeah, baby, just wrote 900 words. Maybe I should come back to Panera after lunch ...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Support the WGA

A great post on the Hollywood writer's strike.

*sigh*

Just received a rejection e-mail from the agent that had requested the partial.

It's pissing rain outside.

I want to stay home, bake a cake, snuggle under the covers, and watch television all night. But, no. Tonight I will go to the gym. And then I'll shower, bake a cake, sunggle under the covers, and watch television all night. How I Met Your Mother, Chuck, and Heroes, here I come.

I'm up to 2000 words on TtP. I'm nearly done with the first chapter. It's actually coming along rather nicely.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wiscon 2008

So, I went to make my reservations for WisCon in Madison, Wisconson, tonight, and the conference hotel is already full! So I'm making an internet shout-out: Anyone have an extra room? It's probably to soon to know for sure ... but if someone out there can help me out, that'd be great.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sometimes efficiency sucks

You know what the worst thing about sending out a bajillion agent queries at once? You get four rejections in one day.

Talk about a funk. Buying new nail polish is not going to cut it tonight.

I could talk about how the current WIP is up to 1500 words (after two writing sessions!) but not even that is enought to cheer me up.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Return of the SASE

Got a form rejection from an agent a few days ago. No worries.

Tonight I begin the Fabulous New Book. Starting is the scariest part.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Reporting live from her living room ...

Hey, everyone! Back in the comfy environs of Illinois. Now, without further ado ... the ubiquitous Con Report.



Wednesday

Ken and I left town around 11:00. We were in no hurry since we weren't driving to Saratoga but to Niagara Falls, Ontario the first night. We rented a car and a GPS system to make the trip easier. Our GPS's voice was male with an Australian accent, so we named him Rusty after Russell Crowe. (Aside for Bridget: Rusty completely kicks Betty's ass even though he insisted on driving through Indy instead of around.) The drive was uneventful except for one place about 20 miles from our house. It's a strange Bermuda-triangle type area that inexplicably has fatal accidents once every two weeks or so. Some dumb-fuck 80 year-old decided it'd be a good time to drive a camper and nearly drove us off the interstate. So of course I'm jumpy the entire rest of the day (Oh!! Watch that merger! He might come within 20 yards of us!) which made Ken happy, let me tell ya. We arrived in Canada around 10:30 p.m. The border guard was bored and gave me and Ken grief about not having passports or birth certificates (you don't need those to cross the border by car until February 1, 2008, by the way). I know it's their job to ask questions and be suspicious (You're from Illinois and you're going to New York. Why are you coming into Canada? Just sightseeing? Really?) but it still made me feel like a criminal. He let us go after harassing us for a bit and we made it to the hotel by the falls without incident. Awesome, awesome hotel. If you go to the falls, stay at the Embassy Suites. We had two nice-sized rooms, a bad-ass jacuzzi, two sinks, and a separate room for the toilet and shower. We made it in time to secure our complimentary bar drinks; Ken had a Molson and I had a mediocre Riesling. Then, sleep.



Thursday

After we woke up, got cleaned up, and secured some breakfast, Ken and I explored Niagara Falls. It was chilly but sunny, and we got some great pictures. The upshot was that there were no crowds, so we were able to stand right by the fence and linger without guilt. The area seems like it's a good tourist destination smack in the middle of the boonies; we discussed vacationing there with another couple for a few days. I wouldn't want to spend a whole week or anything, but a long weekend would provide ample opportunity to shop and explore the whole area and gamble at the casino without feeling bored. We left Canada at around noon, and after a mild interrogation at the border were I had a moment's panic because I almost forgot where I was born, we were on our way.



The drive to Saratoga was enlightening for two reasons: New York State's completely rational approach to tolls and rest stops. On the Google directions I noted we had toll roads and so I did what any Illinoisan would do: I grabbed a metric ton of change and put it in the center console. You see, in Chicago, if you don't have an E-Z pass, you'll pay 75 cents, drive a few miles, pay 40 cents, drive a few more, pay 65 cents, etc. Not so in New York. You go through the toll at the beginning of the interstate. They give you a card with the pay rate for every exit. When you get off the interstate, you pay the rate based on when you got on the interstate. It's a very logical and sane system that Chicago could employ. Which brings us to the rest stops: they're huge and beautiful! Each one is a big building with two to four fast-food restaurants, huge bathrooms, and a gift shop. There's also a gas station at each one. Quite lovely.



Once we arrived in Saratoga, we checked into the second hotel of the trip and then drove to the convention center. We immediately ran into fellow writer-peeps and swept them away for dinner at an Italian Bistro across the street. After dinner we hit the Zombies Love Brains party where we ran into to more people we knew. We secured a prime location (next to the cooler of free beer and the air conditioner) and sat and laughed and met new people. One such person was Patricia Bray. She was one of the hostesses and had secured a gross of the coolest metal lizard-shaped bottle openers. Oh, yeah, don't worry; one of those babies came home with me. Ken and I left the parties well before they shut them down and headed to bed.



Friday

First thing we checked out of the second hotel and into the third hotel of the trip. This was the conference hotel, so it was much more convenient and all that. We inadvertently stood up a group of people for breakfast; the clock in the second hotel had apparently already been set for Standard Time, and so while we though we'd arrived ridiculously early, we were 20 minutes late. It turned out okay, though, because we ate a local diner, hung out with the Fangs Fur Fey people in the bar, attended a reading, and perused the art room. We saw this awesome print from Todd Lockhart called War of Angels. I would not be surprised if a copy showed up on one of our walls within the next few months. Just gorgeous. Friday night we ate dinner at a pizza place that advertised Chicago-style pizza. I've had lots of Chicago-style pizza in my time, my friends, and let me tell you that Marino's in Saratoga Springs isn't it. Good pizza, don't get me wrong, but Chicago-style it ain't. The crust was too thin by half. After dinner we hit autograph room. I got a few books signed, laughed with some friends, and stalked Scott Lynch, so it was all good. Afterwards we hit the parties. We had a wickedly strong blue drink and more free beer. Let me just tell you that's it's way too easy to drink too much at WFC. I didn't get drunk and do anything stupid, but I saw a few people get awfully close to that line.



Saturday
The atmosphere was way subdued Saturday morning. You could tell that two days of partying had taken its toll on the attendees. Ken and I went to breakfast with the people we had stood up on Friday. We met a few new cool people, ate gravy, and occupied a table for a few hours. We hung out in the lobby, met more people, hit the DAW party, ate dinner at a cool fried-chicken place, and then hit yet more parties. We got invited to a jazz club, and I really wanted to go, but by this point Ken and I were just ... done. Past done, even. Burnt. We headed for bed and took advantage of the extra hour of sleep.

Sunday
Took all morning to say the long train of goodbyes. Bought yet another book ('cause the duffel bag full of freebies wasn't enough, you know) and procured a few more signatures. I bonded with someone over Paula Danziger's work. We left Saratoga around 11:30 and got home around 2:30 in the morning. Remember we slipped an hour back when we crossed over into Illinois and so the trip was around 14 hours or so. Long trip, but we took several breaks and consumed approximately 5 bajillion milligrams of caffeine. Oh, a warning: if you order iced coffee through the drive-through at midnight, they don't screw around. We made it home in one piece and slept it off.

And ... that's it. I leave you with a few choice quotes from the weekend:

"I'm ... intoxicated."
"Do you need to use my lizard?"
"You two should kiss."
"My breath could bleach your hair."

Friday, November 02, 2007

bloggin' from Saratoga

A full con report will follow, I promise. I'm just too pooped now. However, I leave you with this nugget: I totally went all fangirl on Scott Lynch tonight. Yeah, that's right, that Scott Lynch. He was only a little scared, I think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

World Fantasy Convention via Canada

Ken and I are leaving tomorrow a.m. for WFC. Woot! We're driving, so we've decided to spend tomorrow night in Niagara Falls. I'm stoked. We've never been there before, so it'll be cool to see it, even if it's for less than a day. Ken and I haven't ever done an extended car trip together and so I'm looking forward to it. You can learn a lot about a person when you spend 14 hours in a car.

Then it's off to Saratogo to schmooze with the writing peeps. I can't wait to see all my writing buds, drink free beer, and stay up way past my bedtime. I've polished my nails a nice, sedate, professional shade of pale pink. It feels a little odd. Normally I go for the eggplant-navy blue-deep red-almost black shades. Maybe I'll take a bottle of dark polish on the trip with me. A security blanket of sorts, ya know?

Working on a new YA outline. Ken gave me the basic idea; I've toyed with it and changed it and made it my own. I'm going to try to do NaNo this year, so I'll start writing a zillion words a day once we get back from WFC. If I can manage to get 500 or so a day while we're in NY, I'll be a happy camper. I'll be way excited if I can get this novel fully polished and query-ready by my birthday next February. If I get a full first draft done in November, it could totally happen.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

omg omg omg omg

Remember all those queries I sent out last week/early this week? Yeah? One of those babies earned a request for a partial. That's right! Odds are this will turn into a rejection ... but I'm not thinking about that now. Tonight I'm the queen of the frickin' world!!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vampire Academy--book review

I started Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead a few days ago and finished it this evening. I have that groggy, disoriented feeling that comes from spending the entire day in someone else's world. VA is a great read. While none of the revelations in the plot or the characters where much of a surprise, the ride was enjoyable. I particularly liked Mead's breeding rules among her three vampire races. There was lots of angst and romance.

On the downside, it made me feel like my writing doesn't measure up. Perhaps that's my submission angst talking.

Never fear. I feel the need to start outlining my next project. I've decided to shelve the AI/autism idea for now. I still love that premise and want to tackle it in the coming year, but right now I'm liking the whole witch school murder idea. I'm also thinking about reworking the trunk trilogy. So, three projects percolating.

As for the mundane SF short story ... eh. I'm so distracted by WFC and submitting right now that I'm just not motivated. I've started it twice with completely different approaches and nothing is flowing right. At least, not yet. Hopefully inspiration will strike this week.

Today while taking a break from reading I bought a set of four cute little halloween-theme OPI polishes. I'm actually kind of excited to try them out. There's just something about new make-up or nail polish that makes me all girly. Perhaps I'll paint my toenails black and adorn them with spiderwebs while I watch Illinois kick Michigan's ass.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'd kick Han Solo's ass






Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in with? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

The world around you is at war. Fortunately you know how to handle that with the greatest of ease. You are one of the best at what you do and no one needs to tell you that. Now if only the droids could be quiet for five seconds.


Serenity (Firefly)


75%

Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


75%

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


63%

Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


63%

Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)


63%

Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


56%

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


56%

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


50%

SG-1 (Stargate)


38%

FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


38%

Moya (Farscape)


38%

Enterprise D (Star Trek)


38%

Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


38%


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Damn you, Y.

I say that with total love. The other night I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime to finish Cybermancy. I don't know much about the nuts-and-bolts of computers. I know even less about Greek mythology. Mixed together with smart-ass protagonists and familiars, though, I find that I'm okay with being oblivious. The plot's fast-paced but never confusing. There's romance and jealousy and sex. There are plot threads that could wind through the next books; those same threads don't weigh this book down. It's fun. I give it two thumbs up. Oh, and spoiler alert: I'm totally rooting for Tisiphone and Raven to get together.

Two more weeks to WFC. I'm excited and nervous all at once. I hope to send out the first agent queries this weekend. On your best behavior, people; you never know when there could be lurking agents.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Red Seas Under Red Skies--the review

I just finished Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch last night. I have mixed feelings. I loved loved loved The Lies of Locke Lamora so much that I wanted to love this one, too. But ... I didn't love it. I don't know yet if I even liked it. The book follows the same format of the first in that the story is broken up by bits of backstory. As to the actual story ... well. To me it felt disjointed and mish-mash, almost as if Lynch took ideas for two books and smashed them into one. There's lots of trust angst between the two main characters that saddened me. Bottom line: I love the characters and the world, but the plot left me a little cold. I had to force myself to finish it. I have complete faith the next book will be better.

I attribute it to Sophomore Slump. You write and work and polish a book in the hopes it'll get published without a whole lot of though into what comes after. Then blammo! Your book is picked up and they love it so much they want you to write more. Oh, and by the way, it's due in six months. Lots of pressure. Here's hoping that this time next year I'm under such pressure myself.

Next off the To Be Read pile: Cybermancy by Kelly "Y" McCullough.

Slap Countdown

Slap Countdown

Monday, October 08, 2007

Writer's Symposium

The group of authors that present the "Writer's Symposium" programming track at Gen Con Indy have made a blog and an Ezine. I've been invited to be a part of both. Rock! I suppose this means I'm making headway. Anyhoo, go on over to writerssymposium.blogspot.com to check out the blog. It's still really new, but I think once folks get warmed up it'll be awesome.

On the writing front, I've gotten good feedback for the ghost story I submitted for the Blue Kingdoms: Shades and Specters anthology. One of the editors asked if I'd change the title, and I was more than happy to oblige. I suck at titles, and the one I picked sort of fit the story but not as well as it could have. Ken actually thought up the new title, "Accidental Vengence." I love it. Hopefully that antho will be available for order in a few weeks. I'll post a picture of the cover once I have it.

Working on the mundane SF short. It's ... stalled. Not because I don't know what happens next, or I'm struggling with tone, or anything like that. I'm anxious to get back my beta-reader's input on Stormy Weather so I can polish that up and send it out to the world. I know, I know ... back to the grindstone and all that. Can't stop writing new stuff while I wait on the old stuff. I have tomorrow off work so it's nothing but writing and laundry for me. Maybe I need to take the laptop for a field trip and write in a coffee shop or something. The change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.

Calendar says October 8th ...

Yeah, today it was like 90 degrees. Kelly no likey. I want my fall weather, dammit. I want 65 degrees, red-and-orange trees, burnt-leaf smell hanging in the air, spiced cider, and hay rides. Where's the love?

On a completely different topic, if you haven't checked out "Chuck" on NBC, do so immediately. It's on right before Heroes; they also rerun the episodes on USA on Saturdays, I believe. Chuck is a geeky-cute computer guy whose brain accidently gets uploaded with all the CIA, NSA, and FBI secrets. While the action is sometimes a little TV-cheesy, the writing is fun and the characters are great. The casting dudes definitely picked great actors. Two thumbs up.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

For your enjoyment

The perfect evening

Enjoy awesome, sunshine-y late afternoon
Perform hard cycling workout
Sing along with husband to a kick-ass song on the radio during drive home
Bake perfect batch of chocolate-chip walnut cookies
Watch Cubbies play their first game of the post-season

Mix all ingredients together in the stated order.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm tryin' to breathe here, people.

I gave my pseudo-final draft of Stormy Weather to my fantastic non-writer beta reader on Friday night. Hopefully he'll get back to me in a week or so with his comments. Then it's the for-real final polish and then off to agent-land. In the meantime I should really work on agent letters and such today, start getting packets ready with SASE's and all that. You know, busy work that will take my mind off my rejection angst.

Soon, kids. Soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Book club

So I hosted book club this past Monday. The hostess picks the book and in my bid for shameless self-promotion I picked Pandora's Closet. I've known for the past year that I was going to make the book club read a fantasy book, and since my turn came around now, I figured, why not? It actually turned out well. Most of the ladies read about half the stories; almost all of them read a page or two of each. A few stories prompted good discussion. I have to say that hearing what eight regular readers thought of "Cake and Candy" was incredible. It drove home the point that it doesn't matter what the author intends; the reader is going to take from a story what the reader wants to take. A reader brings their own experiences to a story and uses those experiences to take meaning from what they've read. Everyone said they liked it--that's not reliable though, because I don't think anyone would have told me if they didn't--but they were all so passionate about what they took the story to mean that I believed them. It was almost as though we were discussing a stranger's book that we all liked and related to. I recommend the experience to anyone. Was I nervous before hand? Sure. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely.

Progress

Just look at that word-count meter! Woot! I've been working like a demon on Stormy Weather and it's looking pretty decent. I'm letting my fabulous non-writer reader get his hands on it Friday. I can't wait to see what he has to say. He always has great insights and spot-on advice and I know he'll help me bring this puppy home. I'd really like to send it out to agents by October 15th. Okay, so that's like a month past my original deadline but it's not bad considering said deadline was completely arbitrary. And it's before WFC, which is a plus.

This weekend I'll work on the mundane SF story. After Stormy Weather hits the public I'll get to work on the AI and teen witch outlines. If I've learned anything from SW it's that I need an outline, the more specific the better. More work at the front end means less angst on the back end. I'd like to have detailed outlines on both of them hammered out by the end of the year. Preferably by December so I can start putting those bad boys on paper. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I feel like Jodi Meadows

Yesterday I came up with a new idea for a book. Or, more precisely, a shadow of an idea for a book. A YA contemporary murder mystery/fantasy set in an all-girl's school. Or maybe not that last bit. I dunno quite yet. It will require a little bit of research into witchcraft, I think. I picture the feeling as a little goth and a little creepy.

This is jostling for time with the AI/autism idea that's been sprouting roots. That one is firmly an adult novel with lots of political and emotional undertones. Lots of research for that, too.

Do I have an outline for either of these? Of course not, silly. That comes after the mundane sf short. And the pile of research.

I'm nearly giddy. Being excited about two new book ideas rocks!

Happy Anniversary

So me and Ken celebrated 9 years of marriage last night. Sheesh. I've known him for 12 1/2 years, and it simultaneously feels like I just met him and I've known him forever. Where does the time frickin' go? We had a wonderful dinner, rented The Illusionist, and uh ... lounged. Ken got me a new journal and journal case; I got him some new cologne. good day.

I'm hosting bookclub next Monday night. This means I'll spend Sunday cleaning and cooking. I'm actually looking forward to that, in a sick and twisted way. Right now I'm thinking brownies and spinach-artichoke dip. I need a few other things, too. And wine. Mmmm, wine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

RIP

James Rigney, JR (aka Robert Jordan) died at 2:45 p.m. on September the 16th. I'm a little out of sorts. While I've been writing off and on since grade school, one could say that reading RJ's Wheel of Time series pushed me over the edge of "wannabe-someday writer" to "serious-someday writer." Weather or not you liked his books, his impact on the industry is undeniable. He will be missed.

distractions II

Sunday: Mother-in-law dropped in for an impromtu visit

Monday: Cubs game at Wrigley

Tuesday: finish laundry and work out to schlep off food from the past week


Dear sweet baby Jesus, can I please get back to writing?!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

distractions

Two of my bestest friends are in town from L.A. for a long weekend. (See "Bridget and Jimmy" over on the blogroll? Yeah, them.) Lots of socializing but not much writing has been done over the past few days. Me, Ken, Bridget and Jimmy had breakfast food for dinner Thursday night. Bridget, me, and two of our girlfriends had dinner and shopped on Friday night, and last night all of us, plus spouses, attended a mutual friend's wedding. The wedding was in an outdoor garden; the weather was gorgeous. The bride looked beautiful, the groom looked a little shaky, and the service was simple and funny and touching. Good times, but damn if the word-meter hasn't moved. Today I have two goals: get laundry done and edit three more chapters of Stormy Weather. This is actually a fairly tall order, seeing as how I haven't really done laundry for a few weeks. I will prevail, however.

After the edits, the manuscript will head out to a few non-writer readers. A final polish, then it's off to the agents. Then I'll work on a new short story before I start my new novel outline. Everything according to plan ... mawahaahaa.

I'm reading Red Seas under Red Skies by Scott Lynch right now. I'm not that far into it, but so far it's good. Never fear, I'll review it when I'm done.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Lemon Tree

Today I had my first bona-fide book signing. I left the house this morning with around 40 books and came home with 4. That's right, there's a whole lotta Swails verbiage floating around the world. I felt humbled and awed by the amount of support I got from my hometown homies. People whom I hadn't seen in years came out to buy a book, get it signed, and score a hug. I'm still a little giddy and high from the experience. I will say this, though: I seriously have to work on my book-signing skillz. Oh, sure, I can write my name and all that, but trying to come up with something witty for a stranger is tough. It's even hard for family! I have so much respect now for authors who talk with you for 6.3 seconds and then sign something in your book that is perfect.

This is, of course, assuming I sell anything ever again.

On that front, I'm getting the urge to write a short story. You know the AI/autism business I've blathered about recently? Interzone has a "mundane SF" issue coming up and I'm going to take a crack at it. It'd be a nice way to get myself aquainted with some characters, I think. Deadline 10-31-07. Plenty of time, especially since I'm finishing SW before I start on it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A conversation overheard

Where: in the gym lobby
When: around 6:40 p.m.
Who: two college-aged women

Tall lanky sorority girl: Oh my god! How are you?
Short brunette sorority girl: Oh my god, I'm so tired.
TLSG: Oh my god, me too. I just got out of class--
SBSG: I usually have class now but it let out early.
TLSG: That's cool. You get to work out, at least.
SBSG: I totally need it. Hey, I talked to Jane last night.
TLSG: Oh my god. Is she still in New York?
SBSG: She's not in New York; Brad is. She's in New Jersey.
TLSG: But she's still with him, right?
SBSG: They're on "a break." Right now she's with this other guy.
TLSG: Oh my god, Jane and Brad broke up?! Why?
SBSG: I dunno. I think they're gonna get married eventually, but they need to go out with other people to realize no one else can compare.
TLSG: They should totally marry. They're kids would be hot.
SBSG: Totally.
TLSG: But who's she seeing now?
SBSG: This older guy ... actually, he's her boss.
TLSG: Oh my god! So, he's like, old.
SBSG: Well, not old. He's like 30 or something.
TLSG: *silence*
SBSG: Okay, he's old.
Both: laugh hysterically.


It should be noted that no homicides were committed at the gym or its environs last night.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Progress

Okay. No new rejections to report, but take a look at that progress bar. Woot! I've added lots of fleshy bits to the first three chapters and will start on the fourth tomorrow. I've read a few agent websites and blogs in preparation for the query process. Ahh! I'm nervous about the whole business, but oddly enough, writing seems to take the edge off it. Still, I would really like to not fail this time.

I would also like to make another sale, but that's a post for another day.

Now, I'm tired and hungry. A snack, a book, and a bed are in my immediate future.

Friday, August 31, 2007

British curses are cool

Watched Hot Fuzz tonight with Ken. I'll have to watch it a few more times to be sure, but it could be my New Favorite Movie. Good guys win, bad guys lose, there's a cool plot, it's funny, and there's great cursing with british accents to boot. What's not to love? Get thee to a video store and rent it forthwith.

On the writing front, I've thought of a few more teen ansty/plotty scenes to add. After I do that, I need to go through the draft, fill in more flava, flesh out a few plot points ... and then I'll be dangerously close to being done, I think. Dear sweet Jesus, I could actually query agents with this thing soon. I find myself thinking "No, no, it's not ready yet, I just need to do this... and this ... and this over here needs work..." and while all that might be true, at some point it's going to be less about polishing the manuscript and more about my rejection angst. Can't fail if you don't try and all that. I've been working on this book off and on for two years (I first thought of the idea at WFC 2005), doing hardcore writing for the better part of this year, and it would royally suck if it got nowhere. Sure, I've had positive feedback from several people ... ah, hell. I'm getting off the negative train right now. I'm gonna finish Stormy Weather, I'm gonna query dozens of agents, they're gonna fight over me, and one of them's gonna sell this puppy.

And then the question will be: what to write next? I had thought about going back to my "trunk trilogy," but now I think I'll leave those sleeping dogs lie. I'll work on some new short stories to throw out into circulation and the AI/autism thriller outline. Maybe another YA novel outline or something ... I dunno.

Monday, August 27, 2007

business as usual

Haven't gotten too much writing done lately. Ken and I rented a bunch of movies though, two of which I hadn't seen before, so at least the time was used somewhat productively. Movies are a form of story-telling, dammit. I can usually skip the writer-guilt if I'm watching a movie or reading a book. Surfing TMZ.com on the web ... not so much.

The Fountain: This had Hugh Jackman and Rachel Wiesz (better known as the X-Men dude and the chick from The Mummy.) Good, good, movie. Fucked-up and surreal and existental and cerebral. This is not a movie to go to the bathroom or refill your popcorn during. I can't even describe it. I can say that I bawled like a baby during one part. Great performances.

The Good Shepard: This is with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Robert DeNiro about the beginning of the CIA. I liked it. It was subtle, it moved back and forth in time, and had a few chaste sex scenes to boot. Great performances, too. Matt Damon is really coming into his own as an actor now.

And now I can't procrastinate any longer. WIP, here I come.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Romantic Times review


This is probably copyright infringement or some such nonsense, but if I mention this review ran in Romantic Times, and provided this link, they'll probably not issue a cease-and-desist, right? I still feel a little glowy when I read it.




Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gen Con 2007: Con report

Back from Indy. All the suitcases and such are in the house (but not unpacked), the cats are fed and watered, the mail has been sorted, and the comfy clothes have been donned. It is officially time for the report.

Wednesday
Ken and I arrived in Indy around noon-ish only to discover that Indiana is on EDT and not CDT. This change happened recently; up until a last year, Indiana didn't observe savings time, so during the winter they were an hour ahead of Illinois and the summer they were the same time. After setting our clocks ahead an hour and checking into the hotel, we bummed around the hotel a bit before meeting up with writerly types for dinner. Two of my writer friends (Paul Genesse and Anton Strout) have recently sold their first books, and so our shin-dig was a celebration of sorts, complete with gift bags, beads, and stuffed animals. Fun times. It was actually the first time I had met Anton Strout in person. He's a cool guy with a dry sense of humor that I dig. Anton's gritty urban fantasy drops in 2008. Can't wait to read it! I also met Patrick Rothfuss, whose first book just hit shelves four months ago or something. He's being described as "the next Scott Lynch" because his book is steamrollering the market with its awesomeness. I've not read it yet--in all honesty, I hadn't even heard of it--but I intend to read it shortly. Pat is the most down-to-earth, awesome guy. He looks like a russian dictator and laughs at my jokes, so he's tops in my book. I heart Pat. I also met Kathy Watness and Marc Tassin; they have stories in the Blue Kingdoms anthologies. Funny, nice, good people.
In other news, Elizabeth Vaughn--paranormal romance writer extrodinaire--gave me a copy
of Romantic times Books Reviews. There's a review of Pandora's Closet, and they mention my name. My name! In a magazine! And it's a favorable mention! A PDF copy will be forthcoming. Needless to say, I saw the review, acted cool for about two seconds, then bawled like a baby. I can't even describe the feeling. I thought holding the book in my hands made it real, but I was wrong; seeing the evidence that the book existed for other people, for strangers, really drove it home. I'm published, baby. I managed to pull myself together and not look at the magazine for the rest of the night.

Thursday
This was the actual first day of the convention. I ate lunch with a group of hometown friends. During the meal, one of them presented the group with toy riding horses (you know, the kind with the stick you straddle to "ride" it), "DORK" t-shirts, and little foam swords and shields. Total geek-fest fun. The group of us did True Dungeon, which is sort of a real-life D&D game. It was fun but overpriced; I probably won't do it again. After, I ate dinner, attended a few readings and then fell into bed.

Friday
This was my busiest day--after I left the hotel at around 10:00 a.m. I didn't return until almost midnight. I attended writing seminars, played poker, and ate dinner with Ken, Brad Beaulieu and Paul Genesse. After the evening readings I attended a round-robin reading of "Eye of Argon." Follow the link if you dare. It's really, really, bad and really, really fun to read out loud. We sat in a circle and passed around a printed copy of the story, reading out loud until we either laughed twice or read two pages. Next year we'll probably do a "laugh once or one page" rule; interpretive dance was also suggested. My god, it's horrific. But so much fun. And talk about an ego boost for a writer!

Saturday
I spent most of Saturday being nervous about my reading Saturday night. I attended a few seminars but most of the afternoon I surfed the Internet and practiced reading "Cake and Candy" out loud. I also bought a pair a dangle amber earrings to wear. I arrived for my reading early, interrupting a general writer Q and A panel. Apparently the audience hadn't been asking too many questions, because as soon as I sat down, Beth Vaughn said, "Hey! Kelly! Got a question?" I pointed to panelist Pat Rothfuss, who was dressed as ... a wizard? but he looked vaguely like a garden gnome... and said, "What's with the hat?" Laughter ensued and took the edge off my nervousness. Pat told me later he appreciated the joke. See? Cool guy. I heart Pat.
Around 15 people attended the reading. I shared a slot with Chris Pierson, who's a great, cool writer/game designer from Boston. I went first, and I actually did pretty well. I had inflictions, I made eye contact, I didn't cry. However, two or three people did tear up and one had to leave the room. I found out later that the flee-er had lost someone close to them in March, so their emotion was less about my writing and more about their own experience. That's how reading and writing is though, isn't it? The reader adds to what the writer has written. Anyway, I feel good that I didn't screw it up and I feel honored that my story touched people. As I joined Ken in the audience to listen to the next group of authors, Ken presented me with a pair of blue dangle earrings. We had seen them when we bought the amber dangles, but I rejected them because they were a bit pricey. Ken went back and bought them because they matched my eyes. I've got the best fucking husband in the world.
After the readings, Ken and I had drinks with Brad and Paul again. After that, Ken and I met up with one of our hometown friends and had more beer and food. Good times. I collapsed into bed at 1:00 a.m.

Sunday
Spent the morning packing and checking out of the hotel while Ken and a friend played a game. I watched a magician/entertainer from New Zealand perform his act in the Convention Center hallway. For his last bit he picked four people from the audience to perform a trick. I was one of them--apparently he had a thing for blondes. Anyway, for this trick, the four audience members had to sit on little camp chairs in a specific formation: each of us faced a different direction; the person behind me had his thighs perpendicular to the small of my back and my thighs were perpendicular to the girl in front of me's back, etc. We laid back, and once we were positioned, we raised our butts and the performer pulled the chairs out from underneath us. And we totally stayed there, like a human tabletop! It wasn't hard, but the kid behind me struggled a bit--he was a fourteen-year-old gamer, after all, and didn't have much in the way of muscle tone--but we stayed that way for probably 45-60 seconds before the dude put the chairs back. Good times. After, I strolled the exhibit hall, said goodbye to writer friends, bought cool but useless toys, and ate out one last time. I felt the need to purge, but other than that, it was a low-key day. Perfect end to the con.


And ... that's all. Tomorrow I have the day off--thank God--and I'm doing laundry and working on Stormy Weather. I haven't written anything since I turned in my ghost story over a week ago, and I'm getting a bit gitchy. During one of the seminars, one of the panelist said, "Plot is like a basketball game" and it totally hit home with me. You know how when teams just trade baskets or one team completely dominates the other, it's a bit boring? But when one team is up and then the other is ahead and then oh! there's a foul and then blammo! there's an injury and damn is this game close, it's much more interesting? Um, that's like plotting a novel. Who knew? SW, prepare yourself for greatness!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

bloggin' from Indy

As I type this, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Indy. I've survived my first day of Gen Con and have three more to go. I've shmoozed with writers, dodged goth-girls, and eaten too much food. Detailed con report to follow ... right now I'm almost too tired to type.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Save the F/SF market

Doug Cohen, slush reader for Realms of Fantasy, makes great points here about putting our money where our mouths are concerning the short fiction market. I say, my check's in the mail. Go forth and support the little guys.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Oh, yeah, and one more thing...

Yesterday and today I went to my local booksellers and signed their copies of Pandora's Closet. Watching them slap the "authographed copy" sticker on the front gave me goose bumps. It's finally, really, truly, real.

On the edge of the euphoria, though, is the angst. What if I never sell another story? What if I write books that never get sold? What if a stanger never feels moved by the words I've written? What if a stranger never reads my words, period? What if this is it for me?

Those thoughts chill me, I'm not afraid to admit it. I want this to be a humble beginning, not the end.

I lurv my readers

I've gotten back some truly excellent and awesome critiques from two different people for two different works today. Sean Murphy outdid himself with line edits and story ideas for Stormy Weather, while a non-writer-but-excellent-reader friend of mine gave great character insights for Unnamed Ghost Story. Actually, thanks to his insights, I have a working title of Prevenient Grace, but I having a feeling it will get changed.

That is not for me to worry about tonight, though. One more go-over tomorrow night and PG will get shipped off to the editors. Friday night I'll begin working on SW with a vengence. I'm confident I can add 15,000 words as well as meet my completely arbitrary and self-imposed deadline of September 15th. And then it will be time to release it out into the wild!

Yard Work

So yesterday was Ken's birthday as well as the release date of Pandora's Closet. We both took the day off, and instead of lounging poolside or drinking margaritas, we carted pieces of concrete from our back yard to a rented dumpster in our driveway. Yestereday it was, I dunno, around 95 degrees with maybe a 105 degree heat index. It took two wheelbarrows, a makeshift ramp, and three hours of sweat equity, but we did it. The carnage

Before


and after


and here's the bin

We were able to drag ourselves into town afterwards for dinner, a movie, and a little shopping, so how bad could it have been, right? My shoulders are stiff and my hamstrings feel like I've done about 2000 dead lifts, but otherwise I'm ok. I'm actually not in as much pain as I thought I would be. I slept like a dead person last night so maybe that's why I'm not sore.

Da answers!

Here's the answers to the song meme:

1. All the Wrong Reasons, Nickleback
2. Lose Yourself, Eminem
3. Theme for Young Lovers, Ocean's Eleven soundtrack
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Green Day
5. Forgiven, Alanis Morrisette
6. Bad Medicine, Bon Jovi
7. You Took the Words, Meat Loaf
8. Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield
9. Three's Company theme song
10. Take Your Mama, Scissor Sisters

Thanks to all who played!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

writing goals

Between yesterday and today, I've written rough drafts of my Stormy Weather blurb and synopsis. They need a lot of work but it feels good to have something down on paper to work with. Next up: writing a press release, searching the 'nets for suitable agents to query, and writing a query letter.

Tomorrow I'm ordering some copies of Pandora's Closet. You know, just that little DAW anthology that has a short story of mine that is released, you know, Tuesday or something.

Go, me.

Another time-waster for your amusement

All right, fine. I give in. Here's a meme I cribbed from Elizabeth Glover. For those of you who read my blogspot and LJ blogs, forgive me; I'm posting this to both.

Set your music player to "shuffle." Take a random lyric from each of the first ten songs to play. The blog readers that guess correctly get a Great Prize!
P.S. Googling the lyric=cheating.
P.P.S. The Great Prize=the satisfaction of being correct. You're gettin' nothin' from me.

As an extra bonus, I'm including a few hints. I think this is hard.

1. You got off every time you got on to me. (Think recent rock album)

2. There's vomit on his sweater already/mom's spaghetti/he's nervous/but on the surface he looks calm and ready. (rap song from a movie)

3. "Please state your name for the record." (think dialogue from movie)

4. My shadow's the only one that walks beside me. (think guy-liner)

5. We all had our reasons to be there/we all had a thing or two to learn/ we all needed something to pray to. (think angry young woman)

6. It'll take more than a shot to get the poison outta me. (think hairband that's still making music)

7. Oh you hold me so close and my knees grow weak. (think 70's singer that had a penchant for looooong operatic songs)

8. Being good isn't always easy/no matter how hard I try. (think movie soundtrack)

9. Come and knock on our door/we've been waiting for you. (think 70's-era theme song)

10. It's a struggle livin' like a good boy oughta/in the summer watchin' all the girls pass by. (Think Elton John sound-alike)

Good luck, gang!

ETA: 2=Eminem "Lose Yourself" and 4=Green Day" Blvd. of Broken Dreams.
Congrats to Sean Murphy!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

excuse the blond moment

Um. NasFic is August 2-5. This weekend. Not four weekends from now. This means I won't be attending.

I'm completely bummed. Crap!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WFC 2007 or bust

I made the hotel reservations for WFC today. The check for my membership will hit the mailbox on Friday. I'm stoked. It's what, four months away? I can't wait. Until then I have Gen Con Indy and NasFic to distract me. I'm giving a reading at Gen Con; I'm starting to get nervous. I see practice sessions in my future. NasFic is the weekend after Gen Con, and as of today I have to work, but I'm hoping to switch weekends with one of my kind-hearted co-workers in the next day or two. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Productivity

It's amazing what a "holy shit, it's due when?" deadline will do for ya. Last night I finished my first draft of my ghost story. 5400 words. The guideline is 4K-6K, so I feel downright prolific. I'll start the edits tomorrow to give it time to digest a bit.

This progress has made me decide that when I'm actively working on a project, I won't read. Basically, I'd like to try writing in big chunks and reading in slightly smaller chunks. Once fall T.V. starts I'll watch T.V. only on the weekends. We'll see how it goes.

Stormy Weather is still out with beta readers, so in the meantime I have a few deadlines for myself:
August 8: Submit Ghost Story (I really need a title.)
August 14: Blurb of SW completed
August 21: Synopsis and cover letter completed
August 28: List of 20 agents to query
September 15: Final draft of SW complete and queries out the door

After SW is done, I'd like to tear apart my trilogy and rebuild it as a stand-alone before tackling the AI/autism outline. Lots of research and reading to do for the AI business; my tentative goal is to have an outline by December 31st. We shall see.

Today I got a rejection for a story that said basically, "Hey, I liked this story all the way until the end." I wonder if I should query that editor with a "Hey, if I re-write the story, would you be interested in giving it another look?" My head says "no, too forward" while my gut says "you never know, give it a shot." I have a few more markets to send the story to before I give up on it, though, so I have some time to think about it. This editor send one of my other stories on to the big-wig editors, so she might go for it ... I dunno.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Confession

You know what? I didn't really like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows all that much. Sure, the last three hundred pages were awesome. The chapter near the end where Harry goes to the forest is argueably the best chapter in the series. The first half of the book, however? Meh. I loved the overall story of the series, and I've made peace with the ending, but Goblet of Fire is still my favorite.

As you were.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Shout Out

I want to take this opportunity to say "Howdy" to all of you lurkers out there. I suspect most of my readers don't make themselves known in the comments; I want you guys and gals to know that I appreciate your visits. You da best!

Ghost Story

I'm about 3/4 of the way done with a first draft of The Fun Ghost Story, a.k.a. as the Newly Disturbing Ghost Story. I set out to write a fun, charming, light ghost story with a ten-year-old protagonist and it's become a darker, creepier story with twelve-year-old protagonist. Funny how that works out, huh? Usually it's best to get out of a story's way. I'm hoping to finish the first draft today. Next up: title.

I bought three new CD's for my most recent rejections: Guns-N-Roses Greatest Hits, Velvet Revolver Contraband, and Plain White T's All That We Needed. I'm listening to GNR now; there's just something about that music that brings out the angry teen in me. It's definite "turn up" music, you know, you hear it and you just have to crank it loud and sing at the top of your lungs.

Saying that makes me think of one of my friends in high school. He defined his music in two catagories: "turn up" music or "leave the fuckin' knob alone" music. He would get on me because he felt I was too liberal with the "turn up" distinction. I'd turn up Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, Nirvana, and the Police; he'd say leave the fuckin' knob alone. He turned up Pearl Jam. I think he'd approve of cranking GNR. I wonder what he's doing now.

I cleaned out my filing cabinet last night and found another rejection from ... I dunno ... 2005? I actually got a little nostalgic.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

And so it ends ...

Ken and I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at around 1 a.m. this morning. I read three chapters and then fell asleep. I woke up, and with the exception of about an 1-1/2 break for dinner, read for 13 hours straight. I'm groggy, disoriented, and a little dehydrated (crying will do that).

SPOILER ALERT!

I won't spoil the book for anyone--I don't want to make enemies. But I will tell you I have two gut reactions: the reader one and the writer one. The reader in me liked it alot. I laughed, I cried, I was shocked. The reader in me has a few complaints but that falls into the spoiler catergory, so I'll save that discussion for the weeks and months to come. The writer in me felt that the story was bloated in places. I also feel that this story arc can be broken in two: the first four books and then the last three. I believe she had a firm idea about where the story was heading and what the major plot points concerning Harry/Voldemort were all along. However, I also feel that Rowling used the three years between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix for some major plotting/construction/backstory work that maybe wasn't strictly part of her original plan.

Mind you, I'm not saying that bad. It's necessary, in fact, when you're writing a long series, I think. My opinion is that she found uses for some of the characters later in the series that she hadn't planned on when she started out.

I'll probably read the whole series again, start to finish, but probably not for another year or so. I need time to digest. I also need some time to come down from the whole Harry Potter OCD business.

My confidence in my own writing is intact, and for that I'm grateful. It's a big step for me; I used to read awesome stories and say "Why can't I do that? Why do I suck? I'm never going to make it." Now, I go, "Hey, she did that really well. I'd have done X differently ... but this is her story. I enjoyed it."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stormy Weather, part deux.

I have an official second draft of Stormy Weather completed. Well, sort of. I still want to mess with the first chapter a bit, but otherwise ... yeah. Note the word count ... still need around 12,000 words but there are bits that probably need fleshing out that I'm sure my beta readers will point out for me. Tonight I'm happy with it. I'm going to forget about it for a week while I work on my ghost story. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Updates

Today Ken and I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Good movie, awesome special effects. The movie cut out a lot of the book, but all the major plot points were there. You'd be completely lost, though, if you hadn't read the books. Also, this movie is a good illustration of the magic of books; nothing on screen can be as scary, emotional, or real as stuff we read. Did I dislike the onscreen Professor Umbridge? Sure. Did I hate her? No. Did I enjoy the Weasley twins' "screw you" scene? Yeah. But did I want to stand up and cheer and almost cry because they're so frickin' cool? Nope. Was the death at the end sad? You bet. But did I cry and bemoan how horrible life has been for Harry? Nope. You get the idea.

Another rejection. Note the Reject-o-meter.

Ken has been in the process of tearing out our deck. We're going to rip out the concrete patio, put in a stone paver patio, build a new deck, put in a fence, and build a brick outdoor-kitchen type deal. All before then end of September. Anyway, today Ken discovered the remains of long-dead furry little animal. At least, that's what he thought it was. I gave it a close inspection and found the vertebrae, and about a foot away, a little skull. It's been dead a looooong time, a year or two at least. It looks like it may have been a bunny. Poor bunny.

Working on the climax of Stormy Weather. I'd like to get through that tomorrow. I'm getting dangerously close to having a bona fide second draft. Ken and I bounced around ideas for my ghost story and I think I've got a fun idea going. Both of my previous published works (!!!) have been a little dark, so I wanted to go light and fun with this. We'll see how it goes. I'd like to have a first draft done of that by the end of this week. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

new addition

Today I performed the masochistic task of counting all my rejections. All of them, dating back to early 2004, and including agent, trilogy, and short story rejections. The grand total is 50. That's it! 50! Granted, 25 of those have been from the last year or so, but still. I've not been working hard enough. It's possible, too, that I've not kept them all.

Note the new, nifty "Reject-O-Meter" progress bar at left. It was Ken's idea. I figure when I reach 100 I'd like to do nice, big, reward. Like apply to Clarion Writing Workshop or go on the Maui Writer's Conference cruise or something fantabulous like that. Coincidentally, Ken and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary next year ... mayhap we could wrap the two trips into one.

I suspect, though, that I'll reach 100 way before that. Because, you know, I'll be querying like 100 agents in about two months.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

ocd

So I just finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Before, I was 100% sure that Harry was the last Horcrux and that he'd have to die in order for Voldemort to be killed. There's reasoning behind my theory, and if you want to hear it, I'll be happy to debate it in the comments. It's just that, after a fresh reading, I'm only about 90% sure. Basically, it comes down to this, I think: as readers, how much faith should we put into what the characters believe? Should we assume that Dumbledore is infallible because everyone else has? And just how do we know Voldemort tried the killing curse on Harry? Sure, sure, everyone says that's what Voldemort did, and even Voldemort himself says that's what happened, but ... if that happened, someone had to have seen it happen. Who was that someone? And do we trust that someone to tell us the truth? And if Voldemort indeed made Harry the last Horcrux, would he blab that information to even his closest followers?

Ah, hell. Next week we'll know.

Happily, I was able to read Half-Blood Prince without line-editing it. Did I think about how I would have done X, Y, and Z differently? Sure. But I still enjoyed the book, and for that I'm grateful.

In other news, today I got a rejection from Jim Baen's Universe for "Last Man Standing." Five-day turn-around on that baby. Though, the rejection did say "Please feel free to send us anything else you'd like," which I took as a good sign. And I have six weeks or something to write a ghost story. And a second draft of Stormy Weather to finish. Ah! Pressure! It's actually enough to make me stop obsessing about HP.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

whew

Okay. So, today I spent the first day of my 5-day vacation doing almost nothing productive. I worked a little on Stormy Weather, took a nap, had lunch with Ken, and spent a few hours at the pool. While lounging by the deep end, I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I got through the first eighty pages or so before I started skimming. Why did I skim, you ask? I found myself line-editing the damn book. This is nothing new--ever since I've started writing seriously, I tend to read books as a writer and not as a reader. (You know, that whole "can't enjoy the scenery while reading the map" business.) However, I've not had that experience yet while reading HP. I have to tell you, the fifth time I changed a passive sentence to an active one in my head, J.K. Rowling became human for me. I'm not saying her writing is bad or anything--her world-building is cool, the long story-arc is nicely intertwined and well-executed, and the characters are awesome--I'm just saying, I don't feel as inadequate as I once did. I feel like I've taken one big step forward with my confidence level. Having said all that, I think I'll skip rereading most of the other books. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'll still watch the 5th movie in the first few days it comes out, re-read the sixth book, and wait in line like a schmuck and buy the 7th book at midnight. But I think I can skip most of the obsessive-compulsive business this time around.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

my talented friend

Actually this post isn't about a writer but an artist. He's a good friend of mine that's in a visual-art school in L.A. Some of his work is featured in the school brochure. check out pdf pages 4 (head), 24 (building), and 25 (watch face). Be aware that these do not correspond to the actual brochure pages. He's going to be snapped up by a studio soon and we can all say we knew him when. Keep livin' the dream, dude.

Friday, June 29, 2007

booty

Bought some new earrings today. I've discovered that I need sterling silver earrings or else my lobes freak out. Real gold, not gold-plate, would probably work, too. Freakish body chemistry does have its perks.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MIA

I've been out of action for the past few days due to a wicked intestinal virus. Now that my system is on the mend, I'll do my best to catch up on the past few days.

I bought three new sets of cute scrubs for work. I love having a job where the accepted uniform is basically pajamas. Apparently right now I'm in my "black floral" period. Previously I bought "colorful geometrics," and before that, "solid unisex". Ah, youth. I'm tossing out the last of the "solid unisex" tonight. I finally felt well enough to wash them tonight, so watch out world! I'll be doing the "Project Runway" walk tomorrow.

Over the past few days a cat has been wandering around our back yard. It obviously belongs to someone, because it has a collar with a bell around its neck and lets Ken pet it. This was the scene a few nights ago:
Moonshine: Spit! Hiss! Hiss! Let me pouf up my tail so I look huge! See how scary I am! Hiss! Hiss!
Kahlua: What's going on?
Morgan: Hey, dumbass, what your malfunc--Gaaah! There's a cat in MY YARD! Hiss! Hiss! Grroooowwwll! Yoooowwwlll! (Run-hop-thump, run-hop-thump) Blasted glass! Who put this shit here? Yoooowwwlll! Hiss!
Kahlua: What's going on?
Moonshine: Get her Morgan, get her!
Outside cat: This step looks comfy. I think I'll lie down right here. I'll stare at you to antagonize you more.
Morgan: Gaahh! The intruder is lying on my deck! Attack! Attttttaaaaaccckkk! If this glass weren't here I'd rip that bell from your throat! I would own you! (Run-hop-thump)
Kahlua: I think I'll lie down now. What's all the commotion about?
Humans: Calm down, cats. (To outside cat) Shoo! Go away.
Outside cat: Hmph. Guess I'll move over to this comfy spot by the window.
Moonshine: Hiss!! Hiss!!! Alert! Intruder by the window!
Morgan: You bitch! Hiss! I will show you no mercy! (Run-hop-thump) Stupid glass.
Kahlua: I'm napping now.

Good times.

On the writing front, I have a few tidbits to report. Between working this past weekend and my wacked-out large intestine, I've made no further progress on Stormy Weather. I'll get back on that horse this weekend. Perhaps I'll sneak in a few hours tomorrow before dinner-and-a-movie. I received a rejection from Realms of Fantasy for "Last Man Standing." It'll go out again this weekend. Persistence pays, allegedly, and I like this story too much to let it die. As for good news, I have been asked to submit a short story for an anthology, 4-6k, due August 15th. I'm pumped. Basically, if I write a good story, they'll accept it and if I don't, they won't. Meaning, nothing is guaranteed ... but it's so frickin' awesome to be asked. I feel like I'm actually making headway in this biz. Fingers crossed, ya'll.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Rules

1. Don't ever blog while drunk.
2. If someone says, "Here, just have one glass of wine," and that one glass turns into, like, more, you can ignore rule number 1. It's a stupid rule, anyway.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rewardville

I bought the new Bon Jovi and Stone Sour CD's today. Poke fun if you must.

I just started listening to the Stone Sour one. The first song sounds like a Metallica rip-off. Hopefully it becomes more original soon.

The Stormy Weather progress bar looks misleading. I've done a lot of cleaning and rearranging. I'm working on the climax now, which will actually take the better part of the weekend since I have to work. Once I'm through with that, I'm going to go through each chapter and see what I can add here and there. I figure if I add 500-1000 words to each chapter I can bump up my word count to where it needs to be. Fingers crossed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

rejectionville

A rejection today, this one from Weird Tales for "Rules of Engagement." Never fear, it's heading out the door to Strange Horizons tomorrow.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Busybusybusy

So I've finally got a moment to catch my breath and blog about the last few days.

Wednesday Ken and I attended a Cubs game at Wrigley field with a group of friends. That was awesome! We sat in the bleachers, which is first-come, first-served, so we got there a few hours before game time. We sat in the sun, watched batting practice and ate hot dogs and big pretzels. The Cubs played the Mariners, which was sort of special for Ken and I; the last major league game he and I saw was a Mariners game in Seattle during our honeymoon. Funny coincidence: Lou Penella was the manager of the Mariners back then and the Cubs now. Funny how that worked out. We stayed with a friend that lives in an apartment that's like a 10-minute walk from the Stadium, so we didn't have to deal with the El or traffic at all. Bonus! After the game I also had my first Jagermeister shot since college. Back then I didn't like it; I've discovered that my taste buds have changed. Tasty! I liked it so much I had another. I wouldn't want to sip on a whole glass of the stuff, but as a shooter it's pretty good. Who knew?

Thursday morning we walked along Michigan avenue. We didn't actually shop much; it was more of a people-watching expedition. Though, Ken noted it would make a cool two-day Christmas-shopping excursion. I wouldn't want to do that on a weekend--the crowds would make me insane--but a Tuesday/Wednesday thing could be fun.

Last night I had girl's night poker. Lots of fun, though I didn't win again. The group has really learned how to play and no one had to ask when to check, bet, or what beats what. I had joked that my kid gloves were off and that I out for blood; for some reason, though, I played more timidly than normal and came in fifth. Normally I play pretty ballsy--my theory is you might as well play hard because if you're going to lose anyway you'll be pissed if you didn't--but last night I was all off. Aggressive poker is winning poker, and for some reason I forgot that. Ah, well; then next game is July 13th. Plenty of time to get my game on. Oh, and apparently 9's were the new 2's; it seemed like most flops and/or winning hands had them. Buggah!

Today is for writing, movie-watching, and possibly swimming. I'd like to see Ocean's Thirteen today, and possibly Pirates of the Caribbean. There's a sneak peak of Ratatouille happening and if I can figure out how to score tickets, I'd like to see that, too. Once back in college, Ken and I saw three movies in one day. It was a whole-day affair; we ate meals in between each show and finished that last movie at around 8:00 or something. Fun, but I doubt we're up for it again today. Two movies in a theater is probably our maximum. For one thing, the expense; for another, the people. The theater closest to our house is sort of ghetto, and that scene can get a bit tiresome.

Tomorrow I'm making the trek back home for Father's day. I'm anxious to see my parent's face when they see the copy of the anthology.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

drum roll, please


I received my copy of Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms Wednesday. I'm still a little giddy about the whole business. It's finally real! This means I'll be storming the castles (a.k.a. local retailers) next week to try to get them to stock the thing.
In related (small publisher) news, McSweeney's needs our help. Go buy a book or three and help out the little guys.
I'll post about my trip to Chicago tomorrow. Right now all I want is a good book and a little sleep.