Saturday, March 31, 2007

buying extravaganza

Today we bought a new laptop and new iPod, both for yours truly. Ken's been busy setting up my system. Just a bit ago he said something to the effect of "Okay, it's yours to screw up now" and let me loose.

The computer is pretty sweet: it's got a 160 GB hard drive, over a GB of RAM, a 14.1-inch monitor and came with Windows Vista.

The new iPod is flashy-dashy. It's got 30 GB of it's own and a color screen. It can play movies (if I care to buy them) and can store my photos. I'm actually jazzed about that; now I can carry pictures someplace without actually taking my camera or printing actual pictures.

Vista is ... okay. I've not fooled around too much with it yet. The important thing is all my word documents are transferred and I can commence writing about Max's confrontation with his dad bright and early tomorrow morning.

I'm much more excited about working on this book the second time around. Having a map helps, as does writing it in the proper POV. Right now it's just flowing better than before. It's not like pulling teeth to write. Lesson learned: if it's hard, it's probably for a reason. Fix it and move on. That's not to say if something's hard it's not worth doing ... just, ya know, why make it harder than it has to be? Tell the story that needs to be told and not how you want it told. Is any of this making any sense whatsoever?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A few pictures...

Here are the covers you need to look for in the upcoming months. Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms will be out in May and Pandora's Closet will be out in August. Bother your booksellers now!


Am I the only person in the sf/f/h industry that didn't know that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son? I only found out a few weeks ago.

So far I'm enjoying "Heart-Shaped Box." He gets extra points for cribbing the title from Nirvana.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Was there really ever any question?

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Drama Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Monday, March 26, 2007


I've changed the Word of the Week after, I don't know, a month or so ... ah, well. Ken and I gave up eating meat for Lent. Not that we're that religious or anything, but the both of us want to be a bit healthier, and forty days without meat looked like as good of way as any. We decided we'd eat fish, but no beef, chicken, or pork. I haven't eaten cow in two or three years or something so I didn't think it would be that big a deal.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

I find myself daydreaming about sub sandwiches with pepperoni and salami. I crave a barbecue pulled-pork sandwich. BBQ-chicken pizza with jalepenos and onions? Bring it on. I haven't had my favorite spinach salad from a local restaurant since January because it's got real bacon on it. Aaaggghh! I have, however, eaten more fried food in the past month than I had the six months prior. Fried shrimp, fried fish sandwiches, fried cheese ... blech. Not to mention those wonderfully nutritious frozen fish sticks and fish fillets. The upshot is Ken has eaten more vegetables, and I always try to get him to do that.

Easter Sunday, we're going out for breakfast to eat sausage and bacon. The afore-mentioned subs for lunch. And then Mexican for dinner so Ken can have a Steak quesadilla. I will probably have chicken of some sort. I can't wait.

On a completely unrelated note, I got an e-mail from the editor of Pandora's Closet yesterday--the cover design is complete! She included a jpg of it, and I'll post it once she gives me the okay. I'm sure it would be fine--it's publicity and all, you know--but I don't want to break any rules or anything. The best part about the cover? My name is on the back. Right there with all the other real authors. Kelly Swails! That's me! I got a little teary-eyed when I saw it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

good news!

I just learned that Jodi Meadows (you know, that chick on the blog list column over there on your left) has obtained a Fancy Agent. Who is this Fancy Agent, you might ask? Why, it's Jenny Rappaport (yep, the same one that's on the same list over there on your left). Go congratulate them both, if you're so inclined.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm a writing fool! Or maybe just a fool. You decide.

Tomorrow "Last Man Standing" heads off to Cemetery Dance Magazine. Fingers crossed!

And you know that YA book I yammer about from time to time? The one I tried to write without an outline? Yeah, I'm scraping it and starting over with an outline this time. Ken (also known as The Idea Man) gave me a few suggestions, and with some of the material I have, I think this next draft is going to rock hard. I'm keeping some stuff, taking a lot out, changing a few things ... it's going to be good. I've worked on the outline for the past few days--I'll continue to mess with it, I'm sure--and last night I wrote the first chapter. It's actually more of a prologue than a chapter but what the hell. The last book jumped around to four different characters. While I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, I felt like I didn't really get to know any of the characters. Also, the first time I had it in my head this was Max's story, but it's really Zoey's, I think. There will be a few chapters from Max's POV to deepen the intrigue and mystery, but mostly it's going to be from Zoey's POV. I'm bummed about losing this one scene from Tasha's POV--she lives in a trailer and her mom earns money working as a medium--and it showed her angst and bitterness and kept with the theme of "you can't deny who you are," but I'm consoling myself by saying the next book in the series (!) will be from Tasha's POV.

Can you tell I'm a little excited about this story again? My goal is to have a finished, polished draft by June 1st so I can begin the agent querying process. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Still rockin'

I got a rejection today from Weird Tales for "Last Man Standing." I sent it snail mail on March 2nd. To Florida. That must be a land-speed record or something. So I bought two old movies: True Lies and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It's like comfort food, only better.

Back to the old drawing board. I'm selling this story. It refuses to die!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Good news!

I just received this e-mail from Jim Baen's Universe:
I'm sending this to let you know that "Rules of Engagement" has been forwarded for a final decision from our editor, Eric Flint.
Sweet! The letter went on to say basically "Eric's a busy guy, be patient" and gave me a link to track my submission. Rock on! Of course, I have to tell myself that Mr. Flint will surely reject the piece ... but still. He's lookin' at it! (Cue Eye of the Tiger.)

Oh, and before I completely space out, my writing bud Kelly McCullough has another book coming out in September. Go on over to and order Cybermancy. If you didn't read Webmage, here's your chance to order that, too. You might as well jump on the cyberpunk bandwagon now; Kelly Y has sold two more books in the series, MythOS and Codespell. They'll be out in 2008 and 2009, respectively. You can say you knew him when.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


First off, I ripped this off of Wil Wheaton's blog, so I'm not as geeky as I'm about to sound.


It's March 14 ... 3.14 ... get it? Pi? Math? Infinite number ... ? Ringin' any bells out there?

Okay, maybe I am geekier than I thought, because I'm having way too much fun with this. I just giggled a little.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I got a note from the editors of the pirate anthology today. Basically, they liked the story, but want me to make a whole lot of changes. Right now, I am completely logical and objective about them, and after I post this I'm going to start printing and hacking and changing. However, when I first read the comments, I freaked out. A lot of them were "too repetitive" and "show me, don't tell me" and "bad pronoun usage here" type things, and my writing-esteem hit an all-time low. I worked hard on that story, filtered it through several different readers, and I thought it was pretty damn good. Then I read the comments the editors gave it and all I saw was "you suck, Swails, and don't you forget it." Obviously, that's not what the editors said--they liked the story enough to work with me on it and if I make some changes it's got a good shot at being in the anthology--but that's what I heard my inner critic say. I was in a miserable mood for a half-hour, then Ken made me go for a two mile jog with him. After the run, a shower and dinner, my frame of mind has improved and I'm ready to tackle the rewrite. What makes me think I'm so perfect? Of course it's gonna need work. These editors have published dozens of books between them--they know what the hell they're talking about. Enough blogging--time to edit.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Word in Progress meme

Courtesy of Jodi Meadows.

Go to pages 123 of your current work in progess. If you aren't to page 123, go to page 23. If you're not to page 23, get busy and write until you are. Beginning with the fifth sentence from the top of the page, copy the entire paragraph.

From my YA book:

Clunks of metal downstairs made her pause. She didn’t know what it was, but it sounded heavy, and it was probably intended for her. Or Max. A man yelled—it sounded like the man that had visited her—and she began to work faster. She didn’t intend to be in this room when he came back more hurt and angry than he had been when he’d left.

This is from my first draft. I haven't read it in a while, and it's actually not so bad. Yeah, it needs some work ... but it's not terrible. I love when that happens.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I rock even more today!

Another rejection, this one from Intergalactic Medicine Show for "Mark of a Woman." Definitely some new workout clothes on the horizon for me. Tomorrow I'd like to do a 7:30 spinning class, go shopping, work on my YA book, and send out "Mark of a Woman" and "Rules of Engagement." Busy day.

And now it's time to watch Illinois kick Indiana's ass.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

That's right, I rock.

Another rejection today, this one from Realms of Fantasy for "Rules of Engagement." This story is basically a chick-lit story set in the same world as my trilogy; the books are set in medieval times and the story is modern, but both have the same rules of magic and such. A lot of chick-lit in the fantasy genre revolves around vampire-love or a "it's hard out there for a witch" theme, and this story is neither. The protagonist is a woman who likes her one-night stands and tries her best to love-and-leave a magi (the dudes who perform magic in my world) but is surprised to find that breaking the magi etiquette rules makes the dude want her more. I say all of this because now that ROF has rejected it, I'm kind of at a loss as to where to send it. Anyone with any ideas, shout 'em out. I'll probably peruse my resources and send it out this weekend.

Of course, this means I can buy something to reward myself, but I haven't really thought about what I want. Maybe some cool new workout clothes or a new pair of running shoes. Spring is on its way, you know ... it's going to be 60 degrees this weekend! (Shut up, Bridget). Speaking of working out, I tried a Body Jam class at the gym last night, and I loved it! My whole body is a little stiff and creaky. The class consisted of little mini-routines with steps pulled from ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and salsa dancing. In a past life I was a dancer, I swear. I don't mean I'm good at all--I would put myself as an average dancer--but in my head I was all about the performance, baby! I wasn't shy at all about working it. I'll definitely take the class once a week.

I submitted a story to a pirate anthology a few days ago. The editor had extended me an invitation at the beginning of February, and I managed to get my story in three weeks before the deadline and 600 words under the limit. Hopefully I'll know within the next week or so if I'm accepted. This is the good news I've been alluding to for a while. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A question

On there's a discussion going on about favorite books. An editor, J. Peder Zane, asked 125 contemporary authors to name their 10 favorite books. Your list says a lot about you, I think, so I put some thought into it and came up with mine. These are in no particular order.

1. The Stand by Stephen King
2. The Genesis Code by John Case
3. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Jhereg by Steven Brust
5. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
7. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
9. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger
10. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

For a fantasy/horror/sci-fi writer, you'd think there'd be an Asimov or a Sagan somewhere in this list, but I tried to include childhood favorites as well as more recent reads. I also tried to include a book from each of my favorite series. I should note that I only read the Jodi Picoult book because it was a book club selection, and I left off The Lies of Locke Lamora since, having read it so recently, I might be biased. I should also note that this list--like I suspect yours would be--is fluid. Ask me three months from now and half the list might be different., though The Stand would remain at the top.

What's your list? Don't want to list 10? Shoot for five.

Oh, as an aside: A few days ago I reread The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. I can see why some of my friend's parents wouldn't want them to read it--it's set in a private boys school, and there are numerous references to masturbation and tits--but it's got nothing on Judy Blume, I think. My memory was right in that the basic theme is how shitty kids can be to each other; what I didn't remember was how dark the book is. Not only are Cormier's adolescent characters willfully cruel, an adult teacher uses blackmail and bribery on the students to save his own hide. The good guys not only don't win in the end, they get their asses kicked. It's a poignant portrait of how solitude, peer pressure, and the group dynamic are an integral part of our academic experience. Having said that, the plot is a little threadbare and jumpy; the narrative is overly wordy and skips around to a lot of characters who ultimately have no bearing on the story; some plot points are overwrought and unrealistic. This is, however, coming from an adult writer re-reading a YA book with a critical eye and the question "could I do this as well or better?" in her mind.


Today I feel fat, sluggish, and unmotivated. To cure this, I'm going to pay bills and go to the gym. Tomorrow I will do laundry and work on my YA novel. Ken has suggested we do a half-marathon in September; if that's the case, I need to start running. The only aspect of running I like is finishing. I suppose, then, to get to the part I like, I need to start. Grrrr. So at the gym I'll do the treadmill and jump rope and lift weights.

I sent "Last Man Standing" to Weird Tales the other day. Fingers crossed!