Sunday, April 29, 2007

Good grief!

I do sort of feel like Charlie Brown today. Another rejection, this one from Glimmer Train Stories for "Sudden Death." This means I have two stories to send out tonight as opposed to one.


I can't be too down about it, though. It's a sunny, 85-degree day. How bad can life be?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bah, humbug

I just received a rejection from Jim Baen's Universe for "Rules of Engagement," but I have to say it's one of the better rejections I've received. The editor told me exactly why he passed on the story--"more telling than showing and not enough conflict"--and went on to basically say that he's only one editor, and the next editor might view it differently. I appreciated the personal comments so much that I broke a writer-rule and sent him a reply telling him so. I'm not going to change the story quite yet, though. It's a chick-lit-meets-fantasy story, and it must be said that the editor that passed it on to Mike at Baen's is a woman. My point is, sometimes chick-lit is more-tell-less-show, and if the right editor gets her hands on it, I think I have a shot with it as is. So, back to the drawing board on "Rules of Engagement."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another way to waste some time

If you've read The Golden Compass, you'll get a kick outta this.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

marching forward ...

... five pages at a time. Now that I'm getting into the meat of the story, the words are flowing from my fingertips. It remains to be seen if any of them are worth keeping. Right now I feel pretty good--"I'm a frickin' genius!"--but an hour ago I thought that the whole project stunk and I should just bag it. Such is the roller-coaster of the writer's life.

I never did make that yellow cake with chocolate frosting a few weeks ago. Maybe that will shut my inner critic up.

Nah. It'll just give her more fuel for the fire. "You are barely literate. What are you doing eating cake?" Maybe it's best just to leave her hungry for awhile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

da book

Stormy Weather, the infamous YA book I've been working on forever, is finally going well. I've been averaging four pages a day, which is less than I need to finish by June 1st, but what the hell. It's better than nothin'. I'm hoping to pull some good weekend numbers in May. Last Saturday I wrote ten pages, which is fantabulous for me. I wrote half of a good chapter last night, but I need to redo a key scene in it tonight. Sometimes writing is two steps forward and one back.

This book will get done. And I will query ten agents with it. And one of them will like it enough to want to represent me.

If I say it enough it will come true.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

For the love of books

Allow me to get my geek on here for a moment. In my neck of the woods, the weather this weekend has been glorious: sunny, warm, breezy. Perfect. This morning I need to mow the lawn, trim, fertilize, pull weeds from and mulch the flower beds. Before I do the manual labor, however, I want to talk about one of my fondest memories from childhood: the public library.

I lived in the country until I was almost 10 years old. We moved into a house in town two weeks before my 10th birthday, and it was wonderful. I got to walk to school instead of riding the bus; I got to play with my friends that lived in town; that summer, I began to play summer softball. Also that first summer, I acquired my first library card.

It must be said that at this point in my life, I was already a voracious reader. Perhaps growing up in the country had something to do with it, or maybe my parents always having a book in their hands inspired me. Whatever the reason, I already loved books, but the only outlet I had for it was the school library, where there was a two-book maximum check-out rule and limited options. It could be hard to convince the school librarian that a second-grader could read a book in the fifth-grade section.

My cousin took me to the public library to help me get my library card. I don't remember the actual card much; in fact, my hometown was (and still is) pretty small, and once you became a regular, I'm not entirely certain you needed to show your card at all. Sally Smith knew her patrons well, and if you had an overdue book she let you know about it. She didn't need a card or a file system to tell her that.

Anyhow, back to that first day. I got the card and promptly went to the young reader's section. I selected ten books--ten! I remember this exactly!--and struggled to put them on the counter.
Sally Smith: You do realize, don't you Kelly, that you don't get to keep these books?
Kelly: Yes, ma'am.
Sally Smith: And you understand that they're due back here in two weeks? And that you have to pay money if they're late?
Kelly: Yes, ma'am.
Sally shook her head, pressed her lips into a line, and stamped each book. I'm sure she thought she would never see those books again. My cousin took me home where I settled in with my treasure.

I returned the books a week later. I remember this because I rode my bike to do it. My little, clunky, hand-me-down blue bike with tassels on the handlebars and a basket in the front. I had to carry the books that wouldn't fit into the basket. I must have looked odd: a chubby kid on a bike, basket full of books, left hand steering, right hand keeping the stack of books on my right thigh steady.
Kelly: I'd like to return these books.
Sally: (counting) You've read them all?
Kelly: (proud) Yes, ma'am.
Sally:Okay. You know where the rest are at.
I picked out ten more and checked them out. This time Sally smiled when she handed me the stack.

That summer, between softball practice and games, swimming at the pool, and playing outside with friends, I probably read over fifty books. It wasn't too many years before I graduated from the "young readers" section and moved to Agatha Christie, Phyllis Whitney, Asimov, and King. In the coming years, Sally and I became friends; one summer during high school I even worked at the library. She gave me a nice pair of earring as a college graduation gift. She's retired now, and I haven't kept up with her at all so I don't know what she's doing. I wonder if she will be surprised when I show up in town a few months from now, waving a copy of Pandora's Closet.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

required reading

I just finished White Night by Jim Butcher. It was good--lots of explosions and cool magic and such--but sometimes when I'm reading a new book in a lengthy series, the nuances of the world get muddled in my head. I remember who all the key characters are, but I forget the inner workings of different groups of people. This series, over the past several books, has had an ongoing war between the vampires and the wizards, and at this point I've forgotten who started the war, how, and why. One of Butcher's strengths, though, is his character development, and this book didn't dissappoint. Harry Dresden is a flawed and deeply conflicted character, and that makes him unpredictable. Love that. One of these days I'll have to go back and re-read them all.

Re-reading books. There seem to be two camps, those that do and those that don't. Last Sunday I caught Stephen King's The Stand on the sci-fi channel. Ken watched a bit and said "I remember the basic premise but not the details" and I said "This follows the book almost perfectly, most of the dialogue is even the same." Ken couldn't believe I remembered the dialogue that well. When I told him I'd read The Stand at least ten times, he was like, "Why? What's the point? You know what will happen. The time is better spent reading a new book." I maintain that that is not always the case. There's something comforting about reading a book you've read before. There are still surprises, because every time I re-read a book I discover something I missed before or I see a character in a different light. The characters are like old friends, maybe, the ones that you don't talk to for three years, then pick up the phone and you talk like no time has passed. I can't wait to re-read the Harry Potter books this summer. However, I've told myself that I can't start them until I have queries for my YA book out to ten agents.

I'm starting Without Remorse by Tom Clancy tonight. My husband and I watched The Sum of All Fears with Ben Affleck the other night. Liev Schreiber played Jack Clark, the badass uber-assassin. Ken mentioned that Without Remorse is all about Clark, said he really like it, and I should read it. "What the hell," I said. "I'll give it a go." I am a fan of the international-espionage books--Robert Ludlum being my fave--and so it's not inconceivable that I'll enjoy it. It must be said, though, that I've tried Clancy in the past, and I can never make it past the first few chapters. They tend to be massive info-dumps and it's hard for my braid to eat all that technical/weapons/international relations jargon without throwing the book aside in disgust.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back on the horse

"Mark of a Woman" is going to Aeon Speculative Fiction and "The Brethren" is going to Asimov's in tomorrow's mail. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

setting land speed records, one rejection at a time

I received a rejection today from F&SF for "The Brethren." According to my immpeccable records, I sent it on April 7th. The rejection was postmarked April 11th. This means JJA rejected it a day or two after receiving it. I know, I know, rejectomancy. Sigh. It goes to Asimov's next.

I am so buying something completely pointless and girly.

I really want to bake a cake but I'm resisting the temptation. A yellow one. With chocolate frosting. And sprinkles, dammit.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another bites the dust

I got a rejection today from Strange Horizons for "Mark of a Woman." It's going to Dark Wisdom next. One of these days I'll get an actual acceptance.

I'm not entirely certain how I'm going to treat myself for this one. My last one I didn't buy anything because I'd just gotten the laptop and iPod; this once could probably slide without anything, too. Though something small and goofy like some new nail polish and or a headband would be cool.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I almost forgot...

The other day I sold the electronic rights to "Cake and Candy," the story in Pandora's Closet. Apparently Sony approached the publisher about selling stories/books online and for their e-reader (basically that's like an iPod for books) and so I jumped on board. I figure it's a good way to reach a larger audience and make a few bucks as I'm doing it. I doubt I'll make much money--the contract even stated that if the royalties amounted to less than $10.00, they'd hold the monies until the amount was more than $10.00--but what the hell. It was still exciting signing the papers.


Okay. If I want to have 250 pages written by June 1st, I have to average 4.25 pages a day. At first glance this doesn't look so bad. Mind you, this math is only for the first-draft, and my goal is to have a polished manuscript ready to query agents with by June 1st. And don't forget that to query I'll need a synopsis and a great hook for the cover letter. Que minor panic attack.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I got hosed in Ladies Poker the other night. The rookies will get you every time. Next match is May 4th, so I have time to read up on my strategies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Revenge of the GI tract

12:15 a.m. Sunday morning: Ken and I ate a Stack at our favorite diner. A stack is basically a heart attack on a plate--a biscuit, 2 sausage patties, 2 eggs, hashbrowns and cheese with sausage gravy poured over the whole mess. Heavenly.

12:00 p.m. Sunday: Outback Steakhouse. We split and order of cheese fries. They have bacon on top so they have been off-limits. We each order the Alice Springs chicken. I have mine with a side of broccoli to sort of cleanse the system. I ate most of the chicken before my body said, "Uh, hello? Like, you are so done." Commence GI revolt.

Never fear. I'm back on the vegetables. Tonight I had a mushroom-cheese quesadilla.

Writing is going well, as is working out. I think I've lost a pound or three but our scale sucks so it's hard to say. I average 3 pages a night on Stormy Weather, so that's cool. I've not done the math yet--how many pages do I have to write in order to have 250 by May 15th?--but I probably should. If I want a polished draft by June 1st, I need to get crackin'.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

F&SF ...

won the draw to get "The Brethren" today. JJA's missed me, I suspect. It's been a few months since I've sent them anything.

I just got back from the gym, where I did 2.5 miles on the treadmill. I find I don't loathe the treadmill as much as I once did. Perhaps it's my mindset. Running outside is better, of course, but with these stupidly cold temperatures settling in, I'll be inside for the next week or so.

Now I'm surfing the 'net before I read a little bit of the new Jim Butcher book. Then I'll probably nap, because Ken and I are going to eat at a diner at midnight. Biscuits with sausage gravy and a side of bacon, here I come!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Bad news first

I got a rejection from Dark Wisdom today for "The Brethren." However ... I'm playing poker with the ladies tonight and I'm eating meat at 12:01 Sunday morning. Life is good.

Tomorrow I'll send out the story again. You mangy currs can't keep me down!

Monday, April 02, 2007

look, ma, no hands!

Today I received the cover and proof pages for Pandora's Closet via priority mail. I feel like a real writer.

And then I mowed the yard, which grounded me sufficiently.

Tonight I'm going to proof the proof pages and write four pages in the YA book. June 1st looms.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Another picture

This one is of the Pirates of the Blue Kindoms back cover. Seeing my name in print never gets old. I'm told the price isn't set yet, but it should be between $15-$20. I suppose that makes it a trade paperback (that's the bigger paperbacks that you buy in bookstores, for those of you not in the biz). Today I bought a pirate t-shirt (from the juniors department, for the love of God!) to wear when I do readings from this antho. I have an aquaintance that plays guitar in coffeeshops and she's invited me to read during her intermissions. The idea makes me nervous but I'd like to do it in May and August when I'll actually have books to sell after the show. Listen to me, I act like folks will want to buy a copy after I mangle a reading, haha. It'll be good practice, at any rate.