Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cold hard cash

Today I received a check for my short story "Three Wishes" for the Terribly Twisted Tales anthology. What to buy, what to buy, what to buy ...

I think a piece of jewelry might be in order, as is Rock Band.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A few discoveries

So a few weeks ago Ken decided he wanted to make the spare bedroom into his den. This meant that we spent a Saturday sorting through and throwing away junk. Quite cathartic. I found two things buried in the closet: my fake ID from college and two folders full of my old writing. Finding the ID was fun. It's so horribly bad that I can't believe it ever worked anywhere. It's also a nice reminder that at one point I actually was too young to buy liquor. As for the writing ... oh, man. Some of it's pretty wretched ... but some of it's not so bad. There's essays as well as fiction dating back to high school. There are at least two stories missing; one written in the sixth grade about a man and a woman on a space ship that watch the destruction of Earth from space and one written my freshman year of high school about a sociopathic teenager that kills girls who have the nerve to date her ex-boyfriend.

I've decided to take a page out of Lyda Morehouse's book (she's a member of the Wyrdsmiths writing group--yeah, the same Wyrdsmiths that's on the blog roll over on the left) and throw up a few excerpts now and again. My first selection is dated January 13, 1993 and is the opening paragraph to a story called "Another one for the Scrapbook."

He was having those feelings again. It took him by surprise, really. He usually didn't have these feelings until Springtime. He had often compared these feelings to the "I-have-the-munchies-but-I-don't-know-what-I-want-to-eat" feeling. You know, you know you want to eat, but not what. He knew he wanted to kill, but not who. Not yet.

Okay, terrible, right? But not. The writing suuuucks, but the elements are there. I have the warm fuzzies.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hold all my calls

With the Golden Globes a wash and the Oscars questionable due to the Writer's strike, I'm all about the Screen Actor's Guild awards tonight. I'll be on my couch in my jammies with a bowl of popcorn.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Here's the list of cons I know I'll be attending:

WisCon (Memorial day weekend)
World Con (August 6-10)
Gen Con (August 14-17)

This will require I take two weeks off work in August. Oh, darn. Technically I can't ask for the time off until February but--fingers crossed--it shouldn't be a problem. I'm not above bribery attempts to make it happen.

I'd also like to attend World Fantasy Con in November, but we'll see. The above cons might tap out the whole vacation fund.

I've also got good news to share regarding Gen Con. I've been asked to sit on a few writing panels! I'm excited and nervous. Excited because it's a milestone of sorts; nervous because strangers will look at me like I'm a real writer. For now I'm going to try not to think about it lest I get too freaked out. I'll also be giving a reading, so I need to think about what I want to read.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Writer's Conundrum

There are many aspects of the writing life that I didn't expect when I started writing seriously. How to think like a writer. What do to with all the ideas that flood your brain when thinking like a writer becomes second nature. The nuts and bolts of the craft. Meeting other writers and finally feeling like I belong somewhere. Finding mentors. Bonding with fellow rookies so we can make the journey less painful. Supporting your friends by buying and reading their work.

It's this last bit that's given me some trouble over the past four months or so.

Sometimes when you meet someone you know immediately that you'll be friends. Last year at Gen Con I met Pat Rothfuss. I found him to be warm, kind, intelligent, and funny. His first book had just been released and had been generating a good amount of buzz in the industry. His dust jackets carry some serious blurbage. I didn't care about any of that--I just knew that I wanted to be friends this guy with the funky beard that could laugh at himself and others with equal abandon. And of course I wanted to support him so I bought his book. I didn't get to it right away. And then I found out Pat had been nominated for a Quill Award. And his Amazon ranking was in the top 1000. Fans wrote him truly moving letters about what his book meant to them.

I read the prologue five times. I couldn't read any further. I wasn't that I didn't like it or that I didn't find it interesting. The dust-jacket blurb reeled me in further every time I read it. I wanted to read it. I wanted to love it. It took me a while to figure out why I couldn't get past the first page.

I'm a deep reader. What I mean by that is, I invest myself fully into a story or book or series. When I read Robert Jordan's books, I dream I can channel. When I read Harry Potter, I dream about meeting Voldemort face-to-face. When I read Scott Lynch I dream I'm con-artist; when I read Steven Brust I dream I'm a knife-throwing assassin; when I read Kelly McCullough I dream I can whistle in code. I laugh out loud. I cry. I tense up at the scary parts. My heart beats faster during sex scenes. I've been known to throw a book out of anger. I wonder what daemon my friends would have if we lived in Phillip Pullman's world. I've posted on message boards. I've written Steven King a fan letter.

And this is why I couldn't read Pat's book. I was afraid I'd like it too much. Somehow I couldn't reconcile being friends with Pat while being a geeky fan. I didn't want to idolize him. I wanted to be able to buy a round of drinks and talk about politics and pop culture and his blood fued with Anton Strout without thinking in my head, "Dude, you're sitting next to the guy who wrote The Name of the Wind." It bothered me, because let's face it, if I were any sort of friend at all I'd read the damn thing. But the nature of Pat's success coupled with my tendency to geek out over books I love ... well. The picture it conjured didn't look pretty.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I e-mailed Pat and told him my thoughts. He responded right away (and I paraphrase here): "What's wrong with being a fan and a friend? I don't have many of those." I'm not lying when I say it felt like I'd just gotten permission to love his book. And oddly, permission to hate it, as well.

I'm on Chapter Five. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Stamps!

I totally geeked out at the post office yesterday over their new Star Wars and SuperHeroes stamps. I bought a sheet of each. So fun!

The short story is in several reader's hands. We'll see what they have to say. I'm going to work on the book for the rest of the month and then start on the other shorts I have in the back of my head.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Dear, sweet Jesus. This book rocked. First off, the story is simple yet complex. The prose is clear and concise. Card cuts to the core of truth about the group dynamics of children--and I dare say, adults--with a few well-turned phrases. He showed me how siblings could love and hate each other at the same time. He made me believe that Ender could command a military offensive at the age of ten, just as I believed Ender's 12-year-old sister Valentine and their 14-year-old older brother Peter could influence world events over the internets. I believed that a kid could be made into a machine. I believed a machine could still love. Sure, there were a few things that were a little off--relativity and space travel among them--but I was willing to suspend disbelief long enough not to care. This one is near of the top of my "favorite books" list. Highly recommended.

The edition I read had a lengthy introduction. I've read (more like devoured) author intros as long as I've been reading books. This one was a particularly good one in that Card mentioned the book had been used in the classroom in several different ways: military leadership classes, literature classes, religious discussions, etc. He wrote something that touched me deep to my writer core, and I share it with you here (I'm also going to put the quote at the bottom of the page, for those that venture that far): "The story of Ender's Game is not this book, though it has that title emblazoned on it. The story is the one that you and I will construct together in your memory. If the story means anything to you at all, then when you remember it afterward, think of it, not as something I created, but rather as something that we made together."

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It is done ...

The rough draft is complete! And now the real work begins. And, a title. Hopefully I can get this done over the next couple of days so my intrepid beta readers can get their grubby hands on it.

Life is good.

Did the familial holiday festivities yesterday. Gifts+food+time spent with family=full tummy+low grade headache. Actually it wasn't too bad, but all that driving in one day sort of drains me. Today Ken and I ate breakfast out before I finished the rough draft of a short story and did a little laundry. Now I am going to nap just because I can. later I will tackle Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I've never read it, but Ken just finished it and said I have to read it. Plus, lots of authors say it's one of their favorite adolescent reads, and so I'll give it a shot. Probably it will just make me feel inadequate but what the hell. I'm always in for a good story.

Next up on the writing front: editing the short. Work on two other shorts between bouts of Through the Portal. Perhaps start another round of agent requests for Stormy Weather. Try not to feel guilt at not getting all this done overnight.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Kitty pics

Because, you know, it's been a while.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

There's a leak in the dam!

So I think I've finally hit on the right way to approach this short story I've been working on. I've started it four different times; the first three, I'd get about 1,000 words in and decided I hated it. And not just "ugh, this a tough paragraph to write" or "ew, I don't like this passage, it's got to go on the rewrite" but "dear sweet Jesus, this sucks. I'm gonna go wrap presents/do laundry/scoop cat litter." Today, faithful blog readers, I'm 1300 words in and I can't wait to get back to it. The tone is right, I'm learning a bit more about the character, as I write I'm getting ideas for what comes next and how to fix what I've already written so that what's coming makes sense ... ah, writer bliss. I tell you, it's a wonderful thing. I have tomorrow off and it's entirely possible I could finish the rough draft.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year, Peeps!

Ken and I spent NYE with friends before we attended a schwanky to-do complete with passed gourmet finger food, a coat room, and dancing. We played Rock Band at a friend's house, where I discovered I'm not too bad at singing (!) but I suck on drums. At the soiree, I drank and danced while Ken plied me with said drinks, watched me dance, and gambled fake money at some gaming tables. It was a good time, but I'm tired, my legs and feet hurt, and I'm a little hoarse.

Today I took down the Christmas tree. We're going into town to watch Illinois play in the Rose Bowl, an then I'd like to come back and write the short story that's been eluding me. I have a deadline that is creeping up ever-so-quickly, and my performance anxiety is starting to kick into high gear.

My goals for the year are to write more and read more. Specifically, I'd like to finish two novels and five short stories this year while reading twenty books. This, of course, while losing ten pounds. Sometimes I feel like I'm pulled in a dozen different directions, and I'm not even a parent.