Monthly Archives: August 2012

Another week, another con

Worldcon to be precise. I had meant to do a post on cons and networking and all that, but then there was packing and being on a train… Now it’s early in the morning and I’m flopped in a hotel bed in Chicago, trying to type on an Ipad. Balanced perfectly between having had too much caffeine and not enough.

So I’ll save that post for next week, when I might be coherent.

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Bring the pain

Putting up a piece of writing up to a critique group is always a leap of faith. This is my baby, my beautiful and perfect story, the words I’ve been slaving over for a week or a month or a year. This leap is even bigger when taking my novel to a professional-level workshop peopled with strangers. Will they hate it? Or worse, will they trash it? Will they think I’m a horrible writer? Will every fear I have about my writing be confirmed?

Invariably the answers are no, no, no, and no. Will they think my novel is perfect in every way and I shouldn’t change a word? Not a chance. They’ll break down the structure and rebuild it, question character motivations until even I’m not sure what I meant, and tell me what parts are brilliant and what parts … aren’t. They will tell me what I need to hear and massage my ego when I need it. In short, they’re pro writers talking to another pro writer.

It’s a really great thing.







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More Writing Resources

Jaleigh’s post yesterday had a great list of resources for market research, agent hunting, and education. Here are a few more:

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Writing Resources

A conversation I had recently with my sister-in-law  led me to realize that I’ve never done a post on writing and publishing resources online.  I take it for granted sometimes that people who read the blog will already know about these sites, but some of you might not, so, in no particular order, here are a handful of links that I’ve used and continue to use in my writing career.  I’m sure my fellow bloggers have more that they can contribute, but this will serve as a starting point.  –  A great resource for speculative fiction markets and pay levels.

Absolute Write – Especially the water cooler forums.

Preditors and Editors – Indispensable guide to literary agents and publishers.

Agent Query –  Finding literary agents.

Query Tracker – Database of literary agents.

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The Whole Action Package

Writing, as it turns out, is a long series of flaming hoops of judgement.

You come up with an idea, work it out into a story, write it down. Then you revise, revise, revise. Next, you give it to people–like your writing group–and let them tear into it. Repeat with the revising. When you finally feel good about it, you send it off to market. You watch it bounce around for awhile, maybe you revise it again, and then, finally, hopefully, someone decides they like it enough to buy it.

Of course, sometimes they want a few revisions.

But it’s sold, and you’re done! Except, no. Because next up is publication, and there it goes, out into the world for everyone to stare at and… ignore? point and laugh? become disgusted? like? You never know until it happens. That’s the fun part.

So I’ve been waiting for reactions to Riding the Signal to come in. Last week, the first high-visibilty reaction popped up online. Lois Tilton reviewed the story for Locus. And it seems she kind of likes it. No recommended rating, but generally positive and the last line was this–

A lot of action here, tension, betrayal, blood – the whole action package.

A nice little boost there, which will help me as I wait for any other reviews or reader reaction.  Especially that last bit. That may be going on my business cards.

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Drive-by post

I’m buzzing by the blog today to say: 

1. I’m busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest (this is not a complaint, just a fact)

2. I leave for a week-long novel workshop in two days

3. 1 and 2 are related. 

In short, I don’t have anything writerly or smart to say, so I leave you with this: 





That’s our kitty Clarity.


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Music and Writing (Part 4)

Music inspired a lot of the ideas behind my first few attempts at novels. Mostly, I think, because I took regular five-hour train rides to New Jersey to see the guy I’m now married to. I went through a lot of cd’s (yep, I’m old) on those train rides, while I was crocheting an afghan I still haven’t finished, or staring out the window, or writing the story that later became my first novel.

All the daydreaming from those trips spun off a lot of story ideas. At the time, I would listen to the same music while I wrote, even singing along with the words.

I no longer have those long train rides. They turned into drives, which meant I couldn’t slip fully into idea-generation land, and then thankfully disappeared entirely. Somewhere along the way, I got my first mp3 player, and walking and then jogging replaced traveling as my main inspiration time. I don’t make soundtracks for books any more, though. The ideas are constantly morphing–that’s why I started writing them down–so a song that sparked one story last winter might mean something entirely different this fall. I don’t even listen to music while I write most of the time. Maybe because I don’t have those long trips to let it sink into my brain so it distracts me from writing rather than fading into the background.

Sometimes I miss those early train rides, but I’m glad to have traded them for a few steps down the hall to my own living room.

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Gen Con Recap

Maybe not so much a recap as a brief note before I collapse from exhaustion and start the recovery process.  The convention was fantastic, but one of the highlights for me this year was the whole Foreshadows experience.  Big thanks go out to rock star brothers Jeff and John LaSala, Brian Matthews, Matt, Ruth and Jessica, Eytan, Talon Dunning, Ed Greenwood, Ari Marmell, and everyone I’m forgetting, everyone who stopped by the signings or to chat about the anthology or pose in the booth in their costumes.  Meeting everyone, sharing in your energy and enthusiasm for games and fiction and art and music–it’s everything that I love about Gen Con.

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Top ten reasons conventions and workshops are like college

10. You have a schedule and you attend everything that’s required, but there’s always that one thing you mean to get to just … don’t. Usually because …

9. You hang out and talk with your friends for hours about the important things: your shared passions, life, that stupid thing you did in high school, and who you would rather be: Jason Bourne or James Bond.

8. You have a mound of work to do and you pull a few late nights to get it all done before the deadline.

7. Copious amounts of alcohol is involved. If there’s a dirty secret of the writing community, it’s that we are populated with drinkers. Actually, that’s not a secret so much as a given.

6. You make plans to go out later in the ten seconds it takes to stop and talk to someone you know.

5. Pizza.

4. There’s no such thing as a “bedtime.” It’s more like “passing out from exhaustion.”

3. Viruses spread like the plague.

2. You find your tribe.

1. Time moves faster than normal and even though you’re overworked and exhausted, you never want this to end.

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Worlds are complicated

I’m ramping up for the next novel, which I’m figuring to start sometime in September. As part of the world building, I’ve been drawing out some maps.

This is one of my favorite parts of world building. I always loved the maps you found at the start of big, door-stopping fantasy novels, and I used to make up my own when I was a kid. Then I made a lot more as a gamer, drawing out dungeons, cities and continents. Writing gives me a new excuse for making fake atlases.

The thing is, I want those fake maps to be somewhat realistic. When I see desert and jungle and taiga all jumbled together on a map, it bugs me. More than giant fire breathing lizards. So when I lay out my maps, I try to make sure that the geography at least looks like it will work. Who wants an unbelievable fantasy world?

While laboring at this, trying to figure out prevailing winds and rain-shadows and such, I happened to read this article on boing boing. It’s about how the Amazon rain forest has pretty crappy soil, and for the jungle to exist there, it needs a constant influx of nutrient rich soil. Which it gets from Africa. Millions of tons of mineral rich dust from the Sahara are picked up every year by the wind and blown across the Atlantic. Enough of it lands in South America to fertilize the jungle and make the Amazon possible.

I have to say, that seems completely unrealistic.

Which means that whatever world I design will necessarily be completely wrong, because there is no way it will be complicated enough, or weird enough, to match reality.

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