Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. Try not to party too hard ringing in 2013. My big plans include a pair of pajamas, the couch, a glass of champagne and playing board games with the husband until midnight and maybe beyond. I’ll be back next week after all the holiday madness has died down to talk about what’s ahead for me this year and how I finally landed an agent!
Monthly Archives: December 2012
Another year of writing. How’d I do?
From Their Paws We Shall Inherit, published in Clarkesworld in March
Riding the Signal, published in the Intergalactic Medicine Show in July
A bunch of others written or revised, many of those now wandering through the slush piles.
My main book project was a huge rewrite of my first book, Chosen Wings. Cleaning it up and dealing with all the first book problems. I’m now starting to get ready to send it out.
This summer I sent out my third book, All the Girls of Chicago. Got a lot of nibbles on this one, which is encouraging, but no bites yet. It’s still out at a few places though, so maybe…
Researched and started the fourth book, but got distracted by other projects. I’ll get rolling with it in January.
An okay year. I should have gotten more done- more shorts, or a much stronger start on my next book. But at least I’m keeping things stumbling along.
That’s what this time of year is about–looking behind and looking ahead.
This year a heck of a lot has happened. I quit one job, started another, and am in the middle of a relocation to another city. I mention this mostly so I don’t feel slacker-y when I list my writing accomplishments for 2012.
The rear-view mirror
1. I started, work shopped, finished, and began the query process on a novel.
2. I sold … I actually don’t know the number … short stories. Three or four, maybe. I don’t remember which ones came out in 2011 and which ones came out in 2012. But more than one.
3. I accepted the “cruise director” position for the Origins Library at the Origins game fair.
3a. Which means I accepted my first job as a fiction editor.
4. I’ve started preliminary work (that means I’ve thought about it a whole lot and I’m letting my back brain do what it does) on the book I’ll write in 2013.
When I write it down if looks like a lot, but I feel like I’m perpetually behind and that I’m not working nearly hard enough.
And now to look ahead.
The crystal ball
1. Begin, workshop, and finish a new novel (the next book in my YA series, most likely).
2. Successfully run the Origins Library (which means there’s no bloodshed and they ask me to do it next year)
3. Write several more short stories. I hate to put a number down, but I dunno … let’s say ten. Ten new short stories this year.
4. Just … keep working towards my goal of publication. Get my name out there, write more, learn more, read more … and try to keep my sanity while doing so.
What about you? What do you guys have to look forward to on the writing front for 2013?
Merry Christmas! Or happy Tuesday, if you prefer. Or happy Les Miserables movie day.
I’m not blogging today, so if you think you’re reading this, you might want to lay off the eggnog.
Well, once again the apocalypse has failed to arrive. Guess I should do my post.
The apocalypse does happen (or almost happens) all the time in genre fiction. Hey, it’s a time tested way to get peoples attention– please note practically every religion ever. There are categories of apocalyptic fiction, though. Here’s an incomplete and completely unnecessary list of them.
1) THE END IS NIGH!
Very common, especially in fantasy. The world is stumbling headlong towards doom, unless someone (a ragtag group of unlikely heros, perhaps?) saves it. Perhaps the dark lord’s tie tack of doom needs to be pawned before he wakes from nappies. Or a comet must be diverted from its collision course with earth using only the power of true love and nuclear fission.
Why do authors do it? “You want stakes? Here’s your damn stakes. Now let me go back to describing the hobbits breakfast tea.”
2) THE END IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!
SF loves this one. Basically, sh*t blows up for three hundred pages. A few heros survive, and enter into a golden age of dysentery and PTSD. Oh wait, too far, cut the ending back to them walking triumphantly out of the flames/ice/plague/whatever and stop it there.
Why do authors do it? Sweet, sweet movie bait.
3) THE END JUST HAPPENED!
So, the world ended, but not entirely. This one has variants.
A) Now lets rebuild everything!
Yes, trying to turn the ultimate lemon into something refreshing.
B) Boy, everything sucks!
Depressing, but hey, Oprah liked it.
C) Now there’s magic/psychics/aliens/elves!
For when you want to write urban fantasy, but don’t want to explain why no one else has noticed the vampires.
Why authors do it? “Hmm, I don’t want to deal with the real world, but I don’t want to create a whole new one…” Also, sweet, sweet direct-to-video bait. Especially if you add cyborgs and kickboxing.
4) THE END! Yeah, that happened a while ago.
Things used to be fabulous, then everything was destroyed, but it’s getting better. A wonderful way to make McGuffins. Fantasy loves this one, but SF uses it too. SF also likes to use this as a convenient way to both change the world radically and keep technological advances under control.
Why do authors do it? “And get this, after he fights of the landsquid he crests the last dune and sees- EURODISNEY! Did I just blow your mind!?!”
Every year I put off buying Christmas gifts until the last minute and every year I say “next year I’m not gonna do that.” One of these years I’ll learn to embrace my process and just go with it.
Anyhow, I said that to say this: I hope everyone’s holiday is warm, peaceful, and full of love and laughter. Enjoy your friends and families. And after the hustle and bustle is over, settle down with an amazing book.
When I first started writing, I tried to outline a novel. I didn’t get very far. I knew a few things that happened but couldn’t figure out how they connected. So I gave up for a few years, and when I started again, I wrote a novel without planning more than a chapter or two ahead–and with a vague idea of how it would end–and ended up with a complete draft that was an unholy mess. Then I did it again, and again. Somewhere in there I tried another outline, with no more success than the first one. It felt like I was just making stuff up, without the sense of “yes, this is what happens” that would come when I only planned a chapter ahead.
But this frustrated me. It led to a lot of rewriting–I’ve still never looked at those second and third books–and seemed incredibly inefficient. Other people outline, so I knew it must be possible, but I didn’t know how.
Around then I was a member of the Forward Motion writing forum, and Lazette Gifford was about to start up that year’s Two-Year Novel Course. Figuring it couldn’t hurt, I signed up. There was only one lesson a week, so I worked it in around my primary project. By the end, I had a much better idea of how to plan a book. (It also helped that by then I’d written three or four and had realized what sorts of things I had to think about in advance.)
To be honest, I don’t think it had occurred to me to do lots of work before the outline. I’d tried worldbuilding checklists and character sheets and they always seemed silly–or like I was just making stuff up to fill in a form. Gifford’s process worked much better for me. I still got stuck when it came time to make the actual plot outline, but I’d done enough other work on the book that I was able to eventually figure out a plot.
I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to plan but is stymied by the process, or who has never written a novel and doesn’t know where to begin. It’s online, it’s free, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. Signups for the 2013-2014 class are open now.
True, it’s not quite the end of the year yet, but for various reasons I’ve been taking stock of 2012 and thinking ahead to 2013. You know, on the off-chance this apocalypse thing turns out to be wrong.
So yeah, 2012 wasn’t that great a year on several fronts. My mom got diagnosed with multiple myeloma and had some other serious health issues. I had a long stretch of back pain, which combined with stress, brought on some pretty low moments. And there were a few other things too that I won’t go into–I can only be serious like this for so long or I break out in a rash–but they were the kinds of things that make you question yourself and doubt yourself. You know, things that suck.
But there were bright spots too. I finished a book I’d been working on for over a year, had another one come out, and wrote a couple of short stories in between. I took a hiatus from a lot of things online, took some time for myself, and I think in the end I’m the better for it.
As for what’s in store for 2013 and beyond, I have reason to hope that there are good things on the horizon. Challenges too, of course, but I’ve also been reminded over the past year that I have friends and family who are there to share the joys and sorrows with me. They would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them.
For instance, Tim bought a sock monkey hat for a Christmas party, and he agreed to let me post pictures on Facebook of him wearing it. Husband + sock monkey hat = love. Can’t ask for more than that.
I finished that short story I was working on- just today in fact.
However, that’s only for a very liberal definition of finished. The rough is done, but I still need to do some polishing. I also need to trim it. This story needed to fit a specific word count, and, well… The start is fine, the middle is a bit fat, and the ending bloated up on me like a goat in a bean cannery.
I used to have trouble with trimming. Which is why my first short stories usually ran around ten thousand words. Practice helped cut that back, but another useful tool was a book that was recommended to me by a writer friend, Ferrett Steinmetz. It’s called The 10% Solution.
It’s a short book with a simple basic idea- take your first draft and cut it by about ten percent. That’s to get rid of the unnecessary fat that’s accumulated. It has a nice little system that helps you start doing this, and for awhile I was very faithful about running all my stories through it. It worked fairly well, and I was happy with the results.
Nowadays, I don’t do that as much. Probably because it’s mostly been internalized, and I don’t write epic short stories nearly as much. I may have to bring it out again for this one though.
That goat looks mighty ominous.
I’m dropping in long enough to say that I can’t stick around and chat. Deadlines are eating me.
I’m not complaining, mind you. Just stating a fact.
1. Deadlines mean I have, well, work to do. Work for which I hope someday to get paid.
2. Nothing breaks a streak of writer-angsty whining like blind panic. So, yay. Added benefit.
3. Apparently the “creative juice” people sometimes refer to is, in fact, adrenaline.
3a. My scientific-journal day job makes me wonder if someone shouldn’t do a study on that idea.
3b. Also, how would such a study would be constructed?
I leave you to chat among yourselves about the answer to that question. See you on the flip side.