Monthly Archives: December 2014

Creating Something Out of Nothing

So I’m in the middle of a staycation from the day job, which means I finally have large chunks of time to devote to writing/editing projects (and, who are we kidding, watching West Wing). I’m working on the next Origins Game Fair Library anthology. The stories are great and so the work is enjoyable. It just sort of struck me today as I finished one of the stories: two months ago, this story didn’t exist. These characters didn’t exist, their situation didn’t exist, I didn’t have any clue about any of them. And now, today, I’ve been moved by fictional characters. I care about them. I care what happens to them. All of the stories I’m reading are set in the future, on asteriods and in space ships and on other planets. Alss of them feel very real to me.

Yes, this is due in large part to the skill of the authors and their deftness with words. For whatever reason, today I’m reminded that writers just make shit up in such a way that readers believe it. It’s … sort of magical, when you think about it.

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My ConFusion 2015 Panel Schedule

I’m once again attending ConFusion, from Jan 16-18 in Detroit. (You can tell how much I like the people there by how willing I am to drive across Michigan in winter.)

Here is my panel schedule:

Friday 5pm: Gadgets and Apps for Writing
Scrivener, Evernote, writing books on phones and tablets!

Saturday 10am: All Your Data Are Belong to Us
What is “the internet of things?” How smart do we really want our devices to be? What will society look like when whole systems of objects talk to each other to shape our lives? And who controls the data our things collect?

Saturday 1pm: Current State of Short Fiction
An update on the state of short fiction in the fantasy/SF world – who’s writing, publishing, and reading?

Saturday 2pm: Fat Phobia in Fiction
Hey, look! A fat person in a fantasy/science-fiction book! What’s that? They’re the evilest evil-doer in the land? Oh, wait, no, they’re just lazy and cruel! Well, that’s better. Fat, likable characters – do they exist?

I have a lot of thinking to do for some of these!

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Happy Holidays

Well, it’s that time of year. I am stuffed with cookies and turkey, the children are running around dressed in wrapping paper, and the cat is insane. Here’s hoping that everyone has a lovely time.

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Dramatic License

While visiting family over Thanksgiving, I did something I hardly do anymore- watched television. The show they were watching that night was called Hey! Let’s Kill All the Terroists! Or something like that. When I say I was watching, I was actually mostly playing Castle Rush.

Anyway, I did catch the end. Our hero had spent the entire episode tied to a chair, being interrogated by Mr. Terroist–which meant that the episode was a series of flashbacks building to this last scene–is now facing death. Tied up, helpless, shot in the head type death. Which would be bad, and going against the shows whole theme. But! After a long build up, and at the last possible moment, the hero mentions that he knows he’s okay, because his boss will be coming for him. And oh, did he mention his boss used to be a sniper?

And cue the breaking window, dead Mr. Terrorist, and the quick zoom to the distant hillside where aforementioned boss looks sternly down a rifle barrel, dressed, of course, in a ghillie suit.

Here’s the thing. That scene, of course, is ridiculous. The timing is insane. But y’know, I can live with it. Because however ridiculous it is, it’s dramatic as hell. It’s a satisfying payoff at the end of the episode. Bad guy dead, good guy wins. I think most people-viewers, readers, whatever, are perfectly happy to gloss over some ridiculousness as long as it leads to an entertaining, dramatic finish. That’s dramatic license, and sometimes you just have to let the ridiculousness go.

Now about what happened next…

When the hero gets free, grabs his friends and goes running from the interrogation room, only to be threatened by Mr. Terrorist #2 (Electeric Terraloo). Who is then shot by–camera panning–his boss! Who is now standing down the hall. After apparently running a mile in his ghillie suit, over hill and valley, crashing through this compound of terrorists and finding the exact place where they are. In less than two minutes.

Nope. This, for me, is a line crossed. Well, a lot of lines. A ghillie suit stuffed with lines and handed a sniper rifle. And thinking about it, what really bothered me wasn’t so much how ridiculous it was (okay, yeah, that bothered me). What bothered me was that it felt unnecessary. We had our cool moment, our tension break point, our resolution. It’s done. Trying to tack another one on, one that’s even more unrealistic, just made the whole thing fall apart.

For me.

No one else in the room seemed to care. They, perhaps, even thought that me ranting about it was a bit ridiculous.

But I think I have license.

I have a couple of critique groups that would make all kinds of fun of me if I tried something like that.

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I Quit Writing

Until after Christmas.

Yesterday I turned in a novella to a contest on my writer’s forum (first prize: bragging rights). I have no plans to do any writing until after Christmas. I have novellas to read, novels to read, books about writing to read…but no writing.

It’s glorious. I feel like I have all this free time. I have lots to do, both things that piled up while I was writing and prep for Christmas, but no word counts hanging over my head. I came home after tennis class last night and sat on the couch and downloaded a bunch of ebook samples to look at next week while I’m off work.

I wonder if this is what normal life is like.

If I get twitchy, I’ll start thinking about the sequel to the novella.

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Why God Why

Okay, so I’m being a little melodramatic … but only a little.

There’s a reason I typically don’t write in December. The biggest reason is that I generally don’t have any big projects on my plate. My novel-for-the-year is done, I won’t edit the Origins anthology until the New Year, I’ve already turned in the story for an anthology that was due in mid-December, that sort of thing. December is my month to watch movies, send Christmas cards, go to parties, eat too much food, and maybe–just maybe–poke at a short story or a query letter. Maybe.  

This year is different. I have a novel due at the end-ish of February, and I’m a slow writer (it turns out I’m even a slow writer when I have a full outline and I know exactly where I’m going) with a full-time job, so of course I’m working on it over the holidays. Throwing another monkey wrench into things? The husband and I are buying a condo in January and so will be moving. Also, I have a 5-day trip planned for my 40th birthday in February.

I am no where near where I wanted to be by this time. I am no where near close to being even a quarter of the way done with this novel. I am starting to get stressed. Freaked out, even. In the back of my mind I know I’ll get it all done because I have to get it all done, and yes it will be stressful but it will happen and life will go on and the world isn’t going to end.

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Planning ahead

I’ve started thinking about my writing plans for 2015. I’m trying to be realistic about the number of hours I can write in a week and how many hours any given project takes.

That leaves me with a shorter list of projects than I’d like. I have three overall projects: revising a novel that I mostly ignored this year, writing and subbing (and maybe thinking about self-publishing) a series of novellas that I started this fall, and sending a bunch of flash submissions to a short story market I’d like to break into.

Plus querying the book I’ve been querying this year, and keeping my short stories on submission. If I have time left over I have a few short stories I’d like to tweak and send out.

It only seems like a short list when I start thinking about all the other projects I won’t have time for until 2016.

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Last Story

Well, published in 2014 that is.

Changeling Fall is the current story over at Crowded Magazine. I’m glad this one has gotten out– I wrote it while ago and its been through a lot of tinkering, but I’ve always liked it. Also, this is my first foreign pub-Crowded is an Australian magazine. Though on the internet nobody really knows what hemisphere you’re from. Go check it out if you like space opera/Huck Finn fusions. Sort of.



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Thoughts on Gravity

The movie, not the force.

The husband and I just watched this movie the other day. Aside from grumbling that it would have been really-fucking-cool to see it in IMAX, I did appreciate having some space from all the “science of Gravity” articles. Otherwise I would have been too busy nitpicking the physics to really enjoy the emotional weight of the story.

Like Castaway, this movie largely relies on the talent and gravitas of one actor, in this case Sandra Bullock. Like Tom Hanks, she delivers. In one scene, Bullock’s character is trying to grasp the enormity and hopelessness of her situation and she allows herself to cry. However, she pulls herself together in short order and gets back to doing what needs to be done. (Who hasn’t done that, in one way or another?) In another scene, Bullock grapples with the idea that she might die, and has an epiphany (“we all die, everyone knows that. But I’m going to die today“). I found that scene particularly human.

For me, the movie tapped into the very real fear of dying alone. (Yes, yes, Firefly fan–I know we all die alone). It also taps into the idea that we are small and insignificant and the world will keep spinning beneath us without so much as a shudder when we go. Those are big emotions and concepts to capture, but the storytellers and actors behind Gravity pulled it off.



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