- Wellll.....Y2K is drawing to a close. This is my last entry of the year. I feel like it should be this wonderful, special entry, but ... it won't be.
No magic news about a book contract or new job in Seattle or getting engaged. Just a quiet wish for health and happiness in 2001. Y2K was a quiet year for my writing. No Rose Bowl invitations, no 1st round draft picks -- heck, not even a personal "no thanks" from Gardner Dozois. I managed only one sale this year with an embarrassingly low number of completed works, BUT in October, after eight years of submitting/writing short fiction, I wrote the best damned story of my career. That's worth all the fumbles and losses for the year. Because it means that sometimes, I do know what I'm doing and that I am getting better at this writing stuff. And that one story I sold last year (The Essence of Place) is a story of which I'm extremely proud. Also, in 2000, I saw several of my short stories published in
Treachery and Treason, Sword & Sorceress XVII, Civil War Fantastic, and The Age of Wonders. And I had the incredible opportunity to learn more about the craft from John Crowley, Ted
Chiang, and Steve Leigh. Steve, you're going to be a great teacher. Wish I was in the area, so I could sign up.
- In 2001, I plan to hit the novels pretty hard.
I think that's where I need to be right now. And if I can manage to break in, then maybe I'll be able to break into the short fiction markets, too. I need to write another novel and keep Daring to Be Bad in that medium until I learn the craft. But in short fiction, I feel the need to Dare to be Good. God, are all writers this schizophrenic????
- It's about an hour away from the next millenium here. Time marches on. The Bones of the World anthology opens tomorrow. My first submission (Myths of Humanity) is winging its way westward. I guess that's the beauty of tomorrow. It always offers the hope of possibilities. Even if things don't turn out the way we hope, at least we have the dream time to wonder and imagine. It's that way for every story, every envelope that slips into the mailbox.
Have a safe and happy New Year!
- Back at the keyboard after a fun but exhausting holiday.
Boy, am I tired! Have to go back to work tomorrow. :P Can't say that I'm looking forward to that. Today's mail brought a Merry Christmas rejection for me. Yeehah. Tonight, I'm back working on Rigel's Fulcrum.
I ironed out a few wrinkles that had developed in the story and I'm working on another one right now.
I think it'll be ready to roll in another week (give or take a couple of days). Still not sure that the title will remain. We'll see what happens when I get the complete draft down on paper. I hate to say it, but the holiday break kind of muffled my enthusiasm for the story. I need to reread my research notes to get back that spark. I hate it when my momentum gets interrupted. This year has been an unending stream of bad timing. Kind of like that synchronicity commercial where the paramedics show up to reattach a guy's arm before the chimpanzee with the chainsaw arrives. Here's hoping that 2001 will be better aligned than 2000.
- I'm also working on the rewrites for two novels.
In EDP, Dr. Kingston's story is slowly sheltering the original story arc of the plight/life of cloned soldiers in a futile conflict. I think she will make the story better, but I'm keeping the original version just in case. Of everything that I've written, this story is the most dear to me, so I REALLY need to make this one work. And...I think there will be a new title for this book before this revision is complete. It's weird. For EDP, I'm adding a plot line. In Rediscovery, I'm removing one. How's that for yin and yang? I'm hoping to get both of these drafts completed by February and resubmitted to the various houses. Maybe 2001 will be my year for a first novel sale? Wish I had a dollar for every year I've said this. Then I'd have -- well, not very much, but at least some of my postage would be covered. So...as I look ahead to 2001, I hope it will be The Year. I hate this ache deep in my soul that desperately wants to be a novelist. It's been there since I was six years old. I understand how Pinocchio might have felt. He wanted desperately to be a real boy and not a wooden puppet. All his attempts failed and eventually turned him into a -- okay, skip that analogy. ;) Seriously, maybe 2001 will be The Year. Guess I'll just go back to my rewrites and find out.
- One of the coolest presents I got for Christmas was a Zen Garden. It has rocks and sand and a little rake where you can create designs around the rocks.
It teaches that we should experience our world and art rather than analyze them. The patterns created around the rocks symbolize the world around us and the empty spaces where no pattern has been drawn show possibilities. I've set it up on my dresser. Just hope my cats don't get any bright ideas about making any patterns. Ruh roh....
- Daring to be Good -- what does that mean, Ron asks in his journal. A question I've been asking myself for some time. To me, it's an entirely different focus than Daring to be Bad. Daring to be Bad is about completion -- finishing a short story in a week, no matter what. It's writing the best that you can in the time you're allotted. It's about sitting in front of that keyboard night after night (or day). It's about making your writing a high priority. Daring to be Bad is about quantity, learning by practicing the craft over and over and over. Even when you're tired. Even when it hurts. Even when the sight of that blank screen is paralyzing. It's about courage -- keeping those stories out there even though you know you're a beginner. Even though you suspect that your work isn't very good yet. Even though this is a top market. Even though the odds of success are low. It's a writer's boot camp. It's finding your voice. It's finding your wings.
Now, Daring to be Good … that's a little more complicated. Because learning to fly is only part of it. You have to apply what you've learned, master that takeoff, master that landing. But most of all -- now, you've got to learn to soar. Daring to be Good is learning something new with every short story. Trying craft techniques that you've never tried before. Writing what scares you. Writing what moves you. Honing your voice. Understanding it. It's stretching your skills and your imagination, taking that new story idea to the next level. It's writing the best that you can, no matter how long it takes (quick or long, it doesn't matter). It's breaking the rules you learned when you were Daring to be Bad.
It's knowing what works best for you as a writer and throwing the rest away. It's knowing HOW you work best and ignoring what other people do. It's also not being afraid to admit that, no matter how many years
you've been doing this, you still don't have all the answers. Daring to be Good can't be taught. It has to be learned by doing, by Daring to be Bad. It's all in the journey -- from finding
your wings to learning to soar. As an extremely timid and uncertain writer, I needed Dare to be Bad. Without it, I wouldn't have had the courage to keep trying in the face of all those rejections.
It allowed me to write a story to the best of my ability, but in order to complete the Dare, I had to send it out. The Dare allowed me to send that imperfect story out, saying it was okay no matter how good or bad. That freedom was my wings, so now I want to learn to soar. Have a good evening!
- Did more research tonight and wrote the opening scene of the new story. The working title is Rigel's Fulcrum and for the moment, it works. Still need to develop the two main characters' motivations a bit more and work out some logistics, but so far, the story is holding together. I want to do a bit more research over the weekend though because I know I'm fast approaching a plot snag -- and I want to be ready for it.
- I didn't get as much done tonight as I'd have liked though. Still had to finish packing up gifts to mail and get those Christmas cards ready to mail!
It's all done now. Two more gifts to buy and I'm all finished except for the wrapping, etc. And...time to fess up (hope my nephew's not reading this 'coz he gets my PII 300)...I ordered a new computer! It'll be here, hopefully, on Thursday. I can't wait! I ordered a Pentium IV 1.4 GHz station, 60 GB hard drive, 12/8/32x burner, 250 MB Zip drive, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB GeForce 2 Pro, Soundblaster Live! Yeah.... :) So, I'm getting all my files backed off onto zips this week. Gotta do a fast transfer before my brother's family arrives.
- Today, I received the page proofs for my short story, Armageddon...my final appearance in the Sword & Sorceress
anthologies. I felt really sad when I opened the envelope. It was a pleasure writing stories for these volumes. Every year, I looked forward to the reading window, planning my stories, writing and rewriting them -- and then the excitement of sending them off. Granted, many of them sailed back to me in record time, but a few made it into the volumes.
Sword & Sorceress XVIII is my fifth and final appearance in S&S. And I will miss them greatly.
- We're bracing for a winter storm tonight. It's so still and clear outside, bitterly cold.
The sky is a crisp indigo, the stars vivid. It looks too clear for snow, but I wonder what the morning will bring. The weather folks say we could get several inches. For now, it's the quiet before the storm. Ah, well -- back to my story. Have a warm evening!
- Still in the research phase on the new, as-yet untitled story.
There are a few details I need to clear up before I can set the first scene to paper. I spent what few hours I could grab this weekend researching the science part of my story. Just need a little more info about my female character along with a few more research bits. The story is so clear in my head at the moment -- a very good sign. Just received my Popular Science magazine for the month, so I'm hoping that between it and the latest SciAm and Discover magazines, I'll have what I need.
- Finished my proofs of Spirit House for the Outside the Box
anthology! So that's all ready to go. Wish I could say that about a couple of novel rewrites on my desk. But first, the short story...short entry tonight. Gotta get this story in motion. Have a good evening!
- Made quite a bit of progress tonight on the new story.
Today, at work, I stumbled on a few more cool pieces of the story while reading some tech articles. The articles were job-related, but my brain is always in writer mode. I don't think my brain is ever in any other mode. Which made school really tough at times. You could always find story notes in the margins of my class notes, the beginnings of stories in the back of notebooks, manuscript pages to be proofed tucked in the center. People always thought I took a lot of notes and I did -- but they weren't for class. :) So, I came home today with a handful of Post-its. I just finished writing that all-important letter to myself where I tell myself the story as it has come to me. And I have to say that I'm really psyched about this story....BUT I'm afraid that this one's going to be a long one. Might be too long for my intended market, but who cares, I'm writing it anyway. I'm predicting 6k to 7k. Actually, I hope it's longer. Why? Because it's fun to spend more time in these worlds than just a short story allows. Okay...I confess. A longer story will keep me away from that painful, tedious rewrite I'm supposed to be working on. No title yet, but I know who my characters are and I know the story's plot from beginning to end. I'll also need to do some research for parts of this story. It's another SF story. Wow, that'll be two SFs in a row for me! Cool. :)
- A bit of good news in email yesterday. Bookface.com is doing a print anthology of some of the stories appearing there and my story, The Spirit House, will be among the pages!
Yay! The anthology will be out in late February 2001 from Wildside Press. The anthology is called Outside the Box. I'm so pleased that this story will see the printed page a second time.
I received galleys already for my story, so I'll need to spend tomorrow evening proofing. But tomorrow is Friday!! I'll have the weekend to work on these items. :)
- Gotta get back to my story. Have a good evening!
- Isn't it funny how someone can just toss out a simple word or phrase at the right moment and spark a universe in your head? It never fails to amaze me when that happens.
A colleague and I were discussing programming today and she spoke just two words, two words I've heard a million times, but today -- boom! They clicked together in a way that was positively weird and for the rest of the day those words poked at my brain, connecting little disjointed ideas until ... well, you know -- I had a new story idea. And it couldn't have come at a better time because I'm about ready to heave every novel I've ever written against a brick wall. I think it will be good for me to focus on something else for a few days. I'm hoping that this new story will a) get written and b) be suitable for the next SFFNet anthology which opens in less than a month. I already have one story ready to submit, but my gut is telling me the story isn't good enough. We'll see. I hope this new story idea pans out. Sometimes, I understand how the prospectors must have felt, sifting through water and gravel for little gold nuggets. But the thought of prospecting is more appealing than the demolition job I was working on. :) Have a good evening!
- It's been a busy few of weeks.
Got a couple of rejections lately. Haven't sent the stories out again though. I need to take a look at them and see if they're worth sending out. I've also been in rewrite hell since Thanksgiving on a novel manuscript. The editor has asked for rewrite on it, so I'm struggling to see if I can pull this off. As always, it isn't an easy rewrite and I may find that after I do all of this a) I hate the book and/or b) I still don't make the sale. I really hate where I am with my writing skills and I wish I could figure out what the hell I'm doing wrong. I've read this same sort of editor's letter so many times and I just want to kick myself for not being able to do this stuff better, just a little better and I'd be moving forward instead of stuck in writer's purgatory. Yeah, I know, I should be happy to have the opportunity, but I've fumbled on the 10 yard line too many times. And it's killing my motivation. I NEED to write more novels. I've had at least three editors ask me to send them another piece that I'm working on...and you know what -- I don't have any. I've come to the conclusion that I'm afraid. I'm afraid to start another novel and then fail to finish it like my last attempt. I'm just going to have to figure out a way to suck it up and write something new, no matter what. I keep telling myself that it doesn't matter if the story's no good after I finish -- but yeah -- it does matter. It matters too much. I guess I don't want to Dare to be Bad anymore. I want to Dare to be Good. Somehow, I've got to come to terms with that and get on with my writing.
- Last week, I was home sick with a nasty bout of bronchitis, so I didn't get any work done at all. Still getting over this junk, but feeling much better.
Today, I took Bailey out to have his picture taken by a professional photographer doing pet pics at the local groomer. Bailey was MOST unhappy by my decision and I spent most of the time trying to keep him still (picture someone trying to herd cats). The photographer got two really good poses of him though. My cat, Marshall is still hanging in there. We have to give him fluids under the skin every three days (via IV drip) which is difficult to do ourselves. For now, Marshall seems in reasonable health. Have a good evening!
- Did some more preliminary work on the new short story.
Haven't gotten back to the fantasy story I've been working. I'll probably do some work on Privacy and get that one moving first. The opening for this one trickled out more slowly than I'd have liked. Not at all happy with it yet, but at least I broke through the blank screen barrier. There are still lots of things to sort out in this one. Hope it doesn't fizzle. Have a good evening!
- Happy Birthday to Lisa Collins! Hope you had a terrific birthday!
- Exciting day at Chez Silverthorne -- errands, errands, and more errands!
After being a lazy bum most of the morning, I went out shopping for some upcoming birthday gifts. And...no mail today....I thought that was Monday. Messing with a writer's mailbox is just wrong, y'know. So I don't know if I'll get any mail on Monday or not. Received a rejection this week from Glimmer Train Stories (ooh, big surprise). Haven't gotten the story back out yet. Plan to get it and a newly revised SF story ready to mail for Monday. Of course, who knows if the story will actually go out. See, I'm one of these lazy writers. I NEVER mail my manuscripts at the post office. I buy a roll of stamps, weigh those puppies, and slap them in the mailbox. If I had to actually GO to the post office, I doubt I'd be sending out many stories. :)
- I'm in an odd frame of reference right now about my fiction.
I want to write DANGEROUS -- stuff that scares me, things that make me uncomfortable, and characters that I normally wouldn't write about. Working title of my latest endeavor is called simply, Privacy, and I'm
almost ready to start committing it to paper (okay, screen).
I don't want to write the same ol' drivel that I normally write. I want to write some new drivel. Stuff that editors will look at and instead of saying, "God, doesn't she ever write anything else than this crap?" they will say, "At least she's writing some different crap. It's still crap, but it's different." Of course, that's assuming any editor actually remembers my work. Maybe, if nothing else, I'll get noticed? Maybe I'll even feel like I'm making tiny baby steps forward? The bad thing about beating your head against the brick wall of publishing is the concussion you get afterward. Really skews your perspective. ;) I think I'll change my name to Hei Yu. That way, my name will match my place in the field. Sorry, just grumpy today. Too much caffeine and not enough sleep, I guess. Picked up Asimov's and Science Fiction Chronicle today, so I'm gonna go do a little research and depress myself with all the first novel sales out there and read some stories by real writers.
- Wow....I got the coolest idea for a short story today!
It's still in pieces right now, so I've got to let it simmer a bit until I get the right spark. I had to take care of something today that I usually send my students to do and because of that, I stumbled onto this story. It's going to be one of those stories that I don't normally write and the protagonist is someone I don't normally write about either. He's more or less an anti-hero which makes me more than a little uncomfortable, but it's a good way to explore an issue that's been bothering me in the workplace for some time. I think it's important to try and write stories that do make me uncomfortable, otherwise, I worry about writing SSDT (Same Story Different Title). Get uncomfortable with your writing. Explore things that scare the hell out of you. Hit things that make you angry head on. Write in crazy ways. Bump yourself off that same ol' trail and make a few new ones. This is Lisa's Zen approach to writing for the day.
- I'm off to do a little brainstorming. Gotta get the tech part right first -- which may take me a few attempts. Yep, it'll be another SF story and my gut's predicting about 5 to 6K
in length. Gotta get back to the other short story I'm working on (a fantasy). Have a good night.
- Yeah, I know -- I've been a total slug about updating my page.
I've spent the past few days rewriting a short story that I want to send out. I'm still not happy with the ending yet, but the story feels much leaner than it did. Even so, it's still 5200 words. Bleh. I'm also doing a bit of research right now for an anthology. Not quite ready to write the story yet, but I will be soon. My short story, The Spirit House will be going up on Bookface.com very soon (might be this week), so that's kind of exciting. :)
- My mailbox has been quiet for so long. Waiting to hear back on at least 10 submissions. Sigh. Unfortunately, I think my wait will continue for some time.
- I've decided to wait a bit on the new novel.
I don't think I'm quite ready to tackle it yet. Thought I was ready, but upon much introspection, I will wait. My plan is to write some more short stuff while I'm working on the rewrite of EDP. I've been avoiding it this past month or so. Maybe it's just my own insecurities about the plot, I don't know? We'll see what develops this month. Meanwhile, the wait continues.
- Finished my final draft of Tide Pools tonight! Woo! Final word count is 8250 words. Tomorrow it will be winging its way to New York. I'd really like to see this story in print. I think it's one of my best efforts to date. And I really needed one of those to put me back in the saddle. I've been kicked out of that saddle too many times over the past year and haven't wanted to be thrown again. But I think I'm ready to handle it again.
- With Tide Pools officially out the door, it's now time to take a look at this novel project I want to do. And tomorrow's Friday!! Talk about perfect timing. :)
- Hope to finish reading Natalie Goldberg's Thunder and Lightning tonight. I've enjoyed this book as much as I did Julia Cameron's The Right to Write. This one is a
wonderfully inspiring and validating book for writers. If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend it.
- No other writerly type mail this week.
Of course, I'm not going to finish the next part of this thought where I talk about how long stuff's been out because you know what happens. That invokes the Rejection Gods who promptly reign down molten rejections onto your mailbox. But what would I have to talk about if there weren't rejections? If all I ever talked about were acceptances, you'd all get really bored. Sold
a novella to Asimov's today. Sigh.
I wonder what I'll find in my mailbox tomorrow? Yet another sale to F&SF. ARGH! When will it end? When will all these checks and contributor's copies stop filling up my mailbox? I can't even find my junk mail for all these acceptance letters! WHEN
WILL THE SUFFERING END??? [Sound of Ridiculous Daydream Bubble Bursting] Oh, how different my world would be without rejections. A
lot better, dammit!! Have a good evening!
- Draft #2 of Tide Pools is finished!! Weighing in at a hefty 8100 words, too. It has nearly doubled in size. Gotta let it cool down for a while so I can take an objective look at it. My gut still tells me there are some problems. Can't exactly pinpoint them yet, but I will. I'm so proud of this story. I feel a strong sense of accomplishment at its completion. This is the first substantial piece that I've written in months and it's one that has really challenged what I learned in John Crowley's workshop. Makes me feel like a writer again. Of course, at 8k, this story will never see print, but I learned a great deal in the writing of it.
- Today's mail brought a 19-day "what were you thinking?" from Terra Incognita, good ol' Murphy bringing the writer's world back into balance again.
- Once I get Tide Pools out the door, I plan to devote some time to the new novel idea. I need to think through some of the thoughts I jotted down this summer and see if they still hold water. Then I'll review my .MPEGs from the setting walkthrus I took to put myself more into the milieu. Back to the keyboard...
- Spent a good chunk of the day reworking Tide Pools. The word count is 7K and climbing now as I add in necessary scenes.
I think this story will easily spill over into novelette territory. But it can't be helped. This is a long story that can't be told as a short story. I'm really seeing that now. I've never sold a novelette before, so another challenge for me. :) At any rate, this story is really pulling me in...just hope I can make it work the way it should. In fact, I can almost see this story spilling into the novella category. Which is
scary. Why? Because the last story I wrote to this length turned into a novel trilogy. :) Eeep. Regardless of length, I feel like I've learned something about short fiction with this piece and I feel like I've really stretched myself as a writer. Taken it to the next level -- whatever that is for me. And that feels damned good.
- I'm taking a vacation day from work tomorrow, so I hope to get a new draft completed by tomorrow. Then I'll let it sit for a day or two before I tackle the next layer.
There are still problems in this rewrite, but there are some higher order fixes that must come first before I tackle the next set of "issues."
- For all you Enya fans out there -- She's releasing a new album on 11/21!!! I can't wait! She's one of my all-time favorite artists! The CD is called A Day Without Rain.
- Short entry tonight. I'll cut my writing ramble off now, so you don't fall asleep at the computer. Have a good evening!
- Got comments back on my new short story today!
(Thank you, thank you, thank you, Steve and Denise!) Your comments were a TREMENDOUS help and really made me think about a lot of story elements. Tide Pools is a fairly ambitious story for me and when I finished it, I felt a little out of my league on making it work. But thanks to some expert opinions, I now have some solid direction on the story and I think I can make it work. It may take me a few more drafts, but I feel confident that I can bring it around. So, I spent some of the evening tweaking and scrubbing off a few pieces that were unnecessary (a little technology here and there). Still need to bring the two story arcs into more contact and strengthen some character connections. I hope to do that over the next few days. This story is already 5800 words and it needs to be longer. I will do my best to keep the marketing hat out of my way and just write the length that this story needs to be. Only when I'm happy with the story will I worry about markets. :)
- Went to the park this afternoon to enjoy the glorious, glorious weather!
The fall foliage is at its peak here, so I captured some of the gorgeous colors with my Mavica (if they turn out, I'll post a few soon). This park is a very small place, but for me, it's very, very special. See, among its secret stone benches nestled beneath huge Norway Firs, I first made the decision to give this writing submission thing a try (you remember the Dare to Be Bad).
Oh, boy, did I EVER dare to be bad.
I was BAD...I should have included Odor Eaters in the envelopes of many of those early stories. When I look back on all those stinky short stories, I can't believe I had the nerve to send them out. Those poor editors! But I was a persistent little bugger. :) And I learned that the more I practiced, the more I learned. That was eight years ago, but I still remember that moment beneath the firs. Close my eyes, take a deep breath, and take that step out into the open. It's all a series of first steps, so don't forget where the journey started and why you're taking it. And most of all, remember where you've been. We all start out not knowing the way or what to do, but we learn. And when we've walked for a long time and covered some distance, it's still okay to ask for directions. Because the map changes for every story we write -- it's territory we've never explored before, so it may take a little exploring to get it right. :) Have a great evening!
- Good to be back online! The ol' home computer has undergone a few upgrades this week, so I haven't been able to update my webpage for a few days.
I installed a second hard drive as the master drive and slaved over my original drive, so now I have much more space than I originally had. And once the drive was in place, I installed Windows Millenium Edition on the new drive. So far, things are working very smoothly. Of course, I won't tell you my lazy tech story about upgrading from Windows 95 to ME and then having to uninstall everything. :) All is well though and I have twice the space I had before. Gotta love that.
- A good friend of mine has graciously agreed to crit my new short story, so I'll be sending that off shortly.
After I adjust the ending a bit and tie up something very obvious that I left dangling. I hope to do that tonight and get the story sent off.
- Still batting around the Novel Dare idea. Soon as I get some things cleared off my plate, I'll be able to think more clearly about the new novel.
- A bit of market info: 1) Rumor has it that the Avon anthology is being cancelled. And The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction has a new snail mail address:
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
P.O. Box 3447
Hoboken, NJ 07030
- All's quiet on the mailbox front. No new writing news in some time.
I do have two more reprints up on Bookface.com, if anyone's interested. If so, there are links at the top of this page.
- While waiting on my hard drive to format and stuff to install, I took a few Autumn shots with the Mavica. Haven't had a chance to look at them yet though.
Autumn is an amazing time with all its fire and brilliance. As if the trees were giving you this one last memory of warmth and fire to carry through the long winter months until spring. Have a good evening!
- Spent the evening revising the new short story. Did quite a bit of revision, cutting some bits, adding a scene or two. After a bit of thematic focusing, the title has changed
again. The story is now 5500 words and titled Tide Pools. This story was really hard for me to write.
Because it was an experiment with story arcs and time, I felt very challenged by it. It taught me something about structure, too. It was also an attempt to apply some of the techniques that John Crowley taught me in workshop. At the time I started writing this story, I didn't realize that I was even applying the technique, but as I moved into the story's final act, I saw what was emerging. And I did my best to just get out of my own way. I have a long, long way to go in mastering these techniques, but it was nice to see it slide a bit below the surface. Kind of like the first time you learned about short story structure and there it was, all the time, in your face. No matter what you did, that structure laid there like bleached bones on top soil until finally you began to learn how to smooth it over. That's sort of how I feel right now, that it's all lying above ground because I'm too clumsy to give it a decent burial. :) But with time and practice, I'll get it right. Writing is like any other skill. Practice makes it better, so one more story and one more step forward.
- Still mulling over a possible Novel Dare, but there are two things I want to complete before moving on to the next project. One is Tide Pools and the other is to get through the stumbling block in my rewrite of EDP. I'd like to get myself onto familiar ground with the book before I switch over to something else. After I do that, I think I'll be ready to Dare this new book idea into existence.
- No mail to speak of today.
I had expected a rejection in the mail today, but it didn't arrive. But the week is young. I'm sure all kinds of fun things will show up this week. :) Have a good evening!
- For three months, I've been trying to finish The Color of Joy.
Three months! But tonight, I found whatever it was that was missing and the first draft of this story is officially finished! Whoo! The title managed to change in the process, too. I'm glad because this really wasn't the right title for the story. The story is now officially titled, Sleeping Roses.
It's SF and a little longer than most stories for me. It's 5125 words. I've noticed that my stories are running longer these days.
The end is hurried, the last third of the story is REALLY rough and skeletal, BUT the pieces are there. At long last. This story was a time experiment for me. It's a single POV, but the story is interspersed with a serious of flashbacks telling a slightly different story arc. At this moment, I'm not quite sure I have successfully resolved one of the arcs. The main arc has been resolved, but I think I've dropped a couple of threads in the end. Gotta go back and fix that. I imagine that this story will top out at about 5500 or 5600 words. I'm just thrilled that I finally got this bad boy down on paper. Now, I can work with it. Have a good evening!
- I'm about to utter those scary words....I've tried to stop myself, but I can't help it... [takes a deep breath and stands tall] I'm about to commit...NOVEL!
I've had this piece of a novel running through my brain for months. It slipped into my head in the Pacific Northwest this summer, but I had just sort of filed it away. And with my trusty Mavica I filmed all the little details that would go into this story. I did walkthrus of settings, rooms that captured moods that I wanted to remember...and I bought some books on the history of the area. All of this carefully filed away for later. Until this morning. See, last night, I had this dream and click! another piece. It was the spark I needed to bring this story forward -- at least I hope so. My track record for novel completions hasn't been very good over the past couple of years. I've done at least 4 novel dares, but none recently. So, I'm kicking around the idea of doing another one. It might be just the thing to jumpstart my writing a bit.
- Okay, back to the dream.
Have you ever had a dream where one sense seemed to be the most prominent? A strong smell of roses. Rough pavement against bare feet. The sound of waves crashing aginst rocks. The dream may have been a jumble of sensory experiences, but one sense stands out and upon waking, that sense lingers in your mind for the rest of the day. Just closing your eyes for a moment allows that dream memory to return. I had the coolest dream. :) And now I'm totally excited about this story because of this one scene in my dream. It brought me the last POV that I needed to tell this story. Not sure what kind of book this will be and no title yet, but I see ghosts, missing lovers, and misty seashores set in Turn-of-the-Century and present day Port Townsend, WA. It's a little hard to contain my enthusiasm on this one. Every time I close my eyes, I see this one scene in my mind, from my dream. And of all things, it's in the bloody MIDDLE of the book!! I always have trouble with middles. It's very, very strange for me to know the middle of the book before I know anything else. I'm going to let all of this ride around in my head for another day or so and then decide if I want to commit Novel Dare.
- "Happy Anniversary to you!
Happy Anniversary to you! My novel's been out a year...Happy Anniversary to you!" Yep, that's right. Today marks year 1 for my novel submission. Actually, it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be. :) The publisher says right in their guidelines that the wait may be substantial if a manuscript gets passed up. I guess I never expected to have my manuscript passed up. :) I figured it would be a quick "no thanks" and that would be the end of it. A pleasant surprise, but one requiring TONS of patience. I've been trying to sell a novel for so long that I'm embarrassed to mention the number of years here (as my dad would say, "Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.") Just know that it's been a long time. Just recently, I saw my alma mater come back to win a football game when they were down 25 points in the 3rd quarter, so it can happen. So, hang in there manuscript....it's half-time...anything can happen.
- Haven't gotten much writing work done this week.
Had to take care of some administrative stuff yesterday that took most of the 3 hours left of the evening. I've been the only tech support person in my area these past couple of days and it's so draining. All I ever get to do these days is solve other people's problems. I can't tell you how tiring that is. And most of the time, the faster you do something, the more people expect of you. It's gotten to a point where people think they should have instanteous service. With the small staff that I operate with and 450+ computers, it's just impossible. So, most of my creativity has been siphoned into problem-solving. I hope things will be quieter tomorrow.
- I did manage to sketch out a scene that needs to be added to one of my novel chapters for a partial that's out right now. I think this scene will fix a major problem that I could never
resolve. I plan to write that tomorrow after I've jotted down some notes tonight and studied the storyline.
- Have a good evening!
- My cat Marshall had emergency surgery Friday evening. In the last two months since his checkup, his cancer has come back. Fortunately, the cancer was still localized, but it
required them to amputate Marshall's toe.
He got to come home yesterday morning, but he's in quite a bit of pain. He's doing better today, acting more like himself. Despite the advances in modern medicine, I can't help but wince at the primitiveness of today's treatments. Cutting off the parts with cancer -- I can only imagine how this must be for human patients/families. Granted, Marshall will be just fine without the toe, but as the decision-maker for further treatment, when is this enough? Will they need to remove his foot next time? Then the leg? And to what end? He will eventually lose the battle anyway. And then what? Then there's another decision down that road -- whether or not to end his life. A cat who has slept on my bed for over half his life, sat in my lap at every opportunity, and never failed to greet me at the door when I came home at night. And always that nagging question, "Am I being selfish?" I hope for the day when cancer treatments will seem less like butchery. I know that doctors and vets are doing their best, but it's so hard to make these decisions to cut off body parts, inflict toxic chemicals, lethal radiation -- or lethal injection. I never wanted to play God, not even on paper. I'm too human to play God.
- In happier news, Bookface has accepted two more reprints from me. Look for Dragonskin Boots and Homecoming
to appear soon on Bookface. Also, I received a nice royalty check this week from the Sword & Sorceress anthologies.
- Today, I plan to get some revision time in on few things. There is a chapter or two in Heart of the Labyrinth that I need to fix, in the longshot event that the Fantasy publisher asks
to see the entire manuscript.
I'm not holding my breath on this one because I know this book is a little left of center. Also, need to get back to EDP and see if I can come up with a fix for a problem I'm having with the higher order plot. I'm afraid that I've inadvertently focused onto the secondary plot. So I need to take another look. The higher order plot has to be spot on or this draft just won't work.
- Why do we spend so much time looking back at things or planning so far into the future that we forget about what's happening now? See what's right now and enjoy it. Live in the moment.
- Tonight, it's a struggle to get anything done.
My stupid back is still hurting badly, but despite it, I've managed to get more manuscripts ready to mail tomorrow. For the first time in many months, I have my submissions into double digits. I sent out a partial of one of my novels, too, so I've got three books out there right now. That's pretty cool. I have probably another 6 stories that should go out, but a couple require extensive revisions -- so they're in my "to be revised" pile. Right beside EDP and The Color of Joy. This pile is getting as bad as my "to be read" pile.
- I'm currently reading The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. I just bought the newest Natalie Goldberg book (last weekend) called Thunder and Lightning
and I've been alternating between reading these two books. Wow...Thunder and Lightning
was just what I've needed to read for some time. I was very happy to have stumbled across it at Barnes & Noble. She talks about the downside of writing and how her POV has changed since Wild Mind. When
I'm in the Zone, I'm exhilarated, but when I'm out of it -- every day is a struggle to write. But for the most part, I do it anyway. Sure, the world won't end if I don't, but it will certainly feel like a much
colder, darker place. I've written stories since I was six years old, so writing stories is a part of who I am.
There are stories everywhere and even if I'm just writing them in my head, I'm still in the Zone. I remember when I first started my current job, I was so swamped by it, so overwhelmed. But the only thing I could think about was, "This job is hurting my writing!" I complained bitterly about this at first, but then, in true human fashion, I adapted. The exploration I did on the page, I began doing in my head. Like I did when I was a kid, letting stories ride around in my head until I could sneak out my notebook during school and write them down. And I was okay with that. So now, I write a lot more in my head than I used to and I think that's helped improve my writing quite a bit. These are just some of the thoughts that have come back to me as I read Goldberg's book. Gone are those days of infatuation with the profession that gave way with every bad critique, every lost opportunity -- the ever-increasing feeling of being invisible in the field. But just as the scale dips from one side to the other does it also find its balance. And if you count the number of seconds between the thunder and the lightning, you'll know how far away that storm lies. Finding that distance 1 day at a time. : ) Have a good evening!
- More business side of writing tonight.
I got a couple of reprint submissions out tonight, but I still need to get a few unsold originals out. If all goes well, I hope to get a couple packaged and ready for tomorrow's mail.
- Next week, one of my novel manuscripts will celebrate its first year away from home.
I can hardly believe that it's been that long, but time passes so quickly. Ironically, my latest request from a publisher to see a manuscript has thankfully divided part of my attention away from the other book. Now, I have two books to fret over -- wheeee!
- Hit a small snag in EDP and I'm mulling it over in my head/on paper, etc., trying to work out a solution. So far nothing has worked, but that was only one evening of
brainstorming. I'll get it figured out.
- Finally got around to adding more RAM to my computer this weekend, but I chickened out on the upgrade to Windows 2000 until I have more time.
I've got all my files backed up, but I just can't afford to hose my OS this week. So...I'm putting off the upgrade until next week. Have a good evening!
- Last night, I had the privilege of hearingToni Morrison speak on campus.
She read the endings from each of her novels and talked about her process, how each train of thought had brought that book to its particular conclusion. She talked about the language and the emotion behind the words and how she worked as a writer. I was riveted. To hear a Nobel laureate discussing the craft and the process was very inspiring. And when she read -- I felt a commonality with her because for a brief instant, she was sharing that most guarded part of the process with us. From her voice that so passionately traversed the distance between reader and writer, I had a glimmer of connection and understanding of the place where those words arose. Only for a moment. In that briefest of moments, I found a tiny piece of acceptance for my own work. You see, Toni Morrison was never afraid to write what her heart needed to write. She was never afraid of the beauty or starkness of language that arose from the emotion she felt or the fear and need to understand the world around her. She wrote in rhythms, she wrote in raw emotion, scalding honesty, and contrasts, exploring what lay between all and nothing. But she wrote what she felt -- rhythms, tones, emotions -- not the way she thought she should write. And I found myself asking the question, "do I write from the outside or the inside?" Action or Reaction? And ... I didn't know anymore. I used to write from the inside, but somewhere along the line, I turned that place outward until it was no longer mine to mold. It became this formless, overwarm ball of clay that changed with every trend, every comment, every criticism, every speculation until it grew brittle and began to chip away. It became something I no longer recognized.
- But in a few words, not even spoken to me, Toni Morrison helped me to find that place again.
In a sentence, one tiny little sentence, I recognized the answer to that question. Someone had asked to respond to the fear of losing cultural identity in corporate America, and her first words were, "Is it really that frail?" And sadly, I knew the answer, for me as a writer, was yes. But where there is fraility, there can be strength. It isn't the end of a story, it's a beginning. And right or wrong, it's me -- writing from the inside...have a good evening.
- Tonight, I'm doing the business side of writing.
It's been quite some time since I've actually tucked a short story in an envelope and mailed it. Unfortunately, I only managed to get one out tonight. Didn't get off work until 6:30 pm tonight, so I got home late. Yeah, excuses, excuses -- I know. :) That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Anyway, I got one of SF stories out the door and hope to get a couple of my fantasy stories out tomorrow.
- Don't know if anyone has noticed, but over the past year, I have kind of insulated myself from the SF/F community.
Mainly due to self-preservation. The comparison and competition gained momentum until I felt like a failure every time I logged into my computer. I'm not a very competitive person. I just like to do my own thing and feel like I'm doing okay at it. And I have to tell you, it's made quite a difference for my outlook on writing. I feel like I'm closer to the process now and don't have to prove it to anyone but myself. Not really a boost in confidence, but more like, "This is the way I write." I'm not very process-oriented and I'm not very good at formalizing myself with such things. I am a fly-by-the-seat type of writer and that works well for me. Boy, that feels good to say. That works for me. :) I like the sound of it. I've noticed a little bit of the rebel surfacing in my personality lately, too. Of course, I'm not selling anything right now. :) But ya know what -- that's okay, too. Why? Because I said so, of course. :) Seriously, I have sold fiction before and I will sell it again. The Next Sale -- that used to terrify me, walking that stupid tightrope and someone handing me another plate to keep spinning in the air. Gotta sell another one or I suck as a writer. Naah, I don't believe that anymore. I want to sell my fiction and I will try very hard to keep selling it, but I will no longer see my career as a failure just because I go through a dry spell. As long as the movement is forward, then I'm on the right track. So, I'm still here, still at it, still struggling, but hey, if it were easy, we'd all get bored with it. Have a good evening!
- My back is still bothering me, so I wasn't able to spend as much time at the keyboard as I'd have liked.
But I did manage to completely work through an events outline for EDP. The good news is that I know exactly what Dr. Kingston's story is, how it intertwines with the rest of the story, and how it resolves itself in the end. The bad news is that it's gonna take 14 new chapters to do it. This, I admit, has me a little unnerved. Not because of the number of chapters (that's fun part). I am worried at how much larger this book is going to grow. Before I started this rewrite, the book was about 96K...if I need to add 14 chapters . . . that's a lot of words. This book needs to hover around 12oK...so, that gives me about 24K to 30k to work with here. Oh, well, I guess I just won't worry about the length. I'll write the chapters first. Besides, it's much harder to lengthen a story than trim it.
- And what do I mean by an events outline?
The first thing I do when I start a new project is write a letter to myself, describing in very general terms what happens in the story. After I've done that, my next step is to write what I call an events outline. I sit down and write out what major events have to happen in order to reach the end described in my letter. Then I attach chapter numbers to each event. Once I know how the events need to fall, I start writing. Then I adjust my outline and/or the story as it unfolds. It's just a roadmap. There is always more than one way to reach my destination, so my outline changes constantly. It isn't a rigid, set-in-stone tableau for the story. Just a little insight into how I work. :) If you're ever stuck in a story, stop and try to tell yourself the story in basic terms in a letter. It might help you get back on track and/or learn new information.
- Okay....I finally remembered to put up the .MPGs of orcas taken this June. If you'd like to see them, go to my San Juan Island
2000 page. And don't laugh at my geeky comments on film.
I know I sound like a total twit, but I can't erase the sound (believe me, I tried), so you'll just have to suffer through it.
- Spent the evening reviewing the opening chapters of EDP, re-familiarizing myself with the new plot pieces.
I plan to work through the line edits through all five chapters and then pick up from there. As I read over the first two chapters, after having been away from them for a week or so, I feel even more certain about my direction here. I think I've got this one in the zone. And that's a terrific feeling!
- Steve Leigh's journal has some wonderful posts this month (as always)!
And I have to second Steve's mention of the latest Discover issue. Wow...some way cool story fodder in this issue. I subscribe to Discover, SciAm, and Popular Science, so if you're looking for story ideas, one of these three magazines will spark something. They always have for me. In fact, I've unfortunately got a new short story poking at my brain, but I have resolved myself to finishing this draft of EDP and The Color of Joy (short story) before I start anything else.
- And I couldn't agree more with Steve's comments on The One True Way.
Naah...the one true way to write is WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU. You're the writer. It's your story, your world, and your characters. If every human being had the same tastes, a) the world would be oh, so boring and b) there would be ONE TRUE WAY. But that's why we have four hundred flavors of ice cream, twelve thousand colors of paint, and infinite ways to use chocolate! And dammit, I don't care if everybody on my street says MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP is the ONE TRUE WAY because I LIKE COOKIE DOUGH ICE CREAM and that's what I'm gonna have...WITH chocolate syrup, thank you very much! So, go out there and write what pleases YOU! Anything else is unacceptable. Man, I'm gonna go get some ice cream! Have a good evening!
- At this moment, Rediscovery
is winging its way to New York. Tonight, I feel that mixture of excitement and sadness because I'm leaving that world behind. I enjoyed my visit though, but tonight, I'm missing it. :)
- Sunday, the arthritis in my lower back attacked with a vengeance, putting me down for the count yesterday.
Yeah -- I stopped taking my medication, my own fault. It's getting better today. I hope to be close to normal by tomorrow. I had planned to return to EDP tonight, but I had some writer's administrative chaff to attend to before I got to write...and that took longer than I'd hoped. So, I plan to return to EDP tomorrow night. I'm really looking forward to it, too. I am already missing that immersion I had with Rediscovery. Rediscovery is a story of second contact on an alien world and two people's fight to preserve two alien species and the relationship they have rediscovered with each other. It's a story of second chances and redemption. And I could no more separate the science from this story than I could the romance element. Anyway, I am hoping that the publisher likes it. :) Because...see...I have this sequel in mind and...
- I just got word that The Age of Wonders
lives! If you're at all interested my short fiction, please check out the new anthology. My story is called The Essence of Place and I'm particularly proud of this one. Have a good evening!
- Rediscovery is in its final stretch tonight.
I printed the whole book last night and assembled everything this afternoon. I'm going to read over the book ONE MORE TIME to make sure there aren't any mistakes. This will take me one more day. Then on Tuesday, it will go out to the publisher. This will definitely be interesting. :) It took the publisher about 200 days to respond to the partial, so I am expecting a long response time on this one. And you know what? I've got one more manuscript just lying about. Maybe I should send it out, too? That way, I'd have 3 of the 4 manuscripts out with #4 in full revision at the moment. I'm only into Chapter 5 on this book and I really taking my time on this revision. Mainly because it's a complicated rewrite and every change casts a ripple effect across the rest of the book. I don't anticipate being finished with this rewrite until the end of October/beginning of November.
- Life feels much more peaceful to me when I'm working on a novel.
I don't know why that is. Maybe it's because I'm just in my own world? I've really enjoyed doing this rewrite on Rediscovery and I look forward to immersing myself back in EDP. I think I'm happiest when I'm working on a novel. When I'm working on a novel, I feel productive and that I'm moving forward -- and having a damned good time to boot!
- I enjoyed Ron's entry about creativity this past week.
I totally relate to the need to be around creative people. Most of the people I deal with don't really express their creativity or they don't apply it to their everyday lives -- at least not in a work environment. I am in constant need of a creative outlet, as I think most writers are, and my job requires a great deal of creativity whether it be a different approach to a computer problem, trying something unconventional, etc., etc. So many times, I hear, "Hey, I never thought of trying that!" or "I'd never have looked there to fix this problem." That's why I love it when I'm in a roomful of serious writers. My blood just surges with motivation and my whole body hums, my spirit syncing with other creative spirits. And when I go long periods of time without that interaction, I lose that internal rhythm and I want to reconnect myself to it. Anyway, my two cents...
- Have a good evening!
- My brother and his family visited over the weekend, so I've been away from the keyboard for a few days. But over the past two days, I've put a serious dent in my final passes on
I've gotten through the first 20 chapters so far with 10 chapters left to edit for the first pass. After I finish the first pass, I have to get a word count and make sure I've hit 90,000 words. From that point, I need to make a continuity pass which won't take quite as long as this first pass. After that, I'll read it all the way through one last time, print it and send it on its way. It will most likely go out Saturday or Monday.
- Nothing new to report. I'm still anxiously awaiting the publication of the SFF Net anthology Age of Wonders which is due out this month. My SF story, The Essence of Place will appear here. Can't wait!
- Guess that's about it, but I've gotta get back to work. Short entry tonight. Have a good evening!
- I've turned my attention to Rediscovery over the past few days. I already know that I'll want to make at least two more passes over the book before I send it off.
I've gotten through the first 12 chapters so far with 18 left to examine. There are some changes that I knew I'd have to make, so first pass will cover those. After that, I need to do a continuity pass and then one final pass just for paranoia's sake. It's funny. This manuscript is the result of the first novel dare I ever did. Way back in 1994 or 1995, my friend, Marybeth O'Halloran dared me to write a novel in a month. I mulled over this chilling prospect, but in the end, it came down to the fact that I'd been dared. Couldn't back out of a dare. So I wrote this novel (had a different title back then). I remember being annoyed at myself because it had taken me five weeks instead of four weeks to finish the book. Of course, I spent the next five or six years polishing it, but there's nothing in the rules about that. :) So I imagine that it'll take me 3 to 4 weeks to polish and gather the guts to sub this baby.
- Went out to the bookstore tonight to do a little research on the futuristic romance genre.
Did I feel like a fish out of water or what???? But I came hope with half a dozen books in the line, trying to get a feel for the line's character to see just how big of a longshot this sub is. Time will tell. Have a good evening!
- Oh, the universe works in strange ways. In today's mail, I got some exciting but scary news. After reviewing my first three chapters and synopsis, the romance publisher has asked
for my entire manuscript. <gasp!>
Granted, it means nothing, but you know what?? I don't know anything about the romance genre. I'm coming at this book from the SF genre and now, I'm feeling a little gun shy. Thank God my mom is a voracious romance reader! She's been a huge help so far. Little does she know that, she'll have to read yet another draft of this novel. <evil laugh> I confess, I was a little stunned when I opened the envelope. I had truly expected a nice, "thanks but not right for us" message, but instead they want to see more. Eeep! So much for finding my stride with EDP. <sigh> Gotta make one more pass over
before it goes off to the publisher. This is a weird business. I've been reconsidering a lot of my writing choices over the past few months...and here comes this message from the universe to remind me that things aren't quite as hopeless as I've perceived them. With my decision not to go to WorldCon, I really thought I was done. I could change my name, move -- start over where no one knows me. :) But then EDP took hold of me and I felt moments of that old excitement again. And now this. As I said, it may mean nothing and get me no where, but these people don't know me or my work and they liked my first three chapters enough to see the whole book.
- Hugs to Vera! Hope you're feeling better soon! And congratulations to Erin Cashier Denton whose story, Remembrance is appearing on Bookface this week. Check out it!
- More later . . . I'm still in military SF mode tonight. Not quite ready for some of the changes I know I'll need to make in Rediscovery.
Best to leave that for tomorrow night after I've mulled over some ideas.
- Today, I discovered that I had missed an entire scene that should have been written in the previous version of EDP. It's a short, minor scene, but I just didn't see it until now.
I wrote that today and I've moved through to Chapter 5.
Dr. Kingston has just met Peter Mitchell for the first time. I haven't written her reactions yet, but I have to be careful when I do. Her early reactions will be the foundation for every action she takes later. And then in the next chapter, there was a brief mention of a medic. So I pulled it out and showed the scene with Dr. Kingston rather than a random medic. Having Dr. Kingston there gives the story a tighter construction.
- I'm still feeling excited about some of my little discoveries.
I discovered why Peter is different from the other soldiers and the cause of the memory chip anomaly. Lots of little pieces are so clear now -- it's almost scary how they were really there all along. Makes me wonder what else I've missed? :) The only drawback to all of this is that the book is going to grow in length. I just hope that I don't make it longer than 120k.
- In between breaks today, I did a little redecorating. Which required a little painting.
I bought some of those spray paints that make ceramics and glass look like stone. I also bought this really cool spray paint that creates a frosted look to glass. I chose green (ooh, big surprise) and painted a vase and some candle sconces. They turned out well. Using the granite sprays, I painted a shelf and a vase. These take quite a while to dry and require a clear top coat. I won't get my shelf reinstalled for a few days. But the sconces are already dry and back in place. Finally, I bought some of those "do it yourself" frames and framed a few prints to hang on the walls. They turned out well, too. Back to EDP. Have a good evening!
- Tonight, I worked through the entire plot arc for Dr. Kingston's POV. It's about four pages long.
Essentially, I wrote a letter to myself describing every obstacle that Dr. Kingston will face and the action that she decides to take and the result of that action. This is a quirky little thing that I do when I feel like I'm missing pieces. And I'm so very, very happy with the outcomes that emerged on paper. All the little pieces are fitting together so nicely. I had a lot of "ah ha!" and "oh, wow!" moments tonight. Things that I didn't know before...all of it was there when I needed it. Before, I always worried that my first chapter was just coming out of context at the reader who didn't know anything about the world and its characters yet. But tonight, as I read through the first two chapters for the billionth time and then reached chpater three....I couldn't help but grin. The groundwork was finally there. It made absolutely perfect sense what was going on when I introduced Peter's POV. I couldn't stifle the "Yesss!" At last, I've found that sense of place here. Granted, the first two chapters are still rougher than I'd like, but they are getting closer.
- I also answered a crucial but previously unanswered question that, quite frankly, I wasn't sure I could answer. But lo and behold, there sprang the answer tonight along with a couple
little annoying questions that had always bugged me.
I'm excited about these changes and revelations. And all the little surprises along the way. Again, I have those little nagging doubts that I've taken the wrong approach here, but I think that doubt will go unanswered for quite some time. For now, I'm enjoying this rewrite.
- Had to shut down my computer for a little while tonight due to a surprise thunderstorm. This was good because it allowed me to enjoy the storm. :) I listened to it through an open
window until the rain started to fall.
It's so silent now. The computer fan seems louder, the lights harsh and the steady clack of the keys sounds like I'm typing in an empty room. It's like the world outside has completely fallen away. Ahhhh, the soothing, distant rumble of thunder lets me know the world is still out there. At any rate, I'm very pleased with the work I did tonight even if I have yet to put down new wordage for the evening. Yet. But I'm about to... :) Gotta put on some music. A little November Project...Have a good evening!
- Dr. Kingston meet Diana Temple. Yep, I finally had these two characters meet for the first time. It's a little rough, but I anticipate several passes over the scene before I leave
it. My original chapter 1 has become chapter 3.
I've already put down 5,000 words from Dr. Kingston's POV. She's a very interesting character to me. Dr. Kingston is the main character in my short story, Rena 733 that appeared in the Roc anthology, Treachery and Treason. That story originally kicked off this novel idea, so I guess it's only fitting that she have a central place in the book. I just hope I can make this book work. It's a story very dear to me and a world I am still deeply intrigued by. I've written two novels in this universe and I have one more gnawing at my brain. Tonight, I also added in a scene that sets up Peter's chapters. The more I look at what I've written, the more I just want to frame those chapters with a larger/big picture plot. I like those chapters just the way they are and if the book doesn't sell with this frame, then it doesn't sell. I can't keep changing it every time someone suggests something else or disagrees with my approach. At some point, we all have to say, "but this is what I want." I'm starting to learn this, slowly but surely. I know what I want from this book and I think I make these suggestions work, but within my scope of the story. This is my book after all. It's about time that I realize that about all my work.
- Bon voyage to everybody attending WorldCon this year! Hope everyone has a wonderful time!
I am staying home this year. And with Labor Day off, I'm looking forward to a restful weekend where I can catch up on my sleep, work on EDP, and relax.
- My mailbox has been empty for some time and my number of "stories out" has dipped closer to zero than it has in the nine years that I've been submitting.
It's time to make some decisions here. Journeys are made up of many paths, but sometimes, we have to blaze trails. Time to step back and reorganize things a bit.
- Have a good evening!
- Spent the last two days fiddling with the first few chapters of EDP.
Uncovered some things about Dr. Kingston that I didn't know before. I've rearranged chapters again, I've just about got Dr. Kingston to the scene where she meets Diana. I thought I was there last week, but when I rethought a few elements, that scene had to be postponed. I've got one more piece of information to reveal/setup and then Dr. Kingston will meet her shuttle pilot.
- If I can just get all of the characters introduced and onstage, this rewrite will have a lot more momentum. Right now, I feel like a brick layer, putting down story layer onto story
layer. I guess this is what they call texture. :)
- My story, Music To Her Ears is now available on Bookface.com! They put it on the main page. I'm totally thrilled by that. :) This story is a very special one to me because it's a tribute to my grandparents who have passed. If you're interested, please check it out. There's no charge to read the story.
Short entry tonight. Have a good evening!
- Marion Zimmer Bradley always told new writers unhappy with "how things are" in the business that no one told them not to be a plumber. How apt a statement this line was to me last night
when I decided to try and fix our broken toilet. "Hey, how hard can it be?" I thought as I opened the package. The part is shaped like the Space Needle & the package boasts that only two tools are required. Piece of cake. This has got to be easier than writing! So, I roll up my sleeves, clear the floors, grab a couple of towels (let's just be safe here), & pick up the wrench. Okay, step one, turn off the water & empty the tank. That's a lot like writing. Sit down in front of the computer & every nifty little idea & plot point immediately drains out of my head until I'm staring at a blank screen. Okay, great! I should have taken up plumbing instead of writing. I'm seeing this now. Step two: unhook the water pipe and unfasten the Space Needle. Okay, I'm not afraid of this step. I can do this. After contorting my body into various shapes & positions, I manage to get myself in range of this elusive water pipe. Clunk! The bloody wrench is too long to fit in the space. I struggle, turning it this way & that & after a few tries, I manage to fit this thing around the bolt. Okay, I've got hold of it, but can I turn it? Yep, this is like writing. Right plot, wrong tools. Plot too long for word count. Word count too long for the story. Wrong plot, right tools. My cat's staring smugly at me from the toilet seat as I struggle with the bolt. Why doesn't the damn cat get down here & help me? Finally, the bolt comes off & I wrestle the pipe free. Triumph! Hey....what's that rushing sound? As Niagara Falls meets tile, I scramble to turn off the water. The towel looks like a sinking life raft & the only thing I can think is, eeeuuuwww,
I've got toilet water on my hands! Gaah!! Yep, that's like writing. Holding the finished manuscript after a burst of creativity only to discover, eeeuuuwww, I've got toilet water on my hands. Grumbling, I manage to get the Space Needle free of the tank as it overlooks Elliot Bay on my tile. I put on the float so the water will know when to shut off & mop up the remains of Elliot Bay with the second towel (life raft #2). Yeah, this is like writing. This is the point in writing where I decide that the story is ready to go out. Mopping up the manuscript one more time. Last step, reconnect the water pipe, turn on the water & flush. It works! Definitely, like writing -- package that story & mail it. After fixing my own toilet, I have a deeper appreciation of being writer. :)
Disclaimer: the above entry is intended as humor. any resemblance to anything else is purely coincidental and come on, folks, I'm
just kidding here!
- Long week...ugh!
I was the only tech support person at work for the past two days...needless to say, I found that I had next-to-no creative energies left for the novel rewrite. I was hoping to get back to it tonight, but I'm just too tired. I'll start back tomorrow. Actually, this is probably a good thing because I'm a tiny bit stuck on a character introduction. This has given me some time to work through a few possibilities in my head first.
- Some fun news this week! I have signed a reprint contract with Bookface.com and my first story will appear on Monday, 8/21/00. At the moment, I have made arrangements for two of my stories. There will be others in the future. I'm thrilled to get this opportunity to reprint some of my work that didn't get much exposure. So far, the people at Bookface have been wonderful. So, look for my story, When Sparrows Fall, next week at bookface.com!
- My mom and I went out couch shopping today. Ours is just plain worn out. We found a few really neat styles. Our favorite was this beautiful, soft eggplant couch with
eggplant and olive accent pillows.
Our second favorite was a warm peach sofa with contemporary peach, green and eggplant accent pillows. We're still making up our minds, but we're leaning toward the eggplant couch. It has a very Mediterranean feel to it, a simple classic style.
- My workshop wraps up this coming week.
It's been a difficult workshop for me, but I've learned a lot of tools that I'll need to practice and incorporate into my future stories. And I've also uncovered a piece of understanding about my own work. Invaluable information, but it will probably take me six months to process all of it. I want so desperately to be a better writer and I miss the motivation that I once had. I hope that my novel rewrite will recapture some of that. Returning to familiar ground and characters is comforting. :)
- Have a good evening!
- As you recall, I spoke the cursed words and invoked the wrath of the mail gods. And so it came to pass.
Okay, I only got one rejection, but it sounds much cooler to invoke a curse than to log a stupid ol' rejection. My third rejection from Black Gate arrived in email today. I've come to the conclusion that the sort of fantasy I write must be very strange. It doesn't seem to fit any of the fantasy magazines. Occasionally, I'll write a traditional fantasy that Marion Zimmer Bradley would buy, but none of the other fantasy markets will touch my stuff. I hope that someday I'll figure out just what the h*ll I write so I'll know where to send it.
- I stumbled across an interesting item on the web tonight. My story Rena 733 is listed as a mystery story (??). I must say, I found this very surprising. But cool.
I've never seen myself as someone who could write mystery.
- Didn't get as far on Chapter 3 as I'd have liked. I was pretty tired tonight.
Worked extra hours at the day job today and moved a bunch of computers with 22" monitors. The day was extremely busy, with requests for all manner of things almost non-stop. When I got home, I ate and got wrapped up in that show on the Sci Fi Channel, Crossing Over. There's this psychic who claims he speaks to the dead and can contact them for others. Okay, I admit, I'm a very big skeptic about such things...but this guy...I don't know. If you get a chance, check out this show. It'll weird you out. :) Anyway, the chapter moved off into some introspection and before I knew it, some of the info from Rena 733 was creeping into the story. Establishing her character and tying into the past events. An endless circle after all.
- It's been another challenging week at Chez Silverthorne.
My brother had a fire in his house last week. He was asleep when the fire broke out, so he was lucky to get out alive. There is quite a bit of damage, but the insurance company has been really great. They've put my brother up in a hotel and work has already begun on the house. It'll be two months though before the work is complete.
- Needless to say, the above events really killed my momentum on the rewrite. But I've found my place again and did some work on chapter 3 tonight.
I think that I will need to change some of the story's events, only some minor ones, so nothing major. But...the work still must be done. Still need to think through a few things, but Diana may have to begin the story as a UCOE shuttle pilot. Gotta mull that around for a day. I write the first scene of this change tomorrow evening. This will get Dr. Kingston to the base and move us into Diana's POV for the next chapter. Then I will bring in David. I'm trying to smother my internal critic with a pillow right now. It usually kicks into high gear when I'm about 4 or 5 chapters into a novel. Just like clockwork, it appears, telling me the novel is stupid. But, I don't have time to listen. I've got a novel to rewrite. So, there! :P
- Received a ridiculously long rejection from Realms of Fantasy today.
186 days to tell me no thanks. Sigh. Of course, no word on the second story I sent. That one is at 111 days today. Maybe that one will show up tomorrow? It would be nice to find some good news in my mailbox for a change. Haven't seen any for several months and I could sure use some. Of course, you know that I have spoken the forbidden writer's talk -- I've not only said the magic phrase, "No news on my story," but I've also voiced the forbidden number. The mail gods will now rain molten rejections upon my mailbox. At least, I'll get my stories back. :) Have a good evening and go write something!
- Spent the past two evenings working on the EDP rewrite. So far, it's going pretty well.
I've done a bit of chapter rearranging. I did another pass on Chapter 1, but I know I still need to refine the level of detail. Chapter 2 is a previous chapter, so I didn't need to do anything but a few line edits. Chapter 3 is a new chapter and I'm about halfway through a first draft of it. I've already added about 5K to the book. The book comes out quite a bit shorter using Word's wordcount than the standard way of counting words. If I split the difference, this will put the book at about 98k so far. I predict about 112k, still a good length. I'm hoping that I've gone in a good direction with this rewrite. But...if I haven't...I can always pitch this draft and start over. After all, it's only a manuscript. The story is here in my head, so it's just a matter of getting it right on the page. I'm patient and I enjoy rewriting, so no problems here. :)
- I'm in Week 4 of the John Crowley Writer's Workshop and I have to tell you, this has been the best week yet.
What started out as a dismal experience turned into a wonderful insight into some of my writing difficulties. For the first time since I started writing and seeing problems in my work (not knowing how to fix them), I know the root of one of these problems. Big thanks to John Crowley for identifying it and suggesting a very good technique to approach the problem. It's a little too difficult for me to explain just now (I'll save that for a later entry.) So, I'm going to try the technique on the story I've been working on, The Color of Joy. Maybe now, I'll be able to finish my short fiction again? Glad I had the guts to ask him what he thought the problem with my fiction was. :) Sometimes asking the hardest questions yields promising answers. Through the fog, there is a faint hint of light at the end of the tunnel, too dim to be a train, but not bright enough to be the end. :) Have a good evening.
- My dad got some very good news this weekend!
The medication for his lung complication is working!!! If things continue to progress as they are, he won't have to have another surgery. Yay!! He goes back to the doctor tomorrow.
- I just found out that Terry Kanago was at Rivercon last weekend. Rats!!!!! Terry, if you see this, I'm so sorry that I didn't get to meet you. :( I didn't know you were going to be there or I'd have made plans to have coffee/dinner with you.
- Spent the evening writing a new first chapter for EDP.
I think I've got a higher level plot that will work well with my original plot (I hope). So, I'll need to write several new chapters and do some smoothing in the other chapters, fixing a few other problems along the way. I have no idea how long this will take me. So I put down the first draft of chapter one, about 2800 words. I'll need to make several more passes at it though because the first chapter for any novel is crucial. I've got some political intrigues going on now that weren't there before. Dr. Kingston will be investigating a situation that she has no idea how big it really is and she'll have to make some tough choices. There are government officials and civilian protestors involved and lots of secrets on all sides. The hard part for Dr. Kingston becomes sorting through the secrets and deciding The Right Thing To Do (tm).
- Y'know, it's weird, but all of these things were there all along. I can't believe how obvious some of these were and I didn't see them. Didn't even look
for them. Like the MRCs from my story Rena 733. Why didn't I use them in the novel?
They fit perfectly with the plot I constructed, but I didn't see it. The forest for the trees. At any rate, I am excited about this rewrite. Not only do I get to revisit this world again, but I think the book will be a better draft after I finish making changes. It's definitely going to be longer. I am hoping to add no more than 20k to the novel. That would put it at about 110 - 115k. I've never written anything this long before. It's kinda cool. :) I didn't think I could write anything that long, but Dr. Kingston's role will add a big chunk to the story. Wish me luck.
- Gotta finish up & go to bed early. Still not over this chest cold yet. Have a good evening!
- I managed to pick up a chest cold this week.
It hit me Wednesday and put me in bed for a couple of days. Still coughing today, but not like I have been. I'm feeling much better tonight.
- Received a rejection from Black Gate Magazine today.
- Hugs to Steve Leigh on the job situation. I hope you find a much better job very soon. I know how scary that is...my thoughts are with you, Steve.
- I made blackberry jelly tonight.
My blackberry bush has produced over a gallon of berries this year. I always enjoy my summer ritual of jelly-making. One of these days, I hope that my little peach tree produces enough peaches to make some peach jam/preserves. Peach is one of my very favorite flavors, especially when strawberries are involved. I have a small strawberry patch in the backyard and some day, there will be enough fruit to use. Last year, I planted a Concord grape vine and this year, the thing has just gone crazy. I'll only have a handful of grapes from it this time, but next year...this thing will be huge! At any rate, I have six jars of blackberry jelly cooling on the stove. Blackberry jelly is a nice treat in the winter. It's like tasting a little bit of summer when it's cold and damp and gray outside. It's also my secret ingredient in my Thanksgiving Cranberry-Orange sauce. [not so secret now, is it?]
- Bailey had his first year's check-up Thursday.
I wasn't able to take him myself, but I'm told that he weighs 8.7 lbs now! He's just a little thing and I'm amazed that he weighs that much. This time last year, Bailey weighed 4.6 lbs.
- Haven't been able to do anything with the ideas that I brainstormed for a novel I want to rewrite. I am hoping to attempt a first chapter tonight.
- Had a very good time this weekend.
It was great to see so many of my friends in one place! Saw Lisa and Ron Collins, David Coe, Denise and Steve Leigh, Charles Eckert, Ron Sarti, Linda Dunn, and Christopher Rowe! We all had a good time. I got to meet Toby Buckell and Emily, too! VERY nice people! I also met George R. R. Martin and editor Toni Weisskopf who were exceptionally nice people. The Baen party was wonderful! Lots of chocoloate -- yummm. I also tasted a really good drink [okay, have an open mind here]...it was cranberry juice and banana rum. wow...really good stuff. The champagne was very good, too.
- Signed a couple of autographs (to my surprise), did a couple of very fun panels, too. I participated in a very funny play that Linda Dunn wrote about How Writing Really Works.
Steve Leigh and Esther Friesner were in it, too and we had a wonderful time putting this on.
Also, did a couple of critiques for writers this weekend, too. Laughed myself silly with Ron, Lisa, Charles, and David over a card game called Once Upon A Story. I'll never look at bulldogs the same way
again. Or duck blinds...guess you had to be there for this one. At any rate, I hope that an entire year won't go by before I see everyone again.
- Well...I didn't finish The Color of Joy. It unraveled in my hands late Sunday evening. It was too ambitious of a story and the telling of it is beyond my skill
level. So, I had to turn in the story I wrote before I started this one.
At some levels, I feel bad that I couldn't pull it together in time, but when I look back on last week's schedule, I realize that finishing this story would have been a Herculean effort for most people. So, I'll let the story events percolate for awhile and come back to it when I'm ready.
- Tonight, I got home late from work and then had to pick blackberries. After that, I did quite a bit of brainstorming for the rewrite of Experiencing Deep Purple that I'm planning to tackle. HUGE THANKS to Ron and Lisa for their clarity of vision and helping me to bring things into focus. I *think* that I've got some really cool ideas on how to make this rewrite work. It looks like a few things here will work together after all, if I bring in a new character. So, Dr. Jeannette Kingston from my short story, Rena 733 will be entering the story with several viewpoint chapters. Thanks again!
- All's quiet (and darned annoying) at the mailbox. So many things overdue on responses.
- Work has been hellish (as usual) with overwhelming amounts of paperwork and projects to coordinate. But tomorrow, I'm not working!! Yay! I'll be heading to Louisville
Looking forward to some serious silliness with Ron, Lisa, David Coe, and Stephen and Denise Leigh. This will most likely be my last con for the year unless I decide to go to World Fantasy Con. I'm still undecided on that one though. Depends on my mood.
- For the past three weeks, I've been working in John Crowley's writing workshop. It's been a busy three weeks, let me tell ya. It's a very good thing that I'm in this workshop
because I have to turn in a new story on Monday and I haven't been writing for about two months.
If it weren't for this workshop forcing me to turn in a story, I still wouldn't be writing. Unfortunately though, I'm running out of time. I've already critiqued about 27k of material this week and I still have 4k more to critique for Rivercon's writer's workshop. And...then there's this story I have to write. ARGH! I didn't even get to start it until Monday evening and I've been working late with upgrades at work every night. Needless to say, this story is going to be ... how do the Chinese put it? ... interesting. May your life be interesting. May this story get written. I sure hope so, 'cuz I'm running out of time in a hurry. I put down about 1100 words on the story tonight. Tentative title is The Color of Joy , but
that may change.
This is yet another one of my Pacific Northwest stories. For me, it's a rather ambitious story. I don't know if I can pull it off, but I'm too far in to change directions on this draft. Time to stop and pack for the weekend.
- Have a great evening!
- Welcome to yet another version of Watermarks! I've got a new domain name and a new look to the site. I hope that it will be more helpful to new and aspiring writers.
At the moment, this site is still a work in progress. I have lots of pages and such that have to be moved over from the old location. This page may be in transition as well, so the design may change a little or a lot over the next few months.
- Congratulations to my friend, Vera Nazarian whose excellent story, Rossia Moya has qualified for the
1999 Nebula Preliminary ballot and has made the Year's Best Science Fiction's Honorable Mention list! Both are wonderful achievements, Vera. Also, look for Vera's story, Aliens in Wonderland, online at Bookwise.com.
- Other than the new site, not much news on my side of the fence. My father is doing better and my mom's surgery was successful (last Friday). The surgeon had to replace two of
the bones in her ear and repair the eardrum. My workshop is in its second week and my master's project is moving slowly ahead as I learn Coursebuilder and Dreamweaver.
Received a rejection from the Avon anthology after almost a year of waiting and a year and a half rejection on a story that I have long since sent out. Still waiting on overdue responses on several other stories. I'm not writing right now. I hate to admit this, but it's true. It's the markets. I try to tell myself that the markets don't matter and that I should forget about them and just write. But you know what? When you cross that line where you are paid for your work, there's no going back. Writing for yourself has just become writing for others, too. I try to write for myself and sometimes I succeed, but selling your work inevitably becomes a double-edged sword. So, I'm still trying to reconcile myself with the market situation, the fact that my work doesn't fit any of the magazine markets, and the increasing pressure to perform and produce. My bootstraps are worn through, but there are a few ideas left. We'll see.
- Dad is still in the hospital and still having complications. I hope that he might be out by the weekend. His birthday is next Tuesday. It's hard to believe that he's been in the hospital
for five weeks. He's really having a hard time and he may have to have another surgery in a month. It depends on whether or not his left lung heals properly.
- Last night's storms were incredible! We had thunderstorms all night long. It was a terrific night to sleep. I love thunderstorms.
- Today is the beginning of my workshop with John Crowley. It runs for six weeks, so I'll have work to crit every week for a while. Unfortunately, my name came up for the first story
submission. [fret] I'm so afraid they'll all hate my story and wonder why I thought I should be in a master class...At least most of the pain will be over by Wednesday (I hope). I hope I don't embarrass myself too
badly. I just emailed the story. Yipe.
- Here is the first part of my trip report. I hope you enjoy it! I will probably post more in a few days. Have a good evening.
- Civil War Fantastic arrived in the bookstores yesterday! Yippee! I picked up a copy and was very excited to hold it in my hands.
- Mailbox was devoid of writing-related mail. Sigh.
- I hope to post some images and whatnot about my Friday Harbor trip tomorrow night.
- Back at last! My dad continues to improve and I'm hoping that he will get to come home this week.
- The trip was phenomenal...and the whales...they were hauntingly beautiful this trip...so playful. I got some of the most incredible shots of them this year. So much to tell you. So many
photos to share. The sunsets were luminous and Mount Baker was out the entire time we were on the island. I'm really excited about the Mavica shots I took this time. I have videos to show you!! Of orcas breaching
!!! I have never seen an orca do a full breach until this trip. K Pod and L Pod treated us to breach after breach. And the babies!! There were two baby orcas and they were absolutely adorable. I hope that I can post a
bit more about my trip over the next few days...there's so much to share.
- Two rejections awaited me when I returned: a ridiculously long response time from XOddity rejecting a story due to length. And a rejection from Black Gate. Ah, it's good to be back. ;>
More news later.