December is winding down as 2001 slips away, quietly I hope. This has been a very tough year for so many people. My hope is that 2002 will be a much more positive and hopeful year. My drought on story sales continues, unfortunately. I'm embarrassed to say that in January, it'll be two years since my last fiction sale. I only have about 7 short stories out at the moment, but I'm hopeful that one of these will finally break this horrid drought. Finished the rewrite and third pass on Circle of Life. It goes out in tomorrow's mail. It's an odd little story. I don't know if it has a chance or not, but it won't have any chance if I don't send it out. Tomorrow, I hope to put down Act II of Proximal Distance. My goal was to finish PD and Rendered in Wild Blue by January 1, 2002. I hope I can still make that happen. I wasn't expecting to write another story in the middle of PD though, so at least it was productive. :)
I keep hoping that some day it's going to be my turn at the "getting noticed" window and some of the editors out there will see me as an up-and-coming writer instead of "Who? Never heard of her!" 2002 marks the beginning of my tenth year of the writing struggle. Maybe in 2002, something will finally happen? Of course, I say this every year. I'm not holding my breath, but it sure would be nice to move forward for once. Sorry, after a rough week at work so far, I'm feeling a little sorry for myself tonight.
I started working on Proximal Distance tonight, but decided to take another look at the anthology's guidelines. And got cold feet. Words from the guidelines kept poking at me: be brave, be wildly creative....argh!!! Proximal Distance doesn't fit that description. I'm going to finish the story, but.....see, I kept fixating on those words, so I felt that I had to make another stab in that direction rather the story I'm currently telling. Then the little guy (the one that likes to shout over your internal critic, "hey, I've got this really cool idea!!") spoke up, kind of like Emeril, "Bam! Kick it up a notch!" The end result was a rough draft that I knocked out tonight called Circle of Life. It'll take me a day or so to flesh it out and fine tune it. Maybe by next week, this story will be ready to mail? In the meantime, I'll continue the draft of Proximal Distance which is a few words shy of 4000 words at the moment. Wow...I actually finished a short story. Can't tell you how good that feels. I'd better sign off now. The little guy is shouting another idea at me. Have a good evening!
Proximal Distance is up to 3400 words now. Looks like the first draft will be a little longer than I expected -- about 5000 words, I think. Then I'll need to trim it down quite a bit. It's a bit bloated right now. But the story is going well. I'm in the second act of the story. From here, things should move fairly well. I expect to finish a draft of the story this week. I really didn't expect this story to run so long.
I *FINALLY* have all my Christmas presents bought, wrapped, and delivered. My brother and his family will be spending Christmas Eve with us, so we'll have a house full of folks. I love spending Christmas Eve with them. We always have such a good time. :) It's our family tradition to eat pizza, drink wine, and open gifts. Unfortunately, I can't drink much wine these days. I seem to have developed an allergic reaction to alcohol. If I take an antihistamine beforehand, I can drink a glass or two of red wine. It's not a life-threatening allergy. It's just uncomfortable and annoying. Have a good evening!
I took a vacation day from work today to finish my Christmas shopping and work on Proximal Distance. For some reason, I'm still on a cutting kick. I cut out a bunch of unnecessary wordage from the first third of the story and moved on to the next scene. This is not my traditional mode of operation. At VP 5, James Patrick Kelly talked about how he always cut 300 words out of a story (I think it was 300 words -- my memory is a little fuzzy). Maybe that's where this cutting wordage is coming from? I have cut so much from this story so far and I'm still on the first draft. Weird since I never worked this way before.
I put down 1100 words on the story. I don't really know if this story will be appropriate for Beyond the Last Star. In fact, I'm not even sure what kind of story this one is yet. It feels more mainstream than SF/F -- possibly it's magic realism. I just don't know. That's been a real problem for me lately, writing things that don't really fit anywhere. That's okay. I'm pleased with the fact that I'm actually going to finish a new short story before the end of the year. I haven't written a new story since the one I wrote at VP 5. So, I'm very pleased with the work I did today. I may cut half of it tomorrow, but for tonight, I'm pleased. :)
Happy Birthday to VP5er, Beth Bernobich! Hope you had a terrific day.
Still plugging away at Proximal Distance. I dumped part of the story tonight, so I don't have a huge increase in word count. I only ended up keeping about a page of what I wrote tonight, so I'm at about 750 words on this one. For some reason, I couldn't keep hold of Serio, the main character's motivation/goal -- whatever. So, I stopped, did some deeper investigation of what Serio lacked and what he wanted -- and came up with an odd answer. Part of the answer came from the story I just tossed...go figure. So I took another look at the concept I'd abandoned. It had a new spin on it, so I put it into this story. The story is moving ahead and I refuse to let it kick my butt. Have a good evening!
Tonight, I read over my wordage for the new story so far. Hated it. The epitome of boring, boring, boring and It's just not very good. So, I dumped it. I went back and looked at some of my earlier scribblings on the story and found the hook I was looking for. I started over with the new concept and ideas tonight. I've got about 500 words and now it feels like it's going somewhere, not some boring trip to nowhere anyone wanted to go, especially me. If I'm not interested, then no one else will be either. The new story feels like there's a point to telling it and the theme feels more concrete. The new working title is now Proximal Distances and all the story pieces (at least in my head) seem to fit tightly together -- the way a story should be. Part of the reason this first attempt wasn't working was also because I was being a bit lazy. Sometimes write what you know is a crutch and it becomes an excuse for me to fall back on familiar settings and themes. Another is pressure. I feel a high degree of pressure to finish a new story. Gotta stretch those writer's muscles if I want to go the next level in my work. And back to work I go. Have a good evening!
Still plugging away on the short story. It's coming more slowly than I'd hoped, but at least the words are coming. :) Working title has already changed. I'm calling it The Goodbye Place at the moment. I'm sure the title will change again though. Even my theme has changed a bit from my original idea. One thing that I can be assured of with this story is that things are gonna change. I'm stressing a bit over this one because I want it to be my best work. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it won't be the best thing you've written. In so many ways, I feel like this is the first time I've ever written a short story. I know that sounds weird, but this form just looks so different to me now. Lots of work to do on this story, but I'm up to the challenge. :)
This weekend, I picked up a copy of Neil Gaiman's short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors . I've only read a few stories so far and I'm enjoying them very much, but I find myself trying to take apart his stories in order to better understand the short story form. Everything's a learning experience. :) And there's so much to learn. I feel this need to push myself harder and work my new insights. I'm actually thinking of returning to my roots and doing a little dare to be bad. 2002 marks my tenth year of writing and submitting short fiction, so maybe a little extensive fiction training will take me to that next level. For now, I'm still tossing the idea around. Have a good evening!
On Saturday, I came home with a lovely sore throat from my niece. And today, I had already scheduled a day off from work to take a 4-hour continuing education course for my cosmetology license, but the course was cancelled today. I was less than pleased since I have to take 16 hours before my license expires and I've taken, well uh -- none yet. Probably just as well though with this annoying sore throat. So, I spent the day revising an old short story, looking at how theme carried through the story (or in this case, didn't). This is a story that I like a lot, but it's never sold and today, after dissecting the manuscript a bit, I knew why. Now, knowing what *sells* is a whole different kind of talent that I wish I had, but just knowing why something falls short feels really good. So I spent a few hours deconstructing the story and putting it back together. The ending doesn't ring true yet, so I'm going to let that part simmer for a while. I'll get the story polished over the next week or so and get it out the door.
I'm back working on the new short story. Working title is The Dance (generic, I know, but I've got to call it something), but so far, I like where the story is going. A lot of work to do on it though. A LOT...so I guess I'd better get to it then. Have a good evening!
I feel totally out of sorts tonight. For a month, I've been immersed nightly in my novel rewrite, but tonight, it's in its box ready to be mailed tomorrow morning. I already miss the world and the characters. I opened my notes on two short stories I haven't finished yet and just couldn't pull myself into them. Not yet anyway. But you know . . . I do have this first draft of ETP's sequel that needs a boatload of expansion/editing/revision. I could work on that. :) It's really hard to shift gears after finishing something so close to your heart. I hope it shows in the manuscript because I feel very passionate about this story. I need to finish some short stories though.
I have noticed how very differently I approach short stories now. My first pass at a story is to get it down on paper. My second pass is to find the screwups/logic errors/typos -- all that stuff. But my third pass is to follow my character through the story and look at the biggest possible picture. Before, my third pass was a polish and mechanical tune up. I see what I was missing now -- it's just weird. I noticed myself doing this all through my novel revision, looking at each character's story arc and looking at how it unfolds and resolves. And I'll be darned, I started seeing themes and once I saw those, I could cut or add where appropriate to support that theme. A step in the right direction, for sure. But I still miss my characters. :/
Tomorrow afternoon, I'm driving to Kentucky with my folks to visit my brother, Jeff and his family. A last minute trip. I was really hoping to get some writing done, but that will have to wait, I guess. No writing for three days? That's gonna be tough, but writers are always writing in their heads anyway. ;)
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! This year, I've taken a good look at what I have to be thankful for -- and I'm a very lucky person. I have seen all too graphically what I have to lose in this world and that's very sobering. I have seen that other people's daily lives are a life or death struggle, not worrying about finding a parking place or getting to work on time. Sure, I have worries and trials, too, but right now, they pale by comparison to the world around me. I don't want to take things in my life for granted anymore. Take care and safe journeys!
As of this moment, Experiencing True Purple is done, done, done!!! Yeah!!! As we speak, I'm printing out the manuscript. I've run out of time tonight to finish the submission prep, so I'll probably do that tomorrow and mail the manuscript on my lunch hour Tuesday. It's done....wow, I just can't believe it. Final word count is 118,000 words. Soon to have three novel manuscripts out the door. Hardly seems possible. But I'm pretty elated at this moment. This book has been on my desk for a long time. Now, it'll be on someone else's desk for a long time. ;) And so it goes in the wild, wild world of writing. I'm exhausted from staying up waaaay too late to watch the Leonids. But my manuscript's complete. :) :) I made a slight change to the title and I think it's going to work better this way. Usually, at this moment when those crisp white boxes come out and the room reeks of toner, I get very scared about sending something out. But this time is different. Why? Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did the absolute, very best that I could on this manuscript. Whatever happens, I know that my best work is in this box. And that's pretty cool. Have a good evening!
Ruh roh, I've already posted twice this week -- this is getting scary. :) I put two more chapters down this week. I have three new ones left to write and eleven chapters to clean up/polish. If all goes well, I could finish this thing by Sunday. That's what I'm shooting for. I want to mail it before Thanksgiving. These last three chapters will be fun though, so I'm looking forward to writing them. I just did a word check for this book and it's 113,000 words!!! I'm amazed that's it's grown that much. But some things needed fleshing out. When I'm finished, this book will hit 120,000 words and be the longest work of fiction I've ever written. Woohoo! I feel so good about this book. Even if it never sells, I'm damned proud of this book. Publishing it would be way cool icing on the wish cake, y'know. In a week or so, I'll have three manuscripts out there. And right at this very moment, an editor is seriously considering a novel that I wrote -- me, can you believe it? Okay, the editor is probably asleep, but this is my fantasy, so go with it!
Tomorrow night, I've been asked to talk to a teen writer's group at our local library. I'm looking forward to it, too (believe it or not -- me, the shy one). My goal is to inspire them and point them to lots of resources, so wish me luck.
I feel pathetically giddy and nothing's really happened. Hey, I could get used to this feeling. I just want to shout to the world, "I UNDERSTAND...IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW..." Intrinsically, it all makes sense. And that's half the battle. The other half will come through lots of analysis and practice, but you know what -- I'm up for it. Basically, I'm just up and boy does it feel good.
Wow, can't believe I haven't posted anything in November. The time sure gets away. I've been completely immersed in cleaning up a novel manuscript for submission. Still have four more chapters (story frame) to write and polish. This is a world that I love, so it's been a very enjoyable ride. :) I hope to send this one out by the end of the month.
Received a response to my query on a manuscript submitted seven months ago. (yes, Steve, I didn't let it sit this time ;>) I'm told that my novel is still under consideration and that it may be as long as six more months. Keeping my fingers crossed. This submission was a rewrite and the first time, it was turned down in two months. I've got a good feeling about it. We'll see -- anything can happen, but I'm a little excited (mainly because I actually got a response ;>.)
This weekend, I drove down to Indy and had lunch with Ron, Lisa, and Brigid Collins. We laughed, babbled about writing, and had a great time! Ron and I talked about theme and story resonance, perfectly good stories, and the soul of a story. It was a very good discussion. We also talked about our current projects, critiquing and things to come.
I'm also working on a story for the Beyond the Last Star anthology. The guidelines say be brave, so I've taken that as a challenge. :) It may not be successful, but it'll be a lot of fun to try. I'm still in the first scene and probably will be until I complete the polish/framing of my SF novel.
After VP 5, I feel so much more focused on my writing. I feel this sense of clarity and understanding that I haven't felt in a very long time. I don't have any answers yet, but darn it, I know the questions now. I hope that I can hold onto this feeling for a while because I'm loving the revision work and the immersion. Now, I gotta kick it up a notch and try to sell some novels! I've got just as much chance as the next writer. And that's my cue to get back to work. Have a good evening!
Worked my way through the whole manuscript, rearranging chapters, and mapping out the chapters
that I'll need to write. Should be about seven chapters in all. I'm about a third of the way through the first of these chapters. I don't anticipate these seven chapters to be very long, but they are
important to the plot. I also finished a draft the novel's synopsis and sent it off to one of my VP writing pals for comments. After I've finished writing the seven chapters, I need to tighten and polish all
of the chapters. Then...the book will be ready to send out.
Still working on cleaning up and retitling an SF novel. I have about 6 chapters that I want
to add to the book, so I plan to write those this month and get the book ready to submit. After that, I have to add the frame to the synopsis.
I'm still in the process of reorganizing the chapters. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the chapters, so hopefully by the weekend, I'll be ready to start writing the six new chapters. Maybe then, I'll be able to get back to my novel-in-progress? Experiencing the ocean has ignited my interest in the story again. While at VP, I spent some of my free time studying information on Puget Sound shipwrecks. This figures prominently into the story, so I still have quite a bit of research to do.
It's hard to believe the workshop is already over. I don't think I've felt this exhausted in a very long time. I slept twelve hours today and I still feel very, very tired. On my flight from Boston, the flight attendant asked me if I was okay. She said she kept looking at my neck for a pulse to make sure I was still breathing because I didn't move the entire flight. I don't really remember the flight. I woke up as the pilot announced we were preparing for arrival.
Today, I've done some editing work on a synopsis as well as some novel chapters. I'm going to be working on these chapters for a couple of weeks or so, I'd imagine. After that, I plan to do some short story work. Sometime in November, I hope to get back to my novel-in-progress. I won't be approaching Tide Pools for a bit. I want to think about its theme carefully before I rewrite it. Tonight, though, I miss the ocean. I'm listening to Enya's song, Only Time. It seems very fitting tonight.
My entire VP workshop journal should be up now. I had trouble with my connection during the latter part of the week and couldn't connect, so I couldn't post the rest of the journal until yesterday evening. I'll probably post some of my observations and insights here as I assimilate them. I've learned so many things, but the most important things were insights about my own writing -- which is what I needed. A lot of these insights are thanks to James Patrick Kelly, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Yog, and Steve Gould. I wish I could express to you just how helpful you each were to me.
I dread the return to work. But it was inevitable, I suppose. Seville was so happy to see me last night. She hid under the bed when I first got home and wouldn't come near me -- as she always does. It takes her a little bit to decide that she isn't mad at me anymore, but that time seems to grow shorter and shorter. She's been all over me from 4 am on this morning. Bailey was -- well, Bailey. Like I'd never left. He's easy going in that way.
Gonna turn in early. Have a good night.
My anxiety is offically in high gear tonight. I'm also a little angry, too. Tonight I should be excited and full of anticipation because I've been looking forward to this workshop since December. That little joy has been taken away from me. Yes, it's a small, trivialness that sounds very selfish to say in light of everything that's happened. But dammit, I'm angry! I can't think past the stupid plane flight now. I want those moments of joy back. The sound of rain pattering against the top of my car and misting my face. The glow of the fiery autumn landscape smoldering against a crisp October sky. The smell of apple cider and woodsmoke, of the cool air. Those things are still there, but instead of feeling their intensity and fleetingness, there is only anxiety mixed with numbness. I want these things to affect me again. I want to experience the world around me in those sensual, personal ways again. But right now, I can't. And that makes me angry. In time, I hope I will experience these things in a new way, with a new appreciation for them.
I'll leave this post with a small upnote. Another quote to share: "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible."
Take care and look deeply.
I'm so nervous about flying . . . especially in light of the President's speech tonight. I'll be so happy to land in Boston on Saturday, just so relieved . . . I don't like to fly all that much anyway, but this really makes me queasy.
I've created a journal page for the workshop. If all goes well, I should have some sort of connection (most likely very slow and very flaky). So...I hope to be able to post about the workshop while I'm there. If not, well, I'll have to post the journal after I return. So if you're interested, click on the VP Experience button above to see how it's going.
That's it for tonight.
Spent last night and tonight working through some plot ideas for one of those anthologies I mentioned. Also had to figure out some of the slanguage for the story. Working title is called Hot Zone (just because I can't come up with anything else at the moment). Got my basic plot and my characters figured out. Just have to weave the back story through the main story because the past events are intertwined with the current events. And avoid the Cheese Quotient (level of cheesiness in the plot). I may just take a campy approach and say the hell with any sort of parameters. We'll see. I wrote the opening paragraph tonight. The roughness of the words hurts my teeth. Gotta force myself to concentrate on the story not the words. Don't get in the way. Just tell the story.
Viable Paradise V is only days away and my trepidation is beginning to escalate. And the buzz word is fear. Fear of flying, fear of falling, fear of failing... I leave Saturday morning for Martha's Vineyard. I need some inspiration desperately, a spark of reassurance, some little tiny something that denies that the past nine years were wasted effort. My last day of work is Thursday. That gives me all day Friday to pack and fret.
I'll leave you with a cool quote: "Nothing would be done at all if we waited until we could do it so well that no one could find fault with it." -- Cardinal Newman.
I'm outta here. G'night.
I haven't had much of a desire to post anything here. Haven't had the desire to put words to the page either. I look at this 60K novel of mine, knowing that it's 80% finished, knowing that I can finish it -- but the trivial-ness of the story is overwhelming. Before September 11th, I wanted this book to be full of magic and beauty and mystery. That was before over 6000 people suddenly and horrifically died, senselessly. I've tried several times, but right now, I just can't bring myself to touch those saccharin-laced pages. It's not even sugar because sugar implies a sense of innocence and purity. At first taste, saccharin is sweet, but the chemical bitterness quickly bleeds through, reminding you that it's all just a chemical illusion. It's going to be a long time before I can touch this book again. Right now, I am a long way from that point of view.
There are quite a few new anthologies currently open. I think I will divert my attention to those. My family will appreciate that. See, when I'm not writing, my creative drive is still there and still needs an outlet. So, I've painted every piece of wood I can get my hands on and made about a dozen clay angel cats, made more jelly -- you get the picture. My immediate plan is to finish Rigel's Fulcrum, work on some ideas for Beyond the Last Star and Low Port. A story goes out Tuesday for one of those Mammoth Book anthologies, too. It would go out tomorrow except for the stupid Columbus Day holiday. What a lamo holiday. Some idiot sailor runs his ship aground on a beach and thinks he's created a whole new world. You know what? If Columbus had kept going, this continent would have still been here. And all of the native people living here would still exist without needing some dude in tights to declare that they now exist. Yawn. Hmmmm, that gives me an idea for a story.
Time to put on some Jagged Little Pill and rage on paper for a while. Maybe I'll finish a decent work of fiction this year? G'night.
It's raining hard here tonight. A cold, cleansing rain.
In the dry places on the porch, I placed the luminaries and kept them lit. I found this URL comforting. Maybe you will, too? http://thankyou.fast-networks.net/index2.html
I took some photos in my backyard this weekend. Thought I'd share some comforting images.
It's been seven days since the terrorist attacks on New York and D.C. I can't
get those images out of my head any more than I can get the people on those flights out of my head. I have to turn away when they replay that footage.
I don't think I've ever felt so helpless in my entire life. Seeing the images as they happened, thinking of the people on those four flights . . . it's all so chilling and horrific. And the silence. Did you ever think there'd be a time when the familiar buzz of an airplane on a sunny afternoon or the steady wink of their lights in the night sky would be replaced with eerie silence and darkness? I remember watching the first feeds at home, but when I got to work, there was the incredible frustration of trying make internet connections to CNN or any news site for information, but all of them were overloaded. Finally, we crowded around a radio and listened, catching an occasional photograph on the net whenever we could connect to something. All of it was overwhelming.
At noon that day, I went out to the Memorial mall on campus where they were holding a silent vigil. I stood in silence with the others as the church bell tolled in an endless drone. Then the church opened its doors and we all went inside, sat in the pews and cried. A priest and a local minister made short, heartfelt statements and then we sang a hymn. There was no music, just the echo of the words.
Later, I went to the blood center to give blood. I stood in line five hours to try and give. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a needle into my vein. I cried all the way home. I wanted to do something -- anything -- to help and I couldn't even give blood. I gave to the Red Cross, but even that just doesn't seem nearly enough. I feel this overwhelming sense of helplessness and guilt because here I sit healthy and safe with my family nearby when all those dazed, exhausted, grief-stricken people are wandering the streets clutching photos of their cherished family members and desperately searching for a sign, an answer. Knowing that so many people lay beneath stories and stories of rubble -- It hurts my soul. It just hurts my soul. The memory of those planes slamming into the towers will haunt me for the rest of my life. I feel this incredible heaviness on my chest that I just can't shake. I can't bring myself to return to the novel yet. It just seems so trivial and pointless in the wake of all this pain and loss. It just doesn't seem important right now.
Words fail me. I feel numbing shock and grief over the horrors inflicted upon my country. The cruelty and cowardice of the actions of whoever is responsible makes me sick inside when I think of the magnitude of loss. But the one thing I don't feel and refuse to feel is hatred. I won't be like those Bastards responsible for yesterday's horrors. Because hatred spawned this act of terrorism and I won't let them convert me to a doctrine of hatred. They can destroy our "icons," they can burn our flags, and they can decimate our buildings, but they will never destroy our ideals and our freedom. America isn't a building or a flag or a place we go; it's who we are, it's how we believe and behave. And we believe that everyone who wants freedom has a right to work this soil, live their lives, and pursue their dreams. The word 'United' will always be the first name of our country and we won't let hatred divide us. We will band together to survive this tragedy and we will move forward, but we will not succumb to the cowardice of hate. And we will remember this day. We are United -- not by race, creed, or color, but by our ideals and beliefs. That's what makes us Americans. For as long as the sun still rises.
There won't be much updating done here over the next month. I'll probably post another vacation report or two, but that's about it. Why, you ask? Well, see...I just started a Novel Dare today. The book title is Listening For the Sound . (It won out over Tangled Veils.) If you're interested in my progress, click on Novel Dares at the top of this page and it'll take you to my past and present Dare pages. I've got my work cut out for me on this one and I'm a little gun shy about the whole thing (whoa, two cliches in the same sentence -- impressive :/), but I'm going to do the best I can. Who knows, maybe it'll even be readable? We'll see. Have a good evening and wish me luck!
Home from the islands...feeling pretty wiped today. Our plane from Seattle
and our connection in Dallas were delayed due to weather.
We didn't land in Indy until about 1:30 am and it was after 3 am before we arrived home. It was a very long day. On the plane, I wrote more on Rendered in Wild Blue, sketched out plot outlines for a novel I intend to start this week and a special Dare that I'm doing in a couple of months (more about that later). I plan to Dare off the current novel this month, rewrite in August, and then do this special Dare in September. Lots to write, so little time....