Monday, December 31, 2007

Snoopy Dance Time

Hit my monthly goals: submitted to INK, submitted to Writers of the Future, wrote 70 pages.

Hit my yearly goal: 601 pages.

2008--Bring it!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

When a Writer is a Girlfriend

With my WotF sub safely in the mail as of the 28th and a query shipped off, I'm dealing with some inertia. I should be writing. I even have ideas and a list of things to do.

I have the day off tomorrow. Hopefully some free time without hours of mind-numbing retail stuff to drain me first will help me be productive.

At work a coworker has a girlfriend who is (apparently) a budding writer. I told him to have her email me. This has turned into a big thing for her, apparently, with all kinds of concerns about meeting a stranger and stuff. I suspect the stuff part is having a potentially dispassionate reader tell her the truth about her work. We may have another potential INKer, or she may turn out to be a fanfic (Kami flinches from the many steely knives bared as fanfic writers prepare to defend their craft) writer who will appear briefly in my email box and then vanish cryptically in a puff of lavender smoke. I'll make first contact and see what's what.

This may be a case of her telling her boyfriend that she writes fantasy and he translated this to mean that she actually writes fantasy, if you know what I mean. That would explain the severe shyness.

So here's a word to those boyfriends (and girlfriends) out there who have been told that their person of interest is a writer. There are kinds of writers and writer wannabes and until you know what their type is, think twice before dragging them in the direction of things like critique groups, writer's conferences and such. It may be just what they want and need, or it might be the worst torture you could put them through.

And here's a word to the people out there who call themselves writers. Writer encompasses a huge group, from published authors to folks who like to hand write letters to their relatives, from up-and-coming writers of short stories to closet novelists that should stay in the closet, from poets of every skill level to non-fiction article writers, journalists, bloggers, and the small child who writes their very first essay without really understanding what an essay is. If you're going to tell someone you're a writer, it may be a good idea to go a little further and talk about what you write and why. It might save you some trouble. Then again, it might get you into the good kind of trouble.

I'll always wince when I mention I'm a writer and someone leaps in and asks what I've published. I've got to get quicker with the "and I hope to be published soon."

I've had a new one, btw. I mentioned I spent my evenings writing to one of my bosses and she asked what I wrote. "Fantasy novels," I said.

And her voice did that downturn. "Oh."

It's better than being asked what I've published, though!

Decision to Defer WotF Entry

After long consideration, I have decided to defer my entry for Writers of the Future to the first quarter of 2008 (March deadline).

Basically, this boiled down to number of hours available to complete the work. I had pretty extensive rework to do to get the NaNoWriMo novel-length piece down to short story size and complete the story arc and had been working on it extensively - to the detriment of balance in other activities. Ultimately, keeping up my 1000 word a day habit and delivering on my objective to submit for INK took priority and bumped the later objective.

This schedule modification will allow me to finish the changes to the story and have it reviewed by INK before submitting to WotF.

I'm a bit disappointed in myself, but that is tempered by the submission for the January 4th INK meeting and I'm focusing on looking forward to that feedback. I'm also pleased by having the time to submit the new story to INK and update for feedback before submitting to WotF.

See you all on the 4th!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Going . . . Gone

Done and done.

[Name withheld to protect the foolish] is sitting in the envelope next to me, ready to zip off into the mail as soon as I leave the house. Off to the Writers of the Future contest! My first short story submission since college, my first contest entry since those hapless poems two years ago.

"Another Day in Purgatory" is as close as I can get it and is now sitting in the inboxes of members of INK, ready for dismemberment at our next meeting.

And that concludes the deadlines for today. Until our next deadline, which is fast approaching on Monday to have all my pages written for the month, Good Day and Good Writing!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's in the Envelope

My sub for WotF is in the envelope and ready to get mailed off to WotF.
I just emailed my first agent query for Masks.
Why does the world feel like it's spinning too fast?

If I'm rejected, I'll feel a small let down.
If I'm accepted, I'll be terrified. And thrilled. And terrified. But also thrilled.

I'm working tomorrow from 9-6. Hopefully I'll get the part that needs to be mailed in during lunch. Good luck to all of us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Close Enough for a Banana

Well, I've mucked as far as I want to muck on my WotF story without further feedback from the INKers. It's down to 3300 words from, what was it, 4500? Anyway, with the deadline up this close, it may be time to just move on to the submission package part of all this. I wish that part took zero time, but it always takes me hours, if not days or, in the case of my agent queries, weeks.

Speaking of agent queries, mine is sitting in limbo. Time to add my web page address and ship the puppy off, I think. It's doing no good sitting in my email draft box. So unless anyone up and screams "No, Kami, don't do it!" I'll be sending that off tonight or tomorrow.

The new printer works fabulous so far. It'll be fun to print out my story and cover letter on it.

Good luck everyone! Let's do this thing.

Deading the Line

Thanks to a snow warning tomorrow, I have a slight reprieve on my encroaching deadline.

My brother and all four of his girls were going to visit tomorrow, meaning I'd have very little time free to finish editing [Sorry, can't tell you] for the WotF contest. But he's not going to want to drive the hour or so through snow to reach us and chance getting stuck here, so instead of refereeing the girls I'll have more time to finish [Still can't tell you!]. Kate will miss playing with her cousins, but I'll make up for it by spending time out in the snow.

If it really does snow. One can never be too certain, afterall.

I have spent time on [Shh, it's a secret] today working on the transition from new opening to pre-existing story. I have one more transition to write, based on exposition I had already written so that part of the scene is fleshed out, and then I'll just be tweaking and correcting the rest of the piece. I'm glad to be near the end of bluescreen writing. While I struggle with rough draft writing in general, bluescreen writing scenes to inject into a pre-existing story is like facing undergoing a root canal. I just dread it. It isn't as relaxing as tweaking what's there and it isn't as creative as cutting loose in a rough draft. I'm bound to a text that I have to try to match in tone and structure and plot. I find it tedious to contemplate, though once I'm into the actual writing, the tedium usually falls away as I get back into the story and the characters. Thankfully, or I'd never get it finished.

So I'm looking forward to being finished with the last bit of bluescreen so I can go back to editing. Much looking forward to the plain old editing.

Purgatory is, I think, ready to send out to INK. I'm at the stage where when I read through it I don't find errors but find that the whole piece stinks and should be trashed. That's usually a sign that I need a reader, stat! I don't think it's short enough, but I can't find the obvious places that I know exist that can be deleted. Definitely time for readers. I'll do a line edit tomorrow and spend it off.

With all this gnashing of teeth about bluescreen writing for edits and doubting the veracity of a story, I'm ready to sit down to some nice, non-judgmental rough draft writing. And luckily I have my new short story primed for more words.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Yeah, I'm pagan, but so what.  I've celebrated both forever.  The Holly and the Ivy was once a pagan song (with strong references to the Hunt, the Holly King and the Ivy King, Rekindling of the sun, etc.) and was rewritten to suit Christianity.  To me that exemplifies several things, including the writing process itself.  Whether we're writing fiction or non-fiction, we take who we are and use that to rewrite what is ethereal before we touch it.  History.  Fact.  Truth.  Imagination.  Emotion.  We're always reshaping what is or was into what we believe we know.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir.

Merry Christmas, INK, and have a happy new year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Researching the Market

I picked up the current issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I've been wanting to read short stories in my preferred genre and I know this magazine leans toward noir. Not that I've been writing noir, but I'd like to. Hence the research.

I'm enjoying the magazine immensely. I'm foreseeing a subscription in my future. Having a Hammett short in it was just icing. I haven't read a story I didn't like.

I've also realized that maybe I'm not a noir writer. But that isn't going to stop me from giving it a try. I'm picking up some of the nuances of the genre and as soon as I can figure up a good plot, I'll see what I can come up with.

Next on my researching list: a fantasy magazine (might go with Realms on that one) and a romance magazine (Romantic Times might help me find one). And I'll pick up a copy of Glimmer Train to check out the literary market.

Anyone have other suggestions?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Quiet Pleasure

It's weird to be so pleased with myself when I know Kami and her family are grieving. I feel so badly for their losing Mojo.

So I'm holding back my snoopy dance for finishing my first short story in over two years. Oddly enough, it didn't feel like that huge of an accomplishment. I think because I know I have lots of revising to do on it before it is really close to finished. So I'll save the snoopy dance for when I finish the edit.

I have spent the last two days catching up on missed work. I wrote 13 pages yesterday, which puts me even with my best Nano writing days. For some reason, 13 seems to be the highest number I can achieve in a day, at least at this point. By the 13th page, my brain is mushy, my back aches, and my fingertips are numb. It's no slouch of number, approximating 3250 words of writing. While I'm pleased I got that far along, I really did want to finish the story yesterday, but I had to wait until today to write the last 7 pages of the story.

I was close to my guess on the length of the story, too, which surprises me. I figured about 30 pages and I ended up with 37 pages, thanks in part to a nice little twist at the end. We like little twists that take the story one step further. This one worked out well and kept with the theme that managed to develop in the story.

My plans now are reading Reven, which I haven't started yet (bad me), finishing the [title withheld for sheer perversion] revision to get it ready for the WotF contest, and coming up with something to fill the 28 pages I have left to write for the month. It will be spent on another short story. I have some prep work to do on my current novels before I can pick them up again.

Getting Back on My Knees

I'd say I'm starting to get back on my feet, but I don't think I'll make it that far for a while.  Mojo's death knocked me on my ass.  Working seems to help a little, so I worked on Masks and the website a bit.

The website is coming together pretty well.  It's starting to look more finished.  Lots more images.  Thanks again for your help, Steve, Carole and Ris, both technical and for cheering me on.

Rory's website is shaping up too, though we haven't had time to sit down and really work on it.  We'll get there.  He has nifty Amazon links.  I'll add some to soon, when I put up my Gypsies and Space Ninjas page, or whatever I end up calling it.  I anticipate advertising all of INK's published works on that page, so we'd all better get stuff published soon.

I ache all over.  As they say in acting and writing alike, must remember this feeling ... but really I just want him back.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Which One

I have a lot of stories to choose from.  They all have flaws.  I'm having a hard time committing.  I thought I'd go with Comes in Colors, aka Colorized, but now I'm having doubts.  So I've decided to throw this list online, basically thinking aloud, to see what happens.  (In other words, I'm inflicting my thoughts on the universe, not asking that everyone vote, although if you have suggestions I am so, so willing to hear them!)  

It's really hard to judge my own stuff.  I have the same trouble painting.  The ones people gravitate to are not my faves, generally speaking.  I'm only looking at fairly recent stories.  I don't want to dredge up really old ones for WotF.

[Secret WotF sub]:  People remember it.  It's pretty clean (though Ris is right, it could use trimming.)  It has some good visuals.  Overall, though, I'm afraid the idea is not very creative, and it certainly doesn't have much punch.  Even after editing I don't think it'll be a vivid story.
Calling In:  I think it's funny, and it recently got funnier thanks to some tightening and a plot adjustment.  I like that it's very short, the shortest thing I've written.  But, it's humor.  Humor is hard, and humor pieces deserve recognition, but I don't know if this humor piece does.  
Flight:  This is the oldest of the stories I'm considering.  It's also a shorter story.  The tale of the engineered child whose first flight is recorded in JonBenet Ramsey style has some moments that I still think about, but I think I missed the mark with it.  I dunno.
Invaders:  Although this idea of robots being engineered to imitate alien invaders is nothing new, I think having the pov from the robot is unique.  The critique I got from Strange Horizons when I offered it for publication was that it was a near miss but it felt 'slight.'  I guess I didn't go deep enough, or the situation was too cliche'.  I don't know if I'll be able to get out from under that response to submit it to a contest.
Walking the Earth:  This rambling story about an alien born on Earth after his ancestors crash landed here has some fun moments, but plot-wise it verges on a mini-novel.  It's a classic Kami short story in the sense that I had a novel plot and tidied it up enough to fit into a short story.  I've had cleaner ideas but I really like the characters in this one.
[Secret Future WotF entry]:  A story about a general who switches to the losing side of a war.  I like that she dies at the end, and how that happens, but the opening starts on one of Diedre's nits--with a bloody fight.  I suppose I could change the opening.  It wouldn't even be that hard.  Despite being last on my list, this is the one I'm closest to considering submitting to WotF instead of [The Current Actual Entry.]

I just realized that I could submit Comes in Colors one quarter, and Causes another.

And I really need to start writing more short stories if I'm going to be submitting to contests.  Sheesh, you guys, I'm a novelist!  I'm not even supposed to be here!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yay, I don't have to spam to get an agent!

I got a huge boost out of the meeting, especially a fresh burst of enthusiasm (she said, using cliche's to describe her experience.)  My favorite was the caution about sending out too many queries at once, because you may get feedback from the rejections that will change your query.  Four or five a month makes so much more sense to me, not only because of the feedback thing but because frankly, I don't think I could put together a large number of queries without making them the equivalent of spam--generic, annoying advertising with the appropriate or sometimes inappropriate names pasted in.    

This put a certain self-published author's experience into crystalline perspective.  She said that she sent out 295 queries to agents and got back nothing.  Well, if she'd sent out that many in a very short time, they couldn't possibly all follow individual submission guidelines, or even have had anything but the right email address on them.  

I think I'm bad in the exact opposite way. I've been wrestling with my first query since December was in the single digit days.  It's now December 17th and I still don't have it put together.  Total length?  Probably around 200 words, maybe less, including a bio.  I should be faster than this, but I'm cutting myself a little slack because it's my first one.  Hopefully each one will be easier to write, and I'll have things to cut and paste as I progress--teasers, full length synopses (thank you internet for finally providing me with a plural of synopsis, assuming it's correct,) bios of various lengths, a website that's professional enough in appearance that I won't be embarrassed to include a link, etc.  

Agent queries aside, I got a huge amount of help for my ailing website (thank you Steve, you're a god!) and great support from my fellow INKers and a sense that yes, this is possible.  I can become a published author.  And Jay, you're beautiful.  Thanks for everything.  See you at Radcon!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

INK Meeting Report

What an encouraging meeting we had last night. Jay Lake was kind enough to share his time with us and we plied him with many questions about writing and publishing. Carole did a wonderful job working up a list of question beforehand and keeping us on track since we had a time constraint. I believe we covered all the questions we had put together before settling in for picture-taking and book-signing.

The other INKers can chime in on what they found the most helpful among Jay's many useful comments and observations on the craft. For my part, I was heartened by his adapting his writing methods as he evolves as a writer so that he continues to grow as a writer, because he has already achieved what all of us in the group aspire towards: publication. It was just another reminder that publication is not a finish line. I was also encouraged to finish my works-in-progress before I start new projects, having now limited how many I'm working on at a time. Much of what Jay said reinforced the hard-won knowledge I'm taking out of this year's attempts at learning my writing habits.

Jay, Kami, Steve, and Carissa (photo by C.S.)

Kami and Jay discuss books while Carissa looks on (photo by C.S.)

After Jay's departure, we gathered in the library (our usual meeting hang out) to continue the discussion of writing, specifically what we learned during the past year, which Carole so aptly described as a the year of growing pains. We are coming out of this year of growth with fresh perspectives and a new dedication not only to INK but to our individual careers. And I believe every one of us is now focused on the idea that writing is our career.

Close to midnight, we all made the choice to submit a short story to each quarterly contest held by Writers of the Future. It started with our goading Carole to submit one of her pieces and somehow turned into a "hey, we should all do that" sort of decision that is typically for us. So for the next two weeks we will all be in the stages of completing, revising, and polishing a short story. It will be fun to see what story each of us submits.

We also have updated our pictures for the blog (re: side bar), added some new material, and are all now accounted for here (welcome at last, Steve!).

In all, it was a motivating, encouraging, and energizing meeting even beyond what our normal get togethers produce. Jay's contribution to the successful meeting cannot be emphasized enough and we are so thankful he spent the time with us.

*Agenda items completed from the previous meeting: updates on the blog, group e-mail created, business cards ordered and distributed, meeting reminder e-mails engaged, yearly goals spelled out.

*Up next on our meeting agenda: the group submissions to WotF, submissions for the next meeting, building a FAQ for the group, and an invitation to a possible new member.

Friday, December 14, 2007


The wonderful Kelly McCullough over at Wyrdsmiths has given a blanket absolution to anyone gnawing the fingernails of guilt over unfinished projects. I really needed to read that today, since I have been struggling with my decision to shelve the newer projects that weren't working for me.

Now that the guilt is behind me, I can channel all that energy into completing my newest short story. "The Wrong Side" is going very well. I have 11 pages on it now and I know where it's going to end up, which is a good feeling. I'm leaving the ending open in my head, so if any more surprises come up, I can let the story follow them without wrecking the mystery of it. It's rather fun not knowing myself who exactly 'did it.'

It's a murder mystery, btw. Guess I should have mentioned that.

I also spent some time this morning editing "Purgatory," an older short story in desperate need of a new title. I have several title ideas.

It's an odd story because I feel like it works just like I want it to, but I have the feeling that my fellow INKers will pick it apart. I'm curious to see how it will hold up under a critique and if my opinion about the story will change, but right now, I rather feel like I'm almost ready to send it out. I just need to know if the ending works like I want it too. Might be too vague. It will most likely be my first submission of the new year for INK to critique.

And I might just start research a market for it. I have no idea exactly where I might send it, because it isn't a genre piece. That will involve more research, but also a couple trips to the bookstores to check out some of the literary journals. Might be right for one of those. I honestly can't say at this point, but I'm curious to find out.

It would be a riot if this was the first short story I managed to publish in a professional market. My one non-genre piece. Not that I'd be disappointed. Oh goodness me no!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Dreaded Bio

I've been struggling with my bio.  Part of the issue is that some of the things that have influenced my writing are things I did only for a short time--five years or less--and haven't kept up with, and none of them are formally recognized by orgs or institutions that I can point at and say see, they know me.

Paragliding--This is an expensive hobby that I played with for several glorious months with Rory.  I think I went on only one class/play day without him, and that was one of the high altitude flights I took to deepen my certification.  Any time I talk about a character or creature flying, I draw from my experiences in paragliding.  Sometimes it gets in my way, like when I mention rotors and experience frustration that hardly anyone in my audience will know what I'm talking about.  The sensations of flight as well as learning how to read something invisible by a combination of touch and indirect observation and educated guesswork has opened the world of flight to me.  The stories I heard from our instructor also influence my writing.  The failures, the humor, the commentary about early paragliding and the hazards of other types of unpowered flight molded my opinions about what flight is and should be.

Caving aka Spelunking--I hardly ever go, though this is one of the things I do end up doing once a year, usually.  The smells, sights (and darkness,) feel and sounds of underground, the emotional sense of earth--I wouldn't have a good grasp of it without my caving experience.  My particular experience deviates a lot from folks who tour caves because there's so much climbing and also crawling in very tight spaces as opposed to walking around on metal walkways with handrails and do not touch signs.  I learned to not touch by example and the obvious respect that my instructing spelunkers showed to the cave environment.  And to get back to the dark part--cave darkness is just so palpable, and I'm not sure anyone can identify with false sight (where your brain makes up things it thinks it sees in perfect darkness) unless they've experienced it for themselves.

Rock climbing--man I love this sport, but I haven't gone since we've moved.  What makes it even more annoying to include in a bio is that I've only gone rappelling in the big outdoors.  All my most meaningful rock climbing has been indoors.  There's something primal and kewl about holding your entire weight by your fingertips and toes, sometimes just the tips of toes.  And I love the challenge provided by overhangs.  Oh, hey, I'm ten pounds lighter now!  Maybe I can get my ass over that four foot overhang--but I digress.  When I write about climbing and exposure (height and danger) I'm remembering all my climbing happy places and also my appalling failures (I'm terrible at regular outdoor rock climbing.)  And yet, I can't call myself a rock climber.  I just did it for fun when we had that gym membership where they had a fun wall, a stretch of a mere two or three years.  We've had memberships at other places with walls, but their walls sucked (small, uncreative, too easy.)  The biggest difficulty with a small wall is that there's no place to traverse (go sideways) and so if you're alone, and you actually obey the rule where your feet can't go three feet above the floor unless you're on ropes, there's nothing to do.  In my favorite room, on the other hand, I used to do laps.  Wee!

Well, I guess I'd better go back to working on the bio.  Bleh.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Emotional 180

Inquiring minds want to know what an emotional 180 is.  I think we've mentioned this before, and Mark may remember as soon as I mention scene arch, but it bears repeating.

There are lots of ways to approach story writing.  Although I'm one of those touchy-feelie 'let the story unfold as it will' types that shrinks away from outlining, I do prefer to use technical devices as much as possible, especially when I'm doing something that's not my favorite thing, like editing.  One of my faves, and I do it mostly when editing although like Ris when I'm stuck I try to do it while writing too, is to make a 180 degree change in the scene.  

An emotional 180, therefore, would be with the pov character or the emotional tone of the scene starting out, say, sad, but by the end of the scene (or story) the character or tone is happy.  Other 180's:  You can also begin with action, and end with reflection (or sleep,) start with dreary rain and end with sunshine, start with broad narration and end with tight, focused pov or dialogue, or all visa versa.

When push comes to shove, though, even if you're playing with setting or plot when you're turning these 180's, you're making emotional impact on the characters and therefore (hopefully) with the audience.  Without changing the emotions in scenes and stories, the work ends up reading like a monotone.  
The stronger the emotional changes, the more vibrant the work is, so it's worth your while to seek the opposite whenever you can.  
If you only make it partway toward a major change, that'll do.  It never works to force something.  But often that 180 comes about naturally because of the climactic cycle.  The climax in a scene or a story is also called the turning point, and that turning point has to have major emotional impact to be effective.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Virus Non Grata

I think I caught Carole's cold through the internet. Anyway, thanks! I was missing that sore throat. But the cold ease is helping. As are my vitamins and pain meds. And lots of cold water.

Funny thing, hot drinks never have helped sore throats for me so much. But cold, as cold as I can manage, does wonders! Bring on those shakes and smoothies!

Not much has happened in writing this week, what with the cold and putting together Kate's birthday party. Except I do know the next couple of scenes for my short story and I think I know how I want to end it. I got a little stuck trying not to let it turn into a novel, then remembered the trick I've been using in my Nano novel--that emotional 180 in the scenes. I decided to apply that to the whole short story and that got me out of my stuckness. I have a bit of a theme going now, I think. I'm hoping to get a few pages written on it tomorrow and then more on Sunday. Maybe not enough to make my quota for the week, but better than nothing.

I am looking forward to Kate's party. She is too.

In other news, INK business cards arrived today. I guess that means we can be all official!

Masks Lost and Found

Yesterday I had one of the best days ever, because the night before I had a bad, bad moment.  I couldn't find the last half of Masks anywhere.  I made this unpleasant discovery about 11:30 and I was up until after 2a.m. trying to locate it first in my transfer files hoping it was in an odd folder under an odd name, and then on Snape.  That's the danger of changing computers, and not having hard copy backups.  It felt like half of Mairi burned and sank.  I thought I put a pretty good game face on at the time, telling myself that I wrote it once, I could write it again and make it even better.  That it would only take until January if I really put my mind to it.  

All that pretense went away when I found it in the morning on Gypsy.  I whooped and danced about like a crazed fool.  The whole day turned into a joyful blur all because of 66,000 words.  My spirit felt like I'd been on a dozen rollercoaster rides and then drank the best milkshake ever.  I put my various Masks files (there are three altogether) into one mega file and emailed it to my fellow INKers immediately.  Tragedy averted.  Now, back to my tasks, which are to edit and send out the next section of Masks to the Lucky Labs and to INK, and then to work on more query letters.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Masks on Fire

So I've been working on Masks in a way that gets me motivated to get those marketing letters in the mail and email.  So far I've fixed the opening (I hope) so that Bainswell is more of a threat.  Around the 5000 word mark, Mairi is on fire.  I hope that's soon enough.  Next, I realized that the scene in the snow will be far more interesting if he starts assessing on a very deep level the life he's tolerated so far, so that it makes more sense that he would never go back  In the new version he has a moment of wondering what kind of person his beloved Gutter really is if he can put a small boy's hand into the hand of a man like Lord Argenwain.  Also, I created something for Mark to lose when he ditches the horses.  Horses, you say?  He has two now, and two sets of saddlebags, and the weapons.  He's going to have a helluva lot to carry, and he's going to lose a bunch of it.
Once he's in the port city he's going to be so exhausted he'll let things happen that shouldn't, and in the morning he's going to try to cover up his trail.  This is much more fun for me.  I just hope it's more fun for the audience and doesn't start quite so slow.
BTW, it still opens with Mark in bed, but he's staring at the ceiling, avoiding the waking up trope, and I don't mention the mirror in the bathroom.
Can you tell I'm having fun editing?  Do you know why?  Because editing has changed work stations.  It's now no-longer in the Not Writing station, but right next to both the Not Writing Cover Letter and the Researching Agents stations.  By comparison, editing is a gas and I could do it all day.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Steampunk? Steampunk!

Just when I think a particular project is out there all alone, I learn from a chance email that a setting that Ris and I have been working with falls on the outer fringe of an entire subgenre.  Rather than our technology rotating around steam power and difference engines, we toy with an age on a world that is definitely not Earth that might have resulted if the many inventions that a Tesla-like person may (or may not have) created had become the general tech upon which all technology rests.  

I think it's not accidental that we end up with nods to the Island of Dr. Moreau and a world of fine dresses and fancy hats with a monarchial/noble society being pressed by new ideas about the needs and rights of the common man.  

We're not quite steampunk, but were not *not* steampunk either.

This is kewl.  Nothing new under the sun ...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kami's website goes live, sort of

Okay, there's no "sort of" about it.  If you go to my website will be there.  I'm still having some issues with the iPower interface, including one that I'm trying to fix even as I'm typing this.  I'm on hold, and will be for a long, long time.  I think I spent four hours on hold, not all at once but on three different calls, yesterday.  The one I'm having now involves me not being able to edit some things, including prices on books that shouldn't have prices.  :-)  It's one of those things that Rory saw and I hadn't noticed when I went live, but when I tried to go back and fix and publish the fixes, I get an error message.  Grr.  I'm sure it's something super simple, but I can't figure it out.

Rory's site is up.  All the errors and weirdness are mine.  At about 1:30 am I called it quits and went live.  At 10:00am the next day I was reading it and realized it made absolutely no frickin' sense. Well, one page in particular.  But Rory can go in and fix it and edit at his leisure when he has time.  I think it looks okay for now.

Everything is backwards from how I'm used to feeling.  Normally I feel fairly computer savvy with no business presence.  Now I'm starting to feel things slide the other direction.  I'm starting to have a small business presence, but as if I have only so much 'stuff' to work with and I have to give up one for the other, I'm losing my ability to interface with the computer in the ways I need to.

It's all in good fun though.  I hope this generates some interest in my work!  That would be fabulous.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Where art thou, WS?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Trinket Box
50,250 words
201 pages
29 days
The End!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Website Naming

I found out that and are both available.  Any votes?

Also, there's and, ...

Decisions, decisions.

Narrative, Dialogue, Action and Description

One of the things that really helped me progress as a writer was the idea that much of writing is technique rather than inspiration.  Just about anyone can be inspired.  What they do with that inspiration is then a matter of technique.

One technique mentioned at OryCon was highlighting different types of prose in your work to see how much you use of one type or another.
Narrative is the author or pov character chit chatting, talking about what's happening.  In can be anything from internal dialogue, if the pov is close, to the hand-waving overview of events that don't need to be studied closely because they're not that important to the story.  Narrative is transitional.  It links pieces of the story together so that they make plot sense as well as emotional sense.  If we didn't have Benedicts's soliloquy in "Much Ado Without Nothing" to give us his internal thought process, what followed wouldn't make much sense.  It'd be OMG, Benedict, WTF are you doing man?!  This brings up the point that a character talking to themselves or their horse isn't real dialogue.  It's just a different style of narrative.  Sometimes dialogue as narrative works, and sometimes it's awkward and silly.

Dialogue is two or more people talking to each other.  I personally don't count the tag lines as dialogue.  Those are action, or narrative, or description.  Take for example the duel in Cyrano de Bergerac.  That's dialogue mixed with action (although his opponent barely gets a word in edgewise.  Get it? Edgewise?  Har har.)  Without dialogue, we don't get to see characters interacting directly with each other.  We just get told about how they are--argumentative, snippy, loving, chatty, etc.  They talked long into the night isn't nearly as interesting as hearing part of the conversation.

Action is characters doing stuff, in real time, right now on the page.  They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast.  Not all work has to have action in it, but you're walking a tough road without it.  Limiting or eliminating action is done more in literary work than in mainstream or genre fiction.  People who write with a distant narrative, talking about things that happened a long time ago when they were young and spry, tend to have the problem of interrupting action that is already distanced by the style choice with commentary from the 'present' pov character looking back on the situation.  If you don't have much action or very distanced action in your work, that means the dialogue, narrative and description has to really shine to keep your reader's interest.

Description is the red-headed stepchild for many authors.  Description is the establishment of setting.  Sometimes dialogue and narrative and even action can help establish setting--like in the song "Up on the Roof" where the singer is telling us about how much he loves being up on the roof.  He uses as much dialogue and narrative to paint a picture as he does visual images.  In action, if a character is climbing a ladder then we don't need description to let us know that a ladder is somewhere in the room.  Sometimes authors mistake description as 'expository lumps' and try to pare them down to nothing.  An expository lump is narrative, actually, although it can be argued that it's establishing setting and therefore description.  Pure, unadulterated description allows the readers to see, smell, feel, and hear where they are.  It's sensory and hopefully immediate, rather than being demoted to 'background.'  Too much description and you lose your reader in the field of flowers with every botanical name spelled out and the temperature of the air and the way the bison roam across the field munching so and such plants.  If you add that the bison have always done this and for centuries they have selectively cropped these plants, making them more and more scarce--you've just dropped into narrative and have left description behind.

A manuscript is not going to be balanced in these elements.  Trying to make it that way will make you crazy.  However, highlighting these elements can show you if you've been neglecting or omitting one of the four completely.  It would take an unusual short story and the very, very rare novel to short change one element and still pull off something that's enjoyable.  You can also determine if you have big chunks of one type of writing.  Sprinkling is a good technique, where you intersperse the various types of writing among each other so that you don't have big chunks.  Expository lumps aren't the only lumps to be wary of in a manuscript.  Dialogue lumps (council meetings, argh!) action lumps (on and on with the blood and guts, gack) and descriptive lumps (as previously noted) can be just as tedious as a long narrative lump.

Good luck out there and keep writing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Writing like a madwoman

I'm  playing catch up with Nano this year, same as last year.  There's something about OryCon and Nano together that's kicked my butt very consistently during November these past couple of years.  But I like it, kinda, sorta.  I'm at 38,789 words today, so far.  I'll need about 5606 words each day for the next two days to win.  I'm not going to be able to do much if any writing on Thursday, so that's all for me.  Of course anything I can skim off of that count tonight will be a big bonus.  5600 words in a day is doable, but it's a lot.  That number hits especially hard because today I did about 4000ish, at least I think that's what I've done so far, and I'm pooped.  Man, I hope I miscounted that.  Yuck.  I hope I did more like 6000, yeah, let's say I did 6000 and the next two days will be a cinch.

Go Nano!

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Capacity

I'm typing this from Jasmine, my new, very white iMac.  I shouldn't be this thrilled.  I really shouldn't.  But being able to see options, forms, fields, to have frames stack correctly, to see things in their proper colors and sizes--to me it feels like I've been hearing voices from the depths of a toothy cave and then suddenly I've emerged to the surface world.  I like it here.  It's all sunshiny and beautiful.

Of course nothing comes without a price.  Even with the fabulous deal that allowed us to get two snazzy computers, we spent heapos of money and just in time for the holidays.  Also, I'll be spending a great deal of time tomorrow transferring files from Gypsy and Snape to Jasmine.  I bought a pretty nice thumb drive for a great price (select sizes are on sale at Office Max right now, btw, for those of you in need of a bigger one) to help facilitate but I don't believe Gypsy has a USB port, which means anything on Gypsy has to be moved over to Snape first.  Yee.  Ha.

In OryCon news, OryCon is over!  Yay!  I didn't sell any art, but that's all right.  I have never felt so lucky and blessed coming out of a convention as I have this one.  I met a writer friend's cousin who is raising an Asperger's child and we traded stories and wisdom.  I had moment of joyful hope when I learned from a great friend about a quiet insight given to someone else.  I had a highly respected writer tell me surreptitiously (he was clever about it too) in front of an audience how much he valued a certain woman's critiques (mine, though they didn't know unless they knew inside info on the Lucky Labs.)  I had praise coming at me from all sides right at the moments when I felt the most pressure from managing a hydra of a workshop.  I learned a huge amount.  I got to spend time with people I dearly love but seldom see, hour after hour.  I had some great meals.  I had yummy drinkies.  I was invited to be a guest panelist at Radcon (I am so going to that now.)  I managed to get autographs from Peter S. Beagle and Ursula LeGuin.  On and on.

I missed out on spending time with my husband and kids, never got to the dance despite the fact that the music seemed really decent, I missed a lot of fabulous parties, and although I got to chat with a lot of neat people I didn't get to visit with as many as I would have liked to.  I needed at least three clones of me, preferably four.  But I don't regret how I spent my time.  I would have liked to have done more, but the few hours of sleep I managed to snatch were barely enough to get me through.  So there we have it, the limitations of a human being.  I guess it makes everything that I experienced that much more precious, knowing how little capacity I have.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled Nano.  Well, except that I can't work on it yet.  But it's in my head, raring to go!

And Jasmine is all excited because I named my sexy new computer after him.  Except I was thinking more of the fragrant white flower.

Jas:  "You were not!"
Me:  "I was.  Your grace is just an undercurrent nuance."
Jas:  "Whatever you have to tell yourself to think you're in control of how much you want me."

On Critiquing

Orycon was a great success, for me anyway. I learned a great deal on several aspects of writing, but I thought over here I'd share my notes on critique groups, as I attended two or three sessions on the subject:

On Writer's Workshops and Critique Groups (one with David Levine, Rob Vagle, John Burridge, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman; a second with Irene Radford, Bruce Taylor, Jayel Gibson, David Goldman, and Stephen Stanley; a third with Richard Lovett, David Levine, Michele Avanti, and Kami Miller):
* Critiquing and hearing critiques can triangulate how you are reading a story. Does your interpretation match the other writers? What might you be getting that they aren't and why? What are you missing that they are seeing and why? (Thank you, David)
* Critique groups are great as producing mechanisms, setting external deadlines for the writers.
* "Ditto" is a useful tool when group commenting, so that the same issue isn't brought up again and again. As in "Ditto Kami about the tension in the first scene." Free to discuss new issues and benefits instead.
* Instead on manuscript format, either for electronic submission or hard-copy submission.
* Reading aloud can be beneficial to catching errors, but beware that a good reader can bring a problematic piece to life, while a bad reader could sink a good piece. Better: have someone not the writer read the piece aloud. Gives the writer a chance to judge body language and immediate response to the piece (gasps, chuckles, boredom).
* The audition process for incoming members if useful on both sides; gives the writer and the group a chance to feel each other out.
* The Clarion style of group critiques is tried and true, with the author remaining silent while the group takes turns with their own comments, but beware that the person who begins the critique sets the tone.
* Individual critiques avoid feeding off what others are saying, but limit the brainstorming possibilities that a group can offer.
* A writer writes in a vacuum; reader response is useful to judge how the story is going.
* There is a sharp difference between the 'I didn't like it' reaction and the 'I didn't like it because . . .' response.
* Knowing the predilections of the readers is useful: do they have biases against certain stories, are they more knowledgeable in a subject than an average reader would be, or less so.
* Writing to please the critique group will grind the edges off your story. Avoid using their foreseen reactions as your internal editor.
* There is such thing as overshooting a revision based on a critique that can wreck the heart of the story. Always keep in mind why you wrote the piece to begin with.
* Always deliver an honest critique with compassion, whether to an experience writer or to a novice. Honesty counts, and so does compassion.

There are notes on other subject on my personal blog. I also have several thoughts to throw at the INK group when we next meet for the Orycon Debriefing (nice phrase, Carole). And I have a new goal for myself based on not only the above notes, but my own critiquing experiences during the con. All of it will go a long way to improving not only how I write, but I how I critique, and I'm sure you will all thank me for that.

I can't wait for the debriefing! But now, I have to get back to our regularly schedule Nano. My novel is lonely after two days of sitting forgotten in a folder. Well, not completely forgotten.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Suck So Bad

Going through my works to find a couple of somethings to print off for the open read and critiques (ORCs) at the con has turned into a session of ego-mutilation. I can't find anything that doesn't cry out "this Writer SUCKS and here's an example of how bad!"

My excerpt for the writers workshop, which I spent weeks editing and having it critiqued and editing it again until I thought it was the best thing I've ever written . . . now sucks so bad that I'm embarrassed to sit down with a couple pros to go over it. It took all my will not to grab a red pen and start slashing the piece into something less horrid.

This mindset is a familiar one. I experience it before any reading or presentation of my work. My work inevitably plunges and I want to make several changes before it reaches the light of day.

It seems to be getting worse, however, as I grow more proficient at editing. I see my mistakes much quicker and I desperately want to fix them. But with a workshop going over the piece as is, I can't really launch into it.

The ORC is much more problematic. I could, theoretically, edit till my little heart burst, and I really want to, but I'm running very short on time. So do I put the time I have into edits that might not hold up once I get to the con, since I'll be rushing to do them? Or do I just go with what I have, try not to cringe too badly, and put my time into Nano and getting ready for the con?

It's a hard call. Right now, I'd like to skip the ORC altogether instead of going with a piece I feel is inferior to what I could actually produce. But that seems like a coward's way out.

So, back to the documents, and the head banging.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I just broke the halfway point in Nano. I'd do the Snoopy dance to celebrate, but I'm feeling kind guh today, so I'll just grin slightly in pleasure and down some more ibuprofen.

I've decided that my goal before Orycon is 30,000. That would be where I need to be by end of day Sunday, so even if I don't get any writing done at Orycon, I won't be going into next week behind.

That means another 17 pages before I head off on Friday morning. I'm hoping to get in a few more pages tonight (five more would be good, seven more would be ideal), but I still have a chunk of other things (like, um, a critique) to do today. And then there's the Powell's sf/f authorfest tonight, though if I'm feeling like I am at the moment, I may have to stay home. I'd love to go, really, but I'm also trying to be realistic about what I can and can't accomplish.

Bleh. Screw reality! I'm a writer! I can write myself doing it all!!
Ignoring cramps of epic proportion, Carissa not only completed all her laundry, lugging the linens up the back stairs to fold and store away, but vacuumed the house and cleared the overflowing counters of their several days worth of dishes. She wrote a stellar critique for the writers workshop on both the synopsis and the excerpt of her fellow attendee, typing it up in a readable format and filling out a short form to organize her thoughts for presentation before printing off several excerpts to choose between for the ORCs. And then she drew up the packing list for gathering her items the night of packing, wrote up instructions for taking care of the animals for the neighbors, and still managed to finished writing seven more pages before getting dressed to head out for an authorfest across town. She fed her daughter and herself, cooking a nice turkey chili meal before depositing her daughter with the neighbors to play until her husband was home, took the dog out one last time, and then she was off to an evening of discussing books and writings and little book shopping. All the shape of [Carissa the writer checks clock] a mere three hours!
You know, I'm tired just writing about all that stuff to do. Thankfully, I still have another full day in which to get ready.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Emotional Rescue

One of the scenes I wrote yesterday made me cry. I haven't done that to myself in a while, but I've felt myself getting close to doing so with several scenes in this book. Yesterday just happened to be the one that pushed me over the edge into actual tears.

I know when I go back to edit the story, I'll probably tone that scene back. It was a little over-the-top. Most of my writing that makes me cry ends up reading later as over-the-top, exaggerated emotionally, and needs to be taken back just a little. For subtle emotional responses rather than out and out heart-tugging. But if my early (and I mean early) stories and poems are any clue, I'm particularly good at the exaggerated, out and out heart-tugging.

I like writing them, and I've avoided writing them for a long while now. I tend to toe the line of emotional response, and its harder to work the emotional level up rather than to tone it back, at least I've noticed that I have a harder time with it. If it ain't there, I'm gonna have to struggle to put it there.

I need to let myself go over the top more often in the rough drafts, because then I know the emotion is there. All I have to do is tidying it up, play it down just enough so that it is more of a breath against a reader's cheek rather than a slap in the face.

Or maybe the slap is good, on occasion. I'll have to leave that up to my internal editor during the rereads. But the slap needs to be there to begin with.

I'm so glad I'm writing this story. It's opening doors for me in my head, and some of those doors lead to things I use to know about writing, but got 'learned' out of me. Those basics, like the way I was writing stories way back in the day, are good things to return to. They were, after all, the reason I started writing. That passion and over-the-topness that were my early pieces. I'm glad I'm returning to that. It feels right.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy about Hats

I'm so glad the whole hat thing came up at the Nano meeting last night. I'm having lots of fun with various hats, and my pov character who is so steadfastly against them. I think it's because in the Kilhells, where she's from, they only wear hats in winter. The rest of the time their hair is wild. Few bother with it, not even braiding, although men will sometimes braid their beards. I think it's a physical show of her own feelings of being an outsider, the ties of loyalty she still feels to her homeland and the regret and guilt she feels for not returning home.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
[i] ©2000 Denise Van Patten -
I love big, daring hats and it's fun to put my characters in them.[/i]

He hands me a brocade vest. Thankfully it has frogs, not laces and it goes on fast.
I look up and he has a big, lacy hat in his hands.
"A hat?" I move around him and make for the door.
"It completes the ensemble."
"Jasmine, you're not going to convince me to start dressing fashionably right before a fight."
"But look at it! I'd love to wear this hat, but it doesn't match my clothes. It's a beautiful hat, Billi. It'll look good on you."
"Let's just go." I'm ready to fight. I just pray that I'll fight on the right side.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I love -ivity words. They're just silly.

I have noticed with the onset of Nano (which I'm rocking, btw) that all other projects have been tossed aside to gather dust, no matter how pressing they were at the time. Notably the Inkwell Cult edit and the Fool's Errand edit.

The Inkwell Cult edit isn't worrisome. I'll be able to pick it up in December without breaking too much of my stride on it. Perhaps I'll be even more jazzed about working on coming out the writers workshop critique during Orycon (where I intend to take many notes not only of the critique, but any plot/story ideas that strike me during the critique).

A Fool's Errand, however, I'd planned to have edited and ready for the open read and critique sessions at Orycon. I don't think that's going to happen now, alas. I'll have to go with my original draft (If I can dredge it up from somewhere), clean up the existing manuscript, and cross my fingers. On one hand, this seems a little unnecessary, considering the INK group has already gone over it and I'm loaded with ideas. On the other hand, it might be useful to hear from new sources on the existing manuscript.

Obviously, I have mixed feelings about it, but A Fool's Errand is my only complete short story. My only other option is to dredge up a lesser finished piece like Iceholm or Brimstone and try to whack them more into shape before the con. Which, since I don't have time to finish the edit on A Fool's Errand, seems unlikely.

Gah. What to do?

Maybe I'll just read a chunk from The 8th Day and call it good.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

8509 words

This year it's a little easier to be on a work schedule and to write, at least so far. I couldn't write at all the first two days but I've caught up, thank goodness. I'm finding a huge advantage to revisiting Mayhem--I've missed these characters and writing with them is like visiting with best friends. Maybe that will make my draft even crappier than usual, but at least it's fun.

I'm writing it in a style waaaay different than normal. Not only is it in first person present, which I normally dislike, but I'm writing very short chapters, 3-10 pages. Writing this far outside my comfort zone for a Nano would probably fail, but with super-comfortable characters it's coming along okay. It's a great learning experience, and it keeps me on my toes without dragging me far out to sea in a riptide. If it stops working I'll probably revert to my normal third person, but I won't go editing back from the beginning to make it consistent until I've given it a chance to rest a couple of months. Then I can read it and decide if I want to keep the first person present or if I want to go back to normal view.
Normal View! NORMAL VIEW!!

That was for the MST3K fans out there.

The story so far--old friends reunite in grim circumstances, the pov character almost dies, and demons attack the fortress. I wonder what the next 42 pages will look like.

Eleven days and counting until my new computer. Just in time. The Finder crashed this morning. Time to back up Gypsy again before imminent catastrophic failure.

Then again, much like the Cascades, you never know what's going to be a full-blown top-exploding eruption and what's going to be another fluffy hiccup.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Going, Going . . .

Not only did I get all nine (yes, nine!) pages typed in that I'd written last night, but I wrote another nine on top of that, bringing me to 31 pages (around 7750 words). And the story is going so well! I have plot. I have characters. I have situations both profound and tragic. And hopefully, I have enough to keep me going through the dreaded week two, which is only four more days away.

I hope I do. I really think I do. But it's still so early in the draft to tell. In the very least, I've given myself lots of room (about two thousand years worth) to maneuver. And extra pages, which I'll keep adding to so that when I hit the typically unavoidable wall of plot breakdown that occurs in week two, I'll have some leeway to puzzle my way through it without losing too much ground.

Wow. This is actually working out!

Friday, November 2, 2007


I wasn't sure how well I'd hold up at the library write-in tonight, given that I'd be handwriting, but I did great! Twelve hand written pages to add to the four and a half typed pages I finished early in the day and I'm ahead of the daily goal! And the story, for as much as I have a story, is rolling along. I have no idea where it will end up, but I'm having a lot of fun finding out where it's going each day.

I'm looking forward to next week's write-in. Now if only I can get those hand-written pages typed up in a timely manner . . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bring It, Nano!

The regiment of daily medication is pushing me back into the realms of the Healthy; the in-laws have left us after five days of grandparent fun. Between illness and in-laws, I was fretting about being even the little prepared for Nanowrimo that I had planned, but that all changed, thanks to an ethusiast author signing and a little e-mail from Chris Baty.

The author signing was preceeded by a reading (of a short story) and a Q&A session. I came away enthused about the craft I'd chosen and ready for daily writing again. But moreso, I want to enjoy the writing. I get to dreading Rough Drafts to the point of paralysis. This nano I get the chance to Get Over It, Already, and just have fun writing.

Chris Baty's e-mail reminded me that writing is all about opening doors and seeing what's on the other side. And I want to open those doors! I want to see where they go!

So no outlines for me! No synopsis! No long, drawn out, pre-planned plot! I'm going into Nano this year with just a handful of colorful characters: a sufi dancer named Argent Rose; her wise-cracking bodyguard, Saia; Rinker, the tinket-box maker; the red-coated homeland guard and their Visigoth adversaries. There might possibly still be a convent of rebel nuns and a witch with a penchant for making golems. At this point, I'm leaving all the doors wide open.

I have no idea what the landscape will look like on the other side, but I am looking forward to the voyage there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Eyes half shut

I'm so sleepy I feel like I'm walking around with my eyes half shut.

I have Halloween off and I'm thinking about spending it taking a nap. But instead I'll try to pull my act together and get this place ready for a party for the kids and their friends, complete with homebaked pies and cookies, pizza, hot cider, mulled wine for the grownups, candy, scary movies, and of course midnight writing. If any INKers would care to join us you're more than welcome! BTW I plan on using only minimal brown sugar and honey in one of the apple pies, no white cane sugar, and a thin crust. Not sure if that helps. Also I'm planning on having fresh chopped up veggies, oil and vinegar dressing for dip, a cheese platter, cream cheese and dill for the celery, and probably some cold cuts. I may also finally grab the diabetic eating recipe book we have at BiMart that has some sort of apple bake on it that looks fabulous.

One must be fortified for writing, after all, with healthy goodies. And I'll need plenty of propping up. There's a lot of writing to do and I want a big, big head start for Nano this year, after just missing the finishing line last year. I'm not sure what's going to happen when I start writing on Mayhem. One thing for certain--it will feel very good to embrace these characters once more, people who have become almost living friends to me over the years.

Monday, October 29, 2007


There is a great discussion on Wyrdmiths about writing and publishing short stories. I found it timely considering how we'd discussion writing short stories at our last get together.

Rather than be swayed to stay away from writing shorts, I'm rather more inclined to try my hand at them. I like the discussion on how short story writing can give a writer more chances to take risks in writing and explore different techniques. It makes sense to me to do that in a short rather than in a novel; the time commitment is so vastly different between the two that I could see the benefit of playing with the craft in a short more than in a novel.

I also think I'm going to subscribe to a couple of genre magazines to read more in the market. The more I read shorts, perhaps the more I'll start thinking short stories. It's a working theory, anyway.

I am going to finish editing A Fool's Errand, too. I like the idea of trying to submit it. And maybe brushing off my other two finished shorts with edits. And maybe trying to think up so more ideas.

After Nano, of course.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Card in my pocket

I have a business card in my pocket for a salesman at Portland, Oregon's Power Mac Pac. Man I love those guys ...

It looks like there's a good possibility (keeping my fingers crossed) that we may be able to get an iMac by the end of November!! Okay, that was totally out of control there. I wasn't going to use any exclamation points. But I'm extremely excited. I was going to get a G5, but I found out that I'm waaaaaaay behind the times. For one thing, all the Macs now have dual processors, the primary (original) advantage the G5s had over iMacs when I was shopping for them. Another thing, with rare exceptions all the iMacs have CD and DVD burners. Who'da thunk? The sweetest part is that the older iMacs work fine with Apple's new, bulging Leopard version of OS X. I have to admit that my heart kinda sunk when I saw the advertising declaring "300 new features!" I don't want those features, dammit! But I don't want to be caught with an outdated operating system on the web again. And it turns out that we get Leopard free.

Yes, I said older. In this case, having an older iMac is a bit of an irony. You see, they're still on the market, but a certain company has made a heap of money on a wee thing called iPod and iPhones and that gave them the capability to produce fabulous new stuff. This fabulous new stuff got sent out while the 'old' iMacs were still brand new, they themselves having only recently come out. The new ones are only about $100 more and come with lots more memory, and are faster, etc. so these 'old' iMacs are now being discounted. This makes them affordable for us. Besides, there's not much point in a fractional amount of more speed when we're on dialup. As long as Leopard boots up blindingly fast, I could really care less.

I could blah blah blah about this a whole lot more, but right now I'm just basking in the possibility of, for example, accessing certain features of my blog that are invisible, being able to visit certain websites without crashing, having updated security protocols so that I can do online banking again (I used to online bank but last year in January the entire secure universe upgraded, leaving me behind) and so forth. And it'll be neat to peek at the weather forecast without actually opening the full webpage. I'm not sure how they pull that off, but it's fascinating, and brilliant for someone with dialup. Get me *just that* on the webpage, without the ads and stuff. And there she is. Yay!

Oops, I'm still blah blah blahing. I'll stop now.

So keep your fingers crossed for me that the Nissan doesn't break down or that I get a call from a relative who has a health emergency or some other such that will shatter my excitement in one swell foop. I can wait until next spring, but UHHHHHHH!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bad Dreams

I know I haven't written in too long because I start to have very vivid dreams. Last night I had not one but about one an hour. Obviously I didn't sleep very well. Normally sleep cycles don't allow for dreams to be that close together, from my understanding anyway. The ones I remembered were all nightmares. One was me trying to survive a tidal wave, and of course because my brain is implanted with this information, the water came in surges that usually raised the water level very rapidly but not so much in cartoon waves but flows. It was also hugely windy. In the second dream, while trying to arrange for a new place to live in an apartment which was hugely stressful (how did I lose my house?!) I looked out the window and saw these men killing children with axes. The last one I remembered was us having recently moved into a two-story condo on the water. I was missing my garden but trying to keep a positive attitude when Huntress got out, went for a fish by diving in the water, and then couldn't get back onto dry land. She swam like crap and started drowning.

All three dreams involve water. If you're Freudian, it's supposed to be all about sex. I'm thinking it's more like about loss and being unable to breathe. I found it interesting that in all three dreams we were displaced from our home. The more I think about it, though I doubt many of you will hold to this theory, the more I think I was sharing dreams and emotional space with Dakota. True or not, the only way to slow down the flood of horror will be to write so my brain is too tired to be creative. Then it'll be back to the usual--shopping, housework, and back in school dreams. It doesn't take long in either direction. I have to not-write for 2-3 days to start dreaming like this (guilty as charged) or a few hours for one day to stop.

It inspires me to write lots before I go to bed, even though I'm tired. But if I'm sharing Dakota's burden ... I hate to leave her alone.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Motivation From the Car Muse.

Watching the evening news tonight, a story about the severe drought in the U.S. south perked up my ears. Lake Lanier in George is drying up if you haven't already seen the report. My eyes went to the manuscript before me. Lake Lanier. Yep, there it was. One of my secondary characters in my car novel comes from a wealthy family who builds communities around the usually beautiful Lake Lanier area. Hmm, that information may have to be adjusted in the final draft depending on the situation down there.

Last week, I was in Barnes & Noble bookstore; not a local one but one across the river in Oregon. As I browsed the markdown book aisles, I ran across the obligatory 'exotic automobile' area and, I'm not kidding here, the exact second I picked up a book on Super Cars, the music on the store's speakers switched from some pop ditty to "Lil Darlin'" by The Diamonds. It's a tune from 1957, a favorite amoung some car enthusiasts, myself included, and is featured briefly in my car novel. I've gone years upon years without hearing that song anywhere but my own music library, yet there it played, out of the blue in Barnes & Noble...but only, I'm convinced, after I touched that car book.

Things like this, little things that make me think of a piece of writing I'm usually involved with at that time, happen a lot to me. I've got a list of other coincidences that relate to the current novel I'm working with but the two above are the ones that come readily to mind. And rather than think of them all, as odd or unusual as they might seem, as nothing more than coincidences, I can't help but see them as motivational pushes from my muse. It's odd but works for me.

Go on, Car Muse. I'm listening.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rein in the Urge to Plan

I got ahead of myself when I said I was leaning toward writing Golem God. And my muse reminded me of as much by chucking another rock of inspiration at my cranium. So I now have four, count them, FOUR story ideas for Nano. They are, in order of appearance:

Chesspiece (historic adventure)
The English Boy (historic paranormal)
Golem God (fantasy romance)
Death Follows After (historical mystery)

Yup, they all even have titles. How's that for thorough?

And they each have a synopsis. And research, but those needing it. At least enough research to hold the story together in the synopsis. Chesspiece needed the most, as it is politically involved and I had to brush up on my early 1970s history. But Death Follows After is a close second, since I can't decide if I want to set it during the Regency period (think Jane Austen) or the Victorian era (think Sherlock Holmes). I'm still waffling on that point. I have the feeling the Mr. Allen (the hero in the story, who is also an American) will be the deciding factor, since I haven't fully realized his backstory.

You know, it's rather fun having four stories to work up at once. Because then no matter which one gets Nano, I'll still have three worked up story ideas for next year, whenever I have a yen to work on a new story. It's rather nice, considering I use to struggle to develop one story.

I think all these story ideas is a sign that I've matured as a writer. I'm able to see more than just a scene or two of a tale, with a few quirky characters. Now I'm seeing beginnings, middles, hints of endings, main and secondary characters, settings, and backstory, all coming at me like a legion of toy soldiers holding out pointy little bayonets. It stings a little at first, but I immediately want to write on each of them, but I just slap a sticky plaster over the urge and jot down notes.

I suddenly went rather British sounding, didn't I?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Aisle of Dr. Murrow

I just started reading the Island of Dr. Moreau, as in three pages barely got started, and I'm already sucked in. Man, can H.G. Wells write! I'd keep reading except I have a tonne of housework, writing and painting to do. I read in the bathroom and sometimes in the evenings. That's my 'my' time when I let myself relax without feeling guilty. Anyway, I think my painting pace will suffer greatly. I'll be reading instead of working on extra painting at night.

It's an especial treat to read this particular book because it's an antique: 1927 edition. It includes the novelization of the screenplay by Silva after the Wells text. The book just feels good to hold, and I wonder who's owned it over the years.

It's also fun to read because of a cowritten book Ris and I are working on. It puts the animal people of our book into literary historical context. Because of the significance of a particular hallway in our book, I made up the giggling secret nickname for our book just now--the aisle of Dr. Murrow. Too bad we don't have a Dr. Murrow--but that would be way more than a nod to Wells. That would be going too far.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nano Plotting

I'm not plotting, exactly. I'm picking up ideas to throw into my nano novel.

I think I'm leaning toward writing my newest story idea, Golem God. It's a fairly straight forward fantasy-romance plot, with two competing old gods, a hapless mortal woman, and a golem man created to protect her. I'm keeping the plot fairly wide open to possibilities.

I've found a couple of ideas to throw into the story. One I found in an online news article. Nuns took over a convent when the Vatican tried to replace their vision-seeing Mother Superior. There was also a Franciscan friar involved. I'm sure that's going to end up in the story in one form or another.

The other is having one of the sirens from mythology turn up singing karaoke. That's just makes me laugh.

I started a notebook to jot down anything else to comes up. As I said, I'm keeping an open mind, so if anything interesting comes your way, add a comment. Especially if it is religiously or mythologically inspired.

I should add that witch into the story who was the lead character in a really bad short story I never finished that involved a golem. Which is where I got the golem idea from. Heh. She was a fun character.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's all downhill?

If it's all downhill from here, maybe I can stop pedaling so much and just let gravity take me.

Yep, I was outside gardening until 8pm (and yes, it was dark) getting those last few chores in. I still have a tree to plant, but other than that, the bulbs are in, the new lavender plants are in, and I've got enough rock in on one of our steeper slopes that the earth won't slide now that the weeds are no longer holding the bank together. When I was done for the night I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds float in, first as little individual puffs, then lots of puffs cheek to fluffy cheek and finally as a solid mass that walled off the stars.

Why is this important to writing? Because once those clouds start doing their thing, they probably won't stop raining on us until sometime in February. Well, sometimes we get a really cold night and end up with the frost thing, and snow in January, but reality in the Pac NW right now means rain and lots of it. And the rainy season means it's time to write.

Yes, Ris, I am going to sign up for Nano. When? Um, real soon! In the meantime I have lots of writing to do on Masks. I've been away from writing long enough that I'm going into major withdrawals. One of the main symptoms--vivid dreams with involved storylines. Last night I was a madam starting up an all male gay bordello, and someone accused me of stealing 1.9 million dollars, so I decided to set out and prove my innocence in between helping my guys set up their rooms.

I have so got to get to writing.

Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to post here, too. I dread trying. Often the computer crashes, or it says the post was saved and then there's nothing, not even in the part that's supposed to be all autosaved.


Oh, and if I want to guarantee a crash, all I have to do is try to comment on a post. Weeeee!

I have so got to sell my writing so I can buy a new machine. Poor old Gypsy just isn't doing very well these days. Alas! So, let's hope that the weather goes downhill so I can build up some momentum and get writing things done. And art. And housework. Am I forgetting anything?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Goodness, the nano site is slow! I can hardly do anything on there. I got a nanomail and it took ten minutes to read and respond to it. Brings back memories. And sympathy for Kami's ongoing connection plight.

So, Kami, have you tried to sign up for this year's Nano? Still going to, right?

I had yet another story idea last night. That makes four new ideas, three of which are nano prospects. Once more, I'm just synopsising what I have on the idea. I'll pick the one I'm going to write on November 1st.

Meanwhile, it's all Inkwell Cult, all day. Okay, not all day, but I've spent all morning working on it. I'm excited for the story and I like where it's going. Thanks loads to the group for helping give me more focus on the opening two chapters.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Exercise: Cover Quotes and Blurbs.

In my quest to learn everything I can about the authoring business (in between reading, writing, plotting and losing electronic devices), I've been seeing a lot lately on cover quotes, also called blurbs.

Apparently, when you've got a book coming out and you mention to your agent you like such and such author, a good agent just might contact the agent of that author and ask if they can send a copy of your book to them and get a cover quote for the next printing. If the author likes your book, they might authorize the use of a cover quote to help sell your book.

Ingenius! Especially if the author actually reads your book.

"Doesn't suck," would be a great Stephen King quote I'd like to see. I think he might actually do this some day.

"This book could stand on a shelf next to any classic," is another good one. Technically, if the spine of the book isn't mush, I guess it probably could stand next to anything -- a work by Shakespear or a bowl of tapioca equally well.

One I'd like to see is "Bigger than the Potter series!" Then discover what the publisher left out was "[This author's ego is] Bigger than the Potter series!"

And how about one of your own pseudonyms blurbing about your own book. "C.S. Cole's 'Enthusiast' is like The Fast and The Furious on speed," Carole Cole, a reader in Vancouver Wa.

What cover quotes would you like to see for some of your own works? What quotes would you rather NOT see?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Getting Carded

I finally ordered business cards. The price was just right--free! And not the print 'em yourself variety, either. They are coming from VistaPrint, an online printing source that my mom's using for her big party invitations, so I've seen what they can do. They ran a special, 250 premium business cards free except for shipping.

It's funny how long I messed with the wording. I kept calling TC over to have a look. I like what I ended up with. Detailed without being too much, I think. And hey, free. I can always do another set if I end up not liking them or I change my genres.

The best part is the little feather quill and inkwell design. Very fitting for Inkwell Cult. I'm excited for them to come in, but I have to wait til the end of the month. I opted for the slowest, and least expensive, shipping. Hehe.

I feel all professional. You know, without the income.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I Have Nothing to Say

But I wanted to post something. Unfortunately, my head is rather empty today. As far as writing goes, I've been laboring over the Inkwell Cult excerpt making revisions. I did have a rather ingenuous idea this morning of my villain making Maud use the inkwell to write a letter to Travis, which would potentially alienate him from her, given what the inkwell curse. That could be much fun.

I'm still undecided about which story I'll write for Nano. Oh, I know, I'll share the first couple paragraphs of the really bad synopsi I've written for each potential nano novel. Because I love to share!

When Clair Demont agreed to attend the rally for the women's shelter, she was expecting to carry a sign and walk in a circle in front of the county courthouse. She did not expect to be set upon by police. And, yes, her reaction was probably a bad one. Running from the police is never a wise choice. But the shouting and bullhorns, sirens and screaming, and then the protesters taking up rocks and homemade weapons against the police had terrified her. She had to get away from what was fast becoming a tragic news event.

But she didn't expect to be corner be a giant of a man who would have looked more comfortable in a pro wrestling arena than on a side street. And he moved so fast, like a bull charging. Her panic got the better of her as she tried to push him out of her way. But the connection from that touch, the vibrate aliveness the infused her with an arousal as dangerous as the man himself, froze her in place. And then, rage twisting his features, he hit her.

The trip to the hospital was a blur that cleared fast when she saw him standing outside the curtain of her ER room. Either her fear or his anger pulled him out of sight, and the lack was a sudden emptiness. And then confusion piles on top of fear when she isn't released with a ticket or a hand-slap, but remanded into police custody and taken out of town to the new prison. . . .

The English Boy:
Maddy Fitzlaird is happy in her service as scullery maid in the Lord Warrington's household. The Lord and Lady aren't the most devoted of masters, or parents, for that matter, to their young son, but the work is steady and her position solid. Until the Lord and Lady decide to take a sudden trip overseas, without their own personal servants. And with their son, who've they've never taken with them anywhere. Maddy is as uncertain as the other servants, but when she is chosen to journey with the Lord and Lady to serve in their servant's stead, her uncertainty takes a decidedly different turn.

For while she is excited at the opportunity to see a new land and possibly raise a little higher in the servant ranks, the whole journey feels wrong in a way she can't explain. When she is given more and more duties to tend the boy, she grows more attached to the clever child, wondering why his parents don't see what she sees in the child.

Their destination is a blip of a country in the shadows of craggy, stern mountains. The Lord and Lady are welcomed like long lost relatives and the boy swept away and out of Maddy's care. No longer with a charge, Maddy is sent among the household servants, who she finds to be welcoming, but odd, refusing to speak of certain matters and warning her of rules that, in an English household, would just be ludicrous. Certain rooms, which marked by a special dial on the door, are not to be entered. Certain foods that are never allowed. Places not to go after between dusk and dawn. Clothing she cannot wear and scents she should avoid. . . .

I did warn you that they weren't very well written. There is just enough of the plot and details in each synopsis to remind me of the major plot points, but to give me enough room to maneuver anything new into the story. I like both ideas, actually. Chesspiece takes a political/action/paranormal twist and The English Boy has a horror element I've never written before--and it is decidedly neither a vampire or werewolf story, though it could be either by the sounds of the synopsis.

Then there is always Bishop Takes Queen, though I haven't worked up the synopsis to it yet, or one of the other stories I've just barely started and could toss the opening and rework it for Nano. That gives me several choices. Too many choices, probably. I'll have to work up the remaining synopsi and then, I don't know, pin them to a wall and throw a dart? Toss the titles into a hat and draw? Put them up as a poll on the regional Nano forum? It would be fun coming up with a one-sentence description for each story.

I have a very strange idea of fun, don't I?

Okay, back to Inkwell Cult.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So I've been rethinking Nanowrimo this year. I was going to not participate, but lately I've been having more than normal attacks of story ideas. Two of those ideas have manifested in full blown synopsi. And one of those feels just complete enough to make a 50,000 word story.

So I'm waffling. I admit it.

I blame the last four years. Especially that last three of those, when I dove into Nano by September and never looked back. It *feels* like story writing time, because November is close.

What to do. What to do? I might put off making any decision until the end of October. Who knows? Or I might just take the dive October 1st, sign up, and commit.

At least I have a week to give it some thought.

I hate my reader thiiiiiiis much

Exploder has been crashing repeatedly when I try to post, and iCab gets into a loop of continuous info dump so that the average typing speed becomes about one letter every 2-3 seconds. Hence the infrequent posting. I'm expecting this to crash at any moment.

Or maybe not.

Anyway, OryCon 29 is coming up and as writer's workshop coordinator (or workshop fool, which may be a more accurate description) I've had the opportunity to watch the submission process from eager beginning to its black demise. Here are some observations that may be helpful, or may be simply suitable to inspire a sense of professional superiority in pro-minded individuals.

"I was terribly disappointed. I got almost no comments on my content and about ten pages of formatting information. Since then I've published in (X and X) magazines."
Gee, I was at that critique and that's not how I remember it, but who am I? This seems to be a classic case of not listening. This person may very well be turning out good prose, hence the publishing credits (which were both paying markets, btw) however it's really hard to go from good to amazing when you can't listen to comments. The hyperbole doesn't help--she didn't get even ten pages total of comments much less ten on formatting. There was plenty of room for improvement in the manuscript, including the formatting. But more on formatting later ...
Comments from anyone, whether they're a professional, fellow writer trying to break into the business, or helpful buddy are always a mixed bag. A great resume' does not make a great critiquer, unfortunately. Still, if that person wasn't impressed (and maybe couldn't say much more than stuff about your formatting) then something is falling flat. If you can't see it for yourself, then try to get a second and third and fourth opinion. If those other opinions are all about the excited enthusiasm and spewing about the perfection of your vision, then feel free to pat yourself on the back for writing the next international classic (or for finding the perfect audience or providing sufficient bribery or blackmail for this result.) It stinks to get a poor critique, but you gotta get what you can from it. Poor critiques require more advanced listening, reading between the lines, and before you decide that it was totally worthless (and some of them are) you need to take a healthy dose of objectivity. Sometimes you can do that all by yourself, but be careful. It's better to get another reader involved, hopefully one with a good skill set, and get at the truth that way.

Dear Cover Letter Reader--I have no idea what to say so I'll take a guess without looking at the big picture.
What's a cover letter's job? Sometimes it's easier to figure that out by looking at your entire submission package in the context of who is getting it. I'll use a writer's workshop novel package as an example. The package consists of a cover letter, a 500 word synopsis and a 7500 word chunk of novel. Logically we can deduce that the cover letter is an introduction. But then what? A key is to try not to double up on information. Another key is to not include extraneous information.
A good cover letter will include who you are, contact information, and date. Unearthing manuscripts from a haphazardly stacked pile is an exercise in surprises--giving the editor a chance to place your manuscript should it become misplaced is key.
A good cover letter will include pertinent information about your experience. Editors (or in this case pros reading your manuscript) want to know where you're at in your career. They want to know if you're just starting out, if you're in it for the long haul, get a sense of how prolific you might be in the case of novels (it's not inappropriate to mention if you've got other works in the works and what stage they're at) and if you've taken any major steps for self-improvement (degrees, Clarion, etc.) Be sensitive to the pro's pov as much as you can. They get no real information from 'I've been writing since I've been three years old.' Well, me too. I learned to write my name at three. They don't really get a sense of your quality or stick-with-it if you say you started writing seriously in high school, or in college. So what are they looking for? I majored in journalism (or English) in college. I have published work in non-paying markets from 1985 onward. If you're submitting for publication you may want to keep out information about the high school poetry chapbook unless you're close to high school age but if you're submitting to a workshop you have more freedom since you're not trying to sell your work. In a workshop you're trying to give the pro perspective so they can critique in context. For example, looking at it from the other side, if I'm critiquing something I want to know if I can say 'you slipped into passive voice during this action scene which slowed it down' and let it go or whether I need to explain what passive voice is. I'd like to know if I can boldly say, "this character was so unsympathetic I was ready to stop reading by page three" or if I should gentle it down--not leave out information, but get more technical and not assume that the writer is going to understand that I'm having a specific issue with the story, not with the writer or the prose or their worthiness to publish. With advanced writers you can use shorthand without coming across as brutal, taking a five minute explanation about a character's flaws, actions and inner dialogue and how that made me feel like they were a worthless whiner and pare it down to "this character whined too much. I wanted more protagging."
In short, a cover letter needs to give useful information, and in the case of a professional submission to a paying market, not too much information about amateurish stuff so you don't come across as an amateur. It doesn't need a description of the plot (handled in the synopsis) or a hook (handled on the first page of your manuscript) or how many margaritas you drank as research for this piece. Shorter is better, but include all the necessary parts.

Now, back to "...ten pages about my formatting."
The last time I helped someone with their formatting it took six pages of explanation. I kid you not. Not on how to do it--that was clearly outlined on the submission guidelines along with a .pdf example. But on how to fix the piece of I-don't-know-what-they-were-thinking workmanship they handed in as their submission. I kid you not! It seems that even the extensive precautions I took didn't prevent me from having to deal with very badly formatted manuscripts.
And why should an editor care? It's all about the content, right?
Readability. An editor's eyes are precious. They've chosen fonts and line spacing to accommodate their vision and not following those guidelines is a slap in the face. It says I care more about having this come in under ten pages by using ten point font than your vision.
Space to write. An editor needs room to write in comments, when they're inspired to do so (which is rare) and both the editor and typesetter, should you be so lucky as to have your work accepted, need scribbling room for editing and typesetting stuff.
Ability to estimate. An editor prefers to see how many pages there are and have a good idea of how much room it will take up in the magazine. They do this through word count as well, but word count doesn't always accurately measure room on a magazine page or thickness of the book because writing styles and word choices differ. The page length is another tool they like to use, and that's useless or misleading if you've used 1.5 line spacing or a font that they're not used to estimating with, for example.
Certainty of placement. An editor needs to know absolutely where a paragraph starts and ends, where there's a scene break, a new chapter, etc. without having to think. The problem with email-style paragraphing with no indentation and a double return after paragraphs is that it looks like stream-of-consciousness meets a monstrosity of scene breaks every paragraph (but missing the # sign that helps them determine that yes, this is a scene break.) Other style changes are even worse. Whenever a writer breaks out of standard format the editor has to adapt to that style, and I'm going to guarantee right now that the editor doesn't want to adapt. You can argue if you want that everyone is used to reading such and such a style. Personally, I prefer not to argue with someone I'm trying to sell work to, or someone I'm trying to gain a good opinion from.

Having done this job for several years, I sometimes wish that everyone in INK could take on this job for at least a year, preferably two, to help put the whole professional submission thing into perspective for them. I've often heard editors wish aloud that writers would take on an editorial job or slush pile reading, even if it's informally and just a short while. This is why. It's the experience of seeing other people's mistakes that help you figure out what to do with your submission, much more than being told what to do and what not to do.

Any takers?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Off, Off, and Away!

It felt good to get the submission sent away. It felt good to know I did a good job going over it until I was happy with both it and the synopsis. However, I'm scared as hell at having sent it without having any readers look at it before hand. It's a good exercise for me to see how on track my instincts are about my work, but it's still unsettling.

I am very curious about how it will be received by the pros. I have questions about it, which is a good thing to into a workshop with, and hopefully I'll have a completed draft at my back when I sit down with them to discuss the excerpt. That will make their comments more applicable, if the draft is finished. It's hard to say how close I am to the end of the story from what I have already written, since it took a couple of left turns during the first writing and lots of it will be scrapped. If I had to guess, I'd say I'm a third of the way finished, which means I'll be condensing the 50,000 words down to about 30,000, since I'm projecting a 100,000 word limit to the story. That's a lot of chopping, but considering I just chopped 4000 words off the excerpt I sent, I think I can do it.

Oh, and btw: Heya, Kami! I emailed you my Orycon writers workshop submission this morning. I know you are having difficulties with your email, so if you did or didn't get it, or if you just wanna say "hi!" you can leave me a comment to this post.