Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sunday, February 14, 1999Could I have been anymore prophetic?
I wish I were part of something, with a group of others. Something meaningful and driving. My dearest tales involve that, a group driven by a worthy goal. Each person contributing to the quest. Dependent upon one another for support,
friendship, and success. . . . I have cats all around me and Portland in my future.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
As a small child I once lost my balance and touched my hand on a red hot stove. Before the pain stabbed into my fingers and struck my mind I remember feeling foolish and frightened. I cried out a not-very-small-child curse and put my fingers in my mouth just as the pain hit me. My mother hurled herself across the kitchen and pulled me up into her arms. That scent of our tribe's plush wool, the softness of homespun cloth against my face, the red hair of a Kilhells woman and green eyes staring into mine had always brought me comfort.
I know I'm dreaming, but that same hot pain I remember feels real, and there's no comfort this time. I'm trapped in that room again, the desert heat doubled by infernal fire in a hearth. I'm tied with bark rope on top of a camel hair rug. Instead of hot pokers, carving instruments are heating to white brilliance three feet from my face. There's a helefrit straddling me. Nearby, the blood of an infant has dried to black flakes. I want to wake up, but just like when it was actually happening, I'm helpless.
Something wooden cracks nearby and all at once I'm awake, gasping, my heart pounding so hard it hurts. My body tingles from the memory of my flesh burning and I'm sticky and smelly with sweat. I'm back in the present, cradled in a hammock in the belly of a sailing ship. Sailors stand around a barrel they've dropped. One sailor glances my way from under the brim of his dirty white hat with an apologetic look. The others don't meet my gaze. I'm not sure if they know something's wrong with me, or if it's just me. My name is famous. I'm famous, though hardly anyone has met me. It's always a surprise when people take my word for it that I am who I say I am. I'm plenty tall for a woman, but I don't think I'm tall enough for a myth. I don't wear armor, I've lost my sword, and not only did I fail to do anything to aid the war, I think I might be on my way to assassinate the only man who can save the world.
I think people believe that no one would dare claim they were me. I don't feel up to defending my name or my honor, though, as I awkwardly climb out of the hammock and go to ease the pressure in my bladder. I don't stagger as the massive ships rocks from one side to the other. My sea legs come back faster each time I sail, and take longer to go away when I'm on dry land again. For hours after a long voyage, sometimes overnight, it feels like the land rolls under me, and I often dream of storms at sea.
The contest is only open until 5:00 pm PST Wednesday, so spruce up this first 500 and head over to his blog. Warning, lots of entries already, so load time is a bit laggy.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I have another car 'character' to add to the story as well. I figured out that Travis drives a 1929 Ford Model A truck. I'm sure Carole will correct me if I'm not defining it right. Travis strikes me a truck kinda guy. I've not given a car before now because I didn't see him as flush enough to afford one (and with public transportation not a problem in 1930s Chicago, I didn't worry about it). But now he's had to get himself into the mountains of West Virginia, so it seemed wiser to give him a car.
He got it cheap at an estate auction after the owner's suicide after the Crash. It was close to new then, but he's driven it all over and so it isn't running so great now. And Travis, for all his manliness, isn't much for mechanics. I'm thinking that Maud, with one of the help's assistance, does tinker on cars, having had her dad's old Model T to play with. So she might offer to have a look at the truck, which would be a nice introduction for the two.
Which means I need to research some basics about engines in Model T's and Model A's. Um, Carole . . . ?
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
After repositioning up in the library, we hammered out a few plot problems with a couple of WIPs and dove into the critiques. Kami gave us three chapters of Masks and Steve gave us a new flash fiction piece. I think both received excellent critiques and even better brainstorming sessions afterwards. Cherie was with us in spirit, as Carole shared her comments on Steve's piece.
We dove into more brainstorming, then had a scavenger hunt for a rumor Carole had read about mentioning titles to submissions for WotF. The contest judges entries anonymously, so it makes sense not to go spouting off the title of our submissions online where someone might Google them. And then the winners for each quarter are thrown into a new judging at the end of the year, so again with the not speaking. So we combed through our blogs and made the necessary changes to keep our pieces anonymous.
Good to know these things. Thanks, Carole, for alerting us!
We made some decision on the next meeting, since half the kult will be infiltrating Radcon. It was a great evening and I'm feeling like my head is screwed on a little tighter thanks to it. Hope everyone else came away energized and ready to face the next three weeks of writing!
Friday, January 25, 2008
The thing about pet peeves is this--they're irrational and cruel. But they need their due. They're irrational and cruel because no matter how much we hate them, we're guilty of them. Passive voice in the first sentence? Oh yeah, I've written that, and stuck to it too. They need their due, though, because pet peeves arise from seeing the same problems over and over again until you start looking for inventive things to do to yourself so that you don't have to say it again.
I couldn't tell so and so that I didn't like that passive voice in the first sentence because we were out of bread in the house and I had to go shopping and then I forgot to write it down and during the critique I decided that if I hadn't written it down in the first place it must not have been that important.
My (actually Ris' proposal, I was going to do this by myself because you know I can't shut up once I've gotten an idea) is for INK (and associates, if you would like to contribute!) to submit your pet peeves for a FAQ. We can organize it by person, or, if you think this would be a better idea, we can hide in pseudo-anonymity, pretend we don't know who wrote what pet peeve, and just glom them all together into one list.
For the record, I refuse to take the blame for first sentence in passive voice. That doesn't bother me in the least.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Brutal but true: Kent Brewster confirms our worst nightmares. You're wonderful Kent please don't hurt my ms! Sweeping Back the Slushpile by Kent Brewster
I love you, Murderati. In my fantasy life, INK becomes similar to Murderati. Anyway, this is both a demonstration of individual genres having their own set of 'absolute' or macro-rules that you can generally follow and be safe and also that no matter what you do, you'll be hitting someone's pet peeve so just try not to make yourself too crazy and make your ms as professional as you can before you send it out. I think it also helps to be cool, like the murderati:
Things Your Creative Writing Instructor Never Told You by Gordon Aalborg
For our entertainment: Because we need a break from the insanity to laugh at the stupidity of others. Please, muse, don't let me get this messed up about my rejections. Let me continue celebrating their collection and to view a hand-written note as a priceless artifact painstakingly dug out from the ruins of my manuscript! Slushkiller by Teresa Nielson Hayden
Not only do we have to worry about how to publish, but of course where. Sad to say, I would be enthused to get a short published on toilet paper as long as it counted as a real publication. I hope that someday toilet paper won't seem nearly as appealing. Trying to Get Published on Toilet Paper by the Fine Folks at Slushpile.net
The last word, though, is always this. The story has to be good, or the formatting doesn't matter. Reversely, if the story is really good, the small details (what font, how many spaces after a period) won't matter. Rachel Funari in her article Escaping the Slushpile put it well:
The stories that were sent to my office were mainly about the same one-dimensional characters: the abused wife obsessed with cleaning, the husband who kills his wife because she’s gone to fat, the stereotypical mobster, and let’s not forget the drunk, fat, ex-policeman, snidely-comic private detective who has to figure out the illegal mess the husband of a beautiful, blond, buxom woman has gotten into. All of these characters are boring because they aren’t real people. Successful stories are about the same types of characters, but they are people with compulsions and neuroses and subtleties and contradictions. They are caught in worlds they don’t understand, forced into situations they have no answers for, made desperate by people they love, made obsessive by people that have no room for them. No matter whether your story is about an ordinary person or an extraordinary one, your voice needs to be unique, your character whole and full, your storytelling revelatory and involved, your reason for telling this story clear and revealed. Otherwise, why should I read it? When you sit down to write, you should ask yourself, Why must I tell this story? Why must my character be the hero or anti-hero of this story? What do I have to say about this story, or this life, or this world that needs me to write it? What is my point? If you can’t answer these questions, then you shouldn’t be writing the story. And if this is the case, then all above advice is moot.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Congratulations, Jeff! We're eagerly awaiting the announcement for sale number two!
I'm sad. I'll have to move my daily writing onto Phoenix, which won't be nearly the same. I really didn't anticipate Golem breaking down. I've never had problems with any of my typewriters in the past.
I have an email out to the company. If they can't give me suggestions, at least I have an extended warranty through Staples, where I bought him. It's just a bothering and I've been doing so well keeping up with my writing. I just have to persevere to finish it on Phoenix instead.
Sigh. I miss the view out the back window already. The birds have been gathering there around the bread I've been tossing them. And we have two squirrels visiting now.
Ah well. Hopefully I can have this resolved within a few days. A week at most. And still have the next 21 pages of Warrior Storm written and printed.
It is seriously time to consider a laptop.
I am excited to be working on Reven again, though! Wee hee, that is such a fun bunch of characters!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
I've been trying to get something ready, but I don't know if I'll make the deadline. I'll keep plugging away, though, as I want to get the story revision finished so I can concentrate on a newer story revision.
It is good to go over these older stories. I get a good sense of what I was trying to accomplish and where I went wrong and I'm having an easier time reworking them into a theme. It's also fun to see what language I used and how my usage has evolved. I was really wordy (okay, I'm still wordy, but not quite as wordy).
Example: In the old text I have "The wind had slept in the hours she had set out from the Iceholm, but the evening shadows had awoken it, and now she struggled against its icy attack as she made her way homeward."
Ugh, that's a mouthful. So I cut it down: "The wind had slept when she set out from the Iceholm. It woke with the evening and breathed icy daggers into her as she struggled homeward."
The sentence is also getting moved around in the paragraph. Still not liking the icy daggers cliche, but it'll work until I come up with something better. Icy breath? Breathed ice? Blew its icy breath?
Can't . . . turn . . . off . . . editing . . . brain . . .
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
There is an excellent article in Newsweek by one of the authors used in the romance book. And the ladies at the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books blog, who made the discovery, have a whole running series on their blog. They have posted a response by one of the researchers of the article quoted, which is a different take on the controversy, very classy and upbeat. Kudos to him and the author of the article. But the publisher response to the controversy is still a bit disturbing to me. And here's why.
One of the first discussions we have in a college English class is on plagiarism. And the main point of that discussion is if it isn't your words and your thoughts, quote and cite. The idea of not having to cite source material in a historical novel is ludicrous to me. Not that I'd expect footnotes, but at least a nod toward the source material that served research material is polite to those authors and gives them their due credit. But lifting whole passages from source material--that, to me, and by the very definition we used in college (and that would get you an immediate expulsion from the class and placed on probation) is plagiarism.
Maybe I'm too sensitive about it. It has been drilled into my head by seven years of repetition in each class at the beginning of a semester and then repeating it myself when I was teaching. And now, as a writer focusing more and more on historical stories, I have learned how to integrate research into my prose in my own words and language.
What this author has done is a bad forming of paraphrasing, and under the definition I've worked with on plagiarism, paraphrasing without citing source material is still plagiarism. Paraphrasing, just like quoted passages, must be acknowledged. It isn't the author's original idea. It is another author's. Serving as inspiration is one thing. Serving as parts of a new text is something else entirely.
I guess I'll always flinch when it comes to the concept of plagiarism. Too many years held under a severe punishment if it ever happened. And to me, it's a question of ethics. I want my stories to be all my words, not another author's. As for citing my resources, gladly, happily, and enthusiastically. I love to share my inspiration and the brilliance of others. One of my favorite things about writing historical fiction is the chance to read non-fiction sources and share them with others.
BTW, just got an awesome book on Victorian home life called Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders. I love researching!
PS, Kami, you've read one of the author's books. Does Savage Moon ring any bells?
UPDATE: Looks like the publisher is taking this more seriously than they first acknowledged. But what I find even more amazing is the amount of discussion this is generating between blogs with readers and writers. And I love how the black-footed ferret is getting some well-deserved help because of it all. I didn't realize you could adopt a wild ferret. Guess what TC is getting for St. Valentine's Day.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
So anytime I see an article about copyright, I jump. Typically, the articles are all about the poor author and how someone tried to run off with the original content. Last week, however, I found this article on J.K. Rowling and how she should lose her copyright lawsuit against the Harry Potter Lexicon's intent on publishing their version of an encyclopedia of the Potterverse.
I think I agree with the logic behind the argument of creation versus content. The folks at the Lexicon aren't creating new material; they are organizing the material trawled from Rowling's books. The argument on consumerism is a viable one, too.
However, as an author, I can't help but cringe a little at the thought of someone Not Me going through one of my 'verses and building a book out of it. What if they get it wrong? What if they misinterpret what is there?
Then again, the thought of someone else keeping detailed records of my 'verses has a happy feeling to it. I know many authors (MZB, Elizabeth Peters) who have kept assistance, and I can't help but think part of their job was indexing.
Don't get me wrong, I love indexing. I was made for indexing. But that is as much of a job as the actual writing and one that would get me into trouble if I succumbed to it.
But an encyclopedia made by someone else after the fact? Online content versus hard copy (i.e. paid for) content? This is interesting copyright territory, and I'm not surprised to find Rowling's the one at the helm of the debate. And it isn't the same as the silly fanfic author who self-published a fanfic piece and put it on Amazon to sell (how many kinds of stupid is that?).
So where does creation end and organizing begin? How do I reckon consumerism versus the ownership of working my own material myself? Do I side with Rowling or the Lexicon or both?
The are so many scary issues going on with online content and copyright. This one, at least, I could wrap my brain around.
Creation: writing new material
Organizing: working existing material into indexed form
Consumerism: necessary evil
Ownership: write one myself to add to the competition
Side with: Rowling in spirit, Lexicon in law
Your story has arrived and been logged in the 1st quarter of the 2008 contest. We will have final results in 8 to 10 weeks. If you have any questions feel free to let me know. Otherwise, you can also check out the blog as I do post the winners there. (Content deleted by Kami to defy evil spam bots from assaulting the nice director.) Best, Joni Labaqui - Director
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I'm looking forward to seeing what we put together, as far as the Snarky FAQ. And getting more content on that page, eventually. Is everyone thinking about their short bios?
Monday, January 7, 2008
And since I have more and more projects needing revision, I'm alternating between each meeting on what will be submitted. So for the next two weeks, I'll be revising one of my new short stories. After it is submitted, I switch right into revising a novel. Then back to short story, and so on.
I even know what novel I'll work on next. The Trinket Box, which has already had some transcription time. The group has seen The Inkwell Cult recently, so I'm going to hold back on it a little while (I think the six month time limit for review will be up after February). Work on plotting it out a little stronger before diving in to the edit. Fix the major plot flaws and character gaffs and try to work a way of not getting stuck in the bloody hotel again.
During it all, I have my 3 pages a day, which are going well, my poem a week, which is more difficult than I expected, but I managed to churn out a decent poem yesterday after staring at a blank page for far longer than I thought I could. There's the Reven read, which I'm looking forward to, but must be paced so I can take decent enough notes not to have to read back through it again when we start on that edit (huh, nother revision to add into the mix). But it is all doable if I planned what needs to be done when and make a list!
But a close second to list-making is the INK deadline. I love that we've established a deadline for submission. It's going to be just the push I need to keep me honest.
I'm going to learn a lot this year, thanks to INK. Deadlines, five minute critiques, bio writing . . .
Sunday, January 6, 2008
by Hilaire Belloc
The Lion, the Lion, he dwells in the Waste,
He has a big head and a very small waist;
But his shoulders are stark, and his jaws they are grim,
And a good little child will not play with him.
This poem seemed very appropriate given all the tiger and lion maulings I've seen on the newspages lately.
It's also a tidy little poem, and I am finding that I'm enjoying Belloc's work. I haven't read them before receiving them in my email. I subscribe to a poem a day list. It keeps me reading poetry, which is even more important now that I've decided to pick up writing poetry again.
Poetry has always been my first love, and while I adore fiction writing, there will always be a special place in my heart for poetry. I'd like to improve my skills in it as much as I have in fiction writing. Which means more practice. Which means more poems. Lots more poems.
But I won't subject INK to my word drool. I have found in my past experiences that critiques groups and poetry do not mix, not unless everyone in the group is a poet, too, and then the few of those I've been in didn't work so well, either, though I've been thinking about the Poetry Group at the local library. That was a great bunch of poets. Wouldn't that be something, having a great group of writers to help my fiction writing and a great bunch of poets to help my poetry. How lucky would I be?
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Kami arrived a bit late, but in plenty of time to add her own excellent critiques. We had lovely chocolate custard compliments of Carole. We also decided on writing bios for the new INK FAQ page and continuing the FAQ-building process over the next three weeks.
A good start to the new year, I think! I'm looking forward to the next meeting and Kami's next Masks excerpt.
Psst, fellow kultists, remember to update your monthly goals under your blog pic!
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Take a look and send me any ideas you have for improvement and suggestions for content!
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
So I'm setting monthly and weekly goals. It's good to have focus.
To kick off the New Year, I'm going to finish my current short story ("Telling it True"--which took a serious plot twist yesterday), finish reading the Reven novel so Kami and I can hammer out the final version, and figure out where my novels are going and how best to get them there. Next week, and probably the rest of the month, needs to be all about the novels.
As for revisions, I have four short stories on my plate, one of which will be chewed up by INK this Friday. I also have The Trinket Box to transcribe/edit, Reven coming up on the table, and The Inkwell Cult bluescreen. Which makes me realize I need to set some revision goals or I'll never keep it all straight. Not a bad problem to have considering where I was this same time last year. So this week I'll try to get another 15 pages of The Trinket Box finished.
In other news, I found this interesting revision plan. I like it. It will help me cut Purgatory down by another 110 words. It's Ken Rand's 10% Solution. Thanks to Jim Van Pelt for posting about it on his great New Year's Resolutions for Newbies (and lapsed Oldies), which has fine advice as well.