Friday, February 29, 2008


I wrote a short story yesterday, the first one in a year.  It's not a good length for me, and I think the lack of dynamic plot is telling.  This could easily be the first chapter of a book, it's so quiet.  (Nooooooooooooooooooooo!)

But I'll submit it to INK the next time around and see what happens.  

The things I'll do to avoid working on taxes.  Now I have a list of avoidance.  Things that are higher on the list will get done before things on the bottom of the list in an effort to avoid doing the things on the bottom of the list.

Vacuum, do dishes
Work on a troublesome novel opening
Wash windows, scrub out tubs and toilets
Trim cat claws
Write a short story
Work on taxes

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's a Taxing Time

Tax laws change all the time so check online, or your tax software, or your accountant before making use of any tax advice.  Mine is, hold on to your writing-related receipts even if they're years old.  Yes, especially the typewriter, ink/ribbon, paper, spare parts, mailing receipts, stamp purchases, and so forth.  If you have a designated office then you can write off part of your utilities based on the square footage (including garbage service.)  I have a designated phone line for the internet and that comes off my taxes too.

For 'normal' businesses you have to turn a profit after X number of years or Uncle Sam will basically say this business isn't viable and you can't write it off no more no more no more no more, however, freelance writing, art, etc. are in their own little category (as are some other volatile businesses.)  Dear ol' unc recognizes that it takes years to build a freelance biz into a profit, if ever, and so it's okay to keep writing off your expenses.  If you didn't write off your typewriter the same year you bought it, never fear.  You're allowed three years before you declare it as a write off.  For more tax advice, see your gov pages.  They're free, as opposed to my tax accountant, who I adore but cringe every time I have to write a check for he fee.  Ouchie.  Oh well--I get to write off her fee from last year for this year 'cause--yep--it's a business expense.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

David Levine Speaking at INK.

When Kami and I were at RadCon, we were lucky enough to spend a little time with David Levine talking about writing, and then later in the weekend, talking about writing again. INK will be honored with his presence May 9th when he has agreed to come and talk to us about his writing life and how he got to where he is today: A Hugo Award winner.

To add another feather to his cap, he recently made the final Nebula Award list for his short story, Titanium Mike Saves the Day. If you haven't read this one, you really ought to.

BTW, his birthday was just the other day but because of things beyond his control, he's chosen to celebrate it on the 25th. Pop on over and wish him a Happy Birthday and congratulations for his Nebula nomination.

Friday, February 22, 2008

One Important Thing and Trivia

One of the most important bits of advice I got during Radcon 5 was during a barcon session with David Levine.  He said, in essence, to leave my opening alone and send it out.  If I overthink it, overwork it, it'll be a mess and it won't fit the rest of the novel.  To which I agreed.  But then I told him about my opening and he said, again in essence, don't touch a thing, leave it alone, but rewrite it (heh) so that the protagonist is protagging.

I've been hearing about starting in the middle, during action, etc. for almost my entire writing career.  As is common during said career, I had to hear the right permutation of advice at the right time with just the right word before I could blow up a hidden weakness.  Ah, those hidden weaknesses, how they plague us!

So thanks, David!  Now I know.  It's not about starting with action, really, not per se.  It's not even really about conflict, which a lot of really great openings don't have.  It's about the pov character in that opening friggin' doing something more interesting and challenging than picking nose hairs out, something that stands out in his/her/its day that's hard work or emotionally challenging.

Writing-Helpful Trivia/Word definition of the day:

Climacteric:  Pertaining to or constituting a climacter or critical period in human life; critical, fatal.
2. A critical stage in human life; a period supposed to be specially liable to change in health or fortune.  Some held all the years denoted by multiples of 7, others only the odd multiples of 7 to be climacterics; some included the multiples of 9.

Do Not Let This Discourage You

Received my notification of not winning from WotF yesterday. I actually grinned, because it's the first rejection letter I've gotten in a while. Which means I sent something out! Whee! I submitted!

I have no intention of being discouraged, either. I'm very oddly not even close to discouraged. I have no doubts, none whatsoever, that this little story will be published. It is just a question of finding an editor who likes it. That's it. It's a well written story, with a strong protagonist, a theme, a plot, a conflict, a little bit of action, and lots of fish.

Okay, the fish part isn't so important overall, but you get the idea.

I'm not being immodest, I'm being honest. I'm a decent writer. At times, I'm a very good writer. So it isn't a question of being a good writer. It's just a matter of finding that fit with an editor.

It's the crap shoot everyone talks about, only I don't think it's just luck. I think it's closer to serendipity. You got to be looking to begin with.

Or maybe it's a fox hunt. And I'm on this wonderful hunter, where my best riding habit, and the hounds are my stories, baying as they run ahead of me, trying to flush out that foxy editor . . .

I've taken that analogy as far as I think I should.

The point is, I've been reading all these contests lately online, the ones where you post your first 100 or 500 words, and the stories I like aren't the ones being picked by the judges. Doesn't mean the ones I like aren't good. They have been awesome! They just aren't the ones the judge thought were awesome.

Somewhere out there, though, is a judge, or editor, who would find those entries awesome. And who will find my story awesome as well. I just have to send the story out until it finds that person.

I'm liking this mindset. I got nothing but time and during that time, I'll keep improving my writing skills and sending more stories out and within that time, I'll publish. End of story.

Or rather, beginning of story.

Friday, February 15, 2008

WotF Honorable Mention for Carole!

A little after 8:30 tonight we got a voicemail message from Joni Labaqui with Writers of the Future. She was trying to reach Carole. Of course, I had to rapidly call Carole in care of Kami at Radcon and leave her the specifics. After a brief time, Carole called me back with an update on the purpose of the call...

If I had been keeping up with the WotF blog, I probably would have put it together before I called Carole, but this was better as she got to hear it straight from Joni. That's right, Joni was looking for permission to post Carole's name in the Honorable Mention announcements that are currently being posted at the WotF blog!

Carole was told the update was going to be made tonight and I've been watching like a hawk, but it's not there yet. However, I will drop a link here and we can watch for the official news together.


I hope this reinforces, in a major way, the comments you've gotten on most of your other submissions that you are DEFINITELY on the right track. It's just a matter of time before that first contract follows!

And to all of the rest of us, may this be a reinforcement to keep it up. There are still notifications going out, so there is yet a chance that there will be further celebration in store for INK!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Jim Van Pelt has a great blog entry on writing advice, and several folks (including our friend Jay) have chimed in with a few lines of advice they've collected. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


My brain is looking for escape routes.  Yesterday I wanted to write on anything except what I was supposed to.  Last night I even came up with a new story idea.  This morning I came up with more ideas--luckily one was for Masks--but the primary idea was for a project that has been on a backburner and will probably stay there for a long time.  I can blame my heavy schedule for this bout of escapism, but that would be just an excuse.  I know how to kick this.  Write anyway.

Definitely owe INK a dollar, and considering Radcon, that'll be another dollar because I'm not going to get a sub in by next Monday either.  Might as well pay up now.  But hey, after Radcon I'll be home free for quite a while.  With two day jobs days of work a week, three max, and the fact that lately my schedule has been arranged so that the workdays are consecutive, I'll have a lot more free time to get writing projects done.  I'm really, really looking forward to that.  Radcon has become my Thunderdome, and all I want to do is get beyond it (she said, dating herself yet again.)  I'm sure once I get there, though, I'll have such a blast that I'll forget all about these silly things called deadlines and goals, at least for a while.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Back To The Dark Side. . .

. . .but only because the other side says it is so.

It was a dark and stormy night. By warm, ambient candlelight, I was reading when I heard a whir and a click behind me, near to my ear. I turned and there was Bill, holding a gun to my head.

“You’ve got two choices,” he said and smiled in a funny, crooked little way. “You can remain safe, steadfast, and antiquated until June of 2008, or you can upgrade to Vista, now. Your choice but make it quick because soon, your future will depend on it.”

Vista. The sound makes too much of a slithering snake sound in my head. Or maybe that’s just because I’ve seen it, tried to use it and don’t like it one bit. The next upgrade coming down the pike after this one doesn’t look any prettier.

Bill’s retiring this year. My thinking is he’s got nothing but blue skies, or blue vistas, if you will, ahead of him. I’ll be lucky if I can ever retire, not officially that is. No, I think Bill’s gotten enough of my money that he can retire sooner than the other guy, the dark guy, the one he called Steve with a sneer.

He’s right though. I do have my future to think about. I’ve got some hard decisions to make in the coming year and the sooner I sort some things out, the better in the long run. It’s my future and it’s time I invested in it.

“Ah, Bill, Bill,” I smiled back, knowing he had banked on a perceived notion that because I was old, I was resistant to change. “I do have a third option. You and I haven’t been together forever, you know. Before you, Steve and I had a thing going and even in black and white, it was beautiful. But work demanded we forge a relationship, you and I, and I left Steve for you.”

I lowered my tone and looked him dead in the eye.

“You had to have known it couldn’t last, you with your plain-looking computers, your plain Jane laptops. Where’s the appeal, Bill? Where’s the glitz, the glamour, the bling? Sex, Bill, do you know what that is because I can tell you Vista ain’t it. Vista was the last straw for me, Bill, the very last straw.”

And just like that, most all that was Bill vanished into thin air with the exception of his face looking lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

I don’t expect Steve will notice my return. He was always a prick, still is one actually and his keynote speeches are still just as painful to sit through as ever. Maybe his stock will go up point zero zero zero three percent this quarter after my visit last night to one of his clean, shiny, white stores, but probably not even that much. He knew where he was going way back then when I had to bid him adieu. Let’s hope he doesn’t believe in holding grudges. Let’s hope he understood then and understands now what took me so long to come back.

Today I’ve returned to the dark side and boy, does it ever feel bright.

Behind Door Two

It's good to have focus again. I've gotten two scenes edited on Trinket Box and I'm well on my way to reaching 100 pages on The Trunk (which was Mummy Case). My brilliant plan is to have the first 50 pages of Trinket Box ready for the group for the first March meeting and to have all 75 pages for February written for The Trunk.

If I can do the same in March, I'll feel ahead enough on both to be able to work on Script Frenzy in April. I might even be able to keep editing Trinket Box along with writing my script, but I'm not going to hold myself to that quite yet.

After all, there is Reven to consider as well. And I still have a chapter to finish revising for it. I'm hoping to get a little work done on that today.

I can't believe I'm already thinking about Script Frenzy. Actually, I've been thinking about Nanowrimo already, and contemplated putting off The Trunk until then, but reconsidered. That's just too long to wait and I'd rather have the pages now. I'll find something else to write by then. Something new and fresh, because I think I'll need it about then.

As for Script Frenzy, I'm still toying around with the haunted house idea TC and I came up with last June (longer, really, but that was when we fleshed it out--was that a pun?). I'm keeping my option open, though, but nothing else has yet to materialize. In March, I'll add another 5 or 10 pages to my monthly goal to be closer to what I'll need to write in April (100 pages).

Honestly, though, Trinket Box is eating up most of my enthusiasm. I love working on this story. I'm amazed how much of it clings to me, even now. Scenes I was planning on ditching I'm now finding too compelling and so I'm trying to find a way to work them into the flow of the plot. And thank god for Creepy Frenchman! He's going to be my failsafe for plotting when all else fails.

Focusing on these novels is going to destroy my chances of having another short story ready for WotF, though. I need to look up the next submission deadline if I'm going to make it. I'll need all the time I can to work in another revision.

UPDATE: The deadline is April 1st. Whew. Won't have to worry about it during Script Frenzy. But that only leaves me about a month and a half! Gotta start working on something for it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Dove Gray Disappointment

I received a rejection from the wonderful Nelson Literary Agency for my partial of Masks.  I'm disappointed, but also I'm aware that they have to be very, very selective.  They get so many queries, so many partials, so many manuscripts that if I was asked for a full manuscript I'd be very, very surprised (and delighted!)  They reminded me in the rejection that these things are subjective, and after Nathan's contest I can agree heartily.  I'm not taking it personally.  But the stars that danced in my eyes the past few days have fallen to earth.  Time to start my weekly query schedule again.  Hopefully I'll be looking at stars again soon!

On Hold

I was aiming to have a short story ready for the next INK meeting. Turns out that isn't going to happen. I'm having a momentary slump in writing enthusiasm, brought on, I think, by a continuing level of expectation on my part that is unrealistic.

It stems from this overriding feelign that I've got to revise and edit several time over any story that I've written. Stack that on top of daily writing goals, the Reven revision, the desire to be working on Trinket Box, and a rather short time frame between INK meetings and INK submitting, and I'm afraid I'm drowning in words. Too many stories trying to crowd me at once. It's like trying to juggle babies. No one is having any fun.

So for this week, at least, I'm giving myself a breather to rethink what I think I should be doing. I have a great excuse, too, with tomorrow being my birthday. After tomorrow, I'll follow my gut and work on what feels right instead of what I feel I should be working on.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I've spent a huge number of hours reading openings, and critiquing some of them, at the now infamous Nathan Bransford's Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge.  (The contest is closed to submissions and they're sorting through the entries now.)  I've read various rules and suggestions for how to open a novel, but I have to say at this point that reading about it and/or thinking about it is no substitute for reading about a gizillion openings and picking apart as many as you can stand to critique.  

Go forth and read the entries.  Find the flaws in the best ones.  May your eyes be opened.  And then read Shock and Awe.   Although we always hear that a novel should open with a hook, in the middle of it all, preferably with action, that doesn't mean that the action has to be physical.  Suddenly I'm okay with how Masks opens again.  Yay!