Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trying to Contain Rays of Obnoxious Brightness

Lock me in a lead box before I irradiate my children.  I'm so excited by the reply from Nelson Literary Agency.  When I first started looking for a literary agency they really stood out.  I like their style a lot.  They're young and enthusiastic and they have some best sellers already on their sales list.  I hope they enjoy my submission and ask for more.  If not, I still feel I did well to catch their attention.  It lets me know that I'm on track with my query letters.  

Hopefully in two months or so I'll have more good news.  Now my question is, am I supposed to wait for them to respond or keep sending out queries?  I think I'll wait, simply because I have a good handful out there and some of those may come back with some interest too.  As much fun as having multiple offers might be on paper (or in this case, in phosphors) I'd find that really stressful.  Besides, this will give me a break from marketing so that I can focus on the whole reason I got myself into this in the first place:  Writing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Old Musings

Discovered in an old bound journal of mine:
Sunday, February 14, 1999
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.
Could I have been anymore prophetic?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Taking Advantage

I couldn't help myself.  I had to join in Nathan Bransford's "The Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge."  I hate to take advantage such a clearly nice guy.  He even posted my submission for me because (I'm guessing) the dial-up load times were interfering with my ability to comment on that particular post.  I was able to comment on other posts so I believe I was timing out or some such.  Anyway, I looked over my stuff and decided, weirdly, to try with the opening to Mayhem, I think because it stands out most of all my openings.  This makes me want to rewrite the opening to Masks yet again.  Gawd, I just want to smash my head through the wall every time I think about changing the opening to Masks.  Anyway:

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.

We Have Contest

Nathan Bransford, a literary agent who keeps a rather nice blog of the industry, is hosting a contest. It's the Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge. He's inviting writers to post the first 500 words of their ms and the winner gets a snazzy choice in prizes (such as a query critique or partial critique).

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 hit my 70 pages today. That feels good. I'm going to keep going, though, since I revised the short story I started last week to be the prequel to Inkwell Cult rather than the sequel. It's working better, too, and I hope Inkwell will work better because of it. And I just adore Travis, so any excuse to bring him into a story faster works for me.

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

Submitting Again?

Tomorrow is Monday and it's time once again to drop another Masks query in the mail.  I'm starting to get better at this.  Although they wanted yet another format for the submission, I managed to put it together in about an hour and a half.  That's fast for me.

I think I'll go play on my website.  Some of the modifications I made to the synopsis (to make it fit on one page) gave me some ideas for my book descriptions.

I've got a nasty headache that keeps reaching evil blobs of tension into my neck.  Ugh.  I think it's the rapid changes in the weather, but I'm glad the wind has calmed down and the temperatures have risen.  I love the snow on the ground, and it feels relatively warm outside.  They say we're going to get snow again tonight.  We'll see.  Maybe I can spend the day with my family and get some writing in edgewise.  What would really be nice is if I could get some painting done too.  I haven't cleared out the time and space for that in ages.

Somewhere in there I need to make time to make a snowman.
At the risk of repeating myself, I wanted to write about critiques in general and specifically what a wonderful group INK is and how privileged I feel to be a part of them.  

Steve is a picky reader, especially when it comes to internal consistency.  When he has trouble with the logic of a particular scene, I listen very carefully.  I don't want to become that author who writes about characters that do stupid things because it serves the plot.  I especially don't want to become that author with implausible happenings, ridiculous solutions and character motivations that make absolutely no sense.  He is also our only man.  I hope he doesn't start to suffer from estrogen poisoning at our meetings, because I really need that testosterone perspective, particularly since lately I've been writing male pov characters.

Carole is my eye-roller reader.  She doesn't technically 'do' fantasy, or to look at it another way, she prefers dark fantasy and magic realism.  She's my oh puke reader, and if I'm not making her puke there's a very good chance my writing could reach mainstream readers.  She's also a detail reader.  She's done so many jobs and been enough different places that she has tons of facts packed into her head, while having the valuable skill of being able to discriminate between what I mean versus what a reader who is unfamiliar with said item will hear.  For example, it never occurred to me that a reader would think that even the leaves on a bougainvillea vine would be red when I'm talking about papery carmine bougainvillea vines.  Not only did I assume everyone had seen them but I also looked like an idiot if someone had seen them (like CS) and thought I hadn't and had mis-described them from ignorance.  BTW, Carole, I have a baker character in the next book.  I'm looking forward to your impression of him and his workspace.

Carissa is my form and function reader.  If it has no function, she suggests eliminating it.  If the form is flawed, she catches it.  She also helps with things like details and character motivations, but where she really shines as a reader is as a surrogate editor.  She has read so much fantasy (and continues to read fantasy regularly) that she'll catch it if I'm falling into cliche'.  She also gets impatient with my writing in many of the same ways that editors get impatient with writing.  Their time is valuable.  As a rule they don't like excess wordage, extraneous scenes, scenes that go on too long, characters that have no purpose, expository lumps, etc.  No matter how carefully I disguise them (even from myself) Carissa catches them.  If a description passes muster with her, I'm confident that it'll pass muster with darned near anyone.

I had a really good critique, as always, on Masks with INK this last meeting.  I learned that I'd butchered what probably had been a perfectly fine fight scene before I 'streamlined' (read, took out too much for anyone to follow the action) it, that I'd turned my intelligent character into an unsympathetic hormonal mess, that I'd removed too much calculation in a character's reasoning and turned a dark scene into a mini-buddy movie that lacked chemistry, and many other things.  I also got some great brain-storming ideas that will have repercussions across two, maybe all three of the trilogy that Masks begins.

I sometimes worry that you think you're playing second hat to the Lucky Labs (who I'm also very, very grateful to,) so here's my note of appreciation and reassurance.  You're great readers, and you are all so definitely going to be in the acknowledgements.  Without my readers, I'd be a much less effective writer, no doubt about it.  You also have the horrible job of checking every blessed little tiny scrap of crap I write.  From my bios and cover letters to synopses and outlines, nothing goes out without an INK okay.  You also listen to my endless yammering on WIPs and bleeding characters and plotlines.  We've become more than a critique group.  We're a team, a business venture, and I'm very glad to be a part of you.  Thanks, INK!  You're the best.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We Have Bio!

I've updated the INK FAQ pages to include two of the bios that we've completed. Mine and C.S.'s bios are up.

Coming soon, Kami's and Steve's bios, the formal INK FAQ and the snarky INK FAQ.

Meeting of the INK

Last night INK held it's second meeting of the year. After chatting about OryCon and fallen trees, we handed all the FAQ we'd written up to Carole to compile and Carole and I read the bios we had written.

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

Yet Another FAQ

Everyone has pet peeves. Everyone gloms onto certain issues that they simply can't overlook in writing. I have this thing about first sentences in passive voice. I'm not against passive voice altogether--it has its place--but the first sentence? We haven't even gotten started and we're already distancing the action.

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

Hard Reality? More Like Hard Realities

I've read a lot of submission guidelines lately. They contradict each other, of course. The default is always to follow the preferences and guidelines of the exact publisher or agent you submit to. Deviate at your peril. Second default position is to follow the guidelines for the genre for which you specifically write, especially if they're guidelines posted on a major organization for that genre such as RRA or SFWA. Seeing the variations can be instructive. Or it may send you screaming to the bedroom to hide under the covers where you can sob over the hopelessness of it all in that black space where the boogeyman editor can't get to you. Here are some gems:

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

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


INK sends a hearty WOO-HOO to our friend Jeff Soesbe, who has just made his first short story sale to Flash Fiction Online.

Congratulations, Jeff! We're eagerly awaiting the announcement for sale number two!


I'm glad that I have some editing goals to focus on, because Golem, my beloved little typewriter, isn't doing so well. I guess three months of daily writing are starting to wear him down. I'll type about 30 characters and then suddenly the piece looks like bnvou294 ai4 ii9039sd. I've done all the troubleshooting I can on my own. I know it is some problem with the daisy wheel, but I haven't been able to fix it. Resetting it only helps for a couple of lines and then it slips again into nonsense.

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

One million words coming up

I got to meet with Ris today about a cowriting project we've worked on for quite some time.  We've had our moments of brilliance and insanity, sometimes at the same time.  I think at last we'll make some forward progress on it so that we can start the critiquing process and get it finished up.

On sober reconsideration I realize that this cowriting process is a lot like the process I went through with my very first novel.  If anything it's taken longer to get this story put together than it did Mayhem, but to be fair I didn't have as long periods of time between drafts, though I had some very long rest periods.  The time and distance has done nothing but good.  We've gotten back to the heart of the story, and I'm excited about what's going to happen next.  It may be that, before we're done, that we'll have put a million words into various cowriting projects, which means we might be past the crappy writing phase.  Or in this case, crappy cowriting phase.

Onward to writing!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Struggling Against the Wind of Submission

Heya, all you INKers! Submissions for the next critique group are due today by midnight!

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

Another Copyright Issue

Patty on the OryCon listserv shared the link to this new controversy. A popular romance writer has been including passages from other works, most non-fiction and part of her research, in her books.

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

Another Sub Flies Off Into the Sea of Holes

I may have to stop posting about my agent queries if I keep sending out one a week.  This could get boring for anyone following along.  For me, on the other hand, every query is a new adventure.  Jumping through the hoops, finding or guessing preferences, adapting and polishing summaries and bios and similar tasks are keeping me entertained and on-edge.  In this case on-edge isn't a bad thing.  But it's not stress-free.  I've caught myself, after reading yet another set of guidelines, thinking oh gawd, I sent a query off just last week that includes a feature that is a pet peeve of this agent, now I'm doomed because I bet the other agent hates that too!  It doesn't stop me from persevering, but holy moly I'm glad I don't have nuts because at times it feels like I've been kicked in the groin when I think I might have made a mistake.  Having said that, the hope is worse than worrying I might have blown my chance to get a good agent.  If this was just an exercise in futility I could sit back and flow with the process.  Instead I get these jagged moments of maybe, just maybe.

Hey, aren't I supposed to be writing or something like that?  

Actually I did get a chance to work on Signet today.  Because I've done so much editing recently that I get distracted by thoughts of going back and enriching the setting, increasing tension and all that.  It's getting easier to ignore those thoughts, and they're coming to mind less often.  I'd say I'm shushing my internal editor, but what's really going on is that I'm getting sucked into the story.  The internal editor can scream as loud as he wants once I'm deep into the world.  I won't hear a thing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Copied, Right?

If you are all like me, then copyright is a murky swamp full of legalese and snakes. And mosquitoes. And possibly leeches.

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

Yet Another Query

I'm sending Masks off to Ethan Ellenberg tomorrow. There's an email option, but I really wanted to have those first 50 pages in hard copy, proper format and all that. I have to say, after sending off three email queries, there's something more satisfying about sending a manila envelope with some heft to it to New York. I guess I'm old-fashioned. I'd rather have that weight and substance in my hands, the trip to the post office, a more traditional wait and the perk of added interest when I check the mailbox. This is the kind of submission I'm used to. I've missed it. It's been way too long. I think with my WotF sub I got it edited and shipped off so fast I hardly felt it. With Masks it's been a more involved process, with more time to agonize.

Speaking of sparkly mailbox syndrome, did anyone else get a WotF heads-up email? I got one today. Yay! Normally I'd be all gee, up to ten weeks before final results, but today everything writerly seems to be happening very fast.

Dear Contestant,

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

Good luck to us all!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

First Agent Rejection

I got my first rejection from agent Bob Mecoy.  Looks like he's not taking on any SF/Fantasy writers at this time.  Part of me is glad just to get a response so I have closure.  Some agents don't have time to email or write you back.  Moving on!  I still have to send out my query of the week.  This next one is going by snail mail, so I've been beating around the bush.  Hopefully I'll get an envelope put together today.  There's not a lot of week left.

I printed the rejection out.  I've decided to see how many of these I can collect before I either give up (never!) or get an agent.

I had a Captain Obvious thought today.  If you don't have a good enough submission package to get an agent, how can you hope to sell a book directly to a publisher, especially with a year or more turnaround?  I'm so glad I'm looking for an agent rather than shopping publishers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Little Taste

I enjoyed Kami's version of the FAQ so much that I posted an abbreviated version on our FAQ page. Hope she doesn't mind. It was just too cute not to share some of it.

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

Using INK

Since one of my unwritten goals is to submit for INK Critiques every meeting, I'm using INK submission Fridays as a deadline to meet. It's nice, having an outside deadline. It keeps me working when I might slack off.

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

The Lion

The Lion
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

INK Meeting

INK had our first meeting of the year last night, and biggest news of the night was welcoming Cheri to our little kult. We didn't seem to scare her off, so hopefully we'll see her again. We had a rousing critique of Steve's flash fiction "Baggage" and my flash fiction "Purgatory" following our newly established five-minute critique rule. I'm still struggling with that, personally, but I promise the other members that I'll get better!

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

Pardon My Dust

I've taken the leap and added an INK FAQ page link to the sidebar. It will take you to the new INK FAQ blog page I set up to hold all our permanent information, like the FAQ, our own author bios, and whatever else strikes our fancy.

Take a look and send me any ideas you have for improvement and suggestions for content!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Masks Edit

Well, I've gone through the bastard again.

122,000 words
615 pages in standard format (I write in Times but convert to Courier)
31 Chapters

I'm down a few thousand words even with a few additional scene and setting details.  This puppy is ready to roll.  Which means this is my last excuse.  I now have to do more research on Preditors and Editors and find the next agent I want to query.

Once again I'm very excited about working on the second novel in this universe, Signet.  But I'll be good and do that research first.

Bring It!

I won't be repetitive and reprint all my 2008 goals over here. If you'd like an in-depth look at them, I have them up on my blog. I have quite a bit more than last year and I'm feeling ready to tackle each and every one, all at once. I must pace myself.

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.