Sunday, January 31, 2010

A warning to the people, the good and the evil

I knew that if I waited long enough, Falconesse would post about the most recent Amazon fiasco with much more clarity and coherence than I can. Amazon is quickly working its way onto my short list of big companies I abhor doing business with. (Walmart having snagged the top spot some time ago.) Not that me pulling the measly amount of business I send their way each year will hurt them much. But damn. I am also adding my hopes that Macmillan will tell Amazon what they can do with their bullying little stunt.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

On the street where you live, girls talk about their social lives

For those of you who pay attention to such things, a progress meter has reappeared over in the sidebar for Crowmaker. No, I do not recall how many times I have supposedly written a draft of this story. Yes, I am hopeful that I will really wind up with a real first draft this time. Cross your fingers, knock wood, all that jazz.

If you are paying attention, you may also have noticed that I started this draft last Saturday and have officially hit 15,000 words. That averages out to almost 2,000 words/day. That's a reasonably blazing fast speed for me. I feel obliged to point out, however, that I have been working on this story off and on for nearly two years. And even when not actually working on it, I have been dreaming about it. And I just spent the better part of the last two months outlining the hell out of this story. It had damn well better be just about falling off my fingertips.

Having said that, I'll be switching time periods and character viewpoints sometime in the next week or so. I also have some upcoming family obligations/events that will cut into my writing time. So I don't anticipate continuing at quite as breakneck a pace. But it's nice to watch that progress meter jumping ahead while it lasts.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

They'll make you cry, baby, and then blame it on you

Meet Avie:

OK, so most of you have already met Avie. Which means you have heard about her amazing vocabulary skills, which require us to spell such words as "eat," "treat," "snack," "Chex," "lunch," "cheese," and "walk." (You can guess, based on the ratio of food words to exercise words, just which way the scale wavers when she visits the vet. The rapt expression on her lovely face in this photo, by the way, is the result of one of the boys holding a treat over her head while I took the shot.)

My husband enjoys cooking. Which works out well, since I do not. He does have a tendency to drop things while he's working, however--shreds of cheese, snippets of meat he's cutting up, chunks of potatoes he's dicing, etc. These moments of droppage are invariably accompanied by the phrase, "Oh, shit."

Now put those two stories together. Go ahead, I'll wait while you sort it out.


Yeah-huh. Avie will now respond with great enthusiasm if you utter the magic words "Oh, shit."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pick yourself up, get yourself moving

Early dismissal on Friday, a three day weekend, and no work for me today. We kicked this week off with a very exciting weekend of listening to Joe and Michael and two buddies romp through the house. One of them wandered too close to the main road behind our house with an airsoft gun and attracted the attention of a police officer who just happened by at the same moment, so there were a few tense moments there. The officer was very good-natured, though, and remarked that if he weren't on duty, he'd like to join in the fun. All in all, the boys are all pretty well-behaved and self-sufficient, so I was still able to get quite a bit of work done, including our household budget.

I also wrapped up a reasonably complete outline for Crowmaker, or at least complete enough that I feel prepared to move on to the actual writing. Well, sort of. The story is leaning heavily toward alternate history, or at least has one foot in the genre. I've decided to write the first draft in chronological and general setting order of the scenes, and to do the heaviest of my research as I work. Mind you, I've already done a great deal of research. But I think if I really dive into period details and then write the scenes specifically related to that period, I'll stand a better chance of really feeling the setting as I write.

At any rate, that's the plan for now. That being the case, today involved a trip to the library and a stack-o-books to be consumed. Thereafter, it involved several hours of snuggling in a big chair with a dog and a book. Man, what a rough schedule.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A life you don't live is still lost

The first week back to school and work following winter break felt much like being hit by a bus. Repeatedly. This was due at least in part to me overestimating what I could accomplish during my "free" time. I pried my fingers loose from the goals I'd set, took several deep breaths, and reminded myself that I wasn't on my new work schedule just yet, so I wasn't going to get that much work done for myself for another couple weeks. This week was mostly a transition period between my previous 25 hours/week with the kindergarten/preschool crowd to my 10 hours/week schedule which will officially start next week. It also involved the usual smattering of dentist, orthodontist, and other appointments. And on Friday I got to play roadie for Joey, as we hauled his drums in to church so he could play with the pianist and choir for an all-school mass. I overheard a couple of teachers plotting to get him back for a repeat performance sometime, so I think he did well. (I thought he was awesome, of course, but we all know how objective mothers are about such things.)

My primary projects for 2010 are Crowmaker, the 2YN class over at Forward Motion, and my Fiction Writing elective over at the middle school. Actually, with the priorities in the reverse order, pretty much. If anything happens with the novella I finished and subbed late in 2009, I'll probably shuffle Crowmaker off to the side and work on a follow-up project for that same publisher. But that's a big "if," so I'm not counting on it.

The way electives are set up over at the middle school, the kids have the option to switch to a different offering mid-year. No one in my first semester class opted to leave. I got five new students, all of whom seem as enthusiastic thus far as my initial group. Our first class of the second semester, I gave my pep talk which is summed up with "No attempt at writing a story is a waste of time if you learned something from it." Then I asked my first semester students, even if they hadn't quite finished their story or weren't completely happy with how it turned out, did they feel like they knew more about writing than they had at the beginning of the school year? I got a big round of enthusiastic nods in reply. I am pleased, and my motivation is renewed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

But I'm too young to worry

Today's blog title is dedicated to Jimmy Owen Sullivan, because Joey is seriously bummed about the death of a drummer whose style and technique he admired. And hey, I kinda like some of Avenged Sevenfold's stuff, too. And just because it's always pretty sucky when someone that young dies.

Tomorrow is back to school and work day. I knew winter break would go by too fast. I was right. I have organized myself and set some writing goals for 2010. With some trepidation, I've signed on for the Two Year Novel course at the Forward Motion Writers' Community. I tried telling myself I didn't need any additional projects, but myself kept answering with that niggly little "but I really think you need to do this" tickle in my gut. So I caved and signed on. I do usually learn a lot by trying out other writers' processes, and the community in general seems like a decent group of folks.

And to kick off 2010, I have sold a story. "On A Black Horse" will appear in the anthology The Four Horsemen from Pill Hill Press. That was another case of the niggly little tickle, that time inspiring me to dig out an old almost-story and turn it into a real story because it seemed like it would fit so perfectly in that call for submissions. Thank you, niggly little tickle.