Monthly Archives: September 2011

Building New Habits

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I’m trying to build some new habits in place of old ones. I’ve never been a fan of trying to kick bad habits because it always seems like such a negative thing. Instead, I try to cultivate new ones that supersede the bad ones.

This morning I tried on several pairs of pants and found that they just would not fit over my thighs no matter how hard I tugged on them. I’ve been saying for months now that I need to start working out more, but I’ve been too lazy to actually do it. So today I pulled out my belly dance workout tape (yes, it’s VHS, that’s how long I’ve had it) and pushed myself through the entire tape. It was just as bad as I thought it was going to be and yet not. I knew what to expect and perhaps psyched myself up for more pain than what I actually got. *grin*

That said, I’ve felt really good all day. I didn’t hit the usual mid-afternoon slump and my brain is significantly less foggy than normal. (Yes, Katy, you can say “I told you so.” :-p)

I’m also trying to get into a daily meditation routine. Not only will it help with my stress level, but I’m hoping it will help with my creativity as well. I know, as a Pagan, I “should” already be meditating, but I’ll be honest and say that I’ve just never gotten into meditation. I always want to be somewhere else doing something different.

Along with those two new habits, I’m also trying to drink more plain water. I’m mostly a tea drinker, whether it’s iced or hot but that’s not the same as regular old water. So, I’m digging out my water bottle, filling it with ice and water every morning, and plopping it down on my writing desk to get me to hydrate in a more healthful way.

Do any of you have any habits you want to cultivate?

It’s Official!

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Since my name is now up in black and white, I feel it appropriate to announce that I am now an official member of Black Ink, White Paper. For those of you who don’t know (or don’t remember), I was a guest blogger for BI,WP back in July.

I will be blogging over there every other Friday starting next Friday, October 7th. They’re a great group of people from many different creative backgrounds, so come check us out and join in the fun. :-)

Snippet from Where Demons Fear to Tread

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I had a blog post all planned out about written versus verbal communication, but life sort of threw several emotional curveballs at me today, so I’ll give you a snippet from Where Demons Fear to Tread since I’m doing one final hardcopy read through before sending it back to Cameron.

 

Dinner for one, as usual. Not that a pint of Friendly’s black raspberry ice cream could appropriately be termed dinner. It was more a psychological balm to soothe my frayed nerves. I’d pay for it later; I always did, but I couldn’t be moved to care at the moment.

I couldn’t be moved to do a whole lot of anything it seemed. I’d come home and immediately curled up in my favorite green armchair in front of the fireplace, detouring only to kick my shoes off by the back door. The chair’s dark fabric cocooned me, but the comfort it normally provided was nowhere in evidence. I fussed and fidgeted trying to find some solace in its softness.

Read the rest of this entry

Happy Autumn!

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The leaves on the maple tree next to our house are starting to turn bright orange, but most of the trees in our neighborhood are still green. Halloween is just over a month away and my birthday is only three weeks away.

Yikes!

Where has the year gone?

This week I’ve been busy working on When Demons Cry because it got jealous of all the time I was spending on Zombies!. WDC is coming together quite nicely and it’s getting to be about the time I start joining the random scenes together and make the written story a bit more cohesive.

I’ve also been working on the latest round of revisions for Cameron. She just had a few things she thought needed a bit more clarity and a couple instances where she thought the motivations of the characters were weak or non-existent. So, those are almost done and she should have the changes in her hand by Monday. YAY!

That means we’ll be just about ready to go on submission to editors. *bites nails anxiously*

Tonight I head up to a friend’s farm to celebrate Harvest. Mmm… good food, great people, spiritual nurturing… Of course, it’s supposed to be rainy as all get out, but that just means it’ll be the perfect weather to be able to burn the wicker man. *big grin*

Tomorrow, again a very rainy day being called for, is the 12th annual Western MA Pagan Pride Day. I’m actually hoping they end up canceling it because I really don’t want to spend two days outside in the rain. I’m willing to endure it for Harvest, but not so much for PPD.

What are your plans for the first weekend of Autumn?

Bloggy Goodness

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I’ve lined up a number of awesome guest bloggers for the month of October. From a fanfiction writer to a writer who writes for the sheer pleasure of it and not to be published to self-published authors to commercial wannabe’s and almost-there’s like myself.

So stay tuned throughout October because there will be at least one guest blogger here each week.

Form or Fire

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I currently have two works in progress. The first is When Demons Cry and the second is the zombie YA book.

They’re both completely different books in just about every way imaginable. The biggest difference is in how I’m writing the two of them and how they “feel” in my head.

WDC is very amorphous and up in the air in regards to what happens. It’s very much a “by the seat of my pants” book. (Just like Where Demons Fear to Tread was.) But I know the characters inside and out. Alex, Vic, and Ryuu are very real and fleshed out to me and they have been since I set them down on paper. The fire and the passion of the book are there, but I don’t have the form yet. Oh, I know what the story’s about, I just don’t know the details.

Zombies! is the opposite. I have the form down. I know what happens throughout the whole book (for the important parts at least). I even wrote an outline for it! But I don’t feel quite as connected to the characters. I still don’t know yet how the characters will react to certain situations. I don’t know their inner personalities, only what they show me on the page.

Both novels have their challenges, but I don’t think I prefer one over the other.

How do you write? Are you a pantser? A meticulous outliner? Or does it vary between projects?

Say Yes to Gay YA

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I’ve been following the Gay YA debacle for a few days now and I have to admit that I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth. For those who aren’t aware of the kerfuffle that’s been raging, Cleolinda has a fabulous run-down of it on her LJ. It’s very long with lots of links, but she does a great job of breaking it down. YA Highway also does a great job of explaining the situation.

What I’ve come away feeling is that both sides have handled this badly. If I were the authors and I was trying to shed some light on the fact that the publishing industry as a whole isn’t as YA-friendly as they claim, I would have left out that individual and very specific incident and just made a general statement about what went on. The publishing industry is so incestuous and gossipy, they had to have known that the identity of the agent in question would get out at some point.

It came across, to me, as very passive aggressive. “Here’s this horrible thing that happened to us. We won’t name names ,but we know the name will get out sooner or later, so nyah!” I deal with that sort of childish behavior on my personal Facebook page. I sort of expected better of professional business people.

Joanna Stampfel-Volpe’s rebuttal and Colleen Lindsay’s note were an example of what NOT to do. They turned an already contentious issue into a mud-slinging fest complete with unverified assumptions and baseless accusations.

I don’t think either side had malicious intent at any point in this debacle. It seems to me that it’s just one huge misunderstanding wrapped with a giant bow of hurt.

What I think everybody involved can agree on (and, in truth, it was the main issue of Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown’s original post) is that there need to be more QUILTBAG characters in not only YA, but in literature of all shapes and sizes.

But, and here’s the rub, publishers aren’t going to publish something unless there’s a market for it. Publishing companies are businesses, they’re in this to make money not bring about societal change. Although books are instrumental in societal change, it’s not a publisher’s first concern. Nor should it be.

If books with QUILTBAG characters don’t sell, then publishers won’t publish them. It’s the same as with sparkly vampires, if they don’t sell they don’t get published. So, if you want more books with QUILTBAG characters (I know I do!), then get out there and buy the ones that are already out there. Email publishing companies asking them for more books with QUILTBAG characters. Make your preferences known!

Don’t Be A Dick

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It seems like every couple of months or so I come across an Author Behaving Badly on the internet. This week’s ABB is Kiana Davenport who is currently having a very public meltdown because her publisher cited her for breach of contract and is asking for their money back. What, oh what did Ms. Davenport do to deserve such a fate?

According to her blog, Ms. Davenport self-published a collection of short stories and her publishers asked her to cease which she refused to do. Her blog post is full of drama and hyperbole and bashing of the traditional publishing model, but the very wise people over at the Absolute Write forum have kindly explained in more detail and less “woe is me’ing” why this outcome may have come about.

But this specific instance isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how to behave online when things aren’t going so well.

DO NOT publicly rant about your publisher/agent/editor online. Just don’t. This is the equivalent of a toddler having a meltdown in the middle of Walmart. It’s not pretty and you’re showing your immaturity to the entire world. If you really feel the need to bitch, do it with your best friend/significant other/dog/diary.

Anything you post online stays online. Even if you later delete it, chances are that somebody, somewhere grabbed a screenshot or a cache of it is sitting on a server somewhere.

Unless you’ve got the writing ability of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, publishers and agents don’t want to work with authors who are pains in the ass. They WILL Google your name. If you’ve been previously agented or published, they WILL talk to your previous agent/editor.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be nothing but a slavering sycophant to agents and editors. What it means is don’t be a dick.

Publishing is a business, so act like a business professional. The other people involved in getting you published are also business professionals – treat them like they are. You hold your publishing career in your hands, don’t crush it by insulting and alienating those people best able to help you achieve your goals.

Clear, calm, and open communication between rational adults will always win out over a three-alarm meltdown.

Be respectful, be mature, but most importantly of all be smart. Think about how what you post online is going to affect you not only now, but six months, a year, five years, ten years down the road. Will it be a memorable Rejection Queen affair? One that will kill your career before it even gets started? Will it disgust and piss off a large portion of your readers a la Laurell K Hamilton and Anne Rice?

If you really feel the need to blast somebody online, take a step back. Disconnect your internet connection for a bit until you’ve calmed down. Take a bath, have a drink, blast away video game zombies. Do whatever it is you need to do to not make an ass of yourself.

 

 

Manic Monday

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My interview with Lost in Fiction is up. Go take a look and find out how I landed my fabulous agent!

I may not have gotten any words written on Saturday, but I had a phenomenal writing session last night that ended with me writing over two thousand words. Those days don’t come around very often, so I’m beyond pleased. It also has me kissing ten thousand words total on Zombies!. This means I’m at the point of no going back. I’m committed to the story and I can’t just let it go.

This week is all about Speak Out With Your Geek Out. It’s about banishing those negative stereotypes about geeks and brushing away those lines in the sand that separate one set of fans from those in other fandoms.

My geeky love is and always has been books. I don’t care what books they are as long as they are well written and hold my interest. I love everything from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings to The Dresden Files and everything in between. Give me a good book and you’ve just made me one very happy girl. If I’m not careful, I’m going to end up like this poor woman whose house is collapsing under the weight of books.

I don’t remember exactly when I started reading anything and everything, but I do remember reading Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in third grade. Then it was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series (thank you Auntie Joanie for turning me on to them!) and the first book in the DragonLance series in fifth and sixth grade. I wouldn’t read the later DragonLance books until High School, but that first book stayed with me for years. Then it was Interview With A Vampire in seventh grade.

There’s a very good reason I’m the way I am and that’s because of the books I read during such formative years. They gave me a safe refuge to turn to when I was being bullied in eighth grade and provided me a home when I wanted to be anywhere but.

Books are why I’ve always wanted to be a writer and why I’ll do pretty much anything to be published. I want my books to affect people the same way they affected me. To give them hope and joy and contentment.

Day of Fail

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I will not be getting in my words today because today was the Day of Fail.

Hubby and I agreed to help his dad go to Home Depot to get some stockade fence sections. The first Home Depot we tried was completely out of the fence sections he wanted, so we went to the Home Depot the next town over.

Now, the first Home Depot allows you to enter the area where they keep the fence sections and browse. The second one has that area padlocked and only employees can let you in once you’ve purchased the sections. Okay, we think, this shouldn’t be a problem. All of these types of stores have inventory tracking systems that will tell us if they have this specific type of fence in stock. Right?

Apparently not. We talked to the lady manning the register in the lumber section and she said “Of course we have that.” And she rang us up for several hundred dollars worth of stockade fencing.

Strike one against Home Depot occurred when we went to rent a truck from them to haul these sections home and they informed us that their one and only truck had just been rented and wouldn’t be returned for at least an hour. Now, the truck being rented wasn’t the issue, it was the completely dismissive attitude the man had. It was all “The truck just left and won’t be back for an hour,” as he turned back to his co-worker and continued his conversation we had apparently so rudely interrupted.

Okay, fine. We can’t rent a truck, but dad has a trailer he uses to haul around his trykes. All we need to do is ask hubby’s sister if we can borrow her SUV to tow it.

We do a will call for the materials at the Customer Service desk then leave to get the truck from sister’s house and the trailer from dad’s. Upon our return to Home Depot, after we check in at Customer Service for the will-call and after hubby maneuvers the trailer into the fencing area only then are we informed that they do not have the specific stockade fence sections that we had already paid for. And look at this, the inventory system is showing as -2. Strike two.

Strike three occurred when the two gentlemen helping us said, “Well, we don’t have the brand-new fence sections you paid for, but if you want we have some damaged sections. If you want those, we’ll throw in a few extra and you can piece them together to make sections that are almost as good as new.”

Uhh… let me think about that for just a second. No.

We paid for brand new materials, not damaged sections that looked like they’d been sitting there for several years that we would have to take apart and fit back together again ourselves. Oh, and btw, look at those SKU’s, they’re not even the same SKU’s as the ones we want. Also, just for your information, the Home Depot in the next town over is offering their damaged sections for 50% off. What you’re offering us doesn’t even come close to 50% off.

We just got home after dad so kindly offered to take us out to dinner to make up for the crappy day and I’m going to go soak in the tub to relax a bit.