March 10, 2014
I am an introvert. This means I’m perfectly happy staying home all weekend with my dog, my knitting, my crafts, my books, my movies, and my writing, all curled up on the sofa, warm and cozy and safe in this life of the mind I’ve built for myself. If I’m not careful, I would never leave the house. (You know you can get groceries delivered?) And I know this would not ultimately be good for me, because I would eventually end up as one of those stories where people find my body three years later and wonder what happened. (One of my friends says they wouldn’t find a body because Lily would eat me. But I say Lily would go for help.)
I’m really proud of myself this weekend, because instead of just going to the yarn store like I planned, I called a friend and made a trip of it — yarn store, a nice lunch, and a few hours of actual socializing. I felt like a real functional human being.
Pretty, pretty yarn…
Then on Sunday, I didn’t just go out: I went to a ball. This was sort of a new thing for me, but sort of familiar. I’ve been to plenty of SCA dances, but this one was Regency. Actually, the organizer called it the Lewis and Clark Ball — she explained that she wants to make an effort to recognize that American culture in this period overlapped with British culture, and the same dances and fashions and so on were happening here as well. (I mean, look at that gorgeous Regency-style gown on First Lady Dolley Madison.) This event served as my deadline for making my Regency gown. Ta da!
My goal for the event was to go, be social, and dance at least once dance. Well, I ended up dancing every single dance, because it’s hard to sit out when people keeping asking you to dance. What’s better than having a Regency gown you made yourself? Having one that’s been danced in.
So, it was a good weekend.
(My friends Karen and Bill, who encouraged me to come to the ball.)
March 3, 2014
This is just a quick “state of the desk” summary, because I had a busy weekend (Bead show! Sensory overload! I got some Roman glass beads to make pendants out of! Yay!) and failed to think of a more substantive post.
I turned in the book this weekend. Hooray! It’s the next Kitty book after Low Midnight (which I still need to get an exact release date on). I’ve been a little cagey on this one about things like titles and such, but I want to get a handle on future plans before I start blabbing about everything. Sorry for being cryptic and all.
In the meantime, I have, like, NINE MILLION side projects keeping me busy (that may be an exaggeration), because the rule is to always be working on the next thing. One of my goals for the last month: clear my desk of side projects so I’ll be ready to launch in on the next novel writing project. When I got back from my trip I had four rough drafts I wanted to do something with by the end of the month. Here’s how it worked out: Harry and Marlowe short story rough draft — finished and sold; Secret Novella — finished and off to beta readers; Kitty Novel rough draft — finished and turned in; Secret short story — decided I want to write the two companion stories first and revise them all at once. So, on hold.
Not bad! I also spent yesterday putting a bunch of old manuscripts in boxes. And working on Low Midnight copyedits, which I’ll finish this week. I’ve started a new short story, and I’m still working on the Wild Cards graphic novel script.
My brain. It is full. I like it.
February 26, 2014
The next book is due on March 1. It’s almost there! February, that month where the end of the month totally sneaks up on me! I’m not worried — except the copy edits for Low Midnight landed on my desk this week, too. This always happens. (Update: when I say the book is due, I mean the manuscript is due at my publisher.)
Just in case you think I had a consistently terrible time in high school based on the last couple of posts, I want to assure you I had some really wonderful teachers as well. Like Mr. McHugh, who let us try some pretty crazy (i.e. exothermic, i.e. explosive) experiments during class in AP Chemistry because it was totally educational, or Mrs. Gaggi, my sophomore English teacher, who when I shyly went up to her desk and asked her if my writing was maybe good enough to get published, she said, “Sure, give it a try!” And that’s when I started sending out short stories.
I had a blah day yesterday, which I blame on a combination of bad weather and having to spend the day on some bureaucratic errands that took almost all day. Today will be better. *cracks knuckles, gets to it*
February 21, 2014
The first time I read Pride and Prejudice was in high school, for AP English, and I hated it. I think this was because it was Serious Literature. The teacher (who I never really got along with, long story there) was careful to tell us how Serious it is, and we talked about its Seriousness. The whole time I was thinking, this is a freaking soap opera about people getting married. Hell no.
Then I watched a bunch of Monty Python, as you do when you’re a nerd moving on to college.
When I read Pride and Prejudice the second time, in college, I realized it’s funny, in the same way Monty Python is funny. It’s all caricature and satire, some of it utterly scathing. Even Elizabeth is frequently mockable because she’s so sure she can read everyone else, but she knows herself so little. If someone had just told me the first time around that this was supposed to be funny and we’re allowed to laugh at it — in fact, we’re supposed to laugh at it — it wouldn’t have taken me another 15-20 years to become a fan of Jane Austen.
Then I was introduced to the BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, with all those beautiful clothes and settings, and I watched a bunch of the other films, and read the books, and I thought, What would this look like with werewolves? Because of course that’s what I would think.
So I’m working on that.
In the meantime, I’ve read a bunch of Austen and I’ve even started reading other authors’ takes on Regency romance, an entire genre invented by people trying to replicate Austen. There’s even a whole genre of sequels to Pride and Prejudice, about what happens to Lizzie and Darcy after they get married. I have to admit: I don’t like the sequels so far, and I stopped reading P.D. James Death Comes to Pemberley entirely. You know why? They’re not funny. They strip Elizabeth of all her wit. All the pointed social commentary and character studies are just gone, as if the world of P&P ought to suddenly be taken seriously. It’s all tedious dialog and description of manners and nothing of the satire and the pointed zingers of Austen — which is the whole point of Austen. (You want to know my idea for a Pride and Prejudice sequel? “Fitzwilliam Darcy Jr., Pioneering Naturalist, and His Adventures in India.” This must be why I’m a genre writer.)
I love the costumes when I’m watching the movies, and I’m finally making a Regency gown after years of wanting to do so. I know there’s a level at which it’s all about the clothes and manners. But dammit, my Regency stories are going to make people smile.
February 19, 2014
There’s a new Harry and Marlowe story up on Lightspeed!
This was a fun one because we get to see Harry in her Princess Maud role, as well as her family, Princess Alexandra, Crown Prince George, his wife Mary of Teck, and even a quick glimpse of Prince Carl of Denmark. All that research, paying off! I’m on a roll with Harry and Marlowe stories, so I’m giving rein to the impulse — I’ve just sold another one that will probably be out later this year, and I’m gearing up to write yet another. So many stories to tell!
In other news, I’ve been super excited about Guardians of the Galaxy ever since the easter egg featuring the Collector showed up in Thor 2. So weird! So aesthetically different! So intriguing! Well, the full trailer just premiered. I…I….I AM SO SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MYSELF. I’ve never even read the comics. I remember when this movie was announced and everyone was so skeptical, why on earth would they make a movie about some fourth string comic heroes, how is this even going to work? And you know what? I don’t care, because THIS IS THE SPACE OPERA I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR MY WHOLE LIFE. This….it’s…space ships….talking raccoons….tree aliens…humor….action…ooga chucka…
I’m gonna stop now. *takes deep breath*
February 14, 2014
I’m a big fan of setting goals. I’ve written about it, given talks about it. Since I was a teenager, I’ve used a goal-setting technique based on a timeline: where do I want to be in ten years? What do I want to have accomplished in five years? By the end of the year? I’d review my goals every year, adjust as needed. This was a good way to make sure I was doing the little stepping stones that were necessary to achieve my long-term goals.
This method has fallen apart for me over the last few years. Mainly because I did it all. Just about everything on that long-term goal list? Making a living as a writer, my house, etc.? Done. My “where do I want to be in ten years?” list had turned in to “Same as now, only more so,” which is too vague to be useful. “Just keep doing the same things I’ve been doing” might be accurate but it feels…stagnant.
This year, I hit on a new way to handle my goal list and goal setting. Instead of setting everything up against a timetable — which simply isn’t as useful at age 41 as it was when I was 20 — I’ve set up a rolling list of projects: things I want to write, things I want to try, places I want to travel, and so on. Because that’s where I’m at now: I have this whole big list of things I want to do, but they’re not dependent on time or place, they’re just things I have to decide to do either now or later. And I don’t have to do them all at once. Every month or so, look at the list: what am I going to do next? What projects are ongoing, and which are do them and they’re done? What makes sense for me to work on now?
I think this is going to be a good way to make me feel like I’m still making progress without imposing the stress of an artificial timeline. I’m excited. Let’s see how this goes.
February 12, 2014
It turns out I’ve been a productive bunny for the last few months, because I looked up last week and realized I have four rough drafts for various projects just sitting there. I need to revise those and get those out, so I can clear my brain for next round. I’ve also made a couple of short story sales and have some others waiting in the wings. Busy, busy!
Sewing: I’m finally making that Regency gown I’ve had my eye on for years. I cut the pieces last night. It’s going to be great. I had this chunk of wine-colored silk in my stash for 10 years, and it’s finally getting used for this. I’ve moved my sewing machine into the living room so I can sew and watch the Olympics.
The Olympics. I’m catching it in bits and pieces this year. One thing has struck me: the human-interest commentators are a bit stressed out about being in Russia. It’s like the Cold War is still on. I’ve been watching the Olympics my whole life, and I’ve never gotten the feeling from the anchors that they were sitting in enemy territory trying to play nice the way I’ve gotten this time around. Not even in Beijing. I looked it up: this is the very first time the U.S. has traveled to Russia for the Olympics. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow summer games, and that’s the only other time the Olympics have been in Russian territory. I understand that we all grew up with the cold war and watching movies like Red Dawn and Dr. Strangelove and, hell, Rocky and Bullwinkle. But come on. This isn’t the movies. If ever there was a situation where we need to act like Russia isn’t the bad guy, this is it. It’s damned weird. Not to mention, a big chunk of the competitors weren’t even alive when there was a Soviet Union. Seriously, get over it.
(Now, on the other hand, there’s the issue of Russia’s human rights abuses and policies toward LGBT rights. That probably makes them bad guys. But the commentators are carefully not mentioning any of that. Go figure.)
January 31, 2014
The background: A few months ago Charles Coleman Finlay announced that he’d be guest editing an issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and opened up electronic submissions for the first time in the venue’s history.
Now that his process is over, he’s hashed out some statistics about the submissions and stories.
There’s some good info here, and it ought to make just about every aspiring writer feel better. The takeaway for me: 751 stories submitted. 473 from already pro-published authors. Around 150 ended up in the “maybe” pile. For a magazine that can only publish a handful of stories. Let’s be generous and say 10.
Sometimes, you don’t get published, and it’s not because you aren’t a good writer, or because your story sucked. It’s because you were competing with 150 other stories for 10 slots. Assuming you were one of the “maybes.” It’s odds and taste.
Yes, I submitted a story for this issue. The story was rejected, with some very good comments from Charlie. I’ve already tweaked the story and sent it to a new market, because I think he’s right: it’ll most likely sell somewhere. He’s certain that most of those 150 “maybe” stories will sell somewhere else. (An aside: Yes, I still get rejections! I’m glad of it. I would truly hate to learn that an editor bought my story just because of the perception that my name is popular. I want to publish good stories.)
Here’s the second takeaway: a lot of people will look at this and think it’s a great reason to self-publish. If you keep not getting into one of those ten spots, maybe you should go it alone. EXCEPT: when you’re first starting out, you don’t know if you’re in the “maybe” pile or one of the 600 “Nope, not good enough” stories. Chances are, early on, you’re one of the “Nope” stories. Editors are there to help bring good stories into the world. Let them help you.
In the meantime, when you get a rejection, remember that hundreds of other good stories also got rejected. And send the story out again.
January 20, 2014
I am back from a most excellent book tour, including a fun stop in New York, where I did an impromptu accidental Wild Cards tour of the city (pictures to come!). Thanks to everyone who came out to say hi, and to Nancy Hightower for hosting me in NYC.
Right now, I’m playing catch up and I need to go fetch Lily home, so here’s a question for you. I’ve been thinking about cyberpunk movies, and thinking about doing a big post on cyberpunk movies, but for now: Sneakers. Great cyberpunk movie, or the greatest cyberpunk movie?
January 15, 2014
The Dreams of the Golden Age book tour continues this week! Three days, three stops, starting tomorrow:
Thursday, January 16, 7:00pm: Joseph-Beth Books, Cincinnati, OH.
Friday, January 17, 7:30pm: Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Saturday, January 18, 1 pm: Eagle Eye Bookshop, Atlanta, GA.
I’m always being asked when I’m going to head out east: here I am, east! At least in a few spots. Hope to see some of you there.
(P.S.: I’ll sign all books you care to bring, not just Golden Age books. I also talk and answer questions. I may geek out over this or that. It’s happened before.)