Tag Archives: The Work

And now is the time on sprockets when we dance.

My weekend of pretending I am a for realz writer person paid off in the added motivation I needed to finish the first draft of the short story I’ve been working on for three gorram months now. It is, of course, terrible, but since when has that ever stopped anyone? The job now is to go through it, change every instance of the thing I decided to change halfway through without going back to the beginning, somehow make the plot make sense, try to evaluate objectively whether or not the stunt-writey thing I was trying actually works (outside experts may need to be called in here), and probably cry a lot. If I drank, there would be a lot of that too.

But it’s a first draft. This was no particular call for submissions for this so I had to sort through the chaos myself to find something that worked on its own, which could be a good or bad thing, depending. My three sales have all been written to specific prompts, so take that for what you will.

But I still like the idea of the story, and the characters, and the basic set-up. I just need to make sure it pays off at the end, not to mention makes sense somewhere outside of my own head. This last part is the biggest challenge, since I have trouble coming up with a grocery list that makes sense outside of my own head.

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Posted by on June 16, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Now What?

So I have a couple week’s distance on the book. And am finishing up a short story I wrote both because 1. the idea had been bugging me and patiently waiting, 2. I need a palate cleanser between drafts, and 3. I would like to have something I can shop around now. I’m now taking a serious look at what it’s going to take to get this novel into fighting shape.

Good point 1: I still like it.

Good point 2: There’s still a workable spine for the story. I didn’t break the narrative the way I did the last one I wrote and never finished revising because of the aforementioned borken narrative. (the long Manic episode that followed didn’t help either. Nor did the following crash).

My wife will be happy to know this because she has been insisting that it would possibly be nice if I actually FINISHED SOMETHING. ahem.

The problem is two-fold:

I need to cut about 20,000 words out of it.

I need to completely expand the final act.

Yes, I realize these things kind of conflict. I’m on it.

But mostly what I see in it is that I held back from some aspects of the story because I thought they would be a little too expected at certain points, and my instinct has always been to avoid trite-ness. What I forgot was that this is a very specific kind of genre piece, and those things I held back from might actually be necessary to give the full experience a reader might want from it. I want this thing to feel satisfying at the end of it. The trick will be to satisfy those expectations in unexpected ways, not ignore them altogether.

I guess what I mean is I want this book to be even more of what it is. And I’m kind of excited about that.

But I have no clue where those 20,000 words are coming from.

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Posted by on March 6, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Victory and Da Feet (not a typo!)

After a week-long final push, during which I wrote 4 chapters, I have finally finished the first Draft of Voyages of the Prodigal: The Calculus of Hope. (btw, searching for a new title since this one is striking me as a little to Obama-y, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). Let’s just say those final chapters are not the most brilliant writing I’ve ever produced, but as I’ve said before the first draft is all about the narrative. I’ll pretty-it-up later.

So now … there’s a short story I want to write this week, and then I will attack the book again in the re-write. I’m actually looking forward to that since I figured some things out on the first pass I want to bring forward a bit. And I still like the story. The ending could make more sense, but the spine of the thing is intact. It was a lot of fun to come up with since it’s just a fun adventure story, sort of a cross between a Planetary Romance, and a Space Opera (and yes, there is a fine distinction there). NOT hard sci-fi by any means.

I celebrated by doing several loads of laundry, during the course of which I went out to the garage to switch loads and stepped on a pretty big piece of glass from something the cat had knocked off a shelf and lacerated my foot badly enough that it required stitches, not to mention a tetanus shot. Yes, I am the one person alive who can injure themselves doing laundry. But it’s fine now. Still hurts like a mofo, but the doctor said I hadn’t hit the artery or severed a tendon, which I had not even realized were possibilities. Note to self: wear shoes in the garage because when you are carrying a huge basket you tend not to look down at the floor.

And while I’m glad this draft is finished, I don’t want to get too happy because there’s a lot of work left to do, and it would be easy to lose track of it here. But this is the draft actual beta readers will see (recruiting now!), so that in itself will be motivating. I think I might dole it out chapter by chapter to see if the whole serial-cliffhangery structure is actually working.

So, one draft down, probably many more to come. But it’s there, the story. Let’s hope it can start to make sense somewhere outside of my own head.

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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in life, writing


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book better watch out, is all i'm sayin'.

ok, so the stupid book is almost done. I shouldn’t call it names. It really isn’t the book’s fault. It actually told me how to write it a couple of months ago and it’s been pretty good with providing the occasional pleasant surprise along the way. The problem is, it’s been ALMOST done for a month now, and I just can’t seem to get it to actual done.

There’s no problem. I feel like with this book I finally learned how to actually plot, which has been a whole thing in the past. And I still like the characters and am pretty excited to write what’s coming next. We have just one final thing before the actual final thing, a heartfelt denoument, and … roll credits.

so why isn’t it done? Dunno. Life has been kicking my ass a little the last few weeks, but it’s been nothing major (though this whole “death of a thousand cuts” is getting really old).

I’ve just got to knuckle down, reset my 2000 a day goal and stick to it. And I think the book is tired as well. It’s probably sick of me cursing at it undeservedly, I’m sure.

So, what do you say, book? You want to get this thing over with?

raging waterfall?
sharp rocks at the bottom?
bring it on.
(there’s probably only one person who will understand why that is here, and I hope she’s laughing right now).

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Posted by on January 29, 2010 in writing



Publishers Weekly starred review!

Destination: Future, the new science fiction anthology from Hadley-Rille books, edited by Eric Reynolds and Z.S. Adani, has recieved a starred review from Publishers Weekly!

did I mention it contains my short story, Jadeflower? No? well consider it mentioned.

I’m incredibly excited about this, not only because it’s a &!#@-ing Publisher’s Weekly starred review, but also because they also reviewed Footprints, and, well, weren’t so kind, which only makes this one mean so much more.

my favorite bit from the review: “The strengths of this 21-story anthology are its diversity, cerebral speculation, and stellar storytelling, which breathe new life into well-worn themes.”

Couldn’t be happier with the review, or more proud to be in such company. Congrats to all, but especially to Eric and Sophy, who worked so hard putting it together. As I’ve mentioned before, I can attest to the fine work and long man-hours Z.S. Adani, especially, put into this project.

Destination: Future, I’m told, will be out in a couple of weeks. It should be available for online pre-order soon, and will definitely be in the following bookstores, which consistently carry Hadley-Rille’s list:

Borderlands Books – San Francisco
Dark Carnival – Berkeley
Powell’s – Portland, OR
Mystery & Imagination – Glendale, CA
Barnes & Noble – Corona, CA
Ziesing Books – Shingletown, CA
Rediscovered Bookshop – Boise, ID
Book People – Moscow, ID
Who Else? – Denver, CO
Univ of Kansas Bookstore – Lawrence, KS
Borders Books – Overland Park, KS
Barnes & Noble – Overland Park, KS
Books & Crannies – Terrell, TX
Parkside Books – Blue Springs, MO
Barnes & Noble – New Orleans
Univ of Chicago – Oriental Museum Bookstore – Chicago
Pandemonium Books – Cambridge, MA
Between Books – Claymont, DE

This one is likely to be in scattered BN’s and Borders across the country, as well, especially in they are requested.
Once again, this is a huge deal and I couldn’t be happier.

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Posted by on January 19, 2010 in writing


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In the interest of not being a sarcastic jackass ALL the time …

Don't ask me what the lolcats are about all of a sudden. Just cuz, I guess.

Some things I am happy about as a new year begins

I sold a story last year, Jadeflower, coming out in the Destination Future anthology from Hadley-Rille books. I am really happy with this one, still. It’s not just that I still like the story, but I had a great experience working with editor Z.S. Adani, who took the thing in its raw form and really helped me form it into something I’m proud of. It was my first heavy editing experience, and she set the bar a little high for me. She made suggestions (all of them excellent), but let me be the one to decide how best to implement them, and I appreciate all her hard work and, let’s be honest here, her hand-holding.

I won Nano (yes, I already wrote about this)m and found a great group of online writer friends through both the Nano sight, The Night of Writing Dangerously, and Twitter. I feel much more connected to that world now, which can only help me fine-tune my skills. The Night of Writing dangerously also taught me how much the people in my life care about me and really do want me to succeed. I’ve always been a little embarrassed about my aspirations, not being the kid of person who talked a big game and never made it happen. This year I realized I could be all about the work, but still share my goals with others, and it was a good feeling. Maybe I just needed to get over myself a little bit (I know!)

And the Calculus of Hope is almost, almost done. Hope to have the first draft in the can by Jan. 16th so I can start attacking it with a scalpel and some spackle.

I got myself to the point where I am ready to get my tech certifications and start seriously looking for a job, and at the same time have a little bit of an opportunity to do some freelance tech support here in my area for actual money. Had my first real “service call”, solved the problem, and got paid, which felt really weird.

And probably the most important thing has been realizing what an awesome woman I am married to. Seriously, any right-thinking person would have gotten tired of my act a long time ago and totally booted me out the door. This might not do much to recommend her reasoning skills, but I’m happy about that anyway. Coming off a mixed episode at the end of last year, she very literally probably saved my life. She doesn’t get a lot of credit for the things she does, supporting my ass being just one of them. She was totally the reason % had success at Nano, not only being my fundraising director for NOWD, but making sure I had the time and space to do the actual work. To be honest, I wasn’t even going to participate in NOWD, but she could tell I wanted to and insisted that it happen, making a lot of sacrifices over the course of that very long month to insure that it WOULD happen. She’s a person of strong will, and I tease her about being a type A, but without her, I would probably just bounce off one wall after another before offing myself in some bizarre, accidental face plant. She should totally list spazz-wrangling as one of her skills on her resume. Lost in my own head most of the time, I don’t do a very good job noticing these things, let alone expressing my appreciation, but for some reason she still loves me, and I really, really love her even though I don’t express that in any way that approaches adequacy. Changing that is my only New Year’s resolution.

So, happy New Year, everyone. As I said before, the bar is low, but I really do expect better days ahead.

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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in life


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NaNoWriMo PostMo

I meant to post a nanowrimo wrap up post dec 1st, but got whammed by a bunch of stuff both personal and school-related and kind of haven’t come up for air since. But I am surfacing for a bit to say what an awesome experience it was this year, and it also happened to the the first year I WON! And I won three days early, which was awesome. But I have to give credit. There’s only one reason I won. This was the first year NaNo was a communal experience, so a big shout-out to unfocusedme, John Mierau, and Carre Gardner, my old college friend who managed to win NaNo while also studying Russian as a missionary in Krasnodar.

The other wonderfulness was the Night of Writing Dangerously, held at the Julia Morgan ballroom in San Francisco on Nov. 22nd. This was an amazing night. Gorgeous setting, incredible company, and a massive community spirit that actually spurred most of us on to produce a LOT of work. I wrote 5300 words just that night.

This whole experience has made me a bit wistful, as I remember my own younger years, both as a teenager and a young adult. I was writing. I loved it. My parents were supportive (even buying me my first subscription to Writer’s Digest, which left me with no rainbow-tainted illusions about how hard this was going to be). But I felt pretty much alone all the time. I didn’t fit in, I hated my hometown, I felt like a total freak 24/7. I know this feels like this to everyone, but I can only imagine how comforted I would have been if I’d been able to reach out across geographic regions and find out I wasn’t the only person in the world like this. Being in a room with hundred of people just like me, with the same weird compulsion … it was awesome, and just a little scary.

All of that creative energy, imagination, and, yes, delusion in one room … it’s either the best thing that could ever happen, or extremely dangerous to the world. And the fact that it was all to benefit a program that reaches out to kids like I was … it was a pretty moving thought.

I also managed not to get mugged and knifed while walking through downtown San Francisco back to my hotel while carting a laptop, so I’m counting that one as a win as well.

So, I would like to take this time to thank Valerie and John, Lisa and Rodney, Kim and Jake, Lisa, unfocusedme, Larissa, Lisa (a different Lisa), Alex, and, of course, my Mom and Dad, the people who sponsored me for this event. It meant a lot on a lot of different levels.

The novel still isn’t finished, but it’s within spitting distance. And so far I still like it. It’s surprising me in all the right ways, and I feel the narrative is still pretty strong and hasn’t gone pear-shaped. Yet.

So, onward? I guess? Yes … onward.

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Posted by on December 11, 2009 in life, writing


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