lydamorehouse: (Default)
It might be the beans and rice I had for lunch (that's a lotta fiber!), but I actually think it's nerves. I just finished a draft of my proposal submission package for Carina Press. A friend of mine is beta reading it RIGHT NOW and I think that's part of my grumbling tummy. I mean I like this novel start. I once read it at a WorldCON reading and there's someone who heard that reading who keeps asking after it. So, I know it doesn't suck on a fundamental level, but breaking through this block I've head is... kinda a big deal, you know?

After she reads it and makes comments, I'll have a couple more days to polish it up. The proposals are due June 4, 11:59 Eastern Time!  So, an hour earlier for me, but still basically I have until late night on Sunday to get it all in working order.  

Nervous?

What, who me?

*GURGLE*

Anyway, I'm distracting myself from watching over her shoulder in Google Docs by writing this... and listening to my stomach gurgling like crazy!

Wow.

I felt inspired to finish up and send it along to my beta reader today because I got some other good writer news. Several months ago, a friend encouraged me to send in a short flash fiction piece to a Queer SF flash anthology, (on the theme of "renewals.') I'm excited to report that I may or may not be a winner, but, regardless, they have selected my piece for inclusion in their anthology. Whoohoo! As their letter to me explains, "This does not mean you are or are not also a winner in the contest - you’ll have to wait to find out. ;) We will be announcing the honorable mentions, runners up, judges choices and winners over the next couple months." So I'm still in the running for the cash prize, too.

A red letter day, I would say if I hadn't recently realized that's a Biblical reference.

Maybe I'll still say it. I mean, I used to write religious stuff, after all.  A RED LETTER DAY.
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
That's not entirely true. I spent much of today working on an urban fantasy proposal for Carina Press, which is having a limited time offer of accepting proposal packages.  I've got until June 4th to turn it in, and I'm feeling fairly positive about it.  I managed to dig something up that had amused me in the past, and have been reworking it.  I had already written a proposal at one point and I had a fairly decent start on it. So all I really have to do between now and midnight on Sunday is write like a demon, because OF COURSE they want sample chapters.  

Ah, my old enemy, sample chapters, we met again!

The other part of the day I spent with my friend Naomi, catching up on news from WisCON. Every once and awhile I feel like I should consider going back to WisCON. I used to love it and it's probably worth my while to go again.  The big problem is that we've gotten into this lovely routine of visiting my folks over Memorial Day weekend and I would hate to break that tradition. Maybe I'll go back once Mason is in college. That's not actually that long from now. Four or five years?  (Hard to believe, but there it is!)

I'll have a lot to report tomorrow for "What Are You Reading, Wednesday" as I read a TON over the weekend.

I have to work tomorrow night, which is something I can't forget to do.  I say that because I spent much of today thinking today was either Monday or already Wednesday. 

Mason is in the basement playing video games and Shawn is down there with him, looming on a rug.  I'm upstairs contemplating a bath and writing to my Canadian pen pal, whom I owe a letter. The only reason I haven't gotten up to start either one of those is because I have TWO cats. One is sitting, warming my lap, and the other is perched on the back of the comfy chair, warming my back. It's tough to leave, but I suppose I'd best.

Caio.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 I suspect I had other resolutions earlier this year, but I've forgotten them.  I'm certainly not doing them, unless one of them was to try to do a little bit of gardening every decent-weather day.  Yeah, so that's the thing I'm trying to do this year. I'm really hoping it will stop my gardens from becoming their usual weed-infested, overgrown disaster areas.  It would be one thing if, when I let my gardens grow wild, they would become a haven for woodland creatures.  Somehow that doesn't happen. Somehow I just end up with a mess.

To that end, so far this year, I have spent probably a total of four hours on a couple of problem areas.  One, hardly anyone will see, but we have this pathway that leads from our backyard to the front.  It's usually completely ignored by me and becomes the place the weeds with the sticky burrs live. Then every time I take the garbage out and come back again, I have to pick those little sticky bastards off my sleeves.  WELL. A couple of days ago, I dug that whole area out and transplanted some hostas and day lilies and now my fingers are crossed that the predicted snow does not kill them.   

Today I spent an hour or so on the front hill. The front hill... when we first moved into this house we had lush, green grass growing down the hillside.  It was a really big pain to mow, but it was GRASS (something, it turns out, I have no skill in growing or maintaining.)  Now... now there's a lot of dirt and weeds.  Underneath the weeds are some hosta, so pulled out a lot of the weeds today and uncovered several hosta. A few were big enough to split and a couple were in places where they were going to get smothered out--so I moved some stuff around.  I'm hoping this will help things look intentional.

The second resolution is that I'm going to try to learn more conversational Japanese.  I did NOT start this year out well in that regard as I have had to drop out of my community education class, however, I did find a REALLY GREAT set of language CDs at the library which I'm listening to while I do the dishes/make dinner/other housework.  I love these CDs because they're actually teaching me some useful phrases ("I don't understand Japanese being the FIRST THING THEY TAUGHT ME) and they keep bringing up the things you learned in earlier lessons on heavy repeat.  I actually, for once, feel like I'm retaining some of this information I'm learning.  That's a HUGE step forward in the language department for me. Because I can't otherwise seem to retain information. I told Shawn that I'm going to have to buy this particular brand of language CD.  

I should probably resolve to write fiction, too, but sometimes I feel like I should give up.  :-(
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
I guess  I taunted the weather goddesses a little too much in my blog yesterday, because I came out of Magers & Quinn last night and snapped this picture:


snow falling outside Magers & Quinn Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN April 10, 2017


Again, if you can't see it, is shows a bookstore storefront. The awnings below a lit-up "Magers & Quinn Booksellers" sign are snow-covered. You can see grainy streaks of heavy snowfall overlaying the whole shot. The cars parked in front of the bookstore are likewise covered in snow.

Snow.

Apparently, when I complained about the lack of moisture falling from the skies for the past few days, the weather Powers That Be heard my taunt to 'put up or shut up' and thought, "HA. We'll show HER. How about a half inch of SNOW, huh? YOU LIKE THAT, PUNK???!!"

I did not.  

It was fairly horrific to drive home in--there were points on the highway where I was fairly certain I was making up my own lane lines, since I really couldn't see where they were supposed to be...and that's never a safe feeling.  But I made it home fine, andI am happy to report,that  the new car handles like a dream in slippery weather.  I mean, the new car is funny.  Patrick, that is.  He's like a stately, yet somewhat cranky old man. He just doesn't do fast, even when you'd really like him to have a bit more pick-up and go.  So, to say he 'handled well,' really means that he was just not fussed to go any faster than all that and so took the turns and such in his own damn good time.  That's Patrick for you. He's kind of stubborn like that.  A good car, though. I'm still very happy with it. Especially pleased to have heated seats last night. (And a heater that works!)

The reading itself could not have gone better. Remember how cranky *I* was about Magers & Quinn not being able to get any copies of Precinct 13? Well, they managed it in the end. There were several copies available for sale when I came in. I was so pleased that I decided that whatever didn't sell, I'd just buy myself, because I always need giveaway copies around. I think I ended up taking home three of them (which was about half what they ordered, I'd guess. So a good night for them, too, I'd think).

The readers were all lovely. We were gender balanced (almost exactly), though all of us were white (as far as I could tell). There was a band that played songs as intermissions, which was... fancy?  There was wine and cheap snacks on a little table. We read at a podium with a microphone. I felt like I did pretty well. The story excerpt I read was from "Everything in Its Place" a story that I significantly revamped for this anthology, but which I originally sold to Tales of the UnAnticipated back in the day. (TOTU gets first publishing credit.)  When Eric first published "Everything..." he told me he didn't like the ending, which was bleak.  I'd conceived it as a horror story, really.  But, he asked me to rework it, and so I did.  It ended up still dark, but the ending has the heroine making peace with 'the thing' that lives with her.  A good, possibly better ending, but not my original intent. For the anthology I revised it back to its original, more horrific ending

One of the many nice things about having an archivist for a wife, is that I still HAD a readable electronic copy of my original. I'd saved it as Thing One (the version I sent to Eric which eventually sold to him was labeled, naturally, Thing Two.) But, it was.. clunky. So I had to do some significant revision.  I guess now I have a Thing Three, which completely ruins the Seuss reference.

Tonight, I teach!  



lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 First, I need to kickstart my career by 2018.  I just got an invite to be one of the GoHs for Minicon next year. It would be nice if I had something to promote by then.

This summer Mason and I are planning a road trip.  Normally, we tag along to Shawn's annual COSA/NAGARA meeting (Council of State Archivists/National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators). This year, however, it's in Boise, Idaho.  Nothing against Idaho, but I'm not sure there's enough stuff there for Mason and I to entertain ourselves for 5 whole days.  So Mason had this brilliant plan.  When mom flies off for Boise, we hit the road.  We drive through the Dakotas and Montana and meet-up with her in Idaho, then we all travel back by car and see Yellowstone in Wyoming and the South Dakota badlands.  

I think this is brilliant. Shawn agrees (especially since she hates flying and this saves her a return trip).

We're going to do it!

In fact, at the library yesterday I picked up some guidebooks because I have no idea what's even in Montana. Glacier National Park is, for one, although that's at the far western end of the state--(though we are talking 5 days to get from point a to point b, and driving straight through we could make Boise in 24 hours.)  Shawn is activating our AAA membership and ordering all the road maps and AAA tourism guides to all the states we could potentially drive through.

The best part is that Shawn's conference isn't until this summer, so we have lots of time to look at maps and guidebooks and plan. I found a couple of really fun guides to interesting backroad attractions in Montana and it's been fun to page through them. A nice distraction from the political barrage. 

I've never travelled much in this direction (that I remember. My parents, of course, brought me back to Wisconsin from my birth place in Sacramento, California, but I have zero memories of any of that as I was an infant.)  I've been to visit Colorado a couple of times, but both times I flew.  I know that a lot of both Dakotas are pretty flat. We drove through some of that to see Mount Rushmore, when Shawn and I went with Karl from Czech. I'm pretty sure we're going to do South Dakota on the way back, though, ironically, all of Shawn's relatives are in North Dakota so we may have to figure out a way to reverse this while also saving Yellowstone for Shawn.  Previously, when we'd talked about road tripping while Shawn was stuck in Boise, the thing that made Shawn sad was the fact that she'd be missing experiencing some of these major landmarks with Mason, particularly Yellowstone which she hasn't seen either. She'll still miss some this way, but not all. Shawn likes traveling when it's by car, so this really is a two-fer. (This really is a brilliant solution. Go, Mason!)

And we will very likely have a new car by then.  One is in the works, in fact, though the one we're looking at has more milage than the one we're currently driving. However, it might be worth it if the price is right AND it has fewer issues. Our current car has sprung an oil leak on top of its preexisting radiator leak.  Not something you want to traverse mountain passes in. 

Doesn't this sound fun?  

Plus, as I said, the planning for it has been a welcome distraction.  It's nice to have a future thing to look forward to and be excited about.

Now I just have to figure out how to re-launch my career!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
The Internet landed on Neil Gaiman's head.

Luckily, that soft, curly mop of hair will deflect much of the impact. I'm not worried about Gaiman.  Gaiman will be fine, I'm sure.

Also, it seems very clear to most people that what Gaiman said was meant as an advert/squee/general endorsement, not Word of God.  If you don't want to read the whole article, the short of it is that, in an effort to promote the opening of enrollment of Clarion, a long-standing writers' workshop, Gaiman suggested that writers "need, NEED" to go to Clarion.  He's already answered a dozen accusations by clarifying that he didn't mean to imply that anyone who didn't go to Clarion wasn't a real writer (especially since that would include himself), he was just being an enthusiastic supporter, and that all a writer needs to do to be a writer is write.  

In fact, most of the people I'm friends with on Facebook, seem completely baffled as to why Gaiman got dumped on with such vitriol.

I'm not.

Yes, the only thing that makes you a writer is if you write.  However, writing is NOT the same as publishing.  Publishing is a for-profit business, and it is inherently unfair from start to finish.  There are thousands and thousands of excellent and talented writers out there. Conversely, there are only so many slots in traditional publishing houses for all that talent to go. 

I could go on about it, but I'm not going to waste space telling you what most of you already know: getting published is hard, often impossible.  It's heart breaking.  It's soul killing.  And, yet, other people seem to be able to do it, and so you start casting around, wondering, what the hell, how did they do it, when I can't???!!

Cue: Clarion.

Clarion is an expensive, in-person, live-in, SIX WEEK writers' workshop. There are two of them (or at least there used to be: one in the east, in Michigan, and one the west, in California, I think.)  You pay not only the attendance fee, but your own travel, board, and expenses.(There's at least one scholarship available, however.) The trade off is that you get six weeks of writing instruction (and writing time) not only with your peers in the field, but also with people like Neil Gaiman as your teachers.  Usually, also, there's at least one editor who attends, so you're guaranteed a chance to get in-person feedback from someone who could actually forward your career in one way or another.  

This is, in point of fact, a HUGE leg-up.

As I said before, publishing is a business.  In business, you need contacts, networking skills.  Clarion provides a singular opportunity for these.  In fact, I still tell my students to consider going, if they can afford it.  I feel like Clarion also gives writers and opportunity to really "level up" as the kids would say, in terms of writing craft, skill, because it is so intensive.

When Clarion would have been advantageous for me, I could have *maybe* scrapped together enough to go, but I couldn't have taken that much time off from work.  So, I didn't go, but, man, I wanted to.

Dozens of my friends went.  (That's not even hyperbole, Minneapolis/St. Paul has a huge SF/F writing community and at the time I was deep, deep into it.) I was pretty damn envious of all the war stories they told, the t-shirt they came back with, and the people I considered SF/F celebrities that they now knew when they went to WorldCons or elsewhere. It felt, from the outside, like an exclusive membership. Like they really HAD gotten VIP access badges or some secret handshake that I didn't. In a way, they did have their own language. At cons, alum would greet each other with cries of "West '92!" or "East '08!"  and I always wanted to join in with something like, "Bravo! Zulu! Charlie!" because... well, because I'm a weirdo. 

But, so the point is... I can understand why some people piled on Neil's comment.  There's lots about the unfairness of publishing to be angry about.  It's also especially painful when it feels like the barrier between getting into the cool, insider club is money.  And time.  And also: this.

I'm not saying that's the truth. Clarion is expensive, but they're not making money hand over fist either.  In fact, they've had a lot of trouble with solvency.  East may have folded. I know it was in danger of doing so a couple of years ago.

I'm just saying I can understand why people reacted the way they did.

Of course, Clarion isn't the answer any more than anything else is. I know plenty of Clarion alum who published, but I know more who didn't. I even know several alum who stopped writing entirely.

So, even this HUGE advantage isn't a guarantee of success.  In a way, that's why people are mad.  There isn't any magic entry.  Not even talent or skill. (That a lie we tell ourselves, but go read something like Fifty Shades of Gray and explain to me how talent was the key to success there.)  Some people literally luck out, and that's almost all there is to it. Persistence being the other major factor, but, on the other hand, I've known people to beat their heads bloody against that barrier to publishing, too.  So, even being persistent isn't a guarantee.  So, of course, people are angry. Of course they're mad at Neil for seeming to suggest that the magic key is to buy your way into the kingdom.  And maybe they're like I was, those years ago, staring, green-eyed, at all the Clarion alum who seem to have some advantage they don't.  That's maddening too.  The whole business is maddening.

This is why I tell my students that they'd better have a reason they write that has nothing to do with being published.  I tell them over and over, you need something to fuel your spirits and keep yourself going.  You need to love the process and celebrate it.  You need to know that you'd do it anyway, even if nothing ever comes of it.

Because you might get lucky.  I did.  
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 ...but so Shawn suggested last night, when I confessed to feeling low about my writing, that I do what I used to do... WAY back: set-aside an hour in a place that felt more like an office (a desk, the dining room chair) and just sit there with the document open for an hour.  Set a timer, if necessary.  Try to write.  Write what you can.  Then, quit and give yourself permission to do the other things that need doing.

Well, it f*cking worked.

I just wrote for an hour on the Satan novel.  (And I really enjoyed it.)

YAY!!
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
That's how much science I told my students they needed to know. (Also your magic needs rules).

That pretty much summed up class. We have come to the point where it has dawned on my students that the true value of the class is in the last hour of instructor/peer critique. In fact, I'm certain they figured it out because the ones who had never volunteered previously all asked me suddenly if there was a way to slip them in to the schedule (now that we're literally at the half way point). And, the answer is, of course, yes: I will lecture less and we will critique more.

My insights into writing are just that: mine. And we all know that there are as many ways to write properly as there are writers writing.

It's so much more valuable to have people talking to you, directly, about your work and helping you do what it is you're trying to do. So much more. I'm super glad they all twigged to that. Of course, if anything, this means I'm going to be working HARDER--because critique is time consuming when done as instruction. But, I think the students are all going to come away very satisfied and feeling like class was time (and money) was well spent.

So, yay. And they all behaved admirably again too. Only once did I need to say, "Okay, but you need to say something you liked about the piece. It's part of the structure of how we do critique and one of the rules."

The problem wasn't that there weren't nice things to say to the student being critiqued last time, as I told him after class, the problem was that his prose was at such a high level that it became invisible to the reader. They fell, head first, into his story, and so they wanted to nitpick the EVENTS of the story, and had a hard time remembering that the amazing thing was that the story captured them SO PROFOUNDLY (even as they ran up against things they didn't like.) Adorably, he looked at me and asked, "So I don't suck?" I was like, "Oh, honey, no. So much no. You're writing at at a professional level." He blinked, "You mean it? I could sell this?" I said, "Yes, some day, you WILL."

I don't say this lightly. I have been wrong, of course. But, I've also been right.

Speaking of being wrong, I really didn't expect to enjoy Jeff VanderMeer's ANNIHILATION as much as I did. As I was telling Mason, it kind of reads like Myst come to life...only weirder. Normally, I'd have told you that this book reminds me of some of those trippy movies where it turns out in the end that the "hero" is a psych ward patient, but a) that's not at ALL what happens and b) while it does have that style, which I normally don't like at all, coming off PEOPLE IN THE TREES (which I hated), I found this really awesome, refreshing, and clever.

As an aside, I've noticed that women writers rarely forget women's periods, but men, even ones writing in a female p.o.v., always do. There was actually no reason for the author of THE PEOPLE IN THE TREES who was writing a faux memoir from a guy's point of view to ever mention the one female explorer's period, but she finds a way. Our doctor "hero" manages to come across the female explorer's unburied, bloodied feminine supplies and is horrified by the fact that they're just laying there, destroying the pristine jungle's greenness with their awful white and blood-red. He doesn't much like her anyway, but this kind of seals the deal.

Meanwhile, though, TBF, it's only a matter of weeks that the events of ANNIHILATION takes place in, our heroine, never even worries about what she'll do when that time comes. She doesn't even think about what supplies she might need, even though she's in the middle of an (alien) wilderness. Despite the fact, also, that the entire crew is female, periods never come up. Which only struck me because there is, in fact, a lot of discussion about supplies. A similar packing-for-a-possibly-suicidal-adventure scene in THE GIRL IN THE ROAD is all about, "I wonder how many periods I'll have, and what I should use when I have them?" Similarly, THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE could be subtitled, "F*ck, I still have to deal with my period in the apocalypse (and worse, while I'm trying to pass as a dude)." The heroine in that is always scouting for a pharmacy, not only for medicine, but also for tampons.

To be complete, periods never once came up in MEMORY OF WATER or Cherie Priest's MAPLECROFT DISPATCHES. So, it's not all women, all the time... and I'm certainly not implying that *not* mentioning a women's period is some kind of sin of omission. Certainly, I don't think about mine all the time (and I'd rather not think about yours, thank you very much, especially when there's something more interesting to talk about... which is pretty much anything.) But, I don't know. I guess I might expect it to come up when planning a trip or thinking about surviving in an unknown wilderness where there are no pharmacies to restock from... and maybe if these other women hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't notice when it's not there.

It certainly isn't this important, but I will tell you I'll be looking for it other places, gods help me. :-)
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Some time yesterday afternoon, the rumbling in my guts finally stopped... just in time for me to get ready to teach my Loft SF/F writing class.

I can't say my lecture was terribly coherent or useful, but we had our first critique and my students are all 100% amazing, no kidding. Not only was everyone intelligent and civil, but they also all hit the same notes as I had. So, I feel very in sync with these folks. And, honestly, I suspect, for them, the class just paid for itself, because there is no bigger boost to your writing skills, IMHO, than getting real, helpful critique from peers and a mentor (and learning how to look at work with a critical eye.)

But, as promised, I'm going to try to reconstruct a more cogent version of my lecture for them here, on my blog. We were discussing characters and how you create them. I've talked about this a bit before: "What's My Motivation? Creating Character Through Narrative Voice.", "Narrative Voice (An Epiphany about Adjectives)" and then I apparently once had a grammar aneurysm over Omniscient Point of View: Grammar GeekFest and More About Bob

As I flailed around in class, I hit a lot of things that I talked about in these blog posts, so go ahead and read through them if you like, since apparently much of what I think is true about writing hasn't much changed over the intervening years.

I did manage to pass on that other tidbit that I probably wrote about at some point, too, which is the idea that EVERYTHING, absolutely EVERYTHING you write should be in service to plot. In terms of character, I specifically mentioned the idea that an author should cultivate a narrative voice that creates atmosphere and mood, something that hooks the readers into the FEEL of the plot (sometimes without their conscious knowledge). Literary writers, what with all their focus on word choice, are trained to do this better than genre writers are, but I think we're certainly capable of it to one degree or another.

...

Oh dear. It seems my brain isn't very coherent this morning, either. Well, I'll keep pondering this until next class and if I have other thoughts on character, I'll post them.

Failing

Apr. 6th, 2015 01:46 pm
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
Despite what's on most people's minds in the SF world today, I ended up over at Kurtis Scaletta's blog talking about failure. Not the culture of "fail" in the SF community, but my own personal f*ck ups.

"My Biggest Failure: Letting the B-st-rds Get Me Down."

Those of you who are regular readers here will have already heard much of what I have to say in the blog. If I have ONE regret, it's that I've sat on my hands for too long.

To that end, I'm happy to report I have a draft of the first book in a three-part comic book script, which I'm intending to hand out at the next Wyrdsmiths. I haven't done much yet about UnJust Cause and what I need to do with that story/novel, BUT I did start a novella about Garnet Lacey that I'm hoping to keep working on. I also have a short story that needs an ending, but that I have several pages on. So, I am starting to write for publication again, too.

Fingers crossed that I continue to be prolific.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Since I'm teaching again, I'm writing about the process of writing again.

Because my Tate Hallaway blog has been dead for some time, I directed my students to check-in over there to see what I have to say about various things. Basically, I promised them a slightly more coherent version of my lectures since I've long ago come to realize that my lecture style is best described as "organic," which can drive some folks fairly insane. I have this tendency to INTEND to talk about A, B, and C, yet actually talk about A, Z, B, Q, F, and C. I promised to remove Z, Q, and F when I write up my "notes" for them. I can't entirely say I'm 100% more successful, but forcing myself to write it down does often help keep me on track.

At any rate, if you'd like to follow along, I've got two writing-related blogs up right now:

"From Idea to Story"

"Emotion as Story"

In other news, I woke up to the sound of my child barfing. Mason's stomach is giving him trouble... maybe from the very rich Indian food we had last night. Because I'm teaching, we weren't able to go out to dinner on Shawn actual birthday night (Wednesday) so we went out last night. Our favorite place lately has been "Taste of India" in Maplewood. Mason decided to be brave and tried something new. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have agreed with him.

Poor Mason.

The only comfort to all this is that it's cold and gray outside at the moment and if there was any GOOD day to have to spend snuggled up in bed reading and recovering, this would be it. We have a couple of errands we need to do--our taxes have been done for some time and are awaiting our signatures, so I need to go collect those soon since April 15 is looming. And I had wanted to get fish for the big tank, finally. I have successfully kept our betta alive for months now, so I'm feeling confident enough to consider trying again in the tank of doom. I've been changing the water in the unoccupied tank as though there were living fish in it (so approx. once a week), so I'm figuring that whatever evil might have been lurking in there should be well and truly diluted by now. Fingers crossed, at any rate. Plus, I was thinking of NOT getting our fish from PetCo, but a decent fishery like World of Fish.

But, that certainly doesn't _have_ to be done today. Taxes is the only necessity, like so often said.

Plus, Mason can feel good about taking advantage of his spring break. We've already done a very awesome hike through Minnehaha falls.

Mason will Read anywhere
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I've started following Locus Magazine on Twitter, so I can keep up with the award news as it rolls in. So now I have even more books to add:

According to Locus, "there are several titles of genre interest on the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize long list":

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (Picado)
The Country of Ice Cream Star, Sandra Newman (Chatto & Windus)
The Bees, Laline Paull (Fourth Estate)
The Table of Less Valued Knights, Marie Phillips (Jonathan Cape)

This is good news, because Shawn has been bugging me to add Station Eleven to my reading list because she thinks it would make an interesting compare and contrast to "actual" SF (as opposed to what mundanes THINK SF is.) Now I have an excuse. Honestly, I've never heard of the Baileys Women's Prize before, but apparently it comes with a cash prize.

In other news, I started working on a novella today. A friend of mine has been organizing a group of people to write a paranormal project together and listening to them talk about it has made me realize that if I have the energy to do something like that, I should really try seeing if I can write a few Tate one-offs as well.

I'm pleased to report I have about 2,000 words of a new Garnet Lacey novella. One that I intend to self-publish on Amazon. Fingers crossed that I can keep this project going.

Unjust Cause, speaking of other Tate projects, is currently languishing. I'm planning to, at some point this week, pull down copies of all my entries to-date to see if I can wrestle them into something resembling an actual novel. Then I need to read it and figure out where the heck it's going. So I can finish it.

That was an experiment that seems to have floundered. I still think it was important to do, and may very well be salvageable, but... yeah.

Still, it got me started writing on a new original project. Not all is lost! And I'm sure I can fix up what I do have.

At any rate, that's me. I'm also about 124 pages into THE THREE BODY PROBLEM and... well, things are finally starting to interest me. The book starts in a time and place I don't know very much about: The Chinese Cultural Revolution. I mean, I know some basics, and the stuff we see here is very dark. But, the narrative skips forward a bunch and I think we're finally in a thread that I can sink my teeth into. We'll see.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo adorkable)
I finished MEMORY GARDEN by Mary Rickert a few hours ago, and I really came to enjoy it. I didn't think I would, since I've been reading so much science fiction and this book is a contemporary fantasy. The tone of it, though, was also very... quiet, yet suspenseful, not unlike my experience with MEMORY OF WATER by Emmi Itaranta.

Locus Magazine tells me I have a new crop of award nominees to attempt to find--the Aurealis Award (for best Australian SF):

Aurora: Meridian, Amanda Bridgeman (Momentum)
The White List, Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)
Peacemaker, Marianne de Pierres (Angry Robot)
This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
Nil By Mouth, LynC (Satalyte)
Foresight, Graham Storrs (Momentum)

Again, you will see that out of the 6 books up for best science fiction, 5 are written by women (one is written by TWO women!) So, I will be accidentally doing Tempest's challenge by only agreeing to read people up for awards. These might be more difficult for me to do, as NONE of them have shown up in my libraries' e-book collections yet. But I haven't checked the paper holdings. I would be surprised if Marianne de Pierres wouldn't be there, not only because she's published by Angry Robot, but also because I remember reading a book by her some time ago (like the 1990s? Anyway, she's very much established on this side of the world.)

In other news, Shawn continues do well. I'm forbidden from giving away too many details, but suffice to say that she's made real progress and I think that many things have shifted, including her sense of impending doom. She's actually sound asleep right now, sleeping well and deeply for the first time in days.

For myself, all this reading has produced only a small amount of writing from me. I've been working on something that I think will eventually be a long, short story, but, being the first attempt at something quite like this in a long time, it's meandering its way out of me very slowly. I'm hoping actually to have enough of it written to read at my MarsCON reading on Friday. I've got a fair amount--about 3,000 words, but with luck I'll get more out this evening. I'm having one of those moments in writing, though, where I suddenly wonder if this story should have been written in a different p.o.v. Currently it's first person, but it may have to shift to third. I think I'm going to finish a draft of it and see. I only worry because it seems, from all my reading, to be shifting into something that's kind of about gender to some extent and without the pronouns in early it might not be evident what the main character's gender is, and that's not the focus (not _his_ gender, anyway).... anyway, it's good to be wrestling with all of this stuff again.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Thanks to an unnamed pharmacist at Walgreen's, there is, shall we say, 'movement' in Shawn's recovery.

Last night, we were in desperate straights and Shawn said, "This isn't working; there's got to be some other medicine. Something gentle, but actually effective!" Her father was a small town pharmacist on the Iron Range, back in the corner drugstore days, when you could lean in over the counter and whisper symptoms to a sympathetic ear and get straight-forward advice. So, she sent me to Walgreen's to "talk to a pharmacist."

I really thought that in order to accomplish what she wanted, I'd need a time machine.

But, I must have hit the sweet spot in terms of timing, or, if I were a believer in such things, Pat Rounds looked down upon his daughter's plight and sent me his earthly avatar. It was quiet enough at the store that I didn't even have to wait long for the pharmacist's attention. He actually walked me over to the aisle and pointed out all the important things, taking the time to explain which did what. OH, he said, thoughtfully, you see, what you've been using only really did "x," what you need is "x *and* y." And, he said, if that won't work and she can stand some pressure on her stomach, take a bottle of "z."

We've not even had to resort to "z."

Shawn is still in some wretched pain, but I think, honestly, she'd been losing hope. Faith in recovery is now restored. I suspect that's going to be the real miracle worker.

Let's hope she's going to be well enough to be on her own this weekend, because I'd almost forgotten that it's MarsCON 2015. I hunted and pecked through the on-line programming list and I think I found everything I'm scheduled to be on:

How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) -- Friday 04:00 pm
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam


Fiction Reading: Lyda Morehouse
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) —Friday 08:00 pm
Come hear our Author Guest of Honor read her work.
With: Lyda Morehouse

FanFiction - Who, What, and Huh?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Friday 09:00 pm
From the basics for the beginners to your favorite websites to share your own stories.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rakhi Rajpal mod, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Susan Woehrle

Marvel Phase 2, on to Phase 3
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 12:00 pm
Catch up on all of Marvel films from phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-man Days of Future Past. Marvel One-Shots: Agent Carter, All Hail the King, on TV with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. (There will be spoilers for all listed above.) The end of phase 2 with Avengers: Age of Ultron and the start of phase 3: Ant-Man, Captain America 3, Doctor Strange, and the rest of phase 3.

With: Lyda Morehouse, Tony Artym, mod.; Aaron Grono, Bill Rod, Ruth Tjornhom

The Rise of Women Superheroes
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 01:00 pm
Let’s talk about some awesome female superheroes who have become breakout sensations in recent years! Why do we love them so much, and how can we get more?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Christopher Jones, mod.; Cynthia Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Chandra Reyer

What is Anime?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Saturday 02:00 pm
What really is Anime? What’s the real difference between Anime and cartoons, and why do we classify them like that? Hear all the facts and argue it out yourself!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Hojo Moriarty

Lyda Morehouse Interview
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 04:00 pm
Learn about the mind and works of our Author Guest of Honor.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Interviewer

Mass Autographing
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 05:00 pm
The Author Guest of Honor and other interested authors sign their work.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Sammi Kat, Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan, et al.

The Wyrdsmiths: Twenty Years
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 08:00 pm
GoH Lyda Morehouse is in a writers’ group that was founded in 1994. How does a critique group sustain itself for two decades?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Eleanor Arnason

Hero Support: Sidekicks and Minions
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 09:00 pm
How does your hero go about getting a really good sidekick or a really good minion? Who are some of your favorites in literature and other kinds of storytelling? Who is the hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; P M F Johnson, Ozgur K. Sahin, Tyler Tork

Otaku Dilemma: Wait for Season Two or Read the Manga?
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 11:00 am
Your friends just turned you on to a hot new anime (think: “Attack on Titan” or “Yowapeda”) and you burned through the first season in one sitting. Now you’re wondering that age old question, should you jump in and read the manga or sit back and wait for season two to air? What are the pros and cons to reading “ahead”? Is there a reason that waiting is better, is there a reason NOT to wait?
With: Lyda Morehouse, mod

No Country for Old Heroes / Happily Ever After
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Sunday 12:00 pm
Topic one, No country for old heroes…. Life after heroism. How do former heroes—real or imaginary—continue to have meaningful lives? Topic two, Happily Ever After. Consider act two of Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Many if not most stories end at the moment of maximum joy for their characters. But life is more complicated. How do two people—real or imaginary—go about staying reasonably happy together for a long time? What are some good examples of this in fantasy literature?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; Rachel Gold, Ozgur K. Sahin

Convoluted Quests: The Modern Writing Career
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 03:00 pm
Book contracts, self-publishing, short fiction, editing… writing careers these days are often made up of a patchwork of options. Join GoH Lyda Morehouse and other professional writers to talk about how they’ve dealt with current publishing realities.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan

I will, of course, also be at Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies as to be expected. I may be AWOL from the con for a brief period on Saturday morning in order to take my son to his swimming class, but otherwise he and I will be around the whole weekend. Maybe, with luck, Shawn, too.

The last thing I wanted to report is that I finished reading THE GIRL IN THE ROAD and am now on to what appears to be a contemporary fantasy novel called MEMORY GARDEN.

THE GIRL IN THE ROAD is a difficult book to describe or categorize. I was talking to a friend about it and, while there were a ton of things I really enjoyed in the book (future India, future Africa, the strange journey across the wave power generator), the main character(s) were problematic in that they were not only typically unreliable, they were also, at times, hallucinatory. I can't say that necessarily got in the way of my enjoyment of a book, but I'm usually a careful enough reader that I can get to the end and have a fair idea of what happened. I'm not nearly as sure as I normally am having finished THE GIRL IN THE ROAD. Again, I'm not entirely sure that detracted from my enjoyment of the book, honestly. It was well written, engaging, science fictional and many things like that that I normally enjoy but... I don't know that I could recommend it with out the caveat of, "Okay, but this one is seriously TRIPPY."

Between THE GIRL IN THE ROAD and ELYSIUM, OR, THE WORLD THAT CAME AFTER, I have to wonder if 'trippy' is the new black. From the looks of things (so far) MEMORY GARDEN is more traditional in its narrative tropes, but we'll see. THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE had some oddities in its storytelling practices, but I wouldn't have labelled it "trippy," per se. I will say, in light of the conversations I've been having about women's writings, all of the four books I'm mentioning here are very feminine in their approach to science fiction.

I think a lot about what my friend Richard had to say when trying Margaret Atwood's HANDMAID'S TALE for the first time. The books women write are often (though obviously not always), quite intentionally, infused with the feminine. It probably does seem somewhat alien and unsettling to someone who isn't used to ever thinking about pregnancy, periods, and sex (and its corollary: death). These things all showed up in the books I've been reading--sometimes just casually, but sometimes as the point. THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE is very much a female apocalypse, both literally and figuratively. ELYSIUM less so, because the gender of our pov character constantly shifts.

So, it's been an interesting ride so far. The library tells me that ANCILLARY SWORD is ready for me to pick up (speaking of oddities in gendering. I read a large part of ANCILLARY JUSTICE before I had to return it and the ship AIs, who are the pov characters, always identify any human they encounter as 'she' regardless. They will sometimes tell you 'she was male.' But it really f*cks with a person's perception of gender identity, gender stereotypes and other such things when everything is always female. Makes you think. Particularly when women are always told, "oh, 'he' includes you." I'm thinking, by this way this feels, that doesn't work the way we think it does.)

I'm looking forward to reading that one, too.

All this reading has also inspired me. I'm about 3,000 words into a short story that, I'm thinking, is ultimately about redemption. I saw an anthology call for "angel and demons" and so I started considering what I might write since, as you know Bob, this is directly in my areas of interest. So, fingers crossed.

I don't think I can really pull off 'trippy' though, so....
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Okay, now I kind of get it.

Yesterday I reblogged/reposted Tempest's challenge on Facebook with a little comment by me, which was basically a condensed version of my blog here. My point being: is this hard? This shouldn't be hard.

I'm not sure I've ever gotten so much traffic on a FB feed in my life.

With the exception of one person who was a bit trollish (they used the dog whistle acronym SJW, for Social Justice Warrior, to describe Tempest in what was a clearly derogative way hoping, I suspect, to trigger a fight), it was a decent enough conversation. In fact, a dear friend of mine chimed in quite sincerely to beg for recommendations because he'd been under the impression that women wrote fantasy and men wrote hard science fiction. I happily flooded him with names of women who write SF and I linked to any of them who are my Facebook friends. This prompted Kristine Katherine Rusch (who writes, among many other things, the amazing Retrieval Artist series, of which I've read several of and ADORE) to hop on and discuss the other issue that's been floating around right now, which is the disappearance of women's history in science fiction. I'd noticed when I went searching for a comprehensive list of women writing hard SF for Richard, that the Wikipedia pages were pretty sparse. She said that's a problem she's noticed, too, that if you go searching even a semi-trusted (but certainly usually starting point) like Wikipedia doesn't even have a decent list of past and active SF writing women.

That, my friends, is an actual WTF.

I was able to find a fairly comprehensive list in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, under the entry: Women SF Writers.

But, that someone hasn't gone to the trouble to add our names to Wikipedia is... downright weird. Kristine Katherine Rusch would like fandom's help. If anyone has the time and know how, this is really an excellent project to consider undertaking. I mean, we can keep publishing anthologies where women and queers destroy science fiction, but, in some ways, that only perpetuates this idea that we don't have a history of women writing SF AND that our writing it is somehow a shocking and brand-new thing.

We've always known we had a PR problem. This is why a bunch of us got together at WisCON in 2000 and formed BroadUniverse. But it's kind of amazing to think that we failed so profoundly at getting the word out that no one has heard of some of us... like we've been disappeared by some secret government agents and erased from the history books.

Because....

The only time I lost it in the FB discussion was, in fact, today. Some person came on with a very breezy, almost snotty, "Look, I read a lot. I'm not going to limit myself. Just give me a top 5."

And it was like they had unleashed the Kraken.

Seriously, I couldn't help but go all-caps, because, really? You read a LOT? How is it that you've never read a book by a woman?? I pointed out that if this person seriously could not think of a science fiction book written by a woman maybe they should consider starting with the woman who INVENTED science fiction: Mary Shelley. There's this book she wrote called FRANKENSTEIN? You've maybe heard of it? No?

I mean, I suspect what this person really wanted was a sense of who are the top 5 women writing today and I honestly couldn't tell you who they are because I'm simply not well-read enough. There are so many choices. As I keep pointing out, of the six books up for the Philip K. Dick, 4 of them are by women. You could honestly start there. How hard is that? The list is pre-made for you and you'd get 2/3rd more women writers than apparently (somehow?) you've ever had before...

Ugh.

I was just talking about this to a friend and I think the other thing that's frustrating is that sometimes when people get wound up about this stuff they use such inflammatory language that they make a person feel guilty about enjoying the things they do enjoy. As if somehow, because you DO LOVE a whole bunch of straight white male writers, their work is suddenly diminished and not wonderful and awesome and life-changing. That so not true. Not only, as I said yesterday, are there a ton of men who are allies, but, even if they never write about a single social justice issue or whatever, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy stories for what they are. I'm never going to stop being a Bleach fan, and I can honestly say that some of Kubo-sensei's stuff is problematic to trans* folks. His story still rocks my world. I will keep supporting him and other male writers, while reading women and GLBT and non-binary and trans* and PoC writers. I think we can HAVE BOTH.

This is not either or. I say, let's demand: ALL.

Because otherwise we end up divided and with NOTHING.


lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
I just spent about a half-hour queueing things up on the School for Wayward Demons Tumblr page.  During the process I was chatting with a friend who encouraged me to link to my other Tumblr page (which if you go there RIGHT THIS INSTANT, you'll see I did.)  It's a funny thing, my resistance to... invading this sacred fan space I've made for myself with self-promotional things.  It's REALLY silly when you consider that I have no qualms about posting links on my fan tumblr space to my reviews of manga or my podcast or my fan fic.  She asked me if I was afraid to tarnish my professional reputation with my fan one.  My response?  No, it's the other way 'round.

I'm really protective of my fan spaces.  BUT I don't mind people knowing about them.  In fact, I will happily give out my fan name or my AO3 account handle to anyone who asks me at con.  I'm very, very proud that at CONvergence last year, in the women's bathroom, I had someone shyly ask if it was true that I was "junko from AO3."  It turned out, the woman asking was the person who podfic'd my Bleach/Free! x-over, and, once I confirmed and she told me who she was, we did the dance of squee with each other.

So, it's not like I care if people who are my fan friends find out I write professionally, or vice versa.  

I guess it's strange, but I almost feel like self-promoting my original fiction on my fan sites sullies them somehow.  I mean, I should get over that, because, as my friend said, "The data stream is so fast.  No one will really notice."  Which is VERY, very true.  I used to worry that if people found out I was a professional writer on my AO3 account that the tenor of the conversation would change.  The very last thing I want is for people to stop telling me when I suck because, you know, I guess you know better because you're some kind of pro.  Which is, of course, bull.

I sometimes wonder if that's partly why Rachel and I don't get many comments over on entertheunseen.com or why they're not more critical on either of my Wattpad entries.  (It could be, too, that both those venues require some kind of log-in.)  But, I think, often people are reluctant to tell someone they perceive as a professional that they'd like to see the story go another direction... face-to-face/directly.  Obviously, people are happy to say all sorts of things about professional writing on review sites once a book is done and dusted.  I mean, I can understand this hesitance.  People are afraid of being yelled at.  But, I THRIVE on critique.  I love it.  And fan fiction has been a great place to be treated like a peer by a large number of people again.

At any rate, I suspect I've said all this somewhere before.  It's one of my favorite topics to hold forth on. But, so if you want to tell me what-for (and check out some of the new content that's been added) on Wattpad, there is a new installment of School for Wayward Demons up:  Gabe Runs (into Darkness.

Also, my review of the latest chapter of Ao no Exorcist (#64) is up on MangaKast.

In other news, I finished reading Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta.  It was the first of the books I've read so far that are on the Philip K. Dick award nomination list that I would call straight-up science fiction.  It's also a very... subtle, quiet book, despite having a LOT of tension woven in throughout.  I found it very interesting.  The story follows a woman who is the tea master's daughter in a future Scandinavia where we've depleted much of the Earth's viable drinking water.  There's been a kind of post-oil apocalypse and the 'past world' is shrouded in mystery, mostly understood by the things recovered in the plastic graveyards on the outskirts of town.  I would totally recommend the book without any reservations, so long as you weren't expecting a rip, roaring, page-turning thriller.  The ending is also very much a downer, and the only sense of hope comes from the prologue and the implication that there might be a second book to continue some of the threads that don't really get answered.  But, I didn't mind that, surprisingly.  

Now I'm waiting for Book of the Unnamed Midwife to show up through Inter-Library Loan.  Then, the last one will be the Jonathan Strahan book (which he seemed to have edited, Reach for Infinity which I'm reading last because I'm not a big fan of short story collections.)  In the meantime, I think I'm going to start a Melissa Scott book that Shawn nabbed off Amazon when the Kindle version when on one of those 99 cent sales.  

Not much else is going on.  I finished up the two seasons of Tiger & Bunny that Hulu had, and have, on recommendation, started watching Zenkyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance while I wash the dishes.  It's quite a shift in tone, I must say.  Zenkyou no Terror follows two very disturbed and unusual young men (who to refer to each other by numbers because they were raised in some kind of horrible orphanage) who are exacting their revenge on society by... well, by being terrorists.  So you know, from heroes to villains.  It's a bit of whiplash, but I'm enjoying Zenkyou no Terror the same way I enjoyed DeathNote.  It's kind of fascinating to go deep into the criminal mind.  Like in DeathNote, there's a smart, vaguely outsider to root for on the other side, on the good-guy side.  So, I've got that to cling to.  I'm very, very worried for the female character in Zenkyou no Terror, but you know... it's early days.  I'm only on the fourth or fifth episode so far.

Like much of fandom, I'm anxiously waiting for the arrival of this month's Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan.  The things I've seen on Tumblr from the raws make me kind of happy (*anxiously grabs abs*)... I'll have a review up as soon as we see in English.



lydamorehouse: (ichigo adorkable)
 Just when you think the editing process is over, it isn't.

Rachel and I are STILL going through the book version of School for Wayward Demons (now with help from a third beta reader, my friend Josey).  But, in the mean time, you can keep reading here:  "Broken but Strong."

On the flip side, I do think we'll get through it by the 30th, which is our deadline to get it off to the professional copy-editor as part of the whole trying to have a book-type thing before MarsCON 2015.  This is all very crazy, honestly.  But, it's been a ton of fun and... we'll call them "learning experiences."

In other news, I started Intermediate Japanese on Tuesday night.  It's being taught by the same instructor, Tetsuya-sensei.  It's pretty much all women, except this one guy (Mint, who I will forever think of as Mint-san), all of whom took it before.  Also, most of them have actual plans to go to Japan, Idyel-san is actually leaving for Tokyo before the class is over.  So it was kind of amazing that, when we were asked to introduce ourselves to the ONE new student, I was the only one to have practiced full introductions. I seemed to be the only one who studied at all during the break.  Which only underscores for me that 1) otaku rule and 2) learning something for fun is far better motivation that even NEEDING TO KNOW IT BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING THERE.

Yesterday I had a wicked headache.  It was so bad that even after medicine and a bath, I really didn't even feel up to reading, my eyes hurt that much, so I plugged into my JapanPOD101.com account and listened to several more Japanese language instruction podcasts. In fact, I learned an easier way to say "Please repeat."  Tetsuya-sensei taught us, "Mo ichido itte kudasai" which isn't terribly hard, but the podcast's version was shorter and had no real verb, which I appreciated: "Mo ichido onigaishimasu."  Which is basically the difference between, "Say it again, please." and "Again, if you would." And believe it or not, considering how often you are expected to say that super-long looking word, "onigaishimasu," it's actually much easier to say that than to verb, as the kids might say these days.  And just like in my English version, the second phrase more compact and feels less cumbersome.  So that was a cool revelation.

The only problem with listening to the podcasts right before bed is that the migraine relief aspirin stuff I took had a dose of caffeine, so I slept really fitfully for the first couple hours, and I kept drifting in and out of consciousness repeating these phrases and the more irritating one, "O-genki desuka?" over and over and over.

AND OVER.

Anyway, I'll be ready to ask someone how they are... :-)


lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Wow, you guys, the book version of School for Wayward Demons is 90,000 words. It's currently off with Sean Murphy, sort-of-kind-of-former Wyrdsmith (retired? emeritus?), who is checking it for "book-y-ness." (Like, truthiness, except for books, I think.)  But, here's the thing, 90,000 words?  If you buy this book when it comes out, you're FOR SURE getting a third more story.  All the stuff we have queued up for the web site only clocked in at 65,000.  I can tell you that the big changes are to Kitty.  She gets a much stronger back story.  Erin, too, actually, gets to be more proactive in her own rescue.  Gabe and Theo had started out awfully strong, so they really just got deepened and some of their issues got bought out and explored.

I will say, though, that I had some serious excitement about this on Saturday morning.  Rachel, my co-author, sent back the version that she'd spent a whole week working on... and I discovered that I sent her an incomplete draft! So she'd done all this work on stuff that wasn't even complete!!  

I was ready to lay on the floor and start sobbing, but Rachel whipped out the handy-dandy "merge documents" function and was actually able to quickly go through everything and give me a combo/nothing lost version in A DAY.

She is so awesome.

Seriously, I would still be in the gross sobbing stage, if it wasn't for her.

This is only especially traumatizing because I'd hoped to give it a final pass here and have it back and ready to go out to copy-editors and such by the 30th, which, if you check your calendars, is only a matter of days!!

So, now my big project is to do something similar with the UnJust Cause stuff I've posted on Wattpad as Tate.  And THEN, then my friends, I hope to start writing some... science fiction.

Shhh!

I told Wyrdsmiths on Thursday that my plan was to finally start my samurai steampunk story, and our newest member, Theo, has already sent her minions after me to get working on it!  Seriously, I was on gmail and an IM popped up, our mutual friend Teri, who was all, "Are you writing that thing?"

So I guess I have to write the thing!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 As you know, Bob, I'm attempting to get myself back on track this year.

The reason you haven't heard from me in the last few days is because I've been revising (maybe even, one could say "reshaping") the web serial that Rachel Gold/Calish and I wrote called "School for Wayward Demons" into book form.  We're planning on having it available for MarsCON 2015, where I will be a guest of honor.  If I dare say so?  After all that work (and knowing that it's not even done yet, that Rachel will be going over it again), I think it's pretty damn good.  

I'm little nervous about next steps.  We're talking about doing a Kickstarter for this series--something I've thought about a lot, but never dared. We're only just sitting down to figure out how we might do that, because... well, because it's a big undertaking.  Do we ask people to fund the production of this book in its print form?  Do we ask people to fund the next book(s) and use this one as a premium?  Both?  Something else entirely?  

If any of you out there have Kickstarter/Indigogo experience, advice, or even just strident opinions, please let me know. You can comment here, or email me (lyda.morehouse@gmail.com).  Rachel and I are meeting tomorrow, but we'll be gathering information for a little while, for sure.

I'll frank, too, the nervous part has to do with how much I worry that Kickstarters and Indigogo things are popularity contests to some extent, and the nerd in me fears that the only award I'd get in such a contest would be "least likely to succeed."  This fear of mine is currently being feed by the fact that I failed to reach critical mass for my Loft Fan Fiction class.  Now I have theories about why that class didn't go and at least one of them falls squarely on Rachel and my shoulders.  The title and the description were a little bland, not very snappy.  We were trying to figure out how to appeal to the type of Loft student who can afford in-house classes and, in doing that, I think we went a little broad.  If we were to offer this in the future, I think we shouldn't bother with that imaginary student and just try to hook the friendly neighborhood geek.  We pushed the class as kind of the: so you want to do that 50 Shades of Gray thing and turn your fic into pro work, eh? angle.  

The only problem with just embracing the geek is that I think the Loft's prices are a big stumbling block for a lot of people. (They would be for me.  Frankly, I just signed up for 8 weeks Japanese Intermediate at Community Ed. and I nearly baulked at the 60 bucks.  The Loft charges  $300 or more for 6 weeks.)

So maybe the lesson here (and for the Kickstarter?) might be: scale costs to your audience.

We'll have to see.  I'm a big proponent of the impulse buy, which is why I talked my editor/publisher at Wizard's Tower Press into such low costs for my e-books.  In my case (and which will be the case with School for Wayward Demons) a lot of people already owned my books.  With School... a  lot of content is on-line and free.  The book is significantly deeper and, in a few cases, different, but we're going to have to be sure to keep that in mind when we think about how we're going about this.

I don't know.

It's going to be interesting, if nothing else.

Meanwhile, did I say I signed up for Intermediate Japanese?  I'm so psyched!  It's going to be a blast (I hope.)  Same teacher: Tetsuya-sensei, whom I really grew to love, so that will be good.  I've been supplementing in the meantime by listening to JapanPod101.com.  All that really means is that I now remember how to introduce myself to someone for the first time!  (The most basic thing ever. Still. I am practicing, which is IMPORTANT.)

Also, I should do a blog post tomorrow about all my reading.  I finished MAPLECROFT: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest.  I also got tapped to read and blurb a book by a new author who seems to be writing New Adult SF Dystopia--though I can't really say for sure, because so far, I only opened up the document long enough to make sure it came through all right.  I'm going to try to read through that this weekend, and then start up on the second of the Philip K. Dick award nominees, BULLET CATCHER'S DAUGHTER by Rod Duncan.  

At the library on Tuesday night, I noticed that Arden Hills had the third Hawkeye collection: HAWKEYE: L.A. WOMAN (Fraction/Wu, Pulido).  This one seems to follow Kate Bishop (aka Hawkeye--yes, folks, there are two) when she gets fed up with Clint and goes to Los Angeles.  She apparently takes the Dog, who is, BY FAR, the fan favorite if fic requests during Yuletide are any indication.

So that's me.  You?

Also, Wyrdsmiths has a new member, Theo Lorenz.  
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
My colleagues Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown are self-publishing the sequel to their book STRANGER.  Sherwood has a long, detailed post about it "HOSTAGE Preview: Why We Chose to Self-Publish Book 2."

This... makes me sad.

First let me say, I think this was absolutely the right move on the part of Sherwood and Rachel.  They're also handing the announcement of the decision a lot more gracefully than I ever would have been able to.  I only wish, in fact, that I was as SAVVY as these two women.  I wish that I had had a finished book waiting in the wings when Penguin gave me the boot so that I could have made an equally smooth transition to self-publishing.  STRANGER fans will not wonder what the heck happened and where the next book is, unlike so many Tate Hallaway fans.  So, seriously, good for them for being willing and able to make a move like this.  I think an author's priority should always be to taking care of themselves like this, because GODS KNOW THE PUBLISHERS WON'T.

And that, right there, is what makes me sad.

Today I was hoping to get back to publishing my Tate installments over at WattPad.  I didn't manage it, partly because I spent the morning finishing up some first draft work on my own collaborative self-publishing venture SCHOOL FOR WAYWARD DEMONS.  But, I've had a lot of trouble focusing on the PRECINCT 13 sequel because I get so damned depressed about it. I know that this WattPad stuff is far too little, too late.  It's been way too long since a Tate book has come out.  Readers have gone to greener, more prolific pastures long, long ago.

The news of Rachel and Sherwood also triggers my depression... and bitterness, really, a feeling I've vowed to try to leave behind in 2014.  

Thing is, while I'm glad that they've been able to turn this frown upside down, it really, really sucks (IMHO) they they have to, at all.  Go read Sherwood's post because I can NOT believe the crap that professionally published (I should really use air quotes for that) writers are expected to deal with. Who sits on a book that long?  What can possibly be the reason?  My publisher managed a very quick turn around.  I never waited more than a year from my delivery date to publication, so it's possible.  Especially since Rachel and Sherwood SHARE MY PUBLISHER (though not my previous editors.)  

When I read stories like this I half-wonder if traditional publishers are trying to drive writers away, trying to destroy business.  Because so often there's also ZERO publicity for a new book (or continuing books in a series.)  So it's almost as if they're doing everything in their power to ASSURE FAILURE.

I say this out of bitterness, surely.  But, I had a very successful career with Penguin all things considered.  I always had amazing editors.  I lucked out very, very often with fantastic covers ("good packaging" as they call it), and, for the most part, I had no reason for complaints.  Sure, I did a lot of my own publicity, particularly for my science fiction series, but, you know, I knew that was part of the deal so it never felt raw or unexpected.  

Yet news like this makes me so... sad.  

I think it's partly because I wish, for once, publishers would have to bear the brunt of their mistakes or ineptitude or whatever is happening over there in traditional publishing.  But, they won't.  They'll just pick up some other new talent, underpay them, abuse them, and throw them away when there's any kind of problem.  None of this will ever lead to any kind of change on THEIR part.  The publishing world seems to be changing AROUND traditional publishers, but they seemed happy to just keep on keepin' on (but not in a GOOD way.)

It bums me out.

I'm having feels.

 

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