Monday, May 31, 2010

Out There: May 2010``

"Unicorn". At market #5, but it's a slow market so it could be there for 3 months...
I really wanted to have Dolphin out there by the end of May, but that's today, and I don't see it happening. Maybe tomorrow. Definitely it will be appearing on the June list.

What I read -- May 2010

"Uglies" by Scott Westerfield. Belongs to the boy, but I probably bought it for him. He compared it to "Hunger Games" because they're both future-dystopias. This was a very quick read. One evening I sat down and read 150 pages, which annoyed the boy. (He read "Bitten" after me, by the way, and told me to buy the other books in the series, so I guess he liked it. This is shaping up to be a month of sequels, because I bet I start "Pretties" when I'm done the library book I just got...) The ending was highly unsatisfying, though I do have books two and three lying around, fortunately.

"Maelstrom" by Peter Watts. Sequel to "Starfish", which I read last month. It's kind of weird to come across something that I enjoy so much due to such sucking circumstances on the part of the author, but whatever. The future where the internet has become almost useless in its corruptedness seemed true to me.

"A Paradise Built in Hell" by Rebecca Solnit. I first came across her in newsmagazine stories about the Haiti earthquake. Specifically, there were references to "elite panic—the conviction of the powerful that their own Hobbesian corporate ethic is innate in all of us, that in the absence of centralized authority, only cannibalism can reign." Hence, I looked her up and read her "Wanderlust" a couple of months ago, because there was a waiting list on this one. I really like her writing style and turns of phrase (coercive utopia, etc.) It feels to me like she takes pains to note the counter-arguments to her position, and I like that. This book made me a little bit sad, because the social changes that take place during disaster seem so not permanent.

"Queen of Candesce" by Karl Schroeder. He was the Writer in Residence at the Merril Collection (maybe still is?) and I'd read the first book in this series (Son of Suns) back in February. He talked a bit about the writing of this book when I met with him back in April. And it was cool, so I thought I'd read it. The plot was good -- early on Venera Fanning loses the Key to Candesce, and while she's not exactly the person I'd want having something like that, even less are the people who take it from her. It's set in Virga again, which is a really cool world. Once again, the romance portion of the story seemed sudden, and I felt like I'd missed something about 80% through, but the ending was reasonable and wow, what a great world. As awesome as Ringworld, but with better characters.

"Coraline" by Neil Gaiman. I loved the running Caroline gag. NG really knows how to put a story together.

Update--last minute addition. "Pretties" by Scott Westerfield. These are awesome and addictive. The world is so interesting, and the main character's voice is so interesting, because she's so awesomely an unreliable narrator, with the pretty brain and being bubbly and all. And hoverboards rock.

I started this just before karate camp, and finished on the bus back from the reception at the Merril Collection for Karl Schroeder. I need to get out there and learn how to interact with other writers or something. Someone told me about a crit group that I might try.

In process -- May 2010

Manners. First draft novel. 95% complete.

"Dolphin". Got reviewed 3 times on OWW. I really meant to have this finished and sent out to its first market by the end of the month, but that just doesn't seem realistic today. I'm just doing a last pass to tighten it up, and then it's so out of here.

"TheBogWitch". Typed May 6 (9900 words), second draft structural -- made a beginning and an ending May 10 (7300 words), third draft pacing -- cut each backstory reference in about half May 18 (5500 words), fourth draft character/dialog -- decharacter'd someone, gave everyone motivations May 25 (5416 words).

Karate Zombies. Karate camp weekend seemed like the time to target reading this, so I printed it out, but I read "Pretties" by Scott Westerfield instead. Sigh.

Morrigan. I have about four inches of the body.
VK Gloves. Finished.
Noro Henley. Back complete, front... nowhere near.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The connection

Today's recommendations (chosen just for me!) were:

"From Dead to Worse" by Charlaine Harris. I did buy the 7-volume box set last year from Heather, but she seems to think it's the only thing I've ever bought.

"Hunted" by PC Cast & Kristin Cast. I know nothing about this book.

"The Summoning" by Kelley Armstrong. Heather really wants me to have this book, obviously.

What had I been searching for on the website before this email came in? That German Zen Archery book. Hmph.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It just seems wrong to be happy I couldn't sleep

I'd been editing BogWitch and come across a missing scene, and when I was lying down, it kept popping into my consciousness. Obviously I wasn't going to sleep until I wrote it down, so I got up and, well, I wrote a dialog spine. Just the words the characters said, no attributions, nothing.

161 words. Awesome.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Maybe she knows me after all

This week I have received two missives from Heather. On Monday she suggested six "fresh new faces in fiction", one of which sounded interesting: Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. The amazon reviews were patchy, though.

And today she suggested The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, which was funny, because I'd put it on my list last week, even though the amazon reviews said the writing (or maybe the translation) was cliche-ridden.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Word of the day: pseudepigraphia

I would hate to name the sequel to Apocryphal this, because I don't think I can say it.
Also, that would imply I would have to write a sequel to Apocryphal, and I think I need to re-draft Apocryphal first. (If redraft is the right word -- I may need to start again and rewrite the whole damn thing from scratch.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Word of the day: Ommatidia

At work, we were trying to think of a new name for a product we make that shows lots of little images (because we were being sued because of our old name). Thumbnails seem similar to the complex or compound eyes that bugs have, and we started looking for technical terms for that. Comparing our products to a fly eye turned out to be a bad idea, because flies are kind of short-sighted, and blurry vision didn't seem like the kind of thing we'd want to imply about our product. Dragonfly eyesight, on the other hand, is excellent. This name never got used on the product, not because it's not absolutely genius, but because we never suggested it to marketing. We're tech writers, you know. Last I heard, the product was going to be named something about Airwolf.

It would be an awesome name for a collection of short stories.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Justin Bieber?? Really?

Today Heather suggested, again, that I pick up "the Reckoning" by Kelley Armstrong, which is not an unreasonable pick for me, though I don't know how she arrived at it.

But Justin Bieber? Clearly, Heather thinks I am 12 years old. I just downloaded some Andrew Bird to improve my cool-cred.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Freaky meta

About four pages from the end of the short story I just typed, suddenly things went all meta and my characters started ranting about how the story had no ending. The strange thing is, it sort of worked, and (if I rewrite the beginning) it might sort of work work, and I might leave it in.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

How does she do it?

Today I got an email from "my good friend Heather" suggesting some books I'd like to read. They were:
  • "Pretties"
  • "Marked" by Kristin Cast
  • "The Summoning" by Kelley Armstrong
How did Heather know I'd just finished "Uglies" on Saturday? I bought it probably a year ago (and I already have "Pretties", so she's out of luck on selling me that). I finished "Bitten" by Kelley Armstrong what, two weeks ago? How did she know? I didn't even buy it from Heather, I got it as a gift. And the last crop of books I bought from Heather were "Creating Language Crimes", "The Book of Jubilees" and ... oh hell, I forget what. Not YA. Neither of which I read.


Typing up a short story I wrote longhand a while back, I can only hope that this character is named Jiles, because I don't think even I would have named two characters in the same short story Julia and Jules. Well, not unless they were related, and they are not.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Surprisingly un-negative

It only seems like I'm posting a lot today, really I'm just cleaning out my draft folder.

Apparently the Merril Collection is not the enemy, contrary to what I wrote somewhere around here before.

I had a one-on-one meeting with the TPL writer-in-residence at the Merril Collection, and it was a surprisingly positive experience. I was left with the feeling that I could actually publish this stuff. We discussed my editing issues extensively. Like how I don't like it and that makes it kind of hard to even get started, and that maybe I don't like it because I don't know when to stop, and it's out of control and I need a strategy for when to quit it and let the market be the judge of the crapness of my work, rather than being that judge myself.

Though I have some lovely form rejections to argue that point.

And I learned the term "fish head" which is where I've got that boring infodump at the start of the story (in the case of this story, the page-and-a-half of exposition before the characters start talking to eachother. Because when you've caught a fish, the first thing you do is chop the fish head off.

I explained the origin of the story, and where I'd stolen the main character from, and he suggested I let the reader know the timeframe and the place, and maybe explain what that platform is doing out in the mouth of the Salween Delta. And that the only real problem is that my main character is very passive. I mentiond that originally, one of the other characters had been the POV character, and he said that could be interesting. But I don't think I'm going back, at this point. Uncle George is an odious character in my mind, and I can't really come up with a "Pat the dog" moment for him (another phrase I learned -- you can make the character as nasty as you want, and then you give him a moment when he does something surprisingly decent, and everything is okay between that character and the reader).

Out there -- April 2010

"Unicorn". Rejected by market #4. Need to get this sucker out again.

Read two stories on OWW in April, also, which is good but not good enough. I think I've got a system now.

In Process, April 2010

Manners. First draft novel. 95% complete. While I was at Ad Astra watching a panel on Time Management for Writers, I realized that I just have to finish this thing, so I can move on to something else. It's around 90,000 words, and time to wrap up.

"Dolphin". Short Story. Editing. I decided that it was trying too hard, and took out any sentence that seemed overworked. This got rid of 300+ words. Then I sent it to the TPL writer-in-residence. I also let Ed read it, and he said he didn't understand what was going on with the experiment with the dolphin, and what George's goal was with the surgery on Honorine, so I guess I took out too much. Oh well, back to the drawingboard.
I rewrote the intro and realized that I was just moving things around, and each draft is not better than the last because of that. So I stopped. This story is now up on OWW.

"Bezoar". Short Story. I find myself putting back things I've taken out. I think I'll try one more draft and then let people look at it, too.

"Troll". Short story. 400 words of start.

"Cats". It's a flash fiction that I've typed up and am thinking through.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What I read -- April 2010

"Pirate Latitudes" by Michael Crichton. It wasn't "The Pyrates" by any means. I think I tend to read more challenging books than this. It connectss interestingly (to me anyway) to the discussion Justine Larbalestier started about "crap" books. I don't think "Twilight" is any worse than "The Davinci Code" or this. I don't think it's a YA problem. It's that easy-to-digest books might sell better than harder ones sometimes. The flap said that this completed manuscript was found in Crichton's files after he died. I think it had been in there a long time, and needed a good copy-edit. Though the section about navigation into an island surrounded by a reef, directly into the sun, was really interesting and cool.

"Starfish" by Peter Watts. The boy says it should be called "Sea Star", because starfish aren't fish. And then he calls "Bill 157" because fish swim in schools, and therefore bill 157 applies. Bill 157 is an Ontario (I think) law that says that students can complain when other students offend them (or more accurately, I think, teachers can complain when students ought to be offended). I read it because I came across the author's blog due to his recent "situation" and I guess personal debacles are good marketing after all. The book was good. I read it in two days. I didn't find it overly depressing, and the characters were interesting. I liked the multiple POVs, especially where the psychologist has his breakdown. Funny.

"The Genius in all of us" by David Shenk. Ties in nicely with the "if you want it, you'll find time to write" theme that I got from Ad Astra. Also, deliberate practice: need to get me some of that. It's full of the 10,000 hours meme.

"Bitten" by Kelley Armstrong. Saw her on two panels at Ad Astra. This book totally sucked me in. By the time I was in chapter 2, I was totally interested in the main character and how she was going to handle the complex situation she found herself in. Also, the prologue has the main character running as a werewolf through the ravines of Toronto, and those same ravines are a big part of my life and my novel Apocryphal, so that made me happy.

The boy took it with him on a school trip. I wonder if I'm going to get questions from the staff advisors when he gets back...