Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writing Marathon 54

Today's writing time: 19 minutes of outlining. More ideas means more note taking! Now I'm up to 36 scenes. L. Scribe Harris (@marksmaster) believes that a plague of locusts must be next, if I'm writing something so long! ;)

I started reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and... wow. The first chapter was enough to convince me that I am going to love this book. After I finish Outlander, I should probably read more YA for the YA Report column for @SFFWRTCHT. Speaking of which, I am also reading Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. I saw an interview of her by sffwrtcht at the sfsignal, but I think that at the time of this posting they have exceeded their bandwidth. My impression of her from the interview is that she is a refreshingly practical person. Here's hoping the link works for you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rant: Happy Endings.

I finally finished the Bitterbynde Trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thorton. You can probably guess by the title what the trilogy did not have.

To be fair, the books had plenty of foreshadowing, warning me that the ending might be less than rosy. There's a prophecy at the beginning of the book that I conveniently forgot about, which comes up at the end as a thumbed up nose to the poor main character. There's more than that to clue the reader in throughout all three books. Each book is full of folk tales from the land and very few of them end happily. At best, the protagonists of these tales end up in a zero sum ending. And, just like in many of these tales, our hero has her prospects stolen away by a nearly random accident. It was a bit like watching Wash die. Strike that -- it was exactly like watching Wash die! Except that Wash wasn't the main character of Serenity. Harumph.

I suppose I require happier endings from the stories I read. Especially when they are so long, and believe me, the Bitterbynde books are long. I can put up with a fatalistic or depressing ending for a very good short story, but if I invest the time it takes to read hundreds of thousands of words following a single character through her romance, then, yes, I want a happy ending.

So, on that note, I've started reading Outlander for the first time. I'm already loving it, and between that and the Bitterbynde Trilogy, by the end I'll be able to write a novel full of characters that say things like "ye ken". Maybe I can top it off by watching Brave when it comes out? It's the year of the Scotts for me!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing Marathon 52

Today's writing time: 59 minutes.

I had another stack of notecards for an unnamed WIP and decided that it was time to type these up. As I had feared, a few of them were already out of order, although this time I can't blame any toddlers. ;) After typing them up and adding scenes and details to scenes, the entire document is already at 1k. Yikes! There are 25 scenes already and lots of holes to extrapolate more scenes into. It also still needs an ending. I think some characters need to die. Hmm!

Obviously I'll need a better way to keep my notecard outlines after we move. Since right now they are laying about here and there, I feared losing them in the excitement and chaos.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Writing Marathon 51

Today's writing time: 20 minutes. Wow, I didn't anticipate spending so long fighting automatic formatting, and then tying up other odds and ends for upcoming reviews and interviews at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Chat. But at least I learned something about Wordpress that may save me time in the future. Computer wiz is me!

Today L. Scribe Harris called me to tell me that Norm signed her chest at Balticon. Pics or it didn't happen!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Writing Marathon 50

Today's writing time: 23 minutes.

Another author got back to me with interview answers. Yippee!

So, at this point, I'm avoiding editing The People of the Sea. It needs more editing than I had deluded myself into believing before my beta reader got back to me. That's what beta readers are for, and thank goodness for that! Maybe tomorrow, if I finish Sookie first... ;)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Writing Marathon 49

Today's Writing: 15 minutes of outlining.

Remember how I had notecards for "The Rent-A-Mech and the Stablehand"? Well, those notecards were sitting in front of the computer at perfect toddler height. Then they were on the floor, all out of order. Then they were up on a shelf, still out of order, but at least also out of reach. Now it has been long enough since I wrote them that other objects had been placed on top. I figured I'd better type them in. This has also given me a chance to review my ideas, gauging their level of awesome. I'm thinking that these 5 scenes fall incredibly short of the number of scenes needed to finish the story, which is one reason why I've been letting it sit. They are scenes like: "Bruce is arrested." I may as well have written "good luck with that" underneath. There are also lots of transition scenes missing. I'm going to have to think on the whole project more before I delve back in. Don't even get me started on that last scene I wrote, which I then immediately highlighted and noted: "change from transition to scene." But at least I have some ideas to spring board off of. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writing Marathon 48

Today's Writing: 18 minutes, editing "Reseeders' Treaty".

If the kids keep going to bed later, maybe they'll keep waking up later, and I can devote more time to writing again. Also, it helps if I'm not trying to read "Deadlocked" by Charlaine Harris. ;)

Writing Marathon 47

Today's writing: 30 minutes.

The other day I received a rejection for "To Save Samantha." It took a bit of searching to find another market that I thought it might work for, and off it goes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Met Alethea Kontis Today

Gosh, I love book signings! But I hate driving (knee problem). So, when I learned that Alethea Kontis was coming not only to my state but to my town, you can imagine how excited I was.

And if you can't imagine, add in the fact that I was willing to take my two little ones with me, just to meet her and get a book signed for my cousin. Thanks to grandma and grandpa, I only had to take the weest one. Let me tell you, Perrin loved her. He found the whole thing amazing and tried to "talk" to Alethea as she was doing her reading and answering questions. Perrin is pretty picky, too! (OooOooh, alliteration!). Alethea is a charming lady and it was wonderful to meet one of my favorite authors in person. I learned that she has sequels for Enchanted in the works. Woohoo!

Check out her book tour and everything else Alethea at - Oh, and a fairy godmother told me that the audio book for Enchanted is full of magic ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing Marathon 45

Today's writing time: 47 minutes.

Reviews, interviews, and formatting! The time and effort to get your writing into the world has to count for something, so I'm counting it. Without these behind-the-scenes efforts, I wouldn't have...

This interview of Leah Petersen, author of Fighting Gravity! Go read her interview and read her book. Are you still here? Off with you. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Writing Marathon 44

Today's writing time: 30 minutes.

I did a quick edit pass of "Reseeders" to change the character's age. Making it YA has giving me a better feeling for the piece. I've left myself highlights on portions that I still feel iffy about, but don't have the presence of mind to change for the better right now. The new title for now is "Reseeder's Treaty." We'll see if it still clocks in at 2500 words after I rewrite the ending later.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing Marathon 43

Today's writing time: 30 minutes.

I'm proud of myself for working on what I said I would work on tonight, which is reviews. I finished and sent off a review for "Wilde's Fire" by Krystal Wade, and set a date for releasing my review for "The Six" by K. B. Hoyle. Not that I'm disappointed in myself when I switch projects, but at some point the reviews become time sensitive. Ahem.

I didn't want to write at all today. It took over an hour to get to the kids both to sleep, so by the end of that I was practically asleep myself. But after shaking myself awake, I stuck to my resolution AND I enjoyed myself. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Writing Marathon 42

Today's writing time: 15 minutes. Editing and notes for editing.

I know, I know. 15 minutes is my self-imposed minimum requirement. Earlier today I received beta reader comments that I have been waiting for (for People of the Sea), so I read over those and want to give it a chance to sink in. I took notes on the changes I want to make to Reseeders so that I don't leave myself scratching my head later. And I would still really like to think of a better title for that one. Hmm.

Earlier today I finished reading "Wilde's Fire" by Krystal Wade and I am thoroughly pleased. The description made it sound like horror fantasy, but it is actually a romance. Part of my dilemma earlier was accepting that fact. The book is already out so I'll be working on that review tomorrow in an attempt to get the review out ASAP.

I feel like I need a recharge, so I'm going to bed early. Cutting short one less productive night can equal better productivity later, if I cross my fingers just right.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Writing Marathon 41

Today's writing time: 1 hr 30 minutes. Editing, reviews, editing, and reviews!

I was still in "taking stock" mode from last night, and as I was glancing over the flash fiction I've written in the past 6 months, I stumbled upon a piece that I had a sudden desire to edit, and did. One of my favorite beta readers is getting back to me soon on a novella (People of the Sea) and the very idea of it is giving me editing fever. I think I had better write down some of my ideas for editing Reseeders before I lose track of my own name.

Eventually I settled down to work on reviews. I got the answer I needed to finish the review for "Shift" by Kim Curran - follow the author @KimeCurran on twitter if you like action-packed scifi set on Earth. Look for my review and the release of the book in September. (Hint: I like it and wish that I could shift ;) ).

I've also been reading "Wilde's Fire" by Krystal Wade (@KrystalWade). The book is quite enjoyable but I have had one or two issues with the premise because apparently I am a cynical prude. Even so, I have been devouring the book with relish and will have many positive things to say about it. I am not quite to the end, so... no spoilers!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writing Marathon 40

Today's time "writing": 40 minutes.

Tonight was a status check on my stories. It's good to take a moment to count which stories are nearly ready to submit, and find where I'd like to submit them to first. In fact, I found a great place to submit "The Gallant Reseeders" -- er, after a title change and heavy editing. Finding an intended home helped me pinpoint some of the changes that I would like to make as I edit the story.

Speaking of heavy editing, I also submitted, "To Save Samantha". I feel that the story is polished but that it might be difficult to find a home for a story with its experimental structure. I honestly don't know where I'd submit it to if it was rejected from this magazine. At least I won't be waiting long. This magazine is known for an amazing response time.

Tomorrow I'll probably work on the Reseeders, especially the title.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Writing Marathon 39

30 minutes and 700 words in "The Gallant Reseeders". I think I'll have to change the title! Oh well.

The funny thing is, it's only 2500 words. Oh, to find a market for that! It still feels good to finish it. I have had trouble pinning down endings for my last few flash pieces, getting the build-up and the dramatic decision at the end right. This might bode well for the other flash I have been working on, too.

And, as always, is a wonderful website and almost always a good idea.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Writing Marathon 38

40 minutes.

It probably sounds like I have been working on the review for Shift for quite long enough. I've sent the author a question, and then the review should be ready -- but wait! You probably won't see it until September, when the book comes out. The short of it is: it's a fun scifi drama set in England.

I also started a review for Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade. I like the book well enough, but something tells me that the horror genre is not my thing. Every time I try to read horror, I have some complaint or another. There have been several books I've tried that I haven't even mentioned on here because I couldn't get even half-way through. Wilde's Fire, however, has the kind of world development and all-strings-attached relationships that might woo me over to the horror aspect.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Writing Marathon 37

Yesterday: 30 minutes writing the review for "Shift" by Kim Curran. Almost done with that one!

Today: 1 hr. A bit of the review, but mostly writing in the scifi "The Gallant Reseeders".

I was going to call "The Gallant Reseeders" flash, but as it's almost up to 2k now and not finished, we'll see. It could hit 3k with some effort towards that goal. It was nice not to feel too tired and to be able to think about my stories while I was putting the baby to bed, instead of having to direct all of my energy to not falling asleep myself. Thinking about it ahead of time allowed me to write 1k in 45 minutes, which is about average for me. I might want to use next time to get the end of it out a bit faster so I can move on to revisions. As soon as I figure out what the end will be. Haha!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

YA Report: Fighting Gravity by Leah Petersen

I'm delighted to share with you my review of a hard scifi novel, Fighting Gravity, by Leah Petersen:

Fighting Gravity by [Leah Petersen]

“Fighting Gravity” by Leah Petersen is a science fiction gay romance that follows Jacob Dawes starting with his removal from the ghetto to the Imperial Intellectual Complex, where he is expected to benefit the Empire with his genius and, somehow, fit in with his prejudiced upper class peers. For a Romance, the book is high on smart details and serious themes which raise Fighting Gravity to the cream of modern science fiction. Never does the reader get the myopic sense that Fighting Gravity is about Jacob Dawes and whomever he happens to be in love with at that moment. Instead, the book is as much about social structure and personal improvement as it is about the unpredictable human heart. At the same time, Leah Petersen never loses sight of the personal relationships that make Jacob’s narrative a Romance that will have you racing to get to the end and then pining for the next installment.

Fighting Gravity is not YA, yet the characters are in their teenage years, so it may appeal to and be appropriate for young adult readers who are ready for more mature themes. Although the characters are teenagers, the perspective is of Jacob as an adult relating a story of his past, and the next book in the series will take the characters into adulthood. But what really separates Fighting Gravity from your typical YA book is that the romance is more realistic and more mature, reflecting the complexities of real life relationships and how they form, break apart, and evolve when the participants are faced with intrapersonal, interpersonal, and external challenges. Jacob’s relationships are affected by life changing events such as Jacob living on a spaceship for a year, as well as by Jacob’s human inability to explain or control his actions one hundred percent of the time. As the characters encounter these obstacles, they each strive for healthy relationships and a stable position in life. In other words, while the characters make their share of questionable decisions, the love interest is not a creepy jealous stalker type whose behavior is made all the more abominable by the other characters’ blind acceptance. Jacob Dawes is an antihero, but one who, like most good antiheros, eventually realizes that he’s due for self-improvement. For these reasons I find Fighting Gravity to be no more objectionable for a mature teenage reader than many of the standard classics on a high school reading list.

As much as I love a good Romance, my favorite aspect of Fighting Gravity is its tip-of-the-iceberg science that categorizes it unabashedly as Science Fiction. Like other great modern writers, Leah Petersen effectively brings Science to the forefront without bogging down the story or making the reader feel like they need a Masters in Everything. You come away with the sense that the author knows her stuff, without having to dive into obtuse pages describing how binary star systems work or why faster-than-light travel is or isn’t possible. Fighting Gravity is like if Ursula K. Le Guin and Orson Scott Card could co-author a book without exploding. On the one hand you have the liberal and social science aspects of Ursula K. Le Guin, and on the other hand you have a character-driven story that isn’t afraid to be entertaining.

The depth of Leah Petersen’s writing gives the reader credit and engages multiple aspects of the self. For that reason, I feel confident recommending this whirlwind read to a variety of genre readers, from Romance to High Fantasy, because even a lover of High Fantasy would enjoy the conflict arising when an Emperor and a boy from the ghetto lock eyes. If you’ve had trouble getting into other science fiction, give Fighting Gravity a spin. You don’t have to be a mechanic to enjoy the hum of a classic engine.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing Marathon 36

Tonight's writing: 1 hr. Several hastily scribbled notecards.

This outline has been teaching me how to write a novel, verses my usual short stories and novellas.

The first lesson is that it takes longer to write a longer outline (duh). I don't think I've written that much by hand in one sitting in years. I've even got notes on the back of several of the scenes, trying to keep relevant background information where I'll probably use it later. Having reached scenes beyond the half-way point, I've been attacking areas of the setting and background that need to be expanded upon before the final drama can be orchestrated. So far my biggest reason for celebrating is that, if I had started writing this story as per my usual short-story methods, with a sparse outline, I can assure you that it would have petered out and died around word 10,000. A re-write might have salvaged 2,000 of those original words.

Speaking of word count, somehow I still have less than 30 cards, which with the way I write, is only a projected 60k. It's adult science fiction so I'll be needing more than 80k to keep it marketable, and accounting for wanting to cut this or that in revisions, I'm going to try for 90k. I'm not used to planning for novels, so that's something I'm keeping in mind as I decide things like, Do I add this character? Do I add this trial that addresses a secondary theme? Do I put a dude (or dudette) in there just to kill them off five scenes later? Yes, yes, yes. I need to say Yes for now and worry about combining characters or scenes later when I'm reviewing the outline before starting the first scene. Instead of getting rid of a character because he's not doing enough, I'm trying to think, what CAN he be doing, so that I can keep him and use him to muddle things up further? YES muddling and death! This seems to be the attitude I need right now to push through the rest of this outline.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Writing Marathon 35

15 minutes. I may get in more with notecards, but I won't be getting on the computer after that. Mulled over the flash I've written/still writing recently.

Let me say, beta reading has really sped up my personal evolution as a writer. I wouldn't say that beta reading or getting beta readers is absolutely necessary, but feedback in some form is essential for improvement. You need other people to help you understand the forest you can't see when you are looking at the trees. Some of it you can learn on your own, but it may be a longer road. There is the obvious benefit of having others beta read your work, assuming you find decent beta readers. But I am also talking about reading other writers' work and commenting critically on it. Seeing the problems that other writers run into with their manuscripts, and brain storming with them, helps me do the same for my own work. It helps it feel more like a process that every writer goes through, rather than some personal failing of mine. And, it helps me be aware of the types of solutions that work for a variety of problems. Changing scene order, changing POV, how to edit for consistency, and all that good stuff.

Now, I found the note cards I was working on last, so I'm going down to re-familiarize myself with them while I eat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writing Marathon 34

16 minutes. Wrote a flash piece that I've been thinking about for two days. Not at all satisfied with it. I'll sleep on it, I guess?

The baby has been destroying my ability to write. He's been fussy about bed time, requiring me to stay with him longer and causing me to fall asleep in the quiet, dark room! I have ideas but when I go to write them, the sentences trip over themselves and fall flat on their faces. Snoring. Haha. I think he is coming back out of this phase already, as things with young children are always changing, sometimes because you adjust and do something different and it works better. Tonight I put them to bed 20 minutes later and he went to bed much more quickly. I suppose that is like leaving for work ten minutes later to skip all the traffic.

While I am getting my head back in the game, I think I'll revisit outlines that need more note carding so that I can focus on the part of the writing process that is working for me right now: ideas.

Writing Marathon 33

18 minutes. I "finished" that flash piece but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to rip out the ending and start over. At least it has an ending to rip out now.

Uuuuuuuuuuuugh. This report is so late because I fell asleep putting my needy children to bed! Love those guys. Do not love writing while groggy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Writing Marathon 32

15 minutes and 378 words. "Back Alley Resurrection" is right at the end, but I haven't gotten the last lines quite right. Need to think on it.

Today I started reading through L. Scribe Harris' manuscript, "Mark of Flight." I'm lucky to be one of her beta-readers! I also need to review "Shift" before my impressions start to fade. Bad reviewer, me! Chop chop! I'd love a night where I wasn't sleepy or starving to death. Speaking of which... ;)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Writing Marathon 31

20 minutes and 240 words. I'm still enjoying this flash, "Back Alley Resurrections" but I'm tired and just not with it. This was all for the sake of the habit. Stubbornness can be a good thing.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Writing Marathon 30

Day 30! If it takes 90 days to form a habit, I'm 1/3 of the way there. Or, a more uplifting way of looking at it is, go me! A whole month!

45 min. I stole 15 minutes in the middle of the day to work on the flash I was writing the other night. Then, as I was putting the kids to bed, I had another idea that I wanted to try out. Using I was able to hammer out 1k in that half hour, which is fast for me! I'm going to finish this newer story, tomorrow hopefully, and then another review for a book I just finished reading, and then I'll consider getting back into one of the longer works.

Tonight is recording night with Pendragon Variety. Woohoo!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Flash: "Big Enough"

"Your liddle brother’ll be bigger than you soon ‘nough," Momma said, and what Momma says has a knack for coming true.

When the cat scratched my face, I thought that was dumb luck. But then there was the pot that never boiled, and now, yes, the 7 foot toddler in the backyard. What is he...?

"Mamma! Junior's eatin' the neighbor's apples right outta the tree!"

"Boy, you put that apple down afore you turn inta one!"

I laugh as her eyes go wide, so she turns to me with a pointed finger. “I hope you have kids just like you!”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Writing Marathon 28

40 minutes. Polished and sent off a review and began a piece of flash fiction (200ish words so far). I had the idea for the piece earlier today and thought it might serve as a nice transition for going back to fiction writing. Reviews and other non-fiction, like the contracts, are different enough that it can require a bit of convincing to switch gears. Which is also why I don't drive a stick shift car any more.

Trying not to think about the fact that the baby took up 20 of the 60 real-time minutes that I set aside for writing. Silly baby!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writing Marathon 27

45 minutes of researching and revising the contracts for Pendragon Variety - I've sent them off for the approval stamp. I did my best to strike a balance between protecting Pendragon Variety's rights and leaving the author with any rights that we don't need. Oh, and you know what? I'd better go change our Submissions page to reflect that submissions are closed. Ahem.

There was also a minute or two of jotting down notes for reviewing "Shift" by Kim Curran. I'm only half-way through the book, so notes are about all I can do at this stage. I had started to read another book titled "Blackwood," but it turned out to have a lot less classic scifi than I was hoping and a lot more of BOO, ghosts! So, finding myself still not engaged 1/3rd of the way through, I dropped that one. "Shifter" is much more for me.  Pseudo quantum mechanics + free will = win.

Last night (day 26) was 30 minutes of writing a review for "The Six" by K. B. Hoyle, whose moralistic writing reminds me fondly of C.S. Lewis, if C. S. Lewis was reincarnated as a woman and decided to up his characters in age a bit. Oh, and there's no Jesus analogy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

YA Report: Alethea Kontis Interview

Woohoo! "Enchanted" by Alethea Kontis was so much fun to read, and then I got to interview her besides. Check it out here!

New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She has authored several published books in multiple genres as well as short fiction, essays, and poetry appearing in over ten anthologies and numerous speculative fiction magazines.. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, will be published by HMH (Harcourt Books) this spring.
You can find Princess Alethea online at: and on twitter at @AletheaKontis .