Monday, December 14, 2015

Schrödinger's Submission



(Elka is not otherwise appearing this post, other than with the understanding she's pretty much always here with me. I just think she's very photogenic)

So, when I send things out on submission, be it a query letter for a novel or a short story to a magazine, I call it Schrödinger's Submission. The submission is both an acceptance and a rejection, until I actually hear back. It is clearly a generous re-envisioning of Schrödinger's Cat, but who doesn't like some nice physics paradoxes in everyday life?

I still have one full request I'm waiting on for The Last Song, and just today received a very nice personal rejection on a full. It's odd to be happy about a rejection, but you see, there's nothing mandatory about personal rejections, or saying nice things. There's nothing to gain from blowing smoke up a writers skirts, and indeed, sometimes it's best to use those forms to hold writers at arm's length. Writers can be a bit loco.

At current, I have 7 short stories out at various markets. I have very high hopes about one of them, due to the emails I've received pertaining to it, but I'm trying to keep my cool. It isn't a yes yet. It isn't a no yet. It's both. It's neither. Savvy?


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's December and we have no snow

Despite my comments to the contrary, I ended up doing NaNoWriMo.

I started my novel on November 18, and in fact made the 50,000 mark. On the 30th, in fact, writing 8600 words that day.

It's a draft I'm so far happy with. Space science fiction,  near-ish future. Per my usual NaNoWriMo habits, it's currently "trunked", pending finishing at a later date. It doesn't have a title. It has a lot of plot kinks to work out. But the bones are there, and that's pretty cool.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

October report and NaNoWriMo doubts

All right, so October didn't really go as planned.

I mean, it kind of did. I sent out 21 submissions, 2 of which were queries for The Last Song. That's good progress, right? I've gotten 12 rejections back already, many of which came in the last week or so. 2 were personal, 10 were form.

But. In the middle of October, my organs staged a revolt (I am now acutely aware of where my kidneys are) and I'm still getting back on the horse from that. I haven't been reading anything, just watching stuff on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Other than yesterday's workshop, I haven't written a damn thing three weeks. So. It would seem NaNoWriMo isn't going to happen for me this year. Which is okay. I think I'm still pretty numbed from being sick and wanting to sleep all the time (okay, I still kind of want to sleep all the time).

My life isn't creatively bereft, anyway. We've got a lot of gaming going on still (I only missed a couple sessions of our assorted Pathfinder games through my sickness), including a new Shadowrun story in which I'm playing a decker (though not the same decker depicted in this post). It's probably the party role I've enjoyed best, though I did really like my brief stint as the Face (which is the person who arranges jobs and payments, does the risky purchasing, liasons with contacts, etc.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

October, October

So, it's October 5, and I'm at that stage of pre-writing I like to call "But what am I gonna write for NaNoWriMooooooo?"  (imagine that in a whiny child voice. Five year old, say)

Because I don't know what I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo. I could actually write the sequel to Learn to Howl this time, but I've actually gotten a somewhat notion of how to rewrite Learn to Howl so it's no longer "Is this YA?" as a few people have asked (I mean, I guess as it stands, it could be NA urban fantasy, but New Adult currently has mostly to do with things like "steamy scenes" and "heat levels", and there is none of that in Learn to Howl. Theoretically, there's room for non-romance, but romance-y stuff is what's caught fire there [hurr hurr].)

I did kinda-sorta think of a way I could write a sequel to The Last Song....but considering I'm hearing crickets and form R's on that front, a saying about eggs and baskets comes to mind. Also, Angry Robot Books is going to have another open door submission period in December, so I could send either manuscript there.

But, I feel like I should keep with the spirit of NaNoWriMo and break new ground. So maybe I'll stop dithering and write some fucking space scifi (my Get Your Ass to Mars shirt should arrive today, in fact. I purchased it from Buzz Aldrin's site after live-watching the NASA brief on how THEY FOUND EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL LIQUID WATER THERE and if you're not excited about that you should be).

And so, in this state, I am gesturing at what I did last October, which is submitting something, somewhere, each day. A paying market (I only submit to paying markets, and in the case of Daily Science Fiction, it really paid off. And then got me the non-paying but still freaking awesome spot on the Far-Fetched Fables podcast.)

(Okay, I'm either in rare form, or reading Jenny Lawson's new book, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things , is influencing me more than I realized. Whatevs.)

Thus far, I've sent out 5 things (to One Story, Shimmer, Nightmare, See the Elephant, and Tin House) and received 2 rejections already (Shimmer, Nightmare), which is very good for my turnaround in that I have few old ragged stories to rub together still. A few new ones that still need the edges polished. Oh yeah, and titles. Freaking titles.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Quotable Quotes from Gaming Life

A lot of gaming quotes are really only funny in context. I know it, you know that. Some gamers don't.

Then, there are some gaming quotes that are funny regardless. May I direct your attention to: Out of Context D&D

We frequently have D&D going in my household (well, Pathfinder), but we've also had Shadow Run and most recently Fading Suns going on in our gaming group. I thought I'd wade through and find some gems from there.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Shadowrun Story

I'm sure you remember my 30 Days of D&D back in May. Well, Dungeons and Dragons isn't the only tabletop role playing game I partake of; we've regularly played World of Darkness games, we've had a couple of Fading Suns games (in one right now, actually), and most recently, we've had a few Shadowrun games.

Now Shadowrun is interesting, and a game/setting which has taken me by surprise with how inspiring it's been. Shadowrun is, to quote the 1d4chan article, is "what would happen if William Gibson and Mercedes Lackey had a love child." In a way, it's one reason I've read all the William Gibson I have just lately. In addition to his books being Goddamn awesome.

But anyway. The Shadowrun character I played last summer, following up/finishing up this spring (ish) was street named Bells. She is a character whose headspace I felt able to enter easily, naturally, and the stories I wrote about her made the GM very happy (and influenced the overall plot of the game, though I didn't realize that 'til we were winding down). So, the story I'm sharing here is a story of Bells, after the game ended.

I do not own any of the Shadowrun properties, copyright or trademarks on terminology used here, etc. It's an exercise within an existing game setting. I do hope it's enjoyable, even without the context of the game we played!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Flash Fiction Finalist (or, Close But No Cigar)

I post every once in awhile about how I take part in Janet Reid's 100 word flash fiction contests. Well, after some stiff competition this summer, I still didn't win, but I was a finalist for the final one of the season.

Even though I haven't gotten mentioned a whole lot, I do try to enter each one of Ms. Reid's contests. Writing a story in 100 words, beginning-middle-end, is damn hard. It's a writing muscle challenge, to be sure.

The words to include were: remove, escape, away, lull, spare  (can use the word as part of a larger one)

And this is what I came up with:

When Becca was removed from her family and set up in our spare room, she was too old to be a kid and too young to be on her own. The only comfort she accepted was the lullaby of Grimalkin's burbling purr.

A person's ghosts are hard to get away from, but she was almost okay. Then the whispers started again. The knocking. Grimalkin hissed arched-back at empty corners, a tuxedo asterisk.

We labored over her escape plan, and there was no margin for error when we sent her off to prom, barred the doors, and set the fire.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Some quotes, mostly from work


Coworker: Jen's necklace is full of pixies!
Me: Well, they're probably dead by now, so the chiming you hear is the sound of their bones.
Coworker: You're fucked up.

Housemate: So there's this guy named Minotauro, and I wonder how you get a name like Minotauro.
Me: Well, your mom fucks a bull....
Housemate: Yeah, that's fair.

Coworker: "Who's the bad guy in Star Wars that's dressed all in black"? No, that question is too hard, the kids won't know it.
Me: Look, if those kids are so ignorant they don't know who Darth Fucking Vader is, your next program is showing them ALL of the Star Wars movie.
Coworker: Okay.
Me: Clockwork Orange style.
Coworker: ....oh

On August 6:
Me: Today is the anniversary of when the Enola Gay dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima.
Friend 1: ....oh
Friend 2: the only trivia I have about today is that it's Soleil Moon Frye's birthday.
Friend 1: Who's that?
Me and Friend 2: PUNKY BREWSTER

Coworker: *holds up magazine with a picture of a platter on it that has a 3d dinosaur in the middle* it's for...with candy?
Me: It's a shame the sides aren't higher, you could fill it with dark chocolate pudding and it'd be like the La Brea Tar Pits.
Newest Coworker: ....well that's....morbid....

And finally:

Two men were talking a little too loudly down the hall, while my coworker and I were dealing with a line. I finished up, and then the comment that broke the camels' back: "...hasn't been touched in 45 years!"

I went down the hallway to confront the gentlemen, and realized one of them was holding a fire extinguisher. He was the fire extinguisher maintenance guy. I got their attention and said "I'm sorry, but we need you to be a little more quiet than that, especially after your last comment, which could really be misconstrued.

They looked at me, looked at each other, and cracked up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How many hours?

Right before my writing workshop began on Saturday, I mentioned that (at the time) I was honing in on 50k words for my work in progress. (while 50k is my "official" on the Camp NaNoWriMo site goal, I'd really like to write to "the end", which seems like it'll be more like 60-75k and I don't know if I can get there by Friday but I want to try, so I haven't validated yet but I have ordered my t-shirt. I'm at 56,550 words as of this blog post)

The person I was talking to expressed his surprise/support/admiration/whatever and then posed a question I was somehow unable to answer: "How many hours a day do you write?" he asked, innocently.

Well.

When I'm writing, I'm never just writing, is the problem. I'm scrolling through Imgur. I'm checking my email when I notice I have a new one. I'm researching minutia, a fractured fragment of which actually ends up in the story. I'm taking the dog out, making dinner, etc. etc. etc.  Sometimes I'm also watching something online or on Netflix, and that can become a sticky wicket, because sometimes I want to watch anime, and I do not speak Japanese (other than exclamations like "nando" and queries like "nani"? [which I probably didn't even spell right]), so I have to pay attention to the subtitles. (Knights if Sidonia is very good, by the by. Attack on Titan is as well, though I haven't finished it yet).

So how many hours? A day? A week? I don't know. I know I can, uninterrupted and synapses firing, get down a thousand words very quickly. But then I need to know when the last day fireworks are in the summer at the shore. Then I need to know if October for the bad thing that happened is the right month for the story or not. Earlier? Later? Then I need to consider just how many more references I intend on layering in, and whether I should write the study guide for the high school classes which will curse my name in the decades to follow when my works are required reading. (fun to think about, right?)


How many hours?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My flash story "Adventuring" in Episode 65 of Far-Fetched Fables

So who's got two thumbs and has a story in a podcast with a story by Aliette de Bodard? THIS GUY!

That's right, episode 65 of Far-Fetched Fables contains my flash fiction story, "Adventuring", which first appeared in Daily Science Fiction a few months back.

I'm at work, so haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I'm sure it'll rock your socks! I've loved everything I've read by Aliette de Bodard (she's won two Nebula awards and a Locus, amont others), and of course I'm pretty fond of my story too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Waking Up

I'm sure you've all see this. The book, the story, that starts with the main character waking up. It's just one of Those Things™.

You've probably also seen literary agents (and/or editors) talking about how much they'd prefer writers to avoid said trope. And I get it. I really do. But I'm a contrarian by nature (or a know-it-all, whatever) and so of course I know of good examples of this as well. Or at least one.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Keep writing stories, and keep sending them out

I learned today that Tor.com has two different form rejections, one a little less form than the other, and that's the one I got today.

Along with the regrets that the short story they read wasn't quite what they were looking for, and luck sending it elsewhere, it includes the line "Please send us more of your work in the future."

I read an interesting article not long ago about the gender split of story submission behavior. It claimed that men, when they receive an encouragement like that, try to follow up as soon as possible (some markets want a gap between your submissions, as a for instance, a week, a month, etc.) and women will sometimes wait up to 6 months, if they submit to that market again at all.

I'm not sure how true it is. I'm not saying it isn't true either. I honestly don't know.

There are a lot of women writers getting published out there. The women who are successful, or becoming successful, could not possibly have been such shrinking violets when it came to submitting their stories. They had to have kept trying, kept sending them out (or been so goddamn brilliant they got published the first time out. I'm sure that happens to some people as well).

And then there's this blog post on The Missouri Review about perseverance (Okay, "stubborn" might get bandied about a bit). I feel like writers who are successful even a little, they persevere. They get the rejection and go "Okay, where can I send this next". Or, "What changes do I need to make so that this becomes a better story?"  I try to do both of these. I've been submitting stories for ten years or so by now and have had one acceptance. It isn't like I'm going to stop writing, so I need to keep being stubborn.

Onwards and upwards, my friends.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

When do you rewrite?

I've gotten more personal rejections this year so far than I did all of last year. So boo, still rejections, but yay, the story was good enough or I made a good enough impression that it garnered that extra little bit of attention, that little boost or hint.

In one of those rejections, it was suggested that the story didn't really seem to be the narrating character's at all. Which was true, really, and I'd known that all along. What I somehow hadn't considered was the notion of rewriting the story so that the narrator and the main character are the same person. Which sounds silly, I know, but we've seen it work the other way. Sherlock Holmes is arguably the main character of, y'know, the Sherlock Holmes stories, but Watson is the narrator for almost all of them.

So this rejection, this personal comment, was the push I needed to start a rewrite on that story.

Not every personal rejection is going to be that way. I've received at least one which seemed kind of....unnecessarily smug. And wasn't actually helpfully suggestive. So that one, while still valuable in its own way, goes in its own category.

Of course, there are also rewrites I've embarked on without outside suggestion. The story itself got enough rejections that I felt it needed severe revisitation. Or, I opened a dusty file some years after the original conception, and thought "well the bones are good, but it needs something....". I've got one story I wrote in college like that, probably more than one, which is looking for a home now. It was originally far more of a vignette, the characters far flatter than (I think) they are now. I feel like I overall have a better sense of story than I did in college.

I know as writers we all have strong similarities and strong differences. We all have our own journey and our own process. So, if and when you rewrite, when do you decide to? How do you get there?

Friday, June 5, 2015

I've never been to LA either

While I was in the throes of working on The Last Song, I blogged about how, though I'd chosen Detroit as it's setting, I'd never been to Detroit. Over a couple of posts, I've tried to discuss the media I was exploring in order to inform my sense of place, because Sense of Place is crucial both as a writer and as a reader. If my novel feels as though it could have happened literally anywhere, and just has the Detroit label slapped on it, well, then I didn't quite do it right.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

October Submissions: the final report

You remember my October Submissions. Submitting a story every day in October, blah blah. I finally got my last response, so can finally give the full picture on how things turned out for me. I know you're excited.




Saturday, May 30, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 30: Best DM You've Had


Well, it's the last day of the 30 day D&D challenge. I'm glad you came on this journey with me....it ended up being far more nostalgic at times than I'd anticipated!

So today I'm talking about the best DM I've had. It occurs to me that throughout the month, I never actually mentioned what "DM" stood for; I assumed you'd known the lingua franca. But, "DM" means Dungeon Master. It's a role which also might, depending on the system, be referred to as the Game Master or the Storyteller. Same dude. He's the one telling the story, the one who comes up with the setting (if not using one of the published ones), the one who runs the NPC's (non player characters), the one who runs the enemies and monsters when combat occurs.

Characters are important, but the DM is obviously the lynchpin of the whole deal. We players can make our own fun, certainly, but the DM's descriptions and stories are what keep us coming back and rolling those dice. And the best DM I've had? It's my fiancé, Jim.


Friday, May 29, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 29: What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?


 What number do I always seem to roll?

I seem to roll 14's an awful lot.

Some nights, though, it's 7. Or 6. Or 4.

Other nights? I'll get a natural 20 not once, not two times, but three times. Four if I'm super lucky.

That's the funny thing about the dice. They're random, and that randomness seems fickle. A low rolling night will follow a high rolling night. Or some characters are never lucky, until, say, you get dominated and start killing your fellow party members. Other characters are extremely lucky, even missing out on that early levels clumsiness we're so typically faced with.

So 14 isn't such a bad number to roll. Depending on what you're adding, it's more than sufficient.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 28: A Character You Will Never Play Again

A character I'll never play again? Well, pretty much everybody I've named here is a character I'll never play again. Maybe we'll go back to the game with Dolly in it, I dunno. Probably not. And that's kind of the way it is in my D&D circles (and my gaming circles in general).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 27: A character you want to play in the future

Oh boy, there's any number of characters I want to play in the future. Infinity characters.

More tieflngs, of course. I mean, they're right there in the core book! Why not, right? And also more fighters, of course. As I said, I haven't made one in 5th yet (though I did draw the fighter in the quickstart, but we only did 1 session of that? 2?)


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 26: Favorite nonmagic item


My favorite nonmagic item is Baatorian green steel (Baator being the Plane of Nine Hells, according to wikipedia) It's something I first heard about when I was playing Planescape: Torment, because one of the companion NPCs you can get has a green steel sword that you can change in a couple of ways. Green steel is not magic, but is special in the way adamantine or mithril might be, where it's a special material which has its own properties without enchantment. Dolly, my 5th edition Tiefling Rogue, had a green steel dagger which did short sword damage (I think it's had different properties in each edition). She would dual wield it with a regular dagger, and once scored a fantastic critical hit on an undead minotaur with it.

Second favorite is the clockwork gun reloader that Kate Walker made in our original try at the Age of Worms adventure path. It was what it sounds like, a specific holster which had the reload and the black powder, and when she slapped a gun into it, it would take a round or so to reload the gun (which is one reason she had a lot of pistols, once gold flow allowed), and then bing when it was done, so then she could draw and shoot. Granted, the reloader then had to be reloaded in order to work, but she made it herself and that was awesome.

Monday, May 25, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 25: Favorite Magic Item

I don't know if I'd considered before whether I had a favorite magic item. But in a way, of course I have.

It might sound silly, but one of the favorite things I've ever had a character have was the +1 longsword named Hoardmaster from Gorgoldand's Gauntlet, that Brigid got in the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (Hoardmaster was kind of the payoff for losing that bastard sword). She used that sword for the entirety of the adventure (it didn't stay +1, but those changes come from one of those places where Jim blurred the adventure path and his elements of story and setting).

Sunday, May 24, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 24: Favorite Energy Type


Favorite energy type? That's....weird. Do people have favorite energy types?

I guess "force" might be my answer. Non-elementally typed damage. So, what Magic Missile does, say. It bypasses most basic damage reduction (or did in previous editions? 5th does interesting things with resistances, I think. Though we've only seen a little of that so far), it doesn't leave you stuck with only fire spells to fight the red dragon, etc.

That said, I have seen electricity damage put to amazing use. "Touch of the Eel" was a spell our wizard would cast on me in the Temple game; the next enemy struck would then take my weapon damage plus the spell damage. At one point I literally exploded a 4 armed gorilla (I forget what they're called) when I walked into a room and rolled a 20 on that trusty purple die while Touch of the Eel was cast on me. Then there are the majestic lightning bolts I've seen cast (and have, on occasion, cast myself).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 23: Least Favorite Monster Overall

My least favorite monster? Let me tell you a story about my least favorite monster.

I've talked about Brigid in many of the posts her. She was my formative D&D character, the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil game really my formative D&D experience. It is what it is. This has been a fabulous nostalgia train, actually.

Friday, May 22, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 22: Favorite Monster Overall


My favorite monster overall, hmm?  This monster thing might be getting a bit tiresome. As a player, I tend not to just page through and read the Monster Manual. I like being surprised, and a little bit scared. I like not knowing what the terrible beasties might do to us. It lends a sense of mortality, and danger, to the combat. These things aren't cakewalks, and one tends to want one's character to live through things, to achieve hopes and dreams.

But....favorite monster overall. There's a couple I'm fond of, that I didn't touch on in the previous posts.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 21: Favorite Dragon Color/Type


It's funny that it took 'til day 21 to reach the "dragons" in "Dungeons and Dragons". Granted, they might not be something every party faces. But not a single dragon fight I've been involved with is ever easy, and I could think of 10 off the top of my head. There were almost certainly more. When a critter is as big as dragons tend to be it has a lot of attacks. When a critter can fly and the players (frequently) can't, that adds another dimension to the battlefield, and another advantage on their side.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

30 Days of D&D: Day 20: Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)


I've actually had very, very little dealings with the fey in context of D&D. Like, there was a grig in one Pathfinder game (we were actually trying to do the Temple again, if I remember right) wherein I was playing a fey blooded sorcerer. But the grig was only a very small part of the story, not the main focus in any way. He was a nifty little guy, anyway. If I was inclined to run games, I might do a fey-oriented story, but I find I'm much better at writing stories than telling them.

I think my favorite humanoid  (is it natural? whatever) monster might be the gnoll. Gnolls are, essentially, hyena people. Which can be very interesting when you consider it, since hyenas are very female dominated, and even scientists who study them have trouble differentiating between males and females. Depending on your DM, the gnolls then might be a roving female band of marauders, which is like equal opportunity monstering. Depending on alignment and culture, they might be available as a playable race in a game. If they're adversarial, they might also do things like have hyenas they use in combat/keep as pets/whatever like the hyena men in Africa.

Additionally, There's another kind of gnoll, or a cooler kind of gnoll, called the Flind, which tends to be more intelligent if a bit smaller,. and they even have their own special weapon called the flindbar which is a bit like nunchaku I guess but don't tell them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 19: Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)


My favorite D&D Monster that is a plant is the myconid.  They're technically a fungus, being a mushroom, but close enough for government work right?

I actually haven't run into them very many times. Once in a game in the steam world, where we were all fighters (which is a very interesting kind of game to set up and play, actually. There's a lot of variation and individual characterization there). My character soloed one, as the others were dealing with a Displacer Beast. I felt kind of bad, actually, as he (it?) seemed rather mournful. But when monsters attack you in D&D, you tend to fight back so your character survives.

Once in the game where I played Agatha (that was the game where Snik made his appearance), the party got directions down the continent from one. And most recently, the party stumbled into an underground mushroom cave that was the myconid's food farm. At least I think that was a myconid.

But. Mushroom people. They're really different. They're not necessarily an automatic violent adversary. They don't have an anatomy which you would expect.

Monday, May 18, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 18: Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)

When it comes to Outsiders, there are several I like, but a couple which really stand out.

I already discussed tieflings, which are actually considered "native outsiders" (well, provided you're playing on the plane on which said individual was born. A tiefling born in Sigil but come to the Forgotten Realms, say, would be a plain ol' outsider I guess). The other side of the tiefling coin is aasimar, which are people descended from angelic influence rather than demonic or devilish. They have similar abilities (light instead of darkness, a different handful of small elemental resistances, etc.) and though they don't have a rad historic d100 table you can roll on (that I know of) you can kind of extrapolate; vestigial wings might be white-feathered instead of batty, as an example. That kind of thing.

Other than that, though, I really like Night Hags. Hags in general, I guess. We've had a couple of games which featured them heavily, and they're a thematic I enjoy. They have all that terrifying folkloric flavor I tend to enjoy, and are also not a terribly overdone beastie. They're powerful without seeming unable to be overcome, they're sinister and intelligent and more than capable of reason and diplomacy. They're a great baddie to have, because depending on the party, maybe they can just get along? But if they don't, it's sure to be an interesting and ruthless fight.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 17: Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)


Well, I can't say that I have a favorite "vermin" type when it comes to, well, anything. With animals in general, it's dogs, but most "normal" animals aren't in play very often when it comes to D&D. Horses, I suppose, and the occasional mule. So, I'm going to bend this one a little bit and pick my favorite Magical Beast, because that's kind of on the animal line.

My favorite magical beast is the Cockatrice.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 16: Favorite Monster (aberration)



My favorite D&D monster which is an aberration is the Cloaker.

It's one of my lifelong game goals to make friends with a cloaker that I will then wear as a cloak, and it'll be my buddy that watches my back in battle and in tight situations.

Cloakers are kind of nasty beasts to fight, in that they'll wrap somebody up entirely, grappling them, and it's possible it'll just strangle that person to death while they're in its clutches. It's then particularly difficult for the other people in the party to fight because, well, few of us like stabbing our friends.

Friday, May 15, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 15: Favorite Monster (Undead)

What is my favorite Undead Monster? Well, I do warn you, as a player and not a DM I'm going to perhaps have different insight on the monstery end of things.

Well. I was actually a little surprised to find I had one which came immediately to mind: the ghoul. They're humanoid undead which has a paralytic touch, a pretty bad stench, and a long terrifying tongue with which to lick the marrow from bones.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 14: Favorite NPC


My favorite NPC (non player character) is a fighter named Agnor we picked up in the Fire Temple (I think) of the Return to the Temple of Elemental evil. He'd been a mercenary, and was doing it for the pay, not because he'd believed in raising the ultimate evil to come and rule the world or whatever. So he surrendered and then ended up coming along with our adventuring party as we sallied forth through the rest of the temples, and eventually he and Brigid hooked up. He's the reason Brigid didn't end up killing the party's wizard during a vampire fight, when the vampire case "Dominate" on her, she of course failed the save, and got to stabbin'; Agnor ended up getting her into a grapple before the final damage was done. But anyway, I'm sure after we "won" the Temple, they rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after, as retired adventurers do. They do, right?

Though we've had other magnificent and memorable ones.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 13: Favorite Trap/Puzzle

Let's see, my favorite trap or puzzle. Though my favorite play location is in fact ruins, and that seems like the most likely place to find traps and puzzles, I had to rack my brain a bit for this one.

And really, it's an odd question, because I find traps to more of a "I hope this doesn't kill me/us" far more than "ooh, a puzzle!"


Monday, May 11, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 11: Favorite adventure you have ran

I'm sure, if you've been following 'til now, you'd know the favorite adventure I've played in is Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

It was published when we were in college. My fiancé, the one who ran it, remembers remarking that he'd always wanted to run one of those old school big adventures. We were at the mall, in Waldenbooks (before it became Borders, before it closed), and I said/thought "well that would be really cool" and bought it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Saturday, May 9, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 9: Favorite Character You Haven't Played


I at first thought this was worded kind of oddly, "favorite character you haven't played", but I figured it out. We're frequently required to interpret the wording on things.

Friday, May 8, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 8: Favorite Character You Have Played

The favorite character I've played?  Can I do a top 5?  Top 10? Sure I can!

(I'll do as many as I want, apparently. Every time I thought I was done with this post, I was like "no, what about...")

These are in no particular order, other than Brigid.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 7: Favorite Edition

Favorite edition is another hard one for me. I started playing in 3rd edition, and there are things I remember fondly from it. I play with people who started in 2nd, and I've heard their stories throughout my gaming career.

3.5 fixed some stuff that 3rd hadn't gotten quite right, but it also bungled some of them. We actually had a couple campaigns running when the change happened; one DM had us change, midstream. The other did not.

Overall, the edition I'm most familiar with is Pathfinder. It's 3.5 compatible, technically, though we've never mixed any of the 3.5 books with it. I have a good handle on the rules for a variety of classes and situations, and in a way I think it's what we played the most games in, anyway. The online Pathfinder SRD has also been a game-changer (figuratively and literally) because it is free, many people have smartphones and tablets, and though we do purchase most of the books it's nice to have them accessible, searchable, and alphabetical. You don't have to look at 4 books to see all the spells your Witch has access to, say, it's just there on that page of the SRD. You don't need to look at every single book to look at the feats, the feat requirements, etc. etc. because it's there alphabetically. I only hope 5th edition does such a thing as well.

5th edition has a lot of neat things going for it, and a few odd changes, gaps, and discrepancies. It's too early to say if it's "the new favorite", or even what the table is necessarily sticking with. We've started the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure, a 5th edition in the Forgotten Realms corollary to the 3rd edition Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil which was such a formative gaming experience for me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 6: Favorite Deity


Favorite Deity? That's a tough one.

I actually tend not to play religious characters. Maybe it's a holdover from my Catholicism? I don't know. D&D is playing pretend, it isn't demonic blasphemy. I know that. You know that.

(you should know that)


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 5: Your Favorite Set of Dice/individual die

Favorite die or dice is an interesting question. Some gamers are very superstitious about their dice. We met somebody once who was affronted if another person deigned to touch his polyhedral pieces of plastic. Don't get me wrong; anything that's a repetitive ritual gets superstitious attachments to it, whether you mean to or not. While at the table, and my die is "in repose", I set it down 20 up, regardless of what die I'm using. Maybe it's a mental thing; I think positive, I think 20, I roll higher (you want to roll higher, typically). Maybe it's a physics thing; the plastic settles so the side opposite the 20 is heavier, and rolls higher. Regardless. It's a thing I do. It doesn't mean I don't have dice I lend to people.


Monday, May 4, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 4: Favorite Gameworld

Favorite Gameworld is a tough one for me because a lot of play at my table, regardless of DM, has been what's referred to as "homebrew" worlds. Meaning, the games don't necessarily take place in a published Dungeons and Dragons setting. So, I'm going to have to have a couple of answers for this one, actually.

Favorite published gameworld is a split between two I've never really played in (a single game session or two each, not games that took off): Ravenloft, and Planescape.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 3: Favorite Playable Class


Fighter. Hands down, my favorite playable class for a very long time has been fighter.

The first character I put on paper, but did not play, was a human fighter who was escaping fighting pit slavery. The character I played to the highest level  I've to date attained was a human fighter. It was a great class for me to learn the D&D systems, learn how combat and the battlefield worked, and be able to have a pretty straight dotted line when it came to decision making. 

(this is kind of a funny point of comparison here, for me, as a gamer. I stuck with fighters in Dungeons and Dragons at the beginning, because of their lack of complication and their perceived ease. In Shadowrun, which we play once a week, I've been playing a Decker, which many other people at the table think is the hardest role to play. It's interesting, to see how different systems might appeal to you differently, and also to realize and recognize how you might have grown and changed as a gamer)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 2: Favorite Playable Race


My favorite playable race, hands down, is the Tiefling.

They aren't straight up half demon or devil, just....a little off. Something wrong in the family woodshed, as it were. Or right, depending on your alignment.

One reason they're interesting is yeah, they can be evil. You could be evil willfully, or as the product of your environment, whatever. But. They can be good too (or chaotic neutral, frequently a fun one). But their appearance is an immediate count against them. Walk into a room or down the street as the one with horns, and there's going to be whispers and opinions immediately formed. And that can bring an interesting dynamic to the person you're playing. 


Friday, May 1, 2015

30 days of D&D Day 1: How you got started

I didn't start playing Dungeons and Dragons until Sophomore year of college, and the Spring half of Sophomore year at that. Until that point, the only thing I'd done in that area is play the collectible card game, Magic: the Gathering. Well, I'd free-form roleplayed in the chat rooms designated for such on Prodigy Internet, but I've yet to meet anybody else who did. Or who would admit it. Or who heard of Prodigy Internet. I have known some people who RPed on AOL, anyway.


But my now-fiancé, then boyfriend, Jim was running a 2nd edition game for some friends of ours. I wasn't deliberately disincluded, but I was ignorant, and there was a point at which I asked to be taught. I never did join that 2nd edition game (though I did put a character on paper for it), and 3rd edition came out or at least caught on in our college gaming culture at about that times, so once the door was opened, D&D was on the table.

(get it, on the table? Tabletop role playing? Yeah. I'm here all month!)


Monday, April 27, 2015

May is going to be D&D month

The title says it all. See, somebody I'm Facebook friends with shared a post from Tumblr that had this picture in it....you get the idea.

Rather than post on Facebook, I figured I'd mine this for daily blog posts for a month, or 30 days of it anyway.

When I say D&D, I mean the spectrum of D20 based fantasy I've played, which spans from 3rd edition D&D, to 3.5, to Pathfinder, and now to 5th edition. Pathfinder was still "D&D", ish, as it was published using the D20 open gaming license.


But, I've talked a little bit about the characters I've played before, and thought answering these questions in blog form would be fun.

Also, it's funny that the die pictured is a 30 sided die, not 20; the only use I've ever seen for a D30 is a racing board game which was, I think, from France. I do not own a D30, nor do I aspire to. I wouldn't mind owning one of these rad metal D20's, though.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Some recent Shenanigans

Me: Did you see that .gif on Imgur the other day, of that guy playing fetch with his headcrab?
Fiancé: ....."that guy?" Come on.
Me: What, I didn't play those games!
Fiancé: [silence]
Me: ...Gordon.....
Fiancé: You can do it, honey.
Me: Lightfoot!  [yes, I knew this was wrong]
Fiancé: Freeman. Gordon Freeman.
[and then he replaced Gordon Lightfoot lyrics with Halflife words. It was awesome.]





Wednesday, April 15, 2015

oh, the synopsis

I'm working on my synopsis for The Last Song, and I stumbled upon this lovely picture. It's beautiful and says everything I need it to. The trick is making people forget this is how things end (provided they know/recognize the myth to begin with). At least one of my readers was, in fact, "fooled" 'til the last line.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

My First Publication! "Adventuring", in Daily Science Fiction

I put off telling you guys about my acceptance, because I've been burned before.

But, it's really happening! Happened, rather. My fantasy flash fiction story, "Adventuring", is today's Daily Science Fiction story. Go read it. It'll be quick!

Daily Science Fiction, if you did not know, publishes scifi and fantasy every weekday. You can get the daily free story right in your email (as I do) or visit their site each day. My understanding is they have a monthly digest available for Kindle. A lot of people, when they read the story, do comment about it on their Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter. Daily Science Fiction is a Science Fiction Writers of America qualifying market.

"Adventuring" was one of my October submissions. I sent it in on October 29, and got the acceptance on December 7! Its inspiration came from a couple of places...playing Dungeons and Dragons, of course(5th edition is pretty fun so far, by the way). A Chuck Wendig prompt, I think, but I can't remember what one and did not, of course, record that bit of information.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What if nobody slept anymore? fiction prompt

The writing workshop continues to be fun. The group wants to consider having a theme for "homework" so we can come back with pieces and see what we've all come up with. Like a prompt, but perhaps larger/more open ended. And definitely meant to be something more complete than what you do in ten minutes!


But this past Saturday (on March 28) one of the prompts we did was "What if nobody slept anymore"? I read a book last year, Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun, which I guess stuck with me more than I thought. It was about an insomnia epidemic. It influenced my piece, I'd be lying if I said it didn't, but I think my as yet undetermined cause, and the progression of events, would differ considerably.

But. Nobody can sleep. Here's what I wrote:


Friday, March 27, 2015

When starting over....isn't starting over?

So on Monday, in Holding Pattern, I wrote about how I wasn't really writing. And I tossed out, at the end, how maybe I'd mash up one of my camp novels and a prior NaNoWriMo novel, both of which reached 50k but neither of which were finished.

Of course, I've been thinking about it ever since.

This isn't as simple as alternating paragraphs and seeing what happens, or whatever. I'm sure there are some scraps of the manuscripts that can exist as such, but overall, we're talking a clean slate, Page One Chapter One bottom up project here, almost as though I'd never written any of it in the first place. I think the serial killer bits need to go. An I think a tremendous flaw in my take on Hamlet was leaving out the supernatural. I think a tremendous flaw in my Asbury Park project was that I did not make it modern, and took too long to get to the fucking point. I can probably still keep the title of the Hamlet project, Esto Quod Es, at least as a placeholder (and I haven't quite solved my Plot Cliff problem, though my subconscious insists it's working).

I haven't written anything yet. But I'm getting a mental sense of the shape of it, the arc, how it all hangs together. I've been listening to about the right music it seems, Bruce Springsteen but also much of what Pandora thinks is like Bruce Springsteen (Protip: sometimes Pandora is wrong. Do not hesitate to tell Pandora when Pandora is wrong).

But I've already spent time with all of these characters. I've got a sense of their wants and their needs, and most importantly their goals. I'm not starting from scratch, not quite. I've been reading both of the novels (finished Asbury Park, working on Esto Quod Es) and have been pleased several times with what already exists. I just need to isolate those pleasing islands and string tem with other beads of appropriately matching size, shape, and coloration.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Branching Interests

Sometimes, there are topics I gain interest in seemingly out of nowhere. Space was kind of gestured at me (I met an astronaut, Pete Conrad, when I was very young) but not really supported in any kind of long reaching way. Nobody influenced my interest in things like shamans and cave paintings, for example (and I still need to finish Mircea Eliade's book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, which I only read about half of and put down. So really, I need to restart it and read the whole way through.)

But, whatever the source, I am interested in shamans and cave paintings, and so was stoked to see this article from the Smithsonian about a full scale replica of Chauvet Cave that they've constructed in France (where the original Chauvet is, natch). If you don't yet know why this is amazingly cool, get thee to Netflix or your library and find The Cave of Forgotten Dreams to watch. It's incomprehensible just how amazing a space it is. It also amazes me that Chauvet Cave was discovered in 1994, but I didn't hear about it at the time.

But there are a lot of things I didn't know about at the time. For instance, the International Space Station, which captivates a lot of my interest now, was built while I was in high school. Piece by piece constructed in orbit, and I had no idea. I wish I'd become a space nerd far earlier, really I do. But a thing my dad would have thought was really cool is there's an intersect of space and beer coming out on April 13; namely, Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon is releasing Ground Control, which is an imperial stout they've brewed from yeast they launched into space.

That I can tell, the yeast wasn't left in space, but rather was launched (encapsulated in vials), reached a certain space altitude, and returned to earth. So, kind of gimmicky sure, but it was yeast that went into space and survived, remaining healthy enough to be used for brewing. Yeast can be kind of sensitive, so this does hold some real interest beyond "fuck yeah, space beer." They don't seem to have t-shirts or hats or anything, which is disappointing. It's also going to be a limited release, so I don't know if it'll come to my area or not. There are a couple places here in town which have fairly good beer selections.

Of course, I'm not particularly into beer, though I am inclined to be a beer snob on principle. But I dislike dark beers far less than I dislike light beers, and as I mentioned last week, I did drink an Irish Car Bomb on St. Patrick's day, which was interesting. The Guiness on its own tasted all right, it wasn't aversive to me when I sipped it before taking the plunge (to make sure I could). The hard alcohol (it's half a shot of whiskey and half a shot of Bailey's, essentially) was all right as well, probably because of the Bailey's. And the two together? Cancelled out the things I dislike about each other. So that was kind of cool. I'm not saying it's My Drink™ now or anything like that (I don't really have one of those. Whiskey Sours are....okay anyway. Rum and Coke might be the closest, I guess, if it's the dark spiced rum like Kraken or Cockspur).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Holding Pattern

So no, I haven't been writing much lately.

Or, more correctly, I have. But it isn't anything...cogent? Useful? Ultimately publishably productive beyond the exercise of putting electronic words to the electronic page?

The writing workshop is going well, but none of my writing prompts have, for me, taken off into what will become a larger work. Maybe some of them will. But there's still steeping in the subconscious brain soup, and having bubbled to the surface yet.

here's some Elka for your troubles

Friday, March 20, 2015

There is no party like a Goldberg party

Me: Have you heard of Resting Bitch Face? I pretty much definitely have that.
Newest Coworker: I haven't heard of that. I feel like I have resting Morose face, but I'm not a morose person.
Me: Well, on Tuesday, a friend accused me of having Resting Judgement Face.
~~~~~~~~~~~Later~~~~~~~~~~~~
Newest Coworker: Oh, I see it now. I think what you have is Judging Bitch Face


(oh, apparently it's actually "Bitchy Resting Face", not Resting Bitch Face. Fucking whatever.)


"Look honey, we came to the Barrens to choke a bitch." ~ From the Shadowrun game


Me: I had my first Irish Car Bomb on St. Patrick's Day!
Coworker: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you. I thought you said car bomb?
Me: I....I did. It's a drink.


Coworker: Oh watch, now you get to see Jen go be mean, you haven't seen this yet.



Monday, March 16, 2015

Finding those random story notes (illustrated with Supernatural gifs)

Sometimes I find notes I've written to myself, clearly while at work, on scraps of the sort of paper we have on hand at the library. These notes are less "hey, remember to do this" (though there are times I could certainly use that) but more of "this would make a good story" or "this would go well in that story you're working on."





Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another Wendig flash fiction challenge: Ten Sentences

I don't have a title for this one (not a terrible surprise, to me anyway), but I've (for once, after awhile) done Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge. This week, it's pick from Ten Random Sentences. Extra points if you include more than one, which I did; I used "The memory we used to share is no longer coherent" and "a glittering gem is not enough". Also, I wrote it as a....companion? Answer? to "Scarlett Promise", a previous Wendig challenge.
I ran spellcheck and shifted some stuff around after writing it, but otherwise it isn't edited. I wonder if the two together will eventually turn into a larger piece. As always, we'll see, right? I also came in under the 1000 word limit, at 989 or so.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More flash from the Writing Workshop

The library workshop continues to go well (...I think...?)  We've got three male members this time, which is cool. About the same 7-8 people have come each time, which is very cool. We're settling into a comfortable rhythm of writing and sharing, or not sharing. I've been very clear that if you don't wanna, you don't have to, and nothing we say should make one feel otherwise.

Last week at home, we ordered Chinese food twice, an unusual occurrence. I'm pretty much the only one who eats fortune cookies, so we had 8 of them. I looked at the pile of fortune cookies and thought "Well there's a writing prompt." I asked around with my coworkers, and somebody else brought me 3 more, so I'd have enough just in case.

There was a bit of hilarity when we got down to business at the workshop. I had the cookies in a Wal-Mart bag, and I went around, giving each person one. Then I said "This is your writing prompt. Use the fortune. Use the lucky numbers. Use the cookie itself, I don't care. Open 'em, eat 'em, whatever. Write for fifteen minutes." And we got down to business.


Monday, March 2, 2015

6 queries sent! (plus, how I'm NOT querying)

As of now, I've queried 6 literary agents for THE LAST SONG. Haven't heard back from one yet (except the couple who have auto replies on the query email address, which stops my heart each time, I tell you whut).

Some I've had to remove from my "initial pass" list of 13 or so, because they're just gone. M-O-O-N. Quit or retired or something, I don't know. Some I have to wait on, because they're closed to queries just now.

My query letter is....good enough, I think? I've had a couple of eyes on it, with no major criticisms. Plus, I've read all of Query Shark, and keep up on Janet Reid's day to day blog, in addition to reading things like the Rejectionist, the New Leaf Literary blog, etc. etc. I had a brief "clever" idea to write an invocation of the muse as a query, since THE LAST SONG is the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, but clever queries only work if they work, and sometimes you burn bridges before realizing they're a total fail. So I didn't do that. I'm also not saying things like "OMG, if you sign this book with me, we can totally get Dave Grohl to do an album for the book, right? He's so cool and will totally be into that! And then when we sign the movie rights, we can get Alexander Skarsgård to star!"

The book....well, I'm pretty sure the book is good enough. I still like it. I've got at least one person who read it in its entirety and asked what else I had that they could read. I've got a couple folks making gestures at it when they can, in the midst of their own busy lives (And I'm VERY THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL TO THEM).

I still haven't settled in to a new writing project. Again, this isn't unusual for me. And I saw on Facebook today that CampNaNoWriMo is going to be starting up again. Maybe I should use it to finish my girl-Hamlet novel? Or work on my fantasy novel from last summer? Or finish The Wolf You Feed, which needs a lot of editing but needs to be DONE first so I should stop fucking around and write it first, fix it later, which is I know a principle which works well with me if I could just actually do it for crying out loud. Part of it is I have the luxury of time, I guess. No real deadlines. No real consequence to not finishing or writing any of these things, because I have no contractual obligations. Of course, that's a two-edged sword; I can write what I want, when I want. I don't have to do any of it. I want to. So sometimes I don't.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some flash fiction from my writing group

The library writing group is going pretty well so far (I'm posting from there, shhh don't tell).

We're having a lot of fun with writing prompts, as only a few people have brought stuff from home to critique so far. I've apparently taken to writing about a family with two mischievous kids in it, though that's not what I'm sharing with you just now.

This prompt was: Lost on vacation.


"The cruise will know it when we don't come back."

"I don't know why you're saying that, Gerald. Is it meant to be reassuring?" She didn't look at him, just stared straight ahead at the back of the driver's head.

"I just mean....well, we paid them, right? They won't leave without us." He tried to take her hand and she shrugged away from him, then leaned closer to deliver her admonishments in an angry half whisper.
"I have no idea. I'm not the one who booked the cruise with the stops in Cozumel and Montegos and wherever the fuck we are right now. You did. You book the cruise, you signed the contracts. They might have said they'd sell us to Columbian coke dealers and you agreed to it."
"Lauren. Why would you say that?" The guys in the front seat didn't seem to be paying any attention, except to grin at each other when she raised her voice. Anger surpassed language barriers.

"Well, what else am I supposed to believe? No, we couldn't possibly take the cruises's snorkeling trip. We had to go find somebody in the flea market and go off into the jungle with them. Where are they taking us? And why did we do this if you can't speak Spanish."

"I took Spanish in high school. I thought with immersion, it would come back to me."

"You took how much Spanish in high school?"

"Un poco." He smiled winningly, then grimaced as the Jeep hit another rut on the muddy road.

"Well guess what, Gerald, I didn't take Spanish in high school. I took Latin, which would be useful if we got lost time traveling. Not nearly so useful on a nameless island in the Caribbean. Where they speak French almost as much as they do Spanish."

"Then why did you come with me?"

"Oh, excuse me, a romantic WARM cruise? In the middle of a New York winter? Why would I turn that down."

"no, I mean why did you get in the Jeep with me, if you thought these people were going to sell us to Columbian coke dealers?"

"Because I love you. God help us both."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Two queries sent, ? to go!

I've mentioned it once before (at least once), but for me, waiting is the worst part of submissions.

See, I've sent out two queries so far for The Last Song. And am surprised at how nervous I am. I guess  I thought all those short story submissions (and rejections) would inure me. I wasn't entirely wrong. But not entirely right either.

I looked at today's #MSWL (manuscript wish list) on Twitter today, becuase I was like "yeah, an event thing! When I finally feel like I have a ready novel!" And wouldn't you know not a single agent said just the right thing to make me slap excitedly at my keyboard and go "ME ME PICK ME I HAVE IT RIGHT HERE." This doesn't mean I don't have a list of agents; of course I do. Just nobody #MSWL'ed today for me.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Writing Prompt: "I can explain"

So, two meetings down, the library writing group is doing well. Last week, I used Janet Reid's flash contest as a prompt. This week, one of the prompts we used was the phrase "I can explain". My own offering got some giggles, so I thought I'd share.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Selective Listening

I talk a lot about how I listen to music while writing. I won't say I make a playlist for every new project I have, especially since I have a much-evolved playlist I created for my first NaNoWriMo and manipulated a lot since. I don't always use that one, but it's there to fall back on while I'm writing. It tickles the right things.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Oh look, February

Well, I've actually read a few books so far this year, so that's good.

I've done a bit of writing, but mostly game related, not new stories yet despite my outlining for a space book.

Getting some feedback for The Last Song; one of my readers liked it very much indeed, which is a good boost. I've also got the cast of Learn to Howl kicking around in my head again, so maybe it's time to straighten out Book 2.

Part of my indecision on what to write has to do with my writing workshop, which starting on Saturday, and I'm at that anticipatory period where I hope the group gels as well as the prior two did. There are new names in the sign ups, but no guarantee those people are going to show, obviously. A bunch of my prior group is signed up, so that's nice.

But, I write with the group. And I share (lead by example, natch!) and I don't know what project I want to be "publicly" working on, you see. Maybe I'll write something just for the workshop, see where the prompts take me? Maybe I'll only bring for critique short works I'd previously finished. I don't know.

But. I only have three October submissions left pending, at The Book Smugglers, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Tin House, all three long response time markets. When I've heard back from all of them, I'll report in on the full picture. October was a neat and interesting time, and I do think I'll be doing it again (though I need to build up my little bundle of shorts).

And on quasi-related news (since my first F&SF submission was just before October [and rejected]), I got another personal rejection from F&SF magazine wherein the editor said he remembered my previous story and was happy to see another submission from me! I'd obviously have preferred an acceptance, but if it had to be a rejection, what a rejection it was!

Monday, January 19, 2015

A list. An outline? A plan.

So the other day I outlined a space scifi novel, meant to be the first in....a series, anyway. Or I listed the most bare bones of events which would make up the plotline. It involves a Macguffin, as so many good stories do. I just need to figure out the details of what it involves/contains. It's one thing to decide a Thing is important; it's another thing to justify it in the story, for the characters. I want ramifications to be understood. Show, don't tell, natch.

So, some world building.

I thought of the characters first. A ship, its captain, her business partner/mechanic. Because I want to edge closer to realistic space travel, that's all who's on the ship regularly. Cramped quarters, weight still a concern, food still freeze dried, etc. Probably no artificial gravity, or at least not on small ships. Space Law a new and shaky thing.

Now I'm thinking of locations. Probably not Mars, though it'll be mentioned. Europa. The moon. Earth itself. Maybe one of Saturn's moons as well, like Titan or Enceladus (we've watched a few of the Space TED talks on Netflix, and Titan and Enceladus get brought up a lot. Europa a bit as well. And oh yes, the asteroid belt might be a bit of fun.

The fantasy novel I started in July has also been kicking around in my head, so I might outline what I've got ("outline") and then outline where it's gotta go. That novel's been a departure for me in a couple of ways, starting with a prologue, consisting of multiple point of view characters (only 2, other than the prologue, I didn't go nuts), and completely in a secondary world. So again, world building was necessary.

So the fantasy novel is a world I'm building from the ground (heh) up. The space scifi is a world I'm building using current technology and projected technology as the basis. The differences in the ventures are interesting to consider, and the limitations, or lack thereof.

Do you do much worldbuilding in your writing?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Nothin' much

I'm not really working on much just lately. Planning for my workshop. Planning for submission. Waiting to hear back from my readers (though at least one person gave me quite helpful comments on my query letter).

I have any number of unfinished short stories sitting on my hard drive. "Unfinished" ranges from "has characters and something of an arc" to "has a titled file with a sentence or more in it", which can be a daunting proposition to, say, make the decision to finish each story scrap that you've started. Or finish five.

I haven't made any such decision, but I've thought about it. Those Chuck Wendig prompts I didn't finish before the deadline, if I started them at all beyond the basest selection of random criteria. Those stores my interest wandered from when they were only a page in, halfway done, almost to the climax. I can't explain why I didn't finish the ice cream man story when I started it, or the girl with horns. I can't explain where I was going with the pickpocket story, or the file titled "never McDonalds." I had the ideas, sure, but didn't follow through and they slipped away. Use it or lose it, kids.

This isn't the first time I've talked about this, nor will it be the last I'm sure. I'm certain many, if not all, writers have these dog-ends of stories, these remnants to be finished, or discarded, or crazy quilted in with another idea entirely.

It would make sense to pick one of these files, read what I have. Outline what I have, and what could logically follow. Write. Will I do this? I dunno. It could be fun. It would add to my portfolio. Need to plan for future submissions, of course. So far as October Submissions go, by the way, I've only got 5 left I haven't heard back on. On one, I'll be nudging them soon, as we've passed the ninety day mark they recommend on the website. The others, there's lots of time before I'm supposed to worry. I also have 5 post-October submissions, because I figured once in the saddle, I might as well keep riding.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Continuing my Library Writing Workshop

So, starting in February, I'm going to be running a longer-term writing workshop at the library.

My intent (and you know how this goes) is to split workshop time periods between prompt writing (which everybody seems to have a lot of fun with) and critique. Writing the critique guideline has been fun and interesting.

I obviously don't know who my sign ups will be yet. I can assume a few "repeat customers", and I know that group is solid. I have no misgivings about doing critiques with them. The newer element, well, adding new people to a group can always be a little iffy for everybody at first. So I want there to be no confusion that the critiques are to HELP. Help the writing, help the writer.

We're all going to be adults, and face to face, so I don't want to be insulting by spelling out certain things like "no personal attacks" because it seems to go without saying. But I do want it to be clear that everybody is to be respectful. Helpful. I'm excited and have no misgivings; I feel like it's going to be a blast!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pick 20 pages

So you know what's hard? Figuring out the 20 pages you feel best represent your writing.

See, there's an arts grant thing in New York state I want to apply for, recommended to my writing workshop by a local author. One of the categories this year is fiction, you see. They're different each year. You don't have to have been published, just an artist who has a vision which can be aided/supported/whatever by this grant. It's pretty rad, actually.

So you need to pick 20 pages. And then do a 200 word work statement that relates to the writing and explains it. Not so bad, I guess, once I figure out what I'm going to use. Should I just go for the gold and use the first twenty pages of The Last Song? Should I use a couple of short stories (it can be any 20 pages, though not "fragments"). I should probably use The Last Song. Though there's also a 400 word excerpt explanation to contextualize the piece, which makes sense.

Of course, then there's the 700 word "curriculum vitae", which is going to look awfully spare for me. I don't have a Bachelor's in writing. I'm not pursuing an MFA. I devour books. I handwrote a 1000 page epic fantasy novel in high school. I work at a library, where I have run NaNoWriMo workshops. I've been a NaNoWriMo participant since 2007. These seem eclectic. I guess it could be worse?

Have you ever applied for an artist's grant?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Climbing the ladder to the high dive

Okay, guys, I'm going to do it.

In February, I'm going to start submitting The Last Song to agents.

This month (this WEEK, I should mean) I'm going to email/text/Facebook message/WHATEVER the people who have the manuscript and said "Please, guys. Please try to get to it by January 31."

This may be unreasonable. It might not be. I maybe should wait longer. I might not need to wait at all. I need other human eyes to cross my work before I take such a big step. But I feel like I can't wait, either. I'm not sure there's anything else to add to the text, anything else to take away. Of course, if my readers tell me I've done something terrible, I need to fix X things, that February thing could get pushed back.

I want it to be ready, though. I'm ready. I look at Library Journal, Kirkus, publishing blogs. What's coming out in 2015. It isn't me, not yet. But it won't be if I don't sub.