truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
[Storytellers Unplugged, June 29, 2008; awesome reader=awesome]
[N.b., sadly, Childe Cthulhu is no more. Never did figure its sex out for sure. -Ed. 03/14/16]
click! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
[Storytellers Unplugged, January 7, 2009; found via the Wayback Machine by an awesome reader]
click! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: hippopotamus)
Draft of a short story finished. (Well, except for all the [1], [2], [3] all the way up to [71] where proper nouns (and a couple common ones) go.) I can't tell you how long it is, because I wrote it entirely longhand (although it runs from the bottom of p. 31v to the top of p. 57 in the knock-off Moleskine notebook* I'm currently using. I can't tell you the title, either, because it doesn't have one. (I thought it did, but it turns out the title I thought it had was not correct at all.)

It has given me a lovely example of the moss-troll problem though: Caesarian section. Even though Julius Caesar was probably not born by Caesarian section, the adjective makes no sense in a world without the word "Caesar."

Notice that although this is not the work I should be doing, I am very grateful nonetheless to have a complete draft of anything.

And on that note, I'm going to give this "sleeping" thing a whirl. I've heard it's fun if you do it right.

*I will not be buying the Picadilly Moleskine knock-offs again, even though they are about 1/3 as expensive. The bookmark ribbons come out, and the elastic does not elastic properly, and both these things get more annoying rather than less over time.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
1. written my third Ellery Queen post for tor-dot-com. There is, of course, no one currently at Tor to care, and won't be until 2011, but it's the check-mark on the to do list that counts.
2. filled out paperwork for invoicing tor-dot-com for the two posts that went up in December.
3. fought with Wells Fargo's voicemail system and emerged confused but triumphant with the information [ profile] mirrorthaw wants.
4. written a functional transition (i.e., it's good enough for the first draft) into the next supernatural manifestation in Thirdhop Scarp. The plot may finally start thickening.
5. scheduled a riding lesson tomorrow and one on Saturday. (YAY!)
6. called the vet about two necessary questions I've been failing to ask all week (nothing alarming--just the Elder Saucepan's pain meds and arthritis supplements).
7. AND committed us to bringing the First Ninja in on Monday for an ultrasound so we can maybe figure out wtf are up with her kidneys. (She's making sure the household cats meet their mysteriousness quota, all by herself.)

That looks like a lot more accomplishment than it felt like. Go team me!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: bone key)
A new draft of "To Die for Moonlight." 8,500 words. This story is like peeling an onion, if an onion were bigger on the inside than the outside. Although, since I've finally managed the ring composition, perhaps it's more like peeling a Klein bottle.*

I'm going to stop before I make my head hurt.

*The internet is full of truly awesome pictures of Klein bottles. I particularly love that last one for looking so much like a uterus. And here's instructions for making one (a Klein bottle, not a uterus, although you can find instructions for making one of those, too) out of the sleeves of a worn-out shirt.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
A couple follow-up thoughts from my post on submitting short stories:

again, click if you're interested in the nuts & bolts )

3. Okay, a third point. The other reason I write and publish short stories is that I enjoy it. I enjoy them. None of the rest of it would matter if I didn't. I do this job because I love it; it's too hard, and too much work, for any other reason to make it worthwhile.


Dec. 24th, 2010 05:41 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
"The Devil in Gaylord's Creek," the heartwarming story of a dead girl and her sword, to Fantasy Magazine.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (wtf: platypus)
A rough draft of "Hope Is Stronger Than Love," my episode for Shadow Unit Season 4. 11,500 words. Air date isn't until February 2012, but I feel so much better for having the story complete, even if in very rough form.

I shall now fall over.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. The eclipse tonight, in my tiny part of the world, will be eclipsed by snow.

2. I have accomplished Things today. Things, I tell you! Several of them Things that have needed accomplishing since sometime in August.

3. One of those Things was turning a rejected story right back out the door (no, don't take your boots off, you're not staying), and throwing another story into the eel-infested waters ring. I've got to finish editing "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek" and "To Die for Moonlight" so I can launch them out of the nest, too. And possibly unmix my metaphors, while I'm at it.

4. The winter solstice is the birthday of the protagonist of The Goblin Emperor. It's weird; I worked out Felix and Mildmay's birthdays, but I never remember when they are; I don't have the least idea when Booth's birthday is. But Maia's birthday, I remember.

5. [ profile] matociquala observed (over on Twitter where she is, of course, @matociquala), that this is the first time there's been a total lunar eclipse on the winter solstice since 1638. There's a time travel story in there somewhere. I can feel it.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec)
Today I have revised "To Die for Moonlight," adding 1,400 words and a plot complication. 7,700 words total now and back it goes to [ profile] mirrorthaw to see if the improvements have improved things.

(My Samsung printer totally just made a noise like a jet engine powering down. Dude. I knew it was mighty, but not that mighty.)

I have also paid bills and dealt with some house stuff, plus feeding the cats, medicating the Elder Saucepan, and putting food and water out for the feralistas. (If you run the water hot and put it out in a plastic bowl instead of metal, they have a fighting chance of getting a drink before it freezes solid.) Oh, and feeding and medicating me.

I know I'm finally coming out of the ankle-related slump, because my to do lists for the word mines are getting too complicated to keep in my head again. The current one looks more or less like this:

1. Query Apex re: "Learning to See Dragons."
2. Revise "To Die for Moonlight."

2a. Read-aloud pass through "TDfM."
3. One more pass through "Hollywood and Vine," mostly for clean up.
3a. Read-aloud pass through "H&V."
4. Editing pass through "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek."

4a. Read-aloud pass through "TDiGC."
5. Submit "TDfM," "H&V," and "TDiGC."
6. Implement fix for the broken bit of "The Witch of Arvien" and inflict on [ profile] mirrorthaw and [ profile] matociquala to see if the story runs now.
7. Revise the nameless story about the knight, the wizard, and the giant mutant telepathic bear. (Also, find a title!)
8. Finish "Hope is Stronger than Love" for Shadow Unit.
9. Finish Thirdhop Scarp, kicking and screaming all the way.
10. Write the missing scenes for The Goblin Emperor and hope for edit letter soon.
11. Essay for Projekt that I think is still Sekrit.
12. Next EQ essay for tor-dot-com.
13. Read and review Brave New Worlds ditto.
14. New werewolf story? (First line: The werewolf had hooked his iPod up to the stereo and put it on shuffle.)

And from there, the To Do list merges indistinguishably into the first lines meme.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: bone key)
6,300 hundred words, which was quite a bit longer than I expected. However, comma, well within parameters.

It is, yes, a Kyle Murchison Booth story, the first one I've finished since "White Charles." It is also a werewolf story.

And, well, just generally, w00t!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
1.) I have 2100 words on a new Booth story, "To Die for Moonlight." My plan for today is to get as close to finishing it as I can. (Thirdhop Scarp has thrown yet another new wrinkle at me, and I have to assimilate it and work out a game plan before I can continue. This novella is NEVER GOING TO END.)

2.) Leftover notes from yesterday's acupuncture session:
(a.) I wasn't queasy last night. The real test will be tonight, since I've had random bouts of nonqueasiness before that don't correlate with anything, but it was just really nice to have a break.
(b.) That point on my left quadriceps that was agonizing when the needle went in was also agonizing when the needle went out. The 2nd Practitioner said that was a sign the point was still working.
(c.) I'd forgotten how much I like Viparita Karini.
(d.) In case you're curious, acupuncture needles look like this. They are very long and very flexible, and they go in to an astonishing distance.
(e.) I need better language to describe RLS, especially to describe the non-acute phase which seems, distressingly, to be my baseline. Because now that I'm paying attention and know what RLS feels like, none of it is at all unfamiliar. I think I've had symptoms, mostly very minor, for years.
(f.) Which is an argument in favor of getting a referral to a neurologist, just to see if there's some underlying something-or-other I should know about.

3.) If you haven't been following Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things, I highly recommend it. Both because it is very helpful in dismantling the Muslims = terrorists fallacy that the American government and dominant culture are so eager to promulgate, and because it's a magnificent reminder of how awesome our species can be when we're not too busy being assholes. I particularly love Robina Muqimyar and Sarah Khoshjamal Fekri, Olympians; Soraiya, Sami Yusuf, and Art Blakey, musicians; Ahmad Mustafa, calligrapher; and above all others, Anousheh Ansari, astronaut.

4.) On a not dissimilar note, French photographer Sacha Goldberger took these beyond marvelous photographs of his 91-year-old grandmother as a superhero. And there are ten more here. Super Mamika is, truly, super.

5.) And finally, since I have to walk to the pharmacy, I offer this Disapproving Rabbit as an indicator of my current mood.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
So, it's NaNoWriMo again.

(For those of you who do not know, that's National Novel Writing Month.)

In her post about the recent NaNoWriMo kerfuffle, Mary Robinette Kowal, explaining the benefits NaNoWriMo provided to her, said, "When you are getting your legs, writing long form is really intimidating."

Now, I don't doubt for a moment that this is true for Mary. It's her post and she has no reason to lie. But I read that and I thought, Wait, what? Long form is EASY. It's short form that's scary like whoa.

And then it occurred to me that perhaps this was worth unpacking.

When I started writing (at the ripe old age of eleven), I started writing novels. Or, well, "novels," since I doubt any of my first efforts was any longer than what I'd think of as a short story or maybe a novelette today. But for me, at eleven, they were novels, and they were what I instantly and automatically gravitated to when I started trying to write. I knew the old chestnut about "if you want to break into publishing, you have to write short stories," so I tried, on and off through high school and college. (And then there was the most poisonous form rejection letter known to humankind, and I stopped like a lab rat hit with an electric shock.) But I never got the hang of it. Short stories were scary and hard and I didn't understand them. Novels, I just flung myself at; I started dozens, and every time one broke down, I just started another. I finished maybe three or four (using the word "novel" loosely, remember) before I started writing Mélusine, and got more than 50k into at least two others, but I never stopped trying, and I never had any fundamental doubt that I could do it. (Doing it well was a different question, but that's also a different post.)

I didn't go back to short stories until 2000, when I got handed the old chestnut about "breaking into publishing" again, this time by my then-agent. And, serendipitously, I met [ profile] elisem and her jewelry. (I sometimes think my ability to write short stories is really all Elise's fault.) The first successful short story I wrote, in 2000, was "Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans' Day", from one of her necklaces. The second was "Bringing Helena Back," which is the first Booth story. And, of course, obviously, I've gone on from there, but I've always felt like my grip on the form was tenuous; I'm never sure why one short story works and the next one doesn't. They're still scary and hard, and I still don't understand them very well, even though I've published nearly forty of them.

NaNoWriMo doesn't work for me because I'm a competitive, literal-minded over-achiever, and if I focus on word count, then word count is all I will get, and the novel will be drivel. (See also, Why Corambis Was Six Months Late.) This does not mean that I think NaNoWriMo is a bad thing in and of itself--and honestly, I don't have any right or ability to judge whether it's good or bad for other people. It's just bad for me.

All I wanted to say, really, was that if you're a beginning writer and NaNoWriMo doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean you can't write a novel.

Learning how to write is a never-ending process of trial and error. You have to try things to find out if they work for you. If they do, that's great. If they don't, it's not a disaster. It just means you try something else. There is no "right" way to do it; it's all down to what works for you and what doesn't. And nobody but you can make that call.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (tr: mole)
More terrible RLS last night. And the damn acupuncture clinic still has not called me back to schedule an appointment. (Dear clinic, this is deeply sub-optimal. Nolove, Mole.) And my Kinesis keyboard has died, like a Norwegian Blue parrot. (I'm typing this on a spare Mac keyboard [ profile] mirrorthaw happened to have lying around, which is fine as a stopgap measure, but no good as a long-term solution.)


1. I have 2100 words on a new story, tentatively titled, "Clouded Mary and Crawdad Marie," which seems to be what happens when steampunk crashes head on into The Wizard of Oz. Also, seriously, inspiration can come from anywhere. This one started in a rest stop in Indiana on the way back from WFC with a series of three doors labeled "Assisted Care," "Women," and "Mechanical." I'm hoping it will kick up something with which to simulate a plot soon, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the characters and the world building and, well, the writing. It's a tremendous relief to discover that I can still do this and all the machinery works.

(I wonder if one reason for the popularity of steampunk is that many writers are secretly convinced their creativity is like one of those steampunk machines with the gears and the levers and maybe a steam whistle. ... Or is that just me?)

2. [ profile] cmpriest is in town for TeslaCon, and although I am not doing TeslaCon, I do get to have dinner with Cherie tomorrow night.

3. Also tomorrow, I am going to make the grand experiment of getting back on my horse, and I don't mean that metaphorically.

4. Everyone involved seems to like my Whedonistas essay.

5. Truly lovely fan art for The Bone Key.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
Four of them are the novels I have successfully read in the last week:

1.) [ profile] matociquala, Range of Ghosts (in draft): Rocked my socks.

2.) [ profile] maryrobinette, Shades of Milk and Honey: you probably need to like Jane Austen, or Austenesque novels, to fully appreciate this one, but the magic system is just awesomely clever. It dovetails seamlessly into the social history in a way that reminds me of [ profile] papersky's Tooth and Claw (no, there are no dragons).

3.) [ profile] cmpriest, Boneshaker and (4.) [ profile] cmpriest, Dreadnought: I love her crazy alternate America with zombies and dirigibles and all the rest of it. And three cheers for competent women as protagonists!

5.) This week I have also given to someone else to read complete drafts of (a.) the windship story that still doesn't have a title, (b.) "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek," and (c.) "Hollywood and Vine," along with sending out "Impostors" (Embarrassingly, with the title misspelled because I've only just now figured out it's -or rather than -er. Damn you, English language!), "Hôtel Image", and "Coyote Gets His Own back." Next up would seem to be "(Un)fallen." I have no idea how to fix it, but maybe rereading it will help.

It's a theory.

Day 84

Oct. 23rd, 2010 09:08 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (tr: mole)
Today I ventured out on an expedition with only the soft lace-up ankle brace. I did not fall down or hurt myself or anything else bad.


After stopping by the wake for a friend's father, we went over to Willy Street, where we met an Unexpected! Bonus! Friend!, which was excellent. And then I walked--yes, walked, without lurching like a drunk or falling down or going so slowly that passing tortoises were laughing--to Steve's Tattoo to get my captive bead earrings put back in.

I had to take them out for the surgery on my ankle, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get captive beads back in myself, so what with the mobility issues and the not-being-able-to-drive-myself issues--N.b., if you're going to break your ankle, for the love of little red fruitbats, don't break your driving ankle--this was the first chance I'd had. And since for some reason, regular earrings in those holes had been painful to lie on (v. bad when you're spending all day in bed), I'd left the earrings out.

And two of four, both on the left, had closed themselves back up.

Of course, I'd been leaving the earrings out of the other six holes, too, and none of them misbehaved in such a fashion, but go figure.

So I ended up sitting in Steve's for longer than I had anticipated (many thanks to [ profile] mirrorthaw for, once again, being patient), watching the tattooists go about their business and admiring the art and the bumper stickers on the walls. (My favorite is still MORE FUN THAN A HOT POKER UP THE ASS, because it's an Edward II reference for me, even if it isn't for them, and I have good memories of me and [ profile] matociquala cracking the piercer up with our geektastic delight.) While sitting there, I figured out my next tattoo: once the swelling finally goes down, I want a dragon on my right ankle. Very possibly Smaug. Or Smaug, because say what you like about the Rankin-Bass Hobbit and I'll agree with you, I had that iron-on decal as a kid, and I wore the shirt until I literally could not cram my rack into it any longer. (I wore out Gollum and Gandalf, too, I think, but iirc did not care for the Rankin-Bass Bilbo.) And it is still a kick-ass dragon.

But that's a matter for when my ankle is functional again, and I have some money in the exchequer for frivolities. Which the way things are going, looks like sometime after they open an ice-rink in Hell.

Also, I don't know the band or the song they were playing, but the refrain, "Dr. Laura, who made you God?" cracked my shit up.

It turned out that I had remembered correctly: that top piercing in my cartilege hurts like a mad bastard. (The piercer was delighted with this phrase and vowed to use it.) And now my left ear is feeling very put upon and sorry for itself, to which I say, too damn bad.

But I do have my earrings back in, which is good because I was going to feel horribly naked at WFC without them.

ETA: Further WIKTORY: I have finished a draft of "Hollywood and Vine" and have printed it out and handed it to my husband. So there, neurotic pink circus poodle!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
Well, if nothing else, posting the first-lines meme was enough of a kick in the ass to get me to start submitting things again.

Four completed short stories are now in submission:

1. "Coyote Gets His Own Back" (#4) at
2. "Extract from '"I opened the book and read'": Self-Reflexivity and Self-Reinvention in Hôtel Image'" (#7) at The Magazine of Speculative Poetry
3. "Imposters" (#5) at Dark Discoveries
4. "Learning to See Dragons" at Apex (since July 1st, so not technically part of my personal urban renewal here, but still worthy of note!)

I also queried about the two stories that have been in press since 2006.

And I opened up "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek" (#2) and made a stab at putting more of the cool/important stuff in the story. We will see what [ profile] matociquala and [ profile] mirrorthaw think of it.

The next step is to open "Hollywood and Vine" (#1) and see about making the protagonist pick his goddamn agency up off the floor and use it.

Day 82

Oct. 21st, 2010 10:09 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (porpentine: pleased)

1. Drabble (#7) cleaned up and submitted to The Magazine of Speculative Poetry.
2. Bought stamps.
Ergo, 3. Walked to post office and back. (With the boot.)
4. Physical therapy: the therapist is teaching me not to walk like a drunk again.
5. Took a bath.
Ergo, 6. Got in and out of the bathtub by myself for the first time since July 31st.

That's really not too shabby.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
The RLS is giving me hell. Ironically and illogically, it seems to be getting worse as I become more mobile. We've just upped the dose of Requip, and hopefully that will improve things SOON, but in the meantime, I'm taking more narcotics than my GP is happy with, and it's actually not knocking the RLS out very effectively anyway.


I am also still in the Hell of the Unreceived Edit Letter, and while I am trying to make constructive use of my time (going through The Goblin Emperor again on my own recognizance to fix the things I know are wrong, getting [ profile] mirrorthaw to poke more holes in my worldbuilding, etc.), it's hard to stay focused, especially when part of my brain is SCREAMING, "Publish or perish! Publish or perish!" and I can't seem to finish a short story to save my goddamn life.

So, it's the first line meme again, this time arranged by estimated closeness to completion, in hopes that it will help me organize this embarrassing plethora of unfinished stories into a list of manageable tasks.

Well, it's worth a try, anyway.

cut for length )

And now I'm going to walk to the pharmacy for the first time since I broke my ankle. Viva l'independence!


truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

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