lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-02-23 05:18 pm

Death By Rodent-Chasing Canine

So my dog tried to kill me this morning.

Well, really, it wasn’t her fault. She saw a squirrel across the street and twitched, thinking to bolt in front of me to go get it. Unfortunately, this was right where I tripped and fell last time. So down I went with an odd sense of deja vu, tore up my hands nicely, jolted my shoulder and my right knee this time. Just to change it up.

We run with the leash wrapped around my waist; I thread her collar and the leash through the handle a few times to make a pretty secure knot. It keeps it short enough that she can’t get far enough away to hurt herself, but it also means that her darting in front of me is a hazard. She’s gotten a lot better about it, true–most of the time I run right through her, not to be mean but just to teach her that she is not to get in the alpha’s way. But every circuit in her little doggy head fuses when she sees one of the little tree-rodent bastards. It would be funny if it hadn’t ended with me bleeding and actually crying from frustration and pain while lying on the sidewalk.

Yes, you read that right. I burst into tears. The pain wasn’t really that bad, but I was running off some frustration from earlier in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s just…some days, a killing spree seems like a good idea just to get things all cleared up and moving. Especially when I get horrendous and frustrating career news and other silly, stupid, complex problems pile up on me before 9AM.

So we ran the rest of the day’s mileage and I limped home, still bleeding but drained of adrenaline. Which has been a boon today, honestly. Other than just one (totally justified, because hey, I was BLEEDING) crying fit, I could have had several and a psychotic break too! Big fun. As it is, I have just taken to calling Miss B “Killer of Joggers” to add to her other honorifics, and she doesn’t care because she enjoys the accompanying chest-skritches and pets and loves. In fact, she rolls over and grins, panting happily, while I scratch her belly and recite her long list of titles, including “Mighty Squirrel Chaser” and “She Who Will Not Eat Dry Kibble.”

And you know, as long as I can still raspberry her fuzzy little tummy, things can’t be all bad. Even if she did try to murder me.

But if you tell anyone I cried, I’ll have to hurt you. *wink*

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2012-02-21 11:35 am

Nice To Be Back

After a four-day weekend, sending the kids back to school means I miss them all over again, plus the house is too quiet. Except for the cat demanding to be held–and I realized, while holding her this morning, that I was swaying back and forth, patting her absently as she was hitched up on my shoulder, just like I would soothe and dandle a baby. (And I wonder why my animals are all so weird.) Miss B, after a few days of not running, was pretty much ready to explode out the gate when I took her on a nice easy three-miler yesterday, and today she had mad thoughts of chasing squirrels, and seagulls, and cars, and basically anything that twitched. Including long grass and windblown branches.

Fun times.

Plus, I dropped my gum when I went to throw it away, and every animal in the house dove for it. I don’t know what the hell they’d do with it, but they were Determined. Plus, they wanted my sweaty socks and my workout brassiere. I just don’t even know.

So here I am staring at the new Bannon & Clare book. My wordcount goal for today is 2K–not a lot, but enough to prime the pump and get me back into things. There’s a lot of interesting stuff coming down the pike, but nothing I can officially announce yet. (It just kills me to have to sit on some of it, but I am threatened with Dire Consequences if I open my big pie-hole.) I feel incredibly lazy because my wordcount dropped to around 200 a day, most of that tightening and toning other things; before the weekend it was revisions on the first book in the new YA series and some poking and prodding on the zombie-killing cowboy story. Which is, incidentally, in Bannon & Clare’s universe.

Perhaps I have said too much. *evil grin*

I have part of a new SquirrelTerror entry drafted…but it mentions Sweet Tuxedo and Cranky Duck Cat, and I can’t look at it without feeling the sick thump of grief all over again. So that’s going to have to wait. I am sure I will have other Tales of the Backyard, especially in a few months. Big changes afoot here at Casa Saintcrow!

The rain is invisibly fingering the roof, the animals have settled in their respective favourite sleeping spots, and I am about to go use my brand-new Machine Of GREAT CAFFEINATION. I swear, the thing is just like a best friend–warms up quickly, always willing to lend an ear, and dispenses sweet sweet go-juice. I could sing its praises all day, but I’d also have to talk about its belching, and a certain dog’s fear of its noise, and the howling song that has become traditional when the coffee grinder starts up. That story has got to wait, because I’m still giggling every time I think of it, and I need to concentrate to be able to tell it properly.

So, yeah. First day back at work. Quiet house. Lots of work-avoidance going on. Lots of starting up from my chair thinking it’s too quiet, what are they into now? Lots of wandering around the house looking at things that need cleaning, sighing, and dropping back into my chair and staring at a blank page that needs word-monkey juice spread on it.

It’s nice to be back.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-02-16 04:56 pm

Sit And Stare, Productively

I’m a winter writer. Endless gray, rainy days suit me very well. I like to sit and stare out the window, watching the sky weep, my brain tuned to that expectant humming that the next sentence will bring itself out of.

Maybe this is why I have, whenever I could in my adult life, built time into each day for dreaming, and insisted that the Prince and Princess have unstructured time each day. I’m of the opinion that it’s those moments of blankness that helps young (and older) brains catch up with themselves, and is also a necessary component of the creative process–the “creative pause.”

When you’re rushing to a solution, your mind will jump to the easiest and most familiar path. But when you allow yourself to just look out the window for 10 minutes – and ponder – your brain will start working in a more creative way. It will grasp ideas from unexpected places. It’s this very sort of unconscious creativity that leads to great thinking. When you’re driving or showering, you’re letting your mind wander because you don’t have to focus on anything in particular. If you do carve out some time for unobstructed thinking, be sure to free yourself from any specific intent. (Scott Belsky)

Part of why I prize that humming in my head so highly is because I’ve lived with people who have an absolute instinct for knowing when one’s brain is approaching that cycle, and for some reason they want to disrupt it in any way possible. (WHY they do this is a whole ‘nother ball of blog post wax. Let’s carry on.) Of course, it could be that I am picky and hard to live with. (Who isn’t?) But I’ve since become grateful for that harsh everyday annoyance. It was invaluable training in getting the creative pause in anyhow, triggering the blank expectant humming at a moment’s notice, slipping myself into that interstitial space within an eyeblink. It takes practice, but it can be done–and often, I surface knowing What Comes Next in a story.

My point (you knew I had one, right?) is that your faculties might do their best work with a little bit of white noise. Not too much–then you just drool all over your keyboard, and this, while not incredibly expensive if one buys cheap keyboards, is still annoying and embarrassing. But finding a way to fit even five minutes of just sitting and thinking, or sitting and staring (not at the television, Christ, throw that thing out the window or at least only use it for films) into your day can reap you rewards all out of proportion, especially when it comes to any creative endeavor. And getting into the habit of protecting that time will help you develop the skills necessary to protect your writing time, tooth and nail, against all comers. Which is exponentially more important…

…but that’s another blog post.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-02-15 12:35 pm

Subconscious Gas Bubbles

So, I’m developing a girlcrush on Sarah Rees Brennan, for her Gothic Tuesdays. This week’s winner was Collie Wilkins’s Woman in White. (Project Gutenburg can hook you up too.)

LAURA: I’m going to tell Sir Percy Cruelpants that I will marry him, but I love another, so he won’t want to marry me.
MARIAN: Well, he will if he doesn’t give a crap about your feelings, though?
LAURA: Nonsense, I’m sure this will work out awesome. Sir Percy Blackheart, I love someone else and I don’t wanna marry you. Still want to marry me?
SIR PERCY RIDICULOUSLY EVIL: Still rich?
LAURA: Yes.
SIR PERCY THE PERFIDIOUS: Then yes.
LAURA: … That did not go the way it did in my head. (Sarah Rees Brennan)

The whole thing is pure gold. You should also look at her Jane Eyre one.

Also, here’s a free documentary on Haruki Murakami. I enjoy Murakami’s work–frex, I read his latest, 1Q84, in a few long gulps. (No, LONG gulps. Nearly a thousand pages, OMG.) Seriously, you don’t read Murakami for linear coherence just like you don’t watch a David Lynch film for it. They’re both harvesters of subconscious gas-bubbles. (Also, really fricking weird, and not too good with the portrayal of teenage girls, meh.)

And the Heart Attack Grill has its first moment of truth in advertising.

In other news, the first book of the new YA series is back with the editor for another revision pass. And the second Bannon & Clare book, The Red Plague Affair, is heating up inside my skull. Rest is overrated, don’t you think? Plus there’s martial arts for the kids, a four-year-old I’m watching for a few days, and a dog who thinks the Roomba is a demonspawn predator I need protecting from.

So…off I go. Be careful out there, Gothic Lady Sleuths!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-02-08 04:43 pm

Crazy Monkeybrain Crack Dust, AKA, Writer’s Ideas

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are new releases, contests, and all sorts of other fun and no-bullshit writing advice. Check us out!

Well, hello. It’s Wednesday again. First, two announcements!

Yes, this is espresso and Bailey’s in a mug that says “I am going to hex your face off.” After I Tweeted that picture, I was snowed-under with queries about where to buy said mug. I got mine in 2006 from a CafePress shop (the shop’s owner was “lalejandra2″) that has now gone under. At least, I can’t find it. Which led to me putting a version of the mug up in my own shop, with no markup. (Because I feel incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of a profit, however tiny, from it.) It goes without saying that if I find the original seller, I’ll change the links and direct everyone there. But I’ve dug and dug, and can’t find her.

Announcement #2 is kind of vague. Remember that zombie-hunting cowboy trunk novel I was working on? The one I was just delighted with, and was sure would never sell? Well…paint me lilac and call me Conrad, it sold. I can’t give any details, but I can say that I’m sort of…bowled over.

Now that’s taken care of, let’s talk about ideas. (WARNING: I am foulmouthed today. Read at your own risk.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-02-07 09:23 am

The Chili-Loving Mummy Of The Met

You guys. Let me tell you what my brain is like.

I dreamed I was an intern in a museum. In my dream it was called “the Metropolitan” but I am very sure, having visited the Met once, that it was nothing like this shambling pile of secret passages and crammed-together dusty antiques. (Well, at least, not the parts I visited.) Anyway, that wasn’t the important thing. The important thing was the chili.

You see, there was a mummy-zombie thing roaming the back halls. The top front third of his head was gone and his teeth were stumps; there was just a hole and the hindbrain left, plus the ruined caverns of his sinuses. Which probably explained why he was shambling around with his hand-things in front of him, spindly fingers waving. He could smell the chili, but he couldn’t find it.

You see, it was the interns’ (I was one of a crew of six) job to find the mummy and feed him the chili so he would stop roaming, so he would settle down and wouldn’t upset the patrons with his fleshless self. The trouble was, we were new interns, and nobody had bothered to tell us. So we had to figure it out, which we did, but somehow the security guys were new too and hadn’t gotten the memo. So we had to save the poor mummy from the rent-a-cops in order to feed him his chili so he would quiet down. The problem was, we had to catch him first.

So I woke up, with a cat snoring in my ear and a dog snoring near my feet, and I thought it was the mummy. There was this moist breathing on my ear, and all I could think was, where’s the damn chili? Followed by, dammit, I can’t make this a book, there’s not enough tension structurally to build it. Maybe a short?

So, yeah. Here. Go read Chuck Wendig on why writers are bugfuck nuts. I’ll, um, just be locked up in my house. Alone.

Looking for the chili to feed to the museum mummy.

Yeah.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-02-04 10:32 am

Hidden Costs, Not Haterade

So of course someone had to ask Jonathan Franzen what he thinks about ebooks, since he’s the critical darling of the moment. And of course the Internet exploded when he said ebooks are damaging society. Ink, both actual and virtual, was spilled. Haterade was prepared in copious amounts. It was like the hate that started swilling when Sherman Alexie called the Kindle “elitist.” Of course, I am much more likely to think deeply about anything Alexie says than Franzen, for a variety of reasons.

When Alexie “clarified” his stance, this caught my eye:

Having grown up poor, I’m also highly aware that there’s always a massive technology gap between rich and poor kids. I haven’t yet heard what Amazon plans to do about this potential technology gap. And that’s a vital question considering that Bezos wants to change the way we read books. How does he plan to change the way that poor kids read books? How does he plan to make sure that poor kids have access to the technology? Poor kids all over the country don’t have access to current textbooks, so will they have access to Kindle? (Sherman Alexie)

Right there, in a nutshell, is a point that gets lost when people on the Internet talk about ebooks. The hidden costs of buying that cheap digital edition–why aren’t more people talking about this rather than hating on Franzen for having an opinion? (Admittedly he comes off as somewhat of a pretentious knob in that Telegraph piece, but still.)

It sent me off on a (quelle ironic) Twitter rampage.

Why doesn’t anyone factor in platform and obsolescence costs for ebooks? I.e., the ebook reader and its updates.

Frex, the laptop or ereader you’re using, and the cost to charge it and replace it for wear and tear, not to mention updates.

Until we get wetware that can jack the book right into our brains, there are still going to be platform costs.

A paperback’s cover price takes into account production and platform costs; an ebook’s price does not.

These are the discussions we should be having, not hating on writers who have Opinions About Publishing.

And certainly not stroking the turgid egos of highly-paid anomalies on the Internet, either. (My Twitter feed)

After having a great deal of fun with the phrase “turgid egos” I really warmed to my theme.

Ebooks are not “cheap” or “free”. They are *convenient* for certain socioeconomic strata.

There is not nearly enough attention paid to the hidden costs, like hardware, platform, obsolescence (planned or otherwise) of hardware–

–replacement costs, access to electricity, etc., etc.

This is the kind of conversation I wish we were having about ebooks, not “So and So is elitist because they have Opinions about Self-Pub.”

Or “So and So gives their books away so piracy is always OK.” (Hint: this one REALLY irks me.)

Or, “Big Name Author has enough money/brand recognition not to worry about lost sales, so they say piracy isn’t a problem.” (My Twitter feed)

At that point I started getting a lot of “But I LIKE my Kindle/Nook!” And I’m happy that they do, but that was not the point I was making OR the conversation I was inviting.

There is a narrative out there saying “digital=free.” I’d like to see discussion that doesn’t use that equation, because it’s untrue.

Most of the human species can’t afford a desktop/laptop/Kindle/Nook/monthly smartphone bill/startup smartphone investment.

Those that can tend to think their experience is ubiquitous, because it FEELS ubiquitous. The curse of the Internet, you could say.

An examination of the underpinnings and the hidden costs is more productive than hating on ebooks or Authors With Opinions. (My Twitter feed)

At that point Stephen Blackmoore made the great observation: “Not to mention there are still places in the world that don’t even have electricity.”

Discussing the real costs could help us bend our considerable energies to raising literacy, not getting all hatey on the Internet.

Why is this not a blog post? Because I don’t think I can refrain myself from ranting without Twitter’s character limit. *sigh* (My Twitter feed)

I’m glad I waited, but so many people asked me to collect those tweets I decided to put them all here.

There were a number of responses that I should probably answer right now:

* “But I LIKE my Kindle/Nook/ebook reader!” Well, see above. That’s GREAT. It’s WONDERFUL that you like it. I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t. I’m saying that when we talk about publishing and ebooks, we should be talking as well about the hidden costs of the platform used to decode/store/show the digital “book.” Because those costs are more than you think–not just electricity, and the initial investment in the platform (desktop computer, laptop, ereader, smartphone, tablet) but also things like the monthly cost of an Internet connection or the cell phone bill, the cost of upgrading the hardware every few years (because of the pace of technology and obsolescence both planned and unplanned) not to mention the social costs of slave labor to make it, pollution from the making of it, pollution from the electricity used to power it—the list goes on and on.

* “I’m disabled and the ebook reader makes it easier for me to read!” Often accompanied by “Alexie is ableist!” (I shit you not.) It’s great that this technology is helping you, I am very happy for you. But I am mystified at how this was even a response. I don’t think it’s “ableist” of Alexie to point out that poor kids and their families can’t invest in this kind of technology as easily as others can, or of me to say that talking about the hidden costs might help us find a solution.

* “But I have a computer/laptop anyway, adding the ebook-reading function is free.” It’s not “free.” Adding that functionality presupposes the investment in the platform; it is convenient, certainly, but you pay the hidden costs for that convenience whether or not you engage it. It is the fact of the hidden cost we’re talking about, not whether or not you feel like added functionality is something you want to use.

* “Paper books have hidden costs too!” Well, those are rather elegantly included in the cover price, so they’re not so “hidden.” The cover price of a paper book takes into account the price of the paper and distribution, and has for a long time because of the built-up infrastructure. You could argue that bookstores are the purview of a higher socioeconomic stratum too, and that there’s invisible privilege there, but I don’t think it’s quite as germane. For one thing, there’s the used books factor; for another, there’s few upgrade costs with paper books–if you read them to pieces and get another one, that’s an upgrade cost, but it’s not nearly as huge as upgrading an ereader every couple years or a laptop every four-five years. There’s also the marvelousness of libraries, which even the field a bit for some poorer strata of society.

Of course, it’s incredibly hard not to snark observations such as:

Franzen said he took comfort from knowing he will not be here in 50 years’ time to find out if books have become obsolete.

“I’m amused by how intent people are on making human beings immortal or at least extremely long-lived,” he joked.

“One of the consolations of dying is that [you think], ‘Well, that won’t have to be my problem’. Seriously, the world is changing so quickly that if you had any more than 80 years of change I don’t see how you could stand it psychologically.” (Telegraph)

Somehow I think the world will carry on, Jonathan dear.

But I would really like to see more discussion of hidden costs, platform costs, access differences between socioeconomic strata, etc., instead of hating on an author for having a goddamn opinion about developments in the industry they’re working in. Doctors have opinions about developments in their field; bricklayers and pizza delivery people, retail workers and scientists have opinions about their chosen (or just career) field. People have goddamn opinions about everything, as evidenced by the jackasses who know nothing about publishing but try to school me about the industry.

But that’s another rant, and this is already long enough. Let’s talk about the hidden costs of ebooks and eplatforms instead.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-01-31 12:39 pm

Self-Publishing Takeaway Game!

“My royalty cheque from (insert Traditional Publisher Name) was only $X00! Why, if I’d self-published, it would have been $X000 for the same number of books sold! Clearly, self-publishing is better!”

I hear this frequently, and it always irks the bejesus out of me. What annoys me is not the assumption that self-publishing is better. For some writers and some books (Chuck Wendig’s and Laura Anne Gilman‘s writing advice books spring to mind) it IS the best path. And it is awesome. No, that’s not why, when I hear any of the hundred versions of this hoary chestnut, I immediately start taking EVERYTHING the speaker says 300% less seriously.

Take the number of books sold on that royalty statement. Now we’re going to play a game of takeaway!

* Take away the sales to people turned off by a low-cost self-pubbed cover. Even the worst of Big Six covers is preferable to a Poser monstrosity.
* Take away the sales to people buying in stores serviced by the distribution companies the trad publisher has good agreements with. Consider the ease of returns and the likelihood of a buyer taking a chance on a book from the known quantity of a trad publisher vs., let’s say, Greenlight or nonreturnable items from a POD (or God forbid, a vanity) press.
* Take away sales to people who have been priced out on, say, a $20 trade paperback of middling quality from a self-pubber using a POD press. Now, you could say, “But I’ll price my book at $.99!” Great. You get a slice of a miniscule price from miniscule sales.
* Take away sales to people who are turned off by indifferent editing/copyediting. Oh, but you’ll pay to have that done? News flash, cupcake: that’s an out-of-pocket expense you need to balance against that royalty check. Either way, that $X000 takes a huge hit.
* Take away the sales the trad publisher gained through marketing/publicity of any type. Now, rare and fortunate is the author whose publisher gets them all sorts of good, high-cost publicity. Most authors get bundled together in catalogs and on lists, but guess what? Those catalogs and lists are invisible publicity that ups the chance of your book being on the shelf somewhere people can see it. Self-pubbing doesn’t have the “invisible” publicity a lot of readers don’t see but feel the effects of, which then reflects on the royalty statement.

These are just five things wrong with a one-to-one comparison. There are at least fifty on my list. (We could be here all fucking day, but I don’t have the patience.) Most of the time, when I bring one or more of them up, the response is a blank stare shading into immediate hostility. (It could be that I lack patience the umpteenth million time I hear this shit spouted, granted.) Self-publishing is not a replacement for trad publishing. It’s a different tool.

“My book is awesome but I can’t get an acceptance from an agent or publisher!” Well, look at why. Do you have a problem with following submissions guidelines? Is your craft–grammar, punctuation, etc.–spotty? Is your book impossibly niche–like, say the vampiric flatworms that live only in the urethras of one tribe of the Antarctic Red-Jacketed Tundra Sparrow? (If so, drop me an email, there’s an academic press that might be interested.) Have you not polished your query letter since you first submitted *mumblemumble* years ago? Writing well requires a time investment, are you investing? Are you using the hard sell and stinking of desperation? Are you just not targeting your queries or networking attempts at people who might be interested? Have you revised your finished work and figured out where it would be shelved in a bookstore (its genre, if you will,) and hence, who in the industry might handle it to bring it to market? Do you know who the publishers and editors in your chosen genre(s) are? If you can’t answer those questions, well, your chances of acceptance are not maximized as well as they could be. Knowing this shit gives you an edge, both in trad and in self-publishing.

I’m going to reiterate, because I can just tell there are going to be a lot of comments on the “But you get a bigger percentage with self-pub, you elitist gatekeeper, you!” I LIKE SELF-PUBLISHING. It’s a good choice for some writers. It is a great choice for other writers. The problem is, it’s a kumquat and trad publishing is a tomato. They are both fruits, yes. But they are not the same thing, and they don’t behave the same way when you cook them. You will not get the same results, and comparing them inappropriately will only bring you grief. A bigger percentage of a tiny number is…still a tiny number. Self-publishing is not the get-rich-or-famous scheme a lot of people unconsciously think it is. And that “bigger percentage” has to be balanced against the sales you can reasonably expect AND the out-of-pocket initial outlay you’re going to spend. Less outlay, less professionalism, less sales; more outlay, more professionalism, bigger sales but a bigger debit in your ledger to begin with, too.

Speaking of not getting the same results, let’s please skip the “But so-and-so was a HYOOOGE SELF-PUBLISHING SUCCESS!” That’s great, and I’m happy for them. But those successes should come with that same disclaimer you see in the fine print of infomercials: Results not typical. There’s the self-pubber who had a huge web presence and parlayed that into profitable self-publishing. There’s the odd raw talent who was lucky and marketing savvy and could spend tons of time growing their “overnight success.” There’s the Big Names In Trad Publishing who use that name recognition and their financial gains from said recognition to springboard self-pub projects–and that’s another thing, a professional writer with connections to editing and experience with the publishing process and what makes a quality project is NOT going to have “typical” results. They have experience they have invested in it, and it shows. Results. Not. Typical. Okay?

Muddy, uncritical thinking is not your friend when it comes to writing or business, or the business of writing and publishing. And, frankly, these are the kinds of discussions and numbers I’d love to see more of when it comes to talking about self-pub, instead of the usual round of Internet hateration and shaking pitchforks at mythical “gatekeepers”.

Speaking of hateration on the Net, tune in next time for my reprise on the hidden costs of ebooks. I did a series of tweets yesterday on the subject and have been convinced that I should put them in a blog post for ease of reading.

See, occasionally I can be bribed. Or swayed.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-01-30 02:02 pm

Normal As It Gets

I made it through the weekend.

I had to get a new litterbox for the Remaining Cat, and get rid of the old ones. I got her the veritable Cadillac of litter receptacles, and you should have heard her yowling with delight. “YOU GUYS!” she would crow to the Absent Cats. “YOU GUYS, COME LOOK AT THIS! IT’S NEW AND SHINY AND SMELLS WEIRD!”

The fact that she received no answer perturbed her, so she went looking for Sweet Tuxedo and Cranky Duck Cat. She checked all their hiding spots, and I was hard-put not to dissolve in a wave of tears.

Oh, who am I kidding? I cried. She was always getting them and bringing them out to show them new stuff. I also cried when I found a lone hairball under my bed. *sigh*

The trouble was, this fancy-dancy litterbox had a door, and the silly Remaining Cat–oh, let’s call her Mad Tortie–has not grasped that you must go through the door to reach the Stuff What Catches The Sewage. (She’s very sweet, and very stoic, and very loving, but not high in the brains department.) I honestly didn’t think she’d have this much of a problem…

…until I woke up and found out she had used the bigger planters in the sunroom as her bidets, so to speak. So it was time to clean the sunroom, again, and I took the damn door off the Cadillac Litterbox. She jumped immediately in and started flinging litter with such abandon it almost hit Miss B in the nose–did I mention Miss B has a distressing fondness for Kitty Roca? Screw the cat kibble, she says. Give me the already-digested!

So I had to haul the Aussie away and put her on the other side of the glass door, her nose pressed against it like Little Orphan Annie’s. “YOU ARE DOING THINGS IN THERE WITHOUT MEEEEEEE,” she moaned, as I swept up litter and cursed under my breath. “THEY MUST BE FUUUUUN THIIIIIIINGS. WITHOUT MEEEEEEEEE.”

The sunroom is clean(ish), and Mad Tortie has stopped calling for the Absent Cats to come see the new doins, though she regularly checks all their hiding places in the house. Several of my plants are much the worse for wear. Miss B has been nervously checking around to see if the Absent Cats are perhaps hiding somewhere she can heeeeerd them out of, trotting behind Mad Tortie on her daily rounds. It would be hilarious if it didn’t break my heart to see them searching for Sweet Tuxedo and Cranky Duck.

Anyway, things are slowly returning to normal. Or as normal as it gets, around here. The sunroom’s looking mighty bare, and Mad Tortie spotted a feral rabbit out the window earlier today…

…but that’s another blog post.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-01-24 06:00 pm
Entry tags:

Great Fields of Catnip

I know I promised Squirrel!Neo. Unfortunately, I can’t keep that promise.

I lost two good friends today. Cranky Duck Cat, who was well over 12, and Sweet Tuxedo Kitty, who was no spring chicken either, have been having increasing health problems. Today they absconded to the Great Fields of Catnip, where the hamsters are made of that cheese Cranky Duck loved but wasn’t allowed to have anymore but now he can have all he wants, where the trees all dangle little happy toys and bits of yarn for Sweet Tuxedo to chase, where Cranky Duck will receive a new pair of ears and Sweet Tuxedo will no longer have sprung gaskets. There are sunny windowsills and warm laps aplenty, and scratches just behind the ears or under the chin where they liked them best.

They went, finally, easily and painlessly, and they were together as they would have wanted. God knows they were like an old married couple, and grew increasingly cranky and increasingly fond of each other in equal measure.

I am devastated and the Prince and Princess are incredibly sad. Cranky Duck was, after all, pretty much as old as the Princess. They were fixtures of our lives for many years. They were both half-feral rescues, and had commensurate health problems. Despite many mishaps (after all, it was Sweet Tuxedo who was kicked in the head by a Certain Squirrel) they were loving creatures. I love them both, and I am at least glad they are resting comfortably.

Comments are closed because I can’t bear even condolences right now. I know I will feel better in a while, but right now I can’t do it. Thank you.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

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2012-01-19 12:57 pm

From Kickass Un-PreRequisite to Rippling Tweakage

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, who you should really be reading. Because we’re awesome.

Instead of the Snowpocalypse we feared (and that Seattle is currently suffering under the spike heel of) we’ve got rain. Lots of rain. Well, this is the Pacific Northwest, and I happen to like rain, but I wish the weather would make up its mind. Heavy wet snow yesterday, melt and easily an inch of rain today, branches down everywhere and my morning run more like a swim–oh, I know I could have used the treadmill, but Miss B was inside all day yesterday, which meant it was either get her out for a run or go to the dog park and stand in mud up to my knees. An appetizing choice, indeed.

Plus, the Little Prince became, once more, Sir Pewksalot last night. All of which is a roundabout way of saying my temper and nerves are equally frayed, and I decided on a Three Things post because if I start on a rant or two now there will be nothing but a smoking crater left where my computer used to be. (Expensive.) Not to mention with all the biting and snarling going on all over the Internet about Authors Daring To Speak, so to speak, and a rant doesn’t seem like a good idea. For lo, if I strap on my armor now and go all Don Quixote after Idiot Entitled Jerks On The Internet, I may never stop. And I’ve writing to do, so…yeah. Three things. Let’s see.

* Kickass is not a prerequisite. It’s not even a requisite. I swear to God, someday I am going to write about Milquetoast von Constipated, a potbellied, balding vampire with bowel issues who lives in Minnesota and, whenever there is an incident of violence, he *gasp* alerts the authorities! Together with his werecow buddy, Milton Morton (who is not only vegan but gets tipped every full moon), they do not fight crime willingly. Rather, they sort of bumble through and the police take care of things on their own. (As to why he has bowel issues when he’s on a liquid diet, I’ll just say, have you ever tried to live on protein shakes? HAVE YOU?)

Sounds amusing, doesn’t it? But it’s sparked by a frustration of mine: where is it written that I can’t write anything other than kickass leather-clad wiseacres? I mean, I’m very glad people connect with my kickass heroes and heroines, but that isn’t all I write, it isn’t all I am. It isn’t all the world consists of. I dislike it intensely when I write a character whose strength is internal and am immediately subjected to a “but your fans won’t recognize…” Screw that. They will recognize, and those who send me venomous screeds about how I should just stick to writing kickass chicks even though I don’t do so very well (seriously, it’s like the writers of these things all got together in a room somewhere) can just go…fly kites. Yes. fly kites.

The point of this is: If you’re used to writing one thing, and you want to write another thing, go ahead and do it. You may have to attempt a couple times before you get a salable piece, but it will teach you things about writing that staying in your comfort zone will not. I’m fairly okay at writing angst and violence, but you know what I would really love? I would love to be talented at writing comedy. Comedy is hard effing work, it doesn’t come naturally to me. (Unless it’s bleak black macabre humor. Heh.) It doesn’t stop me from wanting and trying, and from seeking other types of characters and stories to play with. What you’re good at writing and what you want to write may be two different things, but you should try them both.

* The Levenger catalog is pure crack. I mean, their 3X5 cards are incredibly useful while revising or making grocery lists, both things I do at my computer. My bag lust is inflamed every time I see their briefcases. And, oh my God, the desk sets. The desk sets. It’s nice to reward myself with some lovely tools after slogging through a zero draft. I nerd all over their paper, and one day, one day, I will have a Levenger desk. I’ll save my pennies, by God, and I will have it.

Other things I keep within easy reaching distance while I’m writing: a statue of Ganesh writing, some Climb On creme, cell phone, tarot cards (Rider-Waites, for those curious), Moleskine notebook, a couple pads of paper both legal and Levenger, scissors, pens and sharpened pencils, rubber bands, a Keep Calm and Carry On paperweight, two pink plastic flamingos, six dictionaries, two thesauri, two visual dictionaries, assorted other reference works from encyclopedias of military arms to herbals and Jack the Ripper books. Also, two copies of Jane Eyre, plus six or seven DVDs of different treatments of Jane Eyre, and a few Wuthering Heights. (Don’t ask.) Also, tissues, ibuprofen, and Carmex. Because you never can tell.

The flamingos are for practicing dialogue with. (But that’s another blog post.)

* Beware of great ideas. “A million cat clocks! That’s a GREAT idea!” Then some of them started looking a little odd because their tails weren’t moving. And I had to find more batteries. This just goes to show you, great ideas are only great until one gets to the care, feeding, and administrivia involved. (Note: I have six cat clocks, all on my living-room wall. And I want more.)

What does this have to do with writing? Simple. Beware of great ideas. Sometimes they happen halfway through a zero draft, and you either have to go back and alter what you’ve already written to account for the Great Idea, or you just go ahead and write as if the Great Idea has been there all the time, which means the first half of revising the zero draft is likely to send you to the booze cabinet sooner rather than later. Sometimes the Great Ideas happen during revision, and one should be careful because they are like pebbles thrown into a quiet pond. (BOOT TO THE HEAD!) The ripples spread throughout the entire book, which may mean you have to go back and deal with tweaking everything before and after in subtle and overt ways. Rippling tweakage is another thing that will send you to the booze cabinet during revisions. Or to banging your head against a brick wall, whichever is handier. (Also, Rippling Tweakage is my new indie band name.)

Great ideas are great, but there is no Great Idea that fixes everything without a lot of work. If the Idea is Great Enough, the work, while frustrating, is also a process of simplification. If it’s a Mediocre Idea masquerading as Great, or even just a Garden-Variety Idea Of Some Magnitude But Hardly Greatness, well, booze cabinets and brick walls, or whatever coping mechanism works for you, STAT. It doesn’t make the Rippling Tweakage any easier, but it can dull the gnawing pain between your temples somewhat.

…I just looked at that last sentence and cannot believe I typed that. Some days, I really love my job.

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

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2012-01-16 03:28 pm

Pitchforks And Torches

Get out the pitchforks and torches, it’s that kind of day…

So, there’s been some brouhaha in the book-reviewing world. Mostly, it’s been yet another edition of Authors Behaving Badly, and I’ll just point you at Cleolinda’s rundown and my own hoary old advice. Of course writers shouldn’t respond, positively or negatively, to reviews. Of course it’s wrestling a pig in mud–the pig loves it, and you just get dirty and look like an idiot. Of course. Of course.

But.

Look, it would take the patience of a saint to put up with some of this shit. And writers are most definitely not saints. Neither, dear Reader, are you.

In any group of people, X% are going to be assholes. It’s like the speed of light–it’s a fucking constant, so let’s get used to it and go on from there. Even those who are not assholes as a matter of course can sometimes act in an asshole manner, given the right conditions. Sometimes, we’re all assholes. You, me, that guy over there, everyone.

I have to tell you, though, sometimes I just don’t blame authors as much as you’d think. There are “review” sites that only serve to aggrandize their owners’ precious little pretensions, and there are “review” sites that should have a sign attached saying “LOOK, JUST FEED MY ENTITLEMENT COMPLEX BECAUSE OTHERWISE I’LL BADMOUTH YOU!”. Then there’s Goodreads–which I use myself, as a means of tracking my reading, and to be available, to a certain degree, to fans. Which is all fine and good, but just like EVERY OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE, there are some corners of Goodreads that might as well be 4chan. That’s all right if you like 4chan, and of course, if I claim the right to say whatever the hell I want here on this corner of the Internet that I pay for and maintain, I can certainly allow it to “review” sites that appear to be someone’s shallow little reproductions of high-school cliquishness. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre, c’est the fucking marmalade.

A lot of times, however, when I see an Author Behaving Badly On Teh Interwebs–I’m not talking about harassment, I’m not talking about plagiarism–I see a writer getting mad at some deliberately provocative pieces of horseshit. There are “review” sites that keep waving red flags and waiting for the moment a writer, any writer, will snap. They get a charge off this, and I don’t precisely blame some writers for responding. It turns into a situation that only ends well for the petty little provocateur, because they end up getting the emotional charge and the hit count. It never, ever ends well for the writer.

So while I don’t precisely blame the writer sometimes, I do wince. And I do sometimes privately agree with the kernel of some of their rants. I am, and plenty of other writers are, in the position of not being able to offer agreement publicly or professionally, and I think a lot of “review” sites and Mean People on social networking sites bank on that. It’s like the Speshul Snowflakes who decide to be rude to retail or food-service workers. They get the emotional charge and get a kick out of being the “injured party” or merely the Stirrer Of The Shit, and their stink spreads far and wide.

The point of all this is, sooner or later a writer is going to be tempted to respond. If the idea of taking the high road and behaving professionally isn’t enough to stop you, just think about what it means to descend to the level of the jackass who’s trying to taunt you into reacting. Is it worth being just like him or her? Is it truly worth it, when you know you’re just going to end up covered in shit while they laugh at the fact that they made you respond while basking in their brief Internet celebrity? Is it seriously worth it?

This isn’t to exonerate every writer who behaves badly on the Internet. It’s just to say that sometimes, you know, I don’t exactly blame the ones who do snap under the provocation. There but for the grace of God goes anyone, really.

It would do well for us all to remember that.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2012-01-13 01:01 pm

To Show My Dislike

If you aren’t reading The Fox Sister or Girl Genius, dear God, hie ye forth and do so!

It’s a bright cold morning, and what isn’t frozen is close to it. Including me. I find myself in a curious abeyance today; Miss B is quiet and watchful as if she senses a change in the weather. Of course, it could just be that we’ve been too busy to be believed lately, and she’s been right with me during all of it. I bless the day I visited the shelter and saw her sweet doggie face. I know every owner thinks their dog is the best, but I’m sorry, my girl has them all beat.

Anyway, the Bandit King revisions proceed apace. I am really wishing I could have killed this protagonist early and saved myself all this fuss. I normally don’t like my heroes much (there’s an exception in Jack Gray, who I actually kind of admired, and Darik isn’t bad but he still has a long way to go) but it’s rare for me to dislike them to this degree. My mild irritation with this hero has turned into outright flaming hatred, which means my notes for revision are covered in little Post-Its saying I can kill him, please tell me I can kill him!, or Idiot asshole or even, Why did I think writing from his POV was a good idea? In the time it takes me to scribble one of those little notes, I could be making changes…so I suppose it’s just another avoidance tactic.

This career is full of those.

Anyway, it’s time to dive back in. If I can’t outright kill this guy I can stab, burn, heartbreak, and eye-mutilate him. He won’t be nearly as pretty when I finish with him, dammit, and it serves him right. *quietly fumes*

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

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2012-01-11 11:27 am

A Moment Of Calm

It’s a bright sunny day, and this morning’s run took me past puddles that had frozen into swords of lace, fallen branches–the wind has been sweeping vigorously, Nature’s broom–and pine needles, fat squirrels bustling about. (Shouldn’t they be hibernating? You’d think they would be.) A flock of seagulls and crows (not Bartholomew’s crew, a totally different set) watched me and Miss B pound past, calmly side-eying the dog who would have loved to chase them, if I’d just have unclipped the leash.

One of the things I love best about running is that it drains away all fear, frustration, anxiety, it leaves only calm in its wake. Even though last night was restless in the extreme, I still feel refreshed. Of course, that could be the jolt of caffeine I took down this morning (oh, you guys, the new machine is beautiful, and I swear to God I can feel the espresso hitting my bloodstream) and the true test will come at about 3pm this afternoon when the Valley of the Nap arrives.

In the meantime, all the agony is run off and I’m left calm and reflective. Like a nice still pond–albeit one who has to figure out how to tweak a duel and a couple sieges and stuff some more double-dealing into this book. The revisions proceed apace, and while I don’t particularly like Tristan d’Arcenne, I am getting to the point where I hate him a little less. Which is all good.

See you ’round the bend…

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2012-01-09 11:12 am

That Gargling Sound

Hear that? The gargling sound? That’s the sound of one of the worst weekends in recent history swirling down the drain. I am not sad to see it go, either. This morning’s run was a pounding away of stress, frustration, anger, sadness, you name it. It was only four miles, but both Miss B and I were much calmer at the end of it. Funny thing–I was told Aussies get very attached to their owners, but I didn’t realize until this weekend just how attached Miss B is. She was up with me all night Saturday, corralling and helping me handle another very sick animal, and every once in a while she would give me a low, soft, consolatory woof! and a sideways glance, clearly saying “I’m right with you, Mum. Just tell me what to do next.” All damn night, and she was up with me all day Sunday dealing with fallout and cleanup. When things had finally settled down and I patted the bed last night, telling her she had earned (again) the privilege of sleeping on the Big Soft, she settled down and groaned a little, flipped an ear, and was out like a light. And this morning, she was antsy because I was needing to work some of the stress off, so we hit the pavement and went for it.

I can’t talk about the rest of the weekend, because dealing with other people’s thoughtless cruelty just works me up into a ball of frustration. A lot of why I write what I do is to understand. But no matter how much I can paint a picture of it, I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense to me. The frustration of my own incomprehension is very large. I keep aiming to have some sort of compassion for assholes, but it’s very difficult when I simply don’t get it. Suffice to say the animal is in good hands and resting comfortably, and everyone here is very glad of it.

Anyway, it’s Monday, and the dread beast of Revisions is nigh. I finished the proofs for Iron Wyrm and am now hard at work on revising Bandit King. I’ve hit the point where I have fully realized that my editor, bless her hard little heart, is right about pretty much everything, and my ego, while staggering under the blow, has accepted it and moved on. I have to go back and tweak what work I did manage to get done through the hustle and bustle of the weekend, for I suspect I was too agonized to think clearly.

So, yeah. Any work I did in the past two days is suspect. I might as well have just lit it on fire, for all the good it’s going to do the manuscript in the end. Which is a big pile of argh, but it’s something fixable, something I can do, and something I understand the process behind.

I suppose I’ll take what I can get.

See you around…

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2012-01-03 09:56 am

2012 Goals, Short List Edition

So I’ve finally stopped hacking like Chekhov and popping Mucinex as if I’m Burroughs popping hash. Which is a relief, because if I added one more simile to that terrible chest cold, I’d've exploded from sheer reference.

Good morning! We made it into 2012. (Insert obligatory Ancient Mayan Prophecy joke here.) Once again I survived the holidays, a feat made easier by the avoidance of vast tracts of People Who Stress Me Out. Oh, and by the application of said vast tracts of time to hanging out with the kids and the dog. Best therapy around.

I suppose it’s time for the yearly list of Goals Instead Of Resolutions. I like “goals” much better; it sounds achievable and more active than “resolutions.” I can “resolve” just about anything, and escape actual implementation. (Committees and office work taught me that.) Goals, though, somewhat demand to be broken into small achievable bits, then hammered relentlessly until dead and tossed into the pile of “Done!”

This perhaps says a lot about my personality.

I have a very short list of goals for 2012. Here it is:

* Continue my habit of reading one poem per day
* Find a new historical era to research for fun
* Learn to say “It makes me tired,” and move on
* Make all my deadlines for contracted books
* Attend at least one Krav Maga class
* Keep running and climbing
* Get that zombie cowboy trunk novel into reasonable first-draft shape
* Work on the second Steelflower book (Shh! You didn’t hear this one…)
* Be as decent as I can every day, all day
* Accept that the cat will try to sleep on my hands while I am typing, and get over it

There it is. That’s it. I can’t figure out whether I’m being realistic or lazy. I like to think keeping the goals small and pretty-much-achievable saves me from a death-spiral of guilt and self-recrimination down the road. I mean, because adding another death spiral to my life has been done so many times. It’s getting boring.

And now it’s time for me to suit up and take Miss B for a run. She has been expressing, in several long-suffering sighs and small whines, her need for some damn action instead of just sitting around typing. Silly puppy.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2011-12-31 06:06 pm

Dear 2011…

So, 2011. You’re headed out, no time for a chat? That’s okay. *points at chair* Sit down, this won’t take long.

You think that’s a request? It’s not. Sit down.

Thanks.

You were better than 2010 by a long shot, but that’s not really a compliment, is it. 2010 sucked so hard for me, you were the year of recovery. So, measuring by that benchmark, pretty much anything you did would have been okay. I’m not denigrating your ability to suck less than the previous year, not by a long shot. No way. I’m just saying, that’s not doing you justice.

In the wider world, there were earthquakes and tsunamis and wars and insurrections. There were widespread protests, and they look like they’ll continue. I’d say it’s about damn time, and I only hope the Occupy movement gets bigger and more widespread. So, thanks for that. I guess. But the earthquakes etc.? Not so much. Well, you can’t help that, can you? Nope. You’re just the year, doing your job.

In my own tiny corner of the rock called Terra, well. You sucked way, way less than 2010, and I did a lot of healing. I started the year finally-divorced and ended up actually contemplating going out to coffee with a person or two. I also made my peace with the fact that I’m never going to hear an apology from certain people, and that’s just the way it is. I found out that surviving the years of survival is in some ways the hardest task, and that yes, time does heal broken things. That sort of knowledge is a spiral–you always keep coming back to it, in deeper and deeper layers. Like ogres.

I also found out I can eat lasagna again, under certain circumstances. That I can nod and smile when some of my former abusers say, “I miss you…” Well, of course you do. But you miss the idea of me more than the actual me. Which isn’t really missing me at all…so I can put aside the guilt I feel. It is not my fault you miss what you thought I was instead of what I actually am. Which is a human being with actual rights, thoughts, dignity, and my own reasons for keeping those secrets you’re so terrified I may tell. (Go ahead and be terrified. If it keeps you away from my door, so be it.)

But, 2011, you were all in all not so bad. You taught me how to be reasonably happy again, 2011. You weren’t optimal, but then again, I wasn’t at my best either. We’re about even. You did what you could, and so did I. I think we can call this one a success on both sides, even if neither of us ended up where we wanted to be. Thanks for the time and the opportunity. You were very patient when I was in a hurry, and pulled me along when I really wanted to be still and stagnate. All in all, we did pretty well together, considering. I finished a few books, I had some laughs. I put in another year of raising two of the most beautiful human beings on the planet, and they managed to teach me a lot inside your (completely arbitrary, but that’s another blog post) boundaries. So, thank you for that.

I see you fidgeting and eying the door. You’re tired, and rightly so. You’ve been a hell of a year. Feels like you’re just as eager to be gone as I am to see the new turn of the wheel. Still, we’ve got a few hours here in this corner of the world. Have a drink, and relax for a little bit. I make no demands on you–you can totes hurry out the door and slam it if you want. That’s okay. But it might be so much nicer if we just hang out here, you and I, just a writer and her year, and give each other a weary smile and say, “We made it.”

Yeah. We made it, both of us.

*lifts glass*

Good for us.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

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2011-12-28 01:13 pm

The Synchronous Mailbag

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

The Dames have been answering a lot of questions lately, and I’m going to join the fun. I often get emailed the same questions by a number of different people at once; they seem to come in waves. Here are the three questions about writing I’ve been asked by more than five people in the last two weeks, and my answers. Enjoy!

* How do you get your ideas/How do you know if an idea is good enough for a book/What do you do when you don’t have an idea of what to write? (And various permutations thereof.)

I get asked this in spates, usually about every three months. It kind of puzzles me.

Ideas are not the problem. The discipline to sit down and finish something is the problem. Being worried about “not having ideas” is kind of like living in the Pacific Northwest and being worried there isn’t enough mold. If there’s one thing I’ve never had to worry about, it’s a paucity of shiny things to mentally play with. If you’re reading this, you’re a thinking monkey with an actively-producing-ideas few pounds of meat inside your skull; if you want to be a writer, you always have ideas swarming around inside said skull screaming to get out. There are ideas lurking in your kitchen junk drawer, in the face of every passerby, in every daydream or what-if question. Believe me, the there are enough ideas around to keep everyone busy until the sun explodes, and we won’t even have scratched the surface.

How do you know if an idea is “good enough”? Short answer: You don’t. Longer answer: You don’t until you attempt it. After a few years of constantly attempting stories, you can develop a feel for those ideas that have some meat and legs to them, weight and heft and complexity enough for a short story or a novella, or a novel entire, or a series. You also learn, in the course of those attempts, how to scratch below the surface of a story and discover the complexity in even the simplest of ideas. This can only be learned by doing, like so much else in this line of work.

As for “not having an idea of what to write”…I have never understood that. Is that an attempt to resuscitate the old canard of writer’s block? (There’s a cure for that.) Is it saying “I have so many ideas I can’t pick one?” That’s time-wasting, and a way for your Inner Censor to keep you chasing your own tail. Pick one and go. Is it saying “I don’t want to sit down day after day and do the boring typing?” Well, okay, but that defeats the purpose of being a writer, doesn’t it? Writers write. It doesn’t matter what you write, it matters THAT you write, and if you “can’t find” an idea, the problem isn’t with writing or the ideas. The problem is not opening your eyes and seeing the crowd of ideas that’s screaming “PICK ME! OOOH, PICK ME!” You can go to a mall or a casino and people-watch, you can open up your kitchen drawers, you can watch a few random scenes from a movie or listen to some random songs on shuffle. The genesis of story idea is usually a “What if/Why…” question, and getting into the habit of asking yourself “what if” and “why” about things is sort of the magic set of goggles that will allow you to see that invisible crowd.

* I am a new/young writer, do you have any advice?

This is an every-six-months sort of question. I’ll get twenty of them in a row every half-year, usually for summer and winter breaks. I kind of want to do a form letter to send back saying “Yes. And yes. And yes. I can only add: pay attention, and do the work.”

* “How much research do you do?”

Every month I get one of these. Short answer: a LOT. Longer answer: well, everything I read is research, every movie I watch is research, every new song I find is research, every time I cook it’s research. All things feed the work. If you’re asking me how many or how few hours of research go into each book, I can’t tell you.

For example, some of the things I researched for the Valentine series included: leaf springs (for hovers), ballistics, brushing up on human and canine anatomy and physiology, the geography of Prague, the battle of Blackbird Fields, legends of the Nephilim, the Goetia, demonology, friction, strata, relative weight of a dotanuki, ethical systems–and other things, too varied to count. The research ranged from simple questions that were answered in a few minutes by looking something up to month-long binges of reading in a particular subject, strip-mining everything I could lay my hands on. I probably research less than most authors of historical fiction, who go deeply into their chosen era, but I range pretty widely. I’m more a magpie researcher; everything I pick up goes into the storeroom and moulders into a fertile sludge there. Your mileage may vary, but I am (as is pretty evident here) a big believer in creative ferment, and in everything that goes into my head serving some sort of purpose, even if only as ballast.

So there you have it, three questions I’ve received numerous times over the last few weeks. I expect a new crop by the turn of the year…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2011-12-22 11:10 am

Hello, DAMNATION

Well, I finished the zombies-and-cowboy trunk novel last night. At least the zero draft. It weighs in at 65K, which is a little large for a zero draft, and means it’ll be closer to 80 after I revise it into a reasonable first draft. That’s not going to happen for a while, though, since I’m going right back to proof pages for Bannon & Clare (due the first week of 2012, I weep for my sleep schedule) and another round of revision on the new YA (after the first of the year) plus the drop-dead date for starting the zero draft of the next Bannon & Clare is New Year’s Day. Begin the year as you mean to go on, I guess.

So last night, sweating and excited, I typed finis at the end of DAMNATION. There’s a sheriff with a hidden past, a schoolmarm with a secret, a gold claim, and zombies. Lots of zombies, and some bonus vampire action. I need to go back and layer in a lot of stuff now that I know the shape of the finished work, and it may be a crappy trunk novel nobody will ever buy, but at least it is no longer a crappy unfinished trunk novel nobody will ever buy. Plus, it features a death by skillet and the immortal line “He ain’t gettin any fresher.” Also, horses, and a group of “frails”–saloon whores–who want to learn to read and figure so they can open their own fancy houses OR stop being cheated by the saloon manager.

…Yeah, I had fun.

I am also thinking of getting bids for help in putting some of the SquirrelTerror saga into, say, a nice thin trade paperback. It would need editing and copyediting, and perhaps an index, and I’m sure I would want to add some footnotes. And a map. So editing, CE, and formatting/design. I’m not sure if it would be viable; I’d probably spend more on the editor than I’d ever make on the damn thing, but it would please me. At the moment, it’s just a thought.

I have further decided I’m not going to run until next Monday. I’m told that every once in a while you have to stop beating on the flesh and give it a slight rest so you can shock it more effectively when you restart. I am sure my body will appreciate this, though the rest of me will be cranky.

And that is all the news that is fit for something, I guess, or at least all the news I can give right now. Next year promises to be very exciting. Maybe another trunk novel will fall out of my head?

*shakes Magic 8 Ball*

Ask again later? What kind of crap is that?

Over and out!

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
2011-12-21 10:35 am

The Pyhrric Victory of Pelennor Sunroom

Why do these things always end up with me barefoot and screaming? It must be Fate or some shit. I have to tell you, though, it’s been so long I think I don’t remember what happened next.

HAHA JUST KIDDING. It’s burned into my tiny monkey brain like the sight of Sean Connery in Zardoz. Anyway. When last we saw Neo, the cats, and my champion herding Aussie, they were all in my sunroom. Neo had expressed his thankfulness for me saving his psychotic squirrel ass by screaming and invading my house, and the cats had taken a vote and decided that they were going to chase the little furry demon. To be fair, Tuxedo!Kitty wanted revenge for being kicked in the head, and Lemur!Cat just wanted to chase something small and snackable without a window in the way. Cranky Old Duck Cat just wanted to be sure nobody was going to eat his share of the kibble. And then, Miss B had gotten loose, and every circuit inside her doggy skull just fused together when she saw an opportunity to heeeeeerd something.

Let’s halt the action here for a second, just press the pause button, as it were, and see what everyone is doing.

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