lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 13th, 2012 01:01 pm)

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.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 9th, 2012 11:12 am)

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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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 18th, 2011 12:10 pm)

I am munching on crackers, Brie, and grapes. This means, according to the tortoiseshell cat, that I am the New Best Friend and my lap is meant to be purred upon. You’d think cats wouldn’t want Brie–I mean, it’s fermented, right? It can’t smell good to them. I am mystified. Also, I am a little annoyed at how the cat seems to think I’m loading the cracker with Brie for her. She even tries batting at it as it’s on its way to my waiting mouth. This does not end well–she gets put on the floor, as gently as possible, and springs back into my lap the instant my hands are occupied with the food again.

I suspect we will not reach a detente, but neither will we war openly.

Five miles run this morning, at about 9:39 per mile. Another personal best, fueled by the adrenaline I’m burning off from last night. Since the flu episode and adding the fact that the weather has turned positively filthy, I’ve bagged the 5AM runs for a while. I miss Phred the Coyote and the stillness of that early morning, but nearly spraining an ankle because I can’t see what’s living at the bottom of a puddle in the dark Taught Me A Lesson. (Do NOT ask. You don’t want to know. Trust me.) For once, I am choosing discretion over valor. Or something.

The leaves have mostly turned, all at once. The crisp nights have given them fantastic shades of red and orange and yellow. This is the best year for leaves easily in the last decade, or maybe I’m just seeing them afresh. Things do seem a lot brighter this year than they have for a while.

I am not upset at the weather, though. People who move to the Pacific Northwest and bitch about the rain are like…people who move to LA and complain about heat and gridlock, or New York and noise. I happen to love the rain. When it taps on a roof and I’m warm and dry inside, there are few things better. The luxury of running in the rain, getting physically pretty miserable, then coming in and drying off is pretty intense. Winter also tends to be my most productive period as a writer. I guess maybe it’s that there’s not much else to do but hole up and tell stories when it gets gray? Plus, it’s harder to guilt me into leaving my house in wintertime. I really am quite happy as a hermit, thankyouverymuch. I’m not quite a Henry-Chinaski-class lover of solitude, but it’s pretty close.

It’s taken me a long time to write this, between stuffing my face and fending off a very vocal and indignant tortie who wants some damn Brie, nao plz! I have the shades all drawn, and the door locked, and the house to myself while the kids are at school. The current revision–a fresh new YA–is calling my name. It needs a scene between a princess and a huntsman in a fairy housekeeper’s kitchen. Also, it needs more gunfire.

It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day.

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

So I’ve been glassy-eyed with mild fever for a few days, aching all over, and with a nose not as full of snot as it could be. It took my writing partner saying, “Maybe it’s flu?” for me to figure out that perhaps, yes, some sort of virus. Great. Just wonderful.

What the hell? I hate being sick. I don’t have time. I have climbing to do, running to get out of the way six days a week, revisions packed tight for the next six months and oh yes, two books to write in the next six months too. (Well, six to ten months. STILL.) My immune system needs to get on the stick, for heaven’s sake.

Let’s see, what can I report? Copyedits for the first Bannon & Clare were finally bled dry and sent in a neat package back to the editor today. The Little Prince has expressed a desire to take karate classes. (This is going to be fun.) I am still addicted to Glitch. (Also fun.) It’s concert season for the Princess’s choir. (Oh God.) Plus, I am eying the upcoming holidays the way a mongoose eyes a cobra she’s not quite sure she’s big enough to bite to death. (I could write about why my childhood makes me view holidays as poisonous, but that would take more energy than I have today.) Oh, and one of those books I have to write? Deals with plague. OH, THE IRONY.

I know I should write the last half of the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom. It’s just…release hath followed upon release, and I went on an Internet semi-fast for a little bit. Just didn’t have the bandwidth, plus, it is my firm belief that a writer should not respond to reviews, and if one cannot keep one’s mouth shut it is best and easiest just not to look. This is the same principle I avoid watching television on.

On the other hand, the smell of autumn and falling leaves does not disturb me nearly as much as it has in years past. The Moon last night smiled down at me as I jaunted out to the rubbish bin, and it struck me that at this time two years ago, I was just barely afloat; a year ago I was healing but still fragile. The faith that time will heal a wound or two is a fragile thing, and cold comfort at best, but it kept me going during the dark times. (Along with a healthy dose of tough love from my Chosen Family.) It is always a shock to look back and see how far one has come.

Now if I could just kick this virus in its snot-soaked, irritating little nads and send it crying away, I’d be all set.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 4th, 2011 10:23 am)

So last night’s fall at the bouldering wall seems to have no lasting soreness. It was just one of those sessions where I was clumsy all the way through, always fun. I went up to grab a hold from an undercling, missed it, and tumbled. Fortunately I was relaxed when I hit, I landed on a well-cushioned part of my anatomy (seriously, you’d think I would have no ass left with as much as I run, but OH NO) and I rolled. I stretched out after the session, came home, drank a bunch of water, took ibuprofen, and went to bed smelling of homemade Tiger Balm. (My writing partner has many, many talents.) This morning…no soreness, barely even a bruise. Which is good, because I’m climbing again today (I promised) and dealing with copyedits, which means a lot of sitting on that tender, much-abused buttock.

I know, I know, you really wanted to read about that.

Let’s see, what’s the news? I have a story, Gallow’s Rescue, in the just-release Courts of the Fey. Like Eleni, Wolf, and Tarquin, Gallow and Robin have a much longer history, and I wish I could write their story. Trailer-park fey and epidemic disease, who wouldn’t want that?

Also, I’m over at John Mierau’s place talking about Frank Herbert’s Dune, the Litany, and how I wanted to be a Bene Gesserit. And the winners of the belated release day prizes are up!

Other than that, I’m hip-deep in copyedits for the first Bannon & Clare, and the water is rising fast. Plus I’ve got to update the Books page, and that sound you hear? It’s the gears inside my head gummed up by snot. That’s right, I’m coming down with a cold.

Not in single spies, but in battalions. By the way, if you have a good smartphone app that can alert one to changes in barometric pressure, let me know? I’m tired of the pressure changing and half my head wadding up like agonized tinfoil.

Anyway, I’m going to climb, fill myself to the brim with fluids and vitamin C, and fillet more of these copyedits until they are bled dry. The crankiness of physical misery might even add something.

Over and out…

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The downside of a highly productive weekend is that Monday comes and one is exhausted, washed-out, and moaning softly while staring at the pile of accumulated work on one’s desk. On the upside, I got everything done, including laundry and the successful hunting, acquiring, and dragging back to the lair of Halloween costumes for the Little Prince and Princess. I did not even have to beat anyone over the head with a plastic gothic tchochke, because we were at the costume store before church ended on Sunday morning.

After church lets out, the crowds turn mean. You don’t believe me? Hang out in the grocery store down my street about 11:30-11:45 next Sunday. I triple-dog-dare you. You couldn’t pay me to be there, no thanks. I like my appendages all attached.

ANYWAY. Errands were run, costumes and a few decorations were acquired, the kids helped me clean up the yard and fill the bird feeders, kitchen and loos and laundry all addressed in their respective fashions, and winter thoroughly prepared for. So this morning, despite a hard run in the first real frosty-type conditions of the fall, I am blinking and feeling very much like I’ve been run over. I suspect another jolt of caffeine is in order before I can think about the copyedits, the revisions, the new wordcount I should produce on both the side project and the next book due…

…crap, my brain just froze. Like a rabbit sensing a coyote’s hungry attention. The problem, I have decided, is in choosing what beast to leap on and slay first.

*rolls up sleeves, grabs harpoon*

Here, little tiny copyedits! Come on over here! I’m waiting for you!

See you ’round.

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I’m going to have to write the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom next week. This week’s just not conducive to sitting down and telling a really embarrassing story about a squirrel loose in my house.

What can I tell you? I’m hard at work on the next Bannon & Clare book; there are revisions for a brand-new YA sitting in my inbox, I am turning in eleven-minute miles. The revisions…well, I’m in the week after receiving the edit letter where I am just processing. I think I’ve written about it before–when I get an edit letter, I open it up and read. Then, I cry. I scream. I fling the pages across the room, I stamp, and I basically have a little hissy.

Look, I’m admitting it out loud. This is part of the process.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2011 08:29 am)

This morning’s run was wonderful. I felt like I had little wings on my feet. Every once in a while, everything clicks and a good run comes along. It’s like a perfect day of writing. It keeps you coming back for more and enduring the days when it feels like peeling one’s own skin off in strips.

I am full of pleasant thoughts today. You’ve been warned.

However, the predawn was incredibly foggy, which made me think of Stephen King’s Strawberry Spring. Which led me to thinking about Springheel Jack. Along with plague pits, you can tell I’m working on the next Bannon & Clare. (Their first adventure, The Iron Wyrm Affair, is in revision now.)

I was planning what I’d do if Springheel Jack suddenly appeared in the fog, and perhaps that gave me some extra speed. “Be prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto.

Let’s see, what else? I’m glad you guys are enjoying the Squirrel!Terror serial. When Neo recovered, things got incredibly interesting, but I am not going to write that for a little while. Here, instead you can have a peek at the first chapter of Reckoning, which is due out soon. I am excited and sad all at once–excited to share the culmination of Dru’s story, and sad to say goodbye to her.

I’m incredibly interested in and excited about Glitch right now. It’s sort of like Animal Crossing for grownups. (Although Animal Crossing is nice too.) It’s like WoW without killing, which can be a relief. (Sometimes, though, I just want to get a glass of wine and murder some pixels.) I like the idea of a game where you water plants, pet animals, build and cook things, and basically learn to be cooperative. It balances out my antisocial tendencies. *snort*

I’m very boring right now. I had some unpleasant news that knocked the wind out of me not too long ago; my writing partner, who is always full of good advice, has been reminding me to plan for what I’m frightened of instead of just thrashing about in fear. The planning certainly seems a more productive use of one’s time, plus it provides an feeling of control. That feeling may be illusory, but it certainly helps. So I’m retreating into my shell for a wee bit, a process that is probably helped by the fact that a nice cool autumn is setting in and spending time curled up in the house is not only soothing but pleasant. I tend to be a winter writer, anyway–my most productive seasons are the ones with filthy weather.

Ach, I’m nattering on. It’s Wednesday. I seem to have lost the knack of Wednesdays.

Over and out.

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I’m in Revision Hell at the moment, chopping up and messing with the first Bannon & Clare book to get it from zero to first draft status. So I have the map of Dickens’s London out, a sneezing cat on my shoulder, a dog flopped at my feet with several long-suffering sighs whenever I move in the slightest, and a head stuffed full of story structure, plot arc, character cross-references, and things to look for in the zero draft.

As you might suspect, this makes for some exotic thoughts when I’m not actively revising. Like the peculiar, highly-colored, anxiety-ridden dreams I’ve come to expect during revisions. They rarely involve the story; instead, they’re some version or another of the old “here I am in class, naked and missing my homework” dreams. Last night’s featured Martians.

Seriously, you don’t want to know. In any case, here’s a selection of Things I Think While Revising, different than the normal oddness inside my head only in that the anxiety makes them much more vivid than usual ho-hum “how would I do a shootout in this stairwell” thoughts.

* “I have a tumor. I’m going to die.” This morning while running I had an amazing bolt of pain lance through my head. Wednesdays are my easy days, only three miles and no double in the afternoon. So there I was, trucking along at about two miles, and I had to stop and screw my eyes shut. The dog was confused, and as soon as the bolt passed I wondered if I had a brain tumor and I was going to be felled by it in a matter of weeks. Then I realized I was being ridiculous, and started running again.

* “Pancakes and watermelon are an acceptable dinner, right?” The kids agreed enthusiastically. However, I don’t really like watermelon, so it was grapes, pita chips, and Brie for me. That was when I realized I had grabbed “light” Brie. Let me tell you, such a thing is an abomination unto the gods, and shall ever be, world without end, amen.

* “A hansom only needs one clockhorse, thanks.” Said to the nice lady checking my groceries at the supermarket. She knows me–I’ve been shopping there for a decade now–so she just said, “Another book, huh? I’m gonna give you this coupon, honey. Go home and get some rest.”

* “Armored squirrels. With red eyes. Can I fit them into this draft?” Sadly, I could not. Altered rats, sure. But not squirrels. I’m sure there were squirrels in Victorian London, but I don’t want to dig them up. Let them rest in peace, for Chrissake.

* “I can climb tha–THUD.” It’s not that I overestimate my abilities. It’s that I throw myself at the wall and see what sticks, and while I’m in revision I’m tempted to do the craziest things because they sound good at the time.

* “Oh, God, if I just had a submachine gun right now…” Pretty standard, right? But when in revision hell, the ensuing mental dwelling upon the likely consequences are Technicolor vivid. I…won’t say more.

* “Could I teach the dog to bring me a glass of wine?” I actually spent a good ten minutes contemplating this. Then I ran up against the fact that Miss B doesn’t have thumbs. And decided it was time to go to bed, for I was getting silly.

* “What if it was an alien driving that car…?” One of the things about revision is that new stories start crowding the brain, the what-if muscle working overtime, begging to be used. I have not decided if this is a method of procrastination or a natural result of the creative faculties chewing on the bone and gristle of a zero draft, looking for something a little more tender. Who knows? In any case, I lose myself in little what-ifs like this an awful lot during revision. Even more than I normally do, which is saying something.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Here, have a trailer for a movie about the invention of the vibrator. Hat tip to the Selkie for that one. See, there’s a taste of the random that happens when it’s revision time.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to go back. I’m trying to find chapter names that don’t sound like coffee brands. *headdesk*

Over and out.

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I’m under huge copyedit crunch, but it’s my day to post at the Deadline Dames. So, in honor of the occasion (if by “occasion” one means “feeling like my head is going to explode and that would be welcome because I would be DEAD and not worrying about these GODDAMN things”) here’s Five Bits of (Maybe Useless) Advice About Being a Working Writer:

5. No matter how much you love your book, be prepared to get sick of it. After at least two (sometimes as many as five or six or God forbid more) drafts, at least one (but likely more) revision letter(s), copyedits where some poor soul goes through and checks every damn comma, and proof pages where you search for typos, dropped words, and stets that didn’t make it through, you will become so fucking sick of this book you will want to stab it, pour petrol on it, light it, and stamp on it while singing a stabby-burny song and mutilating it afresh with your red-hot spurs of discontent. This is normal. If you can’t handle hating your own work or getting so sick of a project you literally want to put your fist through a brick wall (or someone’s head), this is not the career for you. Every goddamn job has aspects you won’t like. Finding the way to make them palatable is how we amuse the gods (and each other, most often on reality TV).

4. Your editor, your copyeditor, the Marketing folks, and the Production department are NOT your enemies. Your editor will tell you that parts of the work are weak and need to be fixed. Your copyeditor will make you feel like a goddamn fool by catching every punctuation error you ever thought of committing, plus a few you don’t even know how the hell happened. The Marketing folks will rub you the wrong way with cover copy, cover design, too much or too little publicity (or too much of the wrong publicity, or too little of the right publicity, or some other damn thing). Production will give you short turnaround dates, or piss you off in some way over something. This is normal. Working with other people is a goddamn hassle.

Get over it.

Editor, copyeditor, Marketing, Production–they have one goal. That is to make this book they’re working on right now the best book it can be. They are in the trenches at your side. They are your buddies, your comrades, your platoon. They may get on your nerves, but they are looking out for you the best way they know how, especially when the bullets come flying. It’s a feather in their caps when your book goes well. No matter how pissed off you are, remember they are not your enemies, that their priority is to make your book shine as much as it can, and they may see things you don’t. Don’t fire on them.

3. Sometimes you’ve got to turn the goddamn Internet off. Need I say more? I love Freedom. It was the best $10 I ever spent for my productivity.

What’s that? You in the back? What? But what if I need to research something while the Internet’s off? Mark it in the manuscript with a [[ thing I need to research ]] and move on. Get past it, and when you’re on the Net again, then look it up and search for [[ or ]] in your manuscript. Getting dragged into looking up the sex habits of Arctic flesh-eating bacteria is a slippery, slippery slope, my friends. You could lose days on that shit. (Or so I’ve heard.)

2. Decide on your stress tolerance early. Someone once told me that everyone has a certain tolerance for stress, and even if they arrange their lives to hit below that threshold, they will create shit to stress over until they hit the level they’re geared toward. “You don’t lower your stress,” he continued, staring into his bourbon. “You lower your tolerance.” Which was great advice, and I wish I’d thought to write down his phone number. Because he was pretty good-looking too, and he had a nice leather jacket.

Ahem. Anyway. Look not at your stress, young Padawans. Look at your tolerance, and see if you’re creating more stress for yourself by fretting over some aspects of your writing/writing career/whatever. Then start interrupting the stress-wave before it starts to build. Get up and dance, or something, scream at your computer, go for a skydive. Whatever works.

1. Give yourself some tiny rewards. I bargain with myself so often, it’s like I’m fricking Mephistopheles on crack trying to damn myself. “Set the timer. Ten minutes, and I can read the latest Girl Genius.” Or, “Fifteen more minutes, then you can roll on the floor with the dog and pretend you’re a poodle.” Or, “Another half-hour, and you can have a handful of Fritos.” Or, “Okay, Lili, if you get to 3K words, you can take the kids out for dinner so you don’t have to cook.” Or, “Get fifty pages of proofs out of the way and you can spend twenty minutes on Twitter making yourself look like an idiot.”

Hey, whatever works.

To consistently produce, I trick myself in a hundred little ways. I make it a game. I know my propensity for procrastination, but I don’t try to stop procrastinating–that’s impossible, and sets up a bound-to-fail diet mentality. Instead, I make the game all about rewarding myself for steady increments of work. I try to outwit myself. A certain amount of dragging my feet is necessary creative fuel, a sort of counterweight to my urge to go full speed ahead until I turn into a flaming wreck. Also, I enjoy the challenge of finding little ways to hoodwink myself, kind of like only focusing on the next three minutes on the treadmill. Each three-minute chunk adds up, and before I realize it I’ve run five miles.

So, give yourself teensy rewards. It really is all about tricking yourself into consistency.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve lingered long enough. I promised myself that if I could get this post written, I’d have earned a square of choco before I dive back into the copyedits. (See what I did there? SEE?)

Good luck, kids. Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jun. 21st, 2011 09:02 am)

Three miles on the track with Miss B. this morning. There were a couple other dogs, so of course she went mad. She wants to be friendly sooooo badly, but her manners are atrocious. We’re working on it.

Also, my darling 40-pound dog tried to kill me this morning. The track is at the local middle school, and they were testing and repairing the sprinklers for summer. When some of the sprinklers turned on near us, she headed for the safest place around–right between my feet. While I was running. I didn’t break anything, but it was damn close. I haven’t made an amazing leap like that since…well, ballet, really, or my last barfight. Of course, since the leash is wrapped around my waist, she came with me. it was an interesting fifteen seconds or so.

Also in the Cat and Dog Follies this morning: Tuxedo Kitty is in another bolt-and-bounce phase, which means Miss B. views him as a magical food-producing machine she can’t get too close to, but must watch carefully in case the jackpot occurs.The kibble isn’t even chewed when he horks it up–just moistened a bit. Miss B. thinks this is a glorious snack. Tuxedo Kitty goes right back to the bowl after every hork. It’s a Circle of Life I just don’t need to be involved in. Though I have found that catnip spray will disrupt Tuxedo Kitty from staggering back to the bowl.

You read that right. I got my cat high to stop his binge-and-purge. Hey, whatever works.

Also, I found out that Miss B. will never starve. Not as long as the squirrels keep burying peanuts in the backyard. It’s like she’s a peanut-hunting machine. The squirrels are less amused than I am.

Time to load up on choco donettes and head back into the wilds of the copyedits. Submerging in 3…2…1…

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Things that happened this weekend:

* I found sweet, dumb, silly Tuxedo Kitty trying to spray on my canvas map of Dickensian London. Again. My cry of horror brought everyone in the house running. I don’t know what that cat has against the West India Docks, but it’s apparently severe. I tossed the offender outside to ruminate on his sins, but he was distracted by a butterfly.

* A friend sent me the link to this…well, I guess “fan art” is what you could call it. Before I give you the link, though, just be warned that it’s not safe for work OR sanity. It is hysterically funny–as long as you don’t mind your 80s childhood weeping at the same time. Okay, that’s all the disclaimers. If you’re sure you still want to know…here it is.

* Got a new waffle iron. The old one was just…well, it’s tired. I guess we eat a lot of waffles. I can’t bring myself to be ashamed of this.

* I found out I have almost a bookcase-worth of World War II (Eastern Front and Dictators) books. My writing partner commented, “Well, you have enough WWII stuff to qualify for a Military History Specialty. Why not organize it?” I just didn’t think I had that much. I read that sort of stuff to give my brain a break, since I’m likely never going to write a story set in that era. I am…not sure what this says about me.

* The kitchen reorganized itself. It started out with moving a single crock of cooking utensils to the other side of the stove. Then I had to move another crock so the first one wouldn’t feel lonely, then I realized I could get some space if I just switched something else around…and two hours later, nobody could even find the forks. (Okay, I lie. I left the forks where they were. But that’s ALL I left.) As procrastinations go, this was a good one. Very useful.

* Panic-stricken, I realized there was a HUGE PLOT HOLE in the book now in copyedits. I dug through pages and pages…until I found out I’d fixed the plot hole two drafts ago, and that’s why I couldn’t find it in the CEs. *headdesk*

* Got a frantic call from a friend. “mumblemumbleRAN OFF THE ROADmumblemumbleTIRESmumbleOMGHALP.” So I bolted out to Hazel Dell (pretty name, right? It’s misleading.) and arrived at a tire-repair place ready for blood, screaming, or what-have-you. Turns out I didn’t need to kill anyone, just pay for a new wheel and new tires, because she doesn’t get paid until later in the week. That was my cardio for the day. I was so discombobulated that when she said, “I am calling the Pope and having you nominated for sainthood,” I actually replied, “Nah, I did too many Catholic boys.” The man behind the counter about choked on a laugh. He tried really hard to stay professional. Poor guy. I’m sure it didn’t help when I looked up at him and blurted, “Oh, hell, I just said that out loud, didn’t I.”

* Found out that Miss B. can, in fact, leap five feet straight up. If she’s motivated enough. (Like, say, by Steerpike!Squirrel. Who almost lost his tail.) It’s a good thing the fence has her fooled, for now. *sigh*

* Witnessed a duel between Squirrel!Neo and Steerpike!Squirrel. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. (Yes, there is more SquirrelTerror. When I’m done with CEs I’ll write them up.)

There were other things, but they’re either too embarrassing or boring to relate. So, that was my weekend. Now it’s time to dive back into those copyedits.

500 pages of them.

*weeps*

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( May. 13th, 2011 10:55 am)

First, the shameless self-promotion: I think we can do better than 24 comments, darlings, don’t you? Plus, there’s that voting for Fourth Day Universe’s Best Horror Book of 2010. If the spirit moves you, hop on over and give a click or a comment. Also, you can hear in this interview how Cover to Cover Books is rising like a phoenix from the ashes, and how I’m to blame for a thing or two. My writing partner has a great interview voice, I’m just sayin’.

A couple of other links: almost-ten ways to tighten your copy, Michael Moore’s final thoughts on the death of Osama bin Laden, and aspiring writers, please LISTEN TO THE BROWN ONE. (Hat tip to Richelle Mead for that link.) Also, from the indomitable and always-hilarious Chuck Wendig, an expose on how writers get their ideas. (Beverage alert on that one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Back I go into the coils of revision. I wish I could announce the project I’m working on right now. My editor won’t let me yet, so I’ll just have to wriggle with frustration in my desk chair and wait.

Sorry for that mental image. Have a good weekend.

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

My first review for Spiral Rhythms is up. I’m excited to be reviewing for them; it’s a good way to stretch my capabilities, and the editor’s a sweetheart. Go check ‘em out, if you like.

I’ve just finished eyeballing the two books in copyedit, back to back. Looking over CEs requires an entirely different set of mental muscles than writing, I’m feeling a bit bruised and strained right now. Plus I keep mumbling “stet, dammit, stet,” at weird times while my head jerks sideways. It’s like a tic, only not so nice. I am currently listening to Aretha Franklin wailing gospel and trying to calm the hyperventilation. I’ve two interviews and wordcount left to do today.

*weeps*

Of course, I’ve run errands and paid bills today, as well as delivered a care package to my favourite local bookstore. I ran three miles, took the dog on a two-mile hike, and loaded and unloaded the dishwasher twice. (I am gratified to report that I did NOT unload dirty dishes, as I have sometimes done while under deadline crunch.) I feel productive, but also slightly battered.

So that’s it from me today. I wish I had something Amazingly Relevant and Entertaining to report, but I got nothin’. My only amusement today has come from looking at the dog while paying bills and saying, “They’re right, Miss B. You CAN feel the Matrix when you do this!” and watching a frisky young squirrel trying to muscle his way up the backyard hierarchy. Neo is taking a Very Dim View of the latter event, indeed.

More later. Gotta run. Ciao.

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

Just a little catch-up today, since I have two books hanging fire in copyedits and another round of revisions.

For those of you asking when RECKONING will be out, I think it’s later this year–November 2011, if my memory serves me correctly. Yes, it will be the last book in the Strange Angels series. Dru’s story must and will come to a close.

Libba Bray tells you what it’s like to write a book, every time. I laughed so hard I almost cried, nodding my head over and over.

Here’s a post from Jaym Gates on decompressing, and how it’s necessary.

I do not disagree with Ms. Gates, but my non-disagreement comes with a couple important codicils. I am firmly in the “Gotta write every day” category. I don’t see how it’s possible to produce quality work in a timely manner without that practice and habit being built up over a reasonable period of time. This is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. I’ve gotten flak for it, sure, but I’ve never seen a compelling argument for any other way.

That being said, there does come a point, when you have professionally or consistently written for a while, when you can take some time off. Because even during the time off, some part of your brain is still working on the story. It becomes a reflex. Still, this is dangerous. It’s easy to get out of the habit of writing every day, it’s easy to procrastinate, just like it’s easy to get out of the habit of regular physical workouts. An occasional day off, or a necessary decompression or two, is something one grants oneself while hopefully being fully aware of that danger. It’s good to take a vacation, but the hard part is getting back up on the horse again afterward. It is that–the determination to get back up on the horse–that is critical and crucial, and being in the habit of writing every day maximizes one’s chances. Human beings are wired for habit; make it work for you.

Here’s another codicil:

Back in the long ago days when I actually WROTE on a regular basis, that quote headlined every writing advice post I read. That was back when I had all sorts of world-building charts and questionnaires and Debated About First Person Vs Third with Great Seriousness on Official Writing Forums. At that point, you could probably have told me that standing on my head would get me published, and gotten instant obedience. (Jaym Gates)

World-building charts and questionnaires might be useful tools in moderation, but they’re not writing. Debating on online forums is not writing. A lot of new or aspiring writers make the mistake of thinking procrastination or the Internet is actual writing work. It’s the same principle the diet or self-help industry makes its money from: people confusing the effort of reading the books/watching the DVDs/whatever for actual effort spent getting exercise or doing hard nasty self-work. One gets an ersatz jolt from the book/CD/DVD, there is a flush of feeling good, then sooner or later the flush wears off, the problems reassert themselves, and a new diet/self-help book is sought.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend time outlining or on the Internet. That would be hypocritical as well as false. What I’m saying is: when you think you’re burning out on writing, look at the effort you’re spending on things you mistake for writing, and cut those things out first. Do not cut out the writing first thing. The writing is the whole point, cutting it out is shooting yourself in the foot. If you’ve cut away the procrastination, the Internet, all the little fiddles and indiscretions we use to hide from the writing, and you’re still burning out on producing the story, then it’s time to consider decompression.

And now, time for me to take some of my own medicine, get the hell off the Internet, and get some of these copyedits wrangled. I’ve got wordcount to get in today, too.

Over and out.

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

The winners for the DEFIANCE contest are posted here at Deadline Dames! Thanks for all the great trivia–I learned an incredible amount reading those comments. My Readers have a vast store of knowledge. When I take over the world, I shall be depending on each of you to advise me.

My weekend was long periods of intense work broken only by moments of reaching for the next batch of Easter candy to shove down my gullet. Yes, that’s right–I was revising. Or, if you want to be precise, doing the first revision after an editorial letter for a book I wrote three years ago or so. I kept looking at the screen in disbelief, shaking my head and tasting vomit because I’d written something that sucked so hugely. Which is a normal thing for me during revisions, really, but looking at any work more than six months old is an incredibly disheartening experience. I take comfort in the fact that, while I might not know if I’ve gotten better in the intervening time, at least I know my writing style has changed.

This particular book started out at about 100K words, and now stands at about 125K. This is, for me, an absolute doorstop of a book. My editor wanted more more more, so I obliged, and since the work had good bones…well, I guess I’ll find out what she thinks in a little bit. Since I’ve finished and sent it back early, pleading for her to be only as savage with it as she must.

Notice I don’t ask for kindness. Kindness, while it may save whatever tattered shards of ego I have left, will not make the book better.

Anyway. I am looking forward to announcing this project as soon as I get the official okay-go-ahead. In the meantime, here, have some Chuck Wendig: 25 things a writer should know. I’ll just point and say, what he said.

After the push to get the revisions done (steady progress yesterday was marred by a corrupted file and the loss of an hour’s worth of work, thank God it wasn’t more, but it was in the last twenty fricking pages and I almost wept like the little girl I pretend to be sometimes when luring my victims in, whole ‘nother story, tell you later), catching up (mostly) on correspondence, and finishing a review that had been languishing on my hard drive for two weeks, I don’t have a lot of usable gray matter left in my tiny little skull. If you need me, I’ll be over in the corner rocking back and forth and reading about the Ardennes offensive. *whimpers*

Over and out.

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

The good news is, I’m up to the lower limit of my pre-injury speed during my morning runs. The bad news is, I’m only allowed to run three miles. Two steps forward, one step back. At least I’m running again, and the endorphins are smoothing out jagged edges. Thank God.

I am slowly chipping away at reading Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. The first book (Titus Groan) I only made my way through by the skin of my teeth. The second, Gormenghast, is already much more palatable. I suspect this was where the story wanted to start anyway. I am completely in shameful love with Steerpike; he is such a marvelous Machiavellian with perfectly-nuanced motivations. And Peake’s naming of his characters! By far this is the aspect I enjoy most. Prunesquallor the doctor (who I suspect very much is Peake’s unconscious authorial insertion, even though Titus seems like a more-conscious one), Deadyawn the Headmaster, Flay and Swelter, Sepulchrave the Earl of Groan–the names, they do EVERYTHING.

Also, I tremble to report I’ve finished the second round of revisions on Angel Town. I feel…ambivalent about this. The process of saying goodbye to Jill as a character is a pretty damp one. The snapback of finishing a book is compounded by the snapback of finishing a whole series. I’ll send the revisions off later this afternoon. I am giving myself that long to bid farewell.

Anyway, the spring rains are moving in, there are errands to be done, and I really should do something about the hoovering and the laundry that piled up while I was working in sprints this weekend to get the revisions done. That might help the spinning engine in my head wind down a bit.

See you around, dear Readers.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 14th, 2011 11:23 am)

I left the house without having coffee today. This was perhaps a mistake, but I was going so fast (long story, suffice to say I had shit to get done before 11AM) I didn’t have time. I chose a workout instead, which was probably a good thing. Anyway, I reached my last stop–a grocery store with a Starbucks–and decided to have someone else make me coffee.

I have rarely wished so hard for a taser in my LIFE.

When you’re got a line three people deep behind you at a Starbucks in a grocery store, you don’t start stacking sixteen different one-liter bottles of soda pop on the counter one. at. a. time. You especially don’t pause between each one to tell the poor girl behind the register what you like about the goddamn pop. You don’t insist that she ring them up in a specific order. And for Christ’s sake, when she’s trying to fix your bathtub of an iced drink, don’t lean your massive gut ON THE COUNTER and stuck your ass out while you root around in the pen cup by the register that’s clearly for employee use only. WTF, dude? Then, when she’s finished making your drink and clearly trying to call me over so I can get some goddamn caffeine in me, you should further not park in front of the register with your cart, attempting small talk with everyone, staring at her like you want to ask her out on a date. Here’s a clue: she’s not interested, neither am I, and a Starbucks line is possibly the most dangerous place on earth to pull these shenanigans. The people behind you are ADDICTED. You are between the junkies and their fix.

Hence, my wish for a taser. I kept muttering “No jury in the world would convict me.”

Of course, the fact that I was on semi-emergency footing, had a List of Things to Accomplish, and am a breath away from finishing a round of revisions on the last book in a series probably did not help. Today, my mantra is “Okay. Let’s get this bitch to Mount Doom.” (Which, by the way, is one more line to love Sarah Michelle Gellar for delivering so well.)

You don’t have to keep stepping backward. I’ve had some coffee. Really, I’m okay. *twitch* I’m not going to hurt anyone. *twitch twitch* Really, I’M ALL RIGHT.

Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 11th, 2011 10:08 am)

* First off, a collection of links on how to help after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Plus, emergency numbers and live reports.

* This week’s writing post (Habit and Ritual) was on Wednesday. I am putting together ideas for a new podcast episode. Now’s the time to get your questions in!

* Interesting article on Ayn Rand. I always wonder, when reading about Rand, how coverage or criticism would be different if she was male. But that’s a question/rant for another day.

* Let’s not forget that Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin have basically given the finger to working families with a series of shenanigans. The cynic in me says that now that the bill is signed, the mainstream media will move on and shove more Charlie Sheen and disaster pr0n down our throats and hope we forget all about it. Let’s hope I’m wrong. Also, Peter King’s hypocritical McCarthyite witch hunt, America isn’t broke, and Murder City just over our border.

Today I have to get some work done, so I’m signing off and turning off the Internet connection. I just can’t handle any more. Have a safe weekend out there, dear Readers.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2011 01:45 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

Also, the complete Dante Valentine omnibus is now officially released!

***

I think it was Flaubert who kept rotten apples in a desk drawer. He would open the drawer, lean over, and take a deep whiff to evoke autumn.

Everyone’s got their something.

Ritual and habit: the best of slaves, the worst of masters. The habit of sitting down and getting your hands on the keyboard can take you through when your discipline is faltering, but your habit of “needing” to catch a particular television show can interfere with your writing time. The habit of consistently saving and backing up your work can save your cookies, but the habit of surfing the Net during writing time can cut your productivity by an order of magnitude.

To little people, the world is a big and scary place, and rituals are comforting. To bigger people, social rituals–weddings, funerals, what have you–serve as social glue, give a framework for celebration, and provide closure. To practicing witches or occultists, ritual is a way to build a trigger allowing you to step into another psychic “space.” Human beings love rituals. We can’t get enough of them. Left to ourselves, we’ll make a ritual out of anything. Even the abstraction of writing.

There are two varieties of Things You Need To Learn To Have A Shot At Being A Working Writer–two species, if you will. I call them the two currents. One is the method of swimming against, the other is finding the best way to swim with. Ritual and habit help with both.

We’re very fond of swimming against. The idea that all we need is a little willpower and some hard work is a very intoxicating one with a lot of cultural weight behind it. The whole diet and self-help industries, for example, are largely built on the notion that if you just have enough willpower you can “fix” yourself. (That brings up a rant, but that’s–say it with me–another blog post.) The Puritans thought enough hard work and repression could fix just about anything, and we are heirs to that obsession. For some things it works very well, and for some short-term creative endeavours it’s a godsend. Sometimes, the sheer stubbornness of swimming against has taken me through several ticklish situations, especially that one memorable 48-hour revision stint. (I was unwashed and a very cranky cupcake afterward, let me tell you.) I have nothing against the swimming against. It’s just not the only way, and for a lot of things it’s not terribly efficient either.

Swimming with, on the other hand, is the process of taking one’s own laziness and habits and making them work for you. An essential part of a writer’s career is learning to manage one’s laziness in the most efficient way. Human beings like habit because it’s easy. The needle slips into the groove, we slide into the track, and a significant amount of effort vanishes. We can just follow the groove. The initial investment of making a habit is swimming against; the payback is when the habit has become a groove and we’re kept in it without much effort on our part.

This is why every writer needs a working knowledge of how to build a habit, what constitutes a ritual, and the borders of their own laziness. This working knowledge can’t just sit there, it has to work. In other words, the writer needs to do something with it.

Building a habit takes anywhere from four days to a month of doing the same thing, whether it’s smoking a cigarette at 10pm, peeing in the shower, reading for a half-hour before bed, or picking one’s nose. Or carrying a notebook everywhere, jotting down dialogue on your lunch break, eating the same pastrami on rye for twenty years, tapping the dashboard when you go through a yellow light, or knocking on wood. Rest assured, most of your day is made up of habits. Gurdjieff swore people live in a sort of waking sleep, robotic. He’s probably right, only I don’t think you have to work yourself to exhaustion to be granted a taste of consciousness. I think habits are a grand thing–I mean, I like that my heart has the habit of beating–and the gift we have is the ability to choose a few habits all on our own.

A ritual is a set of actions. (The actions may have a religious or social meaning, yes, let’s not get bogged down.) One of my rituals when I finish a very emotionally draining scene is to get up and walk around the room I’m in, clockwise. It leaves the scene in the story where it belongs, instead of it leaking agony inside my head. I often touch the statue of Ganesh on my writing desk when I’m about to start a new story. The plum tree in my back yard gets a cup of milk the first day I notice it’s bloomed. I read an edit letter once, then scream and stamp and throw it across the room; a week later I go back and find out it’s not really that bad. (That’s a ritual of processing, right there.)

To get your habits to work for you, first you have to figure out what habits you have. The easiest way to do this is to try to start a new habit. Do one thing at a specific time for four days in a row, and each time you do it, write it down. If this is hard to do, if you keep forgetting, take a look at what habit you might be inadvertently cutting across. Bingo, you’ve found one. Once you’ve practiced this process a few times, you’ll start spotting habits everywhere. You can’t change what you can’t see–spotting your habits is the first step.

Here’s a secret: it is much easier to replace a habit than it is to lose one. I call this the Addiction Theory of Self-Change, with varying degrees of tongue-in-cheek. I know several people who have substituted playing with a pen or pencil or chopstick or what-have-you at all times for smoking, which seems to work okay until stressors pile up. I myself have substituted working a heavy bag for self-injury for years. Currently I’m trying to substitute deep breathing for my obsessive email-checking. (We’ll see how that one works out.) If you can’t break a habit, work it around by degrees until you’ve replaced it with a better one.

Rituals are a little different. I always end my books with the same finis. I always sit and stare for a few moments after I’ve typed it, while the engine in my brain slips its traces and starts the rebound process. I always do the same things on a release day–no, I will not tell you what they are. When a well-loved book gives up its ghost and its pages, I give it a funeral and a proper burial. I have rituals that hedge in each day’s writing sessions, and each time I perform them I am reinforcing the little click inside my brain, the shift over to another mode of being. The rituals have changed as my writing space has changed–for example, when I was writing in the middle of the night in the bathroom while a boy slept in the bed my ritual was very different than the sitting down ritual I perform nowadays.

There are Speshul Snowflakes who use habit and ritual as excuses not to write. “I can’t write if I don’t have X!” they wail. Bullshit. Your habits and rituals are here to work for you, not the other way around. It’s not “I CAN’T write,” it’s “I WON’T write.” Fine, if you don’t want to, don’t. Be a Beethoven Blonde. It’s your life.

Swimming with is easier in that it takes advantage of one’s natural propensities instead of fighting them. The drawback is that it’s easy to slip under the surface of the habits you’ve created, and not take notice of changing conditions. Keeping the swimming in either direction balanced is a little tricky. You need the swim against to cut across the grain every once in a while and figure out if the current you’re surfing is really taking you where you want to go, or if you need to nudge it by a couple degrees and find a slightly-new groove to slip into.

And now that I’ve beaten that metaphor to death, it’s time for me to engage in the private ritual marking the beginning of yet another revision. (Two points if you guessed it involves a fair amount of swearing.)

Over and out.

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

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