Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back to work

Blue Heron

I had a wonderful weekend. My new chapbook came out for the convention and sold a few copies. I did two panels, one on blogging (laughs) and the second on outlining. Had a great time on both. Talked with two different FM/Vision people, and lots of others as well. It was a fun time. And we stopped at one of my two favorite wildlife refuge sites on the way down and on the way back up.

I entered the Story in a Bag contest at ConQuesT-- pull five slips of paper and write a story in one hour. I had intended to write it on my old Clie with the the keyboard, but I forgot to reinstall the keyboard driver. Duh. Lucky for me, Russ showed up with the printer and the laptop, and I was able to use that. Started nearly twenty minutes late, though. And my slips of paper?

  • A murder
  • A left sneaker
  • An angry ferret
  • An occult shop
  • And the opening line had to be: The town was gone -- just gone.

So I wrote 903 words in 40 minutes -- and apparently I won in the Pro Writer Horror category. Horror? Well, okay there was a ghost. And it was a true horror when I realized my keyboard wasn't working.... (grin) They announced the winners at the closing ceremonies, but we couldn't stay that late. Two different people wrote to tell me, though.

Had a note today that someone else wants to use one of my zoo photos for a publication. That's twice now. Maybe I'm in the wrong business.

Anyway, I'm back and need to get all kinds of things done. Russ leaves for Atlanta in the morning and we're crazed here right now.

But I thought I should check in!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Going soon....

I'm on the last steps, preparing to head for ConQuesT in the mornning. I'm not ready. I won't ever be ready, of course. It always goes that way.

But this has been a particularly hectic day, with no really good reason why it should be. I seem to have a lot of those days.

I think I'll be happy to have May over with. June sounds much nicer. I've always liked June.

I'm starting to get crazed tonight. I think I'll go take a nice warm bath and think through whatever else I need to do.

Oh, before that, load the two 2YN classes. They're done and ready to go. I don't want to have to worry about them after I get back.

(Zette goes bouncing off to do something else now....)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It's a whole new world!

Ah, that's better. I got up today and realized that for the first time in five months I don't have to go in and work on rewriting those same damned three chapters.

I'm free! I'm free!

I talked to a couple other publishers and published people over the last couple days, and the general agreement is that it was too many rewrites and I shouldn't have been so stubborn and stuck to it so long. I knew it wasn't going to work, but I wasn't going to give up... until I realized that I was ruining a good book trying to make it into something it wasn't.

Will I ever sell Ada Nish Pura? Maybe not. But sometimes you have to trust yourself as a writer.

Today I've spent working on the short story, Preparations. I'm down to the last sections, but I had to reread it all because in the swarm of other things I'd lost the feel. I think I have it back. The story is over 7k words now. I hope to finish it up below 10k.

The Internet has been up and down all afternoon for me. You would think this would help... but it doesn't. I end up checking more often than I would if it were up. It's some kind of nervous habit, I guess. There's not even anything there I want to see at the moment, but I still go bouncing in, trying a couple different pages. I'm positive this is a local problem since the connection was down on Sunday as well. I sure hope that they get it back up.

I've been involved in a conversation elsewhere about writing articles about writing. The last statement appears to say that if someone is writing an article about writing, then they aren't concentrating enough on learning how to properly write. I don't know.... I have to disagree on that one. I know many of the writers who contribute to Vision since so many are from FM. I know what they're working on, and I know that sometimes the act of writing about writing helps to bring the technical side into focus.

But it won't work for everyone. And of course there will always be some people who will do anything but write the stories they should be working on. But then I've know a few pros who do that, so it isn't just a new writer problem.

There's the other side of this, too, of course. The fact that people are doing their best to help others counts for something. Offering to share what has helped you and what you've learned is what Forward Motion and Vision are about. It's great when pros step in with answers... but there are far too few of them who can give the time to help new writers.

So here we are with FM and Vision. And if I went along with the ideas of a few others, I'd have to at least shut down Vision if not both, and tell the 4k or so people active there that they're going to have to move forward on their own.

I believe that FM and Vision have helped some writers. So I guess we'll just keep going and hope for the best.

Oh, and I need articles for Vision....

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Decisions and choices

Sometimes things just do not work the way you expect. When I had an offer from Aio for Ada Nish Pura I asked for an explanation of what she meant when the publisher said there would be major rewrites. And I got a reasonable answer:

...The most major change revolves around the level of complexity. Basically, you’re sitting on a gold mine of potential world-building and culture, which in turn affects the main character. Right now you’ve got a great frame; you’ll just need to fill in more (much more, some of which you probably already have as backstory in your own mind), and in places, you’ll need to consolidate.

I’ve also got serious questions as to the science the book is based on. Right now that part is very thin. No worries that I’m talking about quantum mechanics or physics—more along the lines of geology and biology.

Your writing will probably also take some polishing. (For instance, “however” rarely belongs in a work of fiction; it’s more of a term paper kind of word. And I’m not picking on that just because you used it in your email—it’s something I noted in ANP during the review!)

That seemed more than reasonable to me. We started in on the work and made very good progress, though we unfortunately had some stops while she took care of business matters (new company, and I perfectly understood). However, we started running into trouble when we hit the 'polishing' phase. And this is where it came down to a misunderstanding in terms.

After more than eight rewrites of the same three chapters I realized that we were not connecting. I started lining out what I thought she wanted and asking if I was right. I pointed out that I thought what she wanted was prose that delivers all the information in the most descriptive and non-obtrusive manner. That didn't mean simple words without adornment, just not lines written for the sake of a pretty phrase when it doesn't work as well as a simpler one would. I felt the art is in the whole of the story, not the pieces, and lines should not be created just to draw the reader's attention.

She disagreed:

Using transparent prose is definitely a school of thought, one with which I’m fairly familiar. We’re definitely not in that school at Aio. We do look for rather literary writing and we love lines that cause a reader to stop and admire it...

Now that changed a great deal of how I looked at the novel. Also, with the word 'literary' came another explanation, and one that I had missed on the site. She said Aio's intention is to publish only literary science fiction.

Now, here's the thing: There are certain literary sf writers whom I adore. Chip Delaney is the top of the list. I could spend months reading and rereading Dhalgren alone. The use of language by writers like Delaney amazes and enthrals me.

But I am not a literary fiction writer of any sort, and I would never pretend to be. My strengths are worldbuilding and culture and an exciting plot to go with them. I don't want to write lines that draw the reader out of the story. I want them to live in the adventure, not admire the grammatical nuances.

But even more than that, I don't believe that you can create a literary writer unless that is their true voice and style. It can't be 'polished' into being.

Today we both agreed that this was not working. So, Ada Nish Pura is now back in my hands. It's a stronger book for the increased worldbuilding and culture, and the writing itself is much better -- just never quite literary enough for Aio. I'm taking the opening back a few steps in the rewrites to where I was still comfortable with the language. Then I am going to rewrite the entire novel and submit it elsewhere.

I should stress that while we couldn't make this work, that doesn't make either side in the wrong. Aio is a new publisher, and I believe that they are still in the process of defining who they are and what they want... and though I looked like I fit the qualifications, three words had gone missing in the transaction -- literary science fiction. Those three words really did change the entire structure of what I thought I was meant to do with the story.

If you would like to read the first chapter, It's going to be up on my snippets blog for a couple days. I just wanted to share, because I really, really like this chapter, and I think when I get the rest of the novel up to this level, it's going to be the best thing I've ever written.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The things you learn....

Today I learned that reading the wrong writing-related book is going to lead to disaster. Many will die and the others will be forced to survive on the flesh of their fallen comrades. It will not matter if the advice given helps you in anyway -- or even, apparently, if you read many different books and find help in various places. In the end, unless the book is written by a known pro, it will ruin you and you will end up like the Donner Party, who tried to cross the Rockies with a guide book written by someone who had not actually followed the trail.

So my sincere apologies to anyone who has read any of my articles or -- far worse, I assume -- my book, Without a Fear of Words. My only excuse for the book is that I didn't know and thought that some other new writers might find it helpful to read something from someone who loves to write and wanted to share that love of the act of writing with others.

(Yes, this is a joke! I decided to drop out of a conversation on another journal and didn't think my humor would be appreciated there. Probably not appreciated here, either, but this is my blog so I get to post it anyway. So there!)

Today has been a long day. I didn't get to bed until nearly 5 am and I was back up at 10:30 am only to find my computer turned off. How odd. Reached down to turn it back on. Nothing.

Tried again. Nothing. Started pulling at cords. NOTHING!


A moment to stop panicking remembering that just last night I had made a three cd backup. Good, good.

Then considered all the things that I hadn't thought to back up and panicked again. Decided to sleep for a while until maybe Russ got back home. He obviously knew and had gone to get something to fix the computer. (He didn't know, by the way.) Got up about an hour later and just started pulling cords, cleaning, seeing if there was any obvious problems. Russ came home. He was only mildly panicked. (He has his laptop next door, you see.)

I had pulled the tower out, cleaned off the back, checked the power cord. Plugged it back in, plugged the computer back in.

Power. Lights. Little whirling 'IT LIVES' noises.

It took it a little while, but it did come fully back to power. I think I found the problem too. A cat had chewed through a usb cord (an important and not easily replaced one, of course -- to my IPAQ, and now I can't sync it) and I think it just glitched. Lucky for me that the IPAQ wasn't in the cradle at the time.

So, computer up and running. All is great.

Until I pulled out the large drawer in my desk and it flew out of the desk toppled over and spread everything across the room.

On the other hand, I did find two missing rings.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Things and things

That picture was taken almost a year a go in the Rocky Mountains. I always get the urge to see them around this time of year. For many years it's was our anniversary trip. I can't see how we can do it this year because things are changing around here.

It's a good change, but I'm not going to talk about that.... yet. I do have some other fun stuff to discuss, though.

Yesterday I had two nice things in my email. One was a note from the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (ASIM) saying it was time to prepare Between a Rock and a God's Place for publication. It will be out in October. Yay!

The second was the contract for my chapter in the Fantasy Writing: the Business Side of Things, also a nice 'yay' feeling.

This morning I had a note from someone asking to reprint an article of mine. Also a nice feeling.

Oh, and I'm on a couple pannels at ConQuesT next week. Yay!

And I am on my fourth Story a Day for the challenge, which is really good since I got a very late start. My plan is to leap into this one as soon as I'm done with emails and a few non-writing things that I'm still working through.

I am having some on-going problems with Ada Nish Pura, but I think that I identified the trouble. I'm waiting for a note from the publisher (she says tomorrow), and we'll see how things go from there. At the moment, though, I'm taking the time to work on some short stories, flyers, and all the rest of it for the convention.

So, things and things and things.

All in all, it's not too bad!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Yes, hello there!

Willow and her teddy bear collection. She loves to sleep there. She even pulls a couple of them down if she wants to sleep on the floor for some reason.

I have been very very busy the last couple weeks.

I'll be very very busy for the next few weeks.

I am trying not to drive myself crazy, but that hasn't worked in the past, so I don't know why it would start working now.

I came here intending to write something... not sure what it was, though. I think I might as well just post and move on to the next thing on my list.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Do what works

Okay, I've got to ask... Is there really anyone out there who is so dense that they think someone using a word count goal will write just any words to reach that number? Like if we look at the count and find out we need another 100 words, why we could do that with just words starting with 'b' right? Big, bad, bounce....

Stop being so dense, people. Sure, sometimes the words we do choose to write don't work as well as we hoped. We get off track from the storyline, we go down a blind alley.... and tell me the rest of you don't do that as well? Oh, of course not. It's quality writing, so your little twenty words a week are always perfect, right? Yes, I am purposely being just as much over the top as the people who have been giving me the 'you can't write serious fiction if you force yourself to write a certain number a day.'

Ah, and there is the word. FORCE.

No one -- and certainly no number -- forces me to write 1-3k a day. I do it because I love to write and I have a story to tell. I know what I want to say in my stories and I go there. I don't waste time making certain I'm really honestly serious about what I’m going to write -- because, wow, it you aren't in just the perfect mood you might not get quality, right?

Do none of you read Holly's Blog, if nothing else? You notice the 'words came well today' versus 'the had trouble making the words today' posts right away. Some days she can get what she wants in a couple hours. Other times she fights for every word and only gets half of what she wants. Do you really think she's just writing down ANY WORDS to make those numbers? Or do you think it might be possible, having written 25 published books, that maybe she has a clue what she's doing, can focus on the writing, and knows what she wants to achieve to meet her deadlines?

Or is it that you just think I'm the one who writes the words without considering the story?

I'm starting to get really annoyed with whomever has started the 'well, if they are just aiming at numbers, obviously they don't care about the quality' argument. Anyone who wants to be published worries about both the numbers and the quality, and works at achieving the best finished project she can -- and, yes, with varying results.

It doesn't matter how you wrote your story -- all that matters is that you complete it and edit it into the best piece you possibly can. You can't fix a story you never finish. If setting goals -- word counts, hours, chapters, or whatever -- gets you to the end of the story, then you've done the right thing. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you have never finished a story or your much vaunted 'I write quality, not quantity' speech hasn't gotten you a single sale, then maybe you need to stop worrying about how others are working and figure out what's wrong with your own material. I can tell you right now it has nothing to do with how many words you wrote a day.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ah yes, so there it is....

Wind and Kwi

You know, I think I would have been disappointed if I hadn't gotten at least one letter about the word count posts at FM. You get used to certain things happening. I was going to post it, but it's really silly -- '... (everyone) needs to stop being so annoying and shoving it in the faces of people who can't write as much.' And 'Pips are stupid and ugly. I hate them. They're just for show offs.' ....And more along this line about the layout of the site, the colors, what people discuss, and how none of it is helpful to her. I have the distinct feeling that nothing would help her anyway, but that didn't matter. It is our purpose to make things work for her.

I expect two or three more before the thread disappears. I'm going to mostly ignore them this time around. I have only recently realized that it doesn't matter what I say to some people, they will find a reason to complain -- especially about things that don't affect them at all. No one is required to take part in anything that happens at the site. You get to pick and choose what you like, and if nothing at the sites work for you, then move along and find something that does.

I am not going to remake the site for a handful of people who are annoyed by the fact that others are actually writing, finishing work, submitting and in many cases, selling their stories. It's been wonderful to see the posts from people who have completed their first novels, submitted their first works, and made their first sales. That's the stuff I look at when I start getting notes like this. Doesn't work for you? Well maybe the truth is that you just don't want to work, and it wouldn't matter how the site was set up or what we allowed or didn't.

I think I'm going to start using pips in my signature again. I haven't because I’m lazy. I don't expect it will affect the way I write or the way anyone else writes, either.

I suppose it was silly to post anything in the thread thinking it would deter people from writing to me personally. I would much rather they posted on the board. And you know, I understand that people still think it's Holly Lisle's Forward Motion -- but I do wish they would spell my name right (Lisette? Ugh). Sigh.

Over all, I don't get it. I really, seriously don't. If you can't stand the fact that someone else writes more than you do (and we are not talking better or worse, just more) then how can you even walk into a bookstore? Are these people that way about everything in their life? Can they not stand it if a person reads faster than they do? Where do they draw the line?

And why does it always have to be 'this doesn't work for me, get rid of it' and never mind if others like it or not. The implication of the letter above is that she's more important than any group of people. I see far too much of that attitude at FM, and like I said in the posts there, I've accommodated the people as much as I'm willing to. I'm not going to tell people they can't use the pips, they can't announce word counts in chat, or anything of the like.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is really a very minor little problem -- but has a sometimes vocal group. And I realized that I had been wrong about saying we should limit pips to certain things, because with ones like the speedwriter (which I always forget), we had already gone into the word count side. So there should be at least one pip that allows posters to recognize someone else who does not set word count goals and such. We'll work on that.

And I had a good day today. Oddly enough, I've barely done any writing. I'll get about 1k tonight and call it good. I spent part of the day at the park getting a few pictures, and it was so nice just to be out of this office, this house, and neighborhood (where I usually do my walking) that it made me feel much better. It really is spring out there! Yay!

I saw the possible cover art for my new chapbook. Quite nice. The web site I did for a friend and writer went over very well. He'll be sending me updated info for it. I found my notes for the next 2YN class, so I have a chance of actually writing what I intended to this week. (We'll not discuss last week... lol). This is week 71 for the class. Hard to believe we're so far into this class already!

I am very close to being done with Kinship. I should probably be done by now, but I've slowed up on the last three chapters for some reason. Well, actually, I know why. It's not that I don't want to get in there and write it out -- I've just had a few other things that had to be done first. But I'm getting there!

Tonight I really must work on the 2YN stuff, though. And I'm almost done with my first story for SAD. That's not good. I wish I had more time to write them!

Ah well. Things are looking good!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Long days....

After the rain....

It's been a busy few days. I have Vision done. I have Farstep Station done and ready to go into the mail in the morning. I did some other requested work for the same publisher -- just a short few blurbs for the stories in Star Bound.

I'm not going to make my 3k tonight. I'm just too worn out. I did start a short story with the 'Story a Day' dare at FM, though. This is good. It's been a long time since I felt I could take part in any of the things going on at FM. I'm not entirely sure why I feel I have the time now, especially since I just got the new notes on Ada Nish Pura from the other publisher.

I would love to just take time off from everything right now. Write a few fun things just for me, do some photography and digital art, and not really consider anything else for maybe a whole week. It's not going to happen, of course. I've got so much stuff still lined up to get done that it'll be years before I see a break.

I'm just tired tonight. By tomorrow it probably won't look so bad.

Ah, and just thought of something else to add to the list.

Really should stop doing that!

I think I'll go off to bed before it gets worse.