Browsed by
Month: May 2012

Spec fic Kickstarters need your help!

Spec fic Kickstarters need your help!

Today’s Words: 3,094, much of which was reuse from an earlier draft so it’s not as virtuous as it seems
Found Objects total: 9,567
Fuel: Prefab butternut squash ravioli with carrot puree, pumpkin seeds, cereal, spicy noodles with tofu.
Poisons: 3 cups of coffee, 1 glass of Curran Grenache Blanc.
Exercise: 2 miles on the treadmill
Other Stuff on my Mind: Oh my gosh I’m tired.

But before I put myself to bed with a book I’d like to point out some Kickstarters that could use your support.

The one ending soonest, and still far from its goal, is John’s new venture Nightmare Magazine. You know that thing he does with Lightspeed where he publishes amazing science fiction and fantasy that spans the spectrum of the field? He wants to do that with horror. This is the guy who brought you Living Dead, Living Dead 2, and By Blood We Live. Trust me, horror readers, you’re in good hands. The Kickstarter ends in two weeks!

Next we have Crossed Genres, who published my holiday story “The Gift” a couple of years ago, and who have now moved on to publishing books that need to exist. The one I’m most excited about is Winter Well, an anthology featuring female protagonists who aren’t all twenty years old and hawt. Because women continue to kick ass as they get older, often more so than they did when they were younger.

And just today Fireside launched it’s Kickstarter for Issue #2. I can’t believe how many incredible creators I personally know and adore in this issue! Galen Dara is doing the art, Kat Howard, Damien Grintalis, and Jake Kerr are writing stories–this is going to be a killer issue. I’m still so impressed at what Brian has put together.

Please contribute if you can! They’re all great projects and I’m looking forward to seeing them manifest.

And now: bed.



Today’s Words: 1,007
Found Objects total: 6,473
Fuel: 1 apple, chicken and sweet potatoes, carrots and hummus, channa masala with vegetables and a salad
Poisons: 3 cups of coffee, 1 cup of yerba mate, and the wine I didn’t actually drink the night before because by the time I was done posting John had gone to bed and thus so did I.
Exercise: 2 miles on the treadmill
Other Stuff on my Mind: Upward trends

While the word count tonight wasn’t exceptional, my brain was working overtime all day putting this story together. I got a lot of brainwork done, connecting dots, developing character, identifying themes. Going from 0 to 2500 words a night was probably not a realistic goal. But tonight was better than last night, and maybe tomorrow will be better than tonight.

Same sort of thing is happening elsewhere in my life, too. Funny thing happened this afternoon: I actually WANTED to go the gym. I’ve been slowly increasing the amount of exercise I get, first going for a walk twice a week with a coworker, and now adding in the treadmill at the gym on the other days. It gets just a little bit easier every day.

Yesterday I walked/jogged two miles in 38 minutes; today I did it in 35. Yesterday I wrote 650 words; today I wrote 1000. I like this trend.

One of my fellow students and I were talking over the weekend about meditation and how we both want to get back into it. I’ve had good experiences with it in the past, when I stick to a consistent practice. It went much like the other things I’m talking about have gone: initially I could hold my focus for only seconds at a time, then a minute or two. Over time I could mostly (still imperfectly) sustain my focus for a good ten minutes. It’s just practice. (And that kind of practice is very, very good for someone who is by nature easily distracted.) It’s another thing that I think I could do to increase my chances of success in meeting my writing goals.

Anyway, consistent practice. I like the results. Makes me wonder why I ever stop.

Paradise Lost and related reflections

Paradise Lost and related reflections

In an effort to be more consistent with my blogging (I was listening, Jay!) I think I’m going to resort to a kind of template for the time being.


Writing: Two hours of mostly outlining and note-making, plus a little first-drafting. Need to step up my game, and quickly.
Fuel: Oatmeal, 1 red apple, small can of Spicy Thai Chili Tuna, six crackers, scallops and vegetables over grits
Poisons: 3 cups of coffee, 1 cup of yerba mate, and 1 glass of wine
Exercise: Two miles on the treadmill
Other Stuff on my Mind: Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is a workshop originally for graduates of Viable Paradise. John was invited as Editor-in-Residence, which meant lecture time and critiquing. This year it was opened to grads of Taos Toolbox as well, and I got to attend as a student on that basis when Jake Kerr dropped out because he was NOMINATED FOR A FREAKING NEBULA and the Nebulas were that same weekend. It was a remarkably well-organized and spectacularly fun event. I recommend it.

I really had a wonderful time. Sean Kelley, our host and coordinator, was just fabulous and made sure that the experience was as positive as it could be for everyone. I had dinner with friends I rarely get to see, and got to make new friends who I am confident will remain a regular part of my social sphere. I was able to benefit from the wisdom and experience of Jay Lake, who was incredibly giving of his time and advice, and Steven Brust, who provided some GREAT tips on getting unstuck, which I will undoubtedly need in the coming weeks. I was so proud of John in his capacity as Editor-in-Residence, and was very happy to hear such positive feedback about him from my fellow students. I took some pictures that I’ll try to remember to post later in the week.

It was a lot of fun, and I learned a ton–some things about the business of writing, but also about the business of being vulnerable humans. I’ve spent the past twenty-four hours reflecting on things I said and whether I should have said them, and things that I should have said but didn’t, and things I could do differently next time. Much of which, strangely, comes back around to treating my body and brain better, because that directly impacts how I relate to other people. Exhausted and fragile Christie is not much fun to be around; tipsy Christie can stand up to six or eight straight hours of intense socialization and may be fun, but is also possibly more opinionated and frank than is entirely prudent; hung-over Christie is kind of a pathetic disaster and really nobody wants to see that.

So, I think I need to tweak my approach to Workshop and Convention Fun a little bit. More rest will make the liquid fortification less necessary to handle the intense socialization parts, which will then leave me appropriately tired at a reasonable time, instead of artificially pushing on and ending up wrecked the next day. It’s just a nice positive circle of consequence made possible by the liberal application of a pillow and the restriction of wine.

This isn’t like an oh-god-I’m-so-ashamed-what-about-that-poor-goat train of thought (it wasn’t that kind of party), just a reflection on action and consequence and what I could do better, both for myself and for others.

This also intersects with one of the things that Cat Valente mentioned in the article I linked to yesterday: how hard on one’s body it is to sit and pound out a novel in a short time. I would really like to not fail at this endeavor and I figure that taking better care of my body and brain can only give me a leg up.

IT’S ALL CONNECTED, MAN. ALL OF IT. All in the service of the novel.

So crazy that it just might work

So crazy that it just might work

I have read this article by Cat Valente, How to Write a Novel in 30 Days, so many times I nearly have it memorized. Good thing, too, because this is what I’m about to try to do.

Do, I mean. What I’m about to do. Small green swampy guy admonishes me in my head.

I have my outline. I have notes galore. I even have some maps. And I have yet another adventure scheduled for early July, and I really want to have this novel written by then. So it’s time to go into Delusional Genius Mode and do it.

This is an absolutely crazy thing to try to do. I’ve done NaNoWriMo many times–in fact, Found Objects was my 2005 NaNovel. But this is different, for the reason that Cat mentions in that article. When I’m doing NaNoWriMo the idea is just to get the words down, no matter how crappy they are. That was a great exercise for a very long time, but it will not serve this time around. This time I have to write something I can believe in. It’s still going to be essentially a first draft, and it will need tons of revision, but it has to a first draft I don’t hate. You can try to talk me out of that, but really, just trust me on this one. I have to bring my A game this time.

The good news is that I think I’m ready to do that. Wish me luck.

Adventure time!

Adventure time!

Not the tv show, which I’ve never seen and know nothing about. Just average, run-of-the-mill adventures in real life.

This was supposed to be the year I Did Nothing and Went Nowhere. Seriously. After last year I was so ready to just stay home for a while. Ha! The gods of Opportunity find this laughable. The problem is that I am not one to pass up a chance to learn and get better at this writing gig, and people keep letting me into their workshops. So, y’know. The gods. They laugh.

Anyone else find that all of their vacation time goes to writing-related events now? This year will be three conventions, two workshops, and a retreat. Tomorrow I’m off to Texas for a writing workshop, where I’ll get to reunite with one of my Taos classmates and hang out with and learn from some extraordinary people. I’ll also get to see Texas! Parts of it, anyway. This will be a neat change of pace because generally when I travel it’s for a convention and I only see the hotel grounds, so I can hardly say I visited a place at all.

Anyway, if I’m scarce for a few days, that’s why. I’m busy trying to level up. Cheers!

Starting over

Starting over

So this is a fraction of the disaster I’m trying to sort through. Notes dating back to 2005, notecarded scenes with the focus on the wrong POV character, things happening in a city I’ve never been to. Even just reading through the manuscript is a challenge because there are multiple versions of it. I’ve spent the past few days sifting through it all and working on an outline, and what I’ve found is that I’m basically starting the whole thing over.

The biggest change since I first wrote it is the small matter of whose story it is, which changed what kind of book it is (for the better). I’ve beefed up the bad guys, named all of my worlds, added twists and turns and other cool shit. I’m surprised at how well this is going. I mean, seven years of thinking about this thing off and on, and it’s only now starting to come together, but it’s doing it in a big way. I’m genuinely excited about this story. It seems that most of the existing 55,000 words are going to have to be tossed out, but that’s okay. We’ll call that a practice run. I’m a better writer now than I was in 2005 anyway.

The novel is consuming a whole lot of brain space right now, but of course life remains in session: Saturday was my oldest daughter’s prom, my youngest has her 4th grade California Mission project* due this week, the car remains in the shop until Tuesday, the home loan is still pending…the list of fairly major life events pending goes on. Plus John and I have a workshop coming up very quickly (he’s teaching, I’m attending). I’m not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg, but I seem to have a lot more energy for everything else when I’m enthusiastic about a writing project and making progress on it. So for now it all seems manageable.

*For those who grew up in or are raising children in the California public school system, this is a familiar assignment.

The thing of it is

The thing of it is

This is one of the projects I found abandoned in my files recently. I think this was around 2008 (though the dream described was around 2004 or 2005.) It’s incomplete, and what’s there is pretty terrible. The heart is there, but the vision and prose are not. I think I could do much better now. Maybe I will. After all, it’s all still true today.

Prepping the images for this one really made me aware of how limiting this blog theme is. Might be time to go theme shopping again.

Anyway, true story.



I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.

– Benjamin Franklin

I don’t know about great changes, but I’ve really got to get this book finished. I got a little push from an unexpected source the other night, and it’s pretty clear that I need to spend the next month and a half making sense of Found Objects, the novel I workshopped at Taos last year. (My earliest notes on it are dated June 2005.) I had been avoiding it for a while because until last week I wasn’t sure what kind of book it wanted to be, but I think I know now.

I asked Twitter for help yesterday, and with your help I have A Plan. I have historically been very good at Making Plans and very bad at sticking to them. If you catch me doing anything other than working on this particular thing between now and July, feel free to flog me.



More notebook archaeology today.

When I was in high school I was introduced to the work of Douglas Adams and became an instant fan. One of the things I loved about Douglas’s work was that it challenged me. His similes were masterful, and he always chose the right word. Being a kid still, I didn’t know a lot of those words, so I read him with a notebook and a dictionary beside me so that I could learn them. Because it was all even funnier when I understood.

I hadn’t had to do that in a long time, until I read China Mieville’s The Scar in 2005. I hadn’t read Perdido Street Station, and didn’t even realize that The Scar was a sequel. I loved it with many-tentacled hearts, but damn did he give my vocabulary a run for my money.

While digging through notebooks, I found my vocabulary list from that reading. Some of these are pretty pedestrian–you can probably tell I never took the SAT. Some of them he seems to have made up, or at least I couldn’t find a definition for them. Enjoy!


House progress

House progress

The house that we’re buying (tentacles crossed) is undergoing renovation first. Being excited potential homeowners we drive by once or twice a week to check on the progress. And progress is being made!

Here’s the house as it was shortly after we first saw it:

A few weeks later, a new front porch and new roof line were added:

Last week, the new shingles were installed:

The yard is growing wild while this is going on, but the roses are all in bloom! I’m particularly excited about this one:

We’re starting to think about what’s going to be involved in packing and moving. The new place is smaller than the one we’re in now and the biggest challenge will be to find space for John’s reference library, which is vast. We have nearly two months to figure it out, though. I have a feeling they’re going to go very fast!