Friday, December 21, 2007

Dog sitting

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I am dog sitting my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law's dog. He is super cute, but man oh man, two dogs in the house are a handful.

On writing:

A whole lotta nothing today.

On writers:

I am talking to a second place about hosting our event. This first one meet up will be for the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction writers here in Seattle.

On Photography:

I am looking forward to getting down to my studio space this weekend. My studio mates and I are about to buy a whole bunch of new lights and reflectors. Hooray for new toys!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trying to galvanize the troops

Nic's Nic
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
On writing:

I am still waiting on the last reader, but I feel really good about the new short. I am entering it in a contest, so wish me luck.

On writers:

I am working with my local writers association (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) to start a writer discussion group. I just contacted a great independent book seller here in Seattle to see if they would be willing to let us hold our meetings at their store. I really hope this all works out, as I truely believe that writers need to support each other.

When I was at the writer's conference this summer, I realized how little writer community there is in the Northwest, which is sad considering how many writers there are in these parts. The other thing that really struck me was how much writers worship at the foot of editors and agents. Don't get me wrong, they do great (and difficult) work, but without writers, they have no industry. Still, I saw so many writer debasing themselves in front of these people. I want to start a positive writer community that really focuses on us, the writers, as artists and valuable members of the publishing world (as opposed to the unwashed masses that so many writers see themselves as in this world).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

He likes it! Hey, Mikey!

On writing:

Two of my readers (one is my mom and the other is from my writing group) liked the new ending! I tell you now, I totally feel like it is a major accomplishment to get these two to like what I've written. Move over editors, my mom finally likes something I wrote (mom is also a writer and editor).

I have one more person that is reading the story(other member of the writing group), and then it will be off to its literary destination!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I kicked that story's butt!

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
On Writing:

I sent out the short story to my first readers. It was well received, but the resolution was an issue again. I just can't quite wrap this puppy up in a totally satisfactory way. I thought about it for a couple of more hours last night, and I added some more clarifying descriptions. Now, it is off to the second readers. If this doesn't fly, I am going to cry!

Friday, December 14, 2007

It is done

Originally uploaded by Nic Launceford
On Writing:

I finished the last additions to my story and did a paper edit. Now, it's off to my critique group. I wish I had more readers on the piece, but you got what you got.

On Photography:

I am headed down to the studio tonight or tomorrow to work with our studio lights some more. Here's to that working out for me *crosses fingers*

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This scene will work or else ...

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
On writing:

Still working on the short story. I dreamed up a new ending. Now, I just need to implement it. :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
This is my dog, Madison. She almost looks fierce in this photo.

I took her down to the studio this weekend to work on portraits with her, but she channeled her inner-energy demon and just ran the length of the studio for an hour or two instead.

I am working on refining a short story of mine that I had a lot of feedback on from editors I sent it to. The major complaint was with the resolution. So, I am reworking the ending today. Hopefully, I will be sending it back out this month.

Studio shot

Studio shot
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I've been away for a bit. This (photo right) is my current time suck.

In writing news, I have decided to start looking for a new agent. I am a bit bummed about the last one, but what can you do?

Monday, October 8, 2007

21 days later ...

I got a form rejection from Ideomancer for Blink. I reread the piece, as my last submission to them got me a long and personal rejection. I still feel strongly that it is a good story, but I do admit I took a lot of risks with the piece. So, off it goes again into the great world of literary reviews.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I have to admit to a love for the steampunk genre. This particular alternate history concept really captured my imagination, but what is really doing it for me right now is the rest of the people who are caught up in the genre. The steampunk subculture is just so ... for lack of a better word .. neato! Check out this site

The mod on that computer is absolutely astounding!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review--A Wild Sheep Chase

Book Review

I am really slow to decide whether I liked a book or not, so my reviews are pretty slow in coming. All the same, for the sake of furthering my understanding my own writing, I am going to post reviews of the books I’ve recently finished.

A Wild Sheep Chase (1989)

This book, the third in a series, was Haruki Murakami’s U.S. breakout novel, and it is clear how this powerful, and often pensive novel, made it past the U.S. market border.

On the surface, the book focuses on a quest that the protagonist must go on to avoid having his life destroyed by a man that is only know as “the boss.” The narrator (we never get a name), and his girlfriend (“the girl with perfect ears”) set out to find a mysterious sheep that may or may not be pivotal to the boss’s existence. Along the way, the narrator realizes that an old friend is somehow connected to the sheep and possible the boss. This friend, “the rat,” becomes the focus of how to find one sheep in all of Japan.

The story takes us from urban Tokyo to the very rural Japan in an ever-increasingly bizarre adventure. This story is what I would call literary speculative fiction, as a number of important elements of the story depend of paranormal events. I ended up really liking the book, but it was definitely not a quick or light read. I suppose you could breeze through it, taking in only the quest plot, but what I liked most about the story was the focus on the various character’s interpretation of what was important in life, the quest, and each other. I can’t whole-heartedly recommend the book, but when you are feeling adventurous and patient, pick it up and follow Murakami on his mental hike through human spirit.

Stars (out five)


Monday, September 24, 2007

San Juan Island Picture Share

Dead Man's Bay
Isn't it beautiful!

Relaxing weekend

I spent my weekend up on the San Juan Islands. It was so relaxing, I didn't get a ounce of writing in all weekend. In truth, I sat talked with friends and pondered the ridiculous nature of elitism (essentialist and reductionist philosophies as a cornerstone, which are there as a means of controlling group membership). It has shaken a couple ideas out of my noggin, so let's see if I can't get some more short stories out this year.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have my newest story out at Ideomancer right now. It's only been a week, but I am always so surprised how impatient I can get about hearing back. I have so much confidence in this piece that I know it will find a home, but I particularly like Ideomancer. They are a great magazine, and they are very respectful to writers (I actually got a good deal of feedback from Sean Melican about a piece I sent in to them about six months ago). I think I might be done sending into F&SF, Asimov, and Analog. In fact, I think I'd rather run with this crowd--Strange Horizons, Lone Star Stories, etc-- as they print very cutting edge speculative fiction instead of recycling the same authors and stories over and over. I think these magazines take more risks, which leads me to finding some of the coolest stories and new authors. Hooray for small presses, magazines, and publications!

*crossing fingers and toes for mah story*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I couldn't resist ...

Writing Marcom

I am writing a pamphlet today for my work's new "big" product. I am always amazed how different it is to write marketing material compared to any other form of writing (except poetry). Grammar rules go out the window with phrases like:

Access our powerful magic from home! (commanding isn't it).
Know your magical item is safe with us. (I feel safe, don't you).

No wonder we all talk in sentence fragments: it is the most common reading we do these days (billboards, etc.). Then I started wondering, is it really wrong, or does it just annoy me. I mean, most editors or writers agree that that grammar is 70 percent solid rules and 30 percent opinion. Still, it makes my red pen twitch.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Confessions of an editor (and writer)

  • I can never remember if it is congradualations or congratulations. I look it up every time.

  • Lay, lie, lying ... it's best to let cranky editors lie ... or is that lay ...

  • I abuse semicolons.

  • I am scared of colons.

  • I leave words out ALL the time.

  • I put the wrong word more often than I like to admit. ;-)

  • When I need to edit, I procrastinate by writing.

  • When I need to write, I procrastinate by editing.

  • Spell check is my friend.

  • Cut and Paste is my enemy (it is only in combo that I really get into trouble).

  • Style? Isn't that a magazine.

  • I still can't figure out when to use a dash to any good end (but I do hate them).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The reason for all the quiet

I recently got the bright idea to buy a new house. My life has been swallowed by getting my condo ready for sale. Dear dog, it is more work than I ever expected. I have been dreaming (or nightmaring) about painting, tiling, and cleaning.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Why does my dog ...

Why does my dog lick walls? I know that there is nothing to eat there; I just washed them. Still, she licks them, the paper in my office, the lava lamp, and her favorite bath tub. I can only guess that she experiences the world more profoundly through her sense of taste. Then again, I thought dogs had an underdeveloped sense of taste.

On the note of dogs, what do you think about stories that are told from the prospective of animals, in which they maintained their "animal" nature (i.e. Animal Farm doesn't count, but Startide Rising does)? Are they always a little campy in your mind, or can you think of a story that really pulled it off?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cats ...

Go here.

It has nothing to do with writing, but it cracked me up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An awesome discussion brewing ...

Go check out this post. I think the post, and the following discussion thread, is really cool*.

*I'm not just saying that it is cool because I wrote a near novel-length comment. *blush*

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Harry Potter Review

I know I am super late on this, but I really have to throw my two cents into the Deathly Hallows ring. I read the book about three weeks ago, but I wanted to think about it before I posted my thoughts on the matter.

First, I’d like to say that the series, as a whole, is good. Ms. Rowling did a good job of telling a very long and involved story. She clearly managed to reach out well beyond the believed market for such stories.

Now down to the nitty gritty …

I really didn’t like Deathly Hallows for many reasons. There, I said it! I know that lots of people are going to wildly disagree with me on this, but I really feel pretty strongly about it. There are several reasons for my not liking the book, and most of those reasons revolve around rule breaking and logic errors. I know, I am an uptight reader about things like this, but I really want the writer to make it work it out correctly, as in, in accordance with the rules of the world. In my writing group, this is the first thing any of us will point out in the each others’ stories. It is so important! So where did she fall down, in my opinion?

1. The elder wand. The rule was that the elder wand couldn’t be defeated in a duel, yet that is how Dumbledore won it from Grindelwald. Bad. Bad. Bad.

2. The final duel. What weird logic was that? Really? Harry can defeat Voldemort because he defeated Malfoy and took his wand, and Malfoy is the rightful owner of the elder wand? So, somehow the elder wand knows that its true owner (Malfoy) was defeated while using a different want and now must belong to Harry? I don’t buy it.

3. More Final Duel. Nor do I buy that a teenager (and not a well-studied one at that) defeats the most powerful wizard of all time, who is currently using the unbeatable wand, with a simple disarming spell. Sorry, it doesn’t fly with me. You know what I would have believed? I would have totally bought into the concept that the horcruxes held his power, as well as his soul. Thus, if the majority of the horcruxes were destroyed, so was the majority of his power. This would clear the way for Harry to defeat him easily, but this would also mean anyone else could have done the same, too.

4. The epilogue was horrid. I wish I hadn’t read it, truthfully.
I could go on, but I am afraid of the rabid Potter fans. On that note, until this book, I was a pretty rabid fan.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A swing and a miss

It was no love from F&SF. So off Blink goes to Strange Horizons.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Now for the random question

Does anyone know the average time it takes a letter to go from Seattle to NYC? How about Boston to NYC?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The best thing about ...

The best thing about a writing group is that it motivates me to write. I just shipped off my newest short story to Fantasy & Science Fiction. It's great to have things going out again. I have to admit that after being orphaned at my literary agency (not being immediately picked up by the other agents), I've been feeling a bit down about sending anything off.

Well, wish me luck.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Clarion West

I was recently looking into science fiction and fantasy writer seminars and workshops, and I ran across the Clarion workshops, again. I run into this seminar, boot camp, writer heaven every couple of months while looking for cool writer retreats, etc. Here's my question though, who has time to take six weeks off of work? And if you could take that time off, who could move into a dorm for that time? I don't and can't, so I just never get to go check it out, which totally bums me out. Not only is it a great workshop, but its name will carry you far into the industry.

I know I'm whining, but I feel a bit down today about it all. Trying to build two careers simultaneously is feeling more and more daunting. Maybe next year I can make it to Orson Scott Card's writer boot camp; it also has a good name in the industry and is supposedly amazing.


Monday, July 30, 2007

PNWA Part 2 –The Bad

This year my main complaint is that this conference has grown too big for the convention center we use.

For the last three years that I have been to this conference, it’s been held at the Hilton by Seatac airport. The last two years, it’s been a little tight, but manageable. This year though, man, what a difference a year makes. For anyone who has attended writers conferences, you know that one of the major thrusts of the conference is the agent and editor meetings.* Seeing that these appointments happen throughout the time of the conference, this means people have to leave classes early or come in late in order to make their appointments. Now, when the class in mostly empty, you barely notice, but when the room is darn near standing room only, it gets loud. In one of my classes, a person came or went every two minutes or so. Needless to say, I learned to sit in the front of the room, so I could hear everything being said and not be too distracted by the door opening and closing.

I must stress that I am not the least bit upset with the people for coming and going; they had agents to meet with and those meetings are only five minutes, so no sense in doing nothing for the hour and half that the classes run when you could be attending one. My complaint is: we need to move to a space that is more accommodating for the increased interest in the conference (better parking would be good, too).

The only other thing I can think of is something my husband brought up today. It would be great to see more community building activities at conferences. He pointed out that most of the time we were there people were either dealing with pitching their book or sitting in a classroom being lectured at by a presenter. This, though, is on people like me. I didn’t go volunteer to help set up writer roundtables, so I only have myself to blame. Speaking of which, I will be writing PNWA today to try to get of the conference committee, so I can arrange for activities that encourage writers to network and talk about their experiences. On that note, if anyone can make suggestions to me about good community building activities that could occur within the confines of a writers conference, please leave me a comment, and I’ll add it to my letter to the PNWA board.

*For those new to all of this, those are appointments that attendees have with various industry agents and editors. During the time of your meetings, you can pitch your book directly to an agent and/or editor.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

PNWA Conference Part 1 – The Good

I am going to chat about the conference in three parts: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have to say that I am continually impressed with PNWA for managing to pull together some top-notch presenters. This year I took classes from:

  • Louise Marley (awesome science fiction writer from these parts).
  • Alice B. Acheson (publicist)
  • Scott Driscoll (writer)
  • Rick Mofina (writer; he was an excellent presenter)
  • Kat McKean (agent)
  • Ginger Clark (agent)
  • James F. David (writer)
  • Kat Richardson (local writer of urban fantasy)

I put Ms. Marley at the top because I really believe that any writer would benefit from a class with her. She was teaching a class about pacing and point of view, and I was concerned that it would be too basic to be interesting. Instead, she really made a lot of things make sense to me that have been eluding me for awhile now. Ms. Marley has a lot to offer to everyone; I even saw a well-published author there taking notes.

My next favorite presenter was Rick Mofina. He is a thriller writer and a journalist. If you write thrillers, or have thriller aspects to your stories, this guy is a whiz at breaking down what elements need to be present in your story. He also has tons of interesting war stories from his years working the cops and crime beat for a major Canadian newspaper.

Alice Acheson was a surprise treat. I went to her class about marketing because I know that as my book moves past the agent stage (here’s hoping that the agency sells it soon), I want to be a big part of promoting my book. Ms. Acheson was wonderful. First, she handed out a timeline that shows the process from the acceptance of the manuscript at the publishers to the book being on the shelves. She talked a lot about when you need to push and how you can help your in-house publicist (who probably has a 100 clients) promote your book. Awesome!

They rest of the presenters were excellent. I am truly happy with what I learned at the conference.

Three cheers for more tools in the bucket!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Editor's Diary

“Day 241: My captors continue to torment me with bizarre guidelines and conflicted editors. They receive lavish pay in my presence while I am forced to subsist on minimal benefits, no days off, and, of course, the vendor. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of eventual escape … that, and the satisfaction I get from occasionally forcing logic into the workplace. I fear I may be going insane”

Friday, July 6, 2007

Was he really evil? Reification

This fallacy, one I hear so frequently in arguments—especially Lincoln-Douglass debate style—as to make me want to shake my head and throw in the towel. Let me offer you all a quick definition, and then I will move on to discuss its role in literature and the problem it presents in making a plot valid (does the plot makes logical sense?).

Reification is the logic fallacy where an abstraction is treated as a concrete, real, physical, and discrete entity. To rephrase, it is the error of treating something as a "real thing" that is not real. For example, let us look quickly at the concept of ultimate truth. Where is it? Who owns it? What about freedom, liberty, good, bad, right, wrong?

*Now let me quickly note before I get swooped down on for this, let me say that reification can be acceptable in literature when it is used as a metaphor. To use it in a logical argument, however, is a fallacy.*

So what the problem here? Well, let’s examine the concept of evil in speculative fiction. If you are going to say that evil exists in your writing, you have to prove it. Some of your characters could believe that, say, vampires are evil and say as much, but if you want me to really believe that as an axiom, tell me where the evil is in the body. The thing is, you could have a vampire story in which the vampires never kill anyone. It could be just a biological need to drink blood, but it doesn’t have to be human, and they don’t have to kill to get it; they could just “sip” on something for a bit. Thus, you’ll need to prove to me that they are evil if you going to use it as an axiom.

In the show, Buffy, for instance, vampires are demons in human suits. They prove demons are evil; they are totally bent on killing all humans and retaking this realm for their own. Ok, I buy it; they’re evil. To expand, if two life forms are wholly incompatible to the point of needing to destroy each other so the other may exist, fine. If a race of creatures landed on earth and needed to change the atmosphere so that their nitrogen-breathing race could live here, and well, that does away with us, and it’s an irreconcilable problem that easily lends itself to the concept of this race as “evil.”

I am not claiming that I need to know exactly what part of the brain is enlarged to make a man “evil” (although that would make an excellent story; the discovery of the homicide gene and how society would deal with it), but I want to know that this is backed up by something real.

When does it drive me crazy? When the author of a book has one of the characters explain that they cannot work with character X, because they are evil and everyone is just fine with that as a reason despite the fact that if character X were brought in, the heroes would then have the subject-matter expert they needed to solve the problem. As a reader, character x seems like a totally fine person, if a bit odd, and I mostly feel like the author didn’t want to have to come up with a good reason to omit that character from the situation.

“But sir, if we just talk to Igor, we can get that information,” said Walt, the loyal right-hand man.

“No, Walt, we won’t lower ourselves to work with people like him; he’s a mercenary,” responded Dick, the terribly heroic boss.

“If we don’t, it could take days to track down the information,” said Walt.

“Well, that’s the path we must tread then as honorable men,” said Dick.

Oh please! Give me a good reason like:

“If we go to Igor, he’ll know that we are looking into the theft of the Golden Almond, and he’ll try for it himself.”


“Igor buys and sells information. If we buy the information about who last had the map to the Golden Almond, then he’ll sell that information to the next sot who wants to know who’s looking into the map. That could include our thief!”

See, not so hard to justify why the characters were precluded from an activity without having to treat evil as a concrete thing. You know, show us why instead of just telling us why.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The seemingly apparent quirk of writers

Ok, later today I will be writing another entry in my logic series (at the request of the Written Wyrdd). In the meantime, I want to quickly look at writers’ quirks, or at least their writing quirks.

My writing quirk is pretty amusing to me, as it really highlights a part of my personality that I both love and, well, less love. I’m sure my quirk is not amusing to my editor friends or my agent. I, apparently, love the works “thus” and “therefore.” One of beta readers for my first novel pointed it out to me, as in, he highlighted how many times I used the words in a given chapter. It was bad. Think a dozen or more.

This all brings me to yesterday when I was talking to an editor friend of mine (she edits non-fiction books for a publisher in these parts) and her reaction was:

“So you really like to summarize your thoughts and bring them to a logical conclusion.”

I’d never really thought of it that way, but, uh, yeah, exactly. My need to makes sense of things, summarize them, and fit them into their boxes had reared its well groomed head again. I really had to laugh.

I chatted more with said editor about some of my fellow writers, and told her about one of the quirks of my husband’s writing. In his writing, he uses the word “seem” often and by often, I mean once or twice a page. As a note, he knows this and finds it funny, too. Every time I saw it in his writing, I would underline it, as to bring attention to it. To me, “seem” is a weak word.

The place “seemed” to be filled with disreputable sorts.

She “seemed” to be angry.

ARG! It all seems so weak! ;-) I say go for it; tell us how it is or show us how it is.

The place was filled with people more concerned with brandishing their weapons than their personal hygiene.

The place was teeming with the kind of people who would love to take a cop, any cop, down a notch or two.

She was spitting mad.

She turned red, turned away, and turned to him. I don’t think she appreciated my response.

I could keep on with this, but I’ll spare all of you. So my editor friend, who was totally on my side on the matter, really nailed it for why ambiguous wording can be very problematic to your writing. For her, when an author leaves the reality open of the novel with a “seem,” he/she is implying there might be a plot twist based on this moment. For example:

The wind “seems” to be carrying the sent of smoke.

In this case, my friend, would be waiting to find out what the actual scent was. Because in a plot nothing happens without reason (that’s left for stories), readers read a lot into the way we structure our sentences, the exact wording, the rules the world, etc. How many times have you argued that a character could still be alive due to one word in the death scene? I can think of at least one case for me (Sirius Black, BTW, is alive; I know it!).

There you go. Quirks!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Finalists announced

As it was, I didn't make the cut this year, but a big shout out to those who did! On a personal note, I can't wait to get my critiques back from the judges.

The thing that surprised me about this contest; I thought this was an amateur contest, as in only unpublished authors. Apparently not so, as at least one of the finalists in my category appears to have a book out. No, it's not sour grapes, but I'm still surprised, as the major prize at this conference (very small cash prizes) is meeting editors and agents.

Why do you think, is it a good practice to toss amateurs and professional writers in the same ring? Does it just sharpen our young claws, or push us out of the way of potential breaks into the industry?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Genres ... oh the misery

Ok, maybe someone here can help me.

I am almost done with my WIP, which is a thriller novel. I consider it mainstream fiction, and it has the literary form of a thriller, one set in the near future (next 50 years).
So my question is this: Is "thriller" its own genre in the genre fiction range, or is it a flavor of mainstream commercial fiction? Also, do you think that its setting being in the future means that it by definition needs to be classified as science fiction?

Monday, June 18, 2007

PNWA contest

I just heard that they have sent all the finalist their notification, so if I am a finalist, I should know this week. On the downside, apparently they don't notify non-winners until after the conference. I have to say that that kind of irked me. Now, before I get flamed, I actually acted as a judge this year (no, I'm not saying what category, except it was not the one I entered), so I know that all my critiques went back to the category chair months ago. So what's the problem with just sending out a rejection notice? If anyone if reading this because they are looking for more information, this is a great blog to look at (for many reasons beyond the contest, too).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Audio Books

I have long held a prejudice against audio books. It wasn't a terribly rational prejudice (are any such things really?), but all the same there it was lurking around in my consciousness. I did make one exception, which was for Lord of the Rings. My husband really wanted me to read the books with him, but I was in school full time, and working the rest of the time, so I couldn't figure out how to squeeze time in for a book that I really didn't care that much for--I know, how could I, but I couldn't get past the language issue. So, in short, he bought the audio book for LOR, and every night before bed, I would lie in bed and listen to the story. I liked it, the book, and the practice. Still, I didn't buy another audio book, well, until last month.

What changed my mind is simple; I have a 20 minute commute to work every day. It takes 20 to get there and more like 30 to get home. The first weeks I would call my mom on the way home (hands free device, I promise); she likes to talk on a daily basis, so I figured it was a good solution to commuting boredom and mom's desires (no offense mom). Still, after three weeks even she was tired of the daily calls. I tried the radio, which never works for me, as my taste in music is a bit off the pop beaten path. NPR gets old, and I commute at off times, etc, etc. So it was, as I was wandering the aisles of my favorite Seattle bookstore (Elliot Bay Bookstore) that my husband brought up the idea of audio books again. On a whim, I bought one. It was a reading of a book, A Wild Sheep Chase, that I've wanted to read for about seven years now, but for one reason or another, I never got to it.

One week after getting the audio book, my husband got a contract at the same place that I was working, so we began commuting together. With each other to talk to, the grand plan of enriching myself on the way to work was cast aside for the more entertaining talk about friends, our house, and our nutty dog. I swear, Mr. Murakami, it isn't you; it's me.

All this lands me to today, when I finally decided to upload the book to my iPod, so I could listen to it while working on some of my more mundane tasks. While uploading it, I starting listening. The book, and the reading, is just brilliant. All of my snobbishness about audio books flew out the window as I found myself drawn into the story within five minutes. Now, I can't wait for tomorrow's commute.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Under the veil

Wow! I'll have to comment on this later, but for now, go read it.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Stay on target

I am now officially in my literary contest target zone. Or better put, they are announcing the finalist in the next couple of weeks. I am super excited! This one is through the writer's association (PNWA) I am a member of here is the great NW. I go to the conferences every year, as they are always fun and helpful.

What about you all contests? Conferences? Seminars? Bueller?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We're #1

So in this moment, I get to join with the rest of America in cheering for some great accomplishment of their city. I understand that this ritual usually surrounds sporting activities, but this is more my style.

Seattle is the most literate city in the United States!


Ok, it's only so interesting. If not for the social aspect of what pushes one city above another (poverty, social programs, accessibility, blighting weather), then why we feel the need to endlessly rank, compare, and compete.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What I did with my weekend

First, I know that there have been more non-writing posts than writing posts lately, which is really a reflection of the current state of things. *shrug*

So onto another non-writing post.

I took a running lesson this weekend. I know it sounds odd, as we all "know" how to run, but after complaints from a knee, I thought I better examine my biomechanics. Anyway, for anyone who is interested in such things, it was awesome! I took a Chirunning seminar*, and it really helped isolate so of my more problematic form issues. My instructor is a trail runner/marathoner, who was helpful, patient, and quite articulate. I really couldn't be happier. So, here's to me running and NOT hurting my knees. *grin*

*As a note, I rarely think seminars are that useful, but this was a totally different experience for me.

This is really neat

"Asked to design a fitting repository for a client’s valuable collection of J.R.R. Tolkien manuscripts and artifacts, architect Peter Archer went to the source—the fantasy novels that describe the abodes of the diminutive Hobbits.

'I came back my client and said, ‘I’m not going to make this look like Hollywood,’' Archer recalled, choosing to focus instead on a finely-crafted structure embodying a sense of history and tradition"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My turn

Tagged by Written Wyrdd

Here are the rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here is goes:

1. I practice Kajukenbo, but I have my 2nd Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

2. I refuse to have broadcast TV in my house, but I rent TV shows.

3. I'm vegetarian (for about 15 years now).

4. My brother used to make space boxes. ;-)

5. I wrote my first major fiction work when I was 13 (it was a play).

6. I used to want to be a chemist, like my dad.

7. I still feel odd for not majoring in a science (I got my degree in journalism with a secondary major in sociology).

8. The last band I played in was a marching band; that was last year.

I don't have many people to tag (who aren't already tagged), so Quinnwick will be my sole peep.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Writing blues

I am in a serious writing slump. No work on the novel, the short stories, or even the blog. I feel totally blah. I've been writing more at work, so maybe that's it. Or, maybe it's all the editing I've been doing. *shrug* So far this year, I've edited two novels (writer's group), wrote an SDK (work) and various technical docs, edited various technical docs, done a conceptual edit on a non-fiction book, and judged a literary contest. I could blame those factors for my lack of writing, but I think they were more like great distractions due to the lack of writing.

I need to write a song about having the writing blues ... oh wait ... that would mean more writing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More chairs

Chair #2 (painted by my husband)

It's really pretty and sort of Seussian in design.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Chairs gone wild

So this is what I did with my week. Let's start with what I started with, which were very nice chairs, but my concept of what color of furniture I want has changed in the 10 years that I've had my chairs. I didn't want to just toss them so I came up and idea.

So I thought, Hey, I should white wash these chairs and ....

paint them groovy colors. I present chair #1

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I got to see one of the most fantastic speakers tonight, Angela Davis. I honestly feel privileged to have gotten the opportunity to listen to her discuss the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and prison abolishment. I have to say that if anyone who has the opportunity to see this woman speak, they should do so. She is truly one of the greatest political activists and thinkers of our time. I'd write more, but I think I still have a lot to digest from the talk.

Again, go see her (or at least read her writings).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I beg your question?

Back to the logic, or my attempts to explain it to myself and possibly others.

How familiar does this sound (if you replace the necessary project and agency)?

“Unnecessary projects like the space elevator should be abandoned by all super cool space agencies.” (great example, huh?)

The speaker will then go on to talk about all the money being spent on this frivolous project, which nobody wants. The problem is that the speaker never established that this was a project that no one wanted or thought frivolous. In order to start this argument, the speaker needed to first gain consensus that the project was unnecessary or implausible. This is “begging the question,” when an individual moves onto the safe zone of the argument while ignoring the actually problem.

In a book I read recently, I found this fallacy displayed this way. Character A started a discussion about another character by saying that Character B was worthless. Character A then went on to argue that whatever happened to Character B was justifiable because of the aforementioned worthlessness. The problem, of course, is Character B’s worth was never established.

I find that this is a major pitfall for me in my writing. I want to claim things to be a certain way, so I can move on to pushing my characters forward. For example, I just love to claim that Character X’s idea was so ridiculous, and who would waste their time doing such a stupid thing, without ever going through the extra step of providing the logic behind why the idea was wrong. Oh, I do nitpick.

For the logic nerds, here are the forms (from Wikipedia):

Formally speaking, the simplest form of begging the question follows the following structure. For some proposition p:

  • p implies p
  • suppose p
  • therefore, p.

However, the following structure is more common:

  • p implies q
  • q implies r
  • r implies p
  • suppose p
  • therefore, q
  • therefore, r
  • therefore, p.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Writing advice ...

I am a nerd. It's true. So, as a nerd, I love reading about the craft of writing. What are your favorite writing techniques books?

My favorites are:
Writing the Breakout Novel
by Donald Maass (for writing)


The Insider's Guide to Getting an Agent
by Lori Perkins (agent advice)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Version control ... oh the humanity!

As some of you know, I am an editor. I work for a big software company and edit everything from press releases, to pop-up window content, to documentation. I like the work for the most part, and it keeps me really busy.

The one thing I have to say though is, version control is mucho important! I seriously just got a document set back (well into the 100+ pages range), and I have at least two versions in here. By versions, I mean v1 is what was handed to me, I edited it, becoming v1_edit or v1.1, they accepted the edits, and it became v2. I have at least one document from v1, which I edited but none of those edits are there, and another document that I wrote and that never saw an editor. Needless to say, it's a mess.

So, many of you here are writers with big novels, and presumably many of you are on your second, third, or fifth edit (that's me btw) of that novel. What system do you use to keep it all straight? Right now, I use dates in the document name (i.e. greatnovel_040407.doc). That is the name I give to my first major revision. I don't really like my system, but it works. Any better ideas?

This is my dog

This is my dog, Madison. In all honesty, she means more to me than most people do. I don’t say that to be mean, just to be honest. I wake up to her, she hangs out with me, we exercise together, and she sleeps in my room every night. So, when I read about all the tainted pet food, I was quick to look up my brand and pleased to discover that she was not at risk.

Since then, I’ve been tracking this story, as it really does matter to me what is happening to other people’s pets. I have to say that outraged just doesn’t really describe how I feel. This was irresponsible at best. I thought about it a lot over the last couple of days as I’ve been seeing the number of pets killed by the food swell to nearly 8000. There was just no real response out of the company. If there was a food product on the market that killed 35-45% of humans, it would have NEVER gotten so little attention from the company and media. Maybe I am alone in this feeling, but my dog is a part of my family. I have no children; I have her. It upsets me so much to know that so many families lost someone because of a lack of response.

I remember reading Childhood’s End and reading the part when the aliens make their only real demand of humanity; they must stop needlessly harming animals. Seems so simple, doesn’t it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

How to Make No Sense While Sounding Smart

Man is sentient.

Man feels fear.

The aliens feel fear.

Therefore the aliens are sentient.

And that type logic fallacy is something that absolutely plagues writing. But, unlike the other fallacies that I’ve been looking at here, this one I feel is mostly accidental; the others always strike me as shortcuts gone wrong. I think most writers don’t strive to make no sense at all, or spin a story based on an obvious fallacy. Still this type of fallacy, called the Undistributed Middle Term, comes up over and over again. I most commonly see it in character stereotypes, and in the proof of intelligence arguments. I can think of several stories in which the basis of the reason the explorers went to talk to the aliens surrounded some similar to the above logic fallacy.

The Undistributed Middle Term a.k.a How to Make No Sense While Sounding Smart

Why does this form above imply logic to us? Well, if you studied logic you know immediately why: it is the form of a syllogism, or a logical argument in which the conclusion is supported by a major and minor premise. I am pretty sure, despite being four lines and not the usual three, that this counts as a syllogism at least. All the same, syllogisms are at the foundation for deductive reasoning. Some famous examples:

Major premise: All mortal things die.

Minor premise: All men are mortal things.

Conclusion: All men die.

Major premise: No reptiles have fur.

Minor premise: All snakes are reptiles.

Conclusion: No snakes have fur.

So what is an undistributed middle term? It is when minor premise and the major premise of a syllogism may or may not be relevant to each other. I think it is easiest expressed in examples.


All dogs have fur

All cats have fur

All dogs are cats

So went wrong there? It’s obvious to all of us that it is wrong, but what is the logic problem. The middle term is “cats,” which does not fit into the category of “things that have fur” and “dogs.” One cannot base a conclusion on something that hasn't been clearly proven. We, in the case, have shown no correlation between cats and dogs, besides being warm blooded. Now, if I had said:

Only dogs have fur

Cats have fur

Therefor cats are dogs.

Can you see the difference?


All mammals are warmed blooded.

All cats are mammals.

All cats are warmed blooded.

In this case, the middle term “cats” fits into both “warm blooded” and “mammals.”

So here is the fallacy in stripped down terms:

1.All As are Bs
2.C is a B
3.Therefore, C is an A

Not too hard in these cases, but I bet we can all think of examples where the logic went wrong in writings we’ve read, or perhaps in arguments we’ve heard.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

In a rare non-writing post …

I am a feminist. I am not ashamed or it, nor do I try to placate my male friends by telling them that I am the friendly sort of feminist. I stand up for my sisters here, in the US, and around the world. I believe that we, as women, must stand together to improve the living conditions of all women. I also believe that we need to work towards changing the stereotypes assigned to women. I am sure to tell people that my husband is the cook in the family, and I take care of paying the bills. I tell them that I have my second Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and that I continue to study martial arts, and no it wasn’t my husband’s idea, it was mine. I am proud to tell people that I don’t want children, and no I don’t feel like less of a woman for it. I feel like more of a woman for knowing what I want and not just having children because that was what I was told to do.*

I am a writer. As a writer, I promote my beliefs. My main characters are often women, and they are never weak. I sent them into the heart of danger, into emotionally challenging circumstances, and into positions of authority. I want young women to read my work and know that there is a place for them at the top.

I’m sure you are wondering what set this off, well, it’s been a bunch of current events that really culminated in a really silly event. I saw pictures from last night’s America’s Next Top Model. Yes, I know that it is already a show that most feminists are shaking theirs heads at, but last night they posed the girls as sexy dead women. I personally am not comfortable with this. What does this say to women? To young girls who are watching this? Is it telling them that we don’t even care if they are alive, we still think they are hot. I am totally not against nude photos, or risqué photos, but this just reduces women to … well corpses.

* As a quick note, I am not against other people having children at all, but I do believe that you should want them more than anything else if you are going to bring them into this world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It’s all about the breakdown

Whenever I think about character arcs, I get this feeling of dread in my stomach. It’s about the breakdown, or destroying a character’s world. The best breakdown I’ve read has to be Emilio in The Sparrow. It is horrid, beautiful, and believable. If you’ve read the book, you know, but for those who haven’t, I’ll elaborate. When we first meet Emilio he is in a hospital, mutilated, traumatized, and half out of his head over the deaths of his only real friends. The author, Mary Doria Russell, then takes us back to the beginning of the story of Emilio, where he is a charming, if odd, Jesuit priest. He loves everyone, takes care of anyone, and most of the women are annoyed that he is … in the priesthood. Russell takes us on an incredible character journey that shows Emilio’s ascent to sainthood and fall into misery. I only once felt that the situations that push him along this arc was forced, and for the most part, I couldn’t believe how good she was at breaking the spirit of what appeared to be an indomitable soul.

So, that’s my guide. I like to think about whether or not my breakdown is as elegant as Emilio’s. Sometimes, I don’t feel I have the heart to do it, but flat characters are a real bore. It’s better to give them, the characters, immortality through the hardships, then to protect them and have them be flat. You know, I think there might be a life lesson in there.


Do you all have a breakdown benchmark?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Either you'll love this post, or you'll pick apples

I am all about giving characters choices. In fact, what is the point of having a character that doesn’t make his or her own choices (they’d just be drifting through the story that way and that’s no fun for anyone). What I don’t like is when the author creates an illusion of choice where none exists really—or is so limited as to not matter. This brings me to the third logic fallacy I want to highlight, the black-and-white fallacy, aka the either/or fallacy.

This fallacy is pretty straight forward, but I am shocked by how often I run into it in writing, published or not. The basic issue is that the writer sets out choices based on the false assumption that there are only two choices or outcomes that exist when there are clearly several. Outcomes and choices are rarely so simple. I can’t count how many times in romantic dramas it comes down to the protagonist can either stay with the partner or leave and never look back, and those are the only choices. The reason changes for why the protagonist feels this way (adultery, betrayal, better offer, protecting the partner, etc.), but I can usually think of at least five ideas for what other choices are still on the table. Really, when you force a false binary such as this, you are not actually offering choice at all.

Then why do it? My best guess is that the writer only wants the character to have to choices, the one the advances the story and the one that is such a bad idea that no one in their right mind would take it. So, this is my frustration with this fallacy in particular; this is the golden opportunity to really deepen a character. Let them realize all the choices, debate, decide, and move forward. We, the readers, get to know the characters through theirs actions, not through the universe forcing them to decide between to false dichotomies. Don’t get me wrong, I do it sometimes, too, but it really robs the reader of those precious times in which they get to look into the character’s mind.

In short, it’s either all or it’s nothing with character development. ;-)


This little guy is one of the first flowers to poke its head out. The cherry trees are starting to bloom. Hooray, it's spring!

I'll update shortly with my latest in my logic series.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Non sequitur and the domino theory

The second most common reason that I will roll my eyes while reading a book is the slippery slope fallacy. In short, it is a non sequitur argument that relies on the theory that if the first thing happens, then the second thing will happen, and surely then the third will, too. It’s the kind of logic that will stop me dead in my tracks while reading.

Think about it, you’re reading along and really involved with a character. You think he/she is smart, reasonable, believable, the whole shebang. Then they are presented with a situation, such as whether or not to tell another character, say a subject expert, about an important bit of information that would bring the story line to a quick conclusion. The author, wanting to extend the story line, has the character come to the conclusion that if he/she tells the subject expert, said expert would get upset and would to tell his/her mother. If that happens, the mother would have to tell her friend and then that person … and so on until the antagonist would have all the information needed to foil our hero’s plot. *sigh* In the middle of this, I always think the same thing, “why not just explain to the subject expert that if he/she tells said mother, and the situation does spiral out as it was predicted, said mother would probably be (insert consequence).” It's not a slippery slope because most people can be reasoned with and thus stop the slip.

Do you have a favorite slippery slope fallacy?

A rose by any other name ...

As posted in Nature:

"Taking a whiff of rose scent while learning a task and then being exposed to the same smell during sleep helps memories to set, researchers have found. The discovery could see students frantically spraying themselves with perfume before exams — although the effect is tricky to replicate at home."

I have to say that this totally cracks me up, because I used to sniff mint during exams when I was in college. I remember reading come study about military pilots having the scent of mint pumped into the cockpit because it increased alertness and helped them recall memories more readily: they were exposed to the smell during training, too.

So my plan was simple: I would sit at Perkins study and sniff an Altoids tin, and at my exam, I would do the same. Oh, what my professors must have thought of me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The adventures of the straw man

Every writer has their own set of pet peeves when reading other people’s writing. For me, it’s logic fallacies. You can do a lot of things wrong in a book, but to me, you cannot violate basic laws of logic. I’m sure I will be lambasted for being snotty for this, but it is annoying. And now that I’ve posted this, I’m sure my logic flaws will be pointed out, which I think is a good thing (it will only make me a better writer).

Anyways, I am planning on writing all week on my favorite fallacies this week. Today, I will start with the straw man.

The straw man argument is a subset of the Ignoratio Elenchi fallacies. The whole point of the argument, or character creation in this case, is to create a misrepresentation of an opposing argument as to make it easy to refute and then attribute it to the opposition’s inability to reason, etc.

From Wiki:
“An example of a straw man fallacy:

Person A: I don't think children should run into the busy streets.
Person B: I think that it would be foolish to lock up children all day with no fresh air.

By insinuating that Person A's argument is far more draconian than it is, Person B has side-stepped the issue. Here the "straw man" that person B has set up is the premise that ‘The only way to stop children running into the busy streets is to keep them inside all day’.”

So how does this all apply to writing? I find that authors create characters that are a vast misrepresentation of the opposite side of the argument, and then tear that character apart. Look at any major motion pictures for the portrayal of the “bad” guy. It’s riduculus. The readers or viewer never gets the chance to understand really why there is an opposing side, what might drive someone to acts against society, etc. Most antagonists are portrayed as mindless, uneducated villains. I’m sure you have many characters that jump to mind at this point; I know I do.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A funny thing happened on my way ...

Seeing that I am leaving for vacation this Thursday, it makes sense that I get tons of work dumped on me. Although, I have to admit I like it. I am working on two technical writing projects and a smattering of little editing projects that my group needs done.

/work talk

My writing group is going very well this time. My first one was such a disaster, I swore the concept off for the last couple of years. Just to give you a feeling for how mismatched we were in that group, I'll tell you what we all wrote. B wrote sort of literary fiction (I liked him the best) about a man who has a midlife crisis and buys an old hot rod that had mafia evidence in the truck (unbeknownst to him). E wrote chick-lit about talking boobs. The other woman, whose name I forgot, wrote historical fiction. I never got to read her stuff because she got in a disagreement with one of the other two people in my group. Then there was me ... I write speculative fiction. B really liked it, but E just couldn't get past the whole "I don't read Sci-fi" attitude. Not to be whiny here, but I don't read chick lit, but I read her stuff.

So that was the first group. I then went on to work with a friend who also wrote in my genre, but we never really connected. Then this fall I met a guy at my Kajukenbo school that was working on his first novel. I talked to him for awhile and it turned out that he also wrote science fiction. I got the my husband to admit in public that he was writing a book, and we all started this new writers group together.

What a different experience this has been. First, I get to read excellent fiction! Second, I get really thoughtful input from people who are interested and knowledgeable in my genre. Third, I get to hear about how they are handling various struggles with their writing. If fact, this whole experience of late has gotten me back on getting Gibbons ready for sale. So traipse on over to my Web site and check out my synopsis for Gibbons (and Continuum if you've never read it.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In writing news ...

I submitted my writing to my first literary contest (not counting the ones I entered in high school). The contest is run by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, which I am a member of, and I entered in the novel category (subcategory-science fiction and fantasy).

I chose to send them Continuum, which was a hard choice for me. I really wanted to send them G project( aka Gibbons), too, but I couldn't get it together in time--it is all about my synopsis avoidance problem.

So cross your fingers, and wish me luck!

I was mauled by the Internet

Is anyone else feel mauled, slimed, or otherwise violated by the amount and type of advertising on the Internet lately? I've been trying to decide if it was just me, due to the job I have of shifting through the worst of the SEOs, or if it really has gotten bad out there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nearly a year ago today

It was almost a year ago today that I got the call that knocked me on my butt. I was headed to band practice, when the phone rang. I was running late so the boy answered the phone. I can still remember the look on his face as he came up the stairs.

"You want to take this," he said.

At first I was worried that it was some bit of really bad news, but he was beaming. I took the phone and briefly looked at the caller id. It was a New York number. I don't live in NY and I don't know anyone there, so my heart leapt; it was an agent, at least that was what I hoped. And it was. The agent called at 6 pm my time, so 9 pm his time. He apologized for the lateness of his call and that terse tone to the boy. I honestly don't remember much of the conversation, besides that he wanted to see the whole book and he was very sure he wanted to represent me.

The next several days were a haze. I didn't want to tell anyone, but I was also bursting at the seams with excitement. He read my novel in about a month and offered me representation. I went through the revision process with him, and we were ready to sell.

I have to admit it is strange being in the same place I was 11 months ago or maybe a year ago, depending on what happened to my full ms after he left the agency.

How obvious is it really?

I was reading an entry today on another journal about what is so obvious to one person (in this case an agent) is not obvious to another (the writer who she was talking to). It got me thinking about my own struggles with communication, and when I get frustrated by other people. I can be very short after a couple of attempts to explain what I would consider a simple concept. Let me give an example (btw, can you tell I am working as a technical writer right now with all the examples I feel compelled to give).

I work a lot with my mother on her book and the various article that she writes. She loves to email me her articles about a day before the are due needing some guidance. Usually she is upset with her writing and really needs me to just give her a quick edit and mostly (in my opinion) some reassurance that she is not about to embarrass herself in front of her editors. My mother is a great woman, and she deserves a patient editor, but sometimes I cannot deliver that to her, especially when I feel that she is only feeling insecure and not acutally needing my help. So I get snarky, particularly about things that I feel I've already explained to her in previous edits. It is so obvious to me when to use a dash or a semi-colon, but to her (she hasn't worked as an editor therefor is less neurotic about all of this) it is so hard to remember.

I think the longer you are in a profession, the harder it is to remember what is actually common knowledge, or obvious. What about you all?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Is this even legal?

Fake Name Generator

I ran across this site today at work. It's interesting to say the least. So, for all you people who hate entering personal data, here is your easy cheat.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Deer Channel

My job takes me to the most fascinating corners of the Web. Today I present ... wait for it ... The Deer Channel! Yup, it exists. So get past the first little infomercial (deer here), and it's on to the deer madness. Of course, if you subscribe you get much much more than the deer montage that is freely available to the general public. Subscribers also get 24/7 access to watching those there deer.

To summarize I give you a quote from their FAQ.

Q: The deer [in the videos] are Texas deer. I am in South Carolina. I do not see the relevance.

A: Some might argue that unless the footage comes from a buck he's actually pursuing, it's of no relevance to him. In truth, there's plenty to learn from a big whitetail, regardless of where he lives. While a buck in South Carolina and one in Alberta don't lead exactly the same life, 4 decades of hunting whitetails from Canada to Mexico has taught us that they're all wired pretty much the same. They share instincts and behaviors common to all members of the species. We can observe a buck in one location and from that make some fundamental judgments about bucks everywhere.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Writers, Agents, and Timing

"I think the problem is when most people (writers) come into the publishing world they have no concept of the time frame of a book cycle. I didn’t. At this point, I had to explain to numerous amounts of people that a writer doesn’t merely send a manuscript in, get an agent, get a book deal, and get the book on the shelf in less than a year (with preferred placement, of course). Or at least it’s rare, but almost never with first-time authors. Since I started this foray into this world, I’ve had to learn to take a breath, relax, and release my expectations and preconceived notions.

The book that needs to be written is Zen and the Art of the Publishing Industry. :-) "

I posted this earlier in someone else's blog in response to a post about how long it takes editors to respond to agents and authors. After I sent it off, I thought about everything else that can push writers into the frenzy that lands them calling their agent, harassing that editor, and ultimately, shooting themselves in the foot.

The main thing that has pushed me over into getting frustrated is many of the non-writers in my world. The ones who push about why I haven't gotten a contract yet, or why I am letting my agent ignore me, etc. No, not the people who are merely showing an interest in my life, but the ones that are lecturing me about how I need to be more proactive--or to summarize--I need to work harder, because that is the real reason nothing is happening.

Point in case, about a year ago I signed up with an agent at a EXCELLENT agency. I could not have been happier. It was the agency I really wanted to be with, as I loved the philosophy of the woman who started it. My agent was not her, but it didn't matter to me because whoever she would hire would be great, as far as I was concerned. Things were going GREAT! I worked through edits with him for a couple of months and finally sent in my final draft so he could start selling. I heard nothing for a week, which was a bit odd for him, so I wrote asking if he got my package and if he liked my edits. Nothing. I waited two more weeks and wrote again. *crash* That's when I got my first setback. I received a note from the head of the agency that said he was no longer with the agency. The good news, I was staying with the agency and she, or the new agent she was hiring, would get to me shortly. I was thrilled that I might get to work with her, so I was ok with all of this, but a bit nervous about what it might mean. Enter the pushy masses. For weeks I got all sorts of remarks about how this was bad news, she was preparing to drop me, I needed to get on her and make sure I secured myself a ... something.

About a month later, I wrote said agency again. It was a quick note saying, "hi" and asking how things were. The agent wrote me that she hadn't gotten to me project yet, but she was expecting to get to it this summer. Well, that quieted the critics for awhile. Or at least until summer ended and they all wanted to know what happed to my agent. It went on and on. So, I gave (and I shouldn't have because said poor agent didn't need anymore stress). She wrote me a firm note about needing to wait and her current clients taking precedent over me. I didn't tell any of my naysayers about this part. I left it.

I learned two things for all of this. First, don't harrass your agent. Second, stop listening to people who are convinced that you just need to push a bit harder and you'll get what you want. That attitude might work in their worlds, but it fails here. In fact, I remember reading another writer's blog saying that she was dropped from her agent for writing too many questions to her agent (said writer was in contract negotiations).

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Such a dork

I already ordered my copy of the new Harry Potter book! So excited!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Writer's little helper

I warn all readers that I've been a bit sick, so I apologize if I ramble.

I don't really have a sense of how many people read this blog, but I propose that everyone should thrown in your best suggestion for progressing your writing. Here are my top 5 ways I get writing.

1. I listen to music

2. Running

3. I search the net for pictures of people I think look like my characters. (same with setting)

4. I find my favorite piece of art and describe what's happening in the piece. If there is a person in the piece, I write the scene from their point-of-view.

5. Unstructured daydreaming

Now, it's your turn

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Boy and my bad choice of professions

So the boy decided he needed a new job last week. He sent his resume out Monday, got the call for an interview Tuesday, interviewed yesterday, got the offer today, and starts next Thursday. He's a programmer writer.

In comparison as an editor (technical and not), I will go through my last job search. I decided I needed a new job. I sent my resume out, got a call a month later for an interview, but that didn't pan out. I got another call about two months after that, but I wasn't quite right. I then got another call the next month, interviewed once on the phone and again in person, and they decided I needed to meet more people. They called me and asked if I could come in that day, but I was on vacation, so they said they would call in a week. I email them when I got home. Then I waited. I did the hokey pokey and other deeply influential dances. A month later they called back and offered me the job.

I should have been a programmer writer.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Today was one of the first days that I actually felt like I was making real progress in my life as an editor. I need to step back a bit to explain all of this, so excuse me while I reminisce.

Back when my whole desire to work as a journalist started, I was told that the most prestigious positions at the paper (at the time the junior high paper) were the editor's positions. I do understand now that they are merely different roles in the real world, but at the time the positions were given to the students who were responsible and good with the trades of an editor--grammar, spelling, style, tone, etc. So being as competitive as I was at that age, I set out to achieve this goal. I never made it though. There were some positive reasons; I was a good writer and an excellent interviewer. I was good at getting people to talk and was rarely intimidated by anyone. This made me perfect as a reporter. Still, there was the negative reason I was not promoted. I lacked the attention to detail that made a good editor. My editors loved what I had to say in my writing, but my work took, well, a lot of fine tuning.

Back to now. I started working seriously as an editor about two years ago. A number of people I knew needed help with books, articles, etc. I needed money, so that was that. I still was shaky on a number of concepts, but I made it through it all. Still I could tell that the same problem that was consistent through all my schooling, including college, was still there. I had no process that I followed to ensure that I did a complete edit. I lacked resources or methodology, and considering my background in science, I was appalled. So I sucked it up and went into a technical editing program to try to find a process or create one. Sure enough, in a program that focused on editing (my BS Journalism really only taught me how to write and research) they had a great process. *phew*

Today I set out to edit a rather large booklet. I knew where to start. I knew what problems I might find. I even knew to double check trademarks. It's so nice to have a process again.

BTW, I know that all of these entries probably have editing issues. I still can't edit my own work. :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A small party

I need to throw a small party for the boy tonight: he completed his first novel! I couldn't be more happy for him, and he is happy to have it out of his head on paper now.

It was great. I came home last night from knitting, and he was all glowing with the excitement of it all. It made me reflect on when I finished Continuum. I don't know if I remember much besides writing "The End" and wanting to cry. I was so excited to have done it, to have actually completed a book. At the time, I knew a number of people who set out to write books, but they'd all gotten about 40-100 pages in and quit. I would worry late at night that that would be my fate, but alas it wasn't. And now, it's not the boy's fate either. Hooray for finishing what you started!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Character Files

I love reading about other people's favorite writing tactics. I've heard some amazing ones from vision board to index cards to making a t-shirt that has a phrase that sums up a character (that being one of my favorites, and it's fun to try to think of one for your main characters). That all being said, I thought I would share one of my favorite things to do to help with character development and writer's block.

I love pictures. I know, I know, it's all about the pretty pictures, but it helps me think through a scene or a character. So, on days that my writing is going slowly or I just plain can't think about what a character looks like, I like to surf the Web or flip through magazines trying to find the person that looks like my characters (or setting seeing that I treat the setting like a character). I don't remember where exactly I picked up this idea, although I think it was from Deborah Schneider at the PNWA conference. If it was her, I have to thank her because it is invaluable to me. And before anyone mocks me, it isn't just about looking for attractive people, it's about the process of finding my character. Think about it for a minute. As I search, I have to more and more tightly define WHAT my character looks like, her/his mannerisms (because they really do come out in photos), what they might wear, etc. While looking for photos, I formalize who they are to me.

The same thing goes for the setting, especially if you treat setting as a character. I have tons of pictures on my desk, in files, stuck to the wall, all bits of a world that I am trying to put together.

Well, that's my bit for today.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Halfway there

I hit the halfway point of G project (reading wise), two nights ago. So far the voice hasn't drifted nearly as much as I first feared. On the other hand, I realized that there are a number of parts that need to be expanded. That's ok though, it's better than voice drift.

Currently, G project is at 56,000 words. I have three more main cruxes to get through, and then the book is done. My guess is that to end the book will be another 10,000 words. After that, I'd say that I will probably add another 5,000-10,000 words expanding the sections that need help. All in all, it's about a month or two worth of work.

It's amazing to me how much smoother writing this book has gone as opposed to Continuum. I think it took me two years to fully write it, and G project is almost done in half that time. I can't imagine how fast G project would have gone had I not gotten a new job in the middle of the whole process.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thinking about it all ...

I had a long conversation with my boy a couple of nights ago about his writing. He was feeling down about is novel and worried that it had all been a waste of time. Needless to say, I felt for him. I don't think I know a writer that hasn't felt that way at least hundred times per book.

For me that project is Continuum. I love my book, and I think it's a better story than G project, but wait until I sent G project out. My guess is that it will be with an agent much faster than Continuum. My heart goes out to that project because I love the story and the characters so much that I was compelled to write that story, which didn't even bother to contain itself to one book.

But back to the boy .... He asked me how I pushed through these times. All I could say was that I wrote because I felt like I had to get the story out. I love writing. I keep going by typing.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Reading to write

Today, as was the case for the whole weekend, I read G project. It's amazing to me how much I forget about my own book from the time I start it to the time I am approaching the end.

The good news is that I am actually really enjoying reading it, as opposed to the first time I read through Continuum. I remember reading Continuum start to finish and wanting to cry. It was clear that it needed a lot of work. And it got a lot. I shifted from 1st person (several point-of-view characters) present to third person past.

This time I started with the right voice, tense, and narrator. Hooray for learning from my mistakes.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Back on the horse ...

I just sent my mostly done book (G project) to Kinkos to be printed out. It's just been too long since I started writing this beast, and I feel like my voice and tone is drifting. I hope a reread of the first 300 pages will help me wrap this puppy up (I'm in the endgame of the book).

While I was already getting that done, I got my first book printed out, too. So much has changed since I last had a print out for myself, and I thought it would be nice to get another copy. I think only my agency has this copy, which included the changes that my then agent had me make. Too bad he left before I ever found out what he thought of those changes. *sigh*

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A start to the new year

This blog is about my writing life (or editing life when work creeps in).

I am a speculative fiction novelist with my first book at an agency. I'd give you my status there, but I'm not entirely clear what it is at the moment (I was orphaned by my agent).

Over the next year my goal is to post everyday about the goings on of my writing and editing world.