New first sentence for Alien Blue.

So I said to myself, "Self, I don't like the opening of Alien Blue."

"Self," I answered, "In an ideal world, where you didn't have to figure out anything else, like who was in the scene, who was talking, et cetera, what would your first sentence be?"

"Hm...good question, self," says I. "But I think it would be, 'Ask anybody here tonight, and they'll tell you, aliens and beer don't mix.'"

"Well, self, you start out with that, and I guarantee you the rest of it will just fall into place."

Sure enough, it did.


You just finished your 2008 NaNoWriMo Novel!

What are you going to do now?!?


Slaughterhouse Jane is officially first-drafted.

I wrote the whole thing out longhand, with a lowball guesstimate for the words per page. I'm probably waaaay over 50K by now. Next up: typing.

I ordered myself an Acer Aspire One netbook (blue, 8G SSD with Linux, which will be a learning experience). Um, as a victory present? And deductable as a business expense! Now, if I could just remember to save book receipts...

The next goal is finishing Alien Blue and getting it out the door to agents. If you'd be willing to read a copy, let me know. I'm still going to rework the first chapter - I was experimenting and ended up making it worse than what I started with. Some spit and polish, and I think I'm ready to have agents tear it to shreds. Fortunately, I've received enough rejection letters that I'm okay with that.

As always, I couldn't have done it without Lee and Ray's support. And by "it" I mean, "have enough heart to keep going, in the face of everything." They make life good.



Voodoo Doughtnut. No, no, check out the Events, too. That WHAT?!? And their online store, where the motto is, "The magic is in the hole."

Seriously, the Subgenius of Doughtnut shops.

Writerly Ramble: Talent vs. Craft.

My first draft--other than the plotting--is as bad as my first, first draft, at age 12--was. That's talent.

The progress I've made over the years is in 1) planning and 2) revision. That's craft.


Fabulous fake names.

(via Kate.

A stunning list of fake names

From a fab author:

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's and father's middle names)
Marie Alan.

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)
Durwood Lambert.

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name)

4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Lime Tiger (this sounds more like a drink)

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live)
Jo Springs

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add "THE" to the beginning)
The Teal Pyramid

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie):
Rocky Snap

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name)
Bunnita Server

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)
Bill Star Route (Maybe just skip the pet name...)

Writerly Ramble.

You know, I think I'm just going to have to give in and get a shirt made that says, "WARNING: TMI" on it. Some people at work were making fun of me for saying things like, "You have hollows under your cheeks." "You have a big back." "Brown and black do go together, especially when you wear that sweater with brown, black, and cream stripes." How is it that people keep coming to me for fashion advice? Hello? Have you seen how I dress?

So here, once again, is too much information (TMI) with regard to (WRT) my writing life...

It's been almost exactly a year since I started going to Pikes Peak Writer's events. I wish I'd started earlier. My one regret in life was that I didn't have the confidence to start getting serious about writing sooner. Well, to be honest, I was doing pretty well at poetry, and if I'd decided to stay that route, I'd probably be further along than I am now. But I got tired of writing it, and finally realized that I didn't like to read other people's poetry, for the most part, and so let it go.

Nevertheless. Wasted time getting around to learning how to write fiction. Had to be done, though, as I was bound and determined, based on a few "writing" books that I'd read, that other people's opinions were a waste of time, because they were full off fluff and nonsense.

Fortunately, not all writing books were written by people who confuse fluff with content, and I found some of them. And the people who write them! And people who don't write them, but could!

[Dance dance dance other INTP writers! Dance dance dance.]

Also, it's been three years since I worked myself up to doing NaNoWriMo, and that has been another valuable experience.

Mix the two together, and you have...a chance in hell. One chance in a million is greatly preferable to zero.

I read an essay over at beckyland about spending 10,000 hours learning a field before you can have any kind of success at it, and feel better. It's been about ten years since I decided to switch from poetry to fiction (and it was about ten years before that I started writing poetry). IF you count the reading that I've done, the reading that I've done analytically, then yeah, it works out about right. So I'm due, too. Not due as in, "I deserve it" but due as in "I better push that baby out soon because it's time."

The basic structure is that of a fairy tale - A beginning sets up the quest, the main character goes through three trials, and the ending resolves the quest. Today (Chapter 20) was the first day after the last trial (at which point I wanted to kill the character, but then, if he'd made the right choices, I never could have written the ending, because it would have been all over), and the character is trying to return to his normal, everyday world, and pretend none of it ever happened.

Boy, does that not work out.

Five more chapters to go.


Writerly Ramble.

Morning post-shower insight (also, in light of reading Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey):

Stories are the Western version of Zen. The basic western story is, "Person can't figure out how to handle something, what to do; person learns from various people what to do; person does what's necessary after a change in attitude" or, if you like, "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again after not being an ___." The characters, too, aren't people so much as they are fragments of the situation. Obstacles. Helpers. Goals. But, essentially - not real people, but functions. The character discovers - or fails to discover - the answer was inside them all along. Enlightenment!

Hm. It seemed much more impressive when I got out of the shower.


Important Musical Question.

I don't know why, it seems inevitable that I get personality quizzes that ask, "Do you like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones better?"

This is no longer the important question. Granted, at one point, it was the important question. Do you like sweetness and light or do you like the acid burn of hate? But really, both bands are cool, so either answer is acceptable.

So here's my question: Pink Floyd or Queen?

--I know, I know. But it's an important question.


Musical Interlude: Cloud Cult

So many bands I don't know. I remember when I thought country-western radio was the end-all, be-all of music, and electric guitars were retarded. --The exact moment. I was listening to "I'm gonna hire a wino" and watching Mom milk a cow in a red barn with peeling paint. The same barn and the same cow would die in a fire a few years later, when a bum lamb ate through a power cord to a heat lamp and set the place on fire.

When Water Comes to Life - Cloud Cult
Take Your Medicine - Cloud Cult


NaNoWriMo: Time Killer

Avoiding writing? Check out Christie's listing of books and manuscripts for sale.

Gogol's Dead Souls.

Nabokov's The Luzhin Defense. A copy inscribed to his wife.

Don't even get me started on the art.

See, I'm caught up on my word count. Nyaa...


Writerly ramble: Nadir

I'm at 22K for my NaNoWriMo book, and my character has just gone through his absolute nadir. It's been my worst--hardest, most hari-kiri inspiring--day of writing, too, although I got it all done for the day.

Traditionally, your character's worst ("black") moment is supposed to come right before the big fight scene, and the hero resolves all his inner problems right before beating the crap out of his external ones.

But no. This is more like the moment in Star Wars when Luke is in the cave in the swamp, facing down Vader. Things get worse from there, but he's never as lost as he is in the swamp.

I had planned for something different, something with more action to it, but once I was down in the trenches, I could see it wasn't going to work. You just can't force the character through a 180 for the sake of plot. So instead I went the more difficult way, and bleah.

It's days like this when I think, "Why would anyone want to read this?"

This book is terrible.

You're irresponsible. You're wasting your time. You should be spending more time with your family.

You're too old. If you were meant to be a writer, you would have succeeded by now.

And on and on...

So I just tell myself, "If you finish this page, you can give up."

"If you finish one more paragraph, you can give up."

I curse myself. I know I'm lying. This is the kind of day where you keep finding gray hairs.

But hey. As hard as it is to write this stuff, at least I'm not my main character. His life sucks.

Top 10 Weirdest Skittles Commercials

Careful. I had to watch them all at one sitting.

(via Ann.)


Fragile Update.

My short story, "Fragile," FKA "Things You Don't Want," has been rejected again, but in the nicest possible way:

Thank you for submitting "Fragile" to ABYSS & APEX. As you know, we kept it for second round consideration but ultimately decided not to accept it for publication. The competition this month was strong and while we came up with an excellent table of contents for our next issue, we had to say no to many works (like this!) that we wish we could keep.

(I really hate rejecting this. Perhaps try a horror venue?)

I hope you'll consider us again, and I wish you the best success in placing this story elsewhere.
This makes my twelfth rejection. (There was one acceptance, but the website, Parade of Phantoms, went out of business.)

The first time I submitted the story, back in 2002, it went to Weird Tales, and the guy who rejected it didn't get it, thought it was too strange (I can't find the rejection letter, unfortunately).

I quit reading the magazine a while ago - too many meh Lovecraft pastiches - but I picked up an issue recently, and it was all ooky and weird again.

So...for the thirteenth rejection, I'm sending the story back to Weird Tales.

I couldn't resist.


Advice for young writers.

Someone on the PPW list asked for advice for a young writer. Here's what I wrote back, because I liked it, and because I'm not likely to get anything else written today:

Come to Write Brains!

Read books on writing - lots of them, but not so many that you don't read for pleasure and you don't read things you don't normally read and you don't read for research. And cereal boxes.

Submit to high school writing magazines - if there aren't any local ones (I don't know), then go statewide. They may sponsor HS writer camps - go.

Talk to your HS English teachers. At least one of them is a writer and knows good places to submit or existing writing groups (or would sponsor a new writing group). But don't believe everything they say; writers are notorious bullshitters, and teachers forget they can stop censoring kids after doing it all day long.

Put together a chapbook of whatever it is that you've written. Everything in the chapbook must be as close to perfect as you can get it! Find a buddy to draw you a cover (or do it yourself), and bind up as many copies as you can (staples are just fine), and pass them out, wherever you can get away with it.

Keep an album or fancy notebook with all your best stuff.

Live. You have to have something to write about, because plot = people, even if you're writing about alien slime molds.

Figure out why you're writing - and it isn't "to entertain," because it would be easier if you filmed yourself getting kicked in the crotch and sent it to America's Funniest Home Videos (well, it's true, isn't it?)

Carry a writer's notebook - nothing fancy. It has to be something that looks like you might be writing a grocery list or doing homework. Listen to other people's conversations, and write down what they say, just what they say, seriously, just write down what they say, just that, that's it. You can do the same thing with descriptions, etc., but it doesn't have to be a covert notebook.

Writers like to make things up. Keep this in mind during writer's groups, english classes, college, submitting work, etc. I mean, come on. I'm making this stuff up, right now.

In the end - writers write. They don't talk about what they're going to write one day, when they get the time. "Not giving up" doesn't mean "someday I'll write," it means, "Okay, yesterday, I failed to figure this out. Today, I'm probably going to fail to figure this out. Tomorrow, I'm still going to fail. I'll probably fail for the rest of my life." (You will think this.) "Eh. Here I go. Maybe it wasn't as bad as six months ago."

--At least, this is what I did in high school, except the Write Brains, because this wasn't in Colorado Springs.

Also, consider doing NaNoWriMo, if fiction's your thing. You don't have to do it in November; July is OK, especially the first time, when you don't want anyone to know if you can't get it done.


Word to the Wise.

Tracking election results is almost exactly the opposite of writing.


NaNoWriMo: First Sentence

(Via Ian.)

Meme time!

What's the first sentence of your NaNoWriMo novel? Slaughterhouse Jane starts like this:

David threw down the rifle and ran.


Music to write to.

Here's me, writing longhand in a leather, unlined notebook (it smells so good), sitting in front of my computer and listening to random music while I'm writing. I have no idea what my wordcount is, but it's five small pages and three small scenes so far.

The theme is folk-influenced music in a minor key. I tried to stick with banjos, but then I got to the accordians, and I lost it.

New stuff I hadn't heard before:
Andrew Bird - "Imitosis"
Low - "In Silence"
Gregory Page - "The Ghost with Sad Eyes"
DeVotchKa - "How it ends"

Old favorites:
Milla - "In a Glade"
Ray Lamontagne - "Empty" (I didn't know who sang this, but it kept coming up on the college radio)
Bruce Springsteen - "Devils and Dust" "We're a long long way from home/home's a long way from us."

Lee - here's the song I was talking about last night. Johnny Cash - "God's Gonna Cut You Down"