Thursday, July 29, 2010

Come see the new place!

I've got my own URL, and a web host, and an about page, and everything!

It's over at I'll be blogging over there for now, although if I get enough complaints about making people's heads pop, I may put the head-poppy stuff over here.

Of course, I'm still working on simul-posting, but the Ur-Goth hasn't found a good plug in for that yet.

REMEMBER! Fae Eye is available on the 1st, Road Mage is available on the 16th! Go, go, go, go, go and see! And buy them! There's a contest for a free Kindle! I may add another contest soon for some character based artwork! Really! I'm excited, I need to calm down before I run out of exclamation points!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Six days, ~2000 words

Six more days until Fae Eye is out! I saw the galleys today, I'm bursting with excitement.

Ok, that sounded incredibly corny to me, and I said it. Still, it's not untrue.

In other news, Crowbar Girl is now at 75,000 words. Added another 1980 words today, which looks to be about how many I'm doing a day when I really get into it. I'd do more, but I don't seem to really hit my stride until about an hour after the kids are in bed.

Anyone else out there a writer with kids? I'm curious.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pessimism as a Coping Mechanism

I've been getting advice from PJ lately about social media, and one of her comments was that she knew I was going to be published soon, so she was pushing me to go out and make connections.

I realized just today why I hadn't. I've been 'on the cusp' of being published for around five years. Worse, I seem to have started there. I've never received a form rejection from a publisher, and over half of the non-form rejections had suggestions, edits, and encouragement tacked on. I've been told that those are Really Good Signs. Almost There signs. Things that tell you you've almost made it.

With that in mind, around five years ago I went out and did just what PJ is talking about. Lurked on writing and publishing sites, commented cogently when I could, built up an online presence, such as it was. Then... Nothing. For five years, over and over, the same kind of responses. Tried for an agent, got similar responses. 'Great work, but not what we're looking for.' 'Really, really cool and well written, but didn't quite grab us enough.'

After a while, I wrote off the 'cusp of being published' as wishful thinking. Note; I didn't stop writing or submitting. On the contrary, I actively looked for venues and honed my craft. I improved; I can see problems with my earlier stories, I can improve them now. But all my writing time was taken away from work time, kid time, wife time and sleeping time. I wound up dropping the net-presence in favor of writing more, writing better, writing faster.

The whole time, five years, there was NO progress. I kept getting the same type of rejections. Part of the problem, I'm convinced, was the lack of rote rejections prior; if you're aiming at 10, and your first effort is '1', the next is '2', and the next is '3', you become convinced that you can hit '10' if you put in enough work. I started at '9' and saw a vague wobble between '9' and '8' (with one notable dip to '7') for five years. Very discouraging. By this past summer, I had hit a state where the only way I could cope was to tell myself that 'of course I'll get a rejection, but at least the feedback will be helpful'.

Then? Decadent. BOOM, published. It... Stunned me. A lot.

So, yeah. I'm still a little stunned. But I'm heeding PJ's advice as quick as I can.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing tips, because I apparently do not suck ;-)

It's been pointed out to me recently that I write rather a lot, in the 'many words in a short time' sense. At the same time, others have pointed out that the stuff that I write is actually relatively good from a grammar / spelling / typo point of view. (Thanks to fellow author Maynely a Mystery and editor Kate Richards respectively for the compliments!) The second means I'm not just getting hypergraphia of the keyboard in the first, and Maynely asked for a few tips, and I realized that there ARE some things I've picked up, so here goes...

A quick note before I start - these are in no particular order. There is no 'Silver Bullet'. Every person who sets out to write has challenges; any of these tips may overcome any particular challenge, or none of them may overcome the particular challenge you're facing at the moment. tl;dr, ymmv. Some I've come up with on my own, some I've distilled from others, some I've stolen entire.

- In the words of Mr. Spann, 'perfection is something made up to scare people'. Don't be intimidated. If you can't find the perfect word, put some wrong ones on the page. If the ideas behind them are good, those ideas will shine through anyway. I can't count the number of pages where I was disappointed by some prose, but other people were wowed.

- Writing every day makes your word count go up. I found out during NaNoWriMo that my average word count per hour goes up drastically when I'm writing every day. Instead of spending time fooling about, I put words on the page. OK, I still fool about, but the fool about to writing ratio gets better.

- Distractions are fine as long as you keep getting back to the writing. Sitting down with NO distractions might be an interesting idea, but it's both hard to manage and if you're not 'in the zone' leave you nothing to spark your creativity. Have some toys nearby, electronic or otherwise. Try to avoid mentally intensive chores, but physical ones are ok unless they're all-day, no-break items. Laundry is good if you use machines. Type 30 minutes, cycle laundry, rinse and repeat.

- Avoid physical writing distractions. I'm working with a very sticky keyboard right now, and it's dropping my writing speed by about 25-45%. Mostly due to the space bar requiring a serious MASH to detect a space bar stroke. Any type of ergonomic or physical distraction needs to GO.

- Plot things out beforehand. My fellow NaNo writers tend to sit down and write. Because of that, they have NO idea where their plots are going, which means they write themselves into corners. A lot. They complain of writer's block. A lot. And they can't get started. A lot. You don't even really need anything formal. I was reading this fabulous interview with Ted Chiang today, and I work similarly to the way he does; I have all the key scenes in my head before I start. If you have those, it's just a matter of hooking them together. Note that key scenes are typically big, important, 'if the movie doesn't have this the fans will riot' scenes. They aren't usually deathless prose, because the ideas in them are so strong.

- Practice active writing meditation with multimedia support. OK, that sounds like marketing jargon, but it's not. When you can't be writing because, say, your hands are full of a car steering wheel, but you aren't mentally engaged because, say, you drive this route every day five days a week, think about your story. Those key scenes? Play them in that little mental movie theater. Same with good dialogue. Same with plotlines. Workouts are another great time for this. The 'multimedia' part is simple; get music that puts you in the right mood for the story and play it while pondering, then play it when you sit down to write. It will help you get back in the same head space as you were when all those good ideas came to you.

OK, that's about it for now. I've got to get the kids to bed, work out and get some more words on the page tonight (possible marathon tonight / tomorrow). Hope some or all of this helps!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crowbar Girl Update & Surprise Writing

Wrote another 2300 words done on Crowbar Girl tonight. Also, finally got to the point after which everything is fairly tightly plotted out.

What's really odd is that I was sitting there writing tonight, wondering when I'd GET to that point, when all of a sudden I could hear one of my characters (Mary, of all people) saying 'um, HELLO!. Very, very odd. I normally enjoy writing those scenes so much that I can't miss when I get there.

Anywho. Soon as I'm done this, I think What Not To Fear is next.

Also, August 1st! Remember, August 1st at! Fae Eye for the Golem Guy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

PJ Interview!

One of my fellow authors at Decadent, and another author debuting on the 1st, PJ Schnyder, was intereviewed by Wicked Pixie. Check it out!

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's official!

I've sold one of my stories (a romantic comedy novella) to Decadent Publishing. It's a new imprint, I'll be part of their starting lineup.


Woot, I say!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Writing contest thingy

Just entered a writing contest. Might get me a critique on my first 10 pages. Might help.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rejected Again

I said it in this post, and I'll say it again; I need an editor. I just got another rejection, this time to a pair of linked stories submitted to a paired anthology. I got some very nice feedback with the rejection, again implying that my writing is right on that cusp of being publishable. Really, I wonder if I'm actually just sumbitting to the wrong places. IF that's the case, what I need is an agent, not an editor, since the job of an agent is knowing which markets are right for which works.

The reason for my thoughts on agents is the following, quoted from the rejection:

"This anthology is not the right home for 'Road Mage,' but I am sure you will find one not too long from now"
Am I completely off base in saying that quote implies that my only problem is choice of market, not quality of writing?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I sympathize with Inigo

I hate waiting. Whether it's waiting for something to come in the mail, or waiting for a response on a submission, or waiting for... anything, really. I'm just not a naturally patient person. Then again, that lack of patience could just be a learned response. For most of my life, lack of response has meant 'no'.

I believe, quite firmly, in the principles of personal responsibility and free will. However, I wonder how much of each of our personalities, proclivities, and decisions are based or influenced by our subconscious memory of past experience rather than our conscious decisions. The problem with the subconscious, of course, is that it has no discretion, and conflates things terribly. In the example above, some people repeatedly used lack of communication to communicate 'no', and now my subconscious feels that any lack of communication means 'no'. That leads me to feel I should act as if I've received a 'no' response when I haven't actually had a response.

As a student of human nature, I'm curious about this because it affects how humans act. As a writer, I'm curious about this because to provide versimilitude (yes, I use that word in casual conversation, Matt) characters must act realistically. If the type of conditioning implied above is real, that includes responding to situations not as the situation requires, but as previous situations have conditioned them to respond.

No conclusions today, just food for thought.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


A thought on communication;

Assume that silence will be taken as negative. It almost always is taken so, even if it's rarely intended so.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This weekend I set a new high for endorphin rushes due to compliments on my writing.

For those of you who are keeping score, the first compliment that really set my feet on the path to becoming a writer was back in 07. One of the Barflies on the Baen forums posted that he put down the latest Weber release to read my most recent snippet.

The second shot of squee was roughly two years after that, when the chief slush reader at Baen took the time to send me a critique and tell me they'd like to see it again. The third shot was last fall, when an agent sent me an email saying she'd agonized for nearly a year over my first book.

The second and third shots were based on the fact that professionals in the industry thought I had something good. Maybe not good enough, but very, very close. I still remember that first time though, when a complete random told me 'hey, this is good!'. I got another shot close to that this weekend. The person wasn't a complete random, but the circumstance scoured away any thoughts of 'he's just saying it because I'm a friend'.

I have a friend who, despite being well read, doesn't read science fiction. When he heard I wrote a book, he asked for a copy. He told me science fiction wasn't his thing, but he'd give it a shot.

Didn't. The operative word for whether he reads Sci Fi or not is 'didn't'. He does now, because of my novel.

Some things just make you wanna go 'whoa' like a stunned Keanu Reeves.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Despair; Toxicity and Tolerance

I had an interesting thought, one that I've been mulling over for a few weeks consciously, and have probably had echoing around in my skull for a few years (or more) now subconsciously.

Despair is a toxic substance. Like any other toxic substance, it generally doesn't kill by massive trauma, but by slow degradation. Like any other toxic substance, removing the source can prevent further accumulation. Even without further accumulation, unless the individual has a way to metabolize and expel the toxin the damage will continue. Finally, even once the toxin is removed from the individual, the damage may be permanent.

Now, those gloomy thoughts aren't all that I've been thinking about. There are quite a few toxic substances that can be tolerated. This doesn't mean that an individual can consume them without harm. It means an individual can continue functioning and even learn to thrive even while imparied by the substance. It's even possible for individuals to learn to tolerate toxicity levels that would kill unacclimated individuals outright. Despair, I've found, really is one of those.

There are desperate situations where observers are convinced that no one can survive. However, for individuals acclimated to immersion in despair, those situations are survivable simply because the pain of despair has become a background noise. Once that happens, it loses a great deal of its power. At that point, and likely only at that point, progress can be made toward removing the causes of despair.

I suppose this has all just been a longwinded way of saying that there is nothing more powerful than someone with nothing left to lose. Of course, in thinking about it, what might be even more powerful is someone who has become inured to loss itself. Someone with nothing left to lose can still be stymied by being given something to lose. Someone who has accepted that loss happens and moved past that realization is even more powerful; when they're given something, instead of fearing having it taken away, they enjoy it or use it to the fullest.

No real conclusion here, just thinking about situations I've experienced and seen.