I wrote up Chris and Jesse talking about the ten most important songs in their lives circa the events in First Flight. You can click here or click the image above to read it.
Michelle Moore (of Ylendrian Empire and Enchanted Grounds fame) tagged me for the Writing Process blog hop.
The questions are:
1) What am I working on?
2) How does my work differ from that of others in the same genre?
3) Why do I write what I do?
4) How does my writing process work?
A note before you start, however: I’m going to use a LOT of parenthetical asides and probably some odd capitalization. Sorry?
Without further ado, the talking:
1) What am I working on?
I have a handful of projects in progress at any given time, some written because they won’t leave me alone otherwise and some inspired by calls for submission.
Currently, I’m still trying to slog my way to the end of A Reading From The Epistles, the semi-sequel to I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills. (I say ‘semi-sequel’ because it’s set about a month or 6 weeks after the end of ILUMETTH and feels more like a continuation than an actual sequel. It’s probably Just Me.) Since I’m not making much progress at the moment, I’m really excited to write about writing instead.
I’ve also been poking at a revision of some of the elements in my Breton Farmer And His Former Welsh Pirate (former pirate; he continues to be Welsh) story, as well as the previously-mentioned Cyberpunk Thing (it lacks one vital element, namely a plot) and a more-or-less complete rewrite of a story I wrote way back in 2009 that was wisely rejected by the publisher to whom I sent it.
In terms of things I haven’t worked on but probably shoooould, there’s also this Dragon Thing, a couple of quasi-steampunk stories set in the same universe and sharing characters but the focuses are different, The One With The Hockey Players, a couple of Havothi-centered stories, The NOLA Thing (which is in almost-done limbo), the sequels to First Flight and Tobias’s Own Adventure, and a story that was supposed to feature a feral teenager but ended up being about an involuntary shapeshifter instead.
I also have a bunch of other stuff that’s mostly snips and drabbles, but the preceding paragraph mentions things that are more than a few pages long.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I generally work in the field of ‘romance’, in that a relationship between the protagonists is usually the focus of/driving element of the plot (or what there is of the plot). Where my work differs from that of other authors… I’ve never really mastered the art of writing characters that need to be hugged and whacked with a shoe at the same time, unlike Michelle and Reesa or Amy Lane. So there’s that.
Another, somewhat smaller difference is that I like writing magical realism and alternate histories—the world as we know it with a twist.
3) Why do I write what I do?
There are several reasons –
I write what I do because I believe that the more love and positivity in the world, the better.
I write what I do because sometimes I get an idea and it won’t leave me alone until I’ve written it down. This is not always a good thing, as I have a bunch of things I’ve started/written out and then nothing else comes of it. Well, I got to go to sleep, but otherwise…
Last but not least, I write what I do because I can’t write anything else. I’ve tried writing a standard Harlequin/Mills & Boon-type romance and I just…can’t do it. I don’t know how to write an “alpha male”, and based on the few parts of standard romance novels I’ve managed to read I don’t write heroines properly, either. I can’t say I’m terribly upset about that, however.
I just write my kind of romances, mixing it up with various genres, with characters all of whom have a different definition of romance, and I’m happy. Other people like them, too, so, y’know. It works.
4) How does your writing process work?
I am, for the most part, a complete pantser. If I know what happens next—at least in minute detail—then I’m bored and don’t want to write it. If I’m bored, I avoid writing it because it’s boring and feels like work. That’s not really much of an explanation, though.
Basically, it goes like this: I have an idea, whether it pops into my head while I’m minding my own business or I read a call for submission. I sit down and write whatever I can, which can be from one to thirty-five pages. Then, if that was all there was, I move on to something else; if it’s really eating my brain, I’ll keep going.
I don’t usually work from an outline or a summary or anything like that—it just works better for me if I find out what’s happening along with my characters. I will occasionally write notes about what I want (or need) to have happen, and I do have lists of things that I want to write about, but otherwise it’s all just a blank slate.
I also edit as I go, rereading what I’ve written so far and making the odd tweak here and there. With some things, I read them out loud to a willing audience and get feedback that way; with others I email them to Michelle and Reesa for their amusement.
When I’m done, I generally try to stay away from a story for a little while. It doesn’t always work, though… Then I run a last spell-check, look for missing words/punctuation, format it for submission, write the submission email, press send, and then freak out/collapse for a couple of days.
It’s not glamorous or all that exciting, really, but I generally enjoy it.
I’m going to tag Piper Vaughn and M. J. O’Shea for the next post—They also write stories with characters who need to be hugged and smacked with a shoe at the same time. (I have A Thing for those sorts of characters, can you tell?)
News first, because I’m going to pop otherwise: Ezekiel and Justinian have a home! I SIGNED THE CONTRACT TODAY! I Will Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills will be published by Dreamspinner in October/November! As soon as I have an actual date I’ll post it; in the mean time in-between time I’ll just be mooning about and trying to figure out what I want the cover to look like. (I already know who I want to illustrate the cover, if she’s still available. *Crosses fingers and toes*)
News second: I’ll have a post over at Scorching Reviews on Sunday, April 13th, as part of their LGBT month. Now all I have to do is figure out WHAT it is I’ll be posting. It’ll likely be Ezekiel/Justinian related, but beyond that, I don’t know what it’ll be.
Updates: Windows 8 and I are getting along much better, now. I updated to 8.1, which doesn’t seem to have made a huge difference (but I also doubt I’d used 8.0 long enough to notice any differences outside of the addition of the “start button” on the taskbar). I’m getting used to going to settings to turn off/reboot, even though it still makes no friggin’ sense whatsoever.
I discovered that I had entirely too many security-oriented programs running at once, which was causing all sorts of connecting-to-the-internet issues. I uninstalled two of them, made sure the third was off, and reinstalled one of them. Now my computer doesn’t complain about being not being protected and I can actually use the internet!
And now I’m going to go be gleeful and giddy at the people who know me and then I’m going to bed.
Title: So I think I’m calling The Semi-Sequel To ILUMETTH A Reading From The Epistles or maybe just Readings From The Epistles, because it’s pretty heavy on the letters. And because I like puns.
Tiles: I got a new computer, because my old one is…old. And because the mouse keys for the touchpad are dying. The sad bit is that my old one is still perfectly usable, just not as usable as it once was.
My new computer is beautiful: the screen is beautiful and the keyboard is beautiful (ooh, an O key with the letter still on it!) and the case is beautiful… It runs fast (you’d think that in the 4/5 years since I bought my old computer that processors in laptops would have gone up in speed and down in price. You would be WRONG. It’s extremely difficult to find a laptop with a processor running at 2 Ghz or faster without also adding about $100 to the price. I’m not paying $500 for something that’s NEWER AND SLOWER than my old computer, ta.)
That aside, what is not beautiful is Windows 8. I couldn’t understand why people hate hate hated Vista, because for me, outside of the UAC (which I turned off tout de suite) and not being able to find a driver for a 5-year-old scanner (which, you know, 5-year-old scanner), I never had any issues with it. Program wouldn’t run? Administrator mode, compatibility mode, boom.
So I went into W8 with the same kind of ‘I know it’ll be different but I’m going to give it a chance’ kind of cautious optimism.
I’m now cynical and jaded, wondering WTF they’re smoking in the user-experience testing labs at Microsoft, because this is seriously ridiculous. I am NOT stupid, and I’ve been using computers since, like, 1985. When I have to freakin’ GOOGLE how to turn off/restart my computer? THAT IS A BAD THING.
I think I would actually LIKE the Metro interface if it were laid out more like the XBox dashboard (because they share some similarities) — grouping things together under headings like ‘News and Social’, ‘Email and Productivity’, ‘Applications’. Instead it’s just kind of a random unintuitive mishmash. And don’t even get me started on how incredibly frustrating it is to click on something and then have NO WAY to get back to where you were. (Saw a sports headline that interested me. Clicked on it. Could NOT figure out how to return to the “start” menu/Metro environment, since pressing Escape only took me to a list of sports-related choices (overview, basketball, news, etc), as did clicking on the tiny little down-arrow in the bottom right corner. Finally resorted to restarting my computer to see if that would fix it. It did. NOT A FUN TIME.)
As soon as I get used to W8 and get things tweaked just the way I like them, I’ll be fine. It’s just annoying for right now.
Speaking of new things and annoying! I also bit the bullet and bought MS Office 2013. It’s distressingly ugly, for one thing (I guess I got spoiled by the rounded edges and glossy gradients of Vista? I mean, Word 2003 isn’t exactly a beauty, either, but it’s relatively nice to look at…). The other thing is that you cannot turn off the not-actually-smart quotes until and unless you uncheck the tick box not only in AutoFormat, but AutoFormat As You Type. Because everyone just LOVES those “smart” quotes that never ever EVER get initial apostrophes correct. (Among other things.)
On the positive side of the ledger, however, the ease with which I can see the Document Properties and the integrated wordcount are nice additions. In fact, according to the properties of Epistles, I’ve spent 13,329 minutes editing it.
That works out to 222.15 hours, or 9.25 DAYS. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. (I have no idea if that’s active editing, or if it also counts the time involved in opening the document, doing some work, closing the computer so that it’s in sleep mode/hibernation and going off to do other things for four hours, then coming back to it.)
Anyway, I should get back to work. I’m ALMOST DONE with Epistles, which is kind of amazing to me.
I have to take my victories where I can.
Speaking of which! Thanks to Amazon’s UK site, I am now in possession of a TEENY copy of the CoE BCP. It’s legible, it’s got everything I wanted and some things I had no idea about, but it’s itty-bitty. This is not a complaint, merely an observation.
Coverdale Psalter WITH NUMBERS! Yay!
Also, the sequel to ILUMETTH is coming along relatively swimmingly, even if my brain is currently flat and pretty much nothing exciting happens. Well, there are letters, and there’s a shovel talk, and I still have NO idea what the hell is wrong with one of the characters…
I write on a very micro level. Some writers work on a macro level, taking in huge swathes of important things like what the government is doing in their world and remembering things like steam engines and electricity exist. Me, I grab the magnifying glass and ignore all of that other stuff, because apparently it’s far more vital to know that Ezekiel has always had a difficult time not being a smart alec in the face of authority.
Don’t ask me about the status of train transportation in Ezekiel and Justinian’s 19th Century That Never Was–I have no idea. Or other important questions, like gas lamps and electricity and the availability of opium and how much of an empire what amounts to Britain is etc etc etc. I just don’t know. It’s kind of a shame, too, considering how absolutely fascinatingly different life probably is, there.
I may have something new flopping onto the page in the near future, speaking of writing on a micro level. Nanobots and cyberspace and a Seattle that I don’t think I ever want to visit have been kind of bubbling in the back of my head for the last 18 hours, so. We’ll see, though, because sometimes announcing that I’m Going To Do The Thing! leads to The Thing not being Done. Which I hate. A lot.
Not nearly as much as I hate the way my face is randomly aching, at the moment, but until the NSAID I just took kicks in I’ll have to live with it.
I think I may go write Valentine’s day mush, or at least try to–I seem to remember that Valentine’s day was kind of a big deal in the 19th century…
I am discovering that A) I am apparently more hide-bound than I thought I was, B) that I am hide-bound about the weirdest things, C) I am mildly annoyed by something that doesn’t even affect me, and D) that it is really, really difficult to lay hands on a copy of the CoE BCP.
What I really want is nothing more or less than a Coverdale Psalter, but as far as I can tell a single volume of Coverdale’s Psalter (with numbered verses, that’s very important; Lutherans Online has a lovely PDF of a mildly-modernized CP but there are NO VERSE NUMBERS ARGH) does not exist. Coverdale’s Psalms are still in use… in the CoE’s Book of Common Prayer.
So, okay, I’ll buy a copy of the BCP. It can hang out with my ’79 Episcopal BCP and they can be friends. Awesome.
Except that apparently someone somewhere decided that the BCP was, I don’t know, too convenient or something. The CoE has been infested with ‘Common Worship’, which is basically all of the bits of the BCP/Alternative Service Book broken up into separate volumes. Like, six of them. This is where the hide-bound bit comes in: all I can think is that I have enough trouble juggling the BCP and the hymnal and the bulletin, why in the name of all that is seen and unseen does anyone want to ADD another volume (or two) to that? *Grumble* What’s wrong with one book, I ask you? You kids get offa my lawn!
One of the other problems with the Common Worship book(s) is that the Psalter isn’t Coverdale’s–or it is, but modernized. I’m all for modernized-yet-still-poetic versions of the Psalms! I love the adaptation of them that’s found in the Psalter in my EBCP.
Thing is, though, that they are modern and some of them are fairly different from Coverdale’s version.
For instance, our friend Psalm 121. The first line in my EBCP says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?”
Coverdale says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”
That’s not a question, that’s a statement. Unless it’s some kind of punctuation weirdness? Now I have to go find out the history of the question mark. Excuse me. Here I am–while mildly entertaining, it wasn’t terribly helpful. All right, so let’s see what people who’ve read more bibles than I have to say…
(As an aside, I would like to have the non-word “prayerfully” struck (preferably by lightning) from all vocabularies everywhere.)
(…I can’t decide if I want to object to ‘literalness’. On the one hand, I don’t like it. On the other, ‘literality’ isn’t a word. It feels nicer in the mouth, to me–and it’s the quality of being literal, yes?)
(This… This page is written by a person or persons with some good ideas, but I don’t enjoy reading it because I feel like I’m being shouted at while they’re throwing rocks at me. Ugh.)
(On the other hand, Paul Stroble offers an explanation as to why Episcopalians (and, I’m assuming, other members of the Anglican communion) sing ALL the verses: “[…] It is the same with “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”: if we only sing verse one, the devil wins.” Yes, I know, that’s not precisely what he meant but I take my fun where I can get it.)
Okay, I give up on Shouty-Pants over there. The consensus is that there is no consensus. There is one school of thought that says the use of “whence”, meaning “where”, indicates that the sentence is intended to be interrogative and therefore requires a question mark. The other school of thought argues that it’s a statement–These are the hills (the holy hill(s), the hill upon which the temple at Jerusalem is/was located) of God and therefore they are the source of help.
The temptation to put the question mark in parentheses from now on is awful, I tell you what.
I have no idea what I was originally talking about… Oh, right. The difference between Coverdale and the modernized version of Psalms. Here’s another example, this time from Psalm 91 (one oft-quoted by Justinian.) Technically, this is recited by Ezekiel (and now that I think of it I shoooooould probably have him recite the Coverdale version. You’ll see why.)
The (Episcopal) Book of Common Prayer, Ps 91, verses 5 and 6:  You shall not be afraid of any terror by night; nor of the arrow that flies by day;  Of the plague that stalks in the darkness; nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
Coverdale, Ps 91, I HAVE NO IDEA SORRY: Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, nor
for the arrow that flieth by day; for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noonday.
“Afraid for” and “Afraid of” are two decidedly different phrases, to me. Is that because I grew up learning 20th-/21st-century American syntax/connotations, or is it something else?
Then there’s the verse about being covered by feathers (Coverdale) or pinions (EBCP) — I had feathers in, once, and my mother said ‘No, that’s supposed to be pinions’. I shrugged and changed it…and then discovered that the version of the Psalm that Ezekiel and Justinian would be most familiar with said feathers. I give up! (But I’m not changing it back. I like pinions.)
So now that we’ve failed to clarify the mystery of the question mark in Ps 121, I’m trying desperately to remember the point of all of this.
…Oh! That’s it. The point is that for whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be a mildly-modernized version of the Church of England Book of Common Prayer for sale for love or money. EVERY standard edition of the CoE BCP on the Cambridge Press site is marked “unavailable”, and searching Amazon got me bupkis. I just want a physical copy that’s been updated with current spelling and features the Coverdale Psalter with numbered verses.
The Odd Anglican Thing will always be called that in my heart, but it now has an actual title! Said title is I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills, which comes from Psalm 121 (Levavi oculos):
I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep;
The Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; it is he who shall keep you safe.
The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.
The Psalm is fitting for both the story overall and for Justinian Clark, one of the protagonists. Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that Justinian has faith enough for ten acres of mustard plants as well as a deep and abiding love for the Psalms.
I’m almost ready to submit Eyes, but I have one. last. thing. that needs to be checked/reviewed before I do… Well, two, but one of them I can do on my own.
I have a synopsis, I have a blurb, I have read and reread and rereread until I’m pretty sure that if I fiddle with it any more that I’ll start messing things up.
I’m excited and worried and flappy and Small Mind has escaped from its cave on a couple of occasions and I haven’t even sent it off!
Speaking of sent off: I’ve submitted two stories already this year, which is pretty awesome. Both of them were for anthologies — One, Night Duty, is a Benny and Phil story that squeaked under the wire for the deadline; the other (Flying Colors) is a Max and Trev story that I won’t know about until somewhere closer to September.
I’m also fiddling with a couple of stories for a couple of other anthologies, but nothing’s really working at the moment. Not sure if it’s me, the story, the deadline, or the anthology, though. That’s okay–I’ll figure it out, and I’m not going to be completely devastated if I don’t get them done/sent off. I may get them published as individual stories instead of as part of an anthology.
When I asked you for information about common remedies for people suffering from a stomach bug of some sort, I was expecting things like, you know, milk of magnesia and sodium bismuth and ginger and that kind of thing.
You gave me links to Wikipedia’s pages on pneumonia, polio, yellow fever, smallpox, and tuberculosis. This…is not what I was looking for and not helpful.
In Discretion is the story of two idiots who spend entirely too much time A) lying to one another, B) lying to themselves, and C) feeling guilty for shit that’s not their fault. It’s awesome.
Okay, okay, the blurb actually says this:
Thanson Nez thought his career as a Discretionary would take him to the stars, not strand him on a space station at the ass-end of the Empire. Thanks to his last client, he’s carrying a secret he can’t get rid of fast enough, but his oath to the guild means a swift, painful death if he shares it. Already desperate for help, he runs into yet more trouble: his ex, and an explosion that paralyzes the station moments after their uncomfortable reunion.
Kazra Ferdow, Station 43’s communications officer, is almost as blindsided by the return of his first love as he is by the sudden loss of power and life support. The station is a floating graveyard in the making, and something is turning its inhabitants into savage killers. Fighting human monsters and damaged tech, Kazra and Tanson must put aside their past long enough to try to save everyone.
The more light they shine into dark corners, the more Thanson realizes how many people might die for the secrets locked in his head—and what he’s willing to sacrifice to make sure Kazra isn’t one of them.
In Discretion is another stand-alone story set in the Ylendrian empire, featuring places familiar from the other Ylendrian books–as it stands alone, however, you don’t need to read any of the other Ylendrian titles. (You should, though, ’cause they’re awesome.)
The plot moves fast; the bickering-to-resolution between Thanson and Kazra is believable; it’s by turns funny and awful and frustrating and wonderful — and you know me, I don’t rec anything that’s not worth it. It also has one of the best dedications I’ve seen in a book (and no, it’s not about me).
So yeah. Go check out Reesa’s blog tour, get the book, and sigh sadly when you realize that the next Ylendrian book won’t be out until next YEAR.
…Because it would probably be a good idea to post more than once a quarter, and to post more than “Uh, still kickin’!”
Some random thoughts/news:
1) I’d just like to say that I really appreciate reviewers who say, basically, “I don’t care for [Title of My Story]–just not my thing–but don’t let that stop you!” Yeah, I wish they’d liked what I wrote, but the ‘read it, you might like it!’ always always always makes me feel a lot better.
2) I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I’ve got this story I’ve been calling The Odd Anglican Thing. After nearly three years, I’ve given up on a name for the antagonist and am almost done with it! Then all I have to do is figure out a title (yay) and where to submit it. It’s got a lot of religiously-based content, but other than some basic good ideas (“take responsibility for your own actions”; “don’t kill people because you can”; etc) it’s not a preaching book.
3) I have something else to mention, but I’m gonna make it a separate post.