So. I kind of fell off the face of the earth.

Sorry about that.

I don’t even really have a good explanation of where I’ve been for the last two years, either. I’ve still been writing, and I’ve been doing all right in terms of my mental health, but blogging just kind of took a back seat to everything else that was going on in my life.

One of the most notable things that I’ve done in the recent past is that I finished A Reading From The Epistles! And then I went looking for a refresher on submitting things and discovered that my publisher has shifted their focus to pretty much contemporaries and contemporaries only. I’m not going to get into specifics about how I feel about that, because I honestly do still love them, but I am needless to say rather disappointed.

Of course, when you take three years to get off your ass and finish a story instead of the six or so months it should have taken, you really only have yourself to blame when you’re blindsided by things like that. (In other words: It’s my own damn fault, so I should pretty much suck it up.) On the other hand, when the rights to ILLUMETH come back to me, I’m basically in a place where I can combine the two of them to make a short novel.

Speaking of novels! I’m currently working on a story about Emo Space Dudes Being Emo In Spaaaaaace, and I’m closing in on 195,000 words. Yes, one hundred ninety-five thousand words. And I’m not done! There are still holes in it where I have literally written [This is where the explanation of (event) goes, just as soon as I figure it out and write it down.], among other things.

In addition to the amazing word count (because I don’t write novels, that’s what actual novelists do! I write weird little novellas about weird people!), the story is written in a linear fashion, where Event A leads to Event B leads to Event C, naturally and organically; it’s written basically in chronological order, where I wrote Event B between Event A and Event C instead of writing Event G, Event Y, Event B, then going back and wedging Events A and C in where they go; and I’ve avoided using massive time-skips in order to either avoid the boring but important stuff or to get to the fun stuff faster.

This is a first for me. I’ve got a couple of stories that have broken the 100K mark, but they’re all messes — huge holes, huge leaps of months or even years, scenes out of order, etc. This story is–well, it’s still a first draft, so it’s not in any kind of shape to be submitted, but it’s far closer to it than the rest of the long stories I’ve worked on.

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to end it, though, given the protagonists I’ve set up. I have a few options, and I’ll see how things shake out when I get there. I also need a title, because while my working title of ‘Emo Space Dudes’ is descriptive (and probably pretty memorable), it’s not exactly, ah… Marketing friendly? Or entirely accurate, since they do more than sit around and whinge about how terrible their lives are because [reasons]. (And they have good reasons to be sad about their lives, but they’re working diligently to cope with/move beyond their issues.)

In other news: we moved, Mr. Hairy The Cat passed away, I got a new-to-me car, I got a new dog-walking client that has me walking an average of about four miles a week, my brother moved in with his girlfriend, my Unofficial Nieces are going into the fifth and fourth grades respectively, and we finally had a proper winter with plenty of snow instead of *snow that melts and freezes into ice followed by freezing rain that freezes into ice followed by a thaw and then more snow that melts and freezes into ice, repeat from * until spring. But climate change isn’t real.

That’s about all the news that is news around here. Hope you’ve all been well!

How I Work (or don’t, depending)

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! Updates! And A LOT Of Exclamation Points! (!!!)

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.

Titles and Tiles and Other Stuff.

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.

Look! I remembered to post!

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 really should set a reminder on my phone for this…

…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.

No, really, I actually did flail.

Getting comments–especially positive, ‘I want more!’ kinds of comments–make me all giddy and flaily. Dennis of Michigan, you totally made my weekend with the comment you left, and I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner.

In other news, I’m still alive! I’ve just been head-down in approximately 40K words of pretty much pure sex, none of which may actually make it into a story. On the one hand, it’s original fiction and I’m writing again! On the other… I’d really love to finish something rather than write bits and bobs of related stories.

…And in writing up my “so how’s the market for [description of what I’ve been writing]” question, I just realized precisely how odd this universe is. I really need to sit down and figure out how the world works before I try cleaning it up (formatting/editorially speaking, heh) and submitting it anywhere.

This Is A Formal Post.

It’s wearing a ballgown made to resemble a tuxedo. Because it can.

Clearly, I have been spending entirely too much time on Tumblr–That’s beside the point. Point is this: I’m here to make an announcement regarding my upcoming travel schedule:

I’m not going to be going to GRL this year. However! The reasons for my absence this year are all based very much on relatively rational things like ‘interest levels’ and ‘the presence of east-coast friends’ and ‘money’, and not on totally irrational fear, so there’s that.

Basically, I decided against going because I don’t really have the money (*sadface*), my friends weren’t going to be able to go due to a combination of time/work/edits, I myself don’t have anything new out which makes me feel kind of blah (and disappointed in myself, seriously), so. Fear didn’t have anything to do with it!

Instead, I’m gonna see if I can find a concert or a con or something in my neighborhood(s) and see about visiting my dad & his family for a while longer than I did last year. (And if there IS a con somewhere nearby, I have a cosplay idea that I really really want to try.)

I went and found a hat…

Just so I could take it off to all the writers out there who have kids and somehow manage to write not only entire bleeding novels but novels with sex scenes in them. Seriously, you’re all freaking AMAZING. If I could give every last one of you a hug and a cookie and a nice long weekend away from everything that sucks up writing time, I so would.

Me? I’m gonna go to sleep in an attempt to get rid of this headache while being pathetically proud of ekeing out a whole 4 paragraphs. Yay.