New Book! (A.K.A I’m not dead yet.)

the cover for Sexy Sailors, featuring an American naval sailor with ribbons on his shirt and his sea bag over his shoulder

Sexy Sailors, edited by Neil Plakcy.

Sexy Sailors is out! You can grab a copy from Cleis Press, if you’d like.

Mine is Boots For The Goddess: the story of a fisherman and the blacksmith who stays behind; of sacrifice and loss. It’s also full of sex, cute nicknames, and I gave Kelvi my hair’s lack of cooperation with combs.

As for my continued presence among the living… Yeah. I’m still swimming back to the surface from my most recent plunge into fandom!, so I’m still pretty distracted by the pretty. And the funny, and the shiny, and…

I’m aiming to wrench myself away from the distracty fun and get back to work sometime soon, because as much as I love my newest insanity-laden community, I love getting paid for my work more. …But I might wait until the first of the year before I do, what with the holidays and stuff coming up.

Also, I leave you with an example of the insanity that BBC Sherlock inspires: The Benedict Cumberbatch Song (CAUTION: Catchy. Loud. WEIRD.) (Cumberbatch plays Holmes.)

Despite what I said on Twitter…

I did actually manage to get something written today (once the cat stopped standing on me). I have no title for it, but it’s just over a thousand words about an android and a little room; you can read it right here. No rating, because it has nothing in it to offend anyone, with the possible exception of math purists and/or English teachers (run-on sentences without punctuation).

As for the ending… Make up your own mind.

Change and Conflict

So my weekend was full of change. Granted, a fair amount of it had needed to happen for a while–my mattress and my bed frame were not playing well together, to the point that I not only added a couple of boards to the frame, but then stuck all of my old pillows between my frame and the mattress.

On Sunday, one of Mom’s friends called her up and said, “Hey, I’m getting rid of the bed in the guest room. It’s practically brand new–do you want it? If so, come over and get it.” Mom, knowing about my bed situation, said “I’ll round up Connor and we’ll be there by 4.”

So I spent most of Sunday blitz-cleaning my room, discovering both things I thought I’d lost forever (my new carry-everywhere-just-in-case notebook; my microSD card for my new Nook) and things I only wish I’d lost forever (some lube packaging that was supposed to have gone into the recycling bin months ago turning up, happily bright orangey-red and obvious, among the stuff under my old bed).

I also discovered that I own entirely too many clothes. I don’t need all of them, and I certainly don’t wear all of them. In a bold move, I actually threw away some socks because I didn’t wear them, they didn’t have mates, and they weren’t worth giving away. Some things went into a give-away box, but not nearly enough. Since the idea was to get enough room for my new bed, I didn’t take the time to do a thorough cull–but I will.

My new bed is awesome, by the way. No head or foot boards, but that’s not a big deal–I can get those later. The lady who gave it to me threw in two sets of sheets, two standard pillows and one body pillow/bolster, a memory-foam topper, a bed skirt, and a heated mattress pad (though we walked off and left the cord behind, oops). Oh, and a dark purple blanket-with-sleeves-that-isn’t-a-snuggie-as-far-as-I-know, though that was intended for the Unofficial Nieces.

It’s taking a little getting used to, both in terms of sleeping in it and in its presence. It’s been a while since I’ve had a bed this tall, not to mention one where I’m in danger of falling out of either side. (My old bed was a twin-sized mattress (no box spring) that was in the corner, so I tended to end up against the wall. The new one is a double/full with box spring, and only the head is against the wall.) I’m exceedingly happy with it, though, especially after having discovered the hard way that a saggy mattress really does affect your back, and that in turn affects things like, say, being able to walk. Sleep. Think.

What does all of that have to do with conflict? Everything! No, wait, bear with me.

Once upon a time, I was grumbling about conflict. That fighting made me tired, and writing characters who fought all the time was just as tiring. Reesa, who is wise beyond her years, pointed out that just because the usual word used as shorthand for “stuff that moves the story forward in small, smooth increments” is “conflict” doesn’t mean that it’s all about fighting.

This fascinating (and totally worth reading!) article starts with the statement that, “In the West, plot is commonly thought to revolve around conflict: a confrontation between two or more elements, in which one ultimately dominates the other.”

The author of the piece argues that there are other options, but the premise–that “conflict” is inherently violent, requires a “winner”, and that violence is the only tool in the western story-telling arsenal–is the same one I started with. And it’s not true.

Part of the problem is with the connotations of the word “conflict”. People have used the word “conflict” as an euphemism for “war” (or massacre, or genocide) for so long that probably at least two generations have grown up internalizing that connotation.

You can find conflict in the most mundane of tasks. Take changing a light bulb, for instance. The first conflict is one’s desire for light, but alas, there is none. No one wins or loses anything, in this case — it’s just a fact: I want the light on, but the bulb is burned out. So I have to go find a new bulb, which isn’t too difficult, and something to stand on.

Ah! The stepladder. It’s downstairs. So I have to put the new bulb somewhere safe (so the cats don’t knock it down and break it, and where I won’t forget it), then tromp downstairs to find the ladder. I find the ladder, but… It’s behind a bunch of boxes, which I have to move before I can get to it. And before I can move the boxes, I realize that I have to go to the bathroom, which means I have to go back upstairs…

See? You thought changing a light bulb was boring! Getting ready for my new bed was the same way. Very little actual violence (there was a bit of recyclable-tossing), but plenty of conflict that didn’t necessarily have a winner or a loser. There are ways in which it is possible to have a negative outcome–dropping the vacuum’s dust-cup full of, well, dust and cat hair and fuzz and crumbs and God only knows what onto the freshly-vacuumed floor, for instance. Or attempting to adjust the blinds and having them fall down. Or any of a million other ways that things go pear-shaped.

The point is, you can write a story without violence, without people clashing and without defining who/what “wins” and who/what “loses” — but you cannot write one without adjectives or adverbs.

Amusing, possibly useful:

Dutch Boy Paint’s Color Quiz. I used it for myself, then started answering the questions from the point of view of my characters — not all of them, but a few. Utterly unscientific, sure, but a great way to kill a few minutes… And you never know, you might just figure out what color your latest protagonist’s bathroom walls are.

And Now It’s Time For Randomness Theater!

A handful of shiny bits plucked out of the lint in my head:

– I was just looking at the search terms that led people to this page. Most of them were pretty pedestrian, but someone did come looking for “terms of endearment for a cat”.

Someone else found me by looking for “bad reviews (of) the wishing box”. I hope they weren’t too disappointed by what they found here, since I haven’t written one. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, either, to be honest.)

– The incredibly stressful situation that led to my last post seems to be resolved. I’m not entirely sure I quite believe that to be true, yet… I’ll give it another week.

– The New Thing I was excited about on Twitter? Crashed after about 3700 words. I’m currently poking at an alternate idea for the same project, which seems like it will actually work out better.

– It’s SPRING. The birds are building nests and the snow is melting and there’s SUNLIGHT and soon there will be GREEN GROWING THINGS, you know, GROWING, and I can SEE MY GARDEN and and and– Yeah, I’m a little excited about that.

– Want to know what I’ve been looking up this week? Check out my boards on Pinterest. (There’s not a whole lot there, yet. It’s almost as big a time-sink as Tumblr, though, so I can’t spend a lot of time just looking at everyone else’s stuff.)

…And that’s about it, for the moment. Time to go see if I really do remember how that whole “writing” thing works.

Because I’m Super-Avoider, Author Who Won’t Write! today…

I read the latest post over at Michelle and Reesa’s blog, then re-read Reesa’s post about the people out there who don’t like your (whoever you may be) story.

I second most of what she said, but I just want to add that I’ve recently encountered two readers whose reactions were… Well, startling. The first one complained because she got the plot outlined in the blurb. Yeah, that was my reaction, too: since when is it a problem to get the story the blurb promises? Maybe on Bizarro Earth, but in this reality?

The second one is a bit more problematic, because the guy makes valid (rudely stated, but valid) points about the story. Only thing is, he’s whining because I wrote the story that was asked for, and it wasn’t what he wanted — however, he wasn’t the one who requested the story.

You can’t really argue with that kind of thing. Well, you can, but you’ll end up a depressed monotreme. I’ve written a couple different responses to the second guy, and am about to draft a third. I have another post to write, first, however.

Sometimes it feels good to work.

Just finished up something for one of my day jobs (or middle-of-the-night jobs, considering the hours I usually keep), and I’m happy with the way things turned out. It’s nice to be able to take raw information and turn it into something that looks halfway decent.

Speaking of taking raw information and making something out of it: I signed up for the Love Is Always Write event* over at the M/M Romance Group. This time around, I was in time to not only claim a prompt, but I was able to submit one of my own, which was nice. Interestingly enough, my prompt was claimed by Jaime Samms, and I grabbed a prompt from S.A. Garcia — both of whom also write for Dreamspinner.

I’m not sure precisely how I’m going to get my protagonists from point A to point B, but I do know approximately what’s going to happen to them when they get there. I’m also not entirely sure if parts of the story will work for other people, since I’m borrowing them from Lovecraft and friends.

In other working news, I’m kind of half-heartedly poking at some drafts, trying to convince Shelby and Nat that they want to make porn–ooooh, I just had an idea of how that might happen!, and generally recuperating from my latest bout of The Crud. I also bought some new sheets and pillows, but that’s not really here or there.

* As always, requires group membership to view.

Taking No For An Answer

Today, I’ve encountered three different people who didn’t want to take my “no, thank you” at face value.

The most recent was a three-year-old; since that’s really par for the course, she oughtn’t count. The other two, however, were grown men–definitely old enough to know better.

The first guy was trying to sell me meat from the back of a truck. Granted, it was a company truck and door-to-door sales has been the company’s MO for ever, but still. I didn’t live at the house they stopped at, the people there are nearly vegan, and we don’t eat that much meat at my actual home either. I gave him these reasons, and he kept trying to persuade me. He was cute, and kept smiling at me, but I doubt there was anything more to it than wanting to make a sale.

It was strange experience, though, and led me to thinking about the fact that at least when it comes to sex, my characters are really up front about consent. I can think of at least three stories I’ve written/am writing off the top of my head where one partner tells the other at least twice that if they wanna say “no”, it’s fine. (This kind of drives me crazy, to be honest. You said that once already! I’m pretty sure he hasn’t forgotten in the last five minutes. Even if I forgot that you had already taken off your pants/were wearing a button-front shirt when he put the handcuffs on you/gave you a polo shirt and a necktie…)

Then I realized that no one has ever taken them up on it, which is also interesting. Probably because by the time the subject of sex comes up, both of them are beyond ready to quit fooling around and just get on with it already.

Incredibly NOT SAFE for work…

But the first thirty seconds or so of this sample clip from a longer piece of porn was startlingly hilarious. Wrong, but funny. Also: I am always amused when I see props in porn that I recognize (i.e. a painting on the wall/duvet cover from IKEA, etc), and I occasionally see things that I actually want — in this case, the neat dot-print blanket on the bed. Also also: yeah, I AM easily distracted. I promise I’m less-so in person, though.

Also also also: research isn’t always this entertaining.