shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
Some news:

1 - Reminder that my story "Baggage Check" is elibigle for various best short story awards this year.

If you like it, please consider giving it a spot on your ballot.

2 - Fierce Family is now available, and contains my story "Come Away to the Water."

15 exhilarating stories of QUILTBAG families experiencing adventure, disaster, and triumph make up Fierce Family. They are families of any constellation: all sizes and configurations, families of choice as well as families by birth. They are caring and connected – when outside conflict arises, they come together to defend and aid one another. Fiercely, and without hesitation.

3 - I'm going to attempt updating my WordPress blog, such as it is. You can find it over here: Life's An Open Book.

Updates

Aug. 27th, 2013 09:00 pm
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
So I only seem to manage to drop in here when I have something to announce, which makes this more like a mailing list update than a blog. Oh well. I have accepted that I'm not a blogger. Can't force the issue at this point, especially when the rest of life is still chaotic.

To recap the past three months: tendonitis of the thumbs; unexpectedly required to move; the stress of finding a place, packing, moving, unpacking; unexpected layoffs at work; rounds of repairs needed at new place (still not done); and I have lost the ability to can. For a while.

But in the meantime, some good things did happen:

1 - My short story "Turning", from The Monster Book for Girls, made the long list of Honourable Mentions for Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year volume 5 anthology.

2 - I sold a story, "Come Away to the Water", to Crossed Genres' Fierce Family anthology.

3 - There's a wonderful review of MENIAL: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction (the anthology from Crossed Genres that I co-edited) at Strange Horizons.

4 - Today I found out I won a skein of yarn and a sock pattern in an online contest. Yay for free yarn.

Until next time something writing-related and note-worthy happens...


shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
Sabrina Vourvoulias tagged me for this "The Next Big Thing - Work in Progress" chain-blog thing, so here it is. Of course, I'm also breaking the chain, so the wrath of the WIP gods (who do not exist) may rain down upon me. So be it.

Before I start rambling, I will say, do go and read Sabrina's blog post, and her novel Ink. It is one of the best books I've read in the past year.

Without further ado, my answers to 10 questions about a future book or a book that I'm currently working on.


1. What is the working title of your next book?

The short version is just Carnival. The long version is The Carnival That Straddles Worlds.

It was supposed to be a short story. Then it was supposed to be a novella. Now it's more than 38k, and the ending will probably take more than 2k, so I guess it's busting out into short novel range. At least until a serious round of edits pull it back.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It was prompted by the Cool Bits Story Generator.

The prompt was: Your narrative is a supernatural thriller. It begins in other worlds. There is sex against a wall and a carny who meets an androgynous girl. It ends with candy.

A friend added the following commentary: This is a gritty, weird thriller about a carnival that straddles the worlds.

And the idea crawled into my hind-brain and wouldn't go away.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy is probably closest, with elements of horror. It's not exactly a thriller, despite the original idea.

(There likely won't be sex against a wall, either. At least not in the 'on-screen' version. I have a feeling it'll get pegged as YA and that just won't fly.)

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm not familiar enough with any child actors to cast Tif and Nate. And despite having a couple of weeks to think about it, I have failed to come up with actors for The Lady and the Owner. Hmm. Check back later?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To borrow part of my friend's phrasing:

This is a gritty, weird thriller about a carnival that straddles worlds, the people who inhabit it, and the children who become lost in it.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Don't know for sure yet, but probably neither of those. If I can convince it to be a novella, there are some magazines and/or small presses that might consider it.

7. How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The sad truth is that I started it in 2007, and it's still not quite done. I really want to finish the first full draft by the end of this year.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don't really know what to compare it to. I worry that people might compare it to The Night Circus, even though it's not even remotely similar in my mind.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The prompt was the initial inspiration, and then the encouragement of my friends/alpha-readers on LJ/DW kept the words going (albeit slowly...).

10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

It's an adventure story for gender-queer kids, and for those adults who wish they could have been more out than they were while growing up.


shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
I have not updated in far too long. Not for lack of things to post about, but rather for lack of time and inclination.

So about that anthology I co-edited...

Since I last posted, Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction was released, and I attended Arisia 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed the panels I did get to, and I should at least make note of what they were, but I don't have the list handy at the moment. I didn't bother with panel notes, though, so there won't be any panel writeups. Boston was cold. Yes, colder than Toronto.

Menial seems to be going over well. You can find it here on GoodReads, and there are interviews scattered around the internet that I really should collect up, but haven't yet.

And then there's FISH...

The FISH anthology is now available! It includes my flash fiction, "I Know a Secret." There's an interview with me up on the web site. (Which, yes, is what reminded me to update over here.)

Other writerly news...

I sold a short story to the Crossed Genres Magazine 2.0! My first pro sale! Look for "Baggage Check" in June.

And I've been struggling with De Quervain's tenosynovitis (tendonitis in the thumb) which has made life extra challenging. But it seems to be improving finally.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
Well, it's official: my micro fic did not make the cut for AE Micro 3.

Disappointed, of course, but since I like my story, I am forced to do that writerly thing that I have not yet attempted: re-submit it elsewhere.

On the other hand, very happy to see AE's other news: they're now an SFWA qualifying market.
shaydchara: dirty black keyboard with the F1 key missing (F1)
This year, as in a couple of previous years, I challenged myself to do a miniWriMo - 10k words instead of 50k for NaNoWriMo. I know I can't do 50k, so the thought with the 10k is to set up one of those, you know, habits of writing daily.

Last year I tried the same thing, and was done in on day 1 by the corruption of 1600 words on my flash drive. And when you lose your entire first day's writing. Well. It makes one paranoid about the rest of the month.

In 2009, I made 75% of my (then unofficial) target of 10k.

This year? Well. 58%. And I came to a couple of realizations, at least, if not 10k words.

1 - I'm still not convinced that this dedicated "write every day!" business is for me. And that's okay. I do not have to fit the "writer" mould. Whatever that is.

2 - When we're in the middle of ramp-up to product release at work, I'm actually writing quite a lot and, in this case, doing a lot of structure work to reorganize existing content. This is tiring and requires parts of my brain that would otherwise be plotting fiction. So it just happened to be bad timing this month that I exhausted all my writing brain on work. That's okay.

3 - I still need to get used to writing on a laptop (that is not my dead MacBook, or the over-heating netbook) at home. :p
shaydchara: dirty black keyboard with the F1 key missing (F1)
Vacation seemed like a great idea: with Nuit Blanche, my birthday, and wedding anniversary in one week, why not?

Well, on Tuesday, we got test results back for the lump in our cat's throat. I suppose it was better than finding out - while at work - that he has thyroid cancer. He's a speshul snowflake - it's extremely rare in cats.

*sigh*

Then on Thursday morning, something went wrong in my right foot, and I've spent the past three days with it propped up on a pillow, alternating ice and ibuprofen. Fun times for this gorgeous weekend.

*sigh*

Did I get any writing done? No, of course not. But I did do a bunch of knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful (and not sarcastically) that my life is good enough that I can complain about these #firstworldproblems.

Back to work tomorrow, where I apparently need to Fix ALL the Things, as my co-workers have been missing me desperately, I was told.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
I sold my first story to Crossed Genres on my birthday weekend, three years ago. It really does not seem like that long.

About six months later, my story "Detuned" was a runner-up in the AE Micro contest.

Two months after that, I sold "Carefully Constructed" to CG for Issue 20: Lies. I was especially proud of this one, as it is set in the same world as my novel-under-revision, and features one of the secondary characters.

With those successes under my belt (and some kind words of encouragement on a couple of rejections from Kay, too), I submitted "Turning" to The Monster Book For Girls anthology - and sold it.

This year, despite a couple of intriguing genres, I didn't manage to get anything written for CG, but I did submit to Dagan Books' FISH anthology - and sold "I Know A Secret" to them.

None of which I would have tried, if not for that first sale to CG.

So while I am sad to see the magazine close, I know that the novels and anthologies Bart and Kay put together will be awesome, and I look forward to all the shiny new things they create.
shaydchara: an orange tabby cat sitting beside a t-shirt that says "pen > sword" (pen > sword + Rufus)
I still haven't managed to post all my con notes. Obviously good intentions got the better of me. Well, that and being sick for the two weeks before the holidays.

I don't do resolutions -- possibly because I feel more affinity for the Lunar New Year than the Gregorian one. Instead, it feels like a time of catching up (at least this week while things are still quiet at work).

Realizations:
1 - if I manage 300 words a day, that's roughly a chapter in ten days. That's not so bad.
2 - I am wasting far too much time playing LoZ: Spirit Tracks. As this is a short-term thing, however, I'm not terribly upset about it. It's not like I've succumbed to Civ V.
3 - I need to practice plotting at the short story (max 5k words) length. Great concepts and characters do not (always) a short story make.
4 - Having fun writing some fanfic. It's good for the instant ego boost. Now if only I hadn't written myself into a corner...

And, in completely unrelated to writing thoughts, I would really like to know where my head-soundtrack player picked up this old easy-listening/country song from. Enough! I need some new Matchbox Twenty (rumor is there will be some this year!).
shaydchara: an orange tabby cat sitting beside a t-shirt that says "pen > sword" (pen > sword + Rufus)
Or: resolution, not resignation

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that I had to resign myself to trying to write short stories. Yes, I know, that sounds ridiculous when spelled out plainly like that. However, one gets these ideas, and they get stuck. As a corollary, when my short stories didn't work, I had to resign myself to the fact that I couldn't write short fiction.

Bollocks, as my Brit friends would put it.

Why is it so hard to convince my brain that I can write to whatever length I need to write to, and worry about finding a market for it afterwards? Granted, working on longer pieces doesn't give the same sense of short-term gratification (and this is why my novel edits laaaanguish like languishing poets), but if that's where the idea fits, why fight it? Fighting it is a waste of time and energy that could be put into writing.

Thus, a resolution to replace my resignation: I will write the ideas as they come to me, and worry about the saleability of them afterwards. If a brilliant short idea strikes me, then I will write it as a short (250 words from a dream netted me a sale to AE Micro; it *is* conceivable). Otherwise, I will continue collecting my meandering threads until they resolve into whatever form they are supposed to take. (SteampunkTO, I'm looking at you.)

I'm not trying to make a living as a fiction writer: I'm content to work as a Technical Writer for a regular pay cheque. I just want to get the stories that I have *written* so that they can be read. And if I'm constantly second-guessing myself about fitting a market, I'm not getting the words out. I'm impeding readability.

Goals, then:
- Finish 1st draft "Carnival" by end of November. Stop worrying about word count.
- Write whatever SteampunkTO bits strike me
      - design that damn lace pattern/code to accompany it
      - come up with a working title >.>
- gorram edits/rewrites to Node. Just do them already.
      - Come up with an alternate name for Node book 1. Seriously. Enough with the 10 year long misnomer.
- Write some fanfic. Because. It is fluff and candy.
- Listen to Rawlins Cross more often. Because. It is both therapeutic and inspirational.


*Title from "A Sad Story" by Rawlins Cross, from the album "Living River". HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
A headline passed by on the PhysNews.org feed, which I meant to clip at the time, but didn't. I don't think it was this one, but that's close enough, and I can't find the one I thought I saw.

Point being... that walking improves brain connectivity and function, which was a realization I came to over the past year while I had at least two (if not four) ten minute walks as part of my daily commuting routine.

That time I spent walking, I also spent thinking, and plotting, and working out plot wrinkles, and composing drafts (which I haven't had time to type, mind you, but they're still drafted) of stories. It was a good habit, and one I will miss now that my commute is changing (for the better!). I'll just have to find time to work in the walks for another reason...

...Yeah, still considering the replacement puppy dog, too, although not seriously yet.

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Shay D.

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