Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Almost NaNoWriMo Time Again

I'm signed back up for NaNoWriMo again. I feel more determined to do well this year, so we'll see how things go.
I have a couple of possible obstacles - one is that I'm taking an online writing course at the moment. It's from the University of Iowa and called How Writers Write Fiction. It's been more time consuming than I had anticipated and I've had some trouble getting all the assignments in on time. As this relates to NaNoWriMo - the class will still be going on in November so that adds another layer of writing to do. I plan to just go ahead and count my class writing in my NaNo word counts even when I don't write a scene from my novel for my assignment. Still, there are the video lectures to watch, the reading and critiquing that will also need my time. Hopefully I can pull it all off.
The second thing -  I guess it isn't an obstacle really - is that I plan to keep working on my novel in progress first. I don't think it has a whole 50,000 words left in it however, so if I finish it before the end of November I will start a new story. This plan is slightly off from the NaNoWriMo guidelines, but I'm not concerned about the novel police coming after me. I just want to boost my word count.
Stranger things have happened!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Things I Love - Orphan Black

I first heard about this show on Wil Wheaton's blog, and shortly thereafter I read an article about it titled something like, 'The Best Show You're Not Watching'. (I would link to it, but I can't find it again now).  It is an amazing show, and I agree that not enough people are watching it because I have trouble finding people to talk to about it!

The tag line that comes up with a Google Search for Orphan Black is :
"An orphaned outsider witnesses a woman's suicide and decides to assume her identity."

What lets our orphan, Sarah; assume the woman's identity is their eerie similarity in appearance. Before long Sarah finds out the reason for the similarity is that she is a clone - and there are more out there just like her.

The lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, who plays the clones, just blows me away with her talent. While I'm watching I often forget that these characters are not actually different people, so completely does she give individual personality and mannerisms to each clone. There are many scenes over the course of the series in which one clone steps in to impersonate another, and even then, she doesn't just act like the impersonated clone. She maintains the layers of both, so that it is clear to the viewer that this is not clone B, but actually clone A pretending to be clone B. (I'm trying to avoid getting spoiler-y here. They aren't really called clone A or B, they have real names.) 

Maslany isn't the only great talent on the show. The entire supporting cast is fun and diverse and wonderful. 

If you are interested in watching, and you should be, this is definitely a show to start at the beginning of season 1. Right now there are 3 completed seasons available, so it shouldn't be too hard to get caught up. I should also probably note that this is not a child-friendly show. Lots of sex and violence.

I confess, I actually wrote this several weeks ago, but was slow in posting it but since I did, now I can add that recently Orphan Black won the Hugo award (a science fiction/fantasy award) for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form. While I voted for Orphan Black, I didn't expect it to actually win since it was up against episodes of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones which I believed were much more popular. So - Yea!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Daycare Isn't Dull now up at Aurora Wolf

I have a new short story up over at Aurora Wolf : A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
It's called Daycare Isn't Dull.

For a time, I took care of my infant niece. She was not a fan of naps and it was a great source of frustration for us both. Later, when she went to daycare, I wondered how the caregivers there managed with so many children all with their own problems. Then I started to wonder how they would handle a child with even bigger problems. . .

So go check out my story, as well as some of the others over there. It's a free site for readers, but I did notice a 'Donate' button if you like what you find.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Things I Love - Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

When I find something I love, I have the urge to share it with someone. It occurred to me, that would be a great use of this blog.

So, to begin with, I give you Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.

Shadow Scale is the sequel to Seraphina: the story of a young musician (named Seraphina) who is in a unique position to bridge the increasing divide between dragons and humans at a time when years of peace between the two groups is growing strained. In Shadow Scale Seraphina has to take her mission even further and travel to other lands in search of other half-dragons like herself.

I loved the first book so much that I was waiting with great anticipation for the second. Part of me was a little disappointed in the sequel, but for a strange reason. In the first book, I was captured by the wonderful world and characters, and a decent amount of the text is spent on developing and introducing this world as Seraphina goes about her business. It's the sort of story world I love to just wallow in. I had looked forward to that same feeling in the second but didn't quite get it. We are introduced to many new lands and a lot of fascinating characters, but I didn't get to wallow. So much happens that the story doesn't pause enough to just lounge around in this beautiful world as much. Seraphina moves on a to a new place and new characters before we ever get to feel settled. Although I feel like complaining that the story moved along too well as a backwards sort of complaint. Instead, I will fill my need to spend time in this world by rereading both books at some point.

I believe these are marketed as Young Adult books, but I feel like there is more than enough depth for full on old adults like me to enjoy. I have a dragon-loving tween who I think would enjoy it a great deal, but I think I will wait a few years before offering it to her. Not that I don't think she could handle any of the content or follow the story, but I think there are things (like the innocent, bitter-sweet romance) that she would appreciate more a little later on.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What I Read in 2014

I have really enjoyed these lists in the blogs I follow, so thought I would do my own. I know, I'm such a follower. In 2014 I finally let myself buy a voting membership for the Hugo awards, so there are a fair number of items that were for that. Also, some of these may technically qualify as short stories, and yet others are short story collections where I don't list each story individually. If my lack of consistency bugs you, I'm sorry. This is how I kept track of them as I read, so this is how they will be listed here.Some are kids books that were for the book club my kids and I belong to. I only included the kid books if the was the first time I read them myself.

Hugo works will be in italic, audiobooks in bold, and my favorites from the year in green.

Conversations with J K Rowling by Lindsay Fraser
Night Echos by Holly Lisle
Goblin Hero by Jim Hines
The Inheritance by Robin Hobb
At Any Price by Brenna Aubry
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Dolye
The Red Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville
Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville
Clash of Kings by George RR Martin
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M Valente
Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang
The Exchange Officers by Brad R Torgersen
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Waiting Stars by Aliette de Bodard
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Parasite by Mira Grant*
Holly Lisle's Create a World Clinic by Holly Lisle
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachael Aaron
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Winnie-The-Pooh by AA Milne
Sand Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Dark Whispers by Bruce Coville
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Songs of Love and Death edited by George RR Martin
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Now that I've typed it out, I am tempted to go back and get rid of the green classification. Some were very hard to decide about, and there are lots of great books that just were not for me. I tried a lot outside my usual reading sphere this year. So a lack of green does not mean I think it's a bad book. In fact, I don't think any of these were books I actively disliked or was not happy that I read. This may be obvious when several books in a series are listed, but not green - I liked them enough to read more. The green books were just a better fir for my personal taste or ones I especially loved. So maybe the green is not useful, but I'm leaving it for now.

* One thing I found extra fun in this is that it takes place in/around the Concord/Clayton and Greater Bay Area in  California, and recognizing landmarks as I read is neat. So I recommend this to local folks for that reason.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Failed Nano, but Still Writing

Although it is probably clear for anyone looking at the word counter on the last post, I did not succeed with NaNaWriMo this past November. I am generally happy with what I wrote, but there just wasn't enough of it. I won't go into my reasons (or excuses depending on how you view these things), but I believe I did the most I could at the time, so I will end there.

I took a writing break for most of December to focus on other crafty projects that I needed to finish before Christmas and used up the same pockets of time I usually use for writing. I knew that was going to happen, so again, I'm not upset about it other than my constant dream of having more time all around. 

Where I do have some disappointment is in the publishing end of things. The group of short stories I've been submitting have not yet found homes. A couple years ago I promised myself that I would only send my stories to paying markets. I figured if no one would pay me for them, I would rather post them here for free than have someone else post them for free. This year I decided to up my game (or try to) and send first to higher paying markets. I am sure that's why I'm having a harder time. I have gotten some very encouraging rejections but no bigger sales yet. It also feels like the turn around is slower, so I am waiting a lot longer to hear back. I suppose that makes sense in that the bigger markets probably also get a lot more submissions.

So I'm trying to keep from being discouraged, and keep submitting since there are still many markets that would fit that I haven't tried yet, and still a few I'm waiting to hear from. I try to remind myself that this is how I will grow.

Also, one of my goals this year is to keep up with my critique group better. I've not been participating as much as I should be, and more feedback can only be helpful. (I hope)

That in a nutshell is the state of my writing at the dawn of 2015.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's NaNoWriMo Time Again

. . . and again, I'm participating despite the feeling that I'm setting myself up for undue stress and disappointment.

 I'm karabu at the NaNo website. Send a friend request if you're NaNo-ing too.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Too much information?

I've been a good little writer lately in that I have finished several short stories, and more importantly, I have sent them out. In fact, I have more stories out on submission right now than I have ever had out before. I may have more out right now that I have ever sent out in an entire year. Not that I have a huge number of submissions out - just that I am usually so bad at finishing and being brave enough to submit at all. There are usually months of getting up the nerve to research markets and all the rest of the process. I'm going to go even further in patting myself on the back because two stories were rejected last week, and I already have them back out again. Maybe this isn't all that impressive, but it is a step forward for me, so I'm telling you about it.

I use Duotrope.com to find markets and track my submissions. One of the neat features of Duotrope is their statistics. They have the percent of submission from their users that are accepted or rejected for each market. Further, they have the average time it takes for a reply, and the average time for a rejection versus for an acceptance. From the markets I've looked at, it seems like rejections tend to come a lot quicker than acceptances. However, I have found myself paying way too much attention to how long my story has been with a particular market - is it closer to the rejection time, or the acceptance time? I check on that much more often than can be healthy.

There is writing advice I've heard frequently to finish your story, send it out, then don't think of it - just write the next thing. I thought that as I wrote more (like I'm doing now) that would be easier. Turns out, I'm actually obsessing more though. I think when I sent one thing out every 6 months or so, and I wasn't doing much writing in between, it was easier to forget about. Now that I write every day and send things out as regularly as I can manage, it isn't ever far from my thoughts. Still, you don't move forward or grow as a writer doing things they way I was doing them before. I have to hope, and believe, that this is better, even if it's stressful.

Maybe stories really are like children in that way. Having more of them doesn't mean you care about each individual one less.  It just gives you more to worry over. Or I'm just a person prone to excess worry.