Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ebb and Flow

I had my day off from the Day Job yesterday, and so, as usual, I went to Panera, got a coffee mug and a bagel, and settled in to write. I was hoping to break 3000 words again.

Alas, I barely managed 1200. There isn't a lot of blame I can cast, though -- not even on myself. I just finished the story. I wrote the end, and I went back and wrote a fill-in scene that I'd planned. Both of those took longer than I'd expected, because I had to keep reading back to make sure I wasn't contradicting things I'd said earlier. And when I was done, it was after lunch and the story was mostly done. (I need to do a full read-through and write down my timeline, though, because I think I've muddled it once or twice.)

I sat down again last night to work on it, found another spot that could use some expansion, and wrote another 1000 words or so. But I'm definitely into the "reviewing for beta draft" stage and not still in the full-on "getting it out" phase of things, so progress is not going to be measured so much by word count anymore.

But here's my question: It's currently just shy of 40,000 words. 50,000 makes a (small) novel -- but I'm not close to that. I'd have to add a lot more to the story to make it novel-length. I might be able to manage that -- there are a few scenes that could be expanded, one or two new scenes I could write, and with dribs and drabs, I could probably beef it up.

But I'm not sure it needs it. I'm not sure it wants it. I'm not sure that beefing it up wouldn't make the story less robust, rather than more, even though that doesn't sound like it makes sense. And I'd hate to do it just because I want to be able to say I've got something in print, you know?

I think what I'll do is, I'll finish this edit-for-beta stage. Add the scenes that I think will add to the story and the structure. Make things clean. Make it a good story. And then see where I am with the word count. And then, probably, see what my betas think. (Speaking of which, I can always use more betas... anyone want the gig?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thanksgiving (for those of us in the US) is tomorrow.

On the surface, it looks like a holiday to deplore -- a paean to gluttony and sloth and greed. Like Valentine's Day, it's a holiday that shouldn't need to exist, because it represents a feeling that we should acknowledge daily, or at least more than once a year.

But like Valentine's Day, I like it, specifically because while I am frequently grateful for my life, I'm also glad to have an opportunity to put that gratitude into the limelight for a while.

I'm glad to say: Sure, I'm not one of the 1%, but I don't need to be. The Day Job, no matter how tedious, more than pays the bills. And in my breaks and evenings, I have the job of my dreams, the job I've longed for since I was younger than my daughter is now. I'm a writer and an editor, and I love it. And I love it for reasons I never even imagined, before it happened.

I love the writing, of course. I've always loved the writing. I love building worlds, I love getting into my characters' heads. I love it when they take over and demand that I tell their stories.

I love knowing other people are reading what I've written. Every time I see one of my stories move to someone's "currently-reading" list in Goodreads, every time I see a new ranking or review, I squeal with excitement. Even the mediocre reviews fill me with delight. (And I'm duly grateful that I haven't seen any unalloyed bad reviews, yet.)

I love working with my editors and seeing their suggestions for improving my writing. I'm not being facetious or tongue-in-cheek there, either. My writing has improved by leaps and bounds since I submitted Of One Mind to Torquere almost two years ago, and every time I re-read a sentence and remove an unnecessary comma or fix an unclear pronoun antecedent, I mentally tip my hat to the editors who showed me those bad habits of mine. I love that I've learned how to separate my work from my self-worth so that a good, harsh (but fair) editing feels cleansing and refreshing rather than like an attack on my person.

I love being an editor and helping other writers stretch themselves from "pretty good" to "great". I love knowing that something I put my hands on -- even if I didn't write it myself -- is going out into the world to entertain people.

And most of all, I love the people that I've met through this second job of mine. I love exchanging ideas and information and bantering with fellow authors and editors. I love the community feeling and the sense of inclusion that transcends gender and race and religion and political orientation. And I love my little blog here, knowing that you're reading my words, even if you don't always answer.

I have my dream job. It doesn't pay my bills, but it doesn't have to -- and that might even be having the best of both worlds, because I can take things at exactly the speed I want (or need) to. I have my dream job, and I have it on my own terms.

And that's something for which no words could ever properly express my gratitude and my thankfulness.

Thank you, for being with me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


"Of Sound Mind" -- the second (standalone) episode in my One Mind universe, has been re-released under a Creative Commons license as a free online OR downloadable book at Goodreads (account may be required)! Check it out! (And while you're at it, check out its awesome new cover, courtesy of my amazing, award-winning artist brother!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I took the day off from the Day Job yesterday.

I spent 5 hours sitting in Panera with my iPad. (Thank goodness for the bottomless mug of coffee.) In that time, I knocked out some 4000 words on Foxfur, bringing it very close to 40,000 words. If I get to 50,000 (which is entirely possible, as I have one whole sex scene left to write, which will probably be a good 3-4K, plus at least two scenes earlier in the story that I need to back up and expand) then it counts as a novel, and if it gets published, then it will also be available in print!

I'm feeling good about this one, too, and I even have a serious plan of attack for it. I'm still thinking that it might be ready for beta by the end of the year or early next. (I just need to come up with a better title, because Foxfur isn't going to cut it.)

Four thousand words in one day.

My schedule doesn't have enough squeeze-time left in it to attempt anything as ambitious as NaNoWriMo, but it's nice having the kind of writing day that makes me think it could be achievable, if I did have time to write every day.

It gives me something to look forward to, when the kids are grown and the house is paid off and I'm ready to retire from the Day Job. Heck, that first year without a "real" job, I might do NaNoWriMo twice.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Whoops, I almost forgot that it was Writing Wednesday! Partly, alas, because this past week was mostly a wash. My daughter was sick, and then just as she was getting better, my son caught it. It's hard to get my brain into a sexy, romantic place when I'm listening for someone to start puking. I'm a pretty open-minded person, but on the list of things that completely kills The Mood (both the sexy one and the writing one), it's a proximity to puke.

But on the plus side, having finished "Assumption of Desire," I decided to go back and re-read what I'd done on Foxfur before I got bored and disgusted and quit. I wanted to see if it was salvageable or if I should just scrap it and work on something else.

As it turned out, it was not only salvageable, but actually not too bad. I've got three major scenes I still need to write, and I noticed a whole host of minor editing quibbles I'll have to work through, but all in all, it's not a bad story. I think I just have a limited attention span for particular stories and need to take breaks from them from time to time.

So I'm back to working on Foxfur, and barring further mishap (*knocks on wood*) I think I might be able to squeak out the first draft before the end of the year, and be ready for beta review sometime in early January. That's the goal, at least.

And as it's already at 31,000 words, I'm considering whether I can manage to pad it out to actual novel length. It'd be nice to publish something I can actually hold in my hands. Well, we'll see where we are when the big gaps are closed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


After last week's Flash Bang quickie story, I felt sufficiently distanced from the original WIP to go back to it and do a read-through. So I read through it Wednesday evening, found a few things to polish, and then I sent it off to my two faithful beta readers.

Lynn shredded it. I mean, it was bleeding by the time I got it back. But most of her shredding was minor and easy to fix -- spots where I'd gotten a little too fond of a word and overused it; places where I started actions instead of just doing them (a bad habit of mine -- you should not say your character "began" or "started" anything unless they're about to have that action interrupted); places where I spent too much time describing where people were looking instead of what they were seeing (another bad habit of mine)... Like that. Cosmetic stuff and habit-breaking, the editor's equivalent of slapping my hands down before I can chew on my nails. Nothing big, like, "this character is completely unlikeable" (which was a risk, because the POV character is a bit of an ass, especially at the beginning) or "cute scene, but does this story have any plot at all?" or "this scene is completely unbelievable; need to reconsider the character's motivation and try again." (And the reason Lynn is my favorite beta reader is that I trust that she would tell me those things.) So it was a good shredding, it felt like putting a good polish on a solid story.

(My other beta reader, lacking Lynn's motivation of needing to work off some stress, was much less critical, though no less appreciated.)

So I spent some time Saturday cleaning and polishing, and then I tossed it over the fence to Torquere. Sunday morning, I got the standard "thank you for your submission" email that they send out just to verify that it was received, and then Sunday night I got an acceptance email.  (Apparently, Sunday is when they read through new manuscripts. So my Saturday submission was well-timed.)

Yesterday morning I signed the e-contract, and I got the completed contract in my email last night, so now it's official! I don't have a publication date yet, but I'll be sure to tell you when I do. It's a contemporary novelette (about half the length of One Mind or Safe Harbor) called "Assumption of Desire" and features the doppelganger of a young man I met at the Roanoke Pride festival.

Now I need to figure out what to do next! The foremost candidates are "Foxfur," a 2/3-finished fantasy novella that needs a lot of polishing; "Next Thursday Night", a barely-started contemporary that's probably a short; and "State of Mind," a plotted but not-yet-started novella in the same world as Of One Mind. Which one would you be most interested in? Let me know in the comments -- and leave me some flash fiction prompts!