Wednesday, July 31, 2013


It's all about who you know.

In my case, who I know is, mostly, Lynn. I think at least half the people I know are through her, quite honestly. Case in point:

Lynn likes music. Lynn likes music the way dragons like gold, quite honestly; she doesn't just enjoy it -- she hoards it. Though unlike dragons and gold, you can share music without having to let go of it yourself, and so she's also extremely enthusiastic about sharing it. And so I think it was at the 2012 MarsCon (in January, so early in the year, but I'm still a little surprised that it was that recent) that she dragged me to a performance by Jonah Knight, who writes steampunk/goth/horror music. It's good stuff. He's got a great voice for doing slightly spooky songs.

Jonah ran a kickstarter campaign later in the year to finance a new album, and one of the higher-price perks on offer was a personal performance. Lynn waffled over the money for a while, then decided that it was her birthday and Christmas present to herself, and ponied up -- and so for their Christmas party last year, Jonah put on a concert in their living room and then we all did a geek-themed gift swap before going out for Chinese. It was a lot of fun, and resulted in my newest favorite novelty Christmas song, "Bacon and Beer", which -- alas! -- is not yet available on any of his albums. Dammit. And also while I was there, he gave me permission to use one of his songs for my book trailer for He Loves Me For My Brainsss.

He was at MarsCon again in 2013, of course. And at RavenCon a couple of months later. And when I went to a wedding in June, he was the musical entertainment at the reception for that, too, much to my amusement. He sat down at my table during his break and we chatted about this and that -- but it always surprises me when people I've only met a few times remember me. I tend to think of myself as fairly forgettable.

A couple of weeks ago, Jonah unveiled his latest project: he and some friends are starting a publishing company, Antimatter Press. Specifically, they want to explore ways of breaking away from the traditional publishing models, and I really like some of their ideas. From their Vision Statement (which I really wish was on their website):
Because of our desire to experiment, when we buy a story, we will buy all rights. For example: we may release a story in audio form paired with a song. We may have a story illustrated. We may adapt a story into a short film.

I went and looked at the call for the first anthology and pondered it, but wasn't having any ideas. It's a little out of my usual venue -- I mean, I mostly write romances, yeah? So I pushed it to the back of my brain.

And then this Monday, he sent me an email, specifically asking me to contribute. In fact, asking me to contribute, specifically, a GLBT romance that fit the submission requirements. The notion, apparently, is to gather specific genres of stories together and release them as packages. e.g., urban fantasy, mysteries, romances, etc. He'd invited Lynn first, knowing her well... and then when he'd asked her for other recommendations -- well, she'd put me on that list.

I still didn't have any ideas, but allowing it to be a romance helped. And then I thought about the "local history" requirement some, and an idea just... jelled. I wrote about 600 or so words on it Monday night, and another 650 or so last night. Which is pretty good, considering that I'm doing my writing in the last hour of the night, after I get my youngest put to bed and before I chivvy the eldest off the computer for the night. It's coming together nicely, and I'm actually pretty excited about it.
Sarah bared her teeth in what Jason had come to recognize, even after only a month of graduate school, as an expression of commingled disgust and fury. It terrified him, and he didn't feel the least bit of a wuss for admitting it; it terrified most of the department. Physicists were supposed to be weedy geeks, not Amazonian women who ran ultramarathons and could probably bench-press Jason without even gritting their teeth. "Those... people," she spat. "Those people!"

Jason nearly sagged in relief -- whatever she was angry about, it wasn't his fault -- before recalling that he was still in her crosshairs. "Um, which people?" he tried.

Sarah actually growled at him, a wordless thing that almost prompted him to ask if she'd been messing around in the bio lab's lycanthropy samples. He managed to keep the remark behind his teeth, barely.

It's really nice -- flattering, even -- to be specifically requested and invited to participate in a call like this. Even if it came, mostly, from Lynn.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Roller Coaster Perspective

I am weirdly bad at multi-tasking.

I say weirdly, because usually, somehow, it all seems to get done -- the Day Job and the editing and the taking care of my kids, and even sometimes the writing. I cook dinner and get everyone to their doctor appointments and I make sure the files are uploaded and I keep track of what needs to be done and what hasn't been finished yet.

And yet, every additional task pending in my mental inbox makes me feel anxious and fretful. I work best if there's a clear and simple path: Do this job, then this one, and then this one. When things conflict, I tend to get downright frazzled, and if you drop just one more task in my box, then a strange kind of stasis happens, where I get so stressed about getting everything done that I lock up and can't focus on any of them. I feel like I'm locked into a roller coaster, being pulled this way and that, a jerky, bumpy ride that periodically drops the bottom out from under me, and even when I can see it coming, I can't do anything to stop it, just ride it out and hope I don't throw up.

And I know it's about perspective. The important stuff will bubble to the top and it will all get done, and the things that don't get done will turn out not to have mattered that much, and all in all, there's nothing for me to be stressed about, because my life is good. But I have trouble pulling it together. I have trouble maintaining perspective. I have trouble staying off the roller coaster.

It happened to me four or five years ago. I fell into this mild OCD behavior where, every time I was stuck somewhere with nothing else to do (in meetings, say), I'd get out a sheet of graph paper and draw a schedule, trying desperately to squeeze everything into my life that I wanted to squeeze in there. I must have created dozens of those graphs, every one telling me the same story: Not enough time in the day.

I can feel it creeping up on me again. The Day Job is actually light on work, but that's adding to my stress since no work means I'm not sure I'll have a job in another two months when our current contracts have wrapped up. The editing work is piling up fast. My house is undergoing some repairs and renovations that are sorely needed, but it means a lot of my furniture and stuff is dislocated, which has me feeling antsy (and also is piling on the tasks, as I had to MOVE all the stuff, and there's more stuff left to move, and then I need to paint...) I'm still working on that prompt collection project with Lynn, and I'm trying to improve my writing promotion efforts.

I'm sitting at the tipping point. The warning signs are there. I find myself procrastinating, or locking in on low-priority tasks. My boyfriend suggests a date, and instead of being enthusiastic and happy to get to spend time with him, I waffle over how much of my schedule it's going to eat up. Co-workers invite me to lunch, and for just a minute, I resent the intrusion. I keep thinking things like, "As soon as I get through X, I'll be able to slow down and relax a little," except that I know there's no slowing down and relaxing, because long before X is done, Y and Z will have been added to my plate.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Tell me what you guys do, when life gets entirely too crazy, to make yourselves back up and regain perspective -- I could use the advice!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Lynn and I were chatting the other day...

(An aside: Lynn is not her real name; it's a pen name. That's hardly news. I first met her more than 20 years ago, when we were both in college, and we've been best friends for most of those 20+ years. You would think, with that kind of history, that I would have trouble remembering to use her pen name when I'm talking about her as a writer, but I really don't. I never freeze, fingers poised over the wrong keys, and then correct myself; I never even think her real name when I'm talking about her on this blog or on my Facebook page. She's just Lynn, as if the writer-friend is a completely different person from the best-friend. Sometimes I find it weird, and sometimes I think maybe Lynn is just the name she was always meant to have.)

As I was saying, Lynn and I were chatting the other day and somehow we came to the conclusion that the first phase of our prompt-fic project is done. That is, we've written about all the little ultrashort fiction pieces that we need to write. (Which is good, because I think both of us were starting to run into a bit of a wall on them.)

Phase two is for us to both read through everything and sort it all out. There may be some pieces that, in retrospect, we don't think are good enough to keep. There are a couple that we might decide would be better if we pulled them out and expanded them into standalone works. There's at least one that I left unfinished, that I should complete; and there's an intended series of three that Lynn's only written two of that she should finish up.

While we're at it, we need to decide on a rough order and presentation: the stories range from sweet and simple to edgy and kinky; from contemporary to urban fantasy to science fiction; and we've covered a pretty broad range of sexual identities and orientations. So we need to figure out whether we want to start off slow and sweet and progress to the weirdest and hardest stuff, or just mix it up entirely. Should we segregate sections by sexual pairings, or just assume that, like us, our readers are into a little of everything? Do we put some descriptive keywords (e.g., genders, genre, kink level, explicitness rating) at the top of each to help the reader know what they're getting into? About half of the stories were generated from prompt words -- would it help the reader to know what those words were, or would it just be a distraction?

Lots of things to decide; this phase may actually turn out to be more work than the first one.

Phase three will be much easier -- we'll ship the collection off to the amazing and talented V. L. Locey, who has agreed to do an introduction for us, and we'll edit everything to within an inch of its life.

And then we'll submit it. Phase three is going to take maybe a month. I have no idea how long phase two is going to take, though, because it's much weirder than anything I've ever done before. It would be much easier if Lynn and I could get a day together that's just the two of us (without the kids or menfolk or any other distractions) and sit down face to face and figure it out. Put all the info on notecards and shuffle them around, or something.

And if you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to speak up. Especially if you have an opinion on the ordering and/or keywords/prompt questions above!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Prompt Fic: Fair Deal

I asked a word generator ( for four words, and it gave me:

Hn. Okay, let's see what I can do with it...


Dariel was playing the violin again. The notes shivered through the thin air and lodged in Arved's spine until he wanted to scream. He gritted his teeth until the song was done, and then sighed in relief. Now, maybe--

Dariel started a new song. Something with a lot of high-pitched, wobbly notes that made Arved's ears want to scrunch up and pull inward, like testicles in a cold shower. He couldn't take it any longer, he just couldn't. He stamped into the break-room. "By all that's holy, will you please just stop?"

The noise ceased as Dariel stared at him, bow still poised over the strings, eyes comically wide and dismayed. Relief and guilt washed over Arved in equal measure. "I'm just... It's just so... It sets my teeth on edge."

"But... But Mik has a guitar, and you like that," Dariel sputtered.

Arved shrugged. "Only sometimes. And the sound doesn't have that..." No musician, he struggled for the words. "...kind of a hiss? From the bow. Makes all my hair stand on end."

"Oh. So this--" Dariel plucked a string with a fingertip, "--doesn't bother you?"

"Not as much. I really don't like music that much anyway. I just like quiet."

"I'm sorry." Dariel laid the violin carefully in its case and looked back up at him. "Tell you what: if you'll take my walkabout shifts, I'll hold off practicing until you're outside. Fair?"

More than fair; Arved loved walkabout shifts like no one else anyway, and he knew Dariel hated them. He sagged slightly as relief won out, and grinned. "Fair, and deal. Why'd you bring a violin to a spacestation, anyway? I mean, Mik's guitar's nothing special, wouldn't cost more than a couple hundred to replace it if it got smashed. But aren't violins a little more expensive?"

"By about an order of magnitude, yeah. But this isn't my good one; she's back home. The acoustics here are pretty lousy anyway. Though the low humidity makes for a nice, crisp sound fresh out of the box."

"Then why?"

Dariel shrugged and grinned. "Just something to do in my off-shift, really. My other hobbies, back home, are gardening and pottery. I mess around in the hydroponics section sometimes, but I don't think Kalen likes me too much. And enough clay to be useful would have really exceeded my weight allotment."

Arved chuckled appreciatively. "If Kalen even lets you in the hydroponics pod, she likes you, trust me." Without the violin's screeching to put his back up, Arved was beginning to notice Dariel's fine profile, and the pure, snapping black of Dariel's eyes. "Ah... Well, my hobby is cooking. How about I make dinner for us, sometime, and we can figure out something else to do with your off-shifts?"

Dariel's eyes sparked with amusement -- and maybe something more. "Fair deal."


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whoops! Wednesday

I keep being surprised by Wednesdays. You'd think I would get used to them rolling around once a week, but the Day Job's schedule has been crazily erratic lately, which kind of throws me off, sometimes, when it comes to getting routine tasks completed. Like remembering when to take the trash bins to the curb, or when I'm supposed to do my walk-around checks on safety equipment at the Day Job... or when I'm supposed to post to my writing blog.

(I keep worrying that I'm going to lose track of the custody schedule and forget to pick up my kids, but that seems a little more solidly embedded. I guess even my scatterbrain has a priority system in place.)

But here we are: Wednesday again!

What shall I talk about...? Oh! News!

I almost forgot about this in the excitement of Human Aspect's release, but Foxfur was accepted by Torquere! It's currently (tentatively) scheduled for a mid-November release. I'm very excited -- this will be my first actual novel release! When we get a little closer, I'm sure I'll be offering up some more excerpts, and maybe even a contest!

I've also had some whispered words from little birds about my shorts that are out for consideration, "The Dancing Princess" and "Squrk Squee". In both cases, the news is promising but unsubstantiated and unofficial, so I'm not announcing anything yet -- but I'm still pretty pleased with what I've heard! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

So that's the current news.

If you happened to pick up Human Aspect (or any of my other books) and enjoyed it, please, please, please consider hopping over to Amazon.Com or Goodreads and taking thirty seconds to rate/review it, or even share a link on your favorite social media page. Word-of-mouth does more to sell books than any other advertising and promotion method. I'm tempted to say more than all other methods, combined, even, though I don't have specific numbers to back that up. But I do know that even a mediocre review is better than none at all. Thanks!