Archive for April, 2007

4/24/07: Slow night at the coffee shop

Word count: 33428 | Since last entry: 493

Only Jay and myself at the coffee shop tonight, and we only overlapped for about an hour. I stayed for another half-hour after he left, but didn’t quite make 500 words for the night.

Sometimes I wonder if I am just throwing in incidents to take up space. This chapter was exceedingly thin in the outline. But each thing follows naturally from what preceded. I really need to be building up Rachel’s backstory and inner life more, though.

A snippet:

“You have to go slow,” Rachel said. “I’m not familiar with this place.” She held the child’s expressionless eyes with her own as the alien translated, willing her to understand. Surely some glimmer of comprehension must come eventually — she must remember at least a little of her own people’s language? But the girl only repeated her gesture. “Please, child. At least tell me your name.”

The girl watched the alien as it translated. Then she turned her eyes to Rachel, and spoke directly to her. “Keelie,” she said. Though the name was strange, it was the most human sound Rachel had heard from the girl, and she took some hope from that.

“Keelie,” Rachel repeated.

The girl gave a downward jerk of her chin, then waved Rachel forward again. Rachel picked up her bag and walked toward her. Daniel in the lions’ den, she reminded herself as the slugs slithered away from her feet.

After I got home from that, Kate and I watched Monday’s episode of Drive, which our VCR failed to tape, on my Mac via MySpace. Truly it is the future.

By the way… Does anyone know where the original phrase “ink-stained wretch” came from? A quick Google suggests that it is a known phrase but doesn’t hint at its origin.

4/23/07: Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day

Word count: 32935 | Since last entry: 0

In honor of Earth Day this weekend we ripped out some excess plants in the back yard. And in honor of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, here are some stories of mine you can read on the web for free:


4/21/07: Life is good

Word count: 32935 | Since last entry: 810

Kate is back from Disneyland, having had a great time there with the eight-year-old neice. Today I got a haircut, did a few other chores, had lunch with Katy, a square-dancing friend who just popped in as long as she was in town for other reasons, and had a delightful dinner at Mother’s with Bo and Don, a couple of other square-dancing friends. Then we watched Drive (I agree with Abigail that it lacks soul and texture, but I’m willing to give it time to grow on me) and I wrote another couple hundred words.

On the other hand, today I received another rejection. This was my 191st rejection (including 5 editor and 2 agent rejections on the novel, but not counting 10 cases in which the market folded before replying to my submission). I immediately resubmitted the story elsewhere. Excelsior!

4/18/07: Progress report

Word count: 32125 | Since last entry: 2625

Generally speaking, my life has been largely consumed by the day job. But we just met a major milestone this week, and things should be somewhat less crazy for a little while now… we enter a period of bug fixing before the first beta release in May.

As you can see from the wordcount above, I have not let work keep me away from writing completely. I haven’t been writing as often or as long as I would like, but I have been making intermittent progress and I hope to have a chapter ready in time for the next crit group meeting. Yesterday at the coffee shop was a very good night’s work; I introduced my two viewpoint characters to each other for the first time.

A snippet:

The new person was only a little taller than Keelie, but broader and rounder in the chest and hip and thigh. It — she — she looked as though she would be soft and warm and pleasant to touch.

Keelie drew closer, enthralled by the new person’s eyes. The dark centers were surrounded by a colored ring, like Keelie’s but brown instead of blue. They flicked from side to side, sudden light quick movements like startled twin birds, moving in perfect unison. An amazing, unnatural coordination like nothing Keelie had ever seen.

Did Keelie’s own eyes move like that?

I also had a stimulating and highly intellectual conversation in the bar afterward.

I had the last chapter (the one I finished at Rainforest Writers) critiqued this weekend, and the reactions have been very, very positive. The main issue is that Rachel, my Earth-human viewpoint character, is not as strong as Keelie, the one raised by aliens. This isn’t surprising, given that Keelie is the protagonist and Rachel is basically there to provide a more familiar perspective for the reader, but I have a few things in mind to make her stronger. Even so, it’s not like the last novel where everyone hated Jason; they absolutely love Keelie and Rachel suffers only by comparison.

Apart from plugging away on the novel I have no writing news to report. I’ve had several rejections, and I’m rapidly running out of markets for some of the stories that are still circulating. There are only really about four or five viable pro-level markets for a 7100-word hard SF adventure. And when the rejections are so consistent, especially given that I’ve rewritten that story from the ground up to try to address the same issue that’s still that story’s main problem, it seems destined for the trunk. I could really use another sale right about now.

We went to Minicon. It was an okay convention. I really enjoyed the panels I was on, I hung out with some of my bestest fan friends, I ate far too much good food, and I enjoyed a fine music party in the Tor suite on Sunday night. But the con was only about 3-400 people, and rattled around in a hotel that once hosted Minicons ten times that size. As underpopulated as it was, it was surprisingly easy to miss people. I might not go next year.

At the moment Kate is in California, where she’s treating our eight-year-old neice to Disneyland. From the phone calls so far they’re having a blast. I wish I could be there, but on the other hand I’m just as happy to not be dealing with the child. (Nothing wrong with her… I just don’t deal well with kids.)

Much more to report, but that’s enough for one blog entry.

4/3/07: Second shift at the coffee shop

Word count: 29500 | Since last entry: 554

Full house at the coffee shop tonight: Jay, Karen, Mary, the other Mary, and Grant. I’m kind of the second shift, since I show up after dinner (around 7:30 most weeks) and most of the rest arrive much earlier and some take off for dinner around 8:30. But I stayed for another hour after that, kept plugging away, and wound up with over 500 words for the evening. That’s good, for me.

A snippet:

Keelie slumped to the floor, the wet and knotted dressing pressing uncomfortably between her legs, and let her head sag into her hands. “What are we going to do?”

“You must go to G’ni tomorrow. Tell her to call off the search immediately and return your money.”

Not looking up, Keelie shook her head. The filth of her forehead ground against her palms. She stank of sweat and illness. “She won’t give the money back.”

Reesa sighed again. “No, I doubt she will. But you must ask.”

I think I need to work on Rachel’s backstory. I realized today I don’t even know who her parents are. No wonder she’s so much less interesting than Keelie.

4/2/07: Non-combobulate

Word count: 28946 | Since last entry: 283

Last month was a wretched month for writing, apart from the Rainforest Writers Village. 3 rejections, no sales, and I only wrote on 12 days in the whole month. I went into last weekend with a firm commitment to get back to the writing… and managed to blow it off, starting off April with a big fat zero. No foolin’.

I did a bunch of chores over the weekend, things that needed to be done like dishes and laundry and backing up the PC, and resubmitted a couple of rejected stories. And I opened up the chapter I’d finished at Rainforest Writers and stared at it a while with intent to edit, but all I managed to do was convince myself that the two expository lumps I’d thought I could excise were really there for a reason. Total word count change: 1.

Tonight, I came home from work all tired and down. Apropos of a recent discussion about combobulation, decombobulation, and recombobulation, I described myself as non-combobulate (which is, at least, a step better than non-combobulant). But I didn’t let it stop me from pitching in and co-nurturing a nice vegetarian dinner of African stew with greens, peanut butter, and pineapple. (No really, canned crushed pineapple. The recipe came in the basket from the organic farm and it’s delish.) And after that was eaten and the leftovers put away, I made myself sit down and start a new chapter. Less than 300 words, but it’s a start. With luck I’ll be able to finish this chapter on the plane to/from Minicon (see my Minicon programming schedule to see why I don’t expect to get any writing done during the convention itself).

Good news on the travel front, though. In the last couple of days plans have come together for two trips I hadn’t expected to be able to make: a square dance event in Palm Springs and the Nebula Awards weekend in New York. (New York City! Editors! Publishers! Agents!) Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I went from nothing to plane, hotel, and registrations in hand for both events in about an hour each. My credit card’s smokin’.

We’ll be in New York May 10-13 and hope to catch a show on Thursday night. We’re considering Curtains. Any other recommendations?