Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 - Yours for the Taking

Sadly, resolutions are made to be broken. And "goal" just sounds so weak, unless it's being stretched into a breathless, 64-minute shout by a futbol announcer. So this year, rather than make a limp pledge to do or not do something all stinking year, I am giving myself a mission.

That's right. A mission AND a choice of whether or not to accept it. Sound familiar? (Please pretend it doesn't.)

My 2011 mission, should I choose to accept it is: To Write A Good Novel.

That's it. I know, I know. It sounds boring, or like I'm sandbagging. It's not, and I'm not.

Over the course of the next year, I will likely start three novels, write a novella and three short stories, critique the equivalent of four novels for five distinct humans, blog irregularly, jump in and out of forums, take part in at least eight monthly blog chains, read twenty-five+ published books and twenty+ published short stories, work forty hours each week minus eight holidays, up-bring my toddler, frequently think about working out, occasionally actually work out, go on vacation, (possibly) attend a writing workshop, go outdoors at least once, lunch with friends, cook dinners and dine with family, and maybe - just maybe - write a good novel.

I believe I will choose to accept this.

Now, before this message self-destructs, what's your 2011 mission?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Incognito

I've been attempting, with dubious success, to slip unnoticed into next year. This is my son, dramatically reenacting me creeping about in my disguise. I think we both need creeping lessons.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring
but that might have been due to the wine and the two giant cheese balls we ate for dinner...

It's that time of year, folks. I will be backing off from the blog. No, no...this is no time for tears, dearhearts. It's only temporary.

We are leaving the aughts. Or the "oh-oh's", as I prefer to call them (though that only really applied in 2000), and entering the twenty-teens. I will see you there. With bells on. Big, shiny bells.

Happy Holidays. And to all a good night.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Random

An excerpt from the note I found in my pocket while prepping laundry:

Celery
Pickled Asparagus

Fed up and desperate and vibrating in the dark

You

I cannot tell whether I captured a quote from Elizabeth Hand on a bloody mary-centric shopping list and then trailed off in mid-thought, or if I've started unconsciously devising poetic bullying notes for vegetables.

Do you people ever find things like this, something clearly in your handwriting, but utterly outside of your memory?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Synopsis in 12 Simple Steps

For many writers, finishing a novel is an arduous process. For those who prevail, have a novel in hand, and decide to try to get it published, perfecting the query can be a drawn-out battle, each word and phrase under constant siege until only the strong remain. And then...then comes the *$!K#@G synopsis.

For those who have not experienced it, following is a simple 12-step process for writing that most nebulous, infuriating and vilified of all marketing products.


1. Realize you need to write a synopsis
2. Denial Part I - Ignore that realization
3. Start querying agents who don't require a synopsis
4. Feel good about yourself
5. Get a partial request from an agent, including the requirement for a synopsis (!)
6. Set aside a night to write your synopsis
7. When that night comes, cry vicious crocodile tears (place hyphen in the spot of your choosing)
8. Die a little inside
9. Denial Part II, aka "Screw this. I just won't respond to this agent's request" - moments later you will deny this denial
10. Discover there are exactly one hundred specific lengths a synopsis "must be"
11a. Spend weekend hammering out ninety-nine drafts of synopsis, each a different length
11b. Die a little more
12. Respond to agent request, and begin querying agents who require synopses between one and ninety-nine pages in length

And there you have it. Easy-peasy. Go forth and synopsize, good readers.

In all seriousness, I do recommend that you complete a synopsis prior to querying a novel. It is not what I'd call a "fun" activity, but it can reveal pacing issues or help you to distill your story into a query or one-line pitch. It's also a bloody slow process, one I don't recommend saving until you've had a request for one of these buggers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Does It Take?

Ask me to take care of a small, urgent matter, a ten minute fix when there are only five minutes left, and I'll do it. With a grim smile and glittering eyes, I'll right your ship.

Ask me to plan a party with ten guests and give me six months to plan, and don't be surprised when I fall down on the job. The food won't get ordered. The cake won't get baked. The napkins will terribly and obviously not match the plates. I won't hand the task back, mind you. I'll fret over it, worry at it in my head, and Do. Nothing.

Getting the idea?

I'm good at the quick fix, putting out the small fire. I fall apart when faced with something large, a wall instead of a window. Time cures nothing. The pressure just mounts, but it's not enough to motivate me. It's only enough to paralyze.

So how, you ask, can I ever complete a novel?
One Hundred Thousand Words.
Four Hundred Pages.
Easy-peasy.

A novel breaks down into pieces, myriad movable parts. Some are bright and shiny and hard to let go of. Some are slippery. Or hot. Or so vague they're invisible and impossible to grasp in your hand. But those you can see, more importantly those you can see the end of, those are manageable.

Chapters.
Scenes.
Themes.
Conversations.

Look at your story as a single solid entity, but look at the novel - at crafting the novel - in parts. Finish one chapter and then the next. Tweak a single scene, brighten up a lonely conversation. Easy, right?

Ask me to write a novel and I'll be overwhelmed. Ask me to tell you a story, and I'm there, man. With freaking bells on.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AW Blog Chain - Couldn't Love You More

This month's AbsoluteWrite blog chain theme is Hint Fiction. Hint Fiction is a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story.

If you want an idea of how difficult it is to write this short a story, please note that the two preceding sentences exceed 25 words. Getting the idea?

Below is my story, followed by the entire talented blog crew.

**

Couldn't Love You More

Her warm brown eyes and sweet-sketched smile.
Your hands on her bare bronze skin.
This poison isn’t painless, but
If I can’t have you…

**

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a sharp wind is a-blowin'

Sitting in the cold under flickering lights, writing and revising to the swishing sound of crystal-sharp grains of ice splashing against the window.

Strap in, folks. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Another Monday

Following are comments I overheard while doing my very best to fall into a trance (also known as sleeping standing up) as I washed the dishes.

"Stop biting my pants."

"Those are my pickles. They're always all my pickles."

"That angry beaver hurt the monster."

"Did you just drink that? That's two days old. Why would you drink that?"

"The baby broke the house."

"Don't floss Juno." (Juno is the cat)

Now guess which lines were spoken by my husband, and which by my 2 1/2 year old son. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Congratulations!

Aaaaaand...the winners of the first ever Impudent Hatchlings Fantastic Fantasy book giveaway are:

Heather Webb - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Diane Amy - Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
William Wood - Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
JN Duncan - Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Congratulations, all! And thanks to everyone who entered to win these wonderful books. We'll have another contest after an early 2011 readathon, so do stay tuned.

Winners, please email me with your mailing addresses. Email to right.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Day in the Life (of Revisions)

11:00 AM - Wakes computer. Drinks coffee
11:01 AM - Opens Twitter, Pandora, AW, the local news, the distant news, made-up news, and news about new forms of news
12:00 PM - Opens Work in Progress. Gets another cup of coffee
12:01 PM - Looks at revision notes. Scowls
12:30 PM - New coffee, same scowl
1:00 PM - Laughs hysterically over a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig
1:30 PM - Clatters away at keyboard, muttering about the limitations of first person POV
2:00 PM - Eats leftover dinner for lunch, eyes laundry and the fortifications the dust bunnies have built in the corner. Considers opening a bottle of wine. Shakes head. Considers opening a bottle of whiskey. Gets dreamy look in eyes
2:30 PM - Checks stats on blog, performs intrinsic background check on new twitter followers. Tweets aimlessly
3:00 PM - MIA
4:00 PM - Stares in disbelief at an entire paragraph containing nothing but dangling modifiers. Tweets about it. Commiserates with other revisers on twitter
5:00 PM - Revises four chapter in quick succession
6:50 PM - Builds a new playlist in Pandora. Gets angry at low level of intuitive artificial intelligence in free application
7:30 PM - Eats dinner. Reintroduces self to spouse and offspring
8:00 PM - Plays with aforementioned offspring, then puts it into its resting box
9:00 PM - Washes dishes by hand, building an entire steampunk-on-Mars plot in head
9:30 PM - Watches seven minutes of television. Steampunk-on-Mars plot evaporates from head
10:00 PM - Revises furiously, competently, and with great joy
12:00 AM - Looks up, eyes bleary, realizes it's Monday. Keeps revising

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Check It Out (It = Me)

Because I am too sick to blog, someone kindly blogged for me. Actually it was a coincidence, but please check out writer pal Regan Leigh's blog interview (blinterview?) with me.

And here ends the shameless (mostly shameless, a little shameful) self-promotion.

P.S. Please note the stellar song dedication I got. Can you say "stoked"?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Always. Follow. Up.

I've been cleaning today. Cleaned out two email accounts, my desk, a couple of bathrooms. And, I went to clean out my electronic file for the first manuscript I queried and discovered that I'm still waiting on three responses. Two agents who say they respond to ALL queries have not yet responded. And one agent who has a partial, and who said she would respond in eight weeks, and again within four weeks when I followed up.

So, 10% of the queries I sent for MS#1 went e-wandering and were never received. And what have we learned from this? We've learned to follow up with agents who have not responded within their specified timeline, because sometimes emails get lost. Could those two agents have been my golden ticket? Probably not. That wasn't the tightest story. And besides, I'm very happy with the agent I have, thank you very much.

What else have we learned? That sometimes agents make your day by asking for pages, thrill you again when they take the time to reply to follow-ups, and then ignore you.

Or...or...maybe that reply was lost as well. I just hope it wasn't an offer of representation because I'd hate to think an agent fell in love with that poor, neglected manuscript and has been sitting at her computer, fingers crossed, since March, hoping I'd get back to her. Heehee...as if anyone has time to wait for anything.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fantastic Fantasy Giveaway

The time has come, the walrus said, to give away wonderful things...

I hereby declare the First Ever Impudent Hatchlings Fantastic Fantasy Giveaway. Behold four books, each the first in their series, all of which I enjoyed immensely.



Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

They could be yours, to have and to hold, to clutch and stroke in the darkness of night, muttering "precioussssss". The rules of the contest are simple, because I have no stomach for complex maths.

1. Simply leave a comment indicating your desire to win a book, and you will be entered once.

2. (Provided you do step one) Follow this here blog, and be entered once more.

3. (Provided you do step one) Follow me on Twitter, and be entered yet again. (I know, I can hardly believe it!)

4. Please mention in your comments if you're a follower of either Impudent Hatchlings, me on Twitter, or both. (That saves me having to calculate, for which I will be eternally grateful.)

This contest will last for one week. Entrants can only win one book. I shall draw winners on December 10th, via random.org, in honor of St. Crocus, patron saint of readers of urban fantasy, and thieves of cold breakfast meats.

Tell your friends and tweeps.

Winners will be asked to email me (there is no need to include your email address in your comment), SO CHECK BACK IN ON THE 10TH OR JUST AFTER. I'm sorry to say this contest is open only to people with addresses in the United States or APO addresses.

(The rules of this contest are subject to change or amendment at any time. )