“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill–several thrills?”
I share Anne’s excitement for October, which is why I pre-scheduled this post waaaay back in January. As I write this my yard, my world, is covered in fresh-fallen snow, my breath would fog the air outside, and I wouldn’t venture out without full winter clothing… as we read it, however, October is just beginning which around here means crisp air, colourful leaves, golden light and that special feeling that comes with knowing that winter is coming and we need to appreciate every day, every moment, between now and then.
I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers 🙂
One of the crazy things about going on vacation or to a convention is seeing my inboxes when I return. It never fails to shock and impress me. I just got back from When Words Collide (oh my gawd! Several blog posts will be coming about that! So much yay!) and though I’d checked my mail a little bit, the hotel’s wireless was less than awesome and the laptop I took meant I had to use Webmail (which I hate) so I came home to–
Jofigure account: 834 new messages
Niteblade account: 383 new messages
*mumble* account: 152 new messages
WWP account: 9 new messages
I bet other people had even crazier numbers but I thought it might be fun to share mine… and also keep a record so I can compare it with my World Fantasy numbers 😉
This is a blog hop. Each participant in it is meant to blog about their writing process… I’m going to be faking it a bit because, frankly, I don’t have a writing process LOL I’m getting a little ahead of myself, however. Because hop is chain/train-like in style. I was one of three writers invited by Kristina Wojtaszek to participate and I in turn invited a few writers. Kristina posted her blog last week, and the people I invited will blog next week. So the chain goes on, and on, and on… 😉 Before I start talking about myself and my, ahem, “writing process” let me tell you a little bit about Kristina, since she’s the one who invited me to play along 🙂
Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. She currently resides in the high desert country of Wyoming with her husband and two small children. She is fascinated by fairy tales and fantasy and her favorite haunts are libraries and cemeteries. Follow her @KristinaWojtasz or on her blog, Twice Upon a Time.
I met Kristina when she submitted a story to Fae. A story, titled Solomon’s Friend, which I accepted. It was a pleasure to work with Kristina on edits and all the other minutiae that come with anthologies. I’ve not yet read her longer works (Kristina’s page at World Weaver Press) but Opal is on my TBR list and I liked her short story, Cinder, in the Specter Spectacular anthology from WWP.
Now, though I could keep talking about Kristina, I’m actually supposed to answer some questions about my writing process. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
1) What am I working on?
So many things. No really. Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t have a writing process — I absolutely fail at single-tasking. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could focus on one project at a time, but that doesn’t seem to be the way my brain works. I’m pre-scheduling this blog post, so when it goes live it may not be 100% accurate, but as of the time of my writing this I am working on:
Editing the stories for A is for Apocalypse (almost done!)
Revising a Canadian apocalypse story (no where near done)
The first draft of my YA horror novel (almost done!!)
Poems for a collaborative project (spec)
Writing a ‘setting the mood’ scene for a collaborative short story (horror)
Copyediting a small collection of my reprints I’m going to self-publish.
Short story for a pen name project
Actually… that’s it for writing/editing projects which are super active right now. O_o Might be a new record, actually LoL I’ve also got a wish list of sorts of a bunch of stories I want to write, but either I haven’t quite figured them all the way out yet, or haven’t found the time to sit down and get ’em done. That list obviously doesn’t count things like Niteblade, promoting anthologies I’ve edited, paperwork, blogging challenges (I start one tomorrow), etc. etc. But it gives a pretty good idea of the files currently open on my computer.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, it’s mine, isn’t it? That sounds kind of like a lame or a smart ass answer, but it’s the best I’ve got. Everything I write is informed by what makes me, me. By my past, my present, my favourite words, my strengths, my weaknesses…
Interestingly, I think for a long time I was handicapping myself. One of the things I do best is write description, but for years I’ve been cutting it out of my work because of the idea ‘if it’s not absolutely necessary, cut it’. Which is silly, when I think about it now… but there you go.
It’s always a learning process, right? The stories I write today are going to be better than the ones I wrote yesterday. The anthologies I edit this year are likely to be stronger than the ones I edited last year… it’s just how it goes. The novel I’m working on right now is still a work in progress, and very much a first draft, but it has loads of description in it — and I love it. That’s subject to change, of course, but right now I feel like it’s the thing I’ve written which most closely shows who I am as a writer. I can’t wait to share it 😉
3) Why do I write what I do?
Two reasons, I think. First, because it’s what I would want to read, and second, because it is what interests me. I guess those things are almost the same thing… but not quite.
4) How does my writing process work?
Uh… I don’t really have one. I used to try to force myself to do things one way all the time, but that resulted in long periods where I wasn’t “blocked” but I wasn’t writing either. Now I do whatever it takes to get the words on the page.
Ideally, I prefer to write all my first drafts longhand, on my bed (the picture to the left is a pretty accurate representation of how that goes LoL). Because I type far quicker than I can write, forcing myself to slow down really helps me refine the words as they are coming out of my brain and onto the page. Afterwards, when I transcribe them from book to computer it’s an opportunity to do another edit without really editing. I let the story/poem/novel rest for a while either before or after transcription, and then it’s time to revise the hell out of it. I do most of my revisions on the computer, but when a project is super important to me I print it out and edit the hard copy, then transcribe those edits back into the computer again. I know I should do this with all my work because it produces a far better project, but honestly? My printer’s not doing so well these days and I feel bad for all the dead trees >_<
So that’s my ideal process. In reality though, like I said, I do whatever it takes to get the words out. Sometimes that means using Write or Die on kamikaze mode with a low tolerance (so it will start deleting my words if I stop writing them), sometimes I go to the university my husband teaches at and hide out in an empty room where there are no distractions and no excuses for not getting words done. Sometimes I complain on twitter for two hours about how I should be writing but I’m procrastinating instead, then I get so tired of my own whining I just shut up and write. Whatever it takes, man. That’s my process — whatever it takes.
Well, enough about me 🙂 I’ve invited a few of the other contributors to Fae to participate in this blog hop. Next week, April 7th, you’ll be able to read posts from:
Laura was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame her childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth and unable to walk, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized and award-winning animal trainer, a costumer/cosplayer, a chocolate addict, and of course a writer.
Laura writes historical and fantasy works as well as non-fiction in the art and science of behavior and training. Follow her exploits at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com.
Rhonda Eikamp grew up in the heart of Texas, fell in love with words and languages and moved to Germany. Her story-writing started with a Nancy Drew novel written at the age of ten, but only really took off after 1996, with stories in venues such as Space & Time and The Urbanite. Since rebooting in 2012, she has published stories in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, The Colored Lens and Daily Science Fiction. She lives with her husband, two daughters and a cat, and spends non-writing time translating legal texts for a German law firm or photographing the idyllic places of her youth on trips back to the States.
Beth Cato’s debut steampunk novel THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER will be released by HarperCollins Voyager in September 2014. She’s originally from Hanford, California, but now resides in Arizona with her husband and son. Her short fiction, poetry, and tasty cookie recipes can be found at http://www.bethcato.com.
L.S. Johnson lives in Northern California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such venues as Corvus, Interzone, and Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. Currently she is working on a novel set in 18th century Europe. She can be found online at traversingz.com.
Alexis A. Hunter revels in the endless possibilities of speculative fiction. Short stories are her true passion, despite a few curious forays into the world of novels. Over forty of her short stories have been published, appearing recently in Kasma SF, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Read Short Fiction, and more. To learn more about Alexis visit www.idreamagain.wordpress.com.
Shannon Phillips lives in Oakland, where she keeps chickens, a dog, three boys, and a husband. Her first novel, The Millennial Sword, tells the story of the modern-day Lady of the Lake. Her short fiction has been featured in Dragon magazine, Rose Red Review, and the upcoming anthology Fae from World Weaver Press.
Because, go big or go home, right? 🙂 I hope you’ll pop by these ladies’ blogs next week. I certainly will be 🙂
My to do list has a mind of its own. Seriously. It’s kinda crazy. Jo (my husband, who has a pretty big to do list of his own) saw it today and he swore. It’s pretty epic. I used to use the EpicWin app on my iPod to try and make it fun (and not go through reams of paper) but my iPod is old enough now that none of my apps will update and it can barely bring itself to turn on most days, so I thought my time of getting experience points for real life tasks was over. I was wrong.
I’ve recently begun using HabitRPG.com which is rather a bit like Epic Win on steroids. With HabitRPG you can not only get experience and level up by doing the things from your to-do list, you also get drops, and gold which you can use to upgrade your gear. I’m told once you reach level ten you can choose a class and do quests with the people in your party (there are parties!! And guilds!). I’m only level 7 so far, but I’m looking forward to the whole questy part 😉
Also? I’ve noticed that not only does HabitRPG help me keep track of my to do list (and the habits I want to develop), it actually encourages me to do things. Because I want the experience, the gold, or the chance at a drop. The other day I was about to walk away from the computer and rot my brain in front of the tv, but I glanced at my character and noticed I just needed to do one more thing and she’d level. So I put my butt in the chair and did the top item on my to do list before I called it a day.
Anywho… if this sounds like something you’d be into, the website is at http://www.habitrpg.com – check it out. Oh, and did I mention it’s free? It’s free. They accept donations and there is a subscription option, but it’s totally functional at the free level as well.
I grew up in southern Alberta. For the first half of my childhood we lived in the MD of Willow Creek, but when I was in grade four we moved to the County of Vulcan (it’s like the wheat capital of Alberta so I’ve totally got the wrong grain in that picture, but whatcha gonna do?). Around about the time I was in grade seven the county began a promotional thing — they started taking advantage of their name.
Suddenly there were Star Trek-themed paintings in every business’s windows, and on one corner of main street, right by the old town bell (they used to ring at curfew) one of those stand things where you could stick your face through a hole and look like you were a crew member of the Enterprise. The Home Hardware began to sell Vulcan ears, and I think they even had three-sided coins that were only good in Vulcan. Best of all, was Spock Days.
I understand that these days Spock Days are pretty big, there’s a rodeo and they get Star Trek-related celebrities to come hang out, but from what I remember of that first year it wasn’t quite as big a deal. In fact, the evening I have in mind may have been part of some sort of midnight madness-type thing rather than actual Spock Days.
A friend and I went to the pool hall, where all our friends hung out, and we were having fun. Shooting pool, listening to really, really outdated tunes on the juke box (Queen of Hearts anyone? Did I mention this was like 89-90ish?) when suddenly her parents came in. Not to kick us out, we were allowed to be there, but to embarrass the hell out of us. They were wearing Spock ears, acting dorky and making sure every single person in the pool hall knew they were her parents. Now, as an adult I think what they did was awesome, but to two teenage girls who cared very much about looking cool (though we’d have denied it with our last breath then), it was horrifying.
Mortified, we fled the pool hall and went to hang out on the street. Main street had been blocked off I think, so there was no vehicle traffic, but man, was there ever a lot of pedestrians out. And in costumes too! There were loads of random red shirts and I remember another friend’s mother was dressed up as Amanda Grayson (I remember because she was mortified that I didn’t know she was Spock’s mother and I got a 5 minute long “education” about his heritage), and the Klingons. There was a group of men who were dressed up in the best Klingon costumes you’ve ever in real life. I think they were actors who had been hired by the town to kidnap the mayor as part of the festivities.
My friend and I were just walking down the street, checking out cute boys, looking cool, and all those things that teenage girls do (or at least the ones I did when I was a teenage girl LOL) when the Klingons came up from behind us and swept us away. Neither one of us was very big and a Klingon just picked each of us up, tossed us over their shoulder and kept on walking. It was all in good fun, and flattering, of course, to be the subject of their attentions, so while we squealed and kicked a little bit, neither one of us actually wanted to get free. Where would the fun be in that? And besides, how many girls can say they’ve been kidnapped by Klingons?
…so, I should leave that story as it is, but I can’t. The truth is, while most of it is the truth, I’m not sure about the last paragraph. In fact, I’m pretty much sure that’s an outright lie. Here’s the thing. The line between truth and fiction is sometimes blurry, and this is one of those cases. I’ve told that story a lot. A lot. It’s a good story… but it’s a lie. My friend and I made it up (for whatever reason, I don’t even remember now), but I’ve told it so many times that I remember it. I remember it as though it really happened.
As frustrating as I find that in reality, it is that merging of truth and fiction that I’m striving very hard to reach in my writing these days. I’m learning how to weave reality with lies to make a good story. It’s been a slow trudge so far, but I think I’m getting it. I want my readers to know what they are reading isn’t true, but feel like it is. The same way I feel about the Klingon story. I expect this is sort of at the core of good writing, the balance between truth and lies, and it’s something I will be continuing to work on until the day I die, but I feel like I’m making progress, and that’s a good feeling.
Now if only my conscience would let me stop ruining my “kidnapping” story by telling on myself after every time I tell it and letting people know it’s part fiction 😉
In yesterday’s post I said I was going to talk about Inspiration today, but once it was time to actually write the post, well, I didn’t wanna LoL. I strongly suspect that most of the people who read my blog are creative people, which means you don’t need me to tell you all about inspiration. You know how it works (or doesn’t). You get it. And you probably don’t want to hear about all the myriad of inspirations for my various stories.
Mostly though, I’m feeling lazy today and I don’t want to have to organise my thoughts as clearly as will be required to do that. The inspiration for any one story is made up of a half dozen other things that are interconnected in complex ways that require a lot of thought to sort through.
So, instead of that I’m going to do something different.
Last month I asked people to ask me questions I could then answer for my letter Q day (on the 19th). I was pleasantly surprised by the number of questions I received so on my cheating I day I’m going to answer a few of them. If you want me to find an honest way to make this topic begin with I (other than the oh so clever “I Lied” that I’m going with now) we could call it I Think or All About I* or something, but… meh. Again, that requires too much thought LoL
What’s your fave ice cream flavor?
Oh, hell, while I’m at it:
Favorite poet and poem?
My favourite things change as I do. When I was younger my favourite ice cream flavour was Bubble Gum (back when it actually -had- bubble gum in the ice cream), then in my early teens it shifted to Cherry Cheesecake (om nom nom!). A couple years ago I discovered Moose Tracks ice cream and that became a fast favourite, but these days I think my preference is just straight-up chocolate. Sadly I can’t have it very often because I’m working pretty hard at losing weight and it’s calorific, but when I feel like spoiling myself that’s the flavour I want 🙂
Choosing my favourite poet and poem is a bit trickier. When I was younger my favourite poet was probabaly Alfred, Lord Tennyson, especially The Charge of the Light Brigade, and around juior high I was in love with The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. Around that time I also read and re-read all the poems in Through the Open Window (edited by Shirley I. Paustian) and I had tons of the poems marked for quick access (Farewell by Crowfoot, It is not growing like a tree by Ben Jonson, Then the Child Replied by Joseph McLeod, For a Father by Anthony Cronin, Father by Dale Zieroth and Maternity by Alice Meynell, for example. That last is one of those poems whose last lines always seem to linger around the edges of my conciousness.).
These days I’m finally beginning to enjoy Poe’s poetry in a way I never did before, but also a lot of modern poets too. I’m scared to start listing them, to be honest, because I am afraid of leaving anyone out LOL One of my favourite poems recently is “Initiation” by Caitlin Walsh, which was in Niteblade’s recent poetry issue. Actually, I’m pretty fond of all the poems from that issue. I like poetry that is accessible (if I have to have an extensive knowledge of, um, anything to ‘get’ it, I’m not interested.) and while my tastes often wander to the dark side of the spectrum, I’ve read light poems I really enjoyed too.
Francis W. Alexander asked:
Here’s two questions. Although I write zombie stories and poems, I still hafta ask. Why do they hunger for brains? I know brains look like chitterlings (which look good, but turn my stomach). But why do they want the very thing that’s hard to get to? Do they use a nutcracker to get past the skull?
Well, according to Return of the Living Dead (1985) they want to eat brains because that’s the only thing that stops the pain of being dead… but most of the zombies in my stories and poems are straight-up cannibals and will eat any part of a person, they aren’t all about the brains. Maybe the ones who are just enjoy the challenge?
You know what bothers me about brain-eating zombies? They usually go hand-in-hand with the ‘Shoot them in the head to kill them’ kind of zombies. Think about that. If zombie #1 gets turned into a zombie because zombie #2 smashed his head open and started nomming on his brains — what is the point of shooting him in the head? He doesn’t have any brains there to hit anymore, they’re all in zombie #2’s stomach.
LOL I think that’s it for today. If you have any questions you’d be interested in my answering for my Q post (or any other ones I decide to cheat on LOL) please feel free to leave them as a comment to this post.
This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter I. Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about writerly jealousy. Should be fun LOL
ETA: I was curious. So I did one of those who do you write like things. How do these programs even judge this stuff? Anyway, I pasted in text from three different stories and got three different authors. First, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle then Oscar Wilde and finally, my favourite:
That’s Eowyn. You’ve met her before, but this story isn’t about her, she just happened to be on the bed and unwilling to move when I took the picture about the real star of this tale:
My mother sewed it for me when I was little. I’m not sure exactly how young I was, but I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have it, so I’m going with very young. It’s king-sized and she sewed it out of squares of fabric she’d cut out of clothes (I assume it’s clothes people had grown out of).
When you consider that I was born in 1976 and I’ve had this as long as I can remember, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear a lot of that fabric is polyester. There’s some cotton, some denim and even some fabric I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a whole lot of polyester.
The backing was a flannel sheet, and there was loads of stuffing. My mom hand-tied that beast meaning that at every point where the squares meet she pulled wool through and tied it to bind all the layers together.
My quilt is freaking heavy. It’s even heavier when you’re a kid, but I loved it then as I love it now. I would drag that thing across the lawn to lay it out for a picnic or drape it over chairs or tables to make the most secure fort you can imagine. When I’d have nightmares I would duck beneath it, growing sweatier by the moment but also safe, secure beneath its weight.
When we moved to the country you might think I’d be smart enough to leave it indoors, but you’d be wrong. That quilt has been through fields and corrals, it has hosted tea parties and listened to whispered teenage secrets.
I know it like no other object in my life. I’ve spent countless insomnia-filled nights counting the squares, playing with the wool ties or looking for a pattern in amongst the chaos. I know the texture of each block and I have favourites among them.
Sadly though, the quilt has seen better days.
It’s worn and strained. The backing sheet is threadbare beyond words, stained and tired. Polyester being nearly immortal those squares are fine up top, but the rest are giving up the fight. The batting is also a mess, spread bare in some places and clumped up in others. There are holes big enough to stick my fist (or my foot) through.
The quilt has spent the last four years or so in my closet, waiting while I tried to figure out what to do with it, how to restore it, how to save it. Recently I was forced to admit that really, its time had come. There might be a way to painstakingly pull out all the damaged parts and add new ones in, but that is beyond my skill or the time I have to offer to it. I could applique stuff on over the big holes and put a new back on it, but… well, it wouldn’t be the same.
So I’m saying goodbye to my quilt. I pulled it out, I put it on my bed and we’ve been using it, sort of a ‘last hurrah’.
Then an interesting thing happened.
Jo was trying to get some work done and Danica and I were baking together and being a bit noisy so he took his books into the bedroom. He’d been in there for a while when suddenly he popped his head around the corner into the kitchen and said, “Hey, Rhonda, did you know that my tartan is all over that quilt?”
Sure enough, the plaid blocks all over my quilt, the one my mom made for me over 30 years ago, is Jo’s family’s tartan.
Just one more reason my quilt rocks.
…maybe I should try to find time to save it after all.
I write my first drafts longhand on my bed. I transcribe them to my computer and revise and rework them on my laptop while sitting on my upstairs sofa.
This week we’ve been having a couple new floors installed upstairs which means my bedroom and the sitting room upstairs were off limits. Our floors are in now, but the sititng room is still filled with things which belong in the kitchen. Things like our fridge, the stove, the table — you get the idea. Jo has to work today and I’m not quite uber enough to move those things myself, but I also have a non-fiction column to revise before tomorrow.
So here I sit. On the sofa downstairs, trying to revise this. I am failing. I’m failing because it’s not right. The light is wrong, the tension in the sofa is wrong, the height of the sofa is wrong. It’s just wrong.
Sure, mine aren’t pretty colors like these ones (How cool are they, by the way?), they are just straight up black, but they’ll do the trick. When I say I have oodles of them, I am not kidding. Jo tells me I always guess very high, but I’d guess there are 150 of em at my sewing table, because I use them when I’m quilting.
That’s right, they are multi-purpose and they won’t poke my loved ones when I try to kiss them. I think this realisation will help me kick the paperclip habit for good, actually. After all, the binder clips helped me make this quilt for my bedroom.
(sorry about the horrible picture, if you turn your head at just the right angle it’s almost okay)
Paperclips can’t do that, can they?
One last picture for the quilters I know visit my blog from time to time (hi mom!):
(Click for a bigger picture. Really, I fail at quilt pictures, especially king-sized quilts LOL)
I’ve long wanted to start posting occasional random facts about me that might be interesting or unexpected but I didn’t know where to start. However, Aubrie Dionne asked a question on her Livejournal today that inspired my first random fact about myself.
We were pretty poor when I was a kid and one year my Halloween costume was a garbage bag. It was orange and had holes cut out for my head and arms. You guessed it, I was a pumpkin.
That definitely counts as my worst Halloween costume ever. What was yours?