laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Yesterday I coughed up for a domain name at last and got the beginnings of an author website up and running:

It's very basic for the moment, but it's present and it's a start. I'm going to be trying to keep up with blogging there in a public-facing-author capacity, and might add a few more static pages (probably a "coming soon" page to list contracted stories that aren't released yet, first and foremost). I like the wordpress theme that I'm running right now but would definitely like to plug in a custom image instead of the default one, so I'll have to think about what I want for that & who to commission to make it.

Before I spend too much more time dicking around with it, though, I should probably do some actual writing & editing. The promo stuff is nice but it isn't the actual primary part of being an author. Whoops.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
I've been sort of following Storm Moon's anniversary blog hop over the course of the month, as one does, and today Lor Rose has a post about her muses, and how she believes that ultimately every author has them. (TW for a lot of jokey language about mental illness.) I sat there for a bit trying to compose a response to the post, but really I think what I want to say ought to be a post of its own.

I have never been a "muses made me do it" writer. I know there are people who get a lot of mileage out of that model, who picture themselves in dialogue with their characters or with a Classical Muse-type figure who spurs them on. But it's never worked for me, for a few reasons:

1. This is hard work. I'm not channeling inspiration that comes from someplace external; I'm not writing down ideas that some magical third party dictates to me. I am conceptualizing characters, building worlds, designing plot arcs, and crafting sentences of my own volition and by my own effort. Some days it goes so smoothly that it does feel almost like a blessing from the gods! Other days it's like trying to plow a field with a hand trowel. But it's still all about me, either way. Blaming a muse for any of it feels like I'd be brushing off that reality: I had to work for every one of those words. They're craft and labor as much as they're inspiration and magic. After all that, I can't imagine WANTING to give the credit to my imaginary friend.

2. Being creative =/= being crazy. This one is a really personal prickly spot for me; I am a writer and I am also a long-term depression sufferer. It took me seventeen years of living with varying degrees of depression before I managed to actually get help and get it under control. A huge part of why it took so long, why I spent all of my 20s being an emotional disaster area, was the idea that the way I felt was just "normal" for a creative person. "I write what the voices in my head tell me to!" is a glib and frivolous riff on that really pernicious idea, and I have no desire to participate in it. (For the record: I am more consistently creative and productive now that my mental illness is well-managed than I ever was as a "crazy" writer.)

Creative minds do work in a variety of ways, obviously; there are clearly people for whom it's helpful to treat their writing process as an internal dialogue, to engage themselves in conversation as a way of getting their creative drive going. But it's not all of us; it's not me. The only voice I'm listening to when I write is my own.

I should probably get going. I've been having a field-vs-hand-trowel week, and I hope to make a deadline at the end of the month. Back to the word mines with me!
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
I'm always iffy on the subject of New Year's Resolutions, which I guess is kind of the trendy way to approach them lately. Eh. If I were going to make a list, though, I hope to hell it would be as good and as fierce as Chuck Wendig's 25 Writer Resolutions for 2013. Just sayin'.

I do have one concrete goal for writing this year: to focus on structure, and improve my ability to plot out (and follow through on) actual narrative arcs that sustain longer work. The longest story I placed last year was about 17k words; the one rejection I got was for a novella of 28k. Looking at the novella now, I can see weaknesses in the structure; having it rejected was probably good for me, because it's a nice reminder that I should keep trying to make this stuff better instead of assuming that I'm good enough. So there's my goal: coherent, compelling plot arcs that will support the longer stories people want to read. Let's rock this house.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Whew. Three short stories out the door this month; here's hoping December will bring me good news on one or more of them.

December's drafting will probably focus on some pieces that friends have commissioned to help me come up with suit money; I'll also be dedicating some time to the final round of pre-submission edits for The Dragon's Tale (FINALLY, I know).

Also I suppose I should be sending out resumes in search of a new day job. I'm not ready to go back yet, but the unemployment office doesn't want to hear that.


Nov. 24th, 2012 09:11 am
laylah: an illustration from  Through the Looking Glass: a black kitten pawing at a ball of yarn. (Default)
And then I went silent for ten days!

Since we last spoke, I've gotten a rejection from one place I really wanted to work with and an acceptance from another one. I've sent out a short story and finished a draft for another one in time to revise it before it, too, needs to be sent out. And I've found another call due at the end of the month for which I currently have 3k of a necessary 5k. And I've done a quick copy edit pass on my first novel before sending it to a couple of people so I could get feedback before it goes out into the wide world of submission.

...I feel like I've been slacking -- the last two days all I've done was play video games and eat pie -- but writing it down makes it look less so. Yay!
laylah: a cup of coffee with a heart clearly drawn in the foam (delicious love)
In a month or two when the rent keeps happening and I'm not getting paid, I'm sure I'll be more sorry about unemployment. But right this minute, honestly, it feels like such a relief to have time, at last. I've wanted to have time for myself for years.

And I'm not even entirely fucking off with it! Yeah, there's some Skyrim in the evenings (my dunmer is almost to level 50, you guys! she stopped the civil war and now she's chasing down the betrayer of the thieves' guild!), but I'm also settling in to be my own project manager:

Also, I'm the kind of boss who lets my employees use the internet at work. Aw yis.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
The day after my last post I woke up at 3am with a miserable earache, so I spent Saturday morning in urgent care getting a prescription for antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine. People say that's "the good stuff," but eh. It made me a little dizzy, is all. But I am at least sleeping a little better and no longer having terrifying coughing fits on a regular basis.

I'm now coming right down to the wire on one of the submission calls I wanted to meet this fall, and also coming up on the date when I'm supposed to hear back on a story I have out right now. Here's hoping for good luck on both fronts in the next few days! My plans for the weekend are fairly low-key, so I really just need to get my act together and focus on turning the rest of this outline into prose.

Any minute now.

ETA: I also keep stalling on things like "How hungry would you have to be before you were willing to try dog food?" QUESTIONS MY CHARACTERS WISH I DIDN'T NEED ANSWERS TO.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
My big productive activity this past weekend was more in the way of editing existing words than creating new ones. I did a lot of revision to the apocafic in progress, streamlining my existing draft so it would be easier to move forward, and I also did the revisions for my Dreamspinner short story. Several of the line edits in my DSP story were suggestions to reduce the number of semicolons and em dashes scattered throughout.

I have to confess I adore them both. I love huge, frothy confections of sentences, piled high with phrases and clauses held precipitously in balance with one another via the careful application of punctuation. I adore the 19th-century tendency toward sentences with not merely structure but architecture. I fell head-first in rapture with the Khaavren Romances subset of Brust's Dragaera universe, which are full of those glorious-excess sentences; they read like the literary equivalent of a dessert including fluffy pastry, whipped mascarpone, toasted hazelnuts, and buttery caramel sauce: one may speak in praise of their elegance, but not their simplicity.

...Not all stories need sentences like that, though. In fact quite a lot of them don't. I struggle with that fact often, and while I've tamed down my penchant for em dashes since my school days—my graduate advisor managed to talk me down from once or twice a paragraph to maybe once or twice a page—I can never give up my love for them entirely. Sadly, my current projects require me to soldier on, passing up the temptation for elaborate antique constructions in favor of prose that belongs twenty minutes or two centuries in the future. When I'm done with this batch of stories, though, perhaps I should give some steampunk adventuring a try.

Those gentlemen, I'm sure, will wield their semicolons with aplomb.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Being a catalog of incomplete files on my computer which might in fact deserve better than to languish in such state indefinitely;
or, The Ineveitable To-Do List.

6,500 words of a probable 8,000ish. The only one whose working file name is also the story name! Creepy transhuman contract slavery. All this needs is to have its major sex scene finished, really; I will definitely be finishing it up and subbing it this year.

2,800 words of...maybe 15k? That sounds like a good number to aim for. "The Windfall's Maiden Voyage," the one I keep referring to in conversation as "the space lesbians." Also includes smuggling, star travel, and ideally some laser guns before it's over. The world needs more lesbians with laser guns.

33,500 words of, oh, let's call it maybe 80k. An actual fantasy novel, which may or may not have some romance in it but is mostly a supernatural disaster survival narrative. I really like where this started, but need a lot of work to figure out how Our Heroes get out of their current predicaments and rescue each other from Certain Doom. (The romance is mostly stymied by the would-be-pairing both constantly making "grrr grr duty grr!" noises instead of stopping to make out.)

space monkeys.doc
24,000 words of oh god help. In the same universe as the space lesbians, above (they're supporting characters in this), only with a bigger cast and a lot more agendas at odds with each other. Also less space travel and more being-marooned-somewhere.

8,500 words that would need to be at least 25,000 to meet the call I started it for; I go back and forth between "I should scrap this entirely" and "but I want to keep working on it!" An apocalypse-survival story about a bunch of queer college kids, because goddamn am I sick of that genre assuming that decorated war veteran Butch Hetman is the only hope for civilization. I have so many feelings about this story! If only one of those feelings was confidence.

honorable mention for two things that are currently mostly sketchy notes:
ssfuckyeah.doc, the steampunk story with the libertine submarine captain
startafire.doc, a thing I just rediscovered in a subfolder today that wants to be dieselpunk prison-escape romance.

And I could keep going, too, if I were willing to list things that have sat untouched for longer. But there has to be a statute of limitations here somewhere. Now stop haring off after new ideas, self, and put some work into developing the ones you have!
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
Signed a contract with Dreamspinner last night to appear in their Advent Calendar collection this year! My short story Safe Harbor will be available with them in December; it's the m/m romance equivalent of a fuzzy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa, and I hope you will enjoy it. (Trying to write cuddly Christmas Eve fic in August, when we were having our one bout of actual summer here in Seattle, was a bit of a challenge.) More details to follow when we're closer to release!

For now, back to the word mines with me. I want to get a longer piece or two out the door by the end of the year (a few of Riptide's current open calls really speak to me)—short stories are well and good, but generally you need something with more meat to it to really make readers happy.
laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
I often feel like Dream's curse on Ric Madoc is one of the most insightful moments in all of Sandman. For those who aren't fans, Madoc is a writer who has, through unscrupulous means, captured the muse Calliope and is keeping her prisoner because she provides him with ideas. To make him release her, Dream curses him: You want ideas? You want dreams? You want stories? Then ideas you will have. IDEAS IN ABUNDANCE. The flood of ideas that overtakes him reduces Madoc to a desperate wreck, struggling to write everything down, hurting himself in the frantic attempt to turn all of these ideas into words at once.

I'm not in nearly such dire straits as Madoc (but then, I haven't been abusing any Muses, either). Still, I'm suffering from a milder case of the same thing, where no single story is making progress because there are just too damned many of them. I probably need to be banned from looking at any press's open calls for the next few weeks—at least until after the end of the month, when I am staring at three separate deadlines right now.

The problem seems to be that I have decided that I need to Get My Name Out There by submitting to as many places as possible. I've been enjoying working with FFP and I feel like in many ways they're a great fit for my most erotica-focused work—the lack of limits on who can participate and what kinds of themes are acceptable are really nice, given the directions my interest goes—but I also want to reach the audience already following some of the more established presses, and I want to find homes for the stuff that has less on-page sizzle. I need to keep reminding myself that I don't need to (indeed, I can't) do everything at once. That, in fact, I'll be happier with both my time spent and the results thereof if I slow down, take things one at a time, and try to submit to my favorite calls rather than every single one that looks plausible.

Moderation, self. We'll get the hang of it one day.
laylah: an illustration from  Through the Looking Glass: a black kitten pawing at a ball of yarn. (Default)
Over on my other account I'm signed up for [community profile] inkingitout this year, and one of my goals for myself -- along with my overall word count -- was to come up with 80k words of original fiction by the end of the year. I know, that doesn't sound like much to those of you who are habitual novelists, but given how short my usual form is it sounded like a good number to aim for.

So how am I doing?

Well, the longest piece I've finished this year was "Ground Mission," which clocks in a little over 16k. Then "Devil's Bargain, Devil's Kiss," but I really only feel I can count 2k of those words for this year, since the first draft had been sitting on my hard drive for quite a while before I sent it to FFP. "Falling Into Her Arms" is around 3k. My current must-finish project, The Camellia Missions, is another one where I'm only going to count part of the total; I'm aiming for a final word count around 18k, of which about half was written this year.

So that's about 30k of new original words, plus the scattering of barely-started scenes in files with working titles like "crossroads" and "ss fuck yeah." I'm definitely behind, but it's not insurmountable. Particularly if I stop writing this blog post and start writing fiction, like I meant to be doing this morning.
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