Word Wear

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 01:00 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I think I need to get this cartoon on a t-shirt, so I can wear it to next 4th Street.


ETA: Though I'm not sure it doesn't need a comma between "Yes" and "well". Opinions?

lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
4th Street was this past weekend. And I am almost recovered enough to string two sentences together.

It was a terrific con, probably the best one since the first year I went. Pretty much had non-stop good conversations from the moment I walked in until I finally pried myself away from the last few goodbyes. Got very little sleep and definitely over-caffeinated, and I'm not the least little bit sorry. ;-)

I made an effort to pace myself before the event so as not to arrive already exhausted before it even started, despite the overwhelming pressure of the to-do list. Those who know me will appreciate how dubious was my success when I say that I managed to leave without putting maps in the car. Luckily I had my own written directions, and I could probably do the route from memory by now anyway.

Had a great time reconnecting with the Intermediate Writers crowd, even though we didn't officially have a gathering. (Which was only because no one stepped up to coordinate one; guess what I'll probably be doing next year?) And with the consuite crowd, and the smokers' lounge crowd, and assorted other cool people.

The seminar was interesting and well-run, though most of what I came out of it with was the conclusion that I just don't learn well in a seminar format. (And that my process is non-standard and weird, but I knew that going in.) I also came out with what I thought was a good way to ask for help on something I've been struggling with, but I tried it out on two very different groups and it failed utterly, so I guess not. It did kick off some good discussions, though.

My 4th Street tradition continues of there being one or two panels that I don't think I'll be that interested in that turn out to be utterly fascinating, and one or two that I think are going to be right in my wheelhouse that leave me cold. This year, the example of the first was "Large-Scale Structures and Series Planning"; I'm not a big series writer and usually veer away from long tightly-connected series as a reader, but a lot of the stuff about planning and consistency and leaving tools (and toys) for yourself for later was not only really interesting but actually something I could connect to my own work. And the panel on "Writing As A Light Trance State" was deeply intriguing, though I still don't think I came away with an understanding of the difference between trance and just concentrating on what you're doing.

Unfortunately, "The Tropes of Emotion" was one of the latter category, mostly because they did a lot of high-level meta discussion and very little granular, boots-on-the-ground how-to. Which is a pity, because I'm working hard on a bit of how-to in the current revision pass, and I'd have liked some pointers. The other one that left me cold was the That's a Different Panel, which this year ended up being "Clues And Signaling" -- basically, how do we tell readers things -- the very topic I most hoped they'd choose. It would probably have done more for me if they hadn't spent half the panel going on about paratext -- because I am functionally blind to paratext. (No, really. One of the books they cited was one that I read fairly recently and remember well, and they went on and on about the ways paratext was used, and I have no idea what they were talking about.) And what wasn't about paratext was again high-level and meta, not practical and how-to.

(I've realized that when it comes to writing stuff, I do not learn well from getting the big-picture view and trying to apply it to specific usages; I'm much better off with using a specific example in my own work, and reasoning from that to the general principle. I'm not sure if that's how I learn non-writing things as well, or not; I'd need a specific example to consider. Which may answer the question right there. ;-) )

The cookies went over well once again. The dinosaurs were even more popular than I expected (I suspect it was the glitter), and the "writer's toolbox" joke went over well. (Oddly, it seemed nobody wanted to eat the hammers; they were always the last to go. Don't know why.) For future reference: I made 4 batches of dough, but only ended up decorating about 3 batches worth. 3 batches was plenty, enough to stock Friday evening, Saturday mid-day, and Saturday evening, and still have a few left by Sunday. Next time, figure on making ~18 of each shape; that's enough to cover breakage and a few to share pre-con, and still have a dozen+ for the consuite. Which actually is enough, if you're making enough shapes to use up 3 batches of dough.

Drive there was good; the threatened thunderstorms didn't materialize, and I actually took breaks when I was getting dozey, and pulled over for the night when I was tired but not exhausted. Only trouble was that there still isn't a sign for a Caribou/Starbucks/etc. for about three hours past the point where I need one, so I once again arrived at my traditional gas-and-lunch stop rather desperate for coffee. But still overall a nice trip.

The car turned 200,000 on the way, which was cool.

Drive home was much the same; I turned the need to stall for a while to avoid Madison rush hour into a nice long lunch break, and pulled over for a walk and cold beverages when it seemed like a good idea but not yet a dire necessity. Got home around 2am, tired but still functional.

The cats were happy to see me. :-)

And now it's time to get back to normal, although I'm hoping to reboot "normal" to a slightly more satisfactory version. One that involves more sleep, writing, and exercise, and less unrelenting to-do list.

MediaWest*Con 36

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 04:48 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Had a very good con this past weekend. We did the commuting-from-home thing again, which in addition to saving money once again encouraged us to get out there and try more things that we otherwise might have skipped in favor of flaking in the hotel room. Went to quite a few decent panels (and the inevitable couple that required an urgent text message partway through), had several good meals with good company, and some kind soul gave me digital copies of a show I've been trying off and on for twenty years to see. (Which was cognitively dissonating; cloning tapes used to be a big part of the con back in The Olde Dayes, so my earliest fannish conditioning collided with the modernity of getting an entire series on a piece of technology so small I could lose it if I sneezed.) Also stayed up far too late two nights in a row playing Cards Against Humanity with the kind of sick and twisted people you want to play Cards Against Humanity with. ;-)

Having wisely taken Tuesday off for recovery purposes, we had a lovely day vegging out yesterday. The housemate is back dealing with the real world today, and I am back scrambling madly to get ready for the next con I'm going to, only a couple weeks away. But at least we're both doing it with a decent bit of sleep under our belts.

There were some minor issues, most notably that the panel organizers seemed to have utilized a random number generator in assigning panelists. (And they wonder why more people don't volunteer/offer suggestions.) However, everybody rolled with it and managed to have a good time anyway.

Looking forward to next year.

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 03:47 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
"If everything reminds us of our past burdens, then we lose the future, no? All this victimization makes us beggars."
    - Elvira Meliksetyan, Armenian women's rights activist, as quoted in National Geographic April 2016

April Word Count

Friday, May 6th, 2016 04:25 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
old-mission stories: 65
original short fiction*: 2976
Total new words in April: 3041

*which includes 555 words of the Cinderella-crossed-with-Snow-White-only-not-really novel that I'm not supposed to be working on yet. But when a beginning hands itself to you, you don't argue.

All of which makes it look like the writing's coming a bit easier lately, and it is. Still not up to the productivity or ease I'd prefer, but: I've started a new story (A-to-Z) that I've given myself permission to just have fun with, rather than struggling with the "railroad" story that I was beginning to hate; the fairytale princess opening rather demanded to be written (always nice when that happens); and I got something that feels like a functional beginning to "Adrian Blissfield and the Night Train to Munich" while on the train back from DC. (Now if I can just work on that one without having to travel to another state!)


short stories submitted: 3


No querying done; email's still in limbo, and so's the final-I-hope HoM revision. (Which was supposed to be done in March. Housemate has agreed that we tackle that next weekend at the absolute latest.)


May's goals:

- get HoM finished

- move the email search along. Yes, it's tedious, but it's not that bad.

- sub more. Even if it means getting some new stories brushed up and put into rotation.

Yeah, none of that's writing. But until I get some of that taken care of, I'm too much in limbo to really dig into anything major. Which is why it needs to get taken care of, now.

I'll keep plinking away, of course.

and writing

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 06:34 pm
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
...Aaaand no sooner do I settle in after posting that, than I have to go jot down the 500-odd word beginning to a new novel. Beginnings have been murder for me lately, but this one came smooth and relatively easy like beginnings should. I can't prove it was due to the run, but I doubt it was just coincidence.

It's not the beginning of anything I'm supposed to be working on, of course, but I'll take it. ;-)
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
Went for my first run of the season today. Well, jog. Well, kind of a bouncy shuffle. But I managed to kick off at the equivalent of Week 5 of Couch-to-5K, which ain't bad for having been off half a year. Bright sun, fresh air, and a body that if it's mostly still knots managed to get out and move fairly well -- I'll take it.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Blueberries (72%)

Where Bought: Foods For Living

Endangered Species is one of my favorite brands. Aside from the 10% donation to ecological causes, it's really good chocolate, and they have a lot of flavors and combinations that are right up my taste buds' alley.

Aroma: lovely strong hit of chocolate

Texture is firm, satisfying to dig your teeth into but not hard. Breaks with moderate pressure without being brittle or crumbly.

Good strong chocolate flavor, dark but not bitter, intense and just the right amount of sweet. The blueberries are a nice tart zing, neither overwhelming nor overwhelmed.

Overall: Mmmmmm. Heck yeah, would buy again.

March Word Count

Sunday, April 10th, 2016 04:07 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
So much for posting more often. ;-P

original short fiction: 2222
Total new words in March: 2222

Yeah, all right. Better than I feared, worse than I hoped, and I need to get my act in gear. (Not least because if the writing brain doesn't get exercised via writing, it takes it out in anxiety dreams. The last couple nights were doozies.)

What I hadn't realized is that I didn't submit anything in March. Bad writer. That flurry of stuff I sent out in February had mostly come back, so it's not like I didn't have inventory.

Made some progress with investigating new email services. Hushmail would be a contender except for the lack of spell-check; Inbox looks promising, but there's a couple things I can't check without a test account to play with. Must get my act in gear on that one!


April goals: Get the bloody Highway of Mirrors revision put to bed (still waiting on beta reader). Get email back to functionality. Get at least one story out, to the nice people who told me to send them something else if I had it. And get enough writing done that I can at least sleep at night.

...nnnnnnnnnnn...

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 03:40 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Yesterday was sushi and pie (Pie Day!) and a large mocha, all of which fire up the writing brain. Instead I went to bed, and my brain used all that fuel for the kind of dreams that leave me feeling like I was running a marathon all night. Which frequently happens when I haven't been writing enough; this was just dialed to eleven.

Now I'm sitting down to write, and the same brain that wouldn't stop spinning scenarios all night is lying there like a lump. I have this one short story left from the batch I want to complete before going back to the Mars novel. It was a good idea when I first thought of it; it's probably still a good idea, somewhere under this massive layer of "eh". And I have all the engagement of road-kill.

I want another mocha. This is probably not a good idea, but it may come to that.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
My library's search function always offers a "Did you mean..." even if it finds what you asked for. I don't know who programmed the thing, but it clearly has no filters for names or anything that might be relevant for a library search. Its latest, however... no, search, when I asked for Larry Niven's Ringworld, I did not mean "larry naive ringworm".

...I think perhaps I will not write a children's book called Larry the Naive Ringworm.

February Word Count

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 01:18 pm
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
original short fiction: 257
Highway of Mirrors revisions: 1571

Total new words in February: 1828

Better than I expected, and not bad for a month in which word-count really wasn't the point.

I've added a little over 4k words to Highway of Mirrors in this revision pass, mostly in the form of little characterization snippets.


Short story submissions: 6, and queried on one outstanding

At one point, I had everything fit to go out in some slush pile somewhere. They've started trickling back already, of course, but goal still achieved and it was nice while it lasted.


For March: Start writing new stuff again, consistently. Also, read-through of HoM with housemate and revisions as necessary.

Ugh

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 10:34 am
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
I got a lungful of cold air yesterday which has moved in and set up shop, and now I feel like crap. Welcome to March.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
...there's a list of Campbell-eligible authors at Writertopia.com.

If you're an SF writer and your first professional sale was published in 2014 or 2015, go there to see if you're eligible. You probably are. (I'm not. Turns out the prior year's contest win netted enough to count for their purposes, so I'm past my shelf date. Ah, well.)

Also, there's an anthology of Campbell-eligible authors being put together here. It's exposure-only, but might be good for some name recognition.

(Note: I am in no way hallucinating that I'd need to start working on an acceptance speech, even if I were still eligible. This is more in the nature of a PSA to any fellow writers who were equally oblivious to this stuff's existence.)
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
Every short story I have that's fit to go out is currently in a slush pile somewhere.

Goal achieved!

Next Thing

Thursday, February 18th, 2016 05:45 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the revisions are done.

Well, "done", of course. I spent an entire day on the last bit to be wedged in and decided it just wouldn't fit, so have set it aside. When the housemate & I both have some time free in our reading schedules (i.e., after book club), I'll print out two copies, see how it reads all-together for both of us, and then discuss the various bits that didn't fit and whether they're worth what it would variously take to fit them in. And then revise more as needed, though ghu knows I hope that's not very much.

And then I'll have a newly-revised manuscript and a new query, and I'll just need a new email provider so I can be confident of actually getting any replies. I cannot express how much I don't want to do the work to make that last happen.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Revision generally comes to me in one of two ways. There's the reading-through of the text, when I come across something that just doesn't ring right or could be better. Those usually aren't too hard to work the new text in (though if something was wrong the first time, there's no guarantee that I can come up with the right thing now). And then there's the snippets of words that come to me when I'm not looking at the existing manuscript, in fact often nowhere near it; sometimes just a line or a phrase, sometimes half a scene of new content. These typically get scribbled down by hand on whatever paper I can reach at the time, and then fitted in later. Sometimes they actually do fit where I'd envisioned them, but more often I've misremembered the existing text just enough that the new stuff has nowhere to go, or crashes into the existing with that horrible crunching sound and shrapnel everywhere. And that's if the new stuff came with a specific spot in mind; just as often it's a bit that I like or that adds something important, and it needs to go somewhere, but I have to canvass the existing text to figure out where. And then comes the roadblock or the shrapnel....

This current revision pass of Highway of Mirrors has had plenty of both kinds. I'm now down to the last few handwritten bits that need to be fitted in, and of course these are the hard ones; the easy ones got done already. There's at least one bit that I really like that I don't think I'm going to be able to use; it would add a lovely oomph to the figuring-out-the-spy-plot part, but there's no way my characters could acquire the information in question -- and making a way would probably require another 20k words, all of which would be a distraction from what the novel's really about. So, no.

One bit is a two-parter; I came up with the perfect way to work in the set-up reference a couple days ago (when I needed to be getting ready for work, of course), and now I need to scan through the later chapters to figure out where the follow-up goes.

Another bit is adding some needed depth to the antagonist's characterization, and that too requires writing a new chunk to fit it into. But in this case, the point in the story where it really needs to go happens to coincide with one of the weaker scenes in the novel. So, as is often the case, put two problems together to create a solution. I'm having to effectively write a whole new scene to slip this into the background of, but I'll have less summarizing and more actual story when I'm done.

Doesn't mean I'm enjoying the process, though. ;-P

January Word Count

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 08:02 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Highway of Mirrors revisions: 2489
original short fiction: 16
Total new words in January: 2505

I'd have liked more, but wordcount is not the point of revision. And the revisions are going well, all things considered. I've gotten stuck into the plotty bits in the later chapters that I was afraid were a disaster; in fact, they're just... not quite there. With surprisingly small changes of actual text, I'm taking what were strands running parallel to each other and knitting them together so they converge on more or less the same point, which I think may be the difference between a handful of events and a "plot". I'd like to claim that this is what I meant all along -- I mean, the bits are all there, seemingly waiting for this -- but I can't say it with a straight face.

I've also changed one thing from being data that my characters are given, to data that they find out. It's not a big thing (just the code name of an operation), but I think it's having an impact beyond its size, making them seem much more investigate-y and clever.

The characterization tweaks I added to the earlier chapters were things I meant from the start, but now they're actually on the page for the readers to share. ;-)

I'm laughably over my mental deadline, but my deadline was laughably unrealistic -- or rather, I'd figured on a week to do the logic-fix I turned out not to need, and maybe a couple of the easier character-tweaks, and then print it out to review for plot issues and give it to the alpha-reader simultaneously. That's somehow turned into a full chapter-by-chapter review (the chapters out of order, which is an interesting focusing technique) and everything-I-can-catch overhaul, which turns out to be a lot more than I thought I could do without hard copy. Once I've got the last of the currently-handwritten bits wedged in (which have come to me variously over time), and the last of the newly-introduced brackets removed, and the knock-on changes from the above followed through, then I'll print it out for both the housemate and myself to do a full read-through. And then we'll see what we shall see.


Oh, yeah; I also got one short story submitted.


For February: Finish this revision pass and get the print-out printed out.

I'd like to get another short story finished. The idea that spun off from a library presentation on screenwriting last summer recently acquired a half-page of handwritten fix, and the main character now has an actual reason for being where she is. (That one, I think was in the back of my brain all along; it just took a while to get to the front.) That might be a good candidate.

Everything that can be in a slush pile right now, should be.

The email issue remains. I wish I could switch gears better; maybe once I get to the print-out stage of revision, I'll stop feeling like every free day has to go to that, and can catch up on some admin work.

But mainly, the revisions.

Rumble in the Box

Thursday, January 14th, 2016 06:39 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Money was tight this Christmas, and the cats are so spoiled that it's hard to find something new and different to buy them, anyway. So I took the box that the new microwave shipped in and cut a couple small doorways in it, and now the kitties have themselves a box fort.

There's something fundamentally delightful about listening to a large cardboard box purr.

...or not...

Sunday, January 10th, 2016 01:14 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Well, that's embarrassing.

Turns out the logical inconsistency that I've been stressing out about in Highway of Mirrors... doesn't exist. (Short version: It's not the existence of the Sekrit Facility that $character uses his Sooper Spy Tricks to suss out; it's who's there and when. The place itself is officially known of. So it's perfectly all right if said character shows up at said facility later on.)

I'm still digging into the revisions, though. There's a lot of stuff that I think I can do better now, and one or two things that I've never been entirely happy about. (I still don't know what to do about those, but it feels like time to give it another try.) The previously "final" version is backed up in several places, so I can dink around to my heart's content and always go back if something proves to be a bad decision.

Have not yet devolved to spending all morning taking a comma out and all afternoon putting it back in, though I expect that will come. But for now, onward.

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