Good news

Hey friends, some updates from the world of writing!

I’ve been working on getting some appearances scheduled for next year – I believe that I will be at Roanoke Author Invasion and MystiCon again in 2018, though I’m still waiting to firm some of that up, and will be looking at other local convention options that would require less investment on my part. MystiCon is super awesome in that they cover your convention expense, but RAI is a paid event and many other book events are paid as well. This inhibits me a bit, but I’m looking to get in front of some new audiences. So be looking for those announcements as they come about.

I also just recently finished a short story prompted by seeing a very beautiful pendant circulating on the internet. I did not buy it, because I have self-control and I need to make my house payment. I did, however, make a new Pinterest board (I know, my Pinterest is getting out of hand) for short story inspiration. This short story was largely motivated by aesthetics and the desire to write the backstory for another short story that I had written a year or so ago. It was one of those stories that pretty much wrote itself, which is always a nice feeling.

Now that I’ve bought a house and stuff, things are settling down a little bit. That’s allowed me to start pulling together some query packets. Very exciting stuff. Being on submission is always a little heart-pounding, but lately I’ve developed a bit of a laissez-faire attitude about it all, which is helping.

Some of my new zen is because I took a chance recently and applied to be on the program of World Fantasy Convention 2017 and guess what? Despite the fact that I almost didn’t do it because of general impostor syndrome and self-deprecation, I got on the program!! This is such a huge deal for me, honestly. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it, and it’s going to take a lot of work from me to do it right. I’m totally ready, though.

Anyway, I will be updating my events page and this website soon with more details!

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The fate of pirates

How many stories do you know where a woman ends up alone?

I don’t mean happily fulfilled, with a garden and a dog but no man. I mean truly alone. Outcast, and heartbroken, and without peer. What story have you known that looks like staring into the abyss?

That story for me is Pirates of the Caribbean.

I hear you all laughing, but bear with me here.

We all know the jaunty tunes and slapstick humor of Captain Jack Sparrow, the nervous comedy of Will Turner, and the fiery deviousness of Elizabeth Swann. When the first movie, Legend of the Black Pearl, came out, I was in love. Head over heels. It was everything I wanted from a nautical tale. Undead pirates, thrilling escapes, canon-fire. I was a kid and it took me hook, line, and sinker.

And then I got to the end of the original trilogy, and I witnessed the fate of Elizabeth Swann.

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I think it’s fair to say that one of the reasons I loved Pirates so much is because Elizabeth went from being a pampered, settled princess to following her heart with the flip of a coin. Now, admittedly, it was a magical coin, and there was some kidnap involved, but she was not interested in the life of what was essentially royalty, out there in the New World. She was in love with Will Turner, and then she was in love with being a pirate, and a little bit with Jack – though Will always came first. Elizabeth Swann gave up her corsets and took up a sword and never looked back. It should have been enough.

Somehow, it wasn’t. Somehow, Elizabeth was left on dry land.

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I think it’s notable the kinds of tales we tell about women. Elizabeth is shown to clearly be capable of surviving on her own. Yet, when she and Will make love at last on the shore and he gives in to his curse, Elizabeth, to all appearances, gives up her dreams. She is pregnant with his child, and that’s the end of her story. It is consolation, that she has a miniature Will Turner to raise and keep. Some piece of him. That’s what we are told.

That’s bullshit.

What was it like, for Elizabeth Turner to return, pregnant and still an outlaw, to her father’s house? To endure the scandal as her belly grew great with the spawn of her undead lover? To give up on her dreams forever – the dream of love, yes, because one visit every eight years is not a substitute for a true relationship. Her husband is not dead. She can take no other lover, can find no other love with his face staring up at her from the crib she rocks day by day. He does not age either. He cannot help her raise their child, he cannot grow old with her. He cannot hold her at night when she cries. But also the dream of adventure. She was a pirate, and it lit her up from the inside. She was a pirate.

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Never once does Will offer her the choice of a berth on The Flying Dutchman, to reign eternal as his queen. No, she must keep his heart safe in its chest. She must ensure his eternal absence. She must birth his child, alone, raise that child, alone, bring the boy to see him, for whom time has stopped, and spend their one day together giving this absent father a chance to know his progeny. Surely, she loves the boy. But love can break us.

Never once does the narrative offer her a different life.

Elizabeth Swann was a pirate, and a respected one. In my dreams, Elizabeth takes her child with her and strikes out to sea, hunting The Flying Dutchman. Hunting Will Turner, who cannot step foot on land – but who has no such restrictions on water. She doesn’t mortgage all of her dreams and hopes in the world for a child gotten cruelly on her, wages of one night and one day spent in the arms of the love of her life.

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Better, their single coupling doesn’t result in a child at all. She says goodbye to Will, though she loves him, and he to her because, if he will not have her with him in undeath, she deserves to live her life.

Instead, this half-life, this heartbreak, this ending that cannot end with aught but Elizabeth Swann, old and used up and dying alone, while Will Turner sails the seas forever.

I don’t think I’ll ever forgive those movies that ending for her.

 

Moving times!

Guess what? We are moving!

As of Thursday we have closed on a house and we will be working towards repairs and then moving all next week. It has been a wild month trying to make this happen, and I am so ready for it to be somewhat like over. So ready.

Honestly the prospect of moving into a house is kind of intimidating. Not because of the mortgage or the upkeep, though those are their own issues. It’s the idea of all the space. This house is not that big, a little 1500 square foot Craftsman, but it has a half basement and a yard and a porch – two porches, actually – and 1500 square feet is a lot of footage when you’ve been living in an apartment for a long time. We’ve been at our current place for five years, in fact, and we’ve quite settled in. So 90% of my time this week has been packing.

Ugh, packing. Packing is the worst.

Of course, my writer brain keeps telling me about all of the possibilities for BAD THINGS to happen. I worry about my cats, mostly, who have only ever lived at their birth home and this apartment. We need to make appointments to get them outdoor vaccinations in case they get out (not that I think that will be an issue for a couple of weeks while they get settled and explore) since we don’t have a stairwell for them to get trapped in when they make their weekly dastardly escapes. And I can’t find their cat carrier, which is a huge pain – I have no clue where it could have gone, either, since it’s pretty damn large, but I guess I’m going to have to buy a new one like tomorrow.

Also we don’t have a lot of the furniture we’ll need in this new space – stools for the bar, a spare bed, a couch, that sort of thing – so that will be a weird transition into half-furnished space. We’ll get there eventually, of course.

Anyway, given all of this I’m taking a brief writing hiatus, which is to say I’m not requiring myself to write, just doing it if I feel like it. I’m planning on reading and/or re-reading some high fantasy and epic fantasy books to get a better handle on my roadblock in DoM, which is a thing that I am acknowledging, and likely has to do with being totally slammed at work and stressed from packing and trying to move more than anything. Also possibly with being annoyed with the corner I’ve written myself into, but that’s just a matter of being inventive and doing the work. I don’t think it would be so much a problem if it weren’t for everything else going on.

When I get the house to where it’s a good photo opportunity I will share some pictures. Until then, see you next week!

 

This post is a series of tweets

You may have noticed that I am providing regular updates in a thread on Twitter regarding my editing process for Daughter of Madness. I’ve linked them all together, so you can click below and look at my progress so far. I figured that might help you figure out what I’ve been dealing with.

I’ve mentioned that this is the first time I have written a sequel to a book, and that it is kicking my ass. I did mention that, right? Well, it’s kicking my ass. On the plus side, you’ll be happy to note the below:

Specifically I have 11,000 words and counting of the next book already, which consists entirely of cuts from this one to make the endings fall where they needed to for maximum tension. Sigh. All that and DoM is still at 91,000 words, so currently weighing in at a little longer than the first book. I’m not sure if it will get longer or shorter before publication. Your guess is as good as mine, honestly.

In the interim….I may have mentioned a finished a novelette and sent it out to folks to read, set in the world of The Zombie Book. It was mostly for fun, but I am in love with it, as tends to happen with things set in that world. I also mentioned a structural breakthrough I had for said Zombie Book that I think makes it a lot more fun and sets it up better for a sequel. I really need to work on that. There are only so many hours in a day, and I have a lot of stuff to write. So much.

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Speaking of, I also started working on a story that dug in to my brain and set up camp. It’s something totally new, but you may hear me refer to it as APM – an acronym for Appalachian Practical Magic, which you’ll hear once and never again. Feel blessed. I don’t have a working title yet, but I already have a spinoff concept so no doubt it will come to me. I hear some of you groaning internally. There’s really nothing I can do about it at this point, though. This book is determined to be born. The next book in the Creation Saga will no doubt start knocking once I have fixed DoM enough to actually like it, so I’ll let you know when that happens.

Alright, updates over! I’m out! You’ll hear from me soon!

 

Big news, self-care, internal screaming

You may realize that I have a lot of things generally going on in my life.

I suspect this is a personality issue. I get bored, so I sign on for more stuff, and then I get overwhelmed. It might also be just a life issue – everyone is busy, as far as I can tell, and it gets exponentially worse when you are both busy and passionate and excitable.*

I’ve been sinking the ship recently (again) with regards to self-care (or self care, which seems more proper but less purposeful in typographical nature). This has led to some general body image issues and so many migraines that it’s starting to feel normal to have one every third day. Obviously not a great mental health place to be in, much less physical health.

Anyway, add to all of this some major life events the past two weeks. S.O.’s birthday kicked things off, which was super stressful for me for I don’t know what reason – probably because I thought I had to make everything perfect, since he turned thirty this year. Then the S.O.’s grandmother passed away this past weekend, which was not unexpected but was, as all such things, sad. There was lots of funerary stuff to get through, which is draining, though I’m sure it was worse for him. But Sunday evening a very exciting thing happened.

We found a house.

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We’ve been looking for a year so it’s about damn time. A bid went in, and we’ve been negotiating, and that means we have to move. By September 7th.

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So I am a little freaked out. A little. Luckily the house is not far from where we live now so if worse comes to worse I can walk shit over in a wagon. Seriously, not far. And it’s beautiful.

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So anyway, with all that happening I’m straddling this weird place between mental self-care (reading books to get away from my emotion-tornado) and physical self-care (running and stuff, which can sometimes help my emotion-tornado but is not my drug of choice). The balance is not necessarily going well, but we’ll get there probably.

At this point I think it’s realistic for me to scream in a corner.

 

*Really, I wish I could chill out sometimes and not be so passionate about so many things. But there it is.

 

Some things

I’ve been really tied up with dayjob stuff recently, and I know that is hurting my ability to give you good blog content. Fear not! There are some interesting projects coming down the pike.

For example, I’m working on putting together an IRL monthly reading group where we will read one book or novella a month that is “feminist”. For the purposes of this group I am looking at feminist to mean that it was written by a woman and/or has an engaged and diverse cast of characters and/or directly deals with feminist issues and themes. It’s a broad definition. (We’ll be working to include WOC in this as well.) I imagine that you will see posts regarding the stories in question and some of the conversations we have at these sessions as they get off the ground. Our first meeting date will be in August, so look for more information then.

In other news, I will be going to see VALERIAN (the S.O. wants to go, and I’ve hard the graphics are great). We’ll see how I like it. Maybe there will be a review post! ATOMIC BLONDE is also coming out soon and I am oh so ready.

I also spammed and finished The Last Airbender over the past few weeks, which means I’ve been taking up most of my reading time with watching. I know I’m late to that party, but it was really good. It gave me a lot to think about with regards to well-handled multi-POV plot pacing. I think it’s going to be really helpful as I move into re-outlining and further tweaking DoM.

Recent reads included finishing Catherynne Valente’s Deathless, which I have….mixed feelings about. Her words are beautiful, as always. The story made me sad though, which was probably the intention. I don’t quite know what to do with all that.

I also finished Jackalope Wives and other tales by T. Kingfisher and, as always, I freaking love her stories. Just really, really good. Like I cannot even tell you how good. I was messaging a friend throughout being like “this is what I want to write!!! How does she do it??”

The novelette is out to beta readers, and so far everyone seems to like it, which is awesome. On a personal front, it’s birthday season for the extended family, which, in addition to dayjob overtime, has been throwing a wrench in my getting-things-done mojo. Seriously, it seems like everyone I know was born in the summer sometimes.

I’ll tune in soon with some more fun stuff, but for now I’m going to go collapse in an exhausted heap and recover my mojo.

 

Resolutions and execution

Friends, as of two weeks ago we were halfway through 2017 and I realized that it’s probably about time to check on how I’m doing with my New Year’s Resolutions. So here they are, and here’s some reflection on how well I’ve met my goals.

  1. To make this marriage thing stick. To get the wedding plans planned and then let it go to be what it will be. To continue to remember that relationships are work and require cherishing just like any other small, precious, hopeful thing. Remember that time I got married? I did that. It was awesome. It’s like getting to know one another again right now in some ways. So much of our lives were on hold for the wedding, and now there’s free brain-power to figure out what’s next. But I think we’re doing pretty well with it, so I’m marking this one off.
  2. To find us a home and plant it with flowers and fruit and all good things. To experiment with growing sweet potatoes and lemon trees and mangoes, because I can. Okay, the only part of this I’ve done so far is the sweet potatoes. I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE, HOUSE!
  3. To attend all these conferences I’ve signed up for, and most especially to make it to WFC in San Antonio in October. Selfishly, I’m most excited about seeing my family there, but also super jazzed about Martha Wells being the head honcho for this go-round. I survived many of the conferences, and just remembered I still haven’t made reservations for WFC. Oops?
  4. To finish Daughter of Madness and get it to my readers, sometime this year, no matter that I’m behind. To not feel guilty about that behind-ness. To give you an outline of next steps with this, I need to: finish the rough draft, send it to beta readers and/or an editor for a look, and then do second rewrites as well as deep line edits. I’m also in the process of doing the cover design which will hopefully be finalized this month sometime, so be looking for that! (I am focusing on being excited, so excited, to bring this book to you and not intimidated by all the to do’s that still need doing.) Marking off half of this, which seems appropriate considering the timing. Check out my post from last week for more updates!
  5. To re-issue Child of Brii, taking it back to my original vision for it, before I got caught up in word counts and mess. I sort of did this. The book is back out there, anyway. I feel pretty okay about that.
  6. To start something new – either the last Creation Saga book, which I’ve honestly already got about 10,000 words of from cuts from Daughter of Madness, or the Child of Brii prequel I’ve got planned, or maybe both. Ideally I’d get the roughs for both finished this year but realistically it’s probably one or the other. And maybe… Eek, I have not done any of this. 
  7. To start something entirely new – it might happen anyway if I’m being honest, because I’m excited about a great many projects right now. There are octopuses and mermaids and werewolves and princesses and warriors all begging for my attention at the moment, so you’ll know as soon as I do what I pick up next. Marking this off, but don’t consider it over. There’s more new stuff longing for passage through my pen.
  8. To put honest work into querying a project that I have previously referred to as ‘The Zombie Book’. This requires putting together a synopsis, since that’s the last element I’m missing, and updating my agents list for queries. I’d also like to finish the spin-off story from that novel, and hopefully find it a home, or maybe hold onto it until it’s time. I did this part, at least. And it was fun times, my friends. Now to do the rest.
  9. To love and care for those important to me. To visit my brother finally, and to make time to travel with my soon-to-be husbandOh, we traveled. Did we travel. And more to come!
  10. To never stop believing in myself and my work. To continue to try to find homes for my short stories. To write new ones, as the mood takes me. To write for the sake of writing. This is an ongoing goal, especially the last bit. And it is a hard thing to do, every day. But I love writing, friends.
  11. To take care of myself. To make sure I eat well and exercise, which is hard, and that I get enough sleep, which is easier but still doesn’t always happen. To climb some more mountains, and float some more rivers, and spend some time under the stars. I can’t mark this off because I want to do more of it!
  12. To fear less and try harder. Basically, this is an ongoing life lesson, and I’m not afraid to work on it forever.

Some things are ongoing. Some things we can’t mark off. The work of a life is never over, and thank goodness.

I’m looking forward to what these next six months bring, my dears.