August Writing Round-Up

In the first of what I hope will be a series, here’s a look at my writing life in the last month and resources I’ve found particularly helpful.

  • Short story sold! Is there anyone on the internet who doesn’t know that I sold my first short story this month? Check out Sword & Steam Short Stories‘ full TOC and marvel at what looks to be a really cool anthology. Add it to your Goodreads shelf and then pre-order a copy!
  • Two new shorts written:
    • one a [redacted]-punk story I submitted to both my writing group’s contest (anonymous, hence the redaction) and to a magazine.
    • one near-future sci-fi that got written in all of three hours; it caught me off guard I’m excited about it
  • Novel progress! Yes I promise I’m still working on it. I’m making some really solid headway on this revision and am enthused.
  •  Grant application sent. I applied for a Sustainable Arts Foundation grant, which go to artists who are also parents. Long shot? Yes. But what about writing isn’t  long shot? If you’re a parent and an artist, apply. Deadline is tomorrow!
  • I was honored to be a Sentient Squid Scholarship recipient which afforded me the opportunity to take two excellent Writing the Other classes:
    • The Writing the Other Weekend Intensive: A weekend-long online course–taught live by Nisi Shawl and K Tempest Bradford–focusing on writing in an educated and sensitive manner about people who don’t look or live like you. We looked at specific categories through which people are othered (e.g., race, gender/sexuality, and class) and also craft issues (e.g., dialogue and worldbuilding) that can create problematic fiction if done wrong or really brilliant fiction if done right. I particularly loved the exercises, which have already made me think about my work differently (see “Novel progress!” and one of the short stories mentioned above).
    • Writing Native American Characters Master Class: This two-hour class was packed with information, but it topic is deep enough to fill two days or two years or two lifetimes. The estimable Debbie Reese gave us a 101-level overview of issues in Native American communities–especially as they are often presented in fiction. Even thought I’ve been dutifully researching issues that would have been at the forefront of my Abenaki and Métis characters’ lives, Debbie’s lecture gave me more questions to ask. I have books to read, listening to do, and some hard thinking about everything from half-mentioned details to important plot points.
    • General thoughts: Based on my experiences, I highly recommend the Writing the Other classes. The instructors are great. The alumni group is great. And the information you get is invaluable. We’re all always learning, and this is a safe and carefully crafted space in which to further the skill of writing others without othering.
  • Stuff I Read on the Internet

To a New Year of Writing

You may have heard that I took a big leap in December. After eight and a half years working in the publishing industry full-time, I’m now focusing on my writing. This kind of chance doesn’t come around every day, and I’m lucky that my husband is such an outspoken advocate for my writing career. So a new path needs a new plan. Here’s what I hope you’ll find me doing in the coming year.

January: I’ve given myself a no-excuses deadline for finishing the current draft of my novel-in-progress, and am hoping to get it to my critique group and a few beta readers at the end of January.

That means that February and March will be spent on other projects. On deck are my steampunk horror-ish “monster” story (clue: “Thank you very much”) and the second draft of my novella about a not-so-super super (hint: cheese) as well as some other ideas still coalescing.

April through June will be all about revisions to the novel. If I can’t get it done in that time frame, it’s likely that I need some space.

It’s still quite a ways out, but I’m hoping to spend June through December on other projects. I’m keeping that space gray for now, but I hope I’ll be querying the novel, researching the sequel (?!), and churning through whatever projects are keeping me up at night and glued to the computer during the day.

I still have my work cut out for me. Not working 9-to-5 means I’ve got ELF most days. And I have freelance contracts with deadlines. And I still need to adult most days and keep the house relatively clean (if you know me, you know this is the hardest of the three aforementioned tasks). So I’m still carving out time to write and time management could make or break these goals.

That brings me to what I feel I’ve been learning since picking my writing back up in earnest, and what I likely keep learning until the day I reach the pearly gates. I need to be strict with myself, but I need to be good to myself. I need to take charge of the things in my control (e.g., managing my time, getting words on paper, and submitting them when I’m done), and I need to not focus on the things that will never be in my control (e.g., actually getting published). I need to be accountable for the things I promise (e.g., telling my husband I’ll actually do the dishes, meeting freelance deadlines), but I need to forgive myself if things don’t work the way I intended them to (e.g., getting rejections, setting something aside for a while). And if I put everything I have into everything I have to do, I know I’ll come out on the other side proud of myself.

To paraphrase Miss Stacy, “Tomorrow is a fresh year, with no mistakes in it.” May 2016 be our best yet!

My Week in Words

Here’s a bit about what I’ve been up to in the last week. Just to keep me honest.

Writing
I’ve managed to write every day for the last week! That’s pretty amazing considering the fact that I haven’t done that since I found out I was pregnant.

Progress on the novel in progress is still slow, but I’ve pulled two 1,000-word days and I’m pretty happy about that. With some work tomorrow and this weekend, I’ll likely hit my goal of 1 chapter per week.

My current short story–Victorian monster gone steampunk…with a twist–went out for a fourth round of critique and I think I finally have a better idea of what to do with it. Keep an eye out for more reports of submissions!

I also finished a secret side project this week. **EDIT: Announcement and reveal forthcoming!  I published a guest blog on writing more realistic hikes over on Dan Koboldt’s Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy series! Thanks, Dan!**

Editing
Now that I’m also back in the saddle at work, I get to work on other people’s books, too.

This week I started working on a memoir and ran into my first instance where 3×5 cards will be a Godsend. I think careful attention to structure–what is revealed and when, especially–is as important with this project as it is with any good piece of fiction.

Social
A few choice tweets from this week:

Writers and bloggers: if you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period. @wilw

[in nature]
WATS THE WIFI PASWORD OUT HERE
[birds chirp]
[wind rustles the leaves]
[sunlight glimers off the lake]

IS THAT ALL ONE WORD
@johnnysun

God save us from middle aged men who tell the young people (who they do not manage) what their true priorities should be. @gilldaniels

Some nights I awaken, heart pounding, mind cobwebbed w/ memory of vague creeping things, & can only whisper: “The horror… the horror…” #VP19 @jgstewart

(That hash tag references Viable Paradise. If you’re a SFF writer and unfamiliar, check it out.)

The Legendarium

I tweeted/Facebook posted about this yesterday and wanted to give it some context beyond a few characters.

In searching for some context for the in-world writing I’ve been doing to help spark new content for my novel, I stumbled upon a word I should probably know well. “Legendarium” is not a new word: it has always been a term for a collecction of legends and was used by Tolkien to describe the writing that formed the backbone of his Middle Earth canon–a backbone readers wouldn’t see in-full until long after his passing.

I’m composing my legendarium right in Scrivener, alongside Draft 2 of my novel. If it were real (in the corporeal sense), this collection would have to be in a box and would include several individual volumes and who-knows-what-kind of curiosities. If you were to read it over my shoulder, however, you’d see stories, scenes, and a whole host of fictionalized content from newspaper articles to timelines. I’m hoping it’ll be a creative way to catalog my research and really bring this alternate 1869 to life.

And because you’re being kind enough to read, here’s my legendarium’s  current TOC (remember that this is all fictional):

  • The Book of Proof, a leatherbound journal, dated 1853, gathering evidence to contextualize strange and otherwise unexplained occurrences in the human world
  • Ferroequinology, “Chapter 4”, a timeline of the development of trains and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad
  • a collection of correspondence between the late Joseph North, professor of natural history and botany at Dartmouth College, and his colleagues in New England and abroad.
  • Local Rhyme, a small collection of nursery rhymes collected from the families of New Hampshire’s North Country, published in 1845
  • the US Congressional Record, 1840 to 1849.

I know, I know: I’m a total geek.

Hello, World!

And so begins the first post of this new site. So far I love the template, but this may quickly move to a different host. Stay tuned there!

I’m still on maternity leave for another 3.5 days (sob), so my time is being split between my novel in progress and ELF. As for the writing portion, I’ve been working on a legendarium for the novel. I’ve run into many worldbuilding pitfalls, and I think having the extra text will help me better navigate these holes in the main narrative.