Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Autocomplete is... Helpful?

Something silly to share today.

Because my arms don't work as well as they should, I type using an on-screen keyboard. As I click on letters it displays words it thinks I'm trying to type, and I can click on them to save time. In theory.

Usually I click the wrong word, and have to go back and fix it. Or I don't realize what I did and get really confused during editing. Like that time my soldiers were talking about waffles instead of warfare.

But something amazing happened last night. I clicked on the wrong word... and it was actually better than the word I was trying for!

I was trying to type

"Diana and Phyllis don't exist right now," I say, staring down at an alien body.


I think I typed an S instead of a D and just clicked the first word it offered, because I somehow ended up with

"Diana and Phyllis don't exist right now," I say, staring down at an alien bosom.


At first I was like, "Ew, no. Stop looking at your boobs, you weirdo." But my main character has had some memory... uploads and, for all intents and purposes, her brain is not her brain. The memories, for the most part, came from a guy, so from his perspective it's alien for him to suddenly be female, and it's totally reasonable that the breasts in particular are alien to him. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever been pleased with autocomplete.

It's also the first time in my life I think I've ever used the word "bosom" (or even really talked about one?) so it's clear autocomplete doesn't know me at all. (Though it was right to replace warfare with waffles; international disputes should be more delicious.)

(And yes, it kind of sounds like she's named them Diana and Phyllis. I know. It sounds much better in context. :D )

 

Also, a reviewer on Goodreads compared Circuits & Slippers to The Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer. I know my story is only a teensy bit of the book, but I'm so excited that we're even in the same sentence as those amazing books.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Everything is blah lately.

I feel like I haven't been reading all the blogs and sites I normally do, and while I'm getting a lot of writing done it doesn't feel like the stories are moving forward. (But if I ever finish this one book, which I'm calling Pink Reincarnations at the moment, there will be some hilarious editing notes because I've changed the plot so many times that I don't even know what's happening anymore).

 

But I do have something I'm proud of. I made a glove!

When I'm not writing, I crochet. I really love making things with my hands; it's more of an immediate satisfaction for my creativity, where I can see and touch the progress, while writing takes forever and is just a mess of words unless you really look at it.

I used to draw and make dollhouse miniatures but my hands and muscles have stopped cooperating with me enough that it isn't enjoyable.

Usually I make little stuffed animals and flowers to accent my grandmother's hats, but she gave me a bunch of super soft scrap yarn and I'm making myself a pair of gloves.

 
[Image shows a hand resting on a wheelchair joystick, wearing a
lacy purple fingerless glove with yellow cuff.]

I hate having my fingers trapped in mittens and gloves and they make it hard to drive my wheelchair, so these are fingerless and the one I wear on my driving hand has a big hole in the palm for my joystick. And since the muscular dystrophy makes my fingers bend funny, the gloves are extra loose and have a strap to tighten them (which I made out of a keychain and a picture hanging hook 'cuz I'm thrifty like that. Also we couldn't find my big box of buttons).

The lacy stitch I used was a complete accident; I just wanted to whip up a few rows to check the fit, and it ended up looking cute. The colors are much more vivid in real life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG: 5 Years from Now

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.

 
 
Each month, they also have an optional question to answer. This month it's: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I'm going to try to take this question seriously (unlike the last time I talked about my writing goals).
Of course I'd like to have a novel published, whether that's FreakShow or ones that I'm working on now.
More short stories published. I really enjoyed the entire process of having my story in Circuits & Slippers. I'd love to do that again.
And I doubt it'll be in the next five years, but it would be amazing if my work was made into a movie or TV show. "Based on the novel by Jennifer Lee Rossman" in the credits.

But as for my plan... There isn't really much more that I can do besides writing the best stories I can and submitting to as many markets as I can.
Beyond that, I can only hope that my work gets in the hands of someone who likes it.

Now as for my general writerly insecurities, I know it was kind of a fluke that I had three things accepted within two months, but I'm a little... annoyed that nothing else has been accepted since. Like, what's so different? Has my writing gotten worse somehow? Have I not been trying as hard? I'm pretty sure the answer is no to both, but that isn't helpful.
And I'm at the point in most of my projects where I'm floundering and have no clue what happens next and feel like nothing I'm doing is any good. But that always happens and I'm used to it.
And then there's my novel FreakShow, which has been getting some really nice rejection letters and I don't know what's wrong with it.
 
But on the bright side, my story Chrysalis will be read as a podcast on Cast of Wonders in the first half of 2017. They had some delays, but are nailing down their schedule. Yaaay.
 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I Don't Read (a post I wrote almost a year ago)

(So I wrote this post months ago. And then I decided it was sad and embarrassing and I didn't want to post it until I could say it wasn't true anymore. It isn't. And this is the part where I'd point you to my Goodreads page to show you all the books I've read, but I somehow managed to mass delete a lot of my ratings? (Because I'm so smart and good at computers.) So while I go and try to remember everything I've read for the last few months, enjoy this post that is now full of lies!)

(Oh, and if you were wondering, I was successful at my "write a page every time I'm on the computer in November" challenge. And I think the pressure gave me some interesting plot twists. Congratulations to everyone who did actual Nanowrimo.)

 

I don't read.

I'm not proud of this. In fact I'm a little ashamed to admit it. But I very rarely read fiction.

I used to. I started reading as soon as I could hold a book, and by the age of six or seven I was correcting adults on their pronunciation of words that were bigger than I was. By the time I was 13, I'd read almost every book in my age range the library had to offer, and after that I read some funny murder mysteries with my mom and competed to see who could solve it first.

I don't know what changed. A lot of things I guess. I got busier, my ADHD got worse, depression kicked in. All I know is all of a sudden I'm 26 and I can't remember the last time I held an actual book. I've read a little Shakespeare and HG Wells online, a paragraph here or there between emails, but I don't lose hours engrossed in pages like I used to.

I don't even go inside the library anymore. I use their website to borrow movies, and I stay in the van while my mom goes in. And I feel bad for that. Shouldn't a writer read?

One day a few months ago, when the library was closed, I went downstairs with my mom to help her find a book in our building's community room. I found a bright yellow book with a cat on the cover. It looked like a mystery with cats, one of my mother's favorite genres, and I pointed it out. She read the inside cover, said, "Talking space cats. You want it?"

I did want it. It was Catacombs, by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. I think I read it (and Catalyst, the other book in the series) in about a day. And then I didn't read again until this week.

I'm trying to find time for it, because I love it so much, but I think the sheer volume of possible books intimidates me. I don't know which ones to read, so I don't read any. I'm starting with the winners and nominees of the Hugo award. It's a limited amount, I know they're my favorite genres, and... and a writer ought to read, shouldn't they?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

More (Hopefully) Amusing Mistakes

Going through my file of mistakes that made me laugh is not an extremely productive use of my time, but it sure is fun. Here are a few more.

 

(Oh, and the ebook of Circuits & Slippers is on sale this weekend for only 99 cents! That's around 5 cents a story!)

 

This feeling of hope momentarily fluttered in her soul before dying a sudden and tragic death when the heavy double doors of the cafeteria opened with a loud, gunshot-like clang. (Many things in this world go "clang." Guns are not one of them.)

"You know that bumper sticker that says 'Friends help you move; real friends help you move bodies'? Well," Vanessa said cheerfully, "I think I may have developed a test to see how good of a kitty you are." (But she isn't a kitty!)

"I could lick it or keep it." (Or the real phrase, Take it or leave it.)

I went into a dead flop of limpness.

"So you ned a job," Ned said thoughtfully (Ned often talks about himself.)

I didn’t want to live in a VAN down by the RIVER, but yelling at me and breaking my ccooffee table wasn’t exactly the best way to motivate me. (this is the part of the story where my characters started randomly quoting Chris Farley sketches. I'm not joking.)

I screamed like a little girl again and flew down the hill like a thing that flies quickly.

That made perfect sense now that I understtood it

sheep lambs (To differentiate them from cow lambs, I presume?)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Amusing Writing Mistakes

I believe I promised to post some funny mistakes I've made during writing, and since I'm still busy writing a page every time I use the computer (haven't missed one yet!), this will make for a quick and easy post.

Some of these happened because I was writing too fast (or, during Nanowrimo, trying to catch up to the day's wordcount), others because autocorrect wanted to help, and some are the result of my brain just spitting out the completely wrong word at the wrong time. My favorites are when I try to do a metaphor and forget where I was going halfway through the sentence.



he stared deadly at the man

Nohing in life is to be feared; it is to be understood. Now is the time to fear more so that we may fear less.

A looming shadow loomed

At this point I felt the dramatic conclusion would be to profess my love for him and kiss him like married people do. (this is why I don't write romance.)

This claim hit me like a sack of bricks thrown by a proficient thrower of brick sacks

The field lay strewn with dozens of dead little goats which had once been live little goats full of little goat dreams. Now they were little more than rutabagas in waiting. (I couldn't think of the word "fertilizer," so I wrote "rutabagas" instead.)

I bent down to examine the body of a caramel-colored mare or doe or... goat bitch. To be honest, I grew up on a corn farm, so there wasn't really any male/female terminology involved there. It was a lady goat with two lady goat boobies, and that was good enough for me.

I struck my most authoritative pose and flashed my badger. (I meant "badge.")

She set the body on a sliding thing and slid him into the freezer like a Flintstone push-up pop (I really don't know how a coroner's office works.)

It was a cool day in November. Except in December. I was right the first time; it was November.

I wanted so badly to open my eyes closed

if there had been a silence, I wouldn't have been able to hear it

Monday, November 7, 2016

Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo is a yearly challenge to write 50,000 words during November, or about 1,667 words a day.

The past four years, I've done just that. And it's fun. The end result is nowhere near a finished or polished novel, and more often than not the act of writing quickly results in a lot of - sometimes hilarious - typos and plot holes (Sometime I'll go through my document of mistakes and post some here. Off the top of my head, last year I had a character claim the best way to kill a zombie was to throw a turtle at it, because I put a turtle in the scene and couldn't think of a reason for him to be there).

I'm not doing Nanowrimo this year.

In the past, it fit perfectly well with my ADHD brain that didn't care if the plot changed halfway through because I'm never getting published and it doesn't matter and depression and anxiety and boredom! But now I like taking my time to actually plot and get to know the characters. I know Nanowrimo helps a lot of people with their first draft, but I only end up with an amusing mess that I never want to edit.

I'm missing the craziness of it, but I'm still challenging myself. Every time I get on the computer, I have to write one page. Novel, short story, doesn't matter.

It's day 7. So far, so good. I don't know exactly how many pages I've written (and just to clarify, what I'm calling a page is one screen on Wordpad, 11 point font, single spaced). But I've written 3 short stories, 2 of them are actually pretty good and one that needs work, and worked on my novels (Yes, plural. I love to multitask).

On busy days, I don't need to worry that I'm not meeting the same wordcount as on days where I'm home all day. (Although in the past two days, I've written a 3,000 word story so I probably am getting around 1,667 a day. But it isn't nearly as stressful.)

So. That's what I'm doing this month. Yay.

(I really need to get better at ending posts. :D Maybe I need a tagline or a catchphrase or something.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG: My Favorite Aspect of Being a Writer

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.

 
 
Each month, they also have an optional question to answer. This month it's What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
 
I just love writing.

I have ADHD, OCD, and a bunch of other disorders that are also words you try to make when the Scrabble board is mostly full. So I have chaos in my head, and writing gets a little bit of that out and allows me to function as the amusing nerd I am.

Beyond that, it's just unbelievably fun. I mean, the editing and querying and stuff isn't, but discovering wacky characters and helping them tell their stories? That's the best thing ever.

(Except maybe dogs dressed as dinosaurs.)


But since Circuits & Slippers was published, I've found a new thing I like about writing. Other writers.

I don't like people. I'm happiest when I don't have friends and I have been known to hide from my neighbors. So I was reluctant to do any sort of social media, but Twitter seemed acceptable to me because it's just: write a short funny thing, other people can like it if they want, you do the same for them. It's barely social.

But then I was chosen for the anthology, and was automatically part of a group. We weren't forced to interact or anything and I know a few of them knew each other before, but I guess there's probably some psychological thing that makes people in a group want to interact.

We would post about the book, talk about each other's stories. If they tweeted something about their cat, I'd sometimes reply with something about mine. Some of us have talked about our love for obscure movies and Doctor Who. I drew this doodle for our editor because we both like sea creatures and dumb puns:



And then I realized I might be making friends. And that's weird for me.

My default setting in life is "amuse other people so they won't ask me to go away." It isn't a choice I make or anything, but in just about every social situation, my only goal becomes the other person laugh before they realize I'm an anxious mess who doesn't want to talk to them.

Now I'm slightly less anxious and I kind of enjoy talking with some people, and I don't know how to do it.

I've never been great at having friends, especially in real life. How much interaction is too much? Too little? Do people really like my dumb jokes or are they just too nice to tell me I'm annoying? What do they want for their birthday! (Luckily the Internet eliminates many of those pesky real life problems since we don't actually know each other and I'm not asking them to hang out with me when they have other things to do - and when in doubt, send them a picture of a dog dressed as a dinosaur.)

But I'm excited, because the fact that I'm not quitting Twitter the instant people want to interact with me must be a good sign. Of what, I don't know. But it's a good thing.

So I'll end this post with another dumb little doodle pun. It's a nerdy and obsccure one, requiring you to know about the microscopic creature called a tardigrade, and that the TARDIS is the blue police box from Doctor Who.

 
 
 
Yes, folks, it's a TARDISgrade.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Writing Goals

"...I don't know what your goals are for your writing..."

I don't remember what my mother said before or after this (I'm assuming it was something like "You should try to make a lot of money." I know; I'm trying). All I know is this line stood out because I realized that I also don't know what my goals are.

I've been published. That was literally the only thing I ever wanted and I really didn't expect it to happen this fast, so I didn't plan further.

Am I supposed to have goals? Other than "get something else published" and "figure out how my plot works when Nikola Tesla actually died five years earlier than would be convenient for me" and "make my characters stop eating soft pretzels with her pretty crush while the fabric of time is literally being torn apart"?

What else is there? Becoming Rowling-level famous and having movie deals? Okay. (Actually not okay. I'd be fine with movies, but I really don't want to be famous.)

So I've made a list of writing goals.

 

  • Earn enough money to buy a house.
  • ...and adopt all the cats in the shelter to live in it (if not forever, then just like an in-home kitty adoption agency where I get to keep all the really awesome ones with extra toes and name them all after Nobel Prize winning scientists. (Anyone who says they don't want a thumbed cat named Madam Curie or Werner Heisenberg is a liar)).
  • Have fans dress as one of my characters for Halloween.
  • Have a fan? Like, someone I've never interacted with.
  • Movie adaptation (as long as I can veto if they pick an actor I don't like to play my favorite character. (I'm probably kidding, if you're a movie studio person reading this in some weird version of the future where we're actually in talks about a movie deal. I'm an extremely nice and undemanding person to work with.))
  • I think it'd be awesome to have a Lego set based on the spaceship from FreakShow. I'm completely serious about this one. I want my books to be Lego-popular.
  • Figure out how my plot works when Nikola Tesla actually died five years earlier than would be convenient for me. (Not kidding, this is my major plot problem right now. Well, this and the fact that my characters are casually eating pretzels during the time travel apocalypse. I think someone is going to end up going back in time to kill him so isn't alive during the Roswell crash and doesn't become a time traveler who helps himself revolutionize electricity. (If that sentence makes sense to you, congratulations.))


So I'm obviously taking this extremely seriously.

I don't know what my goals are! Write and hope people like it.

What more is there?

 

(Also, in case anyone was wondering, my story that was in a contest? It was in Cast of Wonders' flash fiction contest, which I can now say because it did not move on to the semifinals. The stories that did move on were so good, though, that I totally get why they beat me. (And one commenter said my story was their favorite. :D))

Monday, October 17, 2016

Criticism

I've never actually gotten much criticism of my work.

Family and friends and teachers might say they didn't "get" something, and rejection letters from publications are usually form letters or "we enjoyed [specific thing], but don't feel the story is the right fit."

But right now, one of my short stories is in a contest. And members of a forum are voting and commenting on it. The stories are anonymous, and the comments are honest.

I won't link to the site or be too direct with my paraphrasing (so I don't accidentally un-anonymous-ize it), but so far the comments go along these lines: The writing is good but repetitive, I liked the story, but the writer could explain less and be more subtle."

I don't know what I expected to say, and I don't know how I expected I'd feel reading honest comments from strangers.

And I actually still don't know how I feel. Kind of sick to my stomach because I'm a perfectionist and I don't want to do anything even a little bit wrong. Sad because I disappointed the readers with something less than perfect.

But at the same time, these are not awful reviews and they aren't telling me anything about my writing I'm not already aware of.

And they did say they liked it and the writing is good!

In a way, I really don't care what anyone thinks of me or my writing. Which sounds like self confidence but actually stems from my lifelong lack of desire to fit in (I communicated primarily by meowing when I was 8, if that gives you an idea of my social life). But it also hurts something awful to know, however subjectively, someone didn't like something I did. (And the weird thing? The specific line that people didn't care for? Those are the ones I thought were clever.)

I think the moral of this story is "don't read reviews unless you're really emotionally stable." Or possibly "nothing good happens in the comments section." (But then, I don't like stories with morals. Because everyone's tastes are different!)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go check the polls to see how much I'm losing by.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Writing Log

Copies of Circuits and Slippers are making their way into people's homes (my grandparents got theirs Monday, and I've signed a copy that I'm sending to my aunt, and STRANGERS who aren't related to me are reading my story!), and even though I'm pretty sure mine is the shortest piece in the book, it's still very exciting.

Anyway. I keep a writing log. It's where I write what I've submitted where, whether it's been rejected or is pending, and, on occasion, long ranty rants about how I'm the worst writer ever. :D

Because I still can't wrangle my feelings about being published into a coherent post, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at my journey to publication in Circuits & Slippers by way of my writing log. Because what's the point of a blog if I can't use it to amuse myself? (Today's comments in parentheses and italics)

 
Monday, January 11, 2016 (Eleven days after I decided to start submitting my stories to editors and publishers. I actually had success quickly, but I wouldn't know it for months)
Submitted Scrapefoot to Lyssa Chiavari's Slippers and Sprockets sci-fi fairytale anthology, after writing it specifically for it based on an idea I already had. (Lyssa was originally an editor for the project. As for the title, I don't honestly know if it was called Slippers and Sprockets in the beginning or if I'm the doofus who couldn't remember the title two seconds after submitting to it.)

 
Tuesday, 19 April, 2016The Circuits and Slippers people have extended their deadline to May 6 (I had actually forgotten that I submitted to them, but something reminded me and I started checking the site every day) and anticipate all notices will be sent by May 20. BUT they say that stories they know they will pass on will have been notified by April 8. I am not getting too excited, but I did not get a definite no yet!

 
Friday, May 20, 2016 (aka "I get ramble-y and philosophical when I'm anxious")
May 20. The day I should hear from Circuits and Slippers. And morning finds me with an unread message in my inbox. I will never assume anything is good news, that I am going to be picked or that they will love my work. I am not going to be the kind of person who expects good things and is constantly disappointed. I will accept that, statistically, it is unlikely a certain story will be chosen, but that it has happened before and will happen again. It's cautious optimism, and right now that email could be anything from anyone. It's Schrodinger's cat, only it might not even be a cat. Could be Schrodinger's friendly automated response dolphin letting me know some submission has gone through or someone commented on my blog.
Now I'm afraid and excited in equal amounts.
Oh, it's [a rejection for a story called Siamese, about a cat]. Hey, lookit that. Schrodinger's cat was a cat after all, just a different breed than I expected. (How much of a dork am I?)

Saturday, May 21, 2016Scrapefoot was accepted.
AAAAH! Off to email everyone I know! AAAAAAAAH!
I mean seriously. Is this happening to me? I've gone to check to make sure the email is still there, and that it hasn't changed its words while I wasn't looking. Don't need a quantum state issue today. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. (Apparently I am very much a dork.)

 
Monday, June 6, 2016Got my C&S contract. Addressed with purple ink and with a Batman stamp. (Because my editor is awesome. I knew right then that it would be an enjoyable experience working with her. And I was right.)

 
Tuesday, August 2, 2016We have cover art for C&S! AND. IT'S. AWESOME! Our names are on the back. My name is on a book! Aaaaaah!
 
Saturday, August 6, 2016C&S is on 36 people's TBR on Goodreads and I'm only related to one of them! (This was even more exciting than the first time my blog got a view that wasn't me!)

Thursday, September 8, 2016 (After I got an advanced download copy.)
This book is so good; how am I allowed to be in it?

 
Monday, September 19, 2016Publication is so close. Ten days. It's really happening, isn't it? I mean... me, with my words being read by strangers. My words becoming real, existing on paper outside of my head. I'm a writer. An author. And I feel like Jodie Foster in Contact because I think "they should have sent a poet". I can't even begin to explain how this feels. This stupid little hobby that has dominated my life. These silly little stories that I spend so much time and energy on. They're about to put my name into the world. And yes, it's an anthology being sold online and my story is undoubtedly the shortest and I'm not going to get famous from it. But there will be a book in someone's home that has my name on the back cover. And my words on pages 221 through 229 (that's where they were in the advance copy; might have changed slightly). And when I say that means everything to me, it is not hyperbole.

 
Wednesday, September 28, 2016Tomorrow. In 24 hours, I will be a published author. I'm trying not to think about it, honestly, and just get things done. I've got a blog post and email announcement to go out to family. I'm sure they're sick of hearing from me EXCEPT THAT IS THE DEPRESSION TALKING AND I AM ACTUALLY AWESOME AND MY FAMILY LOVES HEARING ABOUT MY EXPLOITS IN THE WORLD OF FICTION WRITING. (When in doubt, scream at the depression.)
Jaylee got the proof copy of the book and posted a video and you can see my name on the back and as she's flipping through you can totally see my story for half a second! It's super blurry and you can't really tell it's mine but I know it comes right after Christopher Walker's and you can clearly see his bio on the page before my blurry page so I know it's mine! AAAH! (When I sent the video to my aunt, she wrote back saying "If you pause it just right, you can see your name in the table of contents, too." My family is the best. Sidenote: I've been saying "AAAH!" so much lately that spellcheck now believes it's a real word.)

 
Thursday, September 29, 2016 (I was - and still am - in shock that it actually happened and so didn't write much.)
WE. ARE. PUBLISHED! Have to go blog and email. AAAH!
I've gotten 13 emails today and it isn't even noon. Jaylee sent out a mass email to all the authors and we've been hitting "reply all" and screaming in excitement at each other all morning.
And now I'm up to 21 emails in a day. (beating my previous record of five. I don't email much.)


So now we know exactly how dorky and excitable I am. (AAAH!) Do you keep a writing log or journal?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Full Review of Circuits & Slippers

Circuits & Slippers has been out for a week, and we're getting some great reviews on Goodreads. I posted a review over there, but figured why not put it here, too?




I wish I had a book like this when I was younger. A book that tells us it's okay to twist your favorite stories into something new, that a princess doesn't have to sit around and wait to be rescued.

I think my favorite stories are China White and the Seven, by James Wood, which takes the story of Snow White to a delightfully disturbing place; and the adorable and quirky Rapunzel-inspired tale Compatible, by C.M. Lloyd.

Some of the stories didn't grab my attention as much, but that's just personal preference and I still enjoyed them.

There's a ton of diversity represented in this book. Off the top of my head, I can think of stories with an asexual character, gay Latinas, a trans girl, and androids that use gender neutral pronouns.

I wasn't familiar with all the stories retold here, but that didn't make Le Trotteur or Some Assembly Required any less enjoyable. 

I didn't know what to expect in terms of sex and violence, but there isn't much of either and what there is isn't superduper graphic.

I love the little details, like the fonts and the way scene breaks (usually denoted by asterisks) are a graphic that looks like circuitry.

Jaylee James put together something special here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

IWSG: Is it Ready?

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities. (And I don't know why Blogger isn't posting these on schedule like I tell it to!)

 
 
For me, the answer is very simple: When I don't hate it anymore.

I'm very critical of myself. Everything I do is terrible, or at least less good than it should be. This is not a healthy way to go about life by any means, but I've been like this as long as I can remember, and don't expect it to go away anytime soon.

It's helpful - or at least less harmful - in real life, where results are cut and dry. That picture is crooked and I won't give up until it's straight. My estimation was off, so I'll do the calculations and get it exact.

But writing is an art. It's subjective, with no clear right or wrong.

And yet I hate every word I write.

And I do mean hate. When I read something I've written, I cringe at phrases I thought were clever once. I find every fault in every character and I imagine all the dialogue being spoken in really cheesy, overly dramatic ways.

The thought of letting someone read it at this point physically makes me feel ill, and usually around now I start wondering why I even bother writing since I can't come up with a plot that I didn't steal from some TV show or video game (if you read my Notes from the Editing Room posts, you can generally gauge how unedited the writing is by how many bad things I say about myself: first draft is "you're so stupid; you think you're so clever BUT THIS CHARACTER IS SO OBVIOUSLY BASED ON HAN SOLO!" whereas the final drafts are more along the lines of "aw, you're such a dork.")

So I edit. I change or fix everything that makes me feel bad feelings about myself. And then I do it again. If I'm lucky, some of them become things that make me feel good feelings about myself, but as long as the bad feelings are gone, I know it must be okay. Not perfect, but good enough that I feel confident letting people read it.



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Circuits & Slippers is Published! (updated with an interview)





Twenty authors, twenty fairy tales retold with a sci-fi twist...

Circuits & Slippers is now available in paperback and ebook!

*biggest. grin. ever.*

I AM A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

 

I'm trying to put into words how this feels, and I'm failing.

This stupid little hobby that has dominated my life. These silly little stories that I spend so much time and energy on. They're about to put my name into the world. And yes, it's an anthology being sold online and my story is undoubtedly the shortest and I'm not going to get famous from it. But there will be a book in someone's home that has my name on the back cover. And my words on pages 221 through 229 (At least, that's where they are in the advanced copy). And when I say that means everything to me, it is not hyperbole.

I will be forever thankful to our editor Jaylee James for taking a chance with me, and to all the other authors who are making this a fun and stress-free first experience.

 

The other 19 authors are:

Allan Davis Jr., James Wood, Leandra Wallace, Mandy Nachampassack-Maloney, M. Z. Medina, Marie Piper, Nitai R. Poddar, Sara Daniele Rivera, Caitlin Nicoll, Shannon McDermott, Christopher Walker, Claudie Arseneault, Diane Dubas, Eben Mishkin, Elizabeth Hopkinson, C.M. Lloyd, L.G. Keltner, Lizz Donnelly, and Lea Anne Guettler.

Remember their names. Read their stuff. They're amazing writers and they've made this whole process all the more fun. I was kind of apprehensive about being on Twitter, but this bunch of amazing people make it so fun and a lot of us share a sense of humor (which is based mostly around bad puns).

One of our authors, Leandra Wallace, has a celebration post on her blog.

And (I don't know how I forgot to link to this!) I did an interview with The Handy Uncapped Pen blog for disabled and neurodivergent writers.
 
And now on to the obligatory "hey, buy our book!" part.


For some reason, Amazon has the physical and ebook copies in two separate listings. Jaylee has emailed Amazon about it, but for now, the links are:
 
Paperback
Kindle

And our Goodreads page

Both of which I'm contractually required to tell you to share with everyone you have ever met (Okay, not really. :D But our editor did ask us to spread the word. And if you enjoy it, the best way to show it is by leaving a review!)

 
I'm going to go collapse from excitement now.

 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

More Editing Notes

I found more notes I wrote myself while editing FreakShow (which is currently in the inbox of several agents-AAAH!).

 

You prove to me that robot mosquitoes can survive the possibly lightyears of space travel to get back to Vespi and arrive unharmed, and I will give you a dollar. (not a binding contract)

Sometimes I hit Tab instead of Q and it looks like I'm redacting parts of the story.

What, pray tell, is a "watchment route"? Did you mean "surveillance"? Because I think you meant "surveillance."

I don't know if that's how gravity works, but to be fair neither does Jack. (my go-to excuse for when I get facts wrong)

Did we forget that your ship also has wings?

Before you even think about letting another person read this, you make damn sure every time you mean to say "peering," it doesn't say "peeing." Why does everyone peer so much, anyway?

Solidified air. It's a thing. Deal with it.

I have no idea how big buildings should be. Four hundred floors? Sure!

If this ever becomes a movie, I get to play "scared girl at keyboard."

It's commentary on the value we place on women's appeeeeeeeaaaarances!

Vespi is both a city and a planet. Like Hollywood.

*just barely refrains from launching into a song from The Land Before Time IV*

I can see it now: "The book most influential to my writing career is definitely the Final Fantasy VII strategy guide."

It's hard to describe things. Can the last chapters just be a picture book? Or my phone number and a promise that if you call, I'll explain how it ends?

Running, as described by someone perplexed as to how people walk without falling.

Oh my god; it's a boss battle. You dork.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Review of Circuits & Slippers

It's slowly dawning on me that I'm really going to be a published author.

I've received an advanced reader copy of Circuits & Slippers!

*happy dance*

I'll write up a full review for Goodreads once I get the chance to read all of the stories, but here's my impression of the book based on what I've read so far.

 

Twenty authors, twenty sci-fi retellings of your favorite fairy tales, one really awesome book.

Editor Jaylee James has assembled an amazing collection of stories here. From the first tale, Slumbering Hill by Diana Dubas, I felt transported to exciting new worlds full of "star stories".

The stories play with the narrative of the classic tales in imaginative new ways: Marie Piper's take on Red Riding Hood's "What big eyes you have" scene was brilliant, and Prina and the Pea by Leandra Wallace put an interesting twist on why there were so many mattresses on that bed.

Jaylee put a lot of work into this book, (as evidenced by the awesome detail where the scene breaks look like bits of circuitry!) and while I'm so incredibly honored to be part of it, I'm pretty sure I would be in love with this book even if I wasn't in it.

It's the kind of book I wish I had as a teenager, when I didn't realize it was okay to tell amazingly bizarre stories about sci-fi princesses.

(Circuits & Slippers will be available in paperback and electronic on September 29. Add it to your To Read list on Goodreads!)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Circuits & Slippers Interview

Just a small announcement. Leandra Wallace, one of the authors in the Circuits & Slippers fairy tale anthology is putting interviews with the other authors on her blog, and Christopher Walker and I are the first two!
 
(I'd like to thank my aunt for taking a photo of me where I actually look halfway decent. And for not caring that I cropped her out of the picture.)
 
 
In other news, I got an advanced copy of the anthology and it's so good you guys! And my name is spelled right! (I always manage to leave off an N or an S, no matter how many times I check it, and I was terrified I'd misspelled it in my own bio.)
 
T minus three weeks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ISWG - A Little Late

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities. Except I totally forgot this month, even though I had the post written and everything. So here we go.

 
So I haven't done one of these posts in a while, because I haven't been insecure at all!

(yeah... I wouldn't believe that, either. In reality, I've been busy and didn't have any insecurities that I wanted to take the time to whine write about. :D Although Circuits & Slippers is being published on September 29, so I am really happy.)



Insecurity #1

I've finished editing my first real novel, and I'm going to be doing #PitMad tomorrow, which is where authors tweet about their novels and agents and publishers can "like" them to request more information. Need I say more?

(update: I got 2 likes!)


Insecurity #2


My brain is so exhausted and I don't feel like I'll ever write anything good again. I know I will, because I've had this feeling before, but somehow that doesn't help.



Insecurity #3

People I know are reading my work.

This is a big one for me, and the reason why I almost used a pseudonym. For the most part, no one I know has read my work since I was 14 and my stories were about a talking mouse that went on adventures. Now my stories are complicated. Dark sometimes.

One character is kind of suicidal. Others are (spoiler alert for my aunt if you're still reading FreakShow:) having affairs. A lot of them swear way more than I do.

Obviously, the characters are not me, but there's just enough of me in these characters that even I wonder how much of them is a conscious decision and how much is just my mind going "hey, look - a chance to work out our feelings about our father!"

If I wonder that, what will other people think? Will they believe me when I say I was never as depressed as Petra? That I don't actually have as dirty a mind as Lily and that her promiscuity was a surprise to me?

I send warnings along with my stories sometimes. Simple as "there's violence in this chapter" to long explanations about the origin of the characters so they understand my intentions. I think I do this because the people I'm sending it to - aunts, grandparents, friends of the family - have known me all my life. I don't want to worry them about my mental health or when they see how seriously messed up my characters are, or think I'm hiding things from them in any way.



I feel like this post should end with a moral like "talk to your family about these icky feelings" or something.

Instead, here's a picture I found on my computer but don't remember drawing! It appears to be a cat gazing out at a universe for some reason.

 

 
(obligatory ad for Circuits & Slippers: Like sci-fi? Like fairy tale retellings? You can sign up for an electronic advance reader copy of Circuits & Slippers here!)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

More Editing Notes

I'm going to be a published author in less than a month with the publication of Circuits & Slippers (!!!!!). To celebrate, here are some more notes I made while editing my novel.



"Because she was my daughter? Because they were in danger?" Oh, ambiguous pronouns, you amuse me so.

If Parthen was pregnant that would complicate things immensely. Especially because both potential fathers are in the same body right now (oh hey, conjoined twins) and so Theon could argue that they're both eating for two, and what if the baby had powers? It's zombie fetus all over again. (I just want to point out that there is no indication Parthen is pregnant in the book, nor is that anything I even considered, so I don't know why my brain is pointing out all that the problems that would cause. And "zombie fetus all over again" is a misleading Walking Dead reference. There was never a zombie fetus in the book. Or in The Walking Dead, for that matter.)

And now I'm misreading "boots" as "boobs." I'm think I need to use a different font.

Why do you talk about pronouns so freaking much?

It's the midpoint reversal where everything changes!

Is "hove" a word? (yes, but not the way I wanted to use it).

I seriously have to come up with some excuse for all the talk about pronouns in this book. I mean, is it an allegory for the inherent human need to label? Sure. I'mma go with that. (None of my characters use nonbinary gender pronouns or anything as logical as that. They just talk about grammar a lot for some reason.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Editing Process

So I just finished my first proper novel.

(pause for happy dance)

I've written a novella and I've technically won Nanowrimo four times (but I never bothered editing those). But Freak Show, my space opera about the performers of an intergalactic sideshow, is now as complete at 85,170 words, and as polished as I can get it.

It's a weird feeling of accomplishment, pride, and bewilderment. Did I really just finish the thing I've been working on for nine months? (I totally understand why people call their books their babies; I took almost exactly nine months to bring this thing into the world, and now I'm already stressing about whether I can get it into a good college. I mean publisher.)

Anyway. I'm always interested in seeing people's writing process, so I thought I'd share mine.
 

First draft

I didn't allow myself to edit as I write, except for small typos and things I'd forget to change if I don't do it at that moment. It's pointless for me to go back and edit for continuity when the plot veers from my plan, because I know it could be all for naught if I change my mind again. And boy, did I change my mind. One character went from being the damsel in distress to the villain, and another went from innocuous side character to secretly the villain's minion to the person who basically saved everyone else a bunch of times.

 

Second draft

After waiting a few weeks for the novel to "rest" (read: I never wanted to see the thing again, and also my aunt was visiting and I was too busy anyway), I read the first draft, making notes as I went (this is where I found all those snarky "notes from the editing room"). Then I went through and changed the Big Things: removing mentions of erased plot lines and characters, making sure people are always named the right name and act the way they should, making sure there's enough foreshadowing of that big important thing in chapter 12... I did some copyedits and small sentence tweaks if it occured to me, but it wasn't my goal at this point. I also wrote brief outlines for the few flashback scenes and decided exactly where they should go.

 

Third draft

Now that I knew for sure what things I needed to reference or foreshadow, I went in and added the flashback scenes. I also finally figured out names for some of those minor planets I've been calling [Krypton] and [Gallifrey], and eliminated some other placeholders like [airplane word for "steering wheel"].

 

Fourth draft

Here I got rid of all the placeholders, named the few things that still didn't have names (like the Big Evil Corporation and the Super Important Element) and did a line-by-line edit. By now the story was about as good and cohesive as I could get it (I did delete an entire scene because one of the flashbacks could convey the information much more effectively, but other than that it was pretty solid), so this involved rewriting and tweaking at the word level. I also restructered chapters. In the original draft, I had 16 chapters, about 3 scenes each. I had inserted chapter breaks as I wrote, but I didn't always have a clear direction and there was definitely room for improvement. I now have 25 chapters, most around 2 scenes long but some 3 or 4 and a few where 1 scene is its own chapter. This draft also ended up being a lot of going back to foreshadow things so the later chapters make sense.

 

Fifth draft

Here, I finally did a spellcheck. My manuscript had never been spellchecked, except for by my own eyes and brief instances where I Googled something because I can never spell "bureaucracy". I'm really surprised there weren't too many problems, except I've apparently been spelling "succumbed" wrong for my entire life. I also checked on some notes I wrote during the last draft, like "How many times did I use the word 'dichotomous' or the phrase 'a long, long time ago'?" (2 and 1, respectively). This was also when I went through and standardized things like whether "forcefield" is one word or two.


So it still hasn't really sunk in how big of a deal this is. I feel a little lightheaded (but then that could be my medication... :D).
Next stop, #PitMad on September 8!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More Notes from the Revision Room

Quick book promotion before the self-mockery starts. Want an advance reader copy of Circuits & Slippers? Fill out the form here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZQHJG9V

Now back to your regularly scheduled nonsense.

So I'm trying to get my manuscript in shape for #PitMad on September 8. It's really close to being as good as I can get it, so it just needs just a final pass or two of edits, and that means I get to find notes written to myself.
Yay?



At some point you should do a search for how many times you say "a long, long time ago" because I'm slightly concerned that it's more than one.

Check the frequency of "dichotomous," too.

Numbers don't mean anything anymore! (I rearranged some chapters and it was very confusing)

I don't really know how space works and I think I'm just subconsciously trying to make things up that are plausible enough that they don't anger Neil deGrasse Tyson.

It feels like there should be a flashback here but all the important scenes have been done. I could write about them, like, scrapbooking or something, but I think that would just end up getting cut. With fancy scissors.

Double check the constellations, yo.

I feel like I'm not using the word "pageantry" enough. (story of my life)

"No matter how much it scares you, when the people around you are starving, you turn rocks into bread. It isn't a choice; you just do it." That is a line you're proud of?

Have you seriously been misspelling the name of your own ship all along just because you can't be bothered to check whether that's a lowercase M or RN?

And this chapter shall be titled "Jen doesn't know what pollution does."

I just named a city after a character in my favorite Choose Your Own Adventure book. (Or, "I'm an adult and I still have a favorite Choose Your Own Adventure book." It's actually apt, though, because the book is The Owl Tree and my character from that city is sort of an owl.)

SOCIAL COMMENTARY ALERT.

[Spaceballs], the placeholder!


This feels like Final Fantasy VII.

Wait. Now I think I stole every one of my characters from Final Fantasy VII. Jack = Cloud, Lily = Tifa, Merulo = Barrett, Diantha = lady Sephiroth, Parthen = Aeris, Pneuman = also kind of Aeris but in spirit form, Theon = kind of Red XII, Ruby and Cara = sort of Yuffie but less cool.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Notes from the Editing Room - Revisions

I'm revising Freak Show. I may have lost a little bit of my mind. Enjoy.

 

Why do we need the word "amongst"? Did "'among" spend a semester abroad and come back with a fake accent or something? (aka, "I got 6 words into my manuscript before getting really angry at my choice of words")

"...a scandalous font." How can a font be scandalous? Did it have an affair with Comic Sans?

Stop. Using. The. Word. Jagged. (apparently I used it 10 times in 83k words)

Fun new game: does this planet really have multiple suns or is that a typo?

None of this is a lie; she's just telling the truth from a different time. And pretending to be a robot.

Space Negan needs a spinoff. He interests me. (I call him Space Negan because he seems like he would carry a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. And I can't remember his real name)

Why couldn't I have based the story on "We Built this City"? Then I could have named a ship Knee-deep in the Hoopla. (For maximum benefit, read this note in the voice of a child having a temper tantrum. My other story is more whimsical than this one and I just I couldn't take the seriousness for one more minute)

Obviously the problem occurs because it's hard to sing perfectly while simultaneously being a robot on a different planet.

I've just come to the realization that my book is just The Breakfast Club but in space and with grown-ups and slightly more high-stakes laser battles.

If my novel was Breaking Cat News, Pneuman would be Puck.

I know the Mr. Mister song isn't really saying "carry a laser down the road that I must travel," but if it was it would be an awesome theme song for this book. I mean, no one actually carries the lasers and there are no roads but still. I probably use the word "laser" more often than I use "jagged."

Friday, August 12, 2016

People Watching

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I love watching strangers. They're so interesting and inspiring. The little quirks, the choice of clothing, the way she looks at him like he's an absolute idiot and you have to wonder what he did wrong...

One of my favorite things to do in line or in waiting rooms is make up stories about the people around me. Are they married or just friends? What magic item is in that kid's backpack? Does she hunt vampires?

I almost never speak to or see these people again, and have no way of knowing what their real stories are. And that's okay; the fun is in the mystery.

Years ago, however, I was waiting in line at a doctor's appointment and I saw this fascinating older man walking towards me. Very tall, wispy white hair, thin glasses halfway down his nose, khaki vest with many pockets... I just knew he was a professor who moonlighted as an archeologist or paleontologist. And I figured he was probably English. What he would be doing at a doctor's office in a small town in New York, I didn't know. Probably something very secret and exciting.

So Richard (I decided his name was probably Richard) comes up to me, looks at me over his glasses, and asks, "Are you the last in your line?" I can't stress enough how few people in my area have any accent except our vague, almost-but-not-quite-New-England generic American accent, but he had the exact English accent I had imagined.

It took all of my strength not to burst out laughing and ask him about his latest archeological dig.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Circuits & Slippers is on Goodreads!

Circuits & Slippers anthology, coming this September, can now be added to your Goodreads bookshelf!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31279648-circuits-slippers


(this is the part where I shamelessly tell you to send that link to family, friends, coworkers, and your dog walker)

Our tentative release date is September 29th. (this is the part where you mark your calendars)

So in two months, I'm going to be a published author and that blows my mind so much that I'm having trouble putting it into words. Wow. (this is the part where I haven't stopped smiling for the last three hours)

 

And, in it's-a-small-world news, one of the other featured authors lives in the next town over from me, so we're trying to get a book reading set up at a local store or maybe the library.

My life is officially the opposite of what it was this time last year. I'm happy, productive, getting published, being confident... If you asked me a year ago to even consider doing a book reading, I'd probably have started crying from the sheer anxiety of it all.

Aaaah!

So, spread the word about the anthology! I can't wait to read it for myself!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Notes from the Editing Room - Chapters 14, 15, and 16

This is it. I've berated myself through the whole dang book. Now I have to go back and actually fix the stuff I've been mocking. Yay?

  • Battle strategy? Oh, please. You stole that from the Final Fantasy 7 strategy guide
  • And your knowledge of caves comes entirely from video games as well. Don't think I don't know you're just describing levels from Spyro the Dragon here
  • "The spacious torture cavern"? Is that what you're calling it? Because it sounds like you're a real estate agent from Despicable Me or something.
 
  • Billie scares me. She's like if Helena and Alison from Orphan Black had a baby who looked like Rose Tyler. But with knives.
  • So let me get this straight. He sees a reflection in the knife blade of the hologram and recognizes the exact color of light - which exists nowhere else in the universe - and remembers seeing it in a bunker ten years ago? And this is a major plot point? You might as well have him say "See that piece of glitter? I remember seeing that specific piece of glitter on a birthday card my aunt gave me when I was seven, so I know exactly where the bad guys are." Seriously. Fix this.
  • "[describe running?]" You couldn't describe a rock if you said "it was a rock that looked like a rock."
  • You don't know anything about war. Why do you write about war?
  • Lookit you, asking existential questions about the elasticity of our personalities and how we know who we truly are. It's almost like you've realized your silly little spaceship story has a theme or something.
 
  • This is the second time this chapter you've mentioned fireflies and I really don't understand what the purpose of that is.
  • "[sensible clothes of some fashion]." It's only the most important scene in the book. Why would you do research?
  • You called water "liquid life". Don't... just don't do things like that.
  • I think you have scenes that go "HEY LOOK, STARS. ISN'T SPACE AWESOME?" more often than you use birds to symbolize different birds.


Friday, July 15, 2016

I Went to a Thing (and I Liked it)

I'm an incredibly anxious person. Social events make me extremely uncomfortable, I'm too busy staying "out of the way" and being anxious to enjoy anything, and it's not unheard of for me to leave in tears.
 
So the perfect way for me to spend a Sunday night is obviously reading, writing, and watching TV, right? Maybe. But I went to a loud and crowded bar to play Doctor Who trivia with strangers!

I still don't know what possessed me to do it. I didn't expect to enjoy it, and only went because I thought I might be good at it (which, in itself, is a major leap in confidence that I'm still trying to explain). But I had a blast. We did leave early, but in this case "early" was after 2+ hours, and it was just because I was tired and the last round wasn't anything I was good at.
 
I went with my mother, who has no interest in the show, and it turned out it was a team event. I got absorbed into a team that ended up being me and four other people. I should have been nervous about that. I have never felt comfortable and accepted at a social event, but I did there. They were my kind of people, and within a few minutes I was laughing and talking with complete strangers and feeling like I belonged.
 
And I helped with questions! Sometimes just confirming things they weren't sure of, but there were some where I was the only one who knew the answer. At some point the guys wandered away, pointing to me and another girl and saying something along the lines of "these two have it covered." I can't put into words how amazing it felt to matter.
 
We came within a point and a half of winning the first round. They laughed at my jokes and there was some degree of banter involved. It was a good night. Even when I messed up I didn't hate myself for it and still felt... Accepted? I literally don't have a word for what I felt because I don't think I've ever felt it before.

Like, I'm always wondering if people really like me and if they're just letting me do things to be nice. But I didn't even consider that as a possibility. I didn't feel like my wheelchair was in the way or affecting the way people treated me in the least. I was just one of the team. Just another person, not a pity project or a spectacle or a burden. Equal.
 
I didn't even know my depressed and anxious and awkward brain was capable of feeling that way. It may have changed my life.

I spend every second in public pretending. Pretending that I'm someone else, that I know what to say and when to make a funny comment, that I'm not that weird nerd who names her pets after scientists and can recite the periodic table backwards and knows how many "New"s there are in the name of New New York (15). I don't know how I tricked myself into believing that it's impossible for people to like the real me. All I know is it isn't true, and maybe they didn't actually forget to install the ability to feel confidence and happiness in my brain.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Notes from the Editing Room - Chapters 11, 12, and 13

Only three chapters left, and then I have to start fixing all the things I've been making fun of. Yay? 


  • Of course Jack had to take his shirt off. What kind of dashing space captain would he be if he didn't?
  • But seriously. Stop having crushes on your own characters. It's weird.
  • What exactly is your fascination with the word "jagged"?
  • "I hadn't had a single thought of the future since [Diantha became Darth Vader]." No, this isn't like Star Wars at all, why do you ask?
  • Oh my god. You just used a bird to symbolize a different bird. Again.
  • While stupid beyond belief, "[a punch to the feels]" is a really good description of this scene.

  • "[something went "pew!"]" is possibly the best line in any action scene you've ever written
  • You seriously based a major plot point and a whole lot of intricate mathematics and timing on a line from American Pie? Fine, but we're changing the measurements to metric so no one catches on that your floating city is 8 miles high and falling fast. It's now 12.87475 kilometers high. And descending in a rapid manner.
  • HEY LOOK, EXTREMELY SUBTLE FORESHADOWING!
  • No. Unicorn farts cannot be used as fuel. Think of something real.
  • Oh my god seriously. I appreciate the attempt at literary technique, but stop using birds to symbolize birds. It isn't as clever as you think it is.
 
  • I think this is where it gets stupid for a minute
  • OH WAIT, I ACTUALLY FORGOT THAT PART. THAT PART WAS GOOD.
  • The story was sounding too much like Star Wars, so your solution was basically freezing someone in carbonite? Allow me a moment to grieve for your problem solving skills.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Notes from the Editing Room - Chapters 8, 9, and 10

Someday my book will be published and I'll be famous and people will say nice things about me, and then they'll read these posts and say "Oh dear god, we've made a terrible mistake. She's not good at writing; she just pushes random buttons and gets lucky sometimes." And I'll just laugh.



  • HEY LOOK - SOCIAL COMMENTARY
  • "[buildings made of worldbuilding]" You put so much thought into your books.
  • The town represents the dying carnival because you actually are capable of using literary devices such as metaphor and symbolism! Either that or you got really lucky with your random town you made up. I can't remember.
  • Forget the freak show performers saving the universe; I want to read about the people who breed show poodles in space!
  • The ambiguous "she" in that sentence is hilarious now that I know the ending.


  • I actually like this scene and I'm finding less to complain about in each chapter?
  • There's your chance to describe the Sargeant Pepper uniforms you want the army to wear.
  • Hey, I see what you did there! It's foreshadowing!
  • Why in the name of pomegranates does the man need a grenade launcher? I mean, he is technically a soldier but he's mostly the guy who checks things on a clipboard. 

  • Pay attention here, doofus. Jack is cut by a flying knife and his last name is not Bauer, so make sure he isn't magically cured next commercial break.
  • "[floor guts]"? Because it was too difficult to look up what is between the floor and ceiling of a multilevel building?
  • Oh, great. This scene is making me feel feelings.
  • I honestly don't know if that's how gravity works. Go research how gravity works.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Novella Announcement!

I am pleased to announce my sci-fi comedy novella Anachronism is going to be published by Kristell Ink! (Read the announcement here)

A time traveler enlists the help of the future president to help him stop a nuclear war from destroying her country. Hilarity - and a few preemptive assassination attempts - ensue.

It's hard to get a novella published, especially for previously unpublished, unagented authors. When I finished Anachronism and started submitting it, I only found five or six publishers even willing to accept submissions in my genre and wordcount, so I am incredibly thankful to Kristell Ink for this opportunity. It took a long time for me to write, compared to other works, and even longer for me to feel comfortable letting anyone read it, but I'm ecstatic to share it with the world.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Notes from the Editing Room - Chapters 6 and 7

I'm surprised at how... not awful this draft actually is at times. In my head, it was an absolute mess. Won't stop me from mercilessly mocking myself, though. (And in other news, I've just cashed my first check ever and am now calling myself a professional writer!)


 
  • You used a bird to represent a different bird? What amazing symbolism!
  • No hovering cars! If they have hovering cars, some of them could survive the disaster and it would be .00001% less tragic!
  • Alternate theory: A few survivors makes it more tragic?
  • I literally have no idea if "a shipload of enemies" is a typo or just space slang you invented. Guessing the latter since you don't like to swear, but...
         
      • "opened up like a bleeding wallet"? Oh my god, Jen. What kind of way is that to describe a surgery patient?
      • I have no idea what kind of religion they practice except "vague desert Incan/Aztec/Mayan type deal"
      • I officially ship Jack with every other character
      • Is there Swiss cheese in space?
      • "but [planet] was a planet". No, REALLY?
      • "If I'd have been in the kind of guy who kept [scrapbooks], Merulo and mine would have [burst at its seams] with [pictures of space pirates we punched and other examples of us being little scoundrels]." I love how Jack's voice is lost the instant I use a placeholder.
      • Hey, is space amazing and beautiful? I can't be sure, since you only mention it every chapter.
       
       

      Saturday, June 18, 2016

      Notes from the Editing Room - Chapters 4 and 5

      I'm pretty much incapable of taking myself seriously, which is why I think, even though I am extremely stressed by the thought of editing (and by most things), my notes for this read-through still have a sense of humor to them. It's a dark, self-depricating kind of humor that runs in my family. As my mother likes to say, "I'm laughing because it's better than crying and tearing my hair out."
       
        • I keep misreading "booths" as "boobs" and it's changing the tone of my carnival. Significantly.
        • This is a night scene? News to me. I totally remember it being daylight, maybe evening, with the sunset over the water and stuff.
        • Oh, nope. You continued to talk about the night sky. That is bizarre.
        • And suddenly it isn't nighttime underwater? I'd like to think you had a strange, rapid rotation of the planet in mind to explain this phenomenon, but I know you aren't that smart.
        • If the other ship is easily leveling trees and hills, it probably wouldn't be stopped by a rock wall. That's just physics, man.
        • Think I'll rewrite [its laser turrets turreting right at us].

        • Jack's dad is a drunken, loudmouthed, liar? You'll definitely need to change that, or your own dad might think it's based on him.
        • I forgot why you made Jack's home so swampy until I got to the word "levee." I don't care if your plot is inspired by American Pie. You can't just be going around making up whole worlds just to fit in song references!
        • Oh, for god's sakes, Jennifer! You've got space rednecks (good old boys) drinking hard liquor (whiskey and rye), joking that the sun is going to explode (this'll be the day that I die)! Keep this up and Don McClean is going to sue you for copyright infringement.
        • Oh, Jack. Poor, innocent little Jack full of hope and love. Chapter 8 is going to destroy you so bad. I will try not to laugh too much.
        • Jack's brain when presented with any pretty girl, apparently: "I'm going to condescendingly explain the concept of stars to this person who has lived in space her entire life!"
        • All girls when he does this: "Stars are so magical!" *heart eyes*

        Tuesday, June 14, 2016

        Notes from the Editing Room - Chapters 2 and 3

        So, I've discovered that my first draft isn't as awful as I expected. There's a lot to be fixed and I'm not looking forward to that, but rereading is actually kind of fun.

        I also discovered that I am not very nice to myself. I guess I always knew my inner monologue was skewed towards the negative, but putting them into words as I read my first draft has been interesting. At least it's amusing for me, or else I'd be worried for my self-esteem. :D


        • I see you briefly tried to turn Parthen into Sarah from Orphan Black when it's quite clear she's the Allison of the group.
        • HEY LOOK, EXTREMELY SUBTLE FORESHADOWING!
        • Did you seriously call this a "fancities shop"? Try "luxury goods emporium." Sounds far less stupid
        • [space ivory] and [space martini]. I mean seriously. Use better words.
        • "Her words hit me with a [space wallop]." That is a sentence you wrote, you ineloquent turnip, as is "[I ran to her, except with feelings and suspense and stuff]." I just want you to know that these lines will be tattooed across your forehead if you ever dare to think you're the next great author.

        • Fun as it sounds, "designated arts and crafts person" isn't a position on a spaceship. Parthen needs an actual job.
        • That lizard just turned into a monkey. Fix in rewrite by making it a bird. (yes, this makes complete sense to me. No, magic is not involved)

        Friday, June 10, 2016

        Notes from the Editing Room

        When I edit, I say very cruel and sarcastic things to myself. I thought it might be amusing to document them as I read the first draft of my space opera, Freak Show. This is chapter one of sixteen. Remarkably few [vague and unhelpful placeholders] found in this one.
        • Oh lookit that. You were shipping Jack and Lily on page 1 and you didn't even realize it
        • Hey, remember that first version of this scene where Jack and Lily spent waaaaaay too much time talking about llamas? I'm proud of you for realizing how awful that was.
        • Yeah because in a world where people have artificial gravity and stuff, the violin will be the instrument of choice. I mean, at least go for a theremin (how does my spellcheck not know the word "theremin"?) or glass 'armonica. Something that sounds... space-y. Spacious. No, that's already a word that means something else.
        • You describe music weird.
        • Seriously. Have you ever heard music before?
        • What are you trying to accomplish with the triplets here? They sound like zombies. Either rewrite the entire book to be about space zombies or make them interesting characters in their own right.
        • That line is actually nice foreshadowing but I know you didn't do that on purpose because it foreshadows something you came up with months later.
        • Literally no clue what this means: "a [space pingpong table] weded in a corner of the galley." I'm guessing "welded" but that doesn't make it mean much in context.
        • [look up plane words]? That's helpful.
        • Really? [more plane words]? I don't even know where you expect me to begin with this research.

        Wednesday, June 1, 2016

        IWSG: Publishing and the Insecure Brain

        On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities. So here we go.

         
        So here's the thing. I've been submitting stories to publishers and anthologies since January 1 (not a New Year's resolution, just one of them ol' coinkidinks). And since then, my work has been accepted by three (an announcement about the third to come when I get the info).

        This is happening way faster than I ever expected, faster than it should happen. Haven't we all read about how we're going to struggle for years and hope that someday we'll be published in some obscure journal one day?

        And you'd think this would help with my confidence and adequacy issues, but I'm realizing that, even though this has absolutely validated my life and having my name on a book is literally all I've dreamed of since I was a wee little mugwamp, it isn't an instant fix. My issues are still there; they've just been forced to get creative in how they torture me.

        Part of me truly believes this is all a mistake, that even though I've signed contracts and had multiple correspondences with people involved, someone or everyone is going to say "oops, we meant Jennifer Sue Rossman, not Jennifer Lee."

        Another part feels guilty that it's going so well. Why me? Surely I'm taking away a chance from someone else who has been trying for longer and deserves it more?

        It's going to take a lot of retraining for my set-in-its-way brain to accept that we might actually be talented. But at least I now have the most amazing "problem" I've ever had: How often can I mass email my extended family with publishing news before they get sick of hearing from me?

         

        Monday, May 30, 2016

        First Draft Finished

        I've just finished the first draft of my longest project ever, and it feels amazing. I wonder if this is how normal, non-writer people feel when they... I don't know what non-writers do, actually. I want to say build houses and buy antiques?

        Anyway. It's 77,967 words, written in almost exactly six months. And I'm not totally dreading going back to edit it?

        Here's a summary of the novel, which I've written in attempt to answer the age old question "what's it about?" without saying "Uh, spaceships?" (even though that is an equally accurate description; I killed off several characters and crashed a ship, and the ship was the most heartbreaking).


        Freak Show is a space opera with superpowers, or what I like to describe as "If Heroes and Firefly had a baby."
        Jacker Jetstark runs one of the universe's last carnival ships, bringing excitement to the lives of people on the lower class moons and asteroids colonized by a mining company that leaves death and destruction in its wake. The carnival's biggest draw is its freak show, where people can see a ferocious wildman, an angelic birdwoman, and psychic conjoined triplets - freakish anomalies from far flung corners of the universe.
        But it's all a lie. The freaks are just genetically altered people whose genes react to the music played during the show, giving them powers and abilities. It's just for show, no real practical use.
        Until the song changes, and the powers become permanent. Now Jack has to convince his crew that their destiny is to rescue his beloved Diantha from an assassin who has already claimed her husband, the leader of the mining company and de facto ruler of the universe's main governmental body.
        Jack fancies himself the knight in rusted armor, off to save his damsel in distress from a dragon. Diantha fancies herself the dragon.


        In the coming months I will be editing and rewriting, and mocking myself mercilessly along the way. Stay tuned.

        (how much longer until things like "stay tuned" and "don't touch that dial" become obsolete? Or will they become phrases we use while having no idea of the actual meaning?)

        Sunday, May 29, 2016

        Publishing Announcement - Circuits and Slippers Anthology

        I'm overjoyed to announce that one of my short stories will be included in Circuits and Slippers, an anthology of sci-fi fairytale retellings edited by Jaylee James.

        My contribution is Scrapefoot, a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Target publication date is September 2016.

        I can't believe my work is going to be in a book. This is amazing, and I cannot thank Jaylee enough for this opportunity.

        Monday, May 16, 2016

        Adulting

        I'm 26 years old. Because of my disability, I don't work, have only been inside a school to pick up textbooks for homeschooling, and my mother still cooks every meal I eat. I don't handle money or shopping, and I can't dress myself. For all intents and purposes, I have no adult responsibilities.

        My life now isn't much different than it was when I was 16, or even 6. I'm smarter and better at social interaction, and the movies I watch have swear words sometimes, but it hasn't changed much.

        Becoming an adult is supposed to mean something. It's supposed to be different than being a kid. I don't think I even celebrated my 18th birthday.

        This morning I signed the contract with Cast of Wonders to allow them to turn my story into a podcast. I signed a contract. Via an email address my mother didn't make for me. The check will have my name on it. I didn't ask anyone for permission to send my story in, nor did I feel the need to have anyone except me read the contract before I signed it.

        Becoming an adult does mean something, but I don't think it has to happen when the government says you're allowed to vote, your family lets you sit at the big table at Thanksgiving, or your religion says you've come of age.

        It's all about the way you feel, and sometimes you can become an adult two weeks after you turn 26.