Rolling Up Sleeves, Back to Work on The Stupid Novel

During my annual DC2K Writers Group dinner with Ann Crispin at Dragon*Con, I whined and ranted about how close I was to finishing The Stupid Novel. The main scenes are in place, but I’m missing bridging scenes—essentially the bricks are all there, but there’s mortar missing. ‘Course without mortar, you don’t have a wall; you have a pile of bricks stacked in the general shape of a wall just waiting for an excitable wolf to come along and blow the whole thing down.

So Ann set me a deadline of the first of November to finish it. And now I’ve procrastinated as much as I can, fiddled with tasks totally unrelated to writing, and hit the o-my-god-this-is-so-late-maybe-it’ll-go-away-if-I-ignore-it break in my to-do list. I don’t think I can put it off any longer. It’s time to start up The Stupid Novel again.


New Story Started. New Story Done.

In a fit of “I hate this novelette, dammit, but I’ve got this other idea—” I started writing a new story this morning: “The Priestess, the Baku, and the Emperor.” Four hours and 1,200 words later, it’s done.


When I began it, the concept was significantly longer, with the opening intended to serve as something of a prologue. But when I finished the prologue, I thought, “Hey, this could be a complete story if I just add that bit I was saving for the next scene and wrap up the foreshadowing here…”

So I did, and it is. I think. At 1.2K words, it feels a little wispy and also falls outside most categories of flash, but I suspect it’s too somber to be well-received at children’s markets. On the other hand, wispy sorta works.

Guess I’ll just keep open the possibility of returning to my original concept and making this a longer work, at least until I get fosteronfilm to first-reader it.

Back in Atlanta, Spanish Sale of “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest”

Back in Atlanta after visiting the in-laws in Illinois. There’s a dead zone smack dab in the middle of Kentucky where I can get cell reception but no GPS or data connectivity, either 3G or 1X, on my Droid. Weird. I thought data and GPS rode on the cell signal, so I was rather baffled to find that I had full cell service but nothing else. My Droid found it confusing too and rebooted itself a couple times until I told it to quit already.

Didn’t get nearly as much done over the holiday as I’d hoped, of course, but in what might be a first, I did manage to get some writing done. Being able to take out my phone—and not have to boot my laptop—to write a paragraph here or there, really ups the convenience factor. Droid win.

Managed 1Kish new words on the editing pass/massive rewrite of “Rampion.” I’d say I’m in the final stretch, but I sort of feel I’ve been there for so long that I’ve lost touch with the meaning of that term.

And sold Spanish language reprint of “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” to Cuásar, slated for their special edition issue #50. Spanish is another new language that my work will appear in—making it the fourth for this story and my seventh overall. Coolio.

Rampion: WiP Progress

About 2/3 through my editing pass of “Rampion.” Probably more accurate to call it a massive rewrite than an edit. Gutting scenes and slashing out paragraph after paragraph of craptacular prose. Feh.

It’s currently at 14.5K words. At least it’s looking like it’ll stay solidly within novelette range.

“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest” #2 in Interzone Readers Poll and Writing Update

Saw that “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest” came in second in the TTA Press Interzone Readers Poll after Jason Sanford’s fabulous novella, “Sublimation Angels.” Congrats to Jason for taking top honors for the second year in a row as well as claiming two of the top ten spots this year (with “Here We Are, Falling Through Shadows” at #6)!

Managed around 1K-ish new words on “Rampion” yesterday. The “-ish” ’cause the new words happened as part of an editing/rewrite pass and there’s been cutting as well as adding, making an exact count somewhat wibbly. At over 11K words, the first half or so I wrote several months ago, I’m having to go back and re-read—which means edit—the beginning and revise it to include some foreshadowing, without which the second half loses some cohesion. Also dwelling on a new title. Dwelling.

Still haven’t hit zero draft, but getting there.

The Day After, Conventions, and Linguistic Subconscious

The morning after Day 40, and the atmosphere in my office is totally transformed. So peaceful, so quiet, so serene. ‘Course there’s hardly anyone here, but even so, it’s like a benevolent wind came and whisked away all the tension and anxiety and stress, leaving everyone blinking and grinning.

Although I am a little scared to open up my to-do list or bring up all the emails I’ve flagged as “needs response.”

In other news, I got my official guest approval letter from Dragon*Con the other day. I’ll again be wearing multiple hats at D*C this year. And OutlantaCon begins today. I’ll be at the opening ceremonies tonight. Hope to see folks there!


Writing Stuff

Haven’t had much time for writing these last couple days—a situation which is greatly alleviated now—so only managed something like 300 new words on “Rampion.” Did have an amusing instance of subconscious serendipity though.

I like for the names I give my characters to be somehow meaningful to their nature or their role in the story. I often spend far too long researching etymologies and the meaning of names to find just the right one, although I also sometimes just use whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

In my current WiP, I have a character who is obsessive, driven to assuage an unappeasable intellectual hunger, and I came to the point of “he needs a name now” while in the middle of some good writing flow. So I didn’t want to pause to do my usual name deliberation. Often in circumstances like that, I just stick in “XXXX” and go back later and do a Find–>Replace on the appropriate holder text. But this time, the name “Esur” popped into my head, and it felt right. So Esur he became.

This morning, while I was groping for a synonym for “hungry,” offered me “esurient.”

“Wha—?” sez I.

My vocabulary is fairly respectable, at least so sayeth all the standardized tests I’ve taken in my life, but this was a new word for me. Hopped out to and discovered that it’s from the Latin esurientem, the present participle of esurire, “to be hungry.”


My Latin is nonexistent (to my enduring regret, I listened to my mother and took Russian in high school instead of Latin). So was this a cosmic coincidence or some odd linguistic quirk of my subconscious? I’m going with quirk. It’s cooler.

Story Progress and Brooding Over Word Counts and Story Lengths

1.7K words on “Rampion.” Matthew had to all but drag me away from my laptop last night to go to bed.

Waist deep in the final scene, although there’s a chunk in the middle that still needs fleshing out. I’ve got a placeholder jammed in there which essentially reads: “Bad things happen here. Insert.”

This story is well over halfway done but not quite in the homestretch, and it’s just shy of 10K words. Doubt it’ll overflow from novelette into novella length—especially considering there’s vast swaths of utterly raw, unedited prose which are undoubtedly overwrought, overdone, and will need to be ruthlessly slashed, not to mention all the trimming I’ll surely want to do to streamline the pacing and plot. Even so, it’s still pinging my “Eeep! Too long, too long! Unmarketable!” alarm.

I know in my head that a story should be exactly as long as it needs to be, marketing constraints be damned. But it is an indisputable reality of short fiction that longer is harder to sell. There are fewer markets which accept stories greater than 5K words, and there’s a sense of a longer work having to be better than its shorter counterparts in order to earn its space.

It’s both frustrating and a shame. I’ve been finding myself enjoying novelette- and novella-length short fiction more these days, and I appear to be gravitating to writing them too. ‘Course, I’m still stymied by that hop from short form to novel, but I’ll get there eventually…probably.

Day 39 of Session 2010, Writing Progress, OutlantaCon update

It’s Day 39, the penultimate day of the 2010 Georgia Legislative Session. Thank Jeebus it’s finally here.

This session has been light on the midnight oil and slammed-unto-death days, but it’s been the longest session evah, time-wise. I’d rather have more oily-slammed days and have session end in March than this extended twitch-when-will-it-be-over-twitch stress which permeates the office. Gah.

Clawing my way to the end of this week with broken and jagged fingernails, woo.

Writing Stuff

  • Got an update on my panel schedule from the OutlantaCon folks. I’ve also been slated to be on “Beware of Homophobes, Homophobes Beware” Sat. at 6PM: Would you boycott purchasing an anthology that had writers you like in it, just because one story was by a known, vehement homophobe? Would you refuse to submit to a publication that included homophobic writers?
  • And I’ve been invited to be a guest at Sci Fi Summer Con in June.

New Words:

  • 3K words on “Rampion” and it’s officially a novelette. Hmph. How did that happen?