The Glamorous Writing Life: Girlie Squick Moment in the Shower Leads to Baby Opossum Inspiration

People often ask me where I get my inspiration. Here’s the true tale of today’s inspiration:

I normally don’t have a problem with creepy-crawlies. I like rats and mice, I’m fine with spiders, and I think bats are adorable. But I can’t deal with things that squish. Earthworms send me gibbering for cover, leeches petrify me, and maggots on a TV show make me blanch and the little hairs on my arms quiver. So when I realized the little smear of tan-orange on the shower door—which I initially thought was soap scum or mildew—had antennae and was oozing its merry way across the glass, I leaped, dripping wet, out of the shower and shrieked for the slumbering husband to save me.
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Back to Work After the Halloween Mini-Holiday

Alas, my five-day Halloween weekend is over, and it’s time to get back to work. “The Girl Who Drew Cats” is now officially a first draft. Still dwelling on whether I want to change a couple story elements, then I’ll do another editing pass and decide whether I want to send it out for critique. Been out of my various writers group short story critique loops for a while—due to spending the last couple years working on the novel. Sorta feel guilty submitting something for critique when I’ve been so inactive. Meh, will see how I feel after another editing pass.

Then it’s back to work on “The Art of Victory.” Hopefully, a few weeks distance will aid my ability to re-focus it…and also keep it from becoming a novella.

Finally, I gave myself until November to not fret, dwell upon, or panic about my forthcoming reading for the Georgia Tech Science Fiction Symposium on the 17th. It is now November, and I am in deep panic mode. Have no idea what to read. Leaning toward “The Tanuki-Kettle” or “The Tiger Fortune Princess.” Could also do “The Archer of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon.” I can conceivably read any of those in half an hour. Probably. But are fairy tales appropriate for a college science fiction symposium? My SF story options are all way too long to read in 30 minutes. Urg.

Decisions, decisions. And then pathological terror. Yup. Happy November.

The Red String Slated for Cricket’s February 2012 Issue

Got an email from Debby Vetter, my Cricket editor, sending along the page proofs for “The Red String” and letting me know it’s scheduled to be published in next year’s February issue. Hurray! She also mentioned that this is the last story Cricket has in inventory from me and encouraged me to submit more.

Aside from the thrill of having an editor, y’know, invite me to submit something, it occurs to me that I’d been so focused on the novel effort for the last couple years that I simply haven’t been writing much children’s fiction. And I’ve missed it. Soon as I started poking around in that neglected corner of my creative process, got an immediate story idea, complete with title—”The Girl Who Drew Cats”—as well as a solid opening underway.

So I’m setting aside “The Art of Victory When the Game is All the World” for a bit. Probably good to put a little distance there anyway. “Art of Victory,” in addition to threatening to turn into a novella, is feeling a tad overextended and expansive, both focus- and story-wise. Couple weeks might be exactly what I need to regroup and rein things back under control with it.

When the Cosmos Drops Anvil-sized Hints, I Do Yoga

I’m not one to scan the skies for mystical planetary alignments or scour my daily horoscope for helpful hints or seek out signs and portents in my everyday life; however, I think the cosmos wants me to resume my long-neglected yoga practice. Yes, the bathroom scale has been mercilessly mocking me for a while now, and I’ve noted how ascending the three flights of stairs to my office always makes me out of breath these days. But I normally just put from mind such human suit issues, because that’s really not where my priorities lay.

But, due to an odd confluence of events, I’ve had yoga at the forefront of my consciousness:

  • At my dentist appointment, my dental hygienist strikes up a (mostly one-sided) conversation about his daughter starting a yoga class and wanting him to join in, with him being dubious about it being a beneficial form of exercise and not some flaky new age pastime. I felt compelled (after rinsing) to chime in my endorsement of it which dovetails into a discussion of stress, teeth grinding, and relaxation techniques. It seems I’ve begun grinding my teeth. Minor now, but not healthy, and indicative of possible underlying stress issues.
  • While I habitually gate out superfluous auditory stimuli, a radio ad espousing the virtues of exercise, particularly yoga, in combating various and sundry health issues, including stress, catches and keeps my attention during my morning commute.
  • And the clincher, as I’m musing on stress and teeth grinding—and that I’ve written less than 1,000 words since the legislative session ended—I get an email at work about a weekly yoga class for state employees starting up right here at the capitol in June. After a bit of waffling, I email a “sign me up” confirmation. I mean, it simply can’t get any more convenient than yoga at my workplace. I won’t even have to set foot outside the building to attend.

    Then, after three weeks of unproductive writerly floundering, the words, they come, as I’m galvanized to write a training scene for Dragon Queller.

Okay, I get it already. The cosmos has spoken. Yoga good. Ohhhmmmm.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy and End of an Aeon

In a perverse display of self-fulfilling prophecy, thus far during this lovely, quiet, stress-free first week post-legislative session 2011, I have written exactly two new words. Two.

Okay, okay, that’s net, not gross, as in I was doing an editing pass on a couple chapters and so that figure includes tweaking, cutting, rewriting, and polishing. But it’s still a far cry from “productive” and makes me want to slap myself in the face and yell, “Just get off your ass and write, you slacker!” Which would probably disconcert my co-editors.

Or I could give a gun to my muse a la this utterly apropos comic from Jim C. Hines. Just what my crack-whore-trollop of a muse needs: a firearm.

In other news, the long-awaited End of an Aeon anthology with my “Black Swan, White Swan” in it is back on track, slated to come out in July. I really like this story—inspired by one of my favorite ballets, Swan Lake—and I was worried that it seemed to be caught in some sort of publishing limbo hell. I sold it to Aeon in early 2008, then the magazine closed down but planned to release the last of its inventory as this anthology, which has subsequently been plagued by computer issues and other slowdowns. (Of note, this is not, by far, the longest lead time I’ve experienced, which is why I wasn’t actively stewing or fretting about it.) So I was greatly relieved to hear from Patrick Swenson, publisher of Fairwood Press, letting me know to expect page proofs soon and with a concrete release date. He also mentioned that it will be released as both a trade paperback and an ebook (in multiple formats). Hurray!

Shiny cover:
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Day 40: Sine Die 2011 – Stumbling-Bone-Tired-Stupid and Spastic

Made it to the final day of the 2011 legislative session. I’m stumbling-bone-tired-stupid and spastic-euphoric by turns, but I only have to make it through today. Got my bunny slippers ready and my purple editing pen in hand. Happy Sine Die.

On a related note, I have done zero prep for Jordancon, which starts tomorrow. Gah.

Haven’t been able to get much writing done this week—and nothing at all yesterday, which greatly irks me. Spent my non-legislative-editing time compiling records and figuring the numbers on my writing income for taxes. But IRS notwithstanding, it’s been a far more prolific session, writing-wise, than I would’ve dreamed.

48.1K words down on Dragon Queller, with 43.2K of those words written since session began:

48118 / 85000 words. 57% done!

Of course, I’m half-expecting my productivity to drop to nil once I have leisure and relaxation to contend with, for the cosmos does lurv its little ironies.

Nebula Deadline and Milestone Reached on Dragon Queller: 40,000 words

Just a quick reminder that the deadline to cast your ballot for the Nebulas is this Wednesday! Vote, yo!

Reached a milestone on Dragon Queller: the illusive 40K-words mark. It is now, officially, a novel-length work. Creeping up to the halfway mark, too. At this rate, I ought to hit that before the end of session. Maybe. Hopefully.


40040 / 85000 words. 47% done!

Day 34: Princess and the Golden Fish Part 4 Now Out and Biba Jibun Slated for April

It promises to be a frazzling week. The legislature is in session every day. Then they’re taking all next week off for spring break *insert eye rolling* before coming back to finish the last two days. Urg.

In better news: heard from Jason Sizemore that “Biba Jibun” is slated for the April issue of Apex. Sweet!

Also, got my contrib. copies of the April issue of Cricket with part 4, the conclusion of “The Princess and the Golden Fish” in it:
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Day 32: Biba Jibun Sold to Apex and Article Reprint

Day 32 and I’m still hanging in there…mostly by my fingernails. This almost-in-the-homestretch-but-not-quite part of the legislative session is when my nerves, sense of humor, and patience start getting frayed and frazzled. But the tunnel has a light, and I’m speeding toward it. Calmblueocean.

Writing Updates:
As I tweeted yesterday, I sold my short story “Biba Jibun” to Apex Magazine! Absolutely thrilled to have another story of mine published by these fine folks. Getting that “we want it” note from Jason Sizemore totally made my day.

I also had reprinted my “A Writer’s Resolution: I Will Submit” article in the March/April 2011 issue of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators New England newsletter, The NEWS.

And I managed another 1,400 words on Dragon Queller:

37704 / 85000 words. 44% done!

I’ve hit a bridge section that I’m not sure what to do with. I know what happens after it, but I’m uncertain how to get there from the scene I just completed. I’ve been writing this linearly thus far, and I’d like to try to keep doing that; I think it results in less cutting down the editing road. But I don’t want to just spin my wheels on a bridge scene either. Going to do a bit of an editing pass on a couple chapters and see if that joggles or jump-starts anything. Otherwise, we’re wrinkling the damn line.

Writers for Relief 3 and Crossover Day

The fabulous Davey Beauchamp, in the tradition of Writers for Relief 1 to Benefit the Survivors of Katrina and Writers for Relief 2 to benefit the Bay Area Food Bank, is putting together a third volume of his Writers for Relief charity anthologies, this one to benefit the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. He invited me to submit a story, and I’m delighted to say that “The Snow Woman’s Daughter” will be appearing in Writers for Relief 3.

Davey is the king of big hearts. I’m so glad he’s doing this and that I can be a part of it.

In other news, today is Day 30 of the 2011 legislative session, Crossover Day. It’s not even noon, I’ve edited a slew of rush amendments, and my brain hurts. Gonna be a loooong day.

Still plugging away on Dragon Queller. 5.5K new words in the last week. Average daily word count: 800.

Shiny progress bar:

36,296 / 85,000 words. 43% done!