Thursday, July 24, 2014

Writing update

It's been awhile since I posted anything, so here's a quick update.

Since the start of June, I've been doing pre-writing work for an urban fantasy novel. As of this morning, my Scrivener document has 22,500 words worth of world-building, character building and outlining. I've done about as much pre-writing work as I can stand, and I'm ready to start writing the story itself.

I've also re-read novels by my favorite urban fantasy writers to study how they structure their stories, and I'll likely repeat with everything I read over the next few months.

My goal is to have a first draft done by June 1, 2015, which is one year after the workshop in Lawrence. I'm excited to get going, but I won't be able to establish a regular rhythm for about another three weeks, when the kids are back in school.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Doctor Who: Trailer!

BBC is dribbling out the publicity for the new season. First we get a couple of teasers, and now finally a real trailer. I am excited to see what Peter Capaldi does with the role. From what we see here, I like the look of his Doctor.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What I'm watching

Summer television is slow, but my DVR and Blu-Ray player are full.

My husband and I were fans of "24" back in the day, so we're watching the 12-episode miniseries, in which Jack moves his havoc overseas to London. We're way behind on the episodes. The finale airs this week, I think, and we just watched episode six or seven. This show is all about nostalgia. The hubby and I know the "24" tropes inside and out, and we can usually predict when the CTU (or in this case CIA) mole will appear; when Jack will torture someone, and when Chloe will save Jack's butt with her mad computer skills. But I've yet to hear Jack growl this line, and I'm waiting for it: "Damn it, Chloe, we're running out of time!"

The best of "True Blood" is behind us, but this is the last season, so I'm sticking it out to the bitter, bloody end. I don't understand the vampire blood plague, really. Yes, I remember how Sarah Newlin and various others poisoned the Tru Blood last year. I thought it was turning vamps into zombie vamps, but now that doesn't seem to be the case. Anyway, my main interest this season is to see who hasn't been staked or shot or had their heart ripped out by the final episode. Sookie will probably come full circle and end up with Bill. I would rather she end up with Eric or say "screw you" to everyone and go off on her own.

My DVD watching consists of "Game of Thrones" season 3 and "Orphan Black" season 1. I've read George R.R. Martin's books, so I know what's coming. I'm almost to the Red Wedding. As for "Orphan Black," I just got the first disc through Netflix a couple of days ago, I've watched the first two episodes, and I'm hooked. This might be my new favorite show.

I also have "True Detective" on my Netflix list, but I need to finish one of these other series before I jump into a new one.

My viewing plans for fall: Once Upon a Time, Sleepy Hollow, Gracepoint and Doctor Who.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Midyear update

Oh my gosh, we're halfway through 2014. The past six months have gone by so fast. Now is a good time to take stock of where I'm at on my goals for the year.

1. Beat my submission total for 2013.
At six months into the year, I should be halfway to this goal. In 2013, I had 45 submissions. This year so far I have 20 submissions. Not quite where I want to be, but close. I don't expect the numbers to surge in the second half of the year because I won't be writing any new short fiction for a while. Now that I've finished and submitted my Q3 entry for Writers of the Future, I'm turning my attention to writing a novel.

Publications: my flash "To See Sarah" was published in Abyss & Apex  in March. Every Day Fiction published "Djinn Coin" in January. I also have my second story with Daily Science Fiction scheduled for publication July 30.

2. Apply to a writers workshop.
Achievement unlocked! I applied to the Fantasy & Science Fiction Novel Writers Workshop at the University of Kansas, was accepted, and attended in the first two weeks of June. It was a great experience and extremely helpful in working out the plot for the novel that I will devote the next few months to writing.

3. Lose weight.
My goal for the year is to lose 10 pounds. I started the year at 165 pounds. I dropped to 156 by the start of June, when I went to the workshop. Two weeks of eating out every day caused me to pack back on 5 pounds. Now on July 1, I'm back down to 158.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writers of the Future, Quarter 2

Another honorable mention to add to my pile. I knew it was coming. I've been entering this contest long enough that I have a pretty good feel for how my submission is going to place. Of course, I don't set out to write an honorable-mention story. That would be stupid. Every time I set out to write a winner, but the end result often doesn't bridge the gap with my original idea.

In 22 quarters of entering Writers of the Future:
  • Finalist: 1
  • Semi-finalist: 1
  • Silver honorable mention: 1
  • Honorable mention: 12
  • Rejection: 7
I'm finishing up my final edits on my Quarter 3 entry, which I'll submit sometime in the next few days. After that, I'll get back to the novel I started at the workshop earlier this month.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Campbell Conference

The novel workshop wrapped up Friday morning with a "what do I do next?" discussion. In the afternoon, the Campbell Conference began.

I'm accustomed to SF conventions, but this is an academic gathering sponsored by the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. It's quite awesome that a university has a center for studying science fiction, and has for decades, which is thanks to James Gunn.

The conference is intimate, a few dozen people as opposed to a convention that can draw hundreds or thousands. (I bet the Denver Comic Con this weekend is in the tens of thousands.) Everyone here is thoughtful and intelligent, and invested in the field of science fiction.

Last night was the banquet and awards ceremony for the Sturgeon and Campbell awards. This morning, most of the novel workshoppers and our fearless leader Kij Johnson went to a coffee shop in downtown called Aimee's that, if I lived here in Lawrence, would become my place to get a cup of coffee and write. Here's a detail shot from the coffee counter. I love the stuffed animal and the Doctor Who mug:

After breakfast, we went to the KU Union for the conference's morning session, "science fiction in the real world." We had an interesting and insightful discussion. I took lots of notes. I also took a panoramic photo of the room before we started. Soon enough, every one of these chairs was filled.

Next was a quick lunch, and then a book signing in the KU bookstore. I sat with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author and editor of several anthologies, including Raygun Chronicles. Fellow Raygun contributor (and all around great writer) Robin Wayne Bailey was also there. We signed quite a few books. Several of my fellow novel workshoppers bought Raygun. They are very sweet people.

I'm now taking an afternoon break. Tonight, more activity.

Tomorrow, I'll be packing up, saying my goodbyes and hitting the road for home. It has been an amazing two weeks. I can't say yet whether the experience will be life-changing, but it certainly feels like it could be. I've made some good friends, and over the coming months, I will take everything I've learned to write my first novel.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Novel Workshop, Week 2

Week Two of the workshop is about building on the work from last week. Vague, I know.

After last week's session, for my project, I did a lot of work over several days on how magic relates to the real world (the project is urban fantasy), on one of my two protagonists, and on the newspaper angle.

Today was my second time in the hot seat. Our group talked about the internal workings of my magic system, which I appreciated because I was having trouble with it by myself, and my other protagonist that I hadn't tackled last week.

The immediate work I have ahead of me is world-building. This doesn't surprise me because world-building has always been a weak spot for me. Or maybe it's not a weak spot; I just needed someone to encourage me to do it. The work I've done here at the workshop has been fun and opened up interesting opportunities for the story. In fact, I have more material now than I have room for in one book. I also have several pages in my notebook full of general wisdom about writing.

I have gotten what I wanted out of coming here and more.

And we're not done yet.

We have two more days of workshopping, and then the Campbell Conference this weekend.