Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What I've been reading

One benefit to more free time: I'm reading more books!

Here's what I've read recently:
  • Half a King, Joe Abercrombie. The first in his Shattered Sea series. I've heard good things about Joe Abercrombie, but I'd never read anything of his. This struck me as enjoyable but pretty standard fantasy. Maybe I would enjoy one of his other series more?
  • The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin. The first in her series The Broken Earth, and a Hugo nominee. I wouldn't have read this if it weren't a Hugo nominee, but I'm glad I did. Jemisin is an excellent writer. My one quibble: This isn't a complete story in itself. Even with series books, I like each book to be self-contained.
  • The Aeronaut's Windlass, Jim Butcher. Again, the first in a series, The Cinder Spires. This too is a Hugo nominee. I like Butcher's Dresden books. This is different, a second-world fantasy. Both this one and Jemisin's take place in interesting worlds that I would hate to visit for real. Also like Jemisin's, this one isn't self-contained.
  • Ender in Exile, Orson Scott Card. I tried to read this one when it first came out and never finished. Now I'm reading all the Ender and Bean books with my son, and we gave this one a go. I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoy Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but it's interesting because it fills in a hole in Ender's life.
  • Eclipse, Erin Hunter. This is part of the Warrior Cats series The Power of Three, which I'm reading with my daughter. She loves the Warrior Cats, and I enjoy reading these books with her but wouldn't read them on my own. Then again, I'm not the target audience.
What I'm reading now:
  • The Worker Prince, Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Book 1 of The Saga of Davi Rhii. Space opera! I love space opera. I'm only one chapter in, so I can't judge at this point, but so far so good.
  • Xenocide, Orson Scott Card. Moving on with the Ender saga with my son. I read this book when it first came out, when I was 15 or so, and it wasn't the story I expected or wanted. I know what to expect this time, so I hope to enjoy it more.
  • Long Shadows, Erin Hunter. More Warrior Cats read aloud with my daughter, a continuation of Eclipse.
What's next:
  • Murder in the Generative Kitchen, Meg Pontecorvo. The editor of World Weaver Press supplied me with an e-copy of this one before its official release! I'm looking forward to cracking it open very soon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Progress report

A month ago marked the beginning of the grand experiment of me as a full-time writer. Or rather, me writing an urban fantasy novel between leaving one day job and starting the next one.

In one month, I've written 42,000 words. That's a record.

About 10,000 of that got dumped in the trash for various reasons. About 1,500 is a short story. The rest, about 30,000, is novel.

I've written at least 1,000 words every day since June 21. Also a record.

There are 3 1/2 weeks left before I leave for WorldCon, and my goal is to have a first draft done before then. I'm not writing a long novel. I'm aiming for 65,000 to 70,000 words. To finish the draft, I need to write 10,000 a week. That breaks down to about 1,400 words a day.

Starting today, my minimum word count per day will be 1,400. Before this, it was 1,000 per day. I'm upping the ante.

Another reason I plan to push harder: I've reached that point in the novel when I'm dragging. This happens to most writers, or so I hear. It's the point where you're convinced no one will ever want  to publish this thing you're writing, so why bother.

This reminds me of when I ran cross country in high school, and I would reach the halfway mark of the race with my lungs burning and my legs leaden, and I wanted to stop and walk. Of course I didn't stop. Instead, I pushed my body harder and faster. I had to prove to myself that I could do it.

So this is me, pushing harder, proving to myself that I can finish the book.

In other news: The deadline to vote for the Hugo Awards is the end of July. That's coming up fast. If you're eligible to vote, please do so, in whatever form that takes.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Publication Day! "Goosed" at Daily Science Fiction

Today marks my fourth appearance in Daily Science Fiction, with my fantasy story "Goosed." If you're not a subscriber, you can read it on the DSF website right here.

I wrote this story as part of a Codex Writers group challenge called Weekend Warrior, in which you write a story every weekend for five weeks. Each week you choose from a prompt. The prompt that produced this story was "Write about someone who gets a second chance when it seemed impossible." I wrote about a woman who curses her cheating lover but then gives him another chance to do the right thing and apologize. But by the end, I had to wonder whether my protagonist was the one getting a second chance: to show kindness and forgiveness.

Out of the five flash-length stories I wrote as part of this year's Weekend Warrior, "Goosed" is my favorite, and I'm glad it found a great home.

Friday, July 8, 2016

#amwriting

Two weeks ago, I left my newspaper job. Suddenly, I have 9 to 10 hours a day back in which I can do anything. Within reason. So what am I doing?

First, I'm writing. Yes! I'm putting down at least 1,000 words a day, working on a as-of-yet untitled urban fantasy novel that combines two of my favorite things: magic and journalism. If you were to ask me what my book is about, I would describe it as "'Spotlight' with magic."

I write for about an hour or two a day. I could do more, but I won't. That's because I don't want to burn myself out by pushing too hard, too fast. In running, I'm a long-distance runner, not a sprinter, and I'm a long-distance writer, too. At a steady, comfortable pace, I can keep going forever.

At this pace, I will have the book done by the end of the summer. Woot! I love the characters, the storyline, the concept. I'm excited to write every day. That's half the battle right there.

In addition to writing, I'm also looking for a new career and am exploring a lot of different options. I spend a good chunk of every day checking out the openings in the Denver metro area, writing cover letters and sending my stuff to potential employers.

The rest of the time, I'm enjoying life.

I'm spending quality time with my husband and family, taking walks with my dog, doing yoga in the living room, cleaning the house (which is long overdue), and reading books. I'm on my third book in two weeks.

The two I read before, which are both excellent and I recommend:
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet

Now I'm reading The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher, which is a fun read so far, despite being a large enough volume to use as a doorstop.

Let's see. What else to report?

My fourth story with Daily Science Fiction will publish on Monday, featuring the meanest protagonist I've ever written. If you're one of the 11,000 subscribers to DSF, I hope you enjoy getting it in your email box.

And I've sold a story to one of my very favorite markets! Stay tuned for more on that, when I have details to share.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Well, I'm back

I've been gone from this blog for a long time. Over the past year, my job ate my life, but for a good cause. I'm afraid that blogging was toward the bottom of my priority list, and therefore it just didn't get done.

As of a week ago, I'm no longer employed at The Denver Post. The separation was voluntary. I looked at my options and chose the best one. The lesser evil, if you will.

I already miss the newsroom, and my fellow journalists in the bunker.

I don't know yet what's next for me. I'm peering down a lot of different paths and thinking about which one I want to walk. There are plenty of options out there for a good writer and editor, and I am a damned good writer and editor.

In the meantime, I'm writing. A lot. And reading. And spending time with my family. And starting to catch up on a year of television viewing that went by the wayside (because TV shows, like this blog, fell too low on my priority list.)

My worries aren't for myself. I'm going to be fine. My worries are for The Denver Post and the journalists who are still down in that bunker, fighting the good fight.

The enemy isn't one you might expect.

The Denver Post and many other newspapers operate under the umbrella of Digital First Media, which is owned by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that has shown by its actions that it doesn't care about maintaining healthy businesses. It's only interested in squeezing out every last penny of profit for its anonymous investors.

DFM's owner is killing it.

Those of you who say newspapers are dying anyway are wrong. Dead wrong. The Denver Post made a big profit last year. Yet the newsroom has gone through two rounds of staff reductions in the past year, losing nearly 50 people. That's both young, hungry journalists and seasoned veterans who have been in the industry for decades. That doesn't include the job losses among those working on the press and in advertising and in IT.

A healthy press is critical to a healthy democracy.

Yet this country's press is under siege from greedy hedge funds.

If you want to learn more, go to dfmworkers.org. Make sure you sign the letter and read the article "How Alden Global Capital has pillaged the news -- a tale in 19 Tweets."

And support your local newspaper because

#newsmatters