babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)

I'm currently trying to readjust to reality after a couple weeks away—first for a week of writerly workshoppiness at TNEO, and then for a week of vacationy goodness down the shore. My brain's a little scattered, so bear with me as I share the writerly randomness that has occurred during my absence:

* First, story news! My flash piece "The Little Things," which was published in Every Day Fiction last month, will be available as a podcast (read by Izzy David) on August 13.

* While at TNEO, I finished a shiny new short story called "Memories of Mirrored Worlds" and sent it off into the world. Fly, little story! Fly! 

* Speaking of TNEO, it was once again fun and full of awesome people. Lots of great feedback and brainstorming and bouncing around of ideas. Not to mention a highly hysterical evening of people trying to read bad sex scenes without laughing.

* Among my revelations at TNEO this year: I need to stop procrastinating and just revise My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel already. I've spent the last couple years stopping and starting and hemming and hawing and it's all rather silly at this point. Brainstorming is all well and good, but there comes a point when the only way to figure out what works is to just finish the damn thing.

* BUT! Before I go back to the novel, I will revise a few short stories that are in need of attention. Revisions on one of those began this morning and will continue after I finish with this post. Which means now.

babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

* A story sale! My flash fiction piece "The Little Things" will be appearing in Every Day Fiction on July 9.

* I've added my short story "The Deepening" (from issue 37 of Aoife's Kiss) to those I have available on AnthologyBuilder.

* In a few weeks I'll be heading off once again to TNEO, a week-long workshop for alumni of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. As a result, I've been knee-deep in critique mode the last several weeks, but those are pretty much done now. I rewarded myself with new shoes. 

And now I must sleep and prepare for Monday, which is soon to assault me with its Mondayishness.

babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
*taps the blog mic*

Is this thing on?

So, yeah, I’ve been rubbish about posting lately. Life has been consumed by a big busy combo of workshopping craziness, vacationing, trying to finish things up at Ye Olde Day Job before my last day (two more weeks!), and preparing for that whole wacky grad school thing I’ll be starting in September. There has been precious little time for writing, which makes me cranky.

As for the aforementioned workshopping craziness, that would be TNEO (aka The Never-Ending Odyssey), which I attended last month, and it was all manner of awesome. Awesome people, awesome feedback, and awesome moments of writing-related light bulbs going off. Like three-act structure. For some reason, I always had the hardest time getting a firm grasp on three-act structure, but this time it finally clicked and I could finally see where I had (unknowingly) used it in some of my stuff.

I had two short stories and a novel chapter critiqued at TNEO this year, and I’m totally stoked to get the revision work underway on them. It’s easy to walk out of critique sessions overwhelmed by feedback overload, especially when you get conflicting opinions. But this year, there was so much consensus as to what was and wasn’t working in my submissions and so much helpful brainstorming that I feel like I know exactly what I need to do and won’t be bogged down trying to sort through conflicting reactions.

One really helpful session we did at TNEO was a plot breakout technique. Each person presented a plot they wanted help with, after which we would do about a half an hour’s worth of brainstorming that involved lots of adding and rearranging and deleting of various plot elements, done with index cards on a board. I was looking for ways to strengthen Act 2 (now that I know where Act 2 is!) of one of the major plot threads in My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel and got lots of great ideas, including more characters to kill (always a plus in my book). My collection of index cards ended up looking like this:

That big mess o' cards down the middle would be Act 2, with Act 1 to the left and Act 3 to the right.

Now if only life would settle the hell down and let me get in some more writing time, I could make better use of all that crazy awesome brainstorming!
babarnett: (Default)
Tomorrow I head off to the The Never-Ending Odyssey (aka TNEO), a week-long workshop for alumni of the six-week Odyssey Writing Workshop, so my current LJ scarcity will likely become even scarcer. But before I head out, an actual post!

Gearing up for TNEO over the last several weeks got me wondering: just how much have I really grown as a writer since attending Odyssey in 2007?

Writing workshops are most definitely not for everyone, but for some of us, they can be an amazing, inspiring, eye-opening experience. And contrary to what some would suggest, not all writing workshops result in cookie-cutter stories written to some kind of formula. I’m sure there are some that do, but my Odyssey classmates and I went into the program as very different writers, and we all came out of the program remaining very different writers.

Had I not attended Odyssey and just continued writing and seeking feedback on my work, I’m sure I would have still improved and grown as a writer over time. But I think Odyssey pushed me in the right direction harder and faster than I would have been able to do on my own. The question, though: how do you quantify that?

Writing success can be subjective and dependent on factors other than talent or the strength of a story. (Sure, you wrote a fantastic story about radioactive bunnies, but Magazine A just published a story about radioactive bunnies.) And of course, sales and artistic merit don’t always go hand in hand. (Repeat to self: I will not rant about sparkly vampires.) But because I’m someone who writes with the hope of achieving publication success, sales are probably the best measure I have to go with. That, and I'm one of those sick people who actually enjoys crunching numbers.

Crunching and analysis under the cut... )

I doubt my data will be all that interesting to anyone other than myself, but if you have your own stories of workshop experiences or realizations about your growth as a writer, please feel free to share in the comments.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
Holy crap, has it really been that long since I've been on LJ? Sorry not to have been keeping up with my lovely flisters lately, but life has continued to dance on the insane side of the fence. Hopefully come fall I'll be able to settle back into a blog reading and writing routine. Until then, I'll probably remain my current scattershot, occasionally resurfacing self.

In the meantime, here's the bullet points of what I've been up to in the writing department:

* My zombie apocalypse story "The Holy Spear" has been accepted by Black Static. This will be my second appearance in their pages, which I'm thrilled about.

* Speaking of Black Static, reviewer Peter Tennant wrote a nice post about my story "The Wounded House" from issue 20 on his blog.

* Received my shiny contributor copy of Aoife's Kiss (10th anniversary issue) this morning. Pretty.

* Gearing up for this summer's TNEO workshop for Odyssey alum. As of last night, all the critiques I had to do are officially done! I've still got a ton of other things to do, but it's nice to put a big fat check mark next to that beast of an item.

* Unfortunately, progress on the writing front has been mostly non-existent. I got in a good afternoon of revision work on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel a couple weeks ago, but otherwise, that's been kind of it. But now that TNEO critiques are out of the way, I can hopefully get back in gear. I've got some revisions to do on a short story, several flash pieces I should probably polish up and send out somewhere (anyone have suggestions on where to send an unabashedly liberal-leaning gay superhero flash story?), and then back to the novel grind.
babarnett: (dr. horrible ahhhh)
Urgh, so much for resurfacing on the blogosphere. Well, I did resurface. I just got sucked right back into the Void Of Too Much Else To Do. I have a feeling that's going to be happening a lot over the next few months.

So the bulleted version of what this writer has been up to:

* I've been encountering far too much lately that has led to forehead slapping and *head desk* moments.

* After much demanding from my brain, I returned to the slow-going revisions on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel--so of course a short story idea immediately started jumping up and down and waving its arms around and asking for a little love. Stupid brain.

* I began my dive into the critique fest that is TNEO

* I changed the look of my website.

* More details to come, but it looks like my story "Final Report" (from issue 4 of the sadly short-lived Darker Matter) will get some podcast love in the near future.

* The last few months spewed so much crazy all over the place that my attempts at establishing a routine were repeatedly thwarted. That really needs to change. I was determined to get myself onto something resembling a consistent schedule starting today. It's not even noon yet and that plan's already gone to pot.

And on that note, I think hear the unmistakable sucking sound that is the Void Of Too Much Else To Do.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
A month and a half after I started the damn thing, and the de-crapified second draft of my novel-prequel-ish short story (now titled Demon Dreams) is finally done. The wee beastie beefed up to 6,700 words in the second draft. That's what a hearty diet of more detail and description will do for one's fictional figure. Now I just need to give the beastie a final go over, and then it's into the critiquing pile while I start something else. 

I'll be doing The Never-Ending Odyssey (aka TNEO) again this summer, so it's that weird time of year where I have to wait several months after finishing a story to get critiques on it.  (Well, I'll probably throw the story at my lovely local group, the Awesome Ladies of Awesomeness, for our next meeting, but I'll wait until I have the TNEO crits as well before making any major revisions.)  Being forced to wait is probably a good thing for me.  Even though I take forever to write stories sometimes (or maybe because I take forever to write them), I tend toward impatience, wanting to get them out the door in speedy fashion as soon as they're done. So it's probably healthy for me to have to sit on a few of them for a spell and see how they age. 

And speaking of TNEO, I get to take on the roll of moderator this year, which I'm sure will keep me super busy on top of all the critiquing and writing to be done for it.  But I'm looking forward to it.
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
I'm back, and my sense of what day of the week it is has been shot to hell.  Accepting that today was Monday and I had to go back to Ye Olde Day Job was an unpleasant experience.

I've already learned of one terribly exciting thing that occurred among my flisters while I was away, so please do fill me in on any other missed coolness. 

As for me, my time at TNEO (aka The Never-Ending Odyssey) was made of awesome.  Ok, the dorm-style beds and lack of air conditioning in our apartments weren't so awesome, but that was balanced out by great feedback and brainstorming and simply hanging with cool fellow writerly types--some of whom I had met before, some whom I hadn't, and some whom I was finally meeting in person after having only previously encountered them in the online world. 

I think my lecture on top literary agents for new F/SF/H writers went well; it was a relief to be told that the eye-bleeding amount of research I had done was useful. 

For our TNEO Story Slam at the Manchester, NH Barnes & Noble, I read the "Lunch with Dead Trees" flash piece I wrote back in the fall.  It was an interesting experience in that I had no idea the story was in any way funny.  But there was laughter (the good kind) in several spots, so color me pleasantly surprised.

With TNEO and my subsequent visit to the Valley of Vacationy Goodness (aka the shore) over, now comes the mind-numbing part: making good use of the massive amount of feedback I got on the first five chapters of my novel.  Some things work; some other things, not so much.  And some things almost work.  I've come to think of my first version of this novel as a good idea buried beneath a big old chunk of clichés and bad writing habits, and my job in the rewrite has been to chisel away at all that crap to get to the good stuff. Turns out, though, that I need to go back and do some chiseling I missed the first time around:

Novel babbling under the cut... )

So, there you have it: everything that was going to make my brain explode until I staved off the gray matter detonation with wine and beach and ice cream (not all at once).  My current plan is to take a break to write a short story or two while all the novel thoughts stew for a bit longer, then tackle the rewrite of the rewrite before moving forward from where I left off in chapter 15.
babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
Ok, so I really didn't intend to be posting now that I'm here at TNEO, but there is squee-age to report: I just got an acceptance from Aoife's Kiss for my story "The Deepening," a sword and sorcery-ish romance tale that will appear in the magazine's June 2011 10th anniversary issue.  I'm quite fond of this story, so I'm glad I'll get to see it in print in a nice home.

And now, time to get a little bit of yoga in before bed.  The idea of movement isn't appealing seeing as it's hot as all hell here in this lovely non-air conditioned dorm-style apartment I'll be staying in all week, but the six hour car ride has made my back in need of a good stretch.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
Ah, three-day weekend that has allowed me to accomplish so much, how I will miss thee. 

I think I may have finally clawed my way out of the Hole of Too Much To Do and back into the land of Keeping Busy But Can Actually Start Reading People's LJ Posts Again--at least until I leave to spend some time in the Cave of Writerly Workshopping, followed by a visit to the Valley of Vacationy Goodness.

TNEO Progress-O-Meter
My critiques for TNEO are done!  That's a relief.  Now I can go back to tackling my intimidating "to be read" stack on my train rides home from work. 

My lecture for TNEO is also done and ready to be, well, lectured.  Also a huge relief. 

This leaves me nearly two weeks of breathing room before TNEO actually starts to chill out and make sure I haven't forgotten anything.  And I'll probably need that chilling out time since the day job will be continue to be insane as I scramble to meet deadlines and square things away before I disappear for two and a half weeks.

The Writerly Novelist Update

46900 / 118000

Progress has been slow, but it is progress nonetheless, and damn do I love the chapter I'm currently working on.  So much fun.  And now that I have TNEO stuff all squared away, I should have more time to work on it.

And a Final Moment of Randomness brought to you by...
Bunnies.  There are two frolicking on my patio.  I am easily distracted by cute fuzzy objects, so please pardon me as I go stalk them.
babarnett: (puppet angel)
I'm back.  Sort of.  I'm liable to disappear again for blips of time, but I've actually had a chance to read and *gasp* comment on some LJ posts since yesterday.  The week or so before that, though...well, please do fill me in if I missed anything terribly exciting, like you just sold a novel or cured cancer or something.

TNEO Progress-O-Meter
I got the bulk of the Big Mass O' Research I needed to do for my TNEO lecture done, so that's a relief.  Now I just need to organize it all into a lecture, which is still work, but it's the easier part for me and less likely to make my eyes cross the way plowing through agent listings and websites and deal news did.

I'm not as far along on my TNEO critiquing as I was hoping to be by this point--one crit complete, *cough mumble cough cough* more to go.  But I've at least done a first read through of all of the first round novel chapters, and I have nowhere to be this weekend, so I intend to be a critiquing mad woman.  And, if the weather cooperates, bicycling will hopefully be on the menu as well.

The Writerly Update
Novel progress has been sloooooow.  Surprisingly so.  I was sure this chapter would go faster, but I forgot how much rewriting I needed to do in the opening scene.  Giving a character a complete personality transplant will do that.  But it all came together, just in time for me to kill the character off.  Official Big Fat Epic Fantasy Body Count: 5ish.  I say "ish" because a) I'm not counting some random guards and mercenary types who've bought it, and b) three of the five-ish were extremely minor characters, but I've decided that they count because walking into a room full of three bloodied dead folks was kind of a big deal for the not-dead folks.

And on that note, I seem to have caught another dang cold, so I need to get myself to bed.
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
No writing was accomplished over the weekend, which makes me cranky.  I demand a longer weekend.  Or more hours in the day.  Or the ability to freeze time.  And while I'm at it with the demands, where the hell is my jet pack?

As of this morning, I have one more scene left to rewrite in chapter 14, to which I say FINALLY.  The chapter was coming along so nicely, but then I apparently got stuck in some sort of weird time loop where I worked on the last few paragraphs of the penultimate scene for about a year.  Or at least that's what it felt like.

Hopefully I can crank out this last scene at a more reasonable pace and get to chapter 15, which was probably my favorite part of this novel to write the first time around.  Blood, murder, sex, political intrigue, manipulation, and torture...good times!

In the pre-rewrite version of this novel, I had really loooooong chapters.  I think one went on for about 16,000 words.  I've been breaking them into shorter chapters in the rewrite process.  So even though everything's taking place at about the same point it did in the original version, I find it amusing that what is now chapter 15 used to be chapter 5.

Oh, and I did finally come up with a tentative new title: Sons of Future's Choices.  Earlier today I looked at the title and thought, "Yeah, that'll work."  But when I typed it just now, it suddenly sounded like some sort of bad movie sequel, like Sons of Godzilla's Choices vs. Mothra.  I'm feeling a bit Gollum about this title, careening between "My precious, we wants it" and "We hates the evil, nasty titleses!"

In other writerly news...

Instead of planning a relaxing vacation like a normal person, I'm using one of the two furlough weeks we have to take at work to do The Never-Ending Odyssey, aka TNEO.  For the non-Odfellows reading, that's a week-long workshop during the summer for Odyssey Workshop grads. I'm doing the regular novel group instead of the short story group this year, and I was asked to lead one of the master class sessions, so I have a lot research and prep work to do for that.  I was in excited mode about all of this until Saturday when I printed out my first stack of chapters to critique.  My brain took one look at that pile and went a bit drama queen on me.

Drama queen antics under the cut ... )
babarnett: (mulder google)
So, this is supposed to be a writing journal or something.  I should probably return you all to your regularly scheduled programming.

Novel Land
Sloooooow progress on the novel last week.  I squeezed in what time I could, but it just wasn't enough to finish the current chapter despite being so close to the end of it.  Hopefully I can get some extra non-train ride writing time in tonight and this weekend, because I'm having fun with this story right now.  It's awesome how much things have improved after giving one secondary character a personality transplant.  Too bad I still need to kill him.

Workshop Land
So, Odfellows on the flist: who else is doing TNEO this summer?  The good news is that I'm going this year.  The bad news is that it's only because we have to take two-week furloughs at work.

Submission Land
And I've reached the 25-day mark with a submission at F&SF.  What are the odds of two stories in a row getting lost in the mail?  Because that would suck.
babarnett: (Default)
Apparently A Time To ... Volume 3 - The Best of The Lorelei Signal 2008, which includes my short story "Jarra," is now available for purchase.  Now to begin stalking the mailbox for my shiny contributor copy.

The rewrite of chapter 5 of My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel is finally done, clocking in at 4,000 words.  Man am I glad to be done with the slog that was that chapter.  On to a short story!

I finally got fed up with the ads and invested in a paid LJ account, which in turn inspired me to give my LJ a whole new look, which in turn inspired me to go update my website while I was at it.  I started all that fun in the afternoon with the hope of finishing by dinner.  Instead it turned into the afternoon plus many hours after dinner.  But at least it's done now, leaving me all day tomorrow (yay for four-day weekends!) to start a new short story and get in some bicycling and piano practicing.
babarnett: (get fuzzy talented bucky)
The Shore
Got back from Stone Harbor yesterday, with plenty of sand, craft fair purchases, Cape May wine, and sunburned shoulders to show for it. Twas fun, but between that trip and TNEO, I'm looking forward to staying home for a whole week before running away again. I've always been quite fond of my bed, and the bed-like torture devices I was subjected to at TNEO and the shore house have made me even more fond of it.

Oh, and the new couch in the shore house (my in-laws have been renting this place for years) was just . . . well, everyone who entered the house had pretty much the same reaction: "Oh." (pause to fully take in the horror) "That's, um . . . new." 

Just thinking about that couch makes my eyes bleed.

Sales & Stories
It continues to be a good year for flash fiction and reprints: yesterday I received an email that Flash Me Magazine will be publishing my story "Troll Bait" in their all-fantasy issue this fall. The story originally appeared in AlienSkin last year.

And as of today, my flash story "To Someone Who Needs Prayer" is now available in issue 61 of Hub Magazine.  My '07 Odyssey mates should recognize this one. (If not, it's ok. We were all fried as hell that final week.)

Now that I've gotten the requisite publication pimping out of the way, I can get back to that wacky writing thing.  The shore was my TNEO detox week, so instead of writing, I spent my time reading and relaxing and eating far too much ice cream.  I'm a bit overwhelmed on the writing front in that I have far too many projects I'm eager to tackle.  I had two or three days at home between TNEO and the shore, and I wanted to write, but I was excited by so many projects that I coudn't pick one to focus on.  Instead my brain ran about every which way until it finally blew up.  But now that I've had some time to chill, here's hoping I can find some writerly focus.
babarnett: (muppets)
Got home Saturday night after several hours of wacky road trip antics with [profile] rogue_psion.  My brain is still a bit too fried to be coherent or detailed, but to sum up the awesome: I got to catch up with some of my fellow '07 Odfellows (begawk!), I met lots of cool new folks from other Odyssey years, I came away with lots of good crits and ideas (and therefore now have entirely too many stories to work on), and my lecture seemed to go pretty well.  I went into TNEO thinking "No way am I doing this next year" because of the massive amount of critiquing beforehand, but everyone was so awesome that now I'm all, "Well, maybe . . ."

What I will not miss from TNEO: the horribly uncomfortable chairs and sub-zero temperatures of the Goulet Reading Room. 

Instead of relaxing like a normal person, yesterday I immediately dove into more writing craziness with my local writing group.  I hadn't been able to crit any of the stories because of TNEO, but we were having Samuel R. Delany as a guest, which I didn't want to miss.  And I'm glad I didn't miss, because he was just an awesome guy.

So anyway, sorry to any flisters I've been neglecting lately.  Still trying to get my head screwed on straight--it's been lolling off to the side all summer.  And I'm heading to the shore Wednesday morning for about a week, so I'll probably be neglecting y'all a bit longer since the internet connection can be a bit spotty there.  
babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
I received my first-ever unsolicited reprint offer yesterday.  The Writer's Institute, Inc. would like to include my story "Love Spells" (originally published in Leading Edge) in a teaching anthology called Voices, which will be used as a component of one of their writing courses.  I did my homework and everything looks shiny, so here's a yay! to my fiction being used to corrupt--er, I mean, teach and inspire--beginning writers.

In other news, I'll be heading off to TNEO tomorrow morning.  Wacky road trip antics with [profile] rogue_psion will ensue. And all 07 Odfellows attending should beware, for I may just bring the chicken chucker.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
In other words, I just finished the last of my TNEO crits today.  As of mid-June, I only had two left to go, but between the time spent on the previous TNEO stories and the critting I have to do for my in-person writing group every other week, I kept putting those two off because I was so darn sick of critiquing.  Every time I picked up a story, I was overcome with an insanely strong compulsion to check my email and tidy up my office files and add music to iTunes and work on my own stories and make to-do lists.

Amazingly, I didn't delve into LJ very much for diversion.  In fact, I've been a little neglectful.  I've been reading my friends list posts, but only occasionally chiming in.  So in case you've been losing sleep over it, I am still alive.  Doesn't feel like it sometimes, though.  I think I require more caffeine.

Oh, and back to the subject of critiques and writing groups and the like, a big old thank you to [profile] squirrel_monkey for her visit to our humble little Philly group last weekend.  It made for an awesomely writerly afternoon.

In other news, I am officially a Mac convert now.  My shiny new Macbook arrived last week, and I love it.  I still have a PC as my desktop (I wasn't planning to get a new laptop until my old one started crapping out on me), but when that puppy starts to die, it's getting replaced with a Mac.

I've also got my TNEO lecture all ready to go.  I think it'll be fun.  There are entirely too many awesome scenes I could use for the exercises I'll have folks doing, though, which made it hard to choose a few that would fit into the allotted time.  But choose I did.

Anyway, now that I've gotten all that down, it's back to critiquing non-TNEO stuff.  And then *gasp* doing a little of my own writing.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
See LJ? A little bit of space, and I managed to catch up.  Now I'm just normal-busy instead of crazy-busy.

For the first day in months, I can say that, as of earlier this afternoon, I have absolutely nothing to critique.  (At least nothing with a deadline.  I can always find something to crit somewhere.)  It feels wonderful.  The round 3 TNEO stories could turn up at any moment now, perhaps even as I'm posting this, but for this brief shining moment, I am all caught up.

I finished my round 3 TNEO story ("A Song Never Tasted") a few days before deadline, which was good since it gave me time to set the story aside for a few days so that I could then tackle the info-dump weighing down my first couple of pages with fresher eyes.  It may still be a bit dumpy in spots, but it's certainly better than it was.

And I finally returned the novel revisions yesterday.  I started the revisions several months ago, but I couldn't get past the first damn paragraph, so I set it aside and focused on cranking out short stories for TNEO.  But on my train ride home from Philly last night, after several hours of nerding out with my writing group, I pulled out the novel opening, something clicked, and voila!  A beginning I can move on from.  I was quite ecstatic about that.

And I have entirely too many short stories ideas clamoring for attention right now.  I think I may have to go with the zombie story idea [profile] shvetufae and Mary gave me on Saturday. Because the zombie idea rocks, as do friends who will discuss zombies with you for hours on end.
babarnett: (get fuzzy talented bucky)
Just wanted to sneak in a quick little LJ post to say that my story "A Red One Cannot See" (or, as I've more frequently referred to it, my lemur-on-a-dirigible story) was accepted for Shimmer's Clockwork Jungle Book issue.  That was a very nice email to find in my inbox this morning. Yay little lemur!

And on the subject of a red that one can see, sunburn sucks.  I got to listen to some great music at the Appel Farm Arts & Music Festival today, but it was ungodly hot, and I was sweating off the suntan lotion faster than I could re-apply it.  Damn my ghostly pale skin.

On that note, it's time to get to bed so I can rest up for another day of resisting the lure of the internet and getting some work done.  I'm about halfway through the round 2 TNEO crits and halfway through turning the crappy first draft of my round 3 TNEO story into a not-so-crappy second draft.


babarnett: (Default)

December 2013



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