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: (edna the incredibles)
*finally resurfaces from the Sea Of Too Much Else To Do*

I finished with my second semester of grad school about a week and a half ago (and totally rocked it, by the way), which means I get to be a writer again! And read things that aren't for class! Wheeeee! And now that I've caught up on some other pesky real life things, it looks like I should actually have time for that whole blogging thing again too.

So, the state of writerly me: Before the semester started, I was pretty darn productive on the writing front--one novelette revised and sent out the door, one flash story written and sent out the door, and three flash/short story drafts written. Then the schoolwork tsunami struck, along with a new routine to get used to in February when I started a part-time fellowship in an orchestra library (which has been awesome), so there was a while there where I didn't feel like much of a writer (an assessment my writerly success ratio seems to agree with lately). But now that I don't have any grad school-related work to worry about until the fall, I get to reacquaint myself with the world of reading and writing fiction--something I look forward to with huge heaps of geekish joy.

babarnett: (dr. horrible ahhhh)

Wow, it's been a while, huh? I guess it's time I stop with the "I'll blog more, I promise" stuff and accept the fact that a regular blogging routine is probably not going to happen for the duration of my time in grad school. When it comes to establishing priorities, there are just too many things that win out over blogging at present--fiction writing, classwork, day job, musical endeavors, exercise, and sparing some moments to remind myself that I have friends and family.

Oh, and sleep. Precious, precious sleep.

That said, I can at least promise two upcoming posts: some story pimpage later this week, and later this month, a guest post by writerly compadre Lindsey Duncan, whose contemporary fantasy novel Flow has just been released by Double Dragon Publishing.

In the meantime, how the hell have you all been? 

babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)

I know I keep threatening to return to a regular blogging routine, but life seems intent on not letting that happen, which is frustrating since not posting regularly tends to lead to hardly anyone paying attention when you actually do post. So even though I may be blogging into a void, here's the state of me:

* School is keeping me busy, but I'm enjoying it a lot more than I ever did grant writing. This whole getting my MLIS thing? Good damn decision, I think. 

* Speaking of life keeping me busy, there will be a distinct lack of con attendance on my part for the rest of the year. I had been hoping to attend Sirens and Capclave this month, but there's just too much else going on for me to swing either one. And I'd normally do Philcon in November since it's practically right in my backyard, but I'll be off in Austin that weekend.

* Writing progress! Well, at least there was progress until a damn cold sidelined me yesterday (it's hard to focus or stare at a computer screen for too long when it feels like you have a head full of gauze-wrapped bricks). But before then, I got my short story "The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen" revised and sent out the door, and now I'm working on revisions for "Demon Dreams." And when that's done, I think I'll dive back into the never-ending My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel revisions.

* And last but certainly not least: I can haz zombie art? The awesome-looking title spread (with art by Dave Senecal) for my story in issue 25 of Black Static, which should be coming out this month:

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: (farscape aeryn genius)
Turns out I was incorrect in stating that the first draft of my current short story was 6,800. There were about 400 words worth of notes I had forgotten to remove from the file, so it was actually 6,400--still about where I predicted it would be, though.  

Getting rid of that pesky Procrastination Fairy didn't go as smoothly as I thought it would, but eventually the little bugger was dispensed with. I'm sure she'll zombify and pull her antics again, but in the meantime, the second draft has been progressing nicely. I think I might have even come up with a non-sucktastic title. 

I kind of love second drafts. The second draft is when I get to go back and discover that my first draft wasn't nearly as crappy as I thought it was. I have a tendency to want things to be the perfect the first time, which is something I have to let go of with first drafts. Otherwise they'd either never get finished, or I'd suffocate all the spontaneity and discovery that makes writing so fun in the first place. Yet recently, I've found myself getting antsy in first drafts because I wasn't including enough setting or sensory detail.  Working on the second draft of this story reminded me of two things I had forgotten (probably because I haven't been cranking out short stories as much as I used to): 1) it's easier for me to include the appropriate setting and detail when there's a plot there to hang it on, and 2) I have far more fun doing it that way, I think because I have a better idea of what will be relevant, what can help reveal story and character, and what will work within the pacing. In some ways it's like fitting the proper pieces into a puzzle to make a picture. And I love puzzles.
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
Urgh. I did so well cranking out the first draft of this short story, but then the Procrastination Fairy came along and waved her wand at me before I could get started on the second draft. I've taken a hit out on the stupid fairy so I can get some second draftage done this weekend.

I fear for my lack of a title on this story.  My experience with titles has generally been this: if a title doesn't pop into my head while writing the first draft, I end up having a hell of a time coming up with one that doesn't suck big hairy balls of suck.

On the positive side of writing-related things, I did an hour writing exercise a few hours ago and cranked out a 1K draft of a flash piece. I'm not sure if it's something I'll polish up for submission, though, as I'm not sure where I'd send it.  Is there an appropriate publication for an unabashedly liberal-leaning flash piece about a gay Jewish superhero who saves the day only to be accused of being an illegal alien because he's from another planet?
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
And as of last night, the crappy first draft of a new short story is done! Early on in the draft, I predicted this one was going to push past the 6K mark. And it did. Crappy first draft has clocked in at 6,800 words. I am so proud of my eerily accurate word count predictions.  

Now on to the second draft de-crapification process!
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
In theory, I should have had more writing time last week.  In actuality, I didn't make a lick of progress on the short story I had started the week before.  But today?  Oh, today was surprisingly lovely for a Monday.  For what felt like the first time in ages, I sat down and just cranked out first draftage for three solid uninterrupted hours.  About 1,400 words in all, which is pretty damn good for slow-going me.  It's all crappy first draftage, yes, but I think (hope) it's going to clean up nicely.  When the story's done, that is.  I usually get a good sense early on about how long a story is going to be, and I think this one's going to push the 6K mark, at least.

In other and unrelated news: shiny new Apple trackpad!  I'm quite loving this thing.  It doesn't make my hand all crampy and achy like a mouse would do after a day at the computer.
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
As expected, this past week was rather weird for me schedule-wise.  Adjusting to the whole part-time from home day job shift was sort of like pulling on an old pair of pants; you're thrilled they fit again, but it's been so long since you've worn them that you're trying to remember which tops look right with them.  As a result, the time I spent trying on metaphorical tops meant I didn't do much fiction writing during the week.  At least until yesterday, when I finally got my ass out of the metaphorical dressing room.

After doing a small amount of research and photo scrounging on Thursday, I finally started the prequel-ish My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel short story.  Well, I had already written a first sentence or two and jotted down some notes a while back, but yesterday was when I finally sat my butt down and started writing in earnest.  The Silk Road Ensemble was kind of a "duh" soundtrack choice for working on a story set at a caravanserai, especially when one of the albums I have from them has a track called "Night at the Caravanserai."  And I threw Loreena McKennitt's "Caravanserai" onto my writing playlist for good measure.

After working on the short story for a bit, I switched gears slightly and did an hour writing exercise with some online folks for the first time in forever.  Recently, I've imposed all these huge expectations on myself as a writer, which often has the unfortunate side effect of making me petrified when I'm staring down a blank page.  This was a good way to tell those expectations where to shove it.  I turned off Serious Writer Brain and just goofed off for an hour by writing something silly that will probably never go anywhere beyond the exercise.  It was also my first time playing with Write or Die, which was a great help in turning off Serious Writer Brain.

And finally, on to the reading front:

Readerly update under the cut... )
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
The novel revisions have been slow-going lately, but you know what?  That's ok.  I'm not going to beat myself up about being slow right now.  I've got a lot of stuff going on, so the fact that I'm writing every day at any pace is the important thing.  You hear that little miss internal critic? I hereby give myself permission to be slow and you're just going to have to deal with it.  Neener neener neener!
babarnett: (puppet angel)
My internal writerly compass has been feeling a little on the broken side.  Perhaps my muse, being a surly plumber named Jim Bob, has some sort of magnetic contraption in his tool kit that's throwing my readings off.

I know we're generally our own worst critics, but lately I've been trusting my own judgment even less than usual.  Why does this story click while this other one that I thought was equally awesome doesn't?  Clearly there's a difference, but it beats the hell out of me what that difference is.  And Jim Bob ain't helping.  He's crouched down under the sink with his butt crack showing, muttering, "I'm the idea guy.  What you do with them's your problem."
And then the judgment distrust starts trickling down from the macro to the micro level as I write.  Does this scene actually work?  I think so, but I also thought that other thing worked before all those responses suggested otherwise.  And what about this paragraph? And this transition?  What about that sentence? Or that word?  This bit of punctuation?  Am I even writing in English?

With all of that going on in my head, I've ended up writing only about 800 words over the last four weeks.  That's a bit pathetic.  Normally I could excuse that by saying revisions are generally slower, but since where I'm currently at with My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel involved writing a whole new scene that I should have been able to spew out fairly quickly (the aforementioned 800 words), my excuse is kind of crap.

Time to see if I can get a good deal on a new compass, or at least figure out what's screwing my current one up.  If it's not Jim Bob messing with it, then I suspect my internal editor.  She's been looking a little shifty lately.
babarnett: (shaun of the dead)
On the publication (or lack thereof) front...

Unfortunately, the magazine that accepted my post-apocalyptic zombie story last year appears to be a little on the dead side.  Duotrope's declared them so some time back (website not updated in some time, no reply to their inquiries...the usual).  I waited it out a bit longer, wanting to give the benefit of the doubt, but it's been over a year with no sign of any future issues surfacing.  I never received any kind of contract, so I finally sent an email officially withdrawing my story from the publication (on the off-chance there's ever any further activity there). The perils of trying a new publication, alas.  [And editing this entry to add: I heard back from the submissions editor who had accepted my story, and she confirmed that things aren't moving forward at this point and that I should try the story elsewhere.]  I've since sent the story off shambling in search of a new home, so here's hoping. 

And on the My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel front...

Between Sirens and sniffling, not a lot of progress lately, but what little progress I've made has been good progress.  At first the chapter 2 rewrite was laying some serious hurt on my brain.  It was an unfortunate case of conflicting critique comments knocking my internal compass off-kilter, with comments like "The characterization is great but the pacing is a bit too slow" followed by "I think you should slow things down and spend more time letting us get to know the characters."  But I managed to find my footing again, figure out what felt right to me, and get the rewrite off to a good start.
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
1. I'm pretty meticulous about keeping track of my submissions, so it came as a bit of surprise when I went to record a rejection on my handy dandy spreadsheet only to discover that I had already submitted the story to that magazine once before. Doh!  Don't know how I managed to miss that before sending it the second time.

2. Oh, writerly anxiety dreams, you can go away now.  I had one in which one of my upcoming publications had gone live and readers were unanimously agreed in their comments that the story was horrible.  Luckily, my brain made up for that dream by also giving me one involving a bunny and a cute baby pig playing together.  It was adorable.

3. Second scene of the chapter 1 rewrite? Done!

4. I never want to rewrite this chapter ever again. Ever.

5. Wii Sports Resort.  Swordplay.  You get to take on hordes.  My arms ache now, but it was totally worth it.
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
Oh, so this is what my LJ looks like. Hello there, LJ.

And with that out of the way, the writerly update:
Good News: 3-day weekend combined with the office closing early on Friday meant lots of time to work on the novel.  More precisely, to work on the rewrite of the rewrite-to-date.

Bad News: My writing time kept ending with me, after feeling like I was getting so much accomplished, looking at the time and realizing, "Three hours of butt-in-chair and I've only gotten this far?  Seriously, brain?"

It may not have been as much accomplishment as I wanted, but I did at least 1) figure out how to restructure my first chapter to address some major issues, and 2) get the first scene rewritten.  Two more scenes to go.  And once that's done, the rest of the chapters won't need nearly the same amount of work before I can pick back up where I left off in chapter 15 and plow forward.
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
And the short story rewrite is done! Well, mostly. I still need to give it a once-over for pesky typos and things like that. And I'm not certain the ending is quite right just yet. But overall I'm pleased with how it's turned out. After the first draft, I thought it was going to need a huge amount of work, but as is so often the case, the first draft wasn't anywhere near as bad as I had thought.

Anyway, I'll let it sit a few days and then see if I feel like it needs to be thrown before the critiquing gods. In the meantime, the opening:

And now, back to the novel. *eyes huge stack of TNEO critiques with apprehension*
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
Took longer than it should have, but the crappy first draft of my hugely re-written short story is done. That's a relief. It was tough breaking through the "I'm a hack! I can't write!" self-doubt on this one, but I finally managed to dope up my internal editor long enough for me to finish.

And dude, what did I ever do without the internet? Need a hymn within the public domain with lyrics that in some way involve the words "soul" and "order" (as in ordering someone to do something) because it would work really well in your story? Consult the almighty Google, and it shall provide. And once you have the hymn, you can go on YouTube and listen to Mahalia Jackson sing the hell out of it while you finish writing the last scene.

Now for the fun part of tidying up the crappy first draft so that it can become a not-so-crappy second draft. And I mean fun in the non-sarcastic sense. I actually prefer the revision part of the process to the cranking out raw wordage part.
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
I haven't gotten very far on the short story rewrite I started last week, but there has been progress.  Said progress took the form of the following stages:

Stage 1: I can't do this! I don't know how to write!  I'm a hack!

Stage 2: I can totally do this.  I just need to figure out the right starting place.  Ah, there it is. 

Stage 3: Remember how you're rewriting most of this from scratch? That makes it a first draft essentially.  So stop trying to make it perfect and just keep writing already, dumbass.

Stage 4: Writing! I'm writing! I'm in the zone! I'm picking up steam and . . . crap, here's my train stop.
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
This week I started a major rewrite of a short story I wrote about three years ago.  It was the first story I had critiqued when I was at the Odyssey Workshop, and I got lots of great feedback and ideas for turning it into a stronger piece, but unlike everything else I wrote there, I never felt ready to tackle the rewrite until recently.  Most ideas I can just dive into with abandon, but there have been a few like this one that feel a bit more...special, I guess.  Or maybe fragile.  I'm not sure.

Whatever the right word is, these stories tend to set my expectations-for-myself bar even higher than usual--so high that, when I sit down to start the story, I have this petrified moment where I'm convinced that I have no idea how to write anymore.  There's this great idea and a few words on the screen, but there's also this growing dread that I can't write the story because, hell, I can't even start the story.

And then I get over it and start writing.

Something keeps me there and writing despite the strong suspicion that I'm a hopeless hack who should give up now.  While part of me is frozen in terror, waiting for the big bad writing monster to finish me off, another part of me--the part that will survive the horror movie that is a writing career--is desperately looking for what I like to think of as the "in" to the story.

A while ago (a longer while ago then I thought once I went searching for the entry) I made a post babbling about how much I agonize over the first few sentences of a new scene or chapter.  That agonizing stems from the same thing I'm looking for at the start of a new story: that elusive "in" that will let me into the story and let the wordage start flowing.  Until then, I'm only skirting around the edges of the story or scene.

With the short story I started working on this week, fear and high expectations were certainly part of my problem getting started, but another part of the problem was that I had trouble finding the right door to get inside.  There were so many possible ways to start.  With my POV character, a soldier, in the middle of battle?  After the battle with another soldier ragging him for crying?  Or with him going to see the unit's chaplain...which is where I ended up starting.  But even then, I couldn't quite get the door open.  What does my character focus on first?  On what the chaplain is saying to him?  What the chaplain is doing?  How he looks?  Where is the point of focus around which everything else will suddenly click?  So I started trying all the keys until one of them worked. 

And now I'm in the story.  Later, I may decide that renovations are necessary and I need to move the door that let me in.  Or I may just need to change the locks.  But I'm already inside, so that's ok. 
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: (Default)

December 2013



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