babarnett: (ash boomstick)

One more week of freedom before my fall semester starts. My brain is finally emerging from its state of denial over that fact. But, to look on the shiny side of the crazy busyness that fall will bring, this will be my final year of grad school. Two more semesters and I'm done, baby!

This summer was strong with the shiny side of the Force, so I'm going to miss it. Two stories that I had lots of fun writing ("The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen" and "Memories of Mirrored Worlds") were published. There was traveling awesomeness—France in July, several jaunts to the shore in August. When not gallivanting about on vacation, I took full advantage of my summer break from school and choir rehearsals to tackle lots of personal projects I had put off during the school year.

And there was writing time. Lots and lots of glorious writing time.

I went into this summer with a writing goal: there were several short stories I wanted to get revised and sent out, and once I did that, I could finally go back to the long-neglected novel revisions I've kept threatening to one day resume. It is with a proud wielding of the productivity stick that I declare that goal met. The short stories in question have all been prettied up and submitted, and last week, I blew the dust off the novel revisions.

And to add to the summer shininess, I can announce another sale! NewMyths.com (who previously published my story "The Cycle of the Sun") has accepted "The Perfect Instrument" for their March 2014 issue. "The Perfect Instrument" had originally sold to an anthology, but the project fell through before publication, so I'm happy the story has managed to find a new home.

babarnett: (puppet angel)

Lately life seems to be happening faster than I can blog about it, which is in many ways a good thing. It’s also probably what Twitter was created for, but unfortunately, Twitter and I don’t quite get each other. We’re like co-workers who can get along perfectly well in the workplace, but in social situations we just sort of stare awkwardly at each other and make lame comments about the weather.

Anyway, the things! I must blog them!

Thing #1) If you haven’t read “The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies because you prefer to have someone else read your fiction for you, you’re in luck! The story is now available as a shiny podcast, where it receives a wonderful narration by Tina Connolly. So if you’re in the mood for a lighthearted tale about death, go forth and listen!

Thing #2) Daily Science Fiction has launched a Kickstarter campaign.  Among the rewards being offered are short story critiques by DSF authors like myself and many other awesome people. So if you’re a writer, you have a chance to both support an awesome publication and get feedback from one of the authors they’ve published. If you’re not a writer, there are other rewards available, so check it out! Because DSF? Totally worth it, if you ask me.

Thing #3) If you’re reading this post on my website and notLivejournal (and really, are there more than like five of us even left on LJ at this point?), you may have noticed that things look a bit different. I didn’t plan to spend my entire weekend redesigning my website, but I did. Was I procrastinating? Yes. Should I have been writing instead? Yes. Do I regret it? No, because the whole process inadvertently led to me to The Copenhagen Chansonnier, a medieval music manuscript with awesomely whimsical drawings of things like the lady conversing with a snail dude in my website header. You’re welcome.

Thing #4) Somewhere in all of the craziness that is my schedule, fiction has been accomplished! I’ve finally gotten around to revising some flash pieces that I wrote back in January, right before my spring semester from hell devoured all of my writing time. One of those flash pieces has already sold, one is making the submission rounds, one needs just a bit more tweaking before I send it out, and the fourth one is no longer a flash story—it got expanded into a 3,400-word horror story and has just started wandering around Submission Land looking for work. And it has creepy puppets. With nasty defecation habits. Once again, you’re welcome.

babarnett: (puppet angel)

Or, Why My Endings Aren’t the Pit of Despair and Misery My Friends Think They Are.

I find it fascinating when people need to have a certain kind of ending in order to enjoy a piece of fiction. Person A is upset about that story with the tragic ending and the high body count; she sees enough depressing things in real life and wants everything in the fiction she reads and watches to work out for the best. Meanwhile Person B is rolling her eyes at that story with the happy ending; she thinks the world is a dark, gritty place and has no time of day for fiction that doesn't reflect that.

Me? Dark, happy, ambivalent, whatever—just give me an ending that fits the story. If you can give me an ending that fits the story yet still manages to surprise the hell out of me, even better.

As for my own fiction, I've gotten a reputation among some friends for depressing endings and George R.R. Martin-esque character-killing sprees. A few years back, I recall one person pleading with me during a critique session, "Just one happy ending, Barb? Just once? Please?" But the thing is, I totally haven't earned this reputation. For starters, I haven't killed off nearly as many characters as I've been given credit for. (Is it wrong that I'm kind of disappointed by that?) In some cases, the characters were already dead when the story began, so technically, I didn't kill them off. They came pre-killed. And my endings—well, like my tastes in other people's fiction, they're a mixed bag. Yeah, there are some dark and depressing endings, but there are a fair number of happy endings in there as well. Most of them fall somewhere in between.

If there's any kind of trend in my endings, I'd describe it as one of ambivalent hopefulness—stories where things sort of kind of work out for the best, but not without some degree of loss or sadness or uncertainty. Bittersweet might be a more concise term, but I'm not sure it's quite right for all of the endings I'm thinking of. Some of them definitely, but not all. But whatever you call it, at the end of the day I'm quite pleased when I write a story that gets responses like this comment I once received during a critique: "It's okay if everyone dies happily ever after."

babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
So, um, you may not remember me, but I used to blog here. I know it's hard to tell, what with the eerie silence and the dust and all. In fact, the dust bunnies have grown large enough to feast upon small mammals. And that huge one lurking over in the corner? He's got that "Why, hello there, lunch" look in his eyes.

But seriously, I need to stop pretending that I'm going to have the time and mental reserves necessary to maintain any kind of blogging routine when grad school's in full gear. So come fall, blog silence will probably resume. But in the meantime, summer break, baby! And only two more semesters left before I'm all masters-degree-ified!

So what's been going on during the two-plus months I haven't been blogging? Let me explain … no, there is too much. Let me sum up:

* School. Ridiculous workload. Fried brain.

* Awesomesauce story sale! Beneath Ceaseless Skies bought "The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen," a story inspired by the Norwegian town Longyearbyen, where you're not allowed to die. A story I absolutely adored writing + one of my favorite short fiction publications = squee!

* Lots of singing and piano. Even my clarinet got the dust blown off it a couple times.

* My writerly pal Krista Magrowski invited me to do a talk on "Turning Ideas Into Stories and Other Tales from Publishing" for the South Jersey Writers' Group last month, which was a lot of fun and involved much discussion of bunny wrangling.

* Day job. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here, but I've been doing a fellowship in an orchestra library, which has been (and continues to be) a great experience.

What hasn't been going on these last couple months, unfortunately, is fiction writing. I cranked out a bunch of flash pieces right before the start of the semester, but so far I've only been able to get one of them cleaned up and flung out into the submission void. But now that I'm done with school until the fall, fiction shall be accomplished!
babarnett: (statler waldorf evil geniuses)

The obligatory intro text:

There are the authors everyone has heard about: George R. R. Martin, Stephen King. But what about all those books written by people you’ve never heard of? Some of them are treasures just waiting to be found, and that’s what this blog hop is all about: the books you might not have heard about, the authors you might end up loving.

This blog hop is like a game of tag. One author posts and then tags other authors who link back to their website the next week and tag new authors. If you follow the blog hop long enough, you’re bound to find some writers you’ll love! Maybe you’ll even discover a book that ends up being the next big thing.

The Taggening, Part I:

I was tagged by Brent Smith, who is a 2012 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Brent and I met this past summer at the annual shindig held at the end of Odyssey where the graduating class and old fogey alumni like myself get to hang out. Odfellows are made of awesome, so please do hop over to Brent's blog to learn more about him and his writing: http://fossilist.wordpress.com.

The Q&A:

1. What is the working title of your current project?

The novel that I've been in an on-again, off-again revising relationship with is currently called Future's Gambit. I'm not happy with the title, though, so I usually refer to it as My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel. Once upon a time it was called Prophecy's Sons, but then I decided it would be a much better story without the prophecy, so there went that.

And then there are all of those shiny little short story projects clamoring for my attention. I have a few flash-length first drafts that I plan to revise in the coming weeks. I wrote them for a contest over at Codex Writers' Forum where our entries remain anonymous until the end, which means I can't reveal their titles without giving myself away. So if you really want to know what the titles are, ask me again in two weeks when the contest is over.

2. Where do your ideas come from?

The better question would be, where don't I get ideas from? The little buggers are everywhere. I pretty much spend my life looking around and asking myself, "Is there a story in that?" Sometimes there isn't. Sometimes there is, but it's a sucky story that no one wants to read. But often, there's something cool there worth exploring.

3. What genre do you write?

Most of my work falls under the fantasy, horror, and science fiction umbrella, but I write the occasional mainstream piece too, usually of the quirky variety. I write more fantasy than anything, but even within that genre, there's a whole mess of sub-genres that I've tackled—epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, steampunk, humor, alternate history, dark fantasy, magical realism, etc. At the end of the day, I just want to tell a good story, genre be damned.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition of your novel?

This is the really sad part about my on-again, off-again relationship with my novel-in-progress: I finished the first version of it back in 2005, which means some of the actors I first pictured as the characters are now too old to play them. Whether reading or writing, the cast in my head tends to have a direct correlation to whatever TV shows I'm watching at the time. So in my head, a movie version of my novel would bring together actors from Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape.

5. What would you do with your spare time if you weren’t writing?

Theater. I used to perform in community theater productions, but I haven't done a show in about eight years now. Finding the time and energy for both that and writing just wasn't happening.

6. Will your work be self-published or traditionally published?

I prefer the traditional route. Self-publishing involves a level of self-marketing that I just don't have the time or emotional energy to invest in. Not that there isn't any self-promotion involved when you're publishing the traditional route, but I think you have to work twice as hard when you don't have an established publisher putting their weight (and money) behind your work. I'm an introvert who constantly has too much going on as it is, so my self-promotional energy needs to be carefully rationed.

7. How long does it take you to write a story?

For short stories, anywhere from a couple of hours to a month. It all depends on the scope of the story, what else is going on in my life (trying to write while in grad school has been a challenge), and whether it's one of those stories that just flows onto the page or one that I have to pull kicking and screaming out of my brain.

For my novel, it's taken too damn long. First, I wasted the better part of my 20s constantly rewriting the first two chapters without moving forward. Once I finally got serious about writing and started doing it regularly, it took me a year of writing during my lunch break to finish the first draft. After that, I spent a few months getting feedback and revising. I queried agents next, failed to land one. Then I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2007, saw all of the flaws in my writing, and realized why I had failed in the agent search. Cue brilliant epiphany on how to revise the novel! Unfortunately, I've only been revising in fits and starts since then due to divided loyalties—I'm excited about the novel, but after finishing the first draft, I discovered just how much I love writing short stories too.

8. Whose work would you compare yours to within your genre?

I'm such a horrible judge of my own work that I honestly have no clue. About the best I can offer is that I've gotten several comments on my novel that say it has a George R.R. Martin vibe to it, though thankfully not in a derivative way.

9. Who or what inspired you to write your novel?

When I was in high school, I wrote a novella that I of course thought was brilliant. Several years later when I was in college, I pulled out the novella and was horrified at how derivative it was. Among the numerous epic fantasy clichés and one-dimensional characters, there was your stereotypical white-bearded wizard. I was sick of white-bearded wizards and decided I needed a different one. While mulling that over, I sat down to watch Deep Space Nine. Epiphany! My wizard would look like Captain Sisko and be just as badass. As soon as the DS9 episode was over, I started writing a scene with this new wizard, at which point my years of constantly rewriting the first two chapters of my novel officially began.

10. When and where do you do your best writing?

I can write just about anywhere, any time. The less distractions, the better, but sometimes I don't have much of a choice. Right now most of my writing gets done on my train ride to and from Ye Olde Day Job.

The Taggening, Part II

Here are the writerly types I'm tagging to continue the blog hop. Alphabetical order is boring, so I'm going to tag them in order of how long I've known them:

Rebecca Roland: Becky was one of my awesome-sauce classmates at Odyssey. She's also a fellow member of the Codex Writers' Group, as well as a fellow wine and chocolate addict. Her first novel, Shards of History, was published by World Weaver Press last year and grew out of a story I had the pleasure of critiquing at Odyssey. She has also had short fiction published in Uncle John's Flush Fiction and Every Day Fiction.

Shveta Thakrar: Shveta and I have been through two writing groups together—a Philly-based spec fic group where we met, and then what we dubbed the Awesome Ladies of Awesomeness. Shveta writes Indian-flavored fantasy that very often makes me hungry, so it's a good thing we live close enough to go out for Indian food on occasion. She recently finished Sipping the Moon, a YA novel set in Philadelphia and featuring Indian fey, and has had short stories in PodCastle, Demeter's Spicebox, and Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories.

K.A. Magrowski: Krista has been one of my fellow Awesome Ladies of Awesomeness critiquing partners and often incites me to mock Giorgio Tsoukalos's hair. Like me, Krista is determined to achieve novel-selling success before the zombie apocalypse arrives; unlike me, she has actually finished her novel, a ghostly YA tale called Small Town Ghosts. Her short fiction has appeared in Dreams of Decadence and Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
As you may or may not have noticed, I've kind of disappeared from the blogosphere again. My fall semester began last month, and it has been kicking my ass workload-wise. But on the bright side, two shiny writerly things: 

1) First, pimpage: my story "Ghost Writer to the Dead" is now out in the October 2012 issue of Penumbra! It's the first anniversary for Penumbra and its publisher, Musa Publishing, so what better way to wish them a happy one than to consider buying an issue or subscription.

2) Because I kind of sucked about balancing writing and school last year, I promised myself this year that my train ride to and from work would be dedicated to fiction writing, no matter what. One month into the semester, and I'm pleased to say that I've stuck to that. It's not much writing time, but it's something, which is far more than I managed before.
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: (farscape aeryn genius)

So I lied about eventually having a more substantial post last week (not that I think anyone was eagerly awaiting one, especially given my half-assed blogging tendencies of late). I had intended to write a post last week, but I got distracted by something that was probably far more worthwhile for me. I rediscovered how much I like words. 

I'm a fairly slow reader, so once I started grad school, I didn't have much time to read anything beyond assignments for class. And as soon as the spring semester ended, I had a big pile of critiques to get through for TNEO. But then, last week, a beautiful thing  happened: I was done with critiques, and I had before me an evening with no rehearsal, schoolwork, meetings, or anything else to do or go to. So I read. Fiction. For fun. For the first time in months. It was glorious. And it continues to be glorious.

In addition to getting to lose myself in someone else's words for a while, I also got to rediscover some joy in my own words. Even though I've still been working on fiction these last several months, my writing routine during my spring semester . . . well, I no longer had one. I squeezed in what I could where and when I could. And everything I was working on was revision. With deadlines. And therefore pressure.

But last week, I started a new story. Every day on the train ride to and from work, I've been writing. And when there's time in the evening, I write some more. And since it's not revision, I've been able to use my old battle-worn AlphaSmart (aka VoldeSmart). In other words, no shiny things on my Macbook to distract me. Just me and my words and no deadlines. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to just play.

babarnett: (firefly shiny kaylee)
The lovely and talented and soon to be Tor-published author [livejournal.com profile] stillnotbored (aka Jaime Lee Moyer) has been holding monthly contests where she invites folks to take an orphaned first line of hers and write the first paragraph of a story or the first stanza of a poem. I entered the last one in a moment of procrastination and was thusly rewarded for my procrastination by actually winning. Sometime soon, possibly after I finish up with a rewrite request I'm working on, I will turn my first paragraph into a full-fledged story. The darn thing has been niggling at me, though I have no idea what the heck it wants to be yet. But in the meantime, my shiny pretty fantasy map pendant prize showed up today:



Thanks for the shiny pretty, Jaime!
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
Operation Remind Myself I'm a Writer, Day One: The procrastination enemy has withdrawn to a defensive position. Fiction accomplished.

Day Two: The standoff with procrastination continues.

Day Three: Enemy regroups, distracts us with shiny objects.

Day Four: Our forces don't even try. They just sit in the bunker, eating pizza and watching Iron Man.

Day Five: We finally pick up our weapons and take aim only to find out that the enemy built a Death Star while we were watching Iron Man.

Day Six: We fight back, but get our assess handed to us. Again.

Day Seven: Turns out that Death Star has an exhaust port...

[Disclaimer: It's not my intention to make light of Memorial Day with a battle metaphor. My respects go out to those who have died on real battlefields.]
babarnett: (mulder google)

My first semester working toward my masters in library and information science is over, and I feel confident in saying that I totally rocked it. I was pleased to discover that, twelve years after finishing my undergraduate degree, I haven't lost my Nerd-Fu.

On the downside, first semester craziness combined with Ye Olde Day Job seriously cut into my fiction writing time. I did, however, find my fiction writing life creeping into my grad school life in fun little ways.

How do I love Scrivener? Let me count the ways . . .

I bought Scrivener several years ago for novel writing. When putting together a lecture for TNEO one summer, I discovered that Scrivener was also great for collecting and organizing research for that. So when it came time this semester to turns lots of research into a presentation for a group project in my Human Information Behavior class, Scrivener once again became a handy tool. And then came my final paper for that same class. In addition to using Scrivener for organizing my research and turning it into a paper, I discovered that Scrivener had an APA style template. From my undergrad days, I was used to writing papers in MLA format, but the MLIS program requires APA format, which was new to me. Scrivener saved me huge amounts of "how exactly am I supposed to format this again?" time on the APA learning curve.

It's just like a short story, only it's mostly plot with very little setting and character development . . .

At first, I was a little apprehensive when faced with the prospect of writing a 15-page research paper for the first time in over a decade. But then I thought, "Hmm, 15 double-spaced pages in 12 point Times New Roman font with an inch margin all around--that's roughly the equivalent of a 4,600 word short story for which I've done lots of background research. Piece of cake!" On the downside, years of focusing on the style and rhythm of my prose made the paper revision process go a little slower than it might have otherwise. Without the fiction writing experience, I probably wouldn't give a damn about using the same sentence construction twice in a row in a research paper.

This one time, at writing camp . . .

Human Information Behavior, where we studied how people search for and process information in a broad number of contexts, was a fascinating course. Several times I found myself drawing on writing-related experiences as an example of information-seeking behaviors and how library and information science professionals interact with users in their search process. One example was the judgmental you-frighten-me look I got while checking out a book called On Killing for research purposes and how that kind of attitude can dissuade people from using the library. And as an example of the Principle of Least Effort, where someone consults a known resource instead of investing the small bit of extra effort needed to get what they know would be a better quality answer, I mentioned the weird phenomena I sometimes saw of individuals asking very specific research questions in a writing forum where it was unlikely anyone had expertise in the area in question, and then balking at suggestions to consult resources more likely to actually provide an answer to their question.

The geek is strong with this one . . .

My other class this semester was Information Technologies, where we got to learn some basics about web design, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MySQL, and other fun stuff. The class seemed like it was a struggle at times for several folks, but I was safely in my geek comfort zone. I already knew how to create a website with HTML going into the class, and I picked up the rest of it pretty easily. Two of our projects involved creating an "information resource" on any topic of our choosing, so I created a site called So You Want to Write Speculative Fiction? And for our final project, we had to create a site using WordPress, so I tested out a redesign of my writing website

And there you have it. Now to check off more items on my winter break to-do list, which includes paying attention to this blog again and rediscovering the fact that I'm a writer.

babarnett: (dr. horrible ahhhh)
It seems I went AWOL on the posting front. Again. But now that I'm here, many things...

SIGNALS
First, a signal boost: Say Yes to Gay YA, where Rachel Manija Brown ([livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija) and Sherwood Smith ([livejournal.com profile] sartorias) talk about an unfortunate instance of being asked to either make a gay character in their novel straight or remove the character's POV altogether. EDITED TO ADD: Some follow up. And this is where I bow out without further comment other than to say: must so many people resort to needing to cast a villain with a dastardly agenda in the matter instead of considering that it's more likely not so clearcut? 

STUDY
Busy grad school is busy! But despite some initial moments of panic (because that's what I do), I'm settling into the school routine just fine and have started to find a balance between class and everything else I need to squeeze into my days. You know, like writing. Speaking of...

STORIES
Appropriately enough for a writer, there are sevveral things going on in the story department:

* Now available for purchase is the 2011 Untied Shoelaces of the Mind Anthology, which includes my twisted little flash piece "Mr. Fluffy." The story should also be online soon in issue 5 of Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.

* My story "The Cycle of the Sun" was accepted for publication in the March 2012 issue of NewMyths.com! My Odyssey classmates will quite possibly remember this piece as "the orgy story."

* My steampunk lemurs on a dirigible story, "A Red One Cannot See" (originally published in Shimmer's Clockwork Jungle Book issue), has been added to my stories available at AnthologyBuilder  

* And I've finally gotten to work on the revisions for my story "The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen," which I got some great feedback on back in July at TNEO. Much like my daily schedule right now, these revisions are proving to be quite the balancing act. There are some changes to make that I think are going to really strengthen the story, but I feel like it would be easy to do too much and totally edit all the life and magic out the story.
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: (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: (ash boomstick)
I'm happy to say that I've sold a twisted little flash piece of mine called "Mr. Fluffy" to the wonderfully named Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.

And on a non-pimpage note, I've now encountered the following situation enough that I'm curious to know if any of my fellow fantasy writers have as well: 

I'll be in a conversation with a non-writer and/or non-speculative fiction reader who finds out I'm a writer and asks, "What kind of stories do you write?" The "science fiction" and "horror" parts of my answer usually go over as expected, but saying "fantasy" often earns me awkward silence and a strange, questioning look. So, even though I've never written anything with an elf in it, I elaborate with, "Elves, magic, Lord of the Rings, that sort of thing." The person then laughs in relief and says, "Oh, when you said fantasy, I thought you meant like sexual fantasies."

Erm, no, I did not. At least not unless one of my characters has a sexual fantasy relevant to the plot.
babarnett: (kermit needs coffee)
~ Much to my surprise, on Monday I cranked out the first draft of a short story I hadn't planned to work on that night let alone finish. It felt rather reinvigorating. I wrote 1,000 not totally crappy words in under an hour, which is unusually fast for me. Onto the second draft de-crapification process! (And here's hoping I find a decent title for the story along the way.) But because my brain doesn't like to let me enjoy such minor triumphs of productivity for too long…

~ The online world doesn't need me to offer yet another link to a certain NY Times review of a certain HBO show based on the novels by a certain George RR Martin. But as a chick working on an epic fantasy novel, subsequent commentary and discussion generated by that review have sent my brain into overdrive on pondering women in epic fantasy—as writers, readers, and characters. Unfortunately, my brain is such a jumble right now and my time so limited that I don't feel like I could put my thoughts down in coherent form at present. Part of that brain jumble has resulted from me obsessing over things to the point of it becoming paralyzing—this fear that, while I know what I'm trying to do with my novel, I'm going to get it wrong and end up with something used as an example of everything that is wrong with epic fantasy. I know nothing is going to please everyone, but Irrational Me, being irrational, isn't listening to Rational Me.

~ While Irrational Me and Rational Me duke it out, I'm going to go re-caffeinate and get some more Ye Olde Day Job work done.
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: (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: (spike angel stfu)
ME: Ok, time to write!

BRAIN: No.

ME: What do you mean, no?  I have a short story first draft that needs finishing, and I have time to work on it.  Let's do this thing!

BRAIN: No, I'd rather check Facebook again.

ME: We just did that.

BRAIN: How about Livejournal?

ME: No one's posted anything new to read.  See?

BRAIN: How about Twitter?

ME: I'm still not sure I actually like Twitter.

BRAIN: There could be something new on all those other sites and forums you have bookmarked.

ME: Or we could write, you lazy piece of--

BRAIN: How about piano? You like playing piano.

ME: I like writing too. And unlike playing the piano, I haven't written yet today.

BRAIN: You could use some more coffee.  You like coffee.  And by the time you're done brewing it, I'm sure there'll be something new on LJ to read.

ME: That's it. We're visiting writeordie.com and getting some work done.

BRAIN: No, please, not that!

ME: Yeah, I actually got some work done with that last time, didn't I?

BRAIN: Hey, look, you can buy Write or Die for your desktop.

ME: Or I could just use the free version and get some work done.

BRAIN: It's only $10.

ME: Hmm, that might be nice.  But no, we need to work.

BRAIN: If you bought the desktop version, you'd be able work without opening your internet browser at all. You'd remove temptation.

ME: Hmm, that's a good point.  And it is only $10.

(a PayPal transaction and a download onto my desktop and laptop later)

ME: Ok, now it's time to work.

BRAIN: Don't you want to play with it first?

ME: Yeah, by WORKING.

BRAIN: Ok, we'll just close your email with the download link and--ooo, look! Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is on!

ME: Been there, mocked that.  Besides, if we write now, I'll let you watch Mega Python vs. Gatoroid tonight as a reward.

BRAIN: Really? Ok, let's do this thing!

ME: You say two hours later.  All right, let me just open my Scrivener file to see where we left off on this story.  And jot down this note about that idea we had.  Ooo, and if that happens, then maybe this? Yes! And then this. And this...

(half an hour later)

ME: Huh, look at that.  No first draftage, but I've got the entire rest of the story outlined.

BRAIN: And it doesn't totally suck.  Not sure it stands on its own, though. That's the problem with a novel prequel. It might not--

ME: Shut up and let me have my moment, would you?
babarnett: (farscape aeryn genius)
As I mentioned in my previous post, Black Static 20, which includes my story "The Wounded House," is now out.  I'm thrilled to be included in an awesome publication with awesome company, and it gives me a good excuse to babble about the story's evolution.  (For anyone planning to read the issue, I am obliged to warn that there are slight spoilers ahead for my story.)

Babbling under the cut... )

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