Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gosh, Kind of a Lot Has Happened Since Then - Plus Books!

There's a scene in the movie The Rock.  According to IMDB it goes like this:

Carla: [after telling Stanley she's pregnant] You didn't mean what you just said, did you?
Stanley: When?
Carla: Just right now, when you were talking about bringing a child into the world, and having it be an act of cruelty.
Stanley: I meant it at the time.
Carla: Stanley, "at the time"? You said it seven and a half seconds ago!
Stanley: Well... gosh, kind of a lot's happened since then.

Kind of a lot has happened since I last talked to you. Most of it would probably bore you--my kid was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I started shopping one novel around and writing another, I began the fantabulous practice of doing regular, formal analyses of characters that I admire that other people have written--but basically let's just say, I had a busy summer, fall, and first half of winter. What have you been up to?

If you're a few of my writing buddies, you've been up to getting contracts and showering the world with sprinkles of awesome. Here are some books you can use for last-minute stocking-stuffers. (Yes, you want them. I only hang out with the best.)

First off, Soul Cutter by Lexa Cain.

In this debut novel, we have everything to delight the heart of those who love young adult horror--we've got a smart, skeptical heroine with moxie who's quick on her feet, a great, fully-realized Egyptian location (Lexa lives in Egypt), a hero that is more than just mind's-eye candy, and a scary villain.  I know Lexa and it's been a pleasure to watch this book bloom.

You'll notice, perhaps, that with most of the selections I'm talking about today that I like books with a strong sense of place.  Lexa manages this with a lot of fun details and vivid descriptions, enabling the reader to feel the grit of sand between their teeth.  Most effective, and most important, of course, is that the book is absolutely chilling.  Lexa has a way of imagining the kind of villains that make me not want to turn off the lights.  This is actually kind of difficult to do, since I find most horror villains simply ridiculous.  But I think that Lexa's Soul Cutter has creeped me out more than any horror creation since Pennywise.

Next up, we have Love in Penang, an anthology of love stories set in Malaysia.  If, like me, you like to travel to other places by reading about them, you'll be interested in this offering from Buku Fixi.

I'm still waiting to get my copy; Amazon is out of stock at the moment. But I told you these were featuring my writing buddies, right? Nobody has earned that title more than the author of the closing story in the anthology, Name, Fadzlishah Johanabas. So I happen to have read that story, although I haven't seen the others yet, and for me that story alone is worth the price of the anthology. Fadz has a knack for character development, romance, and tragedy--which is why I hang out with him, hoping to soak up some talent. (Maybe it works like radiation, you never can tell.) There is also a sense of place in Fadz's stories, which is perhaps why I find them so fun; I've never traveled in Asia and simple details that he includes--oyster sauce on broccoli is one that comes to mind at the moment--make me feel like I've caught a glimpse of what it's like halfway around the world.

I wanted to include a link to Kate Larkindale's book An Unstill Life...

...but it doesn't technically come out until January, and Amazon doesn't have a pre-order page up for it yet. However, I happen to be one of the privileged people who got to read an early version--if you get gift cards for Christmas, this would be a good thing to spend them on. Kate's delicate, descriptive talent lies not so much in evoking a definite sense of place as it does a sense of person. Her characters have absolutely authentic voice, and their stories are at once heartbreaking and sweet.

Finally, we have Seeking Hyde, a romantic thriller by Max Griffin.

Max, who is an academic in real life, has a mind like a jet engine and the happy knack of making scientific speculation both exciting and understandable. I love that in an author, because it sets my own wheels a-turning. In Seeking Hyde, as you might guess from the play on Jekyll/Hyde in the title, Max examines genetics. There is murder, kidnapping, bio-engineered super-soldiers--and of course, a love story. With guns. Which is the best kind.

As for me, I have a very silly story out this month in Cosmic Vegetable, an anthology of humorous science fiction. (Mine is the fart joke mentioned in the description.)

(I will say that my novels, which contain a minimum of fart jokes, are still getting shopped around, while my one-off stories about talking unicorns and angry spaceship-flying elves get picked up. Perhaps I'm missing my milieu?)

That's all I've got for today. What are you reading at the moment that you really love, and what books do you want for Christmas?




I forgot to mention one that's on my reading list: Cloaked in Fur by T. F. Walsh.  I haven't finished it yet, but if you like werewolves, Walsh does werewolves very well.  Here's the Amazon link:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Talk, talk, talk...and a Diagnosis

Hello, dearlings.  (The Husband tells me "dearling" is the nearest English approximation for the German "leibchen".)  I know it's been a while since I talked to you here, so I thought I'd give you an update:

1) New Novel is coming along pretty well--that is, I'm writing words into it again, so that's positive.

2) Another of my friends has gotten a book contract!  Hooray!  I've read the book in its infancy, and I'm sure when it's released it's going to be even better than it was (and it was pretty dang awesome.)

3) I am pulling up my big girl boots and querying First Novel some more, and feeling like an !##% adult.

4) Something else kinda big happened.  My four-year-old was diagnosed, after two scary ambulance rides and a scary air-ambulance flight, with type 1 diabetes.  After a few days in the hospital and a near brush with a coma, we came home with a glucometer, insulin, and syringes, and have been learning how to be a diabetic family ever since.  Here is a nice informative link on type 1 diabetes, and here is a video on the symptoms.  Please look into it, so you will know if you have someone with type 1 on your hands, and so you will know not to say the following irritating things to parents of diabetic kids:

A: "My aunt's-cousin's-grandmother's-roomate had diabetes, but they just took a pill for it, lost some weight, and it got better."

--Thing is, that most diabetics are type 2 diabetics.  (Like 95% of them.)  So most people only know about type 2 diabetes, which is a much different disease than type 1.  In type 2 the main problem is insulin resistance--the body still makes plenty of insulin, but the cells won't have it.  In type 1, it's the opposite.  My son's pancreas has stopped making insulin and it will never make insulin again, no matter how healthily he lives.  He will always have to take insulin.

B: "Oh dear, that means he can't ever have pudding, doesn't it?"  (Or, conversely and more judgy-judgy: "Are you letting him eat PUDDING? I thought he was diabetic!")

--Kids with type 1 used to not be allowed to eat sugar or any carbohydrates because we used to have really crappy ways of getting them insulin.  In those days they starved and died a lot.  Your body needs carbohydrates, and the way my son's doctors want us to handle it is to simply dose insulin appropriately for the carbs my son eats.  And, incidentally, we don't have pudding in the house because I don't like it.

C: "Oh no! did he get it from eating too many sweets?"

--No.  They don't really know what causes Type 1 yet, but it appears to be either genetic, a virus, or a combination of both.  It's not, unlike type 2, mediated at all by diet or exercise.

(Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.)

Needless to say, it's been wild and crazy around my house lately.  (Imagine having to poke a four-year-old's finger four times per day--or more--and give him three shots per day--or more--and having to carry emergency glucagon injection kits with you at all times because if his blood glucose levels get too low he could have a seizure and die.  And then throw in trying to guess what a four-year-old is going to eat and how much and when.  You'll see the logistics of it dwarf Normandy.)

But--and this is my clever segue back into talking about writing--the stories are still there.  Just now, a whole month after diagnosis, am I starting to feel enough de-stressed that I can write.  The stories are waiting for me.

So I challenge you to be kind to yourself if it's been a while since you've written, and to just pick up and start again.  After a while, it even starts to feed your soul again.

And you can repeat to yourself, "Well, I may have problems, but at least I'm not chasing a naked four-year-old around the couch with a glucometer."

(And if you ARE chasing a four-year-old with a glucometer, will you be my friend?)



Thursday, April 4, 2013

On Waiting

Really Tom Petty has it : "Don't let it kill ya, babe, don't let it get to you."

I've been waiting on Harper Voyager since October--and for the record, I'm not at all bothered by this. Most of the big publishers that take unagented manuscrips (and there are dang few of them) tell you to expect waits of up to a year.  So I haven't concluded that they are playing bingo to determine who they email next.  I think they just haven't read my manuscript yet.  My surname does begin with a T.  Sometimes life is easier if you're A. Andrews.

(It is always possible, of course, that they have lost my manuscript, hate shapeshifters, or for some other reason will never respond to me.  I have just as many paranoid thoughts as the rest of you; I just try to squish them.)

Still, waiting isn't easy, and it isn't just Harper--I'm also waiting on some agents, another big publisher with an open sub call (although they probably won't answer me at all...), and so on.  So, to keep it positive, here's some people who were refreshingly prompt:

Beneath Ceaseless Skies - they are a very cool "literary fantasy" magazine and they send the best rejection letters ever.  They almost always offer food for revision.

Nelson Literary Agency - apart from running the great blog Pub Rant, they got back to me (with a rejection, alas, but polite!) in just under a week, making them the speediest of the agencies I subbed to.

You've heard all my advice about how to deal with waiting before--start new projects, keep busy, etc. etc.  Personally, I went and got chickens--chicks, actually, that have to be checked on every few hours.  They keep you from obsessively refreshing your email quite well.

It's also spring here, which means the garden needs to go in, the firewood for next year needs to get stacked, and the flowerbeds need to be weeded.  All this manual labor is helpful--breaks through writer's blocks like nobody's business.  I've got a short story almost figured out; I might know what's wrong with the one that Beneath Ceaseless Skies rejected; and I think I can finally write the next chapter of New Novel.  Also--music, listen to lots of music.  Dance.  Do anything you can to get out of your head for a bit, it probably needs to be aired.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We Have A Cover!

No, not mine.  One of my critique partners/writing friends/cool people, Allyson Lindt.  She has a book coming out soon, and I got to see the cover before ANY of you.  Here is the cover of her new romance novel, "Conflict of Interest" :

Allyson manages to put together romance and humor in a really cool way.  I get the privilege of reading some of her stuff as a beta, and I can always count on her to create characters I can believe in and like--as well as storylines that keep the tension high.

Why not check out her blog?  Apart from the fact that it's fun to read, I hear all sorts of cool things are happening there today--and you can read an excerpt of the book.  Need to be enticed more?  Fine: legs,  coffee, William Gibson, and high top sneakers.  Go!



P.S. - and I only mention this because I know I have some moms that read my blog--but this book is PG13, possibly even R rated.  So don't go and buy it and then leave it where the kids can find it, okay?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Recommendation/Rabbits

So today, in writing world, I am:

1. Fulfilling my promise to tell you about a cool writer.  His name is James Tuck and the world really needs more writers who are also tattoo artists.  Full disclosure: I'm not even finished with the first of his Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter books yet (got sidetracked because we acquired some livestock--bunny rabbits!), so I don't know how the rest of the series turns out.  But judging by what I've read already, they should be very fun.  If you like the kind of action implied in "Occult Bounty Hunter" and/or enjoy the rare spec fic author who really knows about guns, give it a go.

I can post this now that Mr. Tuck (very nicely) rejected my short story.  I sort of thought he would; after I submitted it I realized it was probably not quite what the anthology represented.  (It was a sword & sorcery anthology, but leaned more toward sword than sorcery, while my story did the opposite.)  The story is now on sub to another market.  I am not at all dismayed, by the way.  Very few of my published stories are accepted by the first market I sent them to.  If you get a rejection for a piece, first try to figure out what you did wrong (wrong market, in my case) and then fix it, and resubmit someplace else.

2. Writing "two page" synopses that are four pages and then editing, editing, editing to make them shorter.  The best I've gotten down to is 690 words.  That's right, I have to compress the plot of a 102K novel into 690 words.  But I'd like it better if I could get it down to 500 words.  I'll have another go at it tomorrow.  After this a twenty-page synopsis should feel like coming home and putting on pajamas.

3. Sending queries.  And wishing it was late enough to drink wine.  And deciding to read more Deacon Chalk so I can't obsessively check my email.  (It's Friday! They are not going to answer today! I tell my brain.  But they might love it/hate it and answer right away, my brain says.  I hate having a brain that can argue with me.)

In my non-writing world, I am:

1. Waiting for my car to get fixed.  It's been in the shop since Monday with the kind of problems you just can't limp around with because they could, you know, kill you and a van-load of innocent people.

2. Telling the puppy "Get down, Fritz" 9,457 times.

3. Reading "Little House in the Big Woods" to my 5-year-old and explaining what a "hog" is.

4. Hugging the woodstove.  It isn't spring in Nevada yet.

5. Eating Cornish pasties.  Yes, they are really a thing.

What kind of projects/pseudo-spring activities have you all got yourselves into this weekend?



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Funny Dilemma

It's not often that I find a new series that I can get excited about, but I found one the other day.  Only I can't tell you what it is yet.

See, I'm trying to write and submit more short fiction this year as well as finish and polish New Novel, and while querying First Novel.  (Both of them have titles that will probably change before you ever get the chance to buy them, but trust me I'll tell you what they're called if someone picks them up.)  Thanks to Fadz, I submitted a short story to an anthology project.

I did it the way I usually do such things--make sure the story is remotely viable for the submission call, obsess over the story's editing and comma placement for a few days, write what I hope is a cool but what is probably a dumb cover letter, and send the whole mess off into the hinterlands of the internetz.

Then I did something unusual for me: I started poking around to see what I could find out about the anthology's editor.  I discovered he's an accomplished novelist in his own right, and in a moment of curiosity (prompted by his blog, which is hilarious) I picked up the first book in the series he wrote.

And it, ladies and gents, is awesome.  Like the Die Hard movies are awesome (but more tightly plotted and without as many helicopters).  Like getting to watch while the military tests ammunition in the desert is awesome.  It's just plain fun, and I've been having a blast reading it.

Only I can't tell you what it is, because as I started to go to the airwaves and recommend it to everyone I knew, I realized that I hadn't got my rejection email from Editor Guy yet, and that me tootling on about his book might be construed as trying to--ahem, flatter my way into the anthology.

And that would be sad.

So you'll just have to wait until I get my rejection--or acceptance, we can at least give it equal airtime--before I tell you what the series is called.

Now there's nothing left to do but obsessively check my email finish up the edits on New Novel's most recent chapter and start mulling another short story idea.



Monday, January 7, 2013


Get some.  Be one.

(Okay, now you don't have to read the rest of the post.)

When I was in nursing school, I was the encourager for the entire class.  Getting a degree always takes perseverance, but for student nurses it also takes getting over your natural aversion to blood and body fluids, and sitting still while a fellow student puts a needle in your arm.  Many, many times.  You can see why it would be easy to give up.

But this is a thing that I do--I can see so much potential in so many people, and I tell them about it.  Most of them seem to like it.  (And no, I'm not making any of it up, I really do see it.)  And we didn't have many people drop out of my class, not because I was the cheerleader but because we all became each other's cheerleaders.

Here's the thing.  Writing, like nursing, is hard, especially in the beginning.  There's no needles, but there's valid critique points that feel like needles.  You need someone to tell you that you can do it.

You need cheerleaders in your writing career.  But you also need to BE a cheerleader to someone.  Once you've done the thing of mopping up a friend who has been reduced to a puddle of revision-induced tears, it's easier to take it when someone has to come along and mop you up.  If you are in close contact with others while they query and get rejected, you won't be so shattered when you get your own rejections.  You're all in it together, and that's how humans--even introvert writer humans--are wired.

So that's my tip of the day.  Go find your writing buddies and start a little mutual admiration society (with claws, of course, when it comes to ruthlessly critiquing each others' work).  Nobody has so much encouragement in their lives that they don't need more.