Category Archives: writing

2015 winding down, a 5k, state of the next book

The presents are under the tree tormenting Luc, 10, who struggles with waiting (don’t we all).  In the meantime, I haven’t been around the blog for a while, can’t even say why.  Busy life!  I have started a bunch of posts these last few months, the essay-ish ones, when my brain is chewing on a thing.  But then I don’t finish them, or my life moves on before I do.  Will I get more organized in 2016?  We shall see.  For now, though, gotta get through Christmas.

But, if I was posting regularly, I certainly would tell you about how I ran my first 5K race last weekend.  (The zombie-mud run wasn’t a race, as it was not timed, walking and obstacles, not a run run). A Santa Run! Everyone in Santa hats, reindeer ears, grinchs, elves, bells on toes, people in full costume or just funny Christmas t-shirts.  Best shirt: “Santa, stop judging me!”

I can’t believe I ran an actual race! Even a year ago I NEVER would have thought I could.  But I did.  I ran it in 38 minutes—SLOW—but so what, I did it.  Sophie, 11, ran it in 31, Supercoolhubby right behind her.  We were a little team!  So cute.  The fastest dude did it in 18!  I saw him hoofing it back in when I was still going out.  Amazing.  The whole thing was really fun, lots of cheering, lots of smiling people.

santa runHere I am crossing the finish line.  Photo taken by Luc.  Go me!  I’m carrying my Santa hat because I got too hot.  500 Santas finished that misty morn.  I really, really can’t believe I was one of them.  Bodies can change, even at 44 you can pick up a sport and become an athlete.  Nerdy, bookish me, running a race, it’s shocking, I tell you.

In other news, nerdy, bookish me (I may be a runner, sort of, but I haven’t changed that much) is here to report I am halfway through writing first draft of the next book.  Hoping to get the first draft in the can by the end of January.  I’m at that point in drafting where I’m pretty sure I hate it, it’s stupid, I should definitely quit, in other words, situation totally normal.  Still, I’m showing up each day, getting words.  So that’s all right then.

But the important thing!  I can’t wait to see the kids open their presents in a few days….

deep in the heart of summer

We’re cooking now, boy.  Daily swimming, lying around in the air conditioning reading fat books while waiting for it to get cool enough to move, tomato sandwiches, being night owls because the heat isn’t so bad in the dark.  Eating peaches over the sink.  Cicadas.

In contrast to the pleasures of summer, though, I struggle with stomach-dropping fear about climate change.  You know that feeling?  About which I generally feel quite helpless?  I try to give myself breaks, think about other things.  But all this hot weather (we had the hottest June ever on record and July has been crazy, too, 98 degrees, 98% humidity most days) keeps it in my mind, in the back somewhere, simmering away.  It wrecks my full summery-enjoyment.  Which sucks.

[Whoa, hang on, isn’t this a light, up-beat blog???  Yeah, I thought so, too!]

Here, have a Yotsuba, just about my favorite manga series, ever.  I just read this one to the kids, who are not too old to enjoy, thank goodness.  LAUGH OUT LOUD for reelz.  yotsuba 11

Ahhh. Yotsuba calls it Glow Ball warming, which is adorable.

In other news, we’re still running (can you believe it? Nor can I), 2-3 miles, 3x a week.  Sophie and Paul chat as they lope along while I pant and moan behind them, flailing weakly in their direction, “…go on…save yourselves….”  Sometimes Luc comes, too, although he is, shall we say, less committed.  “I want running to be my hobby, not my religion.”  He really said that!  He’s NINE.  Freaking smart-ass, hilarious kid….

Unfortunately, every time we see something cool (a double rainbow! Llamas! A cool black and yellow snake!) I don’t have my camera, while, if I lug it along, it’s guaranteed there will be nada but asphalt and sweat.  So, no photo for you.

Ooo, but this is fun: I start drafting on the new novel in ONE WEEK.  I’m halfway through my scene cards.  We’ll see how well they work this time.  Last book’s scene cards were pretty much a failure.  First feelings can be deceptive.

scene cards for precog book

See how the top 8 are super cramped with itty-bitty writing going up the sides? And how the bottom 8 float in a sea of white space?  Yeah, I’m still working on the bottom 8.  Trying for a shorter book this time, 16 scenes instead of the 30 (I think it was?) in the last one. Two pov characters instead of three.  A more streamlined plot.  We’ll see how that all works out.

Planning is fun!  Planning is when I haven’t fucked anything up yet!

Drafting set to begin August 1.  One more week to finish up the scene planning, where the chant is: protag with a need, in conflict with an antag with a need, in a setting, leading to a unique TURN that upends expectations.  One turn per scene, every scene must have a conflict and an antag, no exceptions, plus note down any funny beats or Points of Interest along the way.  Inciting incident, set-up, three trial-cycles, mid-point, final ramp up after failure of third, big confrontation tying up both inner and outer arcs, conclusion, denouement, yada yada yada.  Gotta love CRAFT.  I mean, I fucking got this, right?

I’m always so full of hubris before the novel breaks me into little pieces.

Happy mid-summer everyone!  (Try not to think about glow ball warming too much…).

running and the big questions like will i write another book

What are we doing here, why do we keep doing the things we do, how do we decide what to do each day when we wake up, what the hell is going on, what is life, what is death, is there more?

I always, always feel this way right after I finish a book.  I’ve written enough of them now that I know this about myself, so at least I don’t fall into the trap of taking myself too seriously.  The questions stem from the kernel of…Should I write another one?  Can I not?  (Doubtful.)  But there are SO MANY books in the world, all wanting to be read.  Seriously, why bother?  Which leads to all those bigger questions in a tumbling avalanche of uncertainty.  Maybe I should have been a philosopher.  Maybe it’s a simple chemical crash after the hype and stress of putting out a book.

Oh, but THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has bought Ghost Fugue, for 3 Voices in the last couple of days!!!  I’m watching for some reviews to start trickling in, pins and needles.  I find I’m thrilled for every sale and every person out there who might read and get something out of it.  Which might sound sort of noble, but it’s really quite selfish of me, to want to feel like I’m not just taking up space.  [rolls eyes at self]

In a parallel track, we’ve been running.  We’re about three months in now.  SuperCoolHusband, and the two kiddos, and oh, Henry The Dog (he’s absurdly happy with this new development) and me, yes me, I actually run, well, sort of jog, slowly.  Three times a week, we’re up to about 2.5 miles each time (kids do more like 3, running back and forth for us slow-pokes).  I can’t believe we’ve stuck with it this long.  We’ve actually been talking about running a 5K race.  Shocking!  Well, it wouldn’t be Sophie’s first, but the idea that I might run a race is like talking about someone else.

And then this morning I ran across this video, a short movie asking hard, personal questions of people while they are running.  It’s exquisitely compelling.  The running both seems to open the people up, as if their masks are thinner or missing because of the flush and endorphins, and also is a fairly on-the-nose metaphor for how we run through life, striving and efforting, trying to figure out how the hell to deal with everything that happens to us, the very things the people are talking about as they run…It’s a great piece of film!

Anyway, here, watch this, it’s wonderful, and it’s way better than listening to me winge!  I’ll get on with writing soon and perk up.

The Runners from Banyak Films on Vimeo.

Isn’t that something?

The kids and I are once again listening to Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones in the car, it is just a wonderful book, and makes me feel how much I would love to write a book that someone, somewhere loved as much as I love it.  But maybe it’s best to just write because it’s there, because I seem to get depressed when I don’t do it, because I start wondering if there is any point to anything.  Could be writing is just a distraction to that question, and not an answer, but maybe it doesn’t matter.  Must keep running somehow.  Gah, I’m so morbid when I’m not writing [laughing].

(Sophie pattted me this morning and said, “there, there, Mom.  Have some chocolate.  That’s the answer.  The question is pretty much irrelevant.”

She’s so smart.)

ghost fugue, for 3 voices…LIVE at amazon!

It’s out, it’s out!  Ghost Fugue is out!  And I’m nearly nauseous with nerves.  Typical for a book release!  And yes, I know, I said June 21, but it used to take a whole day for a book to wander through the back corridors of Amazon before making its way, blinking into the bright light of the internet, so the smart publisher started that journey the day before release.  But apparently they’ve sped things up because this time it only took 30 minutes!  Yikes!

But no problem.  That just means everyone gets an extra day of .99 to get their copy cheap.  You ARE going to buy a copy, right?  You should!  It’s an awesome book!  Ghosts, violins, creative swearing, food, music, sex, freaky citizens of Dead City, manual labor, funny side characters, a complicated three-way relationship, money, family issues, more ghosts….  What more could anyone need in a lazy weekend urban fantasy read?  Plus it’s freaking 96 degrees here right now, so all anyone can do is lie around and read.  Maybe I should have made it .96 cents!  I totally should have done that.

Anyway…(I talk type fast when I’m nervous, can you tell?)…go buy my book, give it a read, and if you like (of course you’ll like it) PLEASE WRITE A REVIEW, pretty please, pleasepleaseplease, cherries on top and all.  Just a line or two will do, because the poor thing looks positively naked right now with no reviews.  Early reviews make a huge difference for a new book.  THANK YOU.

(Plus, if you find a typo, TELL ME.  I’m a couple slipped through, they always do, despite my copyeditor and I combing the damn thing with a flea comb.  Thanks!)

New book! New book at Amazon!  Whew!  I think it’s time to go pour a glass of my granddaddy’s scuppernong wine….

new novel: ghost fugue, for 3 voices…coming june 21!

Look at my sidebar, go on, look at the shiny new book coming in ten days!  And it’s got its very own page on the blog, WOOT, with, like, a description and everything, DOUBLE WOOT.  I did a prelim cover reveal post not long ago, but now we have the real thing, Ghost Fugue, For 3 Voices, and LO, an actual release date:

JUNE 21.

WOWOWOWOWOW. [imagine the camera zooming in and out here]

Summer Solstice!  Because if you can do things when the planets are aligned, you should.

The plan is to release it to my loyal readers and email-list peeps for .99 for that first day, and then bump it up to its regular price. I’ll send out an email when it gets closer with all these deets.

Meanwhile, I’m busy getting the final copyedits sorted out, getting files properly formatted, test driving the whole mess of it, etc.

I’m super-stoked to finally have Ghost Fugue, For 3 Voices, coming out.  It’s been a long time in the making.

 

 

pollen, henna, sushi, and the new book

It’s raining on the yurt roof (loud!) and thank goodness because we have been drowning in pollen.  Seriously, look at this:

pollen car 1

That’s from ONE NIGHT.  Take a closer look:

pollen car 2

That thick layer of yellow has been on everything.  I come in from walking Henry and the cuffs of my yoga pants are covered in it.  Hubby came in from working outside and when I patted him on the back, poofs of pollen came off him.  Driving down the road, you look into a yellow haze, seriously!  We leave footprints in it, it is so deep.

pollen footprint

But now this rain will wash it away, or at least some of it.  Our breathing systems can go back to the normally high levels of pollen of  NC spring and not this crazy onslaught.  Spring is on fast forward this year.

You know what, I was just flipping through my camera to get those pollen pics and look, Sophie’s gorgeous hair after our semi-annual Henna Party.  My cousin and I, and sometimes my sister, and now my daughter, we all have this crazy red hair now.  It’s a Thing.

sophie henna

So pretty! She likes to torment me by talking about cutting it all off.  Sob.

Ooo, and look at this, an amazing sushi feast we had a couple of weeks ago:

sushi feast

DELICIOUS. I had to take a picture.

Isn’t going through the camera fun?  I don’t miss the days of film.

And in my final news of the day, the new book has a title!  Ghost Fugue.  It is out with the second round of beta readers at the moment.  The cover is in the works, and I have booked my copyeditor to do the final typo, cleaning and formatting, hopefully in May.  Aiming for a June release.  I’ll do a fancy shmancy cover reveal as soon as it is done. I’m super excited about this book!

waiting on an editor letter is a little like setting yourself on fire

The work-in-progress novel is coming back from the editor this weekend.

I’m a nervous wreck!

My first round of beta-readers (pre-editor) have been largely positive, and the editor got a better version of the manuscript than they got, so…I can hope.

(Can’t I?  A little bit? I can hope I don’t need to RETHINK MY ENTIRE LIFE?)

But to editors, I always say…
hit me as hard as you can
…and I mean it.  Don’t worry about my feelings, I insist. I need to know all the broken parts. Before the book is published.  While I still have time to FIX IT.  That is, before the public shaming of the dreaded [hushed whisper] 1 Star Review.
i'm not nervous at all

I’ll get the email, with its .doc attachment and lunge to open it….

Will it be one of these?
mind blown
…or one of these?
throws away computer
stomps on computer
?
One always hopes for one of these…
crazy dancing
…yeah, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that’s just wishful thinking.

I haven’t written anything new in 2015.  SHOCKING. Instead, I’ve been on some kind of sabbatical where I READ ALL THE THINGS, at least, all the things written by Samuel Delany. I’ve already mentioned Dhalgren, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand here on the blog.  But how about Babel-17…amazing! Empire Star…amazing! Motion of Light in Water…yeah, yeah, you get the idea.

It’s hard for my little writer-self to take in. What’s the freaking point to writing anything at all when someone can write like …that?

Whatever.  It’s not like I’m giving it up (can’t, it’s like hypergraphia or something).  So, start the count-down. I’ll be losing it, in some fashion, in just a few days.

I should probably start drinking now.

P.S. Several people wrote to ask me how the dentist went, oh you funny little readers, I love you.  It was fine, I have perfect teeth, the dentist always says, “What are you doing here? Go home.”

And my wonderful hygienist, Hilda, bless her, was SHOCKED when it was revealed that I am about to turn 44.  “Get out!” she said.  “I thought you were just out of college or something!”

“You DID NOT,” I said back, “You practice that face in the mirror for your difficult clients, don’t you!”

“I do NOT,” she said.  “You don’t look your age at all.”

“Look at these wrinkles!” I said, pointing. “And these!”

“Un-un,” she said, getting back to work.  “I’ve got people in here all the time in their forties who look like they are in their sixties. Rinse.”  But she still looked surprised as she vacumed out my mouth with that sucky-tube-thing.  “Honey, you look fantastic.”

“May the angels sing your praises to the heavens,” I said. Well, more like, “aa dee angees seen ya payz to da heabens…”

My fragile ego needs all the help it can get right now.

euphemisms are cool

Do you ever have one of those days where you just can’t stop thinking about sex?  You assault your spouse or [romantic euphemism here] until they tell you to back away from the box of condoms and just go freaking make dinner already?  You cook sausages and bananas and don’t think it’s weird?  You rub one out and it just doesn’t help?  If anything it makes it worse?  You need to focus, but you keep thinking how much that sounds like “fuck us” and you think, yes, I need to fuck all y’all, get in my pants, and then you realize you’ve missed your exit.  Again.  What the heck.  Is it hormonal?  Stars aligning?   Look, sex-brain, I’ve got, like, things to do.  Leave me alone already.

Of course it’s probably just that I am mere pages from finishing this draft of the current novel.  Yeah, it’s DISTRACTION.  Let’s be honest.

But this novel, it’s like peeing molasses.  I started back in 2013 and I’m just on the second (third?) draft (shoot me now), but hey, I am writing the FINAL CHAPTER, so that’s something.  It freaking is, so shut up. Yes, I know, after this draft, it’s beta readers, then another draft, then my editor, then another draft, then more beta readers, then final tweaks (because hopefully by then I’m getting mostly thumbs up from my betas), and THEN its done.  So yeah, that’s a fuck-load more work, really, isn’t it.  But still, I’m closing in on the second draft and that feels like a completion!  Yeah!  GIMME SOME FUCKING CAKE.  Or a couple dozen orgasms would be good, too….

Listen up, Lassiter!  The goal is to get this book out by the end of the year!  Quit this fooling around and get to work!

Oh yeah, the drill sergeant approach, that will totally work.  Because I nail all my self-imposed deadlines, like the thirty or so that I’ve already blown past on this novel alone.  And now I’m thinking about nailing drill sergeants.

Anyway, I’ve been not so much with the blogging because there is this momentum at the end of a novel that takes me over and I abandon my family, my yoga practice, my sleep, and my BLOG because I just can’t stop sneaking away to try to get a few more words in and I can’t think about anything else.  Except sex.

Which I think is just a smoke screen, don’t you?  This muse chick is just messing with me.  Maybe it’s a metaphor for the creative process heating up or something.  Maybe I need to end the novel with a big orgy scene.  All the great novels end with a big orgy scene, don’t they?

Jesus, what have I been reading.

Am I like this at the end of all my novels?

You know what?  It doesn’t matter.  Back to work.

i will get to The End of this book even if it kills me

I’m writing the last chapter of current work-in-progress (I don’t even have a working title, not a good sign! *panics*).  This is not as good news as it could be because I skipped over the final Big Scene (because I haven’t figured it out yet) and went straight for the denouement and the epilogue, Cheating For The Win!  Let’s hurry to The End because by gawd, it’s ABOUT DAMN TIME. So, yeah, I’ll have to go back to that BIG FREAKING BLANK SPOT but other than that, I’m like this close.

There is just…GAH! there is something in the center of this book  I haven’t figured out yet—and it’s driving me NUTFUCKING CRAZY.  I keep whittling away at it, but something, something right in the center, is eluding capture.  It’s maddening, I tell you.  There is a hole in my book and the story keeps leaking out….

Nevertheless, soon, like, in the next couple of days, I’ll have typed The End, for the Very First Time (on this book) (there are usually a couple of times you type The End), and that will, indeed, be Something, at least.  It will mean I have all the clay on the wheel.  Time to make it into a pot.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all this extra, struggle-filled work meant that this will be an extra-gooder book?  But no: there is no correlation between how hard a novel is to write and how good it finally will be.  All the struggle might mean the damn thing is fundamentally and fatally flawed.

That would suck.

The only thing to do is to keep walking, keep working, one word after another.  BUT (says the inner tyrant voice) I’m nine months and 60,000 words in and I haven’t even typed The End once yet!  What the f is wrong with this book?!!? *pulls hair, gnashes teeth, moans*

However!  I’m not listing to that crazy voice. I’m Staying Positive.  So, my pretties, The End is coming soon, wait for it, wait for it

In the meantime, I look at this photograph when I get stuck (re: all the time) and I find it helps me out.  To me it’s Hazel, looking moody over Takeda’s violin.  I imagine the ghost of her dead mother hovering somewhere over her shoulder….

Hazel and the violin