Friday, October 28, 2005

Raining, Pouring

It's amazing how much things can change in two weeks. A couple of weeks ago, I was as low as I could get.

Then I started working on my NaNoWriMo project, and my mood improved.

Then I got the good news on Monday morning (which I didn't share then because they asked me to hold off, but it looks like its everywhere on the web now, so I'll spill) that my story, "Out of His League," which was due to appear in the DaiKaiju 2 e-anthology, will now be part of the DaiKaiju 2 print anthology, due out sometime next year, and it'll be available in the U.S. Cool.

Then later that night, I received word that my story "Astromonkeys!" had been accepted for publication in Baen's Astounding Stories, due in June of next year.

Today, I got a promotion with a nice salary bump. This has been a great week.

Makes me worry about how things could come crashing down when the hot streak ends, though.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Morning After

The weirdest thing about the whole Astounding deal is that I was online, with comments from the board being sent to my email. So I received and read the comments over the course of an hour, in real time, my excitement mounting all the way. When I got the "yes," I decided not to send the MS right away, but wait until this morning.

An hour later, I crumbled and sent it. I'm so weak.

They're not sure when they'll pay, or when they'll publish the story, since they're still setting things up over there, but the acceptance before my birthday is enough to make me very happy. I'm not going to get rich writing short stories, but considering how down I was less than two weeks ago, this couldn't have come at a better time. Especially given the (potentially good ) news regarding my other Digger story, and the fact that I am about to commence writing a Digger novel in one week. Digger's my good luck charm. My golden ticket.


Whew. Got that out of my system.

Now back to reality...

I'm almost tempted to cheat and start my novel early, before the official commencement of NaNoWriMo. But I won't. No. That would be wrong.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Holy Freaking Crap!

Okay, I got up this morning and got the previous post's potential good news, and then I heard about a new magazine from Baen, called Astounding Stories. It turns out that one of the features in the magazine is a featured story from a new author, so I decided to submit a story. And since I've got Digger on the brain from outlining the novel, I decided to enter one of the Digger tales, called "Astromonkeys!" I submitted the story at about 4:30 this afternoon. By 9:45, I had gotten a comment from Eric Flint's assistant editor saying she thought it was "a hoot." By 10:30, Jim Baen had jumped on board saying he agreed, adding, "Should we... buy it?" By 10:45, Eric Flint, the editor, had come back saying yes, they would buy it.

Less than seven hours from submissions to acceptance. I am officially freaking out!

Good News, Maybe

Just got a piece of potentially good news. I can't share it yet, but I really hope it comes to pass. I've slowed down on development for my NaNoWriMo project. In one sense, I'm excited about it; in another, I'm worried that I might have peaked too soon, and I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to use the beginning that I once developed for an earlier iteration of the book, because it was pretty good. I still don't have an idea for the beginning of this book. I know what I want one of the first scenes to be, but I feel as if I need something splashier for an opening. It's an action book, so I want an action hook. Still debating...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Still Digging In

I've been debating a couple of approaches for turning my excitement over NaNoWriMo into productive work without actually beginning to write my project. I thought I might read a couple of third-person viewpoint books, but I don't want to get trapped into trying to emulate them (I suppose I could read something like one of the later Wheel of Time books - the viewpoint writing is strong, but the story late in the series is shitty enough that I won't be tempted to emulate it). I thought I might get into doing really deep background on the characters, but I don't like creating elaborate backstories that I might never use. I thought I might try to wrap up Flip before Nov. 1 (a truly crazy thing to attempt, since I have no idea how much longer it will go). Yesterday I came up with the idea of writing another Digger short story to satisfy my Digger jones without working on the book, but I don't want to get myself distracted too much from the task (soon to be) at hand.

In the meantime, I'm still developing story elements, and really surprising myself at the ideas I've come up with. I'm not rocketing along like I was when I came up with an almost full plot outline in one afternoon, but I'm still filling in motivations for particular scenes, backstories, names for characters. And what really gives me hope here is that I'm not coming up with, say, backstory for the sake of backstory, but everything I'm coming up with is being done to fill holes in the existing framework, so that it's actually useful.

I'm also trying to avoid one of the problems I had on Blue Falcon, which was that I wrote down lots of ideas, but then misplaced the notes, because I had so many pieces of things scattered among different notebooks and pieces of scratch paper. I still occasionally find Blue Falcon turning up and read them and say, "That's a pretty good idea. I'm sorry I forgot about that one." This time, almost everything except a few character bios and the index card plot outline is in one notebook. I'll go through right before I start writing and either transcribe the notes onto the existing cards for the scenes they describe, or perhaps into a spreadsheet that serves the same purpose. Then the cards go up onto the bulletin board in my office, and as I complete each scene, BAM! a big X goes across the card. I'm hoping it will be a motivator to see proof of the progress I'm making in such a dramatic visual way.

Maybe I'll use red X's.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The World Moves Faster Nowadays

Used to be, I'd get two or three months into a project before flagging and doubting it. Now it's just been a couple of days since I did my plot outline for NaNoWriMo, and already I'm feeling less enthusiastic about it. One of the biggest problems is (once again) the reverse of my usual experience.

Usually, I come up with a strong opening scene and a basic plotline for the first 100 pages or so, Once I reach the end of that I start to have problems. This time, I've got the entire story outlined in my head, but I'm not sure how to start.

Even worse, I'm having a real problem figuring out what I want the viewpoint to be. The story would seem to demand third-person, past tense. The problem is, all of the stories I've written in the series so far have been first-person, present tense, and part of the reason I think they worked so well was the narrator's voice. If I lose that, will the storyline be interesting enough to make up for it?

Obviously, between now and then, I need to do some reading that features good viewpoint narration in third-person, to get it strong in my head again. I did it with Blue Falcon, oh so long ago. I just have to get my chops back.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tuesday Is Backwards Day

So I've tried to write novels before. And I mean, like at least eight or nine times before. I've only ever finished one of those attempts (I did finish a crappy first draft on one of the others, but only because I got lost midway through and decided to tack on an abrupt ending just so I could say I finished it - the story ends, but I don't think you could say it was really done). One reason is that I get so excited by the concept that I start writing way too early in the process, excited to get started, and eventually I hit a wall. I have a vague idea of where I want to go and how to get there, but I can't seem to justify it given the characters and world as they have developed. I've followed the road, but the bridge is out. I've tried outlining, diagrams, character biographies, index cards, but they never feel right.

So now comes NaNoWriMo, which encourages writing without preparation, seat-of-the-pants wordflow. This is ideally suited to my approach, no?

So what do I do? Since I'm excited about writing the book, but not allowed to start writing pages yet, I've been putting together the most complete outline I've ever written. Character notes. Snippets of dialogue. Good Lord, gasp, even index cards, choke. And it looks like it's going to be a great yarn. Over-the-top apocalyptic action with lots of juicy character conflict (and, I'm hoping, loads of humor). I'm really getting pumped up here, which is exactly what Chris Baty warns against in his guide to NaNoWriMo, No Plot? No Problem!

As he puts it, "Past a certain point, novel planning just becomes another excuse to put off novel writing. You will never feel sufficiently ready to jump into your novel, and the more time you spend planning and researching, the more likely you'll feel pressure to pull off a masterwork that justifies all your prewriting work."

So a part of me is worried that I'll do exactly what he warns against, freeze up because I've built up such pressure from all the prep work I've been doing. But another part of me isn't worried, because this is a character I've already written several stories about. I know him and his world, and it's always a joy to go back there. I can't wait to start blowing stuff up.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Well, I Did It

I went and registered for NaNoWriMo. I've had an idea for a story nagging at me for something like 15 years now. I'd originally thought to write it as a screenplay, but I couldn't find the right hook to turn a bare concept into a fully fledged story. I've made several false starts at it over the years, but never really got a grip on it. When I decided to do it as my NaNoWriMo project, I finally found the hook I needed. I've got what I think is a really solid structure (of course, I've thought that before), and I'm itching to start writing.

NaNoWriMo starts on Nov. 1. Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Frustration Gives Way to Depression

Well, the contest results are in, and not only did I not win, I did not place among the top thirteen (out of 92). This with a story that people in my writing group still talk about two years after I read it to them. I am about as fucking low right now as I can get. I need a serious injection of motivation soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Frustration Continues

Okay, so the results were pushed back to Oct. 5, except it's now Oct. 11 and still no results. This is maddening.

In other news, I may be getting a promotion soon. This may sound too much like counting chickens before they hatch and all that, but I figure there are two shortlisted candidates, and the other one (so far, at least) doesn't really want the job. so...

We'll see. But it would be sweet if it happened. Normal hours and a higher salary - I could live with that.

And just to show that I'm completely insane, I've been toying with writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. I haven't registered yet, but I'm playing with ideas. We'll see if I've got the guts.