Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Back in the Saddle (A Start, At Least)

I'm back to posting on UnJust Cause finally, so if you want to check that out, it's up on Wattpad now: "To Err is Human (and Tomorrow is Another Day.)" There's not a lot there, not too much more than 500 words, but I needed to get back in the habit. Honestly, what I really, REALLY need to do with this is what Rachel and I just spent three weeks doing to School for Wayward Demons (SWD)... I need to take all the parts and get them into a huge document and start to really examine the whole shape of it.

Because if I'm going to make it into a book, it needs that. I am learning, somewhat the hard way, that writing one's way into a book (and not planning it out like I used to do) might be hella fun, but it means a lot of work on the far end, the finishing end, as it were.

It's good for me to experiment with different ways of writing, though. So no regrets. I have learned much.

Besides, despite my belly aching, it's a well-known fact that I'm a heavy reviser no matter which method I chose: pants-ing or outlining.

In other news, Mason and I had some fun yesterday. Shawn had to work late, so we went to our usual favorite hang-out place when we have time to kill but it seems foolish to go all the way home: the Roseville Library. Mason tore through the shelves and took out old favorites and a few new-to-him books. I'd settled down at a table and was starting to write when he did that kid thing, "Can we go to the coffee shop and get a scone??" I didn't think we should. You know, it's money and treats, but then I thought about my own treat: a mocha, and so I was convinced. As we were waiting for the staff to ring our stuff up and make my mocha, we overheard two guys behind us starting up a game of Munchkin. If you're unfamiliar, feel free to check out the Wikipedia article I linked to, but the short of it is that Muchkin is a card-game version of D&D. Instead of role-playing you pull various cards and move through a very random "dungeon" as part of gameplay. It doesn't matter. What you really need to know about the game is that 1) Mason LOVES it, 2) it is ridiculously geeky and often involves, like the best D&D games, arguing the rules, and 3) Mason constantly begs us to play and Shawn and I... well, we like it, but don't LOVE it, if you get my drift. So, when these two nerdy college-aged boys asked if we wanted to join them, Mason was over the moon with joy.

I decided to opt out and sat nearby with my computer. At one point one of the boys came over and said (in such an adorkable outgoing nerd way, honestly) "Your son is a delight." To which I replied, "Isn't he just." But when nerd-boy looked baffled at that I said, "Yes. Thank you." Nerd boy wanted to let me know, too, that Mason was not only keeping up with them but, "talking just enough smack." Which I honestly found deeply delightful to hear. I wanted to say, "That's because I raised him right," but merely nodded and thanked them again for inviting us to join. Because I mean, Mason is 11, I bet these two young men were twice his age: 22.

Mason was so happy afterward he not only nerdgasmed about the game play all the way home, he kept dreamily and happily muttering, "They argued the rules, Ima. They argued the rules."

"Yes, my son," I said. "You have found your people."

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Joys of Collaboration (and Other Stories)

Wow, you guys, the book version of School for Wayward Demons is 90,000 words. It's currently off with Sean Murphy, sort-of-kind-of-former Wyrdsmith (retired? emeritus?), who is checking it for "book-y-ness." (Like, truthiness, except for books, I think.) But, here's the thing, 90,000 words? If you buy this book when it comes out, you're FOR SURE getting a third more story. All the stuff we have queued up for the web site only clocked in at 65,000. I can tell you that the big changes are to Kitty. She gets a much stronger back story. Erin, too, actually, gets to be more proactive in her own rescue. Gabe and Theo had started out awfully strong, so they really just got deepened and some of their issues got bought out and explored.

I will say, though, that I had some serious excitement about this on Saturday morning. Rachel, my co-author, sent back the version that she'd spent a whole week working on... and I discovered that I sent her an incomplete draft! So she'd done all this work on stuff that wasn't even complete!!

I was ready to lay on the floor and start sobbing, but Rachel whipped out the handy-dandy "merge documents" function and was actually able to quickly go through everything and give me a combo/nothing lost version in A DAY.

She is so awesome.

Seriously, I would still be in the gross sobbing stage, if it wasn't for her.

This is only especially traumatizing because I'd hoped to give it a final pass here and have it back and ready to go out to copy-editors and such by the 30th, which, if you check your calendars, is only a matter of days!!

So, now my big project is to do something similar with the UnJust Cause stuff I've posted on Wattpad as Tate. And THEN, then my friends, I hope to start writing some... science fiction.

Shhh!

I told Wyrdsmiths on Thursday that my plan was to finally start my samurai steampunk story, and our newest member, Theo, has already sent her minions after me to get working on it! Seriously, I was on gmail and an IM popped up, our mutual friend Teri, who was all, "Are you writing that thing?"

So I guess I have to write the thing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Updates on Various Projects

Today, (more like this evening at this point) I hope to get a new Tate bit posted on Wattpad, but I had to work today from 9 to 1 at Maplewood library. It was really busy thanks to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Normally, Maplewood is my favorite library because the people are so awesome and they have the best ever graphic novel collection in Ramsey county, I swear.

In other writing related news, Rachel and I are also trying to see if we can build more of an audience for our School for Wayward Demons project by x-posting that at Wattpad too. So, if you find it easier to read an comment on things over there, you should feel free to check it out: http://www.wattpad.com/96121914-song-of-secrets-book-1-of-the-school-for-wayward (Also, if you want to, you can follow us on Tumblr, too: http://waywardschoolofdemons.tumblr.com).

If you're still following along at the entertheunseen.com website, the newest chapter is up "Bad Magic Puppies."

Thursday, January 08, 2015

No More Mourning Rugs

Today, I feel fairly accomplished (at least so far), despite not doing that much writing. I did work on a number of writing-related things, however.

First of all, I wrote the acknowledgements and a new bio for a short story in the AngeLINK universe that Cheryl Morgan at Wizard's Tower Press will be publishing. It's a story that was first published in, of all places, South Africa, in 2003, in a magazine called Simulacrum: The Magazine of Speculative Transformation. The short story is going to get cover art for the first time EVER, which I bought from the lovely and talented Theo Lorenz, who happens to be the author of the successful coloring book Unicorns Are Jerks (and others.)





What do you think? I know it doesn't match Bruce Jensen's amazing cover art for the AngeLINK universe or even the cover of Resurrection Code, but... I don't know, maybe short stories are friendlier? (Also, I didn't ask Bruce, because I'm sure I can't afford him.)

At any rate, I'm pretty excited to have this story come out and have a wider distribution. Wizard's Tower Press has been very awesome to me. I will let you know when this will be available for public consumption. I believe that it's first going to be part of a giveaway for the Accessing the Future Anthology's successful fundraiser. But, I suspect once they have the contributors have their copies, Wizard's Tower will make it available to the public. And, yes, of course, as soon as I have those details, I'll post them here (and probably everywhere. :-)

And, since we're talking writing, there are two new chapters up at the Enter The Unseen/School for Wayward Demons website, "The Cavalry Arrives with Donuts" and "Destroying the Dead." So, if you've continued along with the story, there's just so much extra goodness for you today.
Speaking of the School for Wayward Demons, I got a very, very rough draft of the novel version off Naomi for beta-reading and probably some triage/first aid. I feel like the novel has good bones but, because of the way Rachel and I wrote it, it's a kind of Franken-story, stitched together with very obvious stitches! :-) But, Naomi is a very smart reader and has always in the past found ways to make my books make sense, so I trust her to have good advice to smooth out the rough edges.

And, to be fair, this is all work I'm doing before I'm even giving it back to my co-author, so it will get many subsequent passes. I'm absolutely sure that by the time we're done, it will be one seriously amazing book.

Fingers crossed, 2015 will start with at least two publications! So yay! Go me!

My other resolution has to do with the blog post I made below in which I discussed some of my publishing "feels." As I told one of the commenters, one of my problems is that I actually had a really good career with Penguin and so when the rug got yanked out from me, I was so stunned that I just sat there on the floor, not getting up, shouting to all passers-by "HEY, THERE WAS RUG HERE! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY RUG? WHY DO YOU STILL HAVE A RUG? I WANT MY RUG BACK!"

It's time to get up off the floor. The rug is gone, my friends, and it's time to move on.

So, I'm going to finish up UnJust Cause, self-publish that, and then, with any luck at all, start on some new novel project.

I'm kind of excited to see what it will be.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Still Hope for 2015

A few things to tell you all about.  A new chapter of School for Wayward Demons is out.  "The Cavalry Arrives with Donuts."

For the two of you who wrote to me (one here and one on Twitter) worried that I would give up writing after yesterday's post, despair not.  Clearly, I'm still writing.  I've got both this School for Wayward Demons project and the Unjust Cause novel that I'm working on over at Wattpad.  

I do despair of ever traditionally publishing again, but, then again, a lot of writers end up doing what I'm trying to do--self-publish and work with smaller presses.

On the other hand, I'm still teaching writers how to write and if you happen to live close to me (in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area,) you should check out the classes I have available for you at the Loft.  The Fanfic class still has openings, but that's meant to start in a matter of weeks and as of right now there aren't nearly enough people signed-up for that one to be viable.  However, there's still hope of Mars Needs Writing: An Introduction to Science Fiction.  

Speaking of Mars, it was cold in my hometown of St. Paul, MN today than it is on some part of the surface of Mars.  Think about that.

Also Mars related, I'm going to be one of the guests of honor at MarsCON 2015 a local science fiction/fantasy themed convention.  

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

So This Happened (And it's Giving Me Feels)

My colleagues Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown are self-publishing the sequel to their book STRANGER. Sherwood has a long, detailed post about it "HOSTAGE Preview: Why We Chose to Self-Publish Book 2."

This... makes me sad.

First let me say, I think this was absolutely the right move on the part of Sherwood and Rachel. They're also handing the announcement of the decision a lot more gracefully than I ever would have been able to. I only wish, in fact, that I was as SAVVY as these two women. I wish that I had had a finished book waiting in the wings when Penguin gave me the boot so that I could have made an equally smooth transition to self-publishing. STRANGER fans will not wonder what the heck happened and where the next book is, unlike so many Tate Hallaway fans. So, seriously, good for them for being willing and able to make a move like this. I think an author's priority should always be to taking care of themselves like this, because GODS KNOW THE PUBLISHERS WON'T.

And that, right there, is what makes me sad.

Today I was hoping to get back to publishing my Tate installments over at WattPad. I didn't manage it, partly because I spent the morning finishing up some first draft work on my own collaborative self-publishing venture SCHOOL FOR WAYWARD DEMONS. But, I've had a lot of trouble focusing on the PRECINCT 13 sequel because I get so damned depressed about it. I know that this WattPad stuff is far too little, too late. It's been way too long since a Tate book has come out. Readers have gone to greener, more prolific pastures long, long ago.

The news of Rachel and Sherwood also triggers my depression... and bitterness, really, a feeling I've vowed to try to leave behind in 2014.

Thing is, while I'm glad that they've been able to turn this frown upside down, it really, really sucks (IMHO) they they have to, at all. Go read Sherwood's post because I can NOT believe the crap that professionally published (I should really use air quotes for that) writers are expected to deal with. Who sits on a book that long? What can possibly be the reason? My publisher managed a very quick turn around. I never waited more than a year from my delivery date to publication, so it's possible. Especially since Rachel and Sherwood SHARE MY PUBLISHER (though not my previous editors.)

When I read stories like this I half-wonder if traditional publishers are trying to drive writers away, trying to destroy business. Because so often there's also ZERO publicity for a new book (or continuing books in a series.) So it's almost as if they're doing everything in their power to ASSURE FAILURE.

I say this out of bitterness, surely. But, I had a very successful career with Penguin all things considered. I always had amazing editors. I lucked out very, very often with fantastic covers ("good packaging" as they call it), and, for the most part, I had no reason for complaints. Sure, I did a lot of my own publicity, particularly for my science fiction series, but, you know, I knew that was part of the deal so it never felt raw or unexpected.

Yet news like this makes me so... sad.

I think it's partly because I wish, for once, publishers would have to bear the brunt of their mistakes or ineptitude or whatever is happening over there in traditional publishing. But, they won't. They'll just pick up some other new talent, underpay them, abuse them, and throw them away when there's any kind of problem. None of this will ever lead to any kind of change on THEIR part. The publishing world seems to be changing AROUND traditional publishers, but they seemed happy to just keep on keepin' on (but not in a GOOD way.)

It bums me out.

I'm having feels.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Genre Round-Up 2014

I was asked by SF Signals to join another "Mind Meld" to answer the question: "What was your favorite movies, books, video games, television, podcasts and other media that came out in 2014?"

It will be a surprise to no one that anime and manga dominated my list: MIND MELD: Favorite Genre Works 2014

I've linked here to my MangaKast reviews of a lot of the manga that I've been reading. The ones that made the list that were new this year (by which I mean, of course, new in official English translation) were: Hitogatana (which actually isn't yet collected in English, but I liked it enough to want to include it), Gangsta, Deadman Wonderland, and What Did You Eat Yesterday?

Anime for this year included two brand-new ones: Barakamon and Gekken-Shojo, Nozaki-Kun.





Neither are particularly science fictional, but they're both DEEPLY charming in their own ways. Barakamon was my all-time favorite this year and it's about absolutely nothing at all. That's not fair, of course. There's a very strong story and even wacky hi jinx but the pace and feel of it is extremely peaceful, which is what I enjoyed about it. If you want to know more about the plot, check out the article. The short of it is that there's a calligraphy master who needs to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city (and mistakes he's made) to find his inner peace/inner art. Stuff happens, it's f*cking adorable an you should be watching it. (Who had this? Hulu+ maybe? I don't think Crunchyroll had it, but I might be wrong.)

The other new, new anime I featured in my round-up was Gekken-Shojo, Nozaki-kun (Girl's Monthly, Nozaki-kun) which is wonderfully silly and really, really hard not to love. Interestingly, this one is also about an artist, though this time our title hero, Nozaki, is a mangaka (writer/artist of manga) who happens to write and draw Girl's/shojo stories. The American analog would be discovering that a high school jock was secretly writing Harlequin Romances (of the super-thin serial kind). You can see the humor potential instantly, of course, but what I loved about this anime is that it could have ended up in the land of gender stereotypes, but instead worked hard to constantly flip expectations, types, etc. while also providing fairly real people that you could actually believe in and root for. (This one Crunchyroll has, for sure.)






The other anime I mentioned in the article were Yowapeda (or Yowamushi Pedal) and Free!, both of which were technically in their second seasons this year (both of which I watched on a pirate site, but I'm sure by now they're up on Crunchyroll). But the second season of Yowapeda/Yowamushi Pedal only finished up last week, I think, so it's very current. I love them both for very different reasons. Free! (second and final season: "Eternal Summer") was bittersweet. I'm not sure I've seen enough sports manga to know how typical it is to follow Third Year students through their final year of participation and spend much of the anime dealing with the whole idea of "Well, that was high school, so now what are you going to do??" That made the show... almost heartbreaking in places. And, of course, the other fun thing about Free! this year was that it was clear that the anime writers were very aware how GAY everyone thought this team was and there was a lot of teasing fan service to the point that I was constantly on Skype asking my friend, "Are they even pretending any more???" which was actually quite fun.

Yowapeda/Yowamushi Pedal's second season is called "Grande Road' or something similar and it's the second and third days of the Inter-High race. The entire season has been them racing, so that means there have been a lot of upsets, a lot of 'leave no man behind' moments, and general high tension. The first season has the distinction of actually making me cry. This season less so, though we've gotten to know a lot more of the characters from the other teams. It's still one of my favorites because Oonada is possibly the hugest dork in the history of dorks. This year my favorite scene involved Oonada following one of the rival team's captains basically because he thinks he's spotted a fellow otaku and even though this guy is a complete jerk to him Oonada just wants to talk anime.

Brother, I hear ya.

So, yeah, I mention a few other things in my review, but most of those I also discussed here (Guardians of the Galaxy movie and Ms. Marvel the Marvel comic book.)

What about you? Read, watch, listen to anything really good this year??