30 November 2010

At 11 o'clock last night, my eyes were blurry.
My head hurt.
My asterisk...it was a weird combination of numb and sore.
I'm not sure I was even speaking coherently.

That's what happens when your head has exploded and your brains are all over the room. Things hurt. Speech is difficult. Vision, not so wonderful.

All of that is the effect of NaNoExploMo* and 3 days of being planted in one position, trying to crunch the 13,000 words you're short in your NaNoWriMo effort. And really? You're doing it all so that you'll be a WINNER and get the spiffy PDF winner's certificate that you an print out and display for the whole world (or the people who wander into your house) can see.

Now, there is a t-shirt you can buy so that you can share it with the whole freaking world, but the goal is that PDF.


Yesterday morning, I still needed 5,000 words and was fairly sure I was not going to get it until the last minute--and the last minute would be fine, because at least I was going to make it this year.

But at 11 last night, or thereabouts... 50,054 words.

OK, my count was 50,215, but the NaNoBots counted it low. But it was still over 50K, so I got my certificate and a spiffy graphic to display on my blog.

 Word, doods.

Now, what I have is 50,000 + words of total crap. 75% of what I've written will never make it into the final manuscript, but I have the bones of the story, and I know in which direction it will go. I also discovered a few things about characters I've been honing since I was 15 years old, some that made me a bit sad, some that made me laugh.

I hadn't intended to do a 5th Charybdis book so soon--I have 3 or 4 others in the hmmm this would be decent stage, but there was some actual campaigning from a few different corners of the Internet. More than one person wanted another book in teh series, and NaNo was a good time to see if there was another story there, one that would be worthy of fleshing out from concept to completion.

This story got its start while I was training for the SGK 3 Day; as I walked along, early on in the training, the first pages came to me; I knew it was going to be a different bent, written in a tone the other books don't have, but it strongly appealed to me, so I took notes, thinking that someday I'd get to it.

And here we are. I finished the NaNoEffort this year, got my PDF, got my blog graphic, and have what I hope will be a fairly decent start on a fairly decent book.

No, don't ask me what it's about. I can never answer that clearly.

But I will tell you this:

The working title is Flipside, and we're going to heaven, people...

*Thanks to Char for that lovely expression


26 November 2010

This is the Boy, in all his Polar plunge glory.

Last year he and a bunch of his friends dressed up and braved the way-too-cold waters in the San Francisco Bay, jumping in to raise money for the Northern California Special Olympics.

Now that they've all warmed back up and the shrinkage has unshrunk, they've decided to do it again.

The Boy wants to raise some serious coin this year: for every $500 raised, an Special Olympian is set for an entire year. He'd like to support at least two, and to that effort, he's offering something in exchange for support...

For every $5 a person donates, they get a chance at winning a $250 Amazon gift card.


That's some pretty decent coinage right before Christmas, and the lucky winner will be selected on December 15th. You win, and you'll get the gift code in your email ASAP, so that you can shop in plenty of time for holiday delivery.

For more details, pop on over to Curt's Polar Plunge.


If the kitties knew what today was, they would be sorely disappointed. No turkey in the oven, no special Fancy Feast... We're doing schnitzel today instead of turkey, because it's not a diet friendly kind of thing so we never have it, and turkey is diet friendly, so we can have it anytime.

There will be pie, however.

I think Max and Buddah will survive the disappointment.

Happy Thanksgiving!


19 November 2010

The Write Life

I'm sitting in Border's with my large iced tea (extra ice), trying to get caught up with my NaNo project for this year. I'm woefully behind...by a good 12,000 words, I think. It's not all that important to be right on target, because in the end what I want to wind up with is a decent story, not just 50,000 words, but... yeah, I kinda want that dorky PDF You're a Winner! certificate.

But...I'm sitting here with my iPad and bluetooth keyboard, which tends to attract a bit of attention. Usually people just want to know about the iPad, a few want to know about keyboard, and just about everyone wants to know how much this setup costs. Most of the time I want to snark, "More than you can afford, sunshine," but I think that has mre to do with 1) wanting to be snarky, and 2) for some odd reason wanting to call everyone "sunshine" lately. I don't know why.

But today there's a group of writers doing the same thing I'm doing (ok, they're engaging in NaNo activities...I don't guess that all of them are writing a blog post right now.) At first they wanted to know about the iPad because hell, it's easier to lug around than a laptop, and with the right app you can also move your work to your computer later for more thorough editing.

Yes, it's tres spiffy.

But the curiosity over the iPad quickly waned and discussion about the things we're working on ensued. A couple of overacheivers have surpassed 50K and are on their way to a full length novel. A couple are struggling to hit 20K. All are excited to talk about what they're working on.

I admit, I was feeling a ltitle squirrely about saying I was working on the 5th book in a series, but after some prodding, I talked about it. The assumption was that I'd been doing NaNoWriMo every year and those were my efforts, and oh, wouldn't it be nice to someday see all our books in print?

That's when the kid who has my ice tea perfected piped up from the counter, "Oh her books are published!"

Now, when something like this happens, there are a few things sure to follow, right after I bludgeon the tattle tale with my tea-wet bendy straw. Sometimes I get bombarded by questions about finding an agent, what rights did I sell, AM I RICH?!?! and WILL YOU READ MY BOOK? and to be honest, it's a little weird to say, "Don't be impressed...I own the publishing company."

Sometimes I get asked about the editing process. I tell them my editor consumes Carnation Instant Bitch for breakfast every morning, and that she's meaner than mean...but she gets the job done. And then, no I won't hook you up. I want her to keep liking me.

The ones who are truly interested in writing and not the possibility of a contract with a $500,000 advance ask about the writing itself. The process. How do I work? Where do my ideas come from? How do I choose first person over third? Do I edit as I go along or do I write from a stream of consciousness and edit later?

These kids (they're all about 25-30...so they're kids) fall into the latter group. They could have cared less about my income or connections; they wanted to know about what it's like to be a writer...and seemed genuinely surprised that in my book (no pun intended) they already are writers.

You write, you're a writer.

As simple as that. (Ha...yes, that was intentional.)

So we sat here talking and there wasn't much writing being done. And that's all right, it's not like my manuscript is going to commit suicide if I don't add another 5000 words to it today. But eventually, the talk about frustrations and not quite grasping outlining and plot versus character driven works turned into, "Please. Will you look at this and tell me why it's not working? Just this chapter. Please?"

I hate doing that. Mostly because I hate telling people the truth about something they've poured themselves into. It was kind of hard to say no, though.

So I read. And inwardly I cringed. The truth is that it wasn't working because it was mundane; it was boring on a level of boredom I rarely experience. The thing is, I could see what she was trying to do and where she was trying to go with it, but there was just so much. Writing is painting pictures with words, but there is such a thing as TMI. There are things better left to the readers' imaginations.

So I began pointing out some things that needed to be edited out in order to tighten the story (but after NaNo, since word counts count here...) The things were simple: a monotonous section describing the character flossing, for example.

"But those are things real people do," she tried to say. "And you write what you know, so..."

Real people floss their teeth, yes. But real people also sit at the dinner table and eat; real people defecate; real people pick their noses and a few eat the treasures they find. That doesn't mean the reader wants a detailed description about how many times the character chews his food, unless it lends something to the story. Readers don't necessarily want to read about how well or ill-formed a character's poop is unless they've been poisoned and it's a part of the plot. And unless the character is a child or someone elderly whose filters are gone, I can't imagine wanting to read about someone eating boogers.

Real people do boring things; we either write them in a way that makes them not boring, or we leave them out.

Mostly, we leave them out.

Luckily, she got where I was coming from. And perhaps not so luckily, I gave someone else an idea for one of their secondary characters, an old woman in a hospital bed; she thinks it would be wickedly funny if the protagonist, on visiting her, finds her digging in her nose and popping what she mines right into her mouth without a second thought about it.

Glad to be of service.

I don't often spend much time contemplating what it's like to be a writer, and what that might mean to someone who wants to be where I am, even if it's not under contract to one of the Big Six. When I think about it, I guess it would be like me sitting down with someone who is playing in the big leagues. I do know several writers who are (and frankly, they're not thrilled to know a whole bunch of indie writers outsell them regularly...) but to sit down with someone who's not just there but there? If I could get my brain to engage I think I'd be asking questions, too.

The problem would be getting my brain to engage. I doubt it would.

I really am quiet in person.


So. Now I get back to work, unless someone starts talking again, which seems likely, because holy crap, these people like to talk.

(Oh phfttt you know I enjoy it.)

I am sooo not winning NaNo this year...


11 November 2010

edit: In the time it took me to write and post this, Amazon took the book down. So, I basically offer my opinion here for...no good reason at all...

No, I won't be boycotting Amazon.

The Internet practically exploded yesterday over news that Amazon is selling a heinous-sounding book titled “The Pedophile's Guide To Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code Of Conduct.” I say heinous-sounding because I haven't read it and I'm not going to; I would assume that, based on the title, it's a piece of crap and not worth the effort to browse even the front matter, but I'm not going to bother.

I'm not even going to link to its Amazon page. Who the hell wants that in their search history?

If the book is as the title suggests—and that is a giant if—the writer is a sick fuck and I sure as hell don't want him lurking around my playground, but.


He had every right to write the book. Hitler had every right to write Mein Kampf. William Powell had every right to write The Anarchists Cookbook. There's a ton of crap out there, and people have the right to write it all.

You have the right to not read any of it.

Now, I take issue with Amazon saying to not sell it would be censorship, but my issue is more with the idea that they're using the wrong word there. If they edited the shit out of it before putting it out there, that would be closer to censorship. If Uncle Sam steps in and forces the book from sale, that would be closer to censorship. Amazon not selling it would simply be an exercise of a business decision. As a business, Amazon doesn't have to support a writer's right to free speech, and no, they don't have to sell the book.

But they're going to sell it, and based up their precedents, they should.

Look, it's a Kindle book, submitted through their DTP platform. It's 100% self-published. The way the Kindle-author publishing relationship works is that they provide a platform, anyone who has written something they want to sell can upload it, and Amazon will sell it on their behalf—as long as it is not illegal material—for a hefty cut of the list price. There is no human sitting there reading every book uploaded to the DTP (though you can bet the book in question has now been reviewed; that it's still for sale suggests no illegal content.) It's a place where independent writers can get their work into the hands of the public, where they can try to sell and begin to create professional reputations. Some of them get noticed and generate enough sales to be picked up by either Amazon Encore or a major publisher. Most sell a book here or there, and are happy enough with it.

But the model is that anyone can sell a book there. Anyone. A book can be wonderfully written and worthy of a Pulitzer; a book can be complete garbage worthy of ridicule, but the great thing about the independent writer's relationship with Amazon is that everyone has an equal chance. Good or bad. Worthy or not.

If Amazon has to start making the decision about what's worthy or not, then what do we lose? Gay fiction? There are a whole lot of uptight right wingers out there who might think that we need to lose the LBGT fiction for sale. Some of it is freaking good, but should we lose that because it offends someone else? What about Christian fiction? Most of the Christian fiction I've read is horribly written; if that offends someone else, should it be eliminated? Because, really, I've wanted to shoot myself after reading some of it. How about vampire porn? The undead getting it on with the living? Well, that's offensive, let's get rid of that. There's a book on Amazon about becoming a pimp. No one should become a pimp or even know how, so strike that off the for-sale list.

Let's ban the books that the HBO series Dexter was based upon. Serial killers are amoral and don't belong out there with the good folks.

And hey, there's this series about some kid wizard and we can't have our kids reading or learning about magic, because even though it probably doesn't exist that's just wrong...let's get rid of Harry Potter.

Laughable? There are people who wanted that banned, you know.

People who never read a single word in any of JK Rowling's books.

And once we've started in on the books, what else? Amazon sells condoms. Do we get those banned because kids might order them and =gasp= use them while having sex? You can get sex toys through Amazon. I bet you can buy whips and chains and cases of whipped cream; who knows what perverted people can do with those, so it's best to not make them available.

It's a slippery slope; start with one thing, and others lose traction and follow.

I believe in freedom of speech for everyone. Not just for the people saying things I agree with, but especially for the people who say things I think are creepy and stupid. Those idiots from the Westboro Baptist Church that walk around carrying signs claiming God hates gays? That soldiers die because God hates the USA? I find that horribly offensive, but that's their right.

If it's not criminal—yelling FIRE in a theater; kiddie porn; etc.—then let it be.

Walk away from it.

Talk about it, but don't try to ban it.

Don't ignore it, but don't give overblown publicity to it. Because, folks, this is a book that would have died quickly without the uproar; the author is only getting the attention because everyone is making such an issue of it.

Attention leads to sales. Remember the movie “Porky's?” It was a horrible movie about kids looking to get laid; we were living in Utah when it was released, and it was destined to be in and out of the theater in about a week...until people started protesting it. The more people screamed about it—Oh my God it's a movie about SEX--the more curious other people became. And so ticket sales skyrocketed, and it stayed in the theater for weeks.

Remember when Sonia Johnson chained herself to the gates of a Mormon temple because the church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment? The church did little about that, and for good reason. The more she screamed about it, the more people investigated the church and its credo. The LDS church gained quite a few members from that.

The heinous-sounding book that would have languished as data bits on a server somewhere might now find an audience. It might now find a sales base. At the very least, it's giving the author the attention he probably shouldn't get.

And that, my friends, is probably opposite of what the first people calling for a boycott intended, but it is a likely result.

Amazon is not, and should not be, the moral arbiter for the world. And in the end, a boycott on Amazon not only draws attention to the person who wrote that book, but hurts the other independent writers who have only Amazon as their sales base.

Amazon won't be hurt by a boycott; those indie writers, though, they run the highest risk of being hurt. They're the ones who get trampled in the stampede to condemn an entire company for what one person chose to write about. Not the guy who wrote the book that upset the world, not the company standing behind its policies of open publishing, just the little guys.

So no, I will not boycott Amazon over this. I embrace freedom of speech, even for sick twisted minds... and hey, I also enjoy the idea that if it turns out that book is a how-to guide, then it does become something illegal, and anyone buying it becomes fodder for the judicial system.We should teach them how to bend over and pick up the soap now, so that they're not ill prepared.


7 November 2010

Lots of complaining online today about the time change, including me. I hate it. But what I'm hearing is a lot of We don't need Daylight Savings Time Anymore.

Ow, Contrair, mis amis.

(That's french for WhuuuT? Shut the Fark up!)

What we don't need is Standard time. I want DST. I want my extra light at the end of the day, because farkit I'm night blind (as I remind everyone every freaking year) and I hate pushing the clock back and getting that light in the morning.

Plus, DST = energy saving.
For real.
I read it on the Internet.

Oh, and it's Daylight Saving Time. No plural on the "saving." I read that on the Internet, too. "Savings we bank; we are not banking extra daylight."

Yeah, someone has a stick up their ass on that, but it kinda makes sense.

Either way... I freaking hate changing the clock back.


1 November 2010

It's that time of year again.


The month when thousands of aspiring writers commit to coughing up 50,000 words that will hopefully, at some point, comprise a novel. I signed up again this year, because while I was pounding the pavement training for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day, I found a story brewing inside my head, and began to mentally write it.

I took notes, horrible notes, with the idea that when the Walk was over, I would start working on the book.

And then I remembered NaNo, and figured why the hell not? Use November as an enforced springboard into getting the thing started. I know I can do 50K in a month; hell, when I was working on The King and Queen of Perfect Normal I had a 12K day (I don't recommend this...your fingers really hurt at the end of the day...) If I write 2000 words a day, I'll be well over the 50K by the end of the month.

So here we are at noon on November 1st, and I have written...nothing.

Go me.

(I probably write about NaNo Every year...still, here's my previous advice about NaNo)

In a nutshell: get all Nike on the NaNo vibe, and Just Do It...