Grumpy Saturday Morning

It’s early in the morning on a Saturday, and I am awake. I mean, it’s early, even for me. I’m being punished for letting my schedule go to hell on my days off, and for crashing yesterday. Somehow… no matter how hard I try, or how long it’s been, I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that sleeping to seven is sleeping in. And sleeping in more than I ever would have, when I was on a more normal schedule.

I mean, three and a half extra hours!

And no… Not good enough. I wind up sleeping until all kinds of times I wouldn’t ordinarily.

**pops a series of happy morning type vitamins**

**and an acetaminophen**

I’m having one of those mornings where I woke up to my “daily reminder” on Twitter of how evil a particular book is. The general goal of the “reminder” is to talk it’s (traditional) publisher into cancelling it.

Let’s be honest, though… if I didn’t catch on that there was a publisher until after I’d read the tweet, and read the review it linked to, and went on Goodreads to figure out what the heck the story is about… the campaign’s not all that effective.

I’m creeping slowly toward free-speech absolutism in my old age, and by the time I’m eighty, I’ll probably think you should be able to shout FIRE in a crowded theater.

I was a little shocked to find out that this did have a mainstream publisher. My first thought–as soon as I read the main character’s name–was actually that the reviewer had accidentally picked up something written and published by the white power movement, and was doing nothing but signal boosting by railing against it.

(There will be no signal boosting here.)

So, here’s this book. And by the time I was finished reading the review, I was thoroughly convinced that the reviewer was an idiot. After all, who picks up a book where the hero’s name is Hitler McHitlerson and is then surprised when it turns out to be racist?

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite that obvious. I’m grumpy early in the morning, and I probably need to be reminded that not everybody was actually paying attention in that particular dusty corner of the library stacks.

Still. Direct line.

I was surprised when I found out we weren’t talking about some guy with a garage full of vanity press copies.

If there’s an idea out there that’s so dangerous I need to be protected from it… well, this isn’t it.

Revision In Rhythm

A while back, I made a list of twenty-three scenes that are either missing or completely fouled up that my novel needs to survive. I’m starting with the ones that don’t exist at all, and working my way back to the ones where there’s some material already done.

I’m writing longhand, and then typing into a project in my novel writing software.

I have three more scenes than I did at the beginning, and they’re running a little long. I have to figure out how much wiggle room I’m willing to eat up.

At this moment, the novel is scattered out across at least three projects; there’s one for the material I’m already more or less comfortable with, there’s one for the not-even close to finished scenes that I’m salvaging from my first draft, and there’s one for the shiny new scenes I’m writing right now.

Well, it cuts down on distractions, and it keeps me from looking at tens of thousands of words and being overwhelmed.  Other than that, no, I’m not sure it serves a purpose.

I also have some short-story excitement to type up.

And some short stories to write. I am slipping behind on the 52 week challenge. I’m trying to convince myself that it IS a priority.

 

Attack of the Mile-High Writers’ Conference

I finally registered for the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference in April. I managed to get time off from work to actually go, and if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is. So, I filled out forms, and pressed send, and now, I’m going.

So, clearly, the first problem is underwear–

No, wait. That’s packing for a dance competition.

Fair enough. I won’t be spending all that much time upside-down at Pikes Peak. This is so complicated!

Aside from figuring out exactly what I’m going to wear, and exactly the right memorable, but non-freakish haircut, I’m working my way through the scenes I need to add to my novel revision. I have a neat, tidy checklist of the things my novel can’t live without. I’m typing in a couple of them, today, and I’m working on more, after I get done with that.

Odds of novel being actually, legitimately ready to go by the end of April?

Probably right around zero.

But I am getting closer. I have… a plan!

Naturally, I’m falling into that phase of revision where I’m sure that my novel sucks, and the best thing I could possibly do for it involves an acetylene torch and some marshmallows. Big marshmallows.

I’m hoping to slip back into the This is the greatest thing the human mind has ever conceived! stage before the conference. We’ll see.

So, my general game plan is to track down a few friends I know will be there, and then figure out the rest of my schedule.

Any other suggestions for me?

 

Books From Beyond The Grave

One of the bargains in my newsletter of the day was a Boxcar Children Book–Legend of the Irish Castle, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. (Apparently, if you’re a minor, you celebrate by reading. Who knew?) I was just intrigued enough to go look the book up, since I read a lot of Boxcar Children books when I was a kid, and I don’t remember any Irish Castle.

Turns out that Legend of the Irish Castle is book #142 of a series the original author only wrote 19 books of. It was released last year, which is pretty good, considering that Gertrude Chandler Warner has been dead since 1979.

I’m going to say that as a personal “thing” I’m not all that crazy about the idea of having other people keep on writing my characters, after I’m dead.

Part of that is just… I don’t want to be dead. And part of it is that I spend so much time getting my characters to be the way I want them. I don’t want them shipped to places and plots I never intended them to go. I mean, come on! They’re mine!

And while we’re at it, let’s pretend that I’m very deep and philosophical, and say that there’s something bordering on Hubris about the idea of my characters being so spectacular that someone else should be writing them, instead of their own.

I’m not sure what Gertrude Chandler Warner thought. She was a first grade teacher, which may actually mean that she’s happy just as long as the kiddies are reading. I tend to think of grade school as dear, saintly creatures who really might be that unselfish.

Then, I saw all the common core, ATOS, and Accelerated Reader bullshit **ahem** foo-fer-alls and thought again. I don’t know what Gertrude’s opinions on each and every individual one of those would be, but you can bet she’d have opinions. And I don’t think they’d support micromanaging children’s reading.

So, now, I’m thinking about what a writer’s educational philosophy–or their politics, or their personal beliefs– should mean for their books, and the way those books are managed after their death. For instance, is it really fair to use Sherlock Holmes to sell fried chicken? Or should you really add Zombies to Pride and Prejudice?

I’m bordering on an intellectual property rant, now, but the general question… if I have one… is how do you feel about your characters having adventures without you?

Distracted by Comic Books

A month and a half ago, I set out to read all of the books that have won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. There are twenty-two of them, and when I started, I had read about two and a third of them.

I think things are going fairly well.

Now, I’ve read two and a third and a half of them, and also the first four volumes of Sandman comics/graphic novels/whatever. No, Sandman is not on the list.

I’d like to pretend I don’t know how I missed reading Sandman all this time, but the truth is, I know exactly how it happened. There are pictures (not diagrams) and also… it’s a comic book. Did I mention it’s a comic book?

Well, that would pretty well guarantee that a library near me was not stocking it. Not when it first came out, anyway. And it also guarantees that my parents were not wasting their money on it, even if I did happen to escape and find it while I was being shepherded toward  the “real” books.

Don’t waste your eyes! wails the ghost of my great-grandfather from beyond the grave.

Nope. The only comic books I ever saw as a kid were Classic Comics versions of Dickens and Shakespeare. And even those didn’t come home with me. Why would they? I was smart enough to read the real thing.

It’s taken me a long, long time, and a whole lot of really smart people and a whole lot of “bumping into” references to Sandman to get me past that. Well, eventually, I broke down. And besides, they’re on my e-reader, so I can pretend I’m reading War and Peace, if anybody asks.

And, now, I’m going through them like water. A few select comic books, that is. I’m never going to have shelves and shelves of them.

But I was surprised.

I’ve actually been crying over comic books.

I’ve actually been thinking about comic books.

Oh, dear.

Ballerina Feet

I wandered off on a tangent, yesterday.  Something about kids and baby ballet. A bumper sticker on a car–one of those Activity/Kid’s Name things–made me think of it. Now, let’s be honest. I live in a small town in the Midwest, where there are exactly zero dance studios that have the direct line to Julliard.

I suspect there aren’t all that many parents who are looking toward dance as a future career for their kids, either.

There are a lot of things to be said for a good dance teacher and a positive dance experience.

And there are just as many problems with a bad one.

I have one dancing cousin who credited dancing with her continued ability to walk, following her MS diagnosis.

And another one who’s been luckier, but who is hobbling around on a cane with all kinds of nerve damage. Why? Because going en pointe isn’t all that good for you, and once upon a time… Well, she was at the top of her small-town ballet class for a flashing moment.

Did she ever have a chance at a career as a ballerina? No. Did she have a chance of being able to walk without pain well into her forties? Of course.

I’d pay for jazz, I’d pay for tap, or modern dance… I’d run screaming from ballet. Why? Because ballet is the one with the highest cost–in terms of your body–and the one with the lowest chance of having a career. And because a kid’s best interests change, depending on whether she’s a 17th century waif starving in Paris, or a 21st century child with a chance at all kinds of careers.

They say that everyone wants to be successful, until they find out how much it costs. I think I’ve seen that next to a picture of a ballerina’s feet, at one point.

But that makes it sound as if everyone can be successful, if they’re just willing to pay.

What about the kids who see what it costs, and pay–and keep paying–for success they never achieve, and never had a chance of achieving?

The Glories of Shitty Day Jobs

Today is the least popular day of the year, the day when the clocks get set forward an hour and we all lose an hour of sleep. Or, you know… in my case, an hour of early-morning writing time.  I’m most likely going to wake up at exactly the same time I always do, and then realize that it’s an hour later and almost time to go to work. So, naturally… blogging in advance. Like a disciplined person.

I am going to have to deal with vacation time–**again**– because somehow, the current incarnation of “management” missed the fact that there are two Karens and well… they got us switched. Which means that I was just given other Karen’s six week (unpaid) medical leave, instead of my own (much shorter, but compensated) vacation time. So… I have to check to be sure that I’m still good.

No, I have no idea how that’s even possible.

I am going on vacation. Oh, yes. I am. And I am going on a real vacation. It has been a really, insanely long time since I had a real vacation. Things just keep getting in the way. You know the family-stuff thing, where you use up all your time to do something that’s actually more stressful than just staying at work would be? That was the last couple years.

This year? I’m going out.

I’m going to relax, if I still remember how.

I’m going to wear heels the whole time, and see how many people I can convince I’m tall. Maybe even put on some decent clothes to go with them.

Going on vacation as a well-dressed tall person. Yes, I am.

And I hope that I’m doing it as scheduled with no unexpected surprises.

 

StoryTime Blog Hop: An Invitation

The StoryTime Blog Hop is a hop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative fiction writers to show off their short stories. While it’s not specifically aimed at children, we do avoid adult content for this one. The amazing Juneta Key has been suckered into hosting graciously volunteered to host this month’s hop yet again, and she’s inviting anyone who has a short story that fits the bill to join in.

If you are interested in participating, the rules and deadlines are here: http://www.junetakey.com/posts/rules-guidelines-storytime-blog-hop/

If you’re still not sure what this is all about, I have links to some of the past stories, including my own StoryTime contributions here: StoryTime links so you’ll be able to read what people have done in the past. (It’s possible that needs updating. I’ll look into it.)

We’re also looking into a stand-alone StoryTime website, and some great ideas for promoting and growing the blog hop, so be sure you join in the conversation.

I’m So Healthy I Can Hardly Stand It

I am in the midst of a give-up soda and (some) other sugars and cling to a set schedule lifestyle shift for health. It’s actually working incredibly well for me. I feel great, I’m being productive. I’ve nearly reached the point that I’m saying “iced tea” when I order in restaurants, as opposed to “Coke” and then correcting myself. Nearly.

I’m not exactly used to all my new sugar alcohol friends. I’m not used to having a limit on sweets that is so ruthlessly enforced. If I’m not paying attention to what I’m eating, well… that laxative effect catches up with me. And that happens well before I get to the point that I would like to stop eating those sugar-free goodies.

Well, it will take time.

I do actually feel better, and I’m fairly sure that paying attention to what I’m eating probably means I’m actually healthier. Ordering a little thing instead of a big thing, too. I have a way of letting things pile up on me.

More nifty vitamins. Maybe a little more exercise.

Maybe not. After all, baby steps.

I’m getting there.

My writing teacher–Holly Lisle–actually suggests a revision diet. It’s something somewhat similar to what I’m doing, and is supposed to result in the mental clarity and stamina required to actually revise a novel.

As far as losing weight… well, I don’t really know yet. Maybe my pants are a little looser. I don’t do scales. I don’t believe in them, and haven’t since I stopped dancing and lost weight (muscle mass), But I feel better, and that’s more or less the point, isn’t it?

I have no idea where I was, today. Someplace in Kansas. I know that much. Saw a sign for the Russell Stover’s factory and store, and obviously had to pull over and take pictures. These boxes really stack up, and the prices are better than I’ve seen other places.

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I think the original idea of the trip was to look at wildfires. Of course, I’m not completely insane, so I absolutely wasn’t going anywhere near the places that are being evacuated. I never saw any actual fire, but there were some fields that might have been burned in the last couple of weeks, and I’m willing to call that good. (Kansas farmers burn their fields on a regular basis.)

It’s good to get out and do something, even if it’s just a pointless distraction from time to time.