Appearances/Tour Updates

OK, so… I’ve signed up for World Fantasy Con in Arlington VA this November. This is going to be a looooong stretch away from the dogs, since I’ll be hopping straight from DC to Long Beach for Bouchercon the following weekend. Also, I’ve signed up for Rainforest Writers Retreat next February on the assumption that my usual terrifying first quarter schedule won’t be happening next year due to a lack of deadlines. We’ll see…. If you want to keep up with my schedule, please check the Tour page on my main site or the calendar tab here.

Posted in blatant self-promotion, Conventions and signings, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Series in Order

I found a nice write up on the Greywalker series today at Book Series in Order. And while the books aren’t actually YA, the write up is very good. Thank you, anonymous writer!

Posted in Stuff about the book(s) | 1 Comment

Panic Mode–On!

Ack! The copyedit has landed and it’s due back in 2 weeks! Ack! All other projects–including the taxes–will be put on hold until this beast is off my desk (this CE seems to have trodden lightly on my prose, happily for me.) And it’s a good thing I finally got one particular project done, but 3 more are still hanging fire. I may be scarce for a while.

Posted in copyedits, Personal blither, Writing

Dog Shenanigans

Here’s a lovely way to start the day: had to remove pine sap from the puppy’s haunch. Since it’s in a place he can reach with his tongue, I used olive oil to loosen the sap and rub it off. Now he’s going in circles trying to lick his hip while Bella follows him around trying to get a taste of his rump, too.

Posted in Belladogga, dog, Jack | 4 Comments

I Hate DST

The following is partially cobbled together from my Twitter feed:

I hate DST—if you want to get up earlier, just… get up earlier. Why torture the rest of us?
I’ve looked into it and the persistence of DST in the US is linked to tax credits for corporations for “energy saving programs.”
NIH and the New England Journal of Medicine have reported that DST leads to increased injury and accident rates. (There are at least 4 well-founded studies in the US that support the claim that accident rates of all kinds rise up to 10% for up to a month following the start of DST in the US every year, but there’s no matching fall in accident rates at the end of DST.)
DST change-over is also associated with increases in heart attacks, cluster headaches, and “cyberloafing” (wtf?)
but many people will argue that it gives them an “extra” hour of light and it’s somehow “good” for us, though the only demonstrable thing it does is take an hour of sleep off our plates and shift our circadian rhythms.
Folks will tell you that farmers benefit and that it lowers electricity costs
but neither of those latter are any more true than the first. Farmers get up with the sun, the cost of electricity doesn’t go down due to DST,
and the length of a day doesn’t change.
the fact that corporations can claim “participation in DST” as an energy saving program for tax credits is why it’s here
I make this rant every year and about half the people who reply will say they like it.
DST makes no sense: You don’t get more light by changing the hands on your clock. and now that we’re increasingly a time-independent society (even factories work 24/7 and most offices offer flex time) DST makes less and less sense.

So why do we still have it and why does it last more than 6 months?

Posted in Personal blither | 4 Comments

Writer-brain is—Squirrel!

Most years I finish the required novel the first week of the new year, turn it in, and become an exhausted, brain-dead slug. This year, that didn’t happen. I finished the novel and was happy with it. I worked on the SF Thriller until the revision notes came in and then I revised the novel, walking away from what is now the longest book of the series feeling chipper and only the usual degree of day-end tired. I was going to go back to the SF Thriller, but got sidetracked by a couple of personal projects, so I worked on them until they reached good stopping points and put them aside to work on a project with a very close deadline.

Then it turned out that the deadline was a year off—2015, not 2014. I breathed a sigh of relief and got distracted by one of the personal projects even though I wanted to work on the deadline project too. So I’ve been trying to push myself into that one but it’s been remarkably rough going.

Unlike a lot of my friends, I’m not a good short story writer. I also find the process of creating a rough draft within a deadline exhausting—which is why I usually write only one novel-length manuscript every year. But I’m in the position of needing to write more than one novel-length manuscript this year—and every year from now on—as well as short stories because they keep a writer’s name in front of their genre community and they’re damned good practice.

So I’m continuing to try on both those fronts—multiple novels and multiple short stories.

But this would be much easier if I didn’t suddenly have characters crawling out of my head like Venus, full-formed. The little suckers are all over the place recently, like chatty cockroaches.

I am not one of those writers who lets the characters run the show. I’m not a writer who experiences the writing process as dictation from the characters or as a film that unreels without my urging and interference. What I am is a dictator/god: I make up the story, I make up the characters, I make up the world and I throw the characters and their stories in there and shake them until they do as I say. If they don’t, I become a mechanic and I look under the hood until I find the problem, fix it—even if it means killing a darling and ripping out miles of story road—and set the machine back in motion. This usually works just fine for me since the world, the story, and the characters exist at my whim. They don’t get uppity and get in the way, lean over my shoulder and say the doohickey is plainly not linking up with the whatchamacallit, or stage sit-ins wherein they simply won’t do what I tell them, or go happily off on tangents from which there is no return (though they do occasionally run off at the mouth and have to be reined in and edited later.)

While ideas and characters will suggest themselves whenever they want and may be a little pushy at times, in general I don’t have much trouble with them being attention hogs. But this year… damn, they’re being downright bumptious, popping up while I’m driving, or showering, or working on some other project—some of them are even from other projects in development as well as those that are entirely new—and they’re all trying to crowd on my writing stage at the same time and hog the limelight. And some of them aren’t personalities I really need in the current WiP. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle them all, since some of them are pretty important to other projects and I don’t want to slam the door on them. But at the same time I don’t want to either lose them, or be so distracted that I don’t get my other projects done.

It’s a strange state of the Kat to find myself with too much going on rather than too little. Kvetching aside, it’s a lovely problem to have, but it is a problem. I still need to get the SF Thriller done so it can go out and get sold. And I need to get a rough draft of this short story done so I can decide if it’s going to work. I also need to pay some attention to one of the characters who stuck his head up today with a whole new-and-improved backstory and some personal business that changes the whole potential book/series as well as the POV.

There really isn’t a waiting room for these things. Someone once told me that if an idea was truly good, you’d remember it and be able to come back to it later. I say, tell that to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Knowing that I have difficulty keeping my energy going, I’m loath to let any of these interesting things slip away now, since they may, in fact, not come back later when I have time and my energy may be lower. But there is a fine line between work and distraction by the appearance of future work. Much as I hate to lose them, I’m just going to have to put some of these guys on hold and hope they’re still there when I can get back to them.

Discipline is one of the things I lack as a writer—that’s one of the reasons I’m not a great short-story writer. Today I’m just going to have to exercise some, whether I like it or not. And if the characters or ideas die, maybe they were a bit sickly after all.

Posted in Personal blither, Writing | 2 Comments

The Flipside of Insomnia

Haven’t been able to wake up today. Just the opposite of my problem 14 years ago, when I couldn’t sleep for 5 months. Feels just as disconnected, but less suicidal.

Posted in Personal blither

Carry On, Doggle

So… I took the “hundering therd” for a walk today, since it was sunny and pleasant out. Only got about a half-mile done, since it’s heavy work managing the Two Mighty Dogs of Discord and Destruction. We survived, though. And Jack is now doing his “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” impression.

I’ve also managed to get in 10 minutes on the elliptical every day since it arrived. Yay, me!

Posted in Belladogga, daily dog, dog, Jack, Personal blither, photos, walking with the dog | 2 Comments

New Addition to the Office

Look what moved into the office today:

Now I hope to have no excuse for being pudgy and slow.

Posted in Personal blither | 2 Comments

Bella Under Blanket

So… Jawa or Jedi?

Posted in Belladogga, daily dog, dog, photos | 2 Comments

Soup Cookery–Tomato

Today I made tomato soup from (almost) scratch. Modified this recipe just a little: I did it on the stove top instead of the crockpot. I didn’t use the additional cheese, and I substituted heavy cream for the milk, since I had it on hand. Also, I used a combination of fresh tomatoes and Pomi chopped tomatoes since they come in a foil-lined carton just like my soup stock and therefore don’t have the metallic tang of canned tomatoes. Had to puree the soup in the blender and almost ended up with soup everywhere since my blender has a super-torque-y motor. Luckily I had a towel to hand and just threw it over the blender top.

Served with crusty French bread fresh from the oven (not homemade, but a good-quaility brown and serve.) Totally yummy with plenty of leftovers for the weekend.

Posted in Food and drink, Personal blither, photos, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Write Bite: M. Todd Gallowglas

I’m experimenting with occasional series of guest blogs here on My Own Personal Grey: Write Bites. These are little bites of observation, experience, advice, and anecdote about writing from selected published writers–including self-published writers because the experience of writing doesn’t begin and end at the publishing house door. So, because he asked, the first Write Bite comes from my friend, self-published writer and professional storyteller, M. Todd Gallowglas, author of the Halloween Jack tales among others.

Without further blither from me…

Storytelling in Writing:

M. Todd Gallowglas

M. Todd Gallowglas

When I started hitting people up, friends and professional contacts, for this blog tour I’m on, Kat was the first person that asked me to post about something specific. Kat and I go way back, to when we were working Renaissance Faires, when I was just a storyteller, and not a storyteller/author. She asked me to talk about storytelling in writing. So, here we go.

Two of the compliments I tend to get about my writing, and the ones I enjoy most, are: 1) when I read your books, I hear your voice in my head, and 2) I love the way you write dialogue. It’s like listening to two people actually talking. As a note: most of the people who give me the first have usually also seen my storytelling show. Still, I think it’s quite cool that my storytelling carries such a distinct “sound” that it translates well to both vocal and written mediums.

So, I’m sitting down, ruffling through all my notes and semi-completed scenes for Dead Weight, getting ready to attack it with the mind for putting it out into the world. The thought running through the back of my mind: How am I going to pull this mess off? Not only is this so far beyond anything I’ve written, it’s the first time I’ve started out intending to actually say something about the world and how I view it. Yeah, people tell me the other stuff I’ve written has some pretty interesting observations about the human condition, but those are pretty much in those stories by subconscious accident. The other point of freak out, is that this is the first urban fantasy thing I’m putting out, and between the giants of this genre, I’ve got my work cut out for me. How am I going to stand out?

At the end of my storytelling show, after I’ve finished my story and given my hat pitch (the part where I ask people to put money in my hat for the performance) I end with telling people that my show is different than a lot of the other shows on the stages at the faire. See, most of those shows will say something like, “Don’t try this at home,” because their acts have some element of danger. I’ll say something along the lines of, “Please do what I do at home. The world needs more stories. Take my stories and make them your own. Don’t tell them like me. Tell them like you. Tell them in your voice and your way.”

Aaaaand…I stare at the computer screen, pressure building on me, pressure pretty much out of my own fears and insecurities. I’ve got this story to write, a story with something to say. And night after night, I click back and forth between my scenes, and shuffle through my notes on Microsoft OneNote, and basically not getting anything done. Least of all, I’m not writing my story.

Dead Weight cover

Then it hit me.

I’m trying too hard to write the story, when really, especially considering what’s going on in the story, I should be working on telling the story. BAM! The epiphany couldn’t have been any stronger, even if someone smacked me in the back of the head with a copy of Joyce’s The Dubliners. After that, my fingers started flying across the keyboard.

One thing I’ve worked hard to do with each of my various projects, from Tears of Rage sequence to the Halloween Jack adventures to The Dragon Bone novellas, is to give them each a distinctive “sound.” I take that from my storytelling show, because with each story, I work at adopting slightly (and sometimes not-so-slightly) mannerisms in the telling of each tale, making myself as the narrator as much a different character as those who inhabit the stories. Dead Weight gave me so much trouble when I sat down to actually write it because I didn’t know what it should “sound.” Once I knew what “sound” Dead Weight should have, I was off and running.

I won’t try and keep it a secret, or tell you to go buy the ebook to try and figure out the “sound.” Dead Weight is the sound of my internal dialogue when I’m observing the world. It’s got all of my skewed observations, geek references, snide commentary, and cynical optimism. (Yeah, cynical optimism. No, I won’t explain it. Just know it makes sense in my mind.) That’s Dead Weight’s “sound.”

I never would have managed to put this story together if I hadn’t had twenty-plus years of experience as a traditional, using-my-voice storyteller. The prose wouldn’t be close to what I’d want if my attention was on writing the story, rather than telling the story. Yeah, I know you’ve heard “Show, don’t tell,” but it’s not like that at all. As someone who has made a living at telling stories for a living for the better part of his adult life, I can say with the utmost certainty and sincerity, “telling a story in front of other people is the truest form of showing that story.” Now, I’m not talking about reciting a story, or reading one out loud from a book. I’m talking about truly telling it, with all the magic and wonder you put into your voice when you’re telling that child the bedtime story to end all bedtime stories, and you go deep into all the characters and stretch the tale out, because as you go on, that child’s eyes light up with wonder, and that child leans forward and hangs on your every word, because that child believes with every last bit of his or her imagination that the story you are telling right then and there is true!

That’s what telling a story is. That’s the place I go to when I’m working on Dead Weight. I’m both the teller and the child. It’s a thing of magic, which is what, at its heart, Dead Weight about, well at least for me. Other people will take it in other ways, and that’s the best part about stories. Even though we share the experience of the story, the story will affect each of us differently. And that’s why we need to keep sharing stories, because they celebrate our similarities and differences.

About the writer

M Todd Gallowglas is a professional storyteller (like on a stage with a show in front of real people) and the bestselling author of the Tears of Rage and Halloween Jack series. After graduating from SFSU with a BA in Creative Writing, Todd returned to his career as professional storyteller at Renaissance faires and Celtic festivals. His first professional sale was to Fantasy Flight Games. Embracing the paradigm changes sweeping through the publishing industry, M Todd Gallowglas used his storytelling show as a platform to launch his self-published writing career. Nearly all of his eBooks have been Amazon bestsellers, and First Chosen spent most of 2012 on Amazon’s Dark Fantasy and Fantasy Series lists. He currently lives with his wife, three children, more pets than they need, and enough imaginary friends to provide playmates for several crowded kindergarten classes. He is currently corrupting his children by raising them with a rich education of geek culture. And still, as busy as he is, he manages to squeeze in time for some old-school table top gaming and airsoft battles on the weekends (because it’s not as messy as paintball). Shiny!
Find out more about M Todd Gallowglas, his books, and to read some of his rants, head over to his official website:
Posted in Cool writerly people, guest blogging, other people's books, write bite