Small is Hard

I’ve been working on a caper screenplay and I never thought I’d say this: the screenplay is kicking my ass.

I’m usually big and detailed with description and that’s one thing you can’t be in this format. Nor can you be long and lyrical in writing action. But you can’t just throw it down without any feeling or art–it still has to sing. It just needs to sing in the most minimalist and impressionistic way possible. At high speed.

Posted in screenplays, writing stuff | Tagged

Such Company!

Oh my goose! I made a list: The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi Blogs “Nightmare Noir” list “6 Gritty Supernatural Crime Novels” and the company is amazing! (Also, that’s my first book right there on the banner!–See Kat Squeeeee like a mad, squeeing thing!)

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

Message in a Bottle

Took PuppyJack for this first ever walk on the beach. The beach just north of Kingston Ferry Dock is remarkably clean and not much peopled on a Monday morning, so the bright blue of this vodka bottle stood out. I picked it up since I happen to like blue glass and I thought I should clean up–as one does. As I shook the water and sand out of the topless bottle I noticed there was something inside. So I took it home and this is what I found: messagebottle sandycontents contentsunwrapped message boxed

The message reads (misspellings and punctuation as written–or as close as I could come):

I was walking on the beach one morning and I saw that you were caught in seaweed,
And I just said I guess I’ll just have to be late to work this morning.
So I feed you from the sewead and you said Ill see you at lunch on friday and I said
oh isebell isebell isebell,
oh isebell isebell isebell.
After we knew each other for a long long time,
I said isebell let’s go to the zoo.
When we got to the zoo we went to a crab stand and I decided she probably didn’t want to eat that food.
Isebell wondered off and I said oh isebell isebell isebell x2,
I saw her with this weird guy and he was hitting her with a mallot and I yelled nooo
isebell isebell isbell x2,
but I was too late isebell was gone and the man fed her to to polar bears
and I visit isbells grave every Tuesday,
Tuesday was the day we met and now the man that killed you has a grave, too.
When I visit her I say “oh isebell isebell isebell x2”

P.S isebell is/was a crab.

If this message is found use the hashtag #imissisebellthecrab

P.P.S, This message is a song.

It may not be brilliant poetry, but how can you not want to reply to the writer of a love song for an ill-fated crab? So here it is. I doubt it traveled very far or had been in the water very long, but still… this is kind of cool. #imissisebellthecrab

Posted in found things

Writer in Hell

In the course of nine published novels, a novella, about a dozen published shorts, and innumerable unpublished bits and pieces (read: crap and trunk work) I’ve never had a character go rogue on me. I am not one of those writers who “channels” the story or character from my subconscious. You’ll never hear me say “the characters are real people and they tell me their story–I just write it down” or anything like that. I control what I do and where the story ultimately goes and what happens to the characters. I’m not a subconscious writer, not much of a “pantser.” I’m God when I write. My creation does as I say it shall. This is how it goes:

Me: [makes lovely plot] Character, goest thou here and doest thou this at this time.

Character: [makes the huh, who me? face] What’s my motivation?

Me: [rolls eyes] Characters… Thy motivation shall be [such]. So do I speak it, so shall it be.

Character: Okey-dokey. I’m good with that. [Goes and does as directed at manuscript Point X and all is well with the narrative.]

Me: Okay.. what’s next…?

And so it goes. Until this most recent novel project.

No matter what I do, one of the main characters just insists on being who and what he is and nothing seems capable of changing him, his mind, his trajectory, or his sneaky little inner self. He’s an asshole. He’s stubborn. He’s self-possessed. He’s recalcitrant. I adore him (the rat-bastard.) He’s a problem.

Most of the time things work out pretty well–he’s a workhorse, he never quits, his motives are as clear to us both as the water in Lake Crescent (and if you haven’t see that, I recommend taking a look at the photo below–the lake’s depth is currently unknown, but the water is so clear you’d swear that bit’s only 2 feet when it’s 12 or more because those are tree branches and boulders down there, not sticks and rocks.)

Lake Crescent bottom. Allegory of character mind--you can see the bottom, but you can't change it.

Lake Crescent bottom. Allegory of character mind–you can see the bottom, but you can’t change it.

I come to a decision or action point and I know what he will do and how and why. There’s no problem. And yet when I decided he needed not to do something, he dug in his metaphorical heels. He simply won’t change. Nothing works to make him be as I’ve decreed and do what I want. It comes out illogically and inherently impossible, breaking the story and the character catastrophically. This is how things go with Him:

Me: Go there, do that.

He: Fine. You know why I do this, yes?

Me: Uh-huh. ‘Cause you’re a focused, obsessive, rat-bastard.

He: So long as we’re clear on this. [Goes and does as expected.]

Me: Yup. Now… this thing you do…. that’s got to change. You need to be more… normal here.

He: No.

Me: Yes. Yes, you do. It’s a Publishing Necessity.

He: I don’t give the smallest iota of shit for your “Publishing Necessity.” This aberration is not going to happen. You know as well as I. So why do you bother trying to force me? I’ll only continue to refuse.

Me: Listen to me, Character. I own you, I made you, I shape you as I see fit. And you do as I say.

He: Just how unutterrably self-deluded are you, Writer?

Me: Not as much as you!

He: Hah! Talking to yourself. Even I don’t do that. You need to reconsider your God complex.

Me: Fuck you! You need to change and that’s the bottom line!

He: [silence]

Me: No, seriously.

He: [graveyard quiet]

Me: Awww… c’mon… They’re gonna crucify you if you don’t. This is for you really. Just… y’know… try it?

He: Not even if your life depended on it. Fond as I am of you. No.

Me: Fuck….

I have met the enemy. I have birthed a character so totally self-possessed that he lives beyond my ability to bend or change him without destroying him utterly. I am no longer God. I am a writer with murder in my heart. (Or at least radical surgery.)

And I apologize to all those writers I’ve mocked or scoffed at for saying “the character does what he wants and I just write it down.”

I am so screwed.

Posted in Personal blither, Woe is Kat, Writing

Doesn’t Matter How Fast You Type…

Well, the novel revision is done and sent and various other projects are moving forward–including the selling of the novel and writing a lot of support materials. But also meeting the obligations of all the short stories I agreed to (before I realized that I’d be pretty brain-dead for the first 3 months of the year as well as sore and tired all the time.) So here are some thoughts about the whole “gotta hit the deadlines and keep my oar in the water” situation of being a professional writer with no contract in hand:

Writing is a lot more than typing up a cool idea. Just from the gross word-generation standpoint, it’s long and tedious and a tremendous amount of work. For example:

Since the first of the year, if all current projects continue on track through the end of 2015, I shall have written 4 short stories and 2 mosaic-novel segments (of 5,000 words each), and turned in a total of 5 shorts plus the 2 mosaic pieces (plus revision and other work on the novel). Right now, I’ve got 3 of the 4 shorts in the can–with one of them completely through editorial up to the compositing and proofing stage. I’m starting work on the last short and waiting on the mosaic starts. Right now, my short story word count for the year stands at 18,531 with up to 15,000 to go. There’s still one short story hanging editorial fire from last year with a word count of 4,861 that I completed late September of 2014 and turned in before Bad Things happened to the anthology it was supposed to run in. And the story I’m starting now that’s due by the middle of the month will probably run small at about 2,500 (though it has the option of running up to 5,000) words.

It’s hard to know how many words I generated, versus how many I just changed, cut, moved, and so forth in the novel revisions, but the total number of words “revised” on that project this year (not last year, when it was being created as a first draft) is 292,000 (plus another 20-30,000 or so in background stories, notes, changes, excisions, and re-writes.) If the novel sells this year, I’ll probably be revising it one more time before the end of December. Added to that, if all the shorts complete their editorial cycles this year, I’ll be revising, creating, or otherwise managing the equivalent word count of 4 “standard” novels, but the print word count for this year may be zero due to editorial cycles.

And that’s why it seems to take writers forever to put out a new book or short story.

Posted in Personal blither, Writing

Passing Muster on Magic

I’m floored. Physics professor and pop-science writer Chad Orzel has mentioned me and my Greywalker novels in an article about Magic in the World of Science published earlier this week at Forbes.com. I’m one of only three women (JK Rowling and Kelly Link being the others) noted in the article, and it’s a very complimentary article about fantasy writers whose magical systems embrace or work within the real, science-based world. It also mentions a few guys…. ;)

Posted in Cool writerly people, other people's books, Personal blither, squee, Stuff about the book(s), writing stuff

Happy Birthday to Me!

This was my present to myself last year on my birthday–it’s silly, but it still tickles my fancy.

Star Greywalker's registry cert

Star Greywalker is in Lyra.

Posted in Personal blither | 1 Comment

Exercise Sucks

Bleh! Today I cleaned and re-lubricated the glides on my elliptical treadmill thingy and thought “I should get back on this thing.” So I did. For all of 10 minutes. It’s been almost 8 months since I last used it and aside from just general sloth, the surgery in late November took a huge toll on my weight and condition and that’s been upsetting. I hate being incapable of simple things like a walk down to the village or chasing the dog for more than a minute and a half. I’ve been telling myself that whenever I find myself at loose ends or unable to sleep I should just get on the machine for 10 minutes. So that’s what I did.

Realistically, I shouldn’t be too upset with a mere 10 minutes at minimum resistance and incline. According to the workout summary, I went a half-mile at an average speed of three miles per hour, keeping my heart rate at 65% of maximum safe rate for a overweight 51-year-old.But damn…. Still, better than nothing.

Now I just need to get the bass guitar adjusted and into tune and start on that journey as well. Oh and the matter of three short stories and a couple of novels…

Plus a dog.

Dog and Sole

Jack guards the elliptical stride machine

Posted in Personal blither | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Congratulations RT Award 2014 Winners!

I missed the announcement of the winners of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, for which my book REVENANT was one of the nominees for Best Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding. While I did not win in my category–which I didn’t expect anyhow–I’m pleased to see the wonderfully talented Jeaniene Frost​ will be taking that puppy home! Congrats to Jeaniene and all the other winners!

Posted in awards, Cool writerly people, other people's books | Tagged ,

Writer Seeks….

I just picked up a link to an article of advice on seeking a literary agent (Mike Shatzkin on Idea Logical) via my friends at MWA Northwest and I think this is solid advice for writers seeking representation as a step to commercial publication. Some people may get skittish over the apparent anti-self-pub statement early on, but that’s really not what the article is about, nor is it truly a slam on self-publication–it’s an industry observation meant to help the writer evaluate their needs and the industry’s likely response to their offering. The bullet list at the end is pretty much the same advice I give to writers. Use the Publisher’s Marketplace or Literary Market Place database to find agents who suit your needs, then winnow down to a handful. AgentQuery.com and Writer Beware are good places to check what’s up with those agents, if they are reputable, ethical, and looking for what you’re offering. Then seek an agent who is reputable, has contacts and sales in the genre or field you want to publish in, and who is a comfortable fit. You’ll get along better and longer with an agent you like who makes you feel that your work is good and exciting and worth their time than a lukewarm relationship with the biggest name in the business. Get the agent who suits you and your work and be prepared to work hard and even put your favorite project aside in favor of something fresher.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Continuing Education

Interesting news on the post-cancer-surgery front: things continue to improve bloodwork-wise, but I keep forgetting that the nature of this particular disease being what it is, I shall actually remain “a cancer patient” for life. MRIs every 6 months or yearly… forever. Seems strange when, aside from the massive scar and all that goes with that, I feel mostly normal. Weird world, this….

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

The On-going

I have finally completed the first 50% of the Work in Progress revision. It stands at 75,000 words for this half alone and it’s finally found a title. While I think it’s much better than the rough draft, it’s still just too damned big. But I have to stop for a while because I’m going to Rainforest writers’ retreat this week and I have a short story due March 1 that’s only 3/4 done. I’ll have to get back to the revision afterward. Which is too bad, because… well… I’m kind of liking this monster….

Posted in revising, WiP, Writing | 1 Comment