anthimeria: Comic book panels (Sequential Art)
Too wiped by work to hack any of the novels, but still wanted to write something when I came home, so I tackled the picture book I wrote back in October.

Back then I said I wanted to cut 30-50 words, but . . . well, instead I seem to have added 20.  It's not a disaster, I cleaned up the prose itself a lot, so this may just be a longer picture book than I was thinking.  I read it out loud, and keeping in mind I do storytime 1-2 a week, the story went right up to that edge of read-aloud-able.  I don't want it to get any longer (it's 550 right now), but I think this is a good length for the story.

It's a lot longer than Helperbot, the first picture book I wrote, but it's also aimed a little older and has a more complicated story, so.

anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
I fixed the character arc scene that needed work in The Novel.  It's a lot of new writing, rather than just editing or even re-writing, so I'll need to revise it at a later point, but right now I'm just happy to have the new scene in there.  I also added ~600 words, even though I deleted a goodly chunk of the revised section, which brings the wordcount up from 92,047 to 92,630, and bring the "approximate wordcount" up from 92k to 93k.  Curse you, rounding!  Note to self: revise cover letter to reflect new wordcount.

I'm poking my nose into a few other projects that are in the research/worldbuilding stage, one YA and one grownup, but I think I'm going to return my attentoin to Trial.  I miss middle grade, and I've neglected the draft for too long.  I have a whole subplot that needs to be worked in!

Yes, I find this exciting.  C'mon, we know I'm weird that way.
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
Trying to get back into the swing of things is haaaaaard.

Good news: worldbuilding for a new adult novel commencing, we'll see if that goes anywhere, AND my roomate and I hashed out a possible solution to the character arc thing I need to change in The Novel before I send it out to any more agents.

Bad news: After two years of submitting Skywatch to agents (~20, not that many) and 2 full requests that both got form rejections (more worrying), I decide to give my MG steampunk another look.  And it's . . . well.  Let's just say I really don't want to give up on it because I really love the world and the characters, but the writing is mediocre at best and the plot drags.  A MG mystery/thriller should clip along like anything, and Skywatch just doesn't.

Right now I'm hoping this can be fixed with an edit, but it's possible I may sit back after doing a re-read of the whole MS and go, ". . . it needs to be re-outlined and re-written from the ground up."

This would make me VERY SAD but is also something I would do for this book.  Skywatch is all the things I want in MG and I'm determined to do well by it, even if that means a whole truckload more work.

It also means that MG-wise, once I decide what to do with Skywatch, I need to refocus on the dragon book, because if I have to re-write Skywatch from the ground up it's going to move back in the queue.

But I don't know yet!  We'll have to see.
anthimeria: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)
Okay, truth, I know how that happened.  February steamrolled me with being sick in the first half and from-out-of-town family in the second, plus I had not one, not two, but THREE custom events to design and execute at work.

So I haven't written anything since I last worked on The Novel.

But I did go to FogCon!  Given my track record of not reporting on cons if I don't while I'm physically present, unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to give a report, but it was fun!  I was on two panels and did some volunteering, which regular congoers (especially to all-volunteers cons like Fogcon!) should try to do.  Even an hour can make the volunteer coordinator's life easier!

I shall endeavor to starting writing again, and thus get back in the habit of updating this thing.  Hope to see y'all again soon!
anthimeria: Barbara Gordon, in wheelchair, hand fisted, with the word "Not half beaten yet" (Oracle: Not Beaten)
Ms. Marvel #1 came out today!

I have all the good news on the first Pakistani-American teenage girl to head her own superhero title at one of the mainstream houses. 

--I showed up to buy the comic not four hours after my LCS opened and they were already OUT.  I lucked out and one of the employees let me buy me their copy. 

--The book is only $2.99, which is a huge relief for me since a monthly at $3.99 is a little beyond my budget ATM. (Don't get me wrong, I'd buy it at $3.99, but a dollar is a dollar is actually slightly more than a dollar once you account for tax.)

--The book is hilarious, engaging, well-written and well-drawn/inked/colored from moment one.  I opened the issue on my way back to my car and the very first series of panels made me laugh.

--This is the first time in a long time I felt like an issue of anything was actually worth the price I paid for it.

Kamala Khan FTW, all.  I can't wait for next month.

(Especially since there's an EVIL CLIFFHANGER!)
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)

So, when I put together the submission packet for the Strange Chemistry unagented submission period, I did a desultory review of The Novel and concluded it was still pretty tight, and I didn't need to edit it, and I could focus on the business-end stuff.  Then I spent most of November and the beginning of December working on the query letter, and then some more in January, and now I think I finally have a decent letter.

The catch?  In working on the query, I needed to check the MS for a few things (including one instance of "plot logic" someone on a query crit forum pointed out, which needed to be fixed in the MS before I could fix it in the query) and discovered that there's a whole bunch of fiddly little details that aren't quite there yet.  Some of it's worldbuilding or plot stuff that I didn't notice was a hole till a critter pointed it out, and some of it is metatextual/philosophic issues that exist because I did the original worldbuilding and writing for this book SIX YEARS ago and have learned a lot since then.

So while I'm not making big changes, they are very exacting.  I need to find exactly the right place to make the change, then exactly the right change to make in order not to disrupt the flow of the story that already existed, and I need to do this while not bogging the MS down info-dump style.

It's irritatingly fiddly and worse because I have no one to blame but myself.  Myself of six years ago, but still myself.

EDIT, five hours later: ARGH.  Race is complicated even/especially when you're making up all the rules in a fantasy kingdom!  And so is class.  And nationality.  And all the research just makes it more complicated!  And I decided that INTERSECTIONALITY IS IMPORTANT.  Writing is hard, y'all.  (I'm going to keep reminding myself that it's SUPPOSED to be hard, that means I'm thinking at least almost enough.  It's supposed to be hard, it's supposed to be hard, if it's easy it's my white privilege, it's supposed to be hard, yes I'm going to screw up, it's supposed to be hard, it's supposed to be hard . . . )

EDIT II, three hours after the first: Writing a high fantasy while simultaneously, in the same text, engaging critically with the history of high fantasy is also REALLY HARD.

I'd forgotten why I needed to write a middle grade utopia after editing this book for six months.  Now I remember.

(I should be asleeeeeeep.)


Jan. 7th, 2014 09:57 pm
anthimeria: A scary angular outline of a face, the words "Still Watching" (Oracle: Still Watching)

I keep missing #PitMad by just a few days, so the fact that I actually know about and get to participate in this one is exciting.

The catch?  TIMEZONES.


Jan. 5th, 2014 06:43 pm
anthimeria: Barbara Gordon, in wheelchair, hand fisted, with the word "Not half beaten yet" (Oracle: Not Beaten)
Holidays in retail + anthology deadline of Dec 31 = 1 tired writer.

Fortunately, I did get a passable draft finished of the short story I wanted to submit.  It's not my best work--I'm too close to it, and the deadline snuck up on me, so no one else has read it--but I enjoy it and am glad I submitted something.  There's another short story deadline in February that I want to work on; this one unfortunately I don't have anything ready for, so we'll see if I can pull together a story in a month and a half.  Right now I have characters and a decent idea of what happens, but no specifics, and without specifics it won't work.  So I need to keep working on that.

In the new year I pretty much want to keep doing what I'm doing, but with more hours a week spent on writing and on reading books.  I read every day--mostly fanfic.  While I love and adore fanfic, as a writer and just a person who misses her books, I need to get back in the habit.

Also, this week I continue to be thankful I no longer live where it snows.  Stay safe if you're in blizzard territory!


Dec. 17th, 2013 08:04 pm
anthimeria: Woman drawing a sword, the words "Sword and Sorceress XXV" (SS XXV)

Anna is awesome, Elsa is amazing, the music is breathtaking, the visuals are stunning, the story is affecting (I cried in distress and happiness!), it totally upsets fairy tale expectations in the best ways, the funny sidekick characters are tolerable, and it's a story about love and fear and power where not one but two women get to have these things.

I don't want to spoil anyone, and I know a fair few people have feminist issues with Disney (I can be one of them), but this movie is worth it.  Especially if you have young girls, and even better, sisters, this movie says some really important things that many Disney/princess/fairy tale stories aimed at this age group either do terribly or gloss over.

It's wonderful for all the best reasons.

(I really really disliked the short that comes first, though.  Be warned.)
anthimeria: Mask of feathers (Feather Face)
In my experience, an author who wants to improve, especially and author who wants to be professionally published in today's publishing industry, needs to develop both a thick skin for critique and the ability to know when your critiquer is right (most of the time) and when they're so far off base they're in the wrong ballpark.

I use an online forum to get crituqes for my query letters, pitches and synopses, because my meatspace friends all have jobs and lives and aren't, right this very minute, devoted to working on a query letter, whereas people in query letter forums are generally devoted to working on their queries, and if everybody plays fair--crits others, gives return crits to people who critted them--it works quite well, despite the oftentimes huge disparity in writing skill and publishing experience.  I kinda love it, and I enjoy (for a certain definition thereof) both critiquing and giving critiques.  Up to a point.
Anger is a legitimate response, but what we do with that anger matters. Also, lots of opinions behind the cut. And writerly rambling. )

In short: critique ettiquette, I have feelings and opinions about it.

For now I've paused work on my query.  I still feel like I have a good draft, it just needs a few tweaks, and I need to seriously consider several things one of my later critquers said.

Also, I had no idea before I started asking for query critique HOW MANY people would be confused by the fact that one of my main characters is a unicorn.  Everyone who crits the query seems to assume that either a) she's a unicorn in human form, or a human with unicorn magic, or otherwise somehow human-shaped, or b) if she actually is no joke a unicorn, she must not be a main character and should be removed from the query.

SERIOUSLY.  I am fairly certain I wouldn't be having this problem if she were almost any other kind of mythical creature.  Which, admittedly, is part of the culture I'm talking back to with The Novel, but still.  It never occurred to me that anyone would question her being a unicorn.

anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
So, nothing on Trial.  I'm thinking working on the actual MS of any of my projects is going to be too much to ask during the holiday retail season.  But I have been worldbuilding for the new YA, so that's something.

I also rekindled the Query From Hell that is attempting to write the query letter for The Novel.  I have a solid synopsis and even a workable pitch, but I have written literally dozens of query letters and hundreds of pieces of queries for The Novel over the last three years I've been submitting it intermittently, and they're pretty much all nothing more than acceptable.  A number have been quite awful.  So I'm trying again.  We'll see what happens this time.

Hope everyone's not too stressed!
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
So I've been worldbuilding for my newish YA project--I actually had two days off in a row this week (my work schedule is funtastic)--and spent the first doing mythological research and worldbuilding, and the second doing real-world research and worldbuilding.  I feel this is what happens when you write urban fantasy: research about yokai and research about which season American high schools play certain sports end up equally important.

In other news, I think I'm going to wander back to Trial for December.  The holidays are always crazy and I think it might be easier to fit editing into my schedule than writing or worldbuilding.  I'll probably still do all of the above, depending on my mood, but I like to focus on a project and Trial is due for some attention.

I also need to get back to writing that YA spec-fic diversity short story for kaleidescope . . . it needs a fair amount of editing as well.
anthimeria: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
Forest War is stalled in the outline, because I realized there's a huge structual flaw in the middle (basically, an extended sequence in which the POV character is inactive, an observer rather than an actor), and I haven't figured out how to fix it yet.

I'm also debating whether it's worth it to fix, which is irritating, because I really enjoy this world.  It's just--the more I write the outline, the clearer this story becomes to me, the more obvious it is to me that it's YA.  But I can't actually imagine how one would sell a YA book where the characters are fairies--not the fae/sidhe/underhilll fairies of legend, but Fern Gully/Tinker Bell-esque hand-sized forest spirits with butterfly wings and nature magic and pretty colors.  If it were a movie, we could rate it PG and move on.  Since it's a novel, I'm becoming dubious about its saleability, because its target audience is 10-14, maybe even 12-16, for the character and writing and plot stuff, but--I'm not sure we could get a 14 year old to overlook the fact that the main characters are fairies.

So I'm still thinking about it.  I would hate to abandon this project, but like Moxie, it might  be something that'll have to wait until I have a few books with decent sales under my belt.  It just might not be a good project for me right now, while I'm still unsold.

I've also been tinkering with other projects in their early stages, especially since working on The Novel's submission package for Strange Chemistry got me thinking about writing YA again.  The Novel is still in a place where I'm happy with it, so no editing there, but I do have an urban fantasy YA trilogy I've been poking at.  I haven't mentioned it much because it's been troublesome--I've rewritten the plot concept half a dozen times--but I think I finally got a solid concept for the first two books.

A bit ago I essentially tossed all the plotting I'd done for months out the window and rewrote the concept for book one, but couldn't get into book two.  Today, after basically everything else went wrong, I sat down and hammered out a concept for book two, which is the only thing saving this day from total miserable uselessness.

Also tried to edit the mermaid pirates picture book, but it turns out exacting word choice is not something I'm capable of when miserable, but plotting urban fantasy YA is.  Things you learn about yourself!

DC Girl

Nov. 2nd, 2013 03:34 am
anthimeria: Comic book panels (Sequential Art)
This is why, in my heart of hearts, I'm still a DC girl.

Right now it feels like my BFF is on the bad drugs, has robbed and hurt people, isn't admitting they're addicted or that there might be a problem, and has punched me and left me somewhere sketchy to find my own way home.  So I'm not interacting with them right now, for my own safety and mental health.

But I can't forget the good times, or stop hoping that maybe someday, they'll join AA.  Things might not be the same--they weren't perfect before by a long shot--but things could be better.  Maybe.  If they get their shit together.

Till then, I'm not seeing them or giving them money.  But I'll read my back issues and my fanfic and watch Marvel movies and work really hard to help make a culture where DC can get better again.

anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
Finished my submission package for Strange Chemistry today.  Loglines/one line pitches are HARD.  Especially for a novel that is in many ways an avalanche--lots of things combined cause characters to act and react, rather than a single problem that needs solving, as in Skywatch.

On the other hand, the synopsis for The Novel was much easier than Skywatch's, for similar reasons.  The Novel is a journey story, so one thing leads into the next, whereas Skywatch is a mystery, and characters chase clues all over the place.

At any rate, that's done, and now I just have to work on a query letter if I decide to start querying agents for The Novel.  Since I'm still more focused on Skywatch, and since both my works in progress are also middle grade, The Novel's a lower priority.

Which is not to say I couldn't switch back over to YA if Strange Chemistry said they wanted The Novel, and oh by the way do you have anything else?  My response would be, Let me tell you about my kickass urban fantasy with swan maidens.

In other news, I found out that Kaleidoscope, an anthology of YA spec-fic focusing on diverse perspectives, has gotten funded and will be accepting submissions till the end of the year, so I'm working on a short story for that.  Right now it's more diverse than spec-fic, but we'll see.  It's the only YA short story I have, though, so if they reject on that basis, c'est la vie.

This'll be the first short story I've worked on seriously for more than a year.  It'll be an interesting change from the novels.
anthimeria: A happy wolf pouncing on a packmate, reads "Triumph!" (Triumph!)
. . . the rats *really* aren't afraid of the laptop.

Hardison struck his head over the monitor from the back--not a new thing--and then did some sort of rat-ninja move and hopped up onto the screen.  Yep, my rattie was walking on the top of my LAPTOP screen like, "Ooh, this is a fun game.  Why are you squeaking at me?"

EDIT: Before I posted this he did it again.  Twice.
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
With the fairy book going and revisiting The Novel yet again (this time for the Strange Chemistry unagented submissions period), I've been writing more than I have since I got the kids.  This has resulted in me attempting to multitask: play with the rats AND __.  Insert "watch tv" "read" and today "write."

They don't mind the tv, but to be fair they can't get at it.  The book freaked them right out--I don't know if it was the inconstant page-turning noise, or the big paper presence, or what, but books freak Hardison and Parker right out.  So today--as I type, in fact--I decided to try them on the laptop.

I am extremely amused that they find books scarier than the computer.

I have music going, and I'm typing, and it's a big new black shape, and while they were a little bit wary, they're more interested in chewing on it than they are scared of it.  I mean, they're sniffing it, but they're treating it like they would any new object in their space: with curiosity and just a little bit of "Is it going to bite back?"

While I don't know what's up with the book thing, their reaction to the computer is evidence of how far they've come in just a few weeks.  Baby Hardison and Parker would've sat, frozen and quivering, terrified.  Teenage, better-socialized Parker and Hardison are curious and kinda annoyed every time I keep them from gnawing on the keys.  It took a lot of work, and I'm not done, but they're getting there.

In conclusion, next time I try this I'm going to try to get a picture of each rat reaching up to paw at the screen, one on each side, like heraldry.  If I can accomplish this picture I will find SOME way to show y'all.
anthimeria: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)

After meaning to ever since I started working seriously on Forest War, I finally sat down and watched the Tinker Bell movie.  I was dreading it--I never really got what Disney was doing with the whole Disney Fairies thing, and it always seemed girly and mindless and commercial.

Well, while it was definitely girly and its track record shows commercial success, the Tinker Bell movie is not mindless.  It's a simple story told well, and a story with a some messages I can definitely get behind.  It has the somewhat-standard "Accept and love who you are" plot, but it also adds a whole new dimension to Tinker Bell's character--mainly, emphasis on the tinker part.

Basically, Tinker Bell is a kickass inventor and engineer, and after screwing up a bunch of stuff trying to be a nature fairy, she goes back and uses her building and inventing talent to fix her mistakes.  Even better, she does it in a whole new way, so not only is she 1) accepting who she is 2) which is a girl who is an engineer who is 3) inventing in new ways with objects previously thought useless, thus making her effectively The Best engineer.

Seriously, she saves spring with a bunch of re-purposed flotsam.  Take that, Tony Stark.

anthimeria: Close up of cecropia moth wings, the words "Don't judge a fairy by her wings" (Fairy wings)
Remember when I said I'd tell you about my new project in my next post . . ?  Well, after eating my words, I am NOW going to tell you about my new project.  A month and a half later.  Oops?

After many moons of research, worldbuilding, more research, more worldbuilding, character profiling, and oh yeah, even more worldbuilding, I'm about to embark upon outlining a new middle grade fantasy.  About fairies.


Right now, my target age range for this is upper middle grade, 10-14.  Of my middle grade novels, I seem to have run the gamut: Skywatch is either true middle grade, 8-12, or edges into upper, 9-13.  Trial is young middle grade, I'd call it ages 7-10.  And this is 10-14.  That's mostly because of the subject matter--this is about war and death and disability and prejudice and racism and systematic oppression and anger, a lot of anger.  Aster is my angriest protagonist yet, and that's a contributing factor as to why this story has taken me so long to get a hold of.  Aster is angry and reckless and self-involved.

The working title, which I came up with literally as I was writing this post, is The Forest War.  (Previous working titles include the terrible and too-obvious Night and Day, and then Epic in homage to its inspiration.)  Interestingly, unlike Skywatch and Trial, The Forest War is a standalone.  I think it's also going to be longer than both of them--pushing the advisable length for middle grade long.  We'll see.

Now I need to get down to outlining.  Here goes nothing.

anthimeria: Comic book panels (Sequential Art)
About a year ago, I wrote my first-ever picture book manuscript.  For quite awhile it appeared to be the only picture book I'd ever write, and I know nobody wants to publish a one-off, so after I worked really really hard on it and ended up with something I was actually pretty proud of, I shelved it.  I had novel work to do, and I'm definitely a go-the-distance girl where novels are concerned.

But once I'd written a picture book, I knew I could do it again, if I ever had any ideas.

I've had a few, but one arose from a teasing conversation at work.  There's a picture book series called Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, because the author knows what four year old boys want, and it was discussed that we could make pirates out of all kinds of things.  Somehow mermaids came up, and while we were laughing, we were also surprised we couldn't think of a single book--picture book or chapter book--about pirate mermaids.  (I know of one short story, but it's not aimed at children.  At all.)

Until today.

The manuscript's a mess, since I was still figuring things out as I wrote it, and it's a little long--I'd like to cut at least 35 words, 50 might be better--but there you have it.  I've written my second-ever picture book, and it's about pirate mermaids.



anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
Lauren K. Moody

Positive Obsession

There is hope in error, but none at all in perfection.
--Ursula K. Le Guin

The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.
--Muriel Rukeyser

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr


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