Thursday, July 19, 2012

Twitter Publication

I should have posted this yesterday but the WiFi signal at the apartment has been abysmal. So, a belated announcement that The Essex was published at Trapeze Magazine. (Yesterday.)

This is the first acceptance I've had at Trapeze since Steve Ramey took over as editor. Apparently the irony of this horrific historical Twitter story grabbed his attention.

This is, technically, a W1S1 story. (Even though I'm giving the rest of the year a pass on the weekly challenge in order to focus on the novel.)

Friday, July 13, 2012


So. I'm pretty much a #fail at all the blog-related social networking. But I cannot resist when J.M Blackman drags me into the world of awards and memes. (She, btw, is much better at all this social media stuff than I am. And she listens to awesome music. And writes book reviews. And flash fiction on what seems like a daily basis.)

Without further ado: The Sunshine Award.

 Sunshine Award requirements are quite easy:
  • include the Logo and a link to who nominated you
  • write 10 things about yourself
  • nominate and link to 10 more awesome people for the award

My 10

1. I wrote my first real story when I was seven. It was entitled "The Cow Who Rode The Train". It was, predictably enough, a story about a cow named Bright who was sent from one farm to another via train. The ride along the tracks was rough. When she arrived at the new farm and the new farmer tried to milk her, she produced sticks of butter. ("All wrapped and pasturized." <- This is the only line I can actually remember from the story.) Even at an early age, my interest in speculative fiction was clear.

2. If I'm wearing a dress it's probably because I need to do laundry.

3. I laugh when editors/anyone address emails to "Miss Carpenter" and I laugh even harder when I think about asking them to call me "Mrs. Carpenter." 

4. Depending on which day it is I will respond to the question "Who is your favorite musician/band?" with either "AC/DC", "Matchbox Twenty", "Gorillaz" or "The Chemical Brothers."

5. I didn't go to college to study English or Creative Writing. My B.A. is in Moving Image Arts. But then I graduated and realized I was broke and making movies is expensive. Plan B is to become filthy rich writing novels and then go make movies. (That is only kinda-sorta a joke.)

6. There is something truly comforting to me about a cloudy day. Not a rainy day, but a cloudy one. A feeling of being in my natural element. Rainy days, on the other hand, tend to make me sad - in a bittersweet and melancholy way.

7. When I made my first (and so far only) professional sale, my first thought was "I need to call my mother and tell her." And then I remembered she had passed away six years before.

8. I have a paper fetish. There are at least five unused blank books on my shelf that I had to buy and then have been too afraid to use for fear I will write something crap in them and "waste" pages.

9. I love sewing but I'm kind of horrible at it. Every now and then I get the urge to break out the fabric and the patterns and sew a new dress or make something cool. I set up the sewing machine and spend a week doing one simple project. And then I put it all away. I have a big box (BIG!) of unused fabric because of this.

10. I draw as a hobby. I am surprisingly narcissistic about art too. I have dozens of attempts at self-portraits, none of which really look like me. And I'm crap at drawing anything other than people.

10 Sunshine-y People (I had to cheat here and link to some people I know won't participate but you should check them out anyway. Because they are AWESOME! And sunshine-y.)

1.Bettie Lee One of the few people to have read an entire draft of The Novel. And she likes kittehs and fairies.

2. Alex Shvartman Amazing spec-fic short story author. Not only does he write and sell like a madman but he does it in his second language.

3. Brenda Stokes-Barron Her Twitter feed is full of stories about homeless people. And weirdos. And she's an amazing author and editor too.

4. Lawrence Pearce He's actually kind of an anti-sunshine person, but I like him. How can I not when he wrote a short story entitled "Dead Girls at Christmas"?

5. Robert Scott A nut. And we went to college at the same place and mostly at the same time. He made a short film for class about a guy making an alien invasion movie. I laughed so hard I cried.

6. Amy Moffit Poet and philosopher of the most primitive and everyday sort. (And I mean that in a good way.) Half the time I cry when I read her stuff.

7. Mattias Adolfsson Artist. Whimsical. Fantastic. (Seriously. Every line is sunshine.)

8. Robin Mitchell Fantastic art that makes me all squishy.

9. Caleb Monroe Another fantastic author-type person (who even makes money at what he does!) I went to college with. With whom I went to college. Yes, that last line looks right. 

10. Bengal French comic artist. Must see. (And a warning, not-always-safe-for-work.)


I've mentioned before that I like to work on multiple projects at once. Multi-tasking you might call it. Or scatterbrained. But it's worked pretty well for me.

Until it hasn't.

After several months of turmoil (both internal and external) I have come to a decision: I will not work on anything other than The Novel until it is finished and in the hands of an agent. (That could, admittedly, be a while, but all the more reason to go at it hard.)

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule.

1) I have been working very hard on a story for The Beast Within 4 anthology. My story might suck, but I've been working hard. And I will edit and submit it and let the rest handle itself.

2) I will also continue to sub/resub everything currently on rotation. I might (if I get really stuck on The Novel) edit a couple of things that were in sub rotation but were pulled because I felt they needed more work. MIGHT. But that's a little unlikely.

In the meantime, The Novel is a little over half-way finished and the rest of it is more or less outlined. All I have to do is: Write It. Edit for the numerous typos that have grown over the past months I've been working on it haphazardly. Find agents that interest me. Query the hell out of The Novel until I find someone as excited about it as I am.

Simple yes? (That's what I keep telling myself so it must be true.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lessons Learned Making Sweet Pickle Relish

1. Start with a Recipe...

I like outlines. They give me a chance to see if the mechanics of a story will work. It's in the outline that I usually see (and try to fix) the biggest issues with plot. Depending on the story I may have a very detailed outline or a very vague outline. But I've never written a story that I didn't have some idea from the get-go where I wanted it to end. Know what you're trying to accomplish before you start.

2. ...But Don't Be Afraid to Improvise

Even when I pre-plan a story, even when I outline in minute detail, I always hit a point where I just start making shit up. Maybe it's adding a scene I hadn't anticipated. Or turning the entire plot in a different direction because my Main Character turned out to be more of a coward than I had anticipated. Even when I think I know where things are headed, there is always room for change. Don't be afraid to put The Plan to one side and go with your gut.

3. No Matter How You Slice Them, The Onions Will Make You Cry

Every author enjoys some part of the writing process and HATES some other part. For some of us it's trying to finish that all important First Draft. For some of us it's looking at that messy First Draft and figuring out how to make it better. For some of us (me) it's the nit-picky line-editing stage. (Typos are the bane of my existence. And commas. And making sure that every word that should be in a sentence actually is.) For some it's the process of selling a story. But no matter which part you dread, if you want a readable, sellable and published story you have to wipe the tears off your cheeks and muscle through.

4. Even If You Don't LOVE Something, You Can Still Make it Well

I'm a big believer in writing what you love. But (BUT!) I do think it's possible to write a story that you are not completely enamored with and still produce a solid piece of fiction. I say this for two reasons. 1) You may - at some future point - be asked to edit or rewrite something in a way that was not how you first envisioned it. Have faith. You are capable of making changes to suit the needs of someone else. Even if it's not how you would do it. (Of course, whether you want the sale badly enough to do this is a whole 'nother discussion.) 2) You will - if not now, then later - have a story or two that you just don't like as well as the others you have written. This doesn't mean they aren't any good or that they aren't sellable. Trust your skills and submit that puppy 'til it's published. (So far, three of my five sales were stories I wasn't "sure" about.)

5. Getting It Right Takes Time

Some things you just can't rush. I'd like to say that as I've improved as a writer, my ability to turn out stories every week/month has gotten smoother, more dependable. Alas, that is not the case. My ability to tell stories has improved. So has my ability to sit down and write when I say it's time to write. (No more hanging around waiting on that damned muse to strike.) But writing is still work. It still takes effort. Finishing a story can still take weeks. (Or months.) That's okay. Some things come together quickly and others require a more elaborate process, but getting it right is worth the effort.