Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

50 Shades of PoC

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

It started with a rant, and a poll, and me griping about things on the internet (as I am sometimes wont to do) to people who also have gripes.

Then Silvia Moreno-Garcia asked me to be on a small panel to talk about some issues PoC writers face when writing and publishing.

The discussion is, I think, pretty great, in the way that getting things off your chest in the hopes that the world will improve is great, and not feeling alone in certain experiences is great, and reading smart thoughts from smart people is great.

Check it out, stay woke, or if you’re not woke then get a cafecito and a pastelito y no jodas tanto.

Forgetting to fall

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

11 years. That’s how long I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo.

It’s weird to look back at my life and think of things that have happened in that span of time. New job. Marriage. Childbirth. Friends coming and going. Multiple iterations of the iPhone. And yet, every November, I start with a blank page and a stack of notes and write until time runs out. I spin straw into, if not gold, then at least yellow thread that I can maybe weave into a tapestry that I will eventually sell for gold.

At the beginning of the month, someone I follow on Twitter was trying to decide whether to try writing a novel when they already had too much on their plate. I told him, “Sometimes you get to the edge of the cliff and think, ‘Maybe I could fly.'” And he asked, “But what if I fall?” I said, “To paraphrase Douglas Adams: the trick to flying is forgetting to fall.”

If there was ever a year when I was going to fall, this would have been it. My job ramped up such that I had extra work on top of being on call for about 12 hours every day. I’m teaching two creative writing classes. I lost two days to driving back and forth from Georgia, plus the days in between where I didn’t want to totally ignore family. I was sick for a week while my husband was out of town, so I was single parenting while trying to extract some kind of sea urchin from my throat.

I also had a whole week of vacation all to myself. My first time off this year, in fact. It happened to be the week I was sick, but that meant I had the luxury of drinking hot tea and writing at a leisurely pace instead of struggling to make word count.

And make no mistake: for most of the month, it was a struggle. Every morning, I got up early to write for a half hour. Every day at lunch, I went down to my car and wrote. Every night, after doing work for class, I wrote for about two hours. I budgeted my time like a miser counting pennies, even set alarms on my phone to go off at different points during the day to remind me of what I needed to do when. That alarm tone is going to haunt my dreams for probably the next 11 years.

But I didn’t do it alone. My husband took over bedtime duties. My mom babysat on weekends. Netflix filled in where necessary. I went to write-ins at least twice a week, and sprinted with friends online every night. People even sent me pep talks–you know who you are, you glorious, fabulous people. Sometimes it takes a village to write a novel, and it is my privilege to have a damn fine village.

Every year that I do this, I remember that I can do it–relearn how, even–and this year doubly so. And here I am, 50,000 words later. Spinning straw. Forgetting to fall.

Can’t wait to see where I’ll fly next year.

Mission accomplished

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

After an all-day binge preceded by a two-month marathon, this afternoon, at about 3pm, I finished my novel.

It started as a joke that turned into a short story. The short story became a list of chapter ideas, and then last November I wrote the first 50,000 words. Ten months later, it’s at 111,276 words.

It’s not my first novel. It won’t be my last, god willing. But it’s the one I’ve poured the most time, energy, and self into.

Now it’s off to the workshop and the alpha readers and I start the slow descent into madness that is the revision process. Maybe it’s more like an ascent, a long, arduous climb up to the tippy-top of Mount Doom, except it doesn’t end with me throwing my book into hot lava. Or maybe the querying process is the lava in this scenario. This analogy is getting away from me.

The point is, it’s done, and now I can go back to being a Real Person again. Until it’s time to write the next one, of course. Which will be… *looks at calendar*

Aw, crap.

April fiction roundup

Monday, May 18th, 2015

WITNESS ME. I have seen Mad Max: Fury Road, and it was glorious.

But I’m not here to tell you about the awful majesty of chrome grills and unfathomable hope. Not yet, anyway. I’m here to tell you about the stories I read last month.

As always, my favorites are marked with an asterisk. Go forth and read and form your own opinions.

All That We Carry, All That We Hold by Damien A Walters
Molten Heart by Alexis A. Hunter
The Universe, Sung in Stars by Kat Howard*
Ocelia, Ocelia by Leena Likitalo
You Are Two Point Three Meters from Your Destination by Fran Wilde*
I am Graalnak of the Vroon by Laura Pearlman*
Sally the Psychic Alligator by Sunil Patel
The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens by A. Merc Rustad*
Crow by Octavia Cade
Oyster Beach by Sophie Wereley
Postcards From Monster Island by Emily Devenport*
Quiet Town by Jason Gurley
A Wolf in Iceland Is the Child of a Lie by Sonya Taaffe

While they weren’t among my favorites, I did find “Ocelia, Ocelia” and “Crow” to be very interesting reads. The former was an epistolary style with a unique world and character, with only the ending not really working for me. The latter didn’t feel like a story, more like the opening to a novel; I kept waiting for something to happen, but it felt like nothing ever did, though all the nothing was very well written and compelling.

On the writing front, April was Camp NaNo, and I put in a bit over 10,000 words on the novel I started in November. That put me over 70,000 for this project, which is the longest work I’ve written to date. Exciting! Scary! Still not finished. But it proceeds, and it continues to amuse me, and those are both good and important.

March fiction roundup

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Better late than never, right? April has been a rough month, so while I wanted to get this done sooner, instead I worked on my novel every day and played video games every night and tried not to succumb to despair. As you do.

My favorites, as always, are marked with an asterisk.

Stories I read this month:
Goat Milk Cheese, Three Trillion Miles From Earth by Caroline M Yoachim
Things You Can Buy For a Penny by Will Kaufman*
Translatio Corporis by Kat Howard
Charge! Love Heart! by Rhiannon Rasmussen
Even the Mountains Are Not Forever By Laurie Tom*
Zanders the Magnificent by Annie Neugebauer
A Screech of Gulls by Alyc Helms
Stranger by Sunil Patel
The Fox Bride by Mari Ness
The White Snake by Laurie Tom
Bit Player by Cat Rambo
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson*

Books I read this month:
The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
Fool’s Run by Patricia McKillip
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

You’ll see two books there in the same series, The Glamourist Histories, which I bought because I had a strong feeling I’d love Jane Austen with magic. I was right; they were delightful. Arguably predictable to people who like Austen, but in a way that doesn’t matter. The first book was basically Pride and Prejudice, the second was The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I read them quickly and with gusto. If you like Mairelon the Magician or other Regency fantasies, you’ll probably dig these.

The other two books were re-reads, though I hadn’t gone back to Lackey in a long time. I remember taking The Fire Rose out at the library and being so enchanted by the whole thing, and wondering what kind of elemental predilection I had, and even now I wonder why more people haven’t explored similar magical systems. But I have to admit that my tastes have changed, and I’m more sensitive now to the way the feminism of the story is presented. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it, but if you roll your eyes when a woman worries about whether she’s acting too masculine, regardless of historical context, you might want to pass on this.

Fool’s Run, on the other hand, holds up better. What I found interesting was how little I remembered about it, such that a lot felt fresh to me. At the same time, I found it a very strange read because the plot seemed intricate but light, like a carved eggshell, beautiful and detailed and somehow ultimately hollow. There was a kind of duality to all the characters, as if they were inhabiting roles while also having entirely different cores, and yet they too felt insufficiently fleshed out by the end. Not much happens, and it happens slowly, but the language and imagery are so lovely that you hardly notice.

With any luck, it won’t be a whole month before I post my next roundup. Until then, be well and read widely.