Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting Fixed

As you can see, Fem-Fangs, the anthology that took my vampire story, "Getting Fixed" is out now, and that was really fast! Just in time for Halloween. It's been a strange half a year or so for me, publication-wise. I'm to the point now where I get more acceptances than rejections. That should make me happy, right? That's what you want in life, right?

Truthfully, though, it doesn't feel any different. I always assumed it would, you know? I always thought it would be great, just knowing that somebody else was going to read your writing, could be reading your writing, but I feel a little disconnected from it. It's like throwing notebooks off a cliff and not even watching them go. Is it because I see so little of it on paper anymore? I don't know. This story, Getting Fixed, is ten years old. That's a long time to be living in my head. The one that wound up in Cinema Spec, "End of an Era" was literally the first story I ever finished. Its lifetime nearly spans the length of my relationship with my best friend. It's older than most of my friends' kids.

So turning loose of them wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I'm happy that somebody wanted them, but I'm always a little scared to turn loose of them. I guess I'm just surprised to feel this way.

I know what you're thinking, but I'm not crazy. They're stories, not my children--those are my cats. But still. When I never sold anything, there was a protection there that I didn't recognize. Now, in spite of how happy I am to see stuff of mine in print, I miss that protection.

Will I stop submitting stuff? Hell, no. It might be scary to stick these covers up on the blog, and post them on facebook (I amaze myself whenever I remember how to do both those things), but I'll adjust, trust me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A little news, and other things

So, the most interesting news is that Rock and Roll Over is available for pre-order on Barnes and, and on Amazon. My story, Always Crashing In the Same Car is included in it. That story is also the first chapter of that novel, so I have sort of mixed feelings about it. But this is the first thing that I have been in that I've actually been able to order for the store, so while the cover is a little, um, well.. you'll see, I still feel sort of like a real writer.
I also just sold a story to an anthology called "Fem-fangs." Yep, it's about girl vampires. It's a story that I wrote way back at Clarion, called "Getting Fixed" and I'm happy to see it out. I remember I wrote it as an example of the reverse hero's journey, and it got fairly well bashed because vampires are so over done. It was at that moment that I realized that originality was not really high on my list of things to aspire to. Have a good story, make the characters real, and I don't care what kind of tropes you use to tell it. There are, of course, really good examples of that philosophy gone horribly wrong--Twilight comes to my mind, and probably to everybody's mind for that matter. She got the concept of using a tried and true cliche to tell her story, but she forgot to make the characters real, or even a bit likable. I wonder if she even likes the characters.
In a short story it's harder to give characters lives. you don't have the time. The thing to do is give the impression of movement. The character is going somewhere as the story starts, will be going somewhere after it ends. Charles DeLint does this by telling serial short stories. Read even one in the Newford series and you get a sense of the place and the people.
Anyway, I don't mean to knock Twilight. I'm guessing that there's other reasons why those books have become popular. I'm just glad that, in my case, somebody got the joke, and that story was finally taken.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Speak My Name... Just a taste.

The night started out quiet at Darks. I held up my side of the bar, between filling drink orders, and Ithuriel held up his on his stool. To the Mortals present, we looked just like they did. I, lean, light haired, grey eyed, dressed in an ancient Adam Ant tour tee shirt. Ithuriel, my opposite, with long dark hair braided prudishly down his back, dressed in jeans and a button down shirt.

Two guys chatting the evening away. Not what we were at all. Not ever.

There you go. That's the first two paragraphs of the book. I think, at the end of it, the title is going to be Speak My Name.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I've been turning this over in my brain for a while, so I'm not sure how coherent it will sound outside the skull. But here it is.

Last week one of my younger co-workers posted that as he was leaving the bookstore, he saw two boys--even younger than he--holding hands, happy to be together, you know, just like teenagers in love. He also noticed the people around them frowning, and generally looking uncomfortable with them. He said that he gave them a big smile because he was so proud of them for being braver than he was when he was their age. I thought, as I read his story, "That's just how I felt when I met him. Proud that he was so much braver than I was when I was young."

I was never brave when I was his age. I never said it out loud. Not to anyone. Not in my life, anyway.

The first place I learned to be honest was on the page, and then it took a long time. I was in my early twenties I started writing a book about a rock band. Back then, the main character, Asia couldn't admit, even to himself how much he loved the lead singer in the band. I couldn't admit it either. Not even to myself.

For me and Asia it was twenty-seven years before we were that easy with ourselves. That's longer than any of the boys in this story have been alive. I suppose that's progress.Things have changed, and my young co-worker has shown me that. He is exactly what he is with every single person he comes in contact with every day. And it makes me so proud of him, everyday, and envious of his courage.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Demons and Angels

I've been wandering again. There's something about being so close to the end, and yet not so close to the end that makes my focus falter. If it ever was that great to begin with. I've been scraping along in my not-writing life, just barely paying the bills--or not paying them, trying to deal with family, trying to make people buy my sewing... It's endless distractions. And I've heard three different people in the last week say that it's easy to avoid writing, because there are so many other things they'd rather be doing. Three. There's something fairytale-ish about that, isn't there? Like a warning. Like all I'd have to do to finish the book is bake three loaves a bread (one with a stone, one with seven kernels of corn, one with mouse fur, but that's another story). Or maybe I should go away for the weekend to a cottage on chicken legs, or....

It's so easy not to write. Because, as Natalie Goldberg says in The Thunder and the Lightning, writing is hard. Sewing is easy, it's finishable. Dishes are easy, they're finishable. Writing is... It's never ending. One story bleeds over into another, and they're all connected in the brain, right? In my brain, Ziggy lives in the same world as Mica and Frank, and the same world where my werewolf pack runs the North End of Flint.

Writing is hard. There's other stuff to do. Each time I hear that, I think, "That's not me." I would rather write than anything else. Anything else. So, why not this? Why write about writing the end, instead of actually doing it? I don't know. I'm stuck at the gates of Heaven. Not metaphorically, either. I'm right there. I didn't expect to be there, and I don't know what's going to happen if we go in....

If we do, will I be done? There's only one way to find out, I suppose.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Re writing

I know what they say. You should never rewrite anything until you're done with it. I know they have a point. I just wish I knew who they were... But anyway.

I think it's absolutly true that you should not rewrite until you're at the end of the novel. Sure, it makes sense. Except... except that I am rewriting now. Not after I'm done, but right now. I'm changing the story. Yes, I am.

I know. I'm not supposed to do that. But here's my thing: How do I go on and finish until I know were to go? I mean, I'm changing things now, so I really do have to wait to go on until I see how it comes out, right? It's not the speediest way to write, I know, but right now, 40ish pages from the end, one of the characters is trying to show me something. I have to listen, right?

Of course I do. That's why I get on this bus to begin with. I want to listen to what the characters have to say. Isn't that the point? I mean, I'm pretty sure that's what I read for too. Character. I'm not so invested in the plot, or the setting of a thing. It's the people that live there.

So, in Fall, one of the characters has just walked up to tell me that Lucifer has split personality issues. I have to listen to that, right? It's really what I live for in writing. I want to get to the end, sure, but I really really want to let the characters get to the end.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Luckily, the waiting is over. The first chapter of Ziggy is sold as a short story. I made the changes I offered, and that was it. More details when I get them....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

good news and bad news

Well, it's been pretty okay for the week. It's Tuesday and I sold chapter one of Ziggy to an anthology. True, it's only for 25 bucks and a free book. But that's okay. I assume somebody will read it.

Now the bad. The editor emailed me within about a half hour of my accepting and asked me if this was about the "real" Ziggy Stardust. If so, they can't print it because they would be sued. I'm not sure that's true, but I didn't argue. I simply explained, that, no, it's not about Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars from the album. Here are the differences. You know, my Ziggy's from 83, not 73, he's from Ann Arbor, not London.... He's not spreading the false message of peace from space aliens and the audience doesn't kill him. And certainly not all in the first chapter of the book. Then I changed the name of the band from "The Spiders" to Black Light. Lame, I know. Sorry. Then I took out Ziggy's last name, and changed Gillli's to Ronnie. Yep. Blick. But I'm desperate not to be unpublished. What should I do about the book? Is this the way it's going to go now? I'm really happy that somebody wanted the story. In less than 24 hours, no less. Very nice. But now I don't want it to fall apart because of missconceptions..... The truth is I wrote the book because I missed the '80's. Still do. I wrote the book because I spent so much time lying on my bed staring at the liner notes on albums sleeves, memorizing, and letting the lyrics make up stories in my head. I wrote the book because of Asia, and because I know there are other people out there like him, and I want them to read it. It's the kind of book I really wanted when I was a kid. That's all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Short Story Tally

Over the last few years I've managed to sell most of the short stories I've finished. There weren't many to begin with, but I like to figure out on paper what I've sold, what I have left, and what needs to be finished every so often, so here it goes.

This Dark is Mine
First Moon
Ithuriel's Kiss
End of An Era
To Rest

See? That's not many. And that would be between the years of 2002 and now. Actually To Rest hasn't seen print yet. It's in that "Forthcoming" limbo. It's funny that "First Moon," is the only one of them that sold the first time I sent it out, and it's erotica. I realized only later that maybe I should have changed my name. Oops. Figures.
Now, here's what I have left that's finished and not published yet:

The Life of Memory
Red Red Scream
Getting Fixed
Wings of Brothers

Not bad really, I guess. Red Red and Getting Fixed are both vampire stories about the same characters. They will someday live in the book I write about them. If I get to that point. The Life of Memory is sort of a Sleeping Beauty story, and so a hard sell, besides the ending is a little wonky still.
The last catagory is of course short stories I haven't finished yet. It's not as long as it used to be:

The Never

And that's it, for short fiction. I know that at my age, or almost my age, James Patrick Kelly had over 50 short stories published, and the Charles DeLint had over 50 books published. I suppose that's why they don't have day jobs, right? But I don't write quickly. I'm faster than I used to be, but still. I'm much better with technology than I used to be too. I never thought I'd actually write stuff on the computer. Twenty years ago I wrote in a spiral bound notebook, and then re-typed stuff on eraseable typing paper with an electric typewriter. Then I'd revise and type again. I don't suppose much has really changed except for the erasable typing paper (which, twenty years later feels like parchment and smells a little like cat pee). The computer makes it faster. Now I find myself writing trasitions, connecting scenes on the keyboard because I want to get through them quickly. That still feels like cheating. This still feels like cheating.
But I'll do it. I'll cheat as much as I can to get the story down.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where am I?

One of the things they don't tell you about writing a book is how easy it is to become lost in it. At about, oh maybe 150 pages, it starts to happen to me. I begin to forget where I left that character, where that bit of diologue is. I start to wish that I was the kind of writer that made outlines, timelines, something. I begin to think maybe I need a spread sheet.
It's scary to look at the page and wonder who wrote that and how it go there.
That is where I'm starting to be in Fall now. I just found a whole notebook of stuff that I'd forgotten belonged in the story. I should be a little freaked out, because it does seem like losing control. But I'm not. This happened with the last book, and now I can recognize it as the process I have to go through. I can't control the story I'm telling--that notebook full of scenes is proof of that. I don't know where I'm going, or where I'll end up, but that's okay. For me, it's the only way to write. Now that I've lived with the characters a while, I know them. Now I just have to figure out where to go with them.
Until then, I'm lost, but I have to remember that it's a good thing.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

e books

I work at a big box bookstore, which has just put its own e-reader on the market, and I have a book that's looking for a home. It's boring, I think to explain how much I love books personally. How much I love the smell, the feel of paper. That's all been said before, and yet, ereaders are huge business.
Clearly the industry is changing. It has been changing for 15 years, but I think that change is speeding up. I think that instead of saying, one day everyone will carry 300 books around in their purse it's going to be in 6 months.
So where does that leave my book--I won't even address where that leaves my job. It leaves the book in my hard drive. I've collected a healthy stack of rejections that say "this is great, we really enjoyed it. Best of luck elsewhere." The first few of those are nice, but after a while, you know how it is. But I do not want to give it to an e publisher. I mean, it's clearly the logical thing to do, but I don't know if I can. Reality is that print publishers, for the most part don't have the money for new writers, and I know that. Maybe it's vanity. I want the thing to be solid, I want people to hold it in their hands. I'm not sure I can reconcile myself to submitting it to something so insubstanial. I say that, but I know that in reality I will end up doing just that.
Someone pointed out to me that now is the time to do it. Before it becomes as common as itunes. But I'm still on the fence. Really, I'm not trying to be difficult, I just don't know if I'm ready for this new century.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I can't believe I've just spent most of this afternoon writing. And on something that is entirely not my novel.
It's not that the novel is finished, or all the trouble spots are fixed, or I'm even through with the rough draft, or I know how it will come out. No. None of that. It's that my brain is rebelling, and won't give me anything for Frank and Mica to do.
No, now I have about twenty pages of a steam punk thing that's been in the back of my head for a while. Twenty pages, and it's not a novel. I say that, but I can see where it's already too long to be a short story. Fantastic.
Truthfully, I've enjoyed ever minute of it so far. I love tinkering with new things, and by definition, a novel at two hundred plus pages isn't new. So, what am I? Twelve or something?
No, it's just that I know that good ideas are limited, and I'm afraid if I don't write down what I'm thinking about right now that I'll forget and lose it compleatly. Sound nuts? I'm not denying that, although, in my defense, I am old.
So tomorrow, I promise, more demony stuff. More words. More pages.... Tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Writing a novel

So, this isn't the first time I've been here. Well, not here, exactly, but here, at this space in a novel. I'm about two hundred and twenty pages into the the thing, and I'm beginning to get scared. Will anybody want to read the thing? How long will it just lurk on my hard drive before I fool somebody into buying it?

Does it suck?

I think I'm probably not alone in wondering all these things. Novel writing is scary. I love to work on short stories. I love the limits they give. I love the feeling of being able to control all the sentences, sort of watch all the corners of the room at once, you know? Novels are nothing like that. they're like losing control of the horses and riding straight for the cliff. I swore I'd never do it again after the first one.

But my mind was still set on wide story when I started this one. Too much story for twenty pages. The characters seem to have too much life for that.

I thought I had some idea of how to do it, having made every mistake imaginable on the first one. But this is different. Maybe they're all different. I don't know. So maybe this blog is a way to keep me focused. What did I work on today? How many words, how many chapters. There's a lot of math in novels, I've discovered. I've tried this blog thing before. We'll see how far I get this time..