mmerriam: (Default)
Still not dead, which is quite pleasing to me and, I assume, everyone else around me.

I opened read Rija's Tale for the first time since I completed the first draft. It hangs together fairly well for a first draft, doing what it is intended to do, which is be a fast-paced bit of high fantasy adventure storytelling. It's a little thin in the plot early on, with Rija simply moving from one calamity to the next while trying to find her place in the world. The second half of the book has strong legs though, as Rija stops reacting and starts acting, taking control of her situation and life. There are things to fix, but the bones are solid.

I'll be heading up north for the weekend, spending time with some friends and recovering from the frantic pace I've been on since 4th Street Fantasy Convention. I've fallen behind on a variety of projects, so starting next week there will be some frantic catching up, but for now I need this weekend to rest, play, and recharge.

Play nice with each other while I'm gone.

From Here

May. 31st, 2009 09:29 am
mmerriam: (Default)
As I told [profile] mylefteye in comments, I've been hammering at Rija's Tale off and on for nearly 2-1/2 years, and the short story that was the basis for the novel was written 5 years ago. I've been with Rija ( and Jeyla and Raif) a long time, and while I had the darnedest time writing this novel, I'm going to miss discovering Rija's story as she unveils it to me. That said, while this is a complete, stand-alone novel, I left myself some room to revisit these characters in the future, should the desire or need arise.

What’s next? I think I'll take a couple of days off to read and relax, and then head into other projects. While Rija's Tale sits and simmers, I need to go back and hit the rewrites of Dark Water Blues, finish the submission packets for Old Blood's Fate and The Horror at Cold Springs, and make some decisions about Last Car to Annwn Station.

I also have several pieces of short fiction waiting in the wings, which I think will be a nice change of pace from novel writing. I only have nine short stories out circulating, which is a low number for me, but I've (happily) sold down my inventory of short fiction while writing the last two novels. I prefer to have at least a dozen stories out at any given time, so I need to work on few of these ideas that have been waiting on the back burner.

And then there's the next novel lurking on the horizon, Move Along Home (Spear of Destiny, ceremonial magicians, evil antiquarians, blind Gaius Longinus, roman witches, tunnels under the Twin Cities) which has been waiting in the wings for a long time. And of course, probably this autumn, rewrites of Rija's Tale.

Yeah. Not going to get bored or anything.

Wobble

May. 30th, 2009 10:13 pm
mmerriam: (Default)
3250 words today and the first draft of Rija's Tale is complete. Fall down go boom now.

Rija's Tale
mmerriam: (Default)
1. Helped throw [profile] greykev a birthday party this weekend. It was good, and I think he had a great time. Pizza and hoagies were consumed, pictures taken, and games played. My only regret was that I did not get a chance to spend enough time with everyone at the party!

2. I have a Dreamwidth account (http://mmerriam.dreamwidth.org/). I plan to use it as a mirror of my Live Journal, and signed up mostly to squat on my handle and to have it in case LJ goes kablooey for some stupid reason. Feel free to follow me over there or here, which ever works for you.

3. I finished the second-to-last chapter of Rija's Tale last week. I know where it's going, so it's just a matter of making time this week and next to finish the first draft. I'm ready to be done with this novel, though I'm still enjoying it. Especially the part where Rija threatens to cut off someone's ear and they pass out.

4. My washing machine is making a weird, unfortunate noise. I've got my fingers crossed it will continue to hold together a little longer.

5. Finally, most you know how much I like singers Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Cat Power, Mindy Smith, and Kathleen Edwards, so why didn't any of you point me at Jolie Holland?
mmerriam: (Default)
I haven't been posting as much lately because it seems like [livejournal.com profile] careswen and I are busy busy busy. There's just a lot going on in our lives right now, and I haven't able, or frankly, willing to spend any of the little bits of spare time I have posting to LJ. I have been making little quick hit posts over on my Facebook. Also, I'm going to go ahead and open a Dreamwidth account, since one of my flist was kind enough to spot me an invite code. On the other hand, I'm going to close and delete my MySpace page at the end of the month. I've mostly been keeping it to stay in contact with my family, and they are starting to open up Facebook accounts.

Rija's Tale is nearly done. I need to finish this chapter, maybe have one or two more and then wrap it up. Once I've hit the end of the first draft on Rija's Tale I'll go back and start my rewrites on Dark Water Blues. I'm still waiting to hear back from the agent who asked for the full manuscript of Last Car to Annwn station. Fingers crossed.

In "around the house" news, we had the annual cleaning of the dryer vents and inspection of the fireplace, in accordance with HOA rules. I also had them clean my air ducts and heater vents, which, given the amount of crap that came out of them, hasn't been done in this place in years. I thought the previous owners had done it when they remodeled, so I thought this years was the first time I needed to have it done. That's what I get for assuming.

Besides working on Rija's Tale, I also have my quarterly copywriting gig this month. I should have that one done by Monday. Anyone know any other catalog or mail order places that need a freelance copywriter? No? Time for me to start poking around looking for more work in that field.

I've put in my panel requests for both 4th Street Fantasy Convention and CONvergence. I still need to sort out of I'm doing anything for Diversicon.


Rija's Tale
mmerriam: (Default)
I haven't been posting as much lately because it seems like [livejournal.com profile] careswen and I are busy busy busy. There's just a lot going on in our lives right now, and I haven't able, or frankly, willing to spend any of the little bits of spare time I have posting to LJ. I have been making little quick hit posts over on my Facebook. Also, I'm going to go ahead and open a Dreamwidth account, since one of my flist was kind enough to spot me an invite code. On the other hand, I'm going to close and delete my MySpace page at the end of the month. I've mostly been keeping it to stay in contact with my family, and they are starting to open up Facebook accounts.

Rija's Tale is nearly done. I need to finish this chapter, maybe have one or two more and then wrap it up. Once I've hit the end of the first draft on Rija's Tale I'll go back and start my rewrites on Dark Water Blues. I'm still waiting to hear back from the agent who asked for the full manuscript of Last Car to Annwn station. Fingers crossed.

In "around the house" news, we had the annual cleaning of the dryer vents and inspection of the fireplace, in accordance with HOA rules. I also had them clean my air ducts and heater vents, which, given the amount of crap that came out of them, hasn't been done in this place in years. I thought the previous owners had done it when they remodeled, so I thought this years was the first time I needed to have it done. That's what I get for assuming.

Besides working on Rija's Tale, I also have my quarterly copywriting gig this month. I should have that one done by Monday. Anyone know any other catalog or mail order places that need a freelance copywriter? No? Time for me to start poking around looking for more work in that field.

I've put in my panel requests for both 4th Street Fantasy Convention and CONvergence. I still need to sort out of I'm doing anything for Diversicon.


Rija's Tale
mmerriam: (Milk Maid)
I wrote a lot yesterday. It was one of those days when you get in the flow and the words are coming fast and furious. I suspect I'll start to have more and more of these, what with being near the end of the WiP. This is typically how it happens with me: I start fast, slog through the middle, and finish at a blistering pace.

If it seems like I've been working on Rija's Tale for forever, well, I can understand. The first time I mention working on it in my LJ is 16 January 2007. Back then it was the Not A Milk Maid of Destiny novel, and I kept putting it away to work on other things. In that time period I finished two other novels and a double handful of short stories. Rija's Tale has, up until this year, been my back-up piece: something light to work on when the other stories aren't working.

Now it is my primary WiP, and I know exactly where we are going from here. The plan is to finish up in about three or four weeks, and then go back to Dark Water Blues, giving it a rewrite pass. I also have several pieces of short fiction wanting to be written. Now, I need to go work on some crits I've promised people, then I'm going to write more today.

Rija's Tale
mmerriam: (Milk Maid)
I wrote a lot yesterday. It was one of those days when you get in the flow and the words are coming fast and furious. I suspect I'll start to have more and more of these, what with being near the end of the WiP. This is typically how it happens with me: I start fast, slog through the middle, and finish at a blistering pace.

If it seems like I've been working on Rija's Tale for forever, well, I can understand. The first time I mention working on it in my LJ is 16 January 2007. Back then it was the Not A Milk Maid of Destiny novel, and I kept putting it away to work on other things. In that time period I finished two other novels and a double handful of short stories. Rija's Tale has, up until this year, been my back-up piece: something light to work on when the other stories aren't working.

Now it is my primary WiP, and I know exactly where we are going from here. The plan is to finish up in about three or four weeks, and then go back to Dark Water Blues, giving it a rewrite pass. I also have several pieces of short fiction wanting to be written. Now, I need to go work on some crits I've promised people, then I'm going to write more today.

Rija's Tale
mmerriam: (Default)
It was a good Minicon. Not great, but good. Though I have been hearing that we had the same number of attendees as last year, it seemed quieter to me, as if the convention was striving to fill up the space and not quite making it. It is a worrisome thing. Programming wise, Humor With An Edge: Mixing The Silly With the Profound went okay, I thought, especially for a 10:00 am panel. We talked about what humor and satire can do that perhaps other styles cannot, talked about some favorite humor and satirical writers and their stories, and took good questions from the audience.

My reading was reasonably well attended (I didn't get a count, but it was somewhere between 7 and 10 people), and I read a little bit from Shimmers & Shadows and then from something new, since I had mostly familiar faces. The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Meetup, however, was a complete bust. No one showed up except me and the other presenter, so we called it off. This did allow me to catch some music.

The MinnSpec Rapid-Fire Reading could also have gone better. We only had three members show up to read, instead of the usual six or seven. Oh well, what can you do.

Breaking into Publishing in the 21st Century on Sunday morning was tons of fun and we had a good mix of panelists, including the GoH, Karl Schroeder, who is a solid mid-list novelist, Scott McCoy a horror writer and editor, and Rick Brignall, who works more on the journalistic and freelance end of Spec Fic. The audience was engaged and asked good questions, and I think we covered all the stuff we wanted to from how breaking into publishing is changing rapidly, to where we thing it is going in the future.

Social Contract: What Negative Emotions is it OK to Evoke in Your Readers? with
Phyllis Eisenstein, Scott McCoy, and Pamela Dean also went well and we talked extensively about the contract, and what readers expect, and what writers and readers both bring to the work. We named works we felt broke the contract and discussed why. Solid panel with great panelists.

I spent a lot more time in the consuite, which was fun and good. I'm sad that I missed both Pamela Dean's and Pat Wrede's readings, but I had other commitments at the time. The Steampunk panel was also well done and I enjoyed it, as was the Be Careful What You Wish For panel, which might have been my favorite of the convention because it was full of smart people talking about wishes and fairy tales and other things I love and it ended with a slightly dirty joke.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I finished chapter 20 of Rija's Tale yesterday. The whole thing is too talky and will need some serious editing later, but it's good enough for the moment. Last night while lying in bed, I figured out the rest of the novel. I'll be making notes today and doing a rough sketch of an outline, then off to the finish line. I'm guessing between 20K and 30K to go.

Rija's Tale


Now I'm off the run errands, and then back to Rija: She's at the point where she is done with the running and about to make a stand. I suspect she'll do some ass-kicking in her near future.
mmerriam: (Default)
It was a good Minicon. Not great, but good. Though I have been hearing that we had the same number of attendees as last year, it seemed quieter to me, as if the convention was striving to fill up the space and not quite making it. It is a worrisome thing. Programming wise, Humor With An Edge: Mixing The Silly With the Profound went okay, I thought, especially for a 10:00 am panel. We talked about what humor and satire can do that perhaps other styles cannot, talked about some favorite humor and satirical writers and their stories, and took good questions from the audience.

My reading was reasonably well attended (I didn't get a count, but it was somewhere between 7 and 10 people), and I read a little bit from Shimmers & Shadows and then from something new, since I had mostly familiar faces. The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Meetup, however, was a complete bust. No one showed up except me and the other presenter, so we called it off. This did allow me to catch some music.

The MinnSpec Rapid-Fire Reading could also have gone better. We only had three members show up to read, instead of the usual six or seven. Oh well, what can you do.

Breaking into Publishing in the 21st Century on Sunday morning was tons of fun and we had a good mix of panelists, including the GoH, Karl Schroeder, who is a solid mid-list novelist, Scott McCoy a horror writer and editor, and Rick Brignall, who works more on the journalistic and freelance end of Spec Fic. The audience was engaged and asked good questions, and I think we covered all the stuff we wanted to from how breaking into publishing is changing rapidly, to where we thing it is going in the future.

Social Contract: What Negative Emotions is it OK to Evoke in Your Readers? with
Phyllis Eisenstein, Scott McCoy, and Pamela Dean also went well and we talked extensively about the contract, and what readers expect, and what writers and readers both bring to the work. We named works we felt broke the contract and discussed why. Solid panel with great panelists.

I spent a lot more time in the consuite, which was fun and good. I'm sad that I missed both Pamela Dean's and Pat Wrede's readings, but I had other commitments at the time. The Steampunk panel was also well done and I enjoyed it, as was the Be Careful What You Wish For panel, which might have been my favorite of the convention because it was full of smart people talking about wishes and fairy tales and other things I love and it ended with a slightly dirty joke.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I finished chapter 20 of Rija's Tale yesterday. The whole thing is too talky and will need some serious editing later, but it's good enough for the moment. Last night while lying in bed, I figured out the rest of the novel. I'll be making notes today and doing a rough sketch of an outline, then off to the finish line. I'm guessing between 20K and 30K to go.

Rija's Tale


Now I'm off the run errands, and then back to Rija: She's at the point where she is done with the running and about to make a stand. I suspect she'll do some ass-kicking in her near future.
mmerriam: (Default)
Rija's Tale is still chugging along. I'm out of the middle and moving toward the end. Mostly I need to figure out who lives, who dies, and how wide a swath of destruction I end up with.

Right now I'm juggling action versus romance while trying to keep the (somewhat thin) plot moving along. That said, I have notes to go back and sprinkle more plot (and sub-plot) into the story.

This isn't the most sophisticated novel I've ever put together, but it is a solid action novel with an interesting protagonist. This novel is stronger on character than anything else, but character is my strength. The next novel is going to be plot-driven instead of character driven.

Rija's Tale

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is my absolute final schedule for Minicon. I forgot about the MinnSpec reading, so I'm overbooked. We're not staying at the hotel this year, and were not going to be at the con until later on Friday, probably around 7:00 pm or so. We'll be there all day on Saturday and most of the day on Sunday. I'll try to blog about the convention in the evenings. I'd take the laptop with me and blog at the con, but Shiba is a big old moose of a machine, really more of a desktop replacement than something easily portable.

Humor With An Edge: Mixing The Silly With the Profound
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. -- Krushenko's
Michael Merriam(m), Karl Schroeder, Rob Callahan, Greg L. Johnson

What is it about the writings of humorists (like Terry Pratchett) that allows them to work on controversial issues that other writers won't touch? Does humor give more license for subversion? What about depth? How does humor allow writers to strike deep emotional chords with their readers?
---------------
Reading:
Saturday 4:00 pm -- Veranda 1

I'll be reading something in support of Shimmers & Shadows, and maybe something new.
---------------
Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Meetup
Saturday 5:30 -- Krushenko's
Michael Merriam (host)

Welcome to Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers (aka MinnSpec)! Come learn about this valuable resource for local aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers.
----------------
MinnSpec Rapid-Fire Reading
Saturday 7:00 pm – Veranda 1

Members of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers give short (5 - 10 minutes) readings of their works.
-----------------
Breaking into publishing in the 21st Century
Sunday 10:00 am -- Veranda 3/4
Michael Merriam(m), Karl Schroeder, Scott McCoy, Rob Callahan, Rick Brignall

An update of the perennially popular "Publishing 101" topic. What do you as a new writer need to know to get your big break? How is the process changing with the advent of printing on demand, audio books, and the paperback publishing industry in a state of freefall? Last year's advice on how to break into the business may already be obsolete.
---------------------
Social Contract: What Negative Emotions is it OK to Evoke in Your Readers?
Sunday 11:30 -- Veranda 3/4
Phyllis Eisenstein(m), Michael Merriam, Rob Callahan, Scott McCoy, Pamela Dean

How much of a social contract do writers have with their readers? What about making past memories come back painfully?
~~~~~~~~~~

Neil Clarke has a movement to save the Semiprozine Hugo.

I'm in support if this, not just because all my sales have been to semiprozines, but because I think semipro fiction magazines are actually publishing some of the best stuff around. Sure, they can also publish total crap, but so can the big boys, and I think the smaller magazine provide a better platform for experiential work, work that is a little out on the fringe, work that pushes the envelope, and works by writers who are cutting their teeth and learning their chops.

If the fact the Locus has dominated this category over the years is the problem, maybe it should be divided into fiction and non-fiction sub-categories. I think that should be the case for all the magazine-based Hugos.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been trying to read more short fiction, getting some reading done in the nooks and crannies of my day. I've got two pieces I want to recommend.

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover moves at a slow, lanquid pace, building tension and suspense. The story is throw-back to short fiction of the American West, and reads a bit like Elmore Leonard back when he was writing this sort of thing, with a light, mysterious fantastical element. Having grown up on the westerns of Leonard, L'Amour, Brand, and Grey, and the fantasy stories of Moore, Leiber, and Vance, this is my kind of story, and Hoover gets the details right.

Gone Daddy Gone, Josh Rountree's tale of surfers, guitars, and nature spirits, struck a chord in me because it the kind of story I would write if I had that much skill, and it ends as any good fairy tale should. Recommended.
mmerriam: (Default)
Rija's Tale is still chugging along. I'm out of the middle and moving toward the end. Mostly I need to figure out who lives, who dies, and how wide a swath of destruction I end up with.

Right now I'm juggling action versus romance while trying to keep the (somewhat thin) plot moving along. That said, I have notes to go back and sprinkle more plot (and sub-plot) into the story.

This isn't the most sophisticated novel I've ever put together, but it is a solid action novel with an interesting protagonist. This novel is stronger on character than anything else, but character is my strength. The next novel is going to be plot-driven instead of character driven.

Rija's Tale

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is my absolute final schedule for Minicon. I forgot about the MinnSpec reading, so I'm overbooked. We're not staying at the hotel this year, and were not going to be at the con until later on Friday, probably around 7:00 pm or so. We'll be there all day on Saturday and most of the day on Sunday. I'll try to blog about the convention in the evenings. I'd take the laptop with me and blog at the con, but Shiba is a big old moose of a machine, really more of a desktop replacement than something easily portable.

Humor With An Edge: Mixing The Silly With the Profound
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. -- Krushenko's
Michael Merriam(m), Karl Schroeder, Rob Callahan, Greg L. Johnson

What is it about the writings of humorists (like Terry Pratchett) that allows them to work on controversial issues that other writers won't touch? Does humor give more license for subversion? What about depth? How does humor allow writers to strike deep emotional chords with their readers?
---------------
Reading:
Saturday 4:00 pm -- Veranda 1

I'll be reading something in support of Shimmers & Shadows, and maybe something new.
---------------
Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Meetup
Saturday 5:30 -- Krushenko's
Michael Merriam (host)

Welcome to Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers (aka MinnSpec)! Come learn about this valuable resource for local aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers.
----------------
MinnSpec Rapid-Fire Reading
Saturday 7:00 pm – Veranda 1

Members of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers give short (5 - 10 minutes) readings of their works.
-----------------
Breaking into publishing in the 21st Century
Sunday 10:00 am -- Veranda 3/4
Michael Merriam(m), Karl Schroeder, Scott McCoy, Rob Callahan, Rick Brignall

An update of the perennially popular "Publishing 101" topic. What do you as a new writer need to know to get your big break? How is the process changing with the advent of printing on demand, audio books, and the paperback publishing industry in a state of freefall? Last year's advice on how to break into the business may already be obsolete.
---------------------
Social Contract: What Negative Emotions is it OK to Evoke in Your Readers?
Sunday 11:30 -- Veranda 3/4
Phyllis Eisenstein(m), Michael Merriam, Rob Callahan, Scott McCoy, Pamela Dean

How much of a social contract do writers have with their readers? What about making past memories come back painfully?
~~~~~~~~~~

Neil Clarke has a movement to save the Semiprozine Hugo.

I'm in support if this, not just because all my sales have been to semiprozines, but because I think semipro fiction magazines are actually publishing some of the best stuff around. Sure, they can also publish total crap, but so can the big boys, and I think the smaller magazine provide a better platform for experiential work, work that is a little out on the fringe, work that pushes the envelope, and works by writers who are cutting their teeth and learning their chops.

If the fact the Locus has dominated this category over the years is the problem, maybe it should be divided into fiction and non-fiction sub-categories. I think that should be the case for all the magazine-based Hugos.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been trying to read more short fiction, getting some reading done in the nooks and crannies of my day. I've got two pieces I want to recommend.

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover moves at a slow, lanquid pace, building tension and suspense. The story is throw-back to short fiction of the American West, and reads a bit like Elmore Leonard back when he was writing this sort of thing, with a light, mysterious fantastical element. Having grown up on the westerns of Leonard, L'Amour, Brand, and Grey, and the fantasy stories of Moore, Leiber, and Vance, this is my kind of story, and Hoover gets the details right.

Gone Daddy Gone, Josh Rountree's tale of surfers, guitars, and nature spirits, struck a chord in me because it the kind of story I would write if I had that much skill, and it ends as any good fairy tale should. Recommended.
mmerriam: (Born)
I know, I know. I was once one of those LJers who posted at least every other day. Now I'm not, for whatever reason, though perhaps I will be again in the not so distant future. I have been posting short, quick hits over at my Facebook.

Writing continues. I'm moving along--slowly but surely--on Rija's Tale. I've hit a stretch where I am enjoying this novel again (which is to say I'm coming out of the middle and gathering stream as I start my race toward "The End"), and I think that things will go better now that I have my desk again.

Ah, yes, that. My monitor crapped out a month ago, and I'm just now replacing it. I've been working off the laptop, but frankly, I prefer to work from my actual desk. It's all about having a space to write. I know it might seem silly, but part of getting into the flow of writing is having a space that is mine and mine alone to work at. The desktop is mostly [livejournal.com profile] careswen's machine, where she does homework and plays WoW. The laptop is shared and portable and too easy to move from room-to-room (which actually translates into from distraction-to-distraction) and it's not, you know, my work computer. I know it's all in my head, but there it is. We bought a nice 20" flat screen for my working computer this weekend, a floor model that was on sale.

It's the end of the first quarter for the Writers of the Future contest, and once again I find myself a semi-finalist. There was a point in my career this would have pleased me, but now it's just another rejection. I'm not even sure I care about the critique the story gets, because both times I've gotten those critiques, I rewrote the story involved and broke it, forcing me to spend precious time repairing it again later. On the flip side, I knew the story I sent was a long shot. I've read plenty of the stories that have won and been published in the anthologies over the years. I sent them an urban fantasy noir story with a blind lesbian mage-detective protagonist. Not the type of story you see in their winners circle too often, but it was only thing I had available at the time.

The first quarter of WotF always forces me to stop and take stock of where I am as a writer, because this was where I started. My first real submission (for this attempt at writing) back in 2003 was for the first quarter of WotF. That story was a quarter-finalist, what I think they call honorable mention now. I've never done worse that that level in the contest, and I've been a semi-finalist more than once. So on the anniversary of my first rejection from WotF, I always take time to reflect on where I am as a writer. This can be dangerous. I'm just saying.

I looked back this year found myself, after six years of hard work, nowhere near where I would like to be. Don't get me wrong, I've made some pretty nifty sales to some really nice magazines, but I can't help wondering what I'm doing wrong. Is there some skill I've yet to master? Is it that I don't write what the major markets are buying (well, obviously that's true)? Is it that I've simply hit the end of my level of talent?

[livejournal.com profile] careswen and I talked about this over the weekend. I pointed out that several of the folks I came up through OWW with--my "cohort" if you will--are making the SFWA pro-sales, signing the book deals, and getting nominated for--and sometimes winning--major awards. I know it's stupid, and I don't begrudge my writer friends their success, in fact I'm cheering them on, but...

[livejournal.com profile] careswen had to remind me that I can't do anything about that stuff: That the only thing I control is the writing (something I harp on all the time at conventions). She also asked my how many of my OWW "cohorts" had fallen by the wayside, given up, stopped writing.

Too many of them, I realized, which is sad. I know people stop writing for a variety of reasons (health, family, money, loss of interest, and burnout, for example), but that means I won't be reading anymore stories written by these friends and writers, many of whom have far more talent than I (this goes beyond my OWW folks to other fine writers I know).

Her point is right, of course (Moral of the Story: Listen to the Wife). I'm still working, still writing. I talked with another friend about this over the weekend, and he told to go back and read my earlier works and compare them to what I'm doing now. I know he's right: I've come a long way in six years, becoming brutally competent at what I do by dint of hard work.

And they're both right in that you can't compare yourself to other writers, because that way is madness (something else I harp on all the time when I'm on panels at conventions). I know we are, seemingly, wired to compare ourselves to our peers, to see where we are on "The Ladder," but that's an unhealthy attitude to take, and frankly in a business as subjective as writing (or any art / entertainment career), it's down right silly.

Don't be silly.

Here Endeth the Lesson
mmerriam: (Born)
I know, I know. I was once one of those LJers who posted at least every other day. Now I'm not, for whatever reason, though perhaps I will be again in the not so distant future. I have been posting short, quick hits over at my Facebook.

Writing continues. I'm moving along--slowly but surely--on Rija's Tale. I've hit a stretch where I am enjoying this novel again (which is to say I'm coming out of the middle and gathering stream as I start my race toward "The End"), and I think that things will go better now that I have my desk again.

Ah, yes, that. My monitor crapped out a month ago, and I'm just now replacing it. I've been working off the laptop, but frankly, I prefer to work from my actual desk. It's all about having a space to write. I know it might seem silly, but part of getting into the flow of writing is having a space that is mine and mine alone to work at. The desktop is mostly [livejournal.com profile] careswen's machine, where she does homework and plays WoW. The laptop is shared and portable and too easy to move from room-to-room (which actually translates into from distraction-to-distraction) and it's not, you know, my work computer. I know it's all in my head, but there it is. We bought a nice 20" flat screen for my working computer this weekend, a floor model that was on sale.

It's the end of the first quarter for the Writers of the Future contest, and once again I find myself a semi-finalist. There was a point in my career this would have pleased me, but now it's just another rejection. I'm not even sure I care about the critique the story gets, because both times I've gotten those critiques, I rewrote the story involved and broke it, forcing me to spend precious time repairing it again later. On the flip side, I knew the story I sent was a long shot. I've read plenty of the stories that have won and been published in the anthologies over the years. I sent them an urban fantasy noir story with a blind lesbian mage-detective protagonist. Not the type of story you see in their winners circle too often, but it was only thing I had available at the time.

The first quarter of WotF always forces me to stop and take stock of where I am as a writer, because this was where I started. My first real submission (for this attempt at writing) back in 2003 was for the first quarter of WotF. That story was a quarter-finalist, what I think they call honorable mention now. I've never done worse that that level in the contest, and I've been a semi-finalist more than once. So on the anniversary of my first rejection from WotF, I always take time to reflect on where I am as a writer. This can be dangerous. I'm just saying.

I looked back this year found myself, after six years of hard work, nowhere near where I would like to be. Don't get me wrong, I've made some pretty nifty sales to some really nice magazines, but I can't help wondering what I'm doing wrong. Is there some skill I've yet to master? Is it that I don't write what the major markets are buying (well, obviously that's true)? Is it that I've simply hit the end of my level of talent?

[livejournal.com profile] careswen and I talked about this over the weekend. I pointed out that several of the folks I came up through OWW with--my "cohort" if you will--are making the SFWA pro-sales, signing the book deals, and getting nominated for--and sometimes winning--major awards. I know it's stupid, and I don't begrudge my writer friends their success, in fact I'm cheering them on, but...

[livejournal.com profile] careswen had to remind me that I can't do anything about that stuff: That the only thing I control is the writing (something I harp on all the time at conventions). She also asked my how many of my OWW "cohorts" had fallen by the wayside, given up, stopped writing.

Too many of them, I realized, which is sad. I know people stop writing for a variety of reasons (health, family, money, loss of interest, and burnout, for example), but that means I won't be reading anymore stories written by these friends and writers, many of whom have far more talent than I (this goes beyond my OWW folks to other fine writers I know).

Her point is right, of course (Moral of the Story: Listen to the Wife). I'm still working, still writing. I talked with another friend about this over the weekend, and he told to go back and read my earlier works and compare them to what I'm doing now. I know he's right: I've come a long way in six years, becoming brutally competent at what I do by dint of hard work.

And they're both right in that you can't compare yourself to other writers, because that way is madness (something else I harp on all the time when I'm on panels at conventions). I know we are, seemingly, wired to compare ourselves to our peers, to see where we are on "The Ladder," but that's an unhealthy attitude to take, and frankly in a business as subjective as writing (or any art / entertainment career), it's down right silly.

Don't be silly.

Here Endeth the Lesson
mmerriam: (Born)
I've been quiet around here lately. This is partly because I've been swamped by life and partly because I felt like I had nothing constructive to say or important to add to the various conversations swirling around the blogosphere. I saw no sense in adding to the noise and anger which seemed to have drowned out the important discussion. I try to let my actions in life speak for me, imperfect as they may be.

That said, I did read something this week that really resonated with me, right down to the core. [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna is wise indeed about stories.

I am still writing--working on Rija's Tale--which I suspect is the worst novel I have ever written. Of course, given my remarkable inability to assess the quality of my own work, this means it will probably be the first novel I sell!

Rija's Tale


I did have a request for the full manuscript of Last Car to Annwn Station from an agent. I've printed everything (with help from [livejournal.com profile] careswen) and will be mailing it off on Monday. While I am excited, I'm also trying to keep that excitement to a reasonable level, since I've already had three requests for a full without an offer of representation.

Beyond that, we are all alive and relatively healthy, which is better than the alternatives.
mmerriam: (Born)
I've been quiet around here lately. This is partly because I've been swamped by life and partly because I felt like I had nothing constructive to say or important to add to the various conversations swirling around the blogosphere. I saw no sense in adding to the noise and anger which seemed to have drowned out the important discussion. I try to let my actions in life speak for me, imperfect as they may be.

That said, I did read something this week that really resonated with me, right down to the core. [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna is wise indeed about stories.

I am still writing--working on Rija's Tale--which I suspect is the worst novel I have ever written. Of course, given my remarkable inability to assess the quality of my own work, this means it will probably be the first novel I sell!

Rija's Tale


I did have a request for the full manuscript of Last Car to Annwn Station from an agent. I've printed everything (with help from [livejournal.com profile] careswen) and will be mailing it off on Monday. While I am excited, I'm also trying to keep that excitement to a reasonable level, since I've already had three requests for a full without an offer of representation.

Beyond that, we are all alive and relatively healthy, which is better than the alternatives.
mmerriam: (Default)
…which is always a dangerous thing. I made a post a couple days ago where I said,

Though every short story I have in progress has stalled, I'm still moving along on Rija's Tale.

And it occurred to me this morning why those stories were stalled.

I'm in the wrong headspace.

I'm sure this will come as no surprise to most of my writer friends, who have probably had just this very realization (though not necessarily in the shower) at some point in their writing life. But it struck me, and I had to follow up on it to be sure. I started looking over my records of when I wrote various stories and novels. What I found confirmed my thoughts.

Okay, so, I'm pretty much all over the place with what I write. Urban fantasy, space opera, magical realism, science fantasy, supernatural horror, a little sword & sorcery tossed in for good measure. Sometime I write the pulpiest of pulp-style adventure fiction; sometime I write what some would classify as literary fiction with spec fic elements. I'm still flailing around trying to figure out themes and style and tone and what it is I do (or maybe this is what I do?) as a writer.

So it should come as no surprise the short stories are all stalled. I'm writing a secondary world fantasy novel, am in fact pretty deeply into it at this point, and it's taking up a lot of my headspace. Of the short stories, two are threatening to be magical realism, and the other two have supernatural horror (one with a strong romance element) written all over them. I'm not in the right place mentally to write these stories. I noted that while I was working on the previous novels--all of which are urban or contemporary fantasy--the short stories I completed during that period were also urban fantasy in tone. I wrote a lot of space opera and pulp horror for a period. Stories that were nearly lit fic and magical realism pieces where all clustered together.

As I said: I'm sure this will come as no surprise to writers who have been at this longer than I have, but it made me feel better, discovering more about how I work, and coming to an understanding that working this way is perfectly acceptable.

YMMV

Michael
mmerriam: (Default)
…which is always a dangerous thing. I made a post a couple days ago where I said,

Though every short story I have in progress has stalled, I'm still moving along on Rija's Tale.

And it occurred to me this morning why those stories were stalled.

I'm in the wrong headspace.

I'm sure this will come as no surprise to most of my writer friends, who have probably had just this very realization (though not necessarily in the shower) at some point in their writing life. But it struck me, and I had to follow up on it to be sure. I started looking over my records of when I wrote various stories and novels. What I found confirmed my thoughts.

Okay, so, I'm pretty much all over the place with what I write. Urban fantasy, space opera, magical realism, science fantasy, supernatural horror, a little sword & sorcery tossed in for good measure. Sometime I write the pulpiest of pulp-style adventure fiction; sometime I write what some would classify as literary fiction with spec fic elements. I'm still flailing around trying to figure out themes and style and tone and what it is I do (or maybe this is what I do?) as a writer.

So it should come as no surprise the short stories are all stalled. I'm writing a secondary world fantasy novel, am in fact pretty deeply into it at this point, and it's taking up a lot of my headspace. Of the short stories, two are threatening to be magical realism, and the other two have supernatural horror (one with a strong romance element) written all over them. I'm not in the right place mentally to write these stories. I noted that while I was working on the previous novels--all of which are urban or contemporary fantasy--the short stories I completed during that period were also urban fantasy in tone. I wrote a lot of space opera and pulp horror for a period. Stories that were nearly lit fic and magical realism pieces where all clustered together.

As I said: I'm sure this will come as no surprise to writers who have been at this longer than I have, but it made me feel better, discovering more about how I work, and coming to an understanding that working this way is perfectly acceptable.

YMMV

Michael
mmerriam: (Default)
...though it is a bit chilly here in Minnesota today.

I know I've been quiet here on Live Journal lately. I think part of it is that I really haven't had much to write about (at least, nothing that someone else has not already written about and done it better), and I think the other part is: I'm starting to mentally move into my February LJ/Facebook/MySpace/Internet sabbatical.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I'm excited about, starting with, say President Obama. I love saying that! I love hearing it said! Sure, he's just a man, not a messiah. Sure, he’ll do thing I'll disagree with, but after eight long years of that other guy, I can't help but be hopeful.

And this weekend is Super Bowl weekend, a religious holiday in my family. I'll be preparing the traditional Super Bowl dinner of meatball subs and the cheese dip from [livejournal.com profile] careswen's mom's recipe. And while I don't have a particular team to cheer for or against, and I suspect the Steelers are simply too good for the Cardinals to handle, I'm looking forward to the game.

I'm looking forward to Con of the North as well, and am hopeful that no one gets sick this year. I've a bunch of games slotted out, probably more than I will actually play, but maybe not.

Though every short story I have in progress has stalled, I'm still moving along on Rija's Tale. I'm in an odd place in that I'm trying to link up a pieces that were written non-sequentially (something I don't usually do), and so I've had a bit of a struggle with the last couple of chapters. I have one more chapter to write, then I will be back to working sequentially again.

Rija's Tale


While I'm taking time off from the internet (I will be checking email, since most of my work is done that way), I'll be trying to finish Rija's Tale and continue marketing Last Car to Annwn Station while getting both Dark Water Blues and Old Blood's Fate submission ready. I also want to write some more short stories. I need to prepare for the teleconference with the blind writers and poets group. I need to start getting ready for convention season. And I'm going to spend time considering what I want to do with this journal in the future, and what I plan to do about (and what I want to get from) attending conventions in the future.

February seems packed already.

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