September 2005


Apparently, what one does when one doesn’t know what happens next in a story is upgrade Movable Type to version 3.2. (Mmm, yummy new antispam features!)
And, of course, resist the urge to say, “But I don’t want that to happen, that’s awful!” Sigh. Someday I’ll really internalize the enablers that say, “Can you make your story a little more horrific?” It’s hard, though. Especially when your father was a psych major. ;)

Maybe I should tweak the website. Or install more Movable Type plugins. Or make a page on this site to show people how cute my cats are. Or install more Movable Type plugins! Or all of the above!
*heavy sigh* Or not.

He finished the first draft of his novel. Go, say congratulations! :)

I’m not much of a horror reader, so I’m not sure what led me to go to the Southern Gothic panel at Dragoncon. I suspect it was the panel description:

What is it about the American South that haunts the literary psyche? Some of horror’s Southern voices will talk about what it is like to live in the South, and how the region’s atmosphere informs their imaginations.

I found Cherie Priest funny and insightful, and left determined to get her book as soon as it was out, mainly because it seemed like she was talking about the south I live in.
This was apparently one of my better ideas. :D Four and Twenty Blackbirds has ghosts, voodoo, history, a feisty heroine, and the dichotomy Priest mentioned at Dragoncon, which can be summed up in a line where heroine Eden Moore talks about the snobby northern transfer student: “They hated her for the reason we all did: she thought she was better than us, and we were afraid she was right.”
If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can always listen to Charles de Lint instead (you have to scroll down), and there are more reviews collected here. I devoured it in one night, and may have to read it again after the SO finishes it. I found it in my local Border’s; Amazon was saying it would be available October 1, but they appear to be shipping now.

I started a second story for Scalzi’s cliché challenge. I’m a lot more enthusiastic about this one, since I get to write aliens, woohoo! Of course, the fact that I have characters and a milieu and a general situation does not mean that I have a plot. Oy. But it’s fun. That’s what matters, right?
I actually found myself wondering if it was enough of a cliché. Then I thought about that for a minute and completely cracked up. Rest assured, it is an idea well-mined in media SF (and inspired by a science article I read last year, which is why I didn’t make the connection).

I’ve decided that you give up on a story when it’s about Jebi Knight Mary Sue, leading the oppressed rebel army of big business against the forces of evil market restrictions, led by the terrifying Darth Nader.
Short of that, you give up on a story when you run out of markets.
I think we all eye our own work with a hypercritical eye. And this story is at its 15th market. Of all the personalized rejections it’s received, some I agree with and some I don’t, but I’m not sure what to do about that. I suppose I could rewrite every time I get a personal rejection, but then I’d never have time to write something new.
Ah well. I’ve already sent it out again, because stories should not be allowed to sit around with their feet up, eating peanuts, drinking beer, and watching the game. They must be forced to work for a living.

I have a question, for those of you wiser than I.
When do you give up on a story? Never? When you run out of markets? When you decide it sucks?
I’m considering pulling a story from circulation. I just… feel it’s flawed. I wrote it over a year ago and I’m a better writer now. I could rewrite it, but I feel very strongly that I should be writing this year’s story and not last year’s.
What would you do?

I’m trying to exercise more, mainly so I feel like less of a slug. Lots of people (Orson Scott Card, etc.) recommend exercise for authors on the grounds that it’s hard to force lively prose out of a sluggish, tired body, and it’s true. I may have to buy a copy of The Athlete’s Diary on the grounds that obsessive record-keeping inspires me to greater effort. (You should see the Motivational Spreadsheet of Doom I wrote for the SO and my friend Milly.) Right now it’s a pathetic ten minutes on the exercise bike a day; I hope to gradually bump that up to forty-five minutes, followed by weights.
Um, yeah. I mentioned running here ages ago. That didn’t work out; my knee started calling me names. Alas.
I have several ideas from Dragoncon–I mostly went to writer’s panels this year. One of them is an odd kind of cyberpunk, and I have no idea if it’s going to be a short story or a novel. (Meep! although that would give me an opportunity to use the Motivational Spreadsheet of Doom.) It could get long. Which I suppose is good, either way. I have notes, and will let it percolate. I also contemplated the other novel idea I had lying around my hard drive and made more notes.
I still want to write something for Scalzi’s cliché challenge. I started a draft of something, but… eh. I’ll go reread in a day or so and see what I think–right now I think I would reread and say “Eh.”
I like the Sidekick, but I had to rewrite the php browser detection routine to get this site to work with it. Interestingly, the browser string says it is ProxiWeb/AvantGo. I used to use ProxiWeb on Palm, back before AvantGo bought them. And I haven’t seen whether they support J2ME yet; I keep seeing things that suggest that they will next month. I want Azure!

Thanks to the comments of Jen, Margo, and Lisa, the nightmare story is now in circulation under the name “Book of Shadows.” W00t!
I went to go record the information on my Treo–yes, yes, I track these things in mysql and php–and lo, my poor Treo gave its life in the recording of my data and died. It was a 180 that I got off ebay 18 months ago, and was old then. Well. It just so happened that my SO had given me a chunk of back rent recently, so I…
…spent part of it on a Sidekick. Oh, baby! It doesn’t have internet yet–they said to give it 24-48 hours–but I’m still in nerd heaven! *cue soft violins*
Go ahead. Call me a geek. I can take it. In fact, to record what a dweeb I am, I created a shiny new category to record my amazing feats of dorkosity.
Alas, noble Treo! Your tragic sacrifice was not in vain!

Based on the latest crit for the nightmare story, the way my system of magic works was completely unclear. Every single question my reader had was about how the magic worked. And here I was worried that I was being all sledgehammery! Apparently, I needn’t have worried. Snort.
In other news, no love from the Austin Film Festival. Feh.