Sunday, March 30, 2008

How to Make Your Cats Hate You

So Crowley Kitty, our beautiful little piebald stray, is happy and warm (and drying off) in the garage, and this week will be going to the vet. He needs a checkup and shots and a good neutering, as well as a bath and maybe a shave, but once that's all done, we'll bring him home and keep him.

Note to self: must get second litter box.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Word of advice: when your arthritis is acting up enough to make you run for the good painkillers, you should probably not start knitting a sweater.

Still Alive

I'm waiting for revision notes from my agent. Once I've got them, I'll be able to sink my teeth into something. I hate this "between projects" sensation. I have to work on something at all times, else I get a little, er, twitchy. Normally, I would start something else, or go back to a just-started project. Right now, though, I don't actually know when I'll get any sort of response, so I'm reluctant to immerse myself in anything else, even a short story (though I've got a near-future SF comedy I might give another shot). THotE is so immense and overwhelming that it will chew me up and spit me out if I don't give it my full attention, and the revisions are going to be massive.

That said, it's been kinda nice to polish up the Infamous Novelette, which took two years to write. I'm normally much faster than that, but the story got very, er, complicated. Also, I got to curl up with Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things for a while last night, and I'm always up to spending some time reading Teh Neil.

I should probably get up and work on things soon. I've got a couple of errands to run today, and it'll be nice not to be in the post office during a busy period. Also, Baby is curled up in the corner with her pretty tabby head on top of her one butterscotch rear paw. AWWWWWW! That's Mommy's beautiful fluffy girl! =) I'll get pictures of the cats one of these days. There may be two, there may be three. It all depends on how the Crowley Kitty adoption works out.

Okay, off to take a shower, in three, two, one....

*curls up with a book, 'cause it's a dark and stormy day*

Monday, March 24, 2008


Finished my synopsis, and now I need to give Yon Agent a chance to read it and come up with some suggestions. This is harder than you'd think, especially since I'm not supposed to get into any major new projects. (We're havin' words about that at some point, Colleen. :P) Since finishing the synopsis, I've revised a 70-something page novelette, submitted it for feedback in my Secret Hidey-Hole, aaaand realised that a story I wanted to submit to Glimmer Train is already on submission at Intergalactic Medicine Show. It's got some language issues that really can't be changed (historical context), so I doubt Edmund will take it. Was worth a shot, though.

At this rate, I'm going to have to clean house. Or call around to find someone to mow my lawn this summer. Or clean house. Would help if Staples would get here with my shiny new bookcases. I've been up for hours, and no sign of them yet. I hope. There's a chance I dozed off and slept through it. Dreamt I heard some knocking. I'd better check that.

Wanted: bookcases, and a new project that won't get me in trouble. Please send suggestions and office furnishings to....

Sunday, March 23, 2008


My synopsis was supposed to be, oh, twelve pages? Less, if possible?

I got the series summed up in twenty-three.


Anyone got a scalpel I can borrow? Or a machete? Flamethrower's good.

*gets back to work*

Friday, March 21, 2008


Dear books,

I know I asked you to start sucking again, but you didn't have to take me so thoroughly at my word. Sigh.

Times like this, I look forward to butchering you.

Still too much love,



In other news, on Monday, I shall have two new bookcases in my office. Time to de-clutter the whole house, I think. Lemme catch up on tidying, and I'll get my friend K to come over and do her Magical Ebay Thing to everything I own.

Speaking of which, another chapter or so, and I need to get to cleaning for the day. Yay. Still, not as bad as it could be. I kinda like this hausfrau thing, at least as long as 4/5ths of the day goes to writing, editing, and the tearing of hair and garments.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


My office is CLEAN! WHEE!

Next step: two of THESE.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Dear books,

Yes, you sucked in the beginning, but you got better very quickly. Could you please start sucking again so I can find something not absolutely critical to the damn plot?

Too much love,


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Arthur Clarke isn't supposed to die. =(

Monday, March 17, 2008


Been working on the series synopsis all day. Oh, sweet Elvis. Apparently, my greatest weakness is writing huge, overblown scenes that go on and on and on and on and on only so I can make one tiny point. GAH!

*gets out the red pen*

ETA: I swear, I do a better job of writing synopses when I'm tired and lazy. I'm too tired to fill in all the details, hence I only get the high points. Maybe I should start doing this when I'm dead tired as a matter of course.

Meh. Need sleep soon. Busy day tomorrow. I wanna stay home and write!

Superstition vs. Relief

You know, I'm not superstitious. ("Ceramic atheist" is a better way to put it.) However, I'm not sure whether to take the little things that have happened since I quit my hated day job as signs that I did the right thing (universe rewarding me level), signs that I did the right thing (purely reasonable level), or just the product of a lot of hard work and the general cycle of the publishing industry. I'm strongly leaning toward #3 with a dash of #2, but #1 is whimsical enough to make me grin.

The breakdown is that, an hour after I got home from my last day, my lovely agent gave me a sound kick in the butt that will make THotE about ten times stronger that it already is. I've had a lively and pleasurable tizzy of a time working out some practical and etymological problems related to the series, and I can't remember the last time I had a chance to do that. And this morning, I got an email stating that a story I wrote and adore has made it to an EiC's desk. :)

I was doing well twenty minutes ago, and now I'm realising that, for the first time in longer than I care to remember, I'm happy. Properly happy. That's not something to be snubbed.

Back to writing!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The pronoun thing again

Quick post while my hair dye sets. Forgive any typos. I can't see a damned thing without my glasses.

TMy issue with the whole pronoun thing isn't an artistic one; it's a commercial one. These books are a commercial venture, first nd foremost. THat's hard for me to say. My formal training is in Fine Art. I spent eight years training to be a portraitist. Art is my calling, my nature, and in many ways my life. However, publishing isn't an art; it's a business.

A few years ago, my dad sat me down when I was in one of my teenage socialist ranty phases. He told me a story about his office (he'd just retired from his job as an engineer) and a training class one of the managers had given a batch of new engineers.

"What is the purpose of our business?" the manager said.

Every single engineer in the room said, "To provide electricity."

"No," said the manager. "Our purpose is to make money. We do that by providing a service."

That's stuck with me. Writing is my business now. I provide a service in order to make money. Certain things are expected of thta service, and one is readability. I fear that adding a new pronoun that wil be used frequently will make my service more desirable to a very, very small audience and will drive away a large one.

In the movie Bend It Like Beckham, there was originally a major plot line in which Jess and Jules were going to end up in a lesbian relationship. It was a fantastic idea, and I was disappointed when I learned that it had been cut. (Among other things, OMFG, Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley snogging!) However, enough subtext remained to give the suggestion that there was more going on than a simple love triangle, and the tension made it a stronger movie. At the same time, the addition of a heterosexual love interest made the movie accessible to a wider audience. It's a shame that it had to be done; there are too few lesbian relationships portrayed in a positive light in mass media. But I understand why it was done, and that change to the plot took the movie from a possible cult classic to an international smash.

It's all about business. It's also all about gradual introduction of concepts in order to acclimate an overall audience to new ideas. Besides, I'm of the general opinion that THotE is revolutionary in enough areas--especially the inclusion of a fully formed and intimidating parliamentary government in a fantasy context--that pushing for everything will damage the story on whole.

Does this make sense to anyone but me? I know it seems like an awful lot of fuss over one pronoun, but I've seldom seen it done well, and then usually in SF. Hell, even Heinlein never really got deeply into this territory, and he hit on every other possible aspect of fluid gender and sexuality, up to and including a species that matured from one sex to another. If a master like Bob shied away, I'm not sure I'm a strong enough writer yet to pull it off effectively.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Screw it.

Dear characters,

You're hermaphroditic. However, you're causing trouble with your pronouns. Ya know what? You can choose your own gender identities. You in the big floofy dress, you can be called "she." You, the pregnant one in the suit? You're "he." You with the massive drinking problem and unstoppable ambition? You can clean my kitchen in a Speedo.

We cool?




Now to see if Yon Agent is cool.

Query Theory

I've been wracking my brains for about 13 hours now (including six hours of sleep) on a pronoun. Not just any pronoun, mind. Oh, no. This is a non-English, gender-angel, third person singular pronoun. I think I've got it worked out. I just need to let it simmer. And possibly go out for sushi later today.

Anyway. To let my brain relax a little, I'm going to put my Query Theory into a form usable to anyone other than me. This theory and a lot of work--a lot of work--got me an agent and has resulted in partial requests from editors, so I know it's good.


A query fits on one typed page. That's 8.5x11 or A4, standard margins, single spaced, carriage returns between paragraphs rather than indentations, 12pt. font. No, 11pt. won't cut it. I typically use Times New Roman, though anything from Arial to Garamond to whatever is readable will work. Now, twelve lines will automatically go to things like date, agent's name and address, and salutation. In fact, your query will begin:



Dear Agent's Name,

That's one line for date, one blank, five for address information, three blank, salutation, and one more blank line following that. THIS LOOKS PROFESSIONAL. DO NOT BALK AT THE BLANK SPACE. Blank space goes back to a time when paper was expensive and respect was shown by wasting it. Your potential agent or editor deserves respect, so waste your bloody inexpensive paper.

Now, I've seen many ways of going into the bulk of things. Some people recommend a personal introduction, and this works sometimes. In fact, if the agent or editor specifically requested a query, say at a writers' convention, then you always want to start with a brief introduction. For general use, I prefer going straight to the hook. Agent Query has a good article on hooks here.

The thing to remember here, though, is that a hook is a punch to the gut. You want in and out as quickly as possible. Fifty words, tops. "Scarlett O'Hara, a ruthless Southern Belle, loses everything in the Civil War and vows to regain wealth, love, and power--at the cost of her own humanity." Gone With the Wind, 28 words. I've written it in as few as 17. If you need practise, take someone else's famous work and break it down as far as it can go.

Your next paragraph will be your mini-synopsis. This needs to be 150 words, tops, though I broke that rule: mine was 160 and broken into two paragraphs. One was the book condensed, and the next was the series description. If you're selling a series, say so. Supertitle, number of books, genre, overall theme. Boom, 30 words. Up to 35 if your titles are reeeeally long, like mine.

"When antebellum Georgia is plunged into war, Scarlett O'Hara joins her fellow Confederates to stand against the hated Yankees. A spoiled and demanding girl, the war turns Scarlett into a scheming and ruthless woman--determined to take revenge for her family's downfall, and steal Ashley Wilkes, her cousin's devoted husband, for herself. However, she--and her steely ways--catch the eye of Rhett Butler, a rogue from Charleston. To further her gains and Ashley's jealousy, Scarlett becomes Mrs. Rhett Butler, only for her own ambitions to imperil everything she has fought to gain. Gone With the Wind is an epic tale of struggle, love, and the lengths to which people will go to come out on top, and the consequences of forgetting one's fellow man."

That? Was 125 words. In my eyes, it's a pretty functional breakdown of the story. That should be your second paragraph and, for a stand-alone book, your final word on the story itself.

Your next paragraph will be your biography. "My name is Margaret Mitchell. My work has appeared in/through.... Gone With the Wind is complete at eleventy billion words. A partial is available on request."

Always, always thank the agent/editor for his/her/er time. "Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you." Skip one line, and close with, "Yours truly."

After that, type your name, give four carriage returns (three blank lines), and give your address, email address, and phone number. Two lines for address within the US (usually), one for email, phone number always goes last unless otherwise specified. Sign your name in the blank space under your name.

And that's my query theory. Discuss amongst yourselves, I'm goin' to the library.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Dear ancient Semites,

Why, oh, why did you have to create a feminine/masculine language family? I need a neuter personal pronoun. Namely, I need subjective, objective, possessive, and reflexive forms of a neuter personal pronoun that doesn't sound stupid. Latin is great, but the only way to create a reflexive is to add ipso--as in id ipso--and it's hard enough to make the nominative and genitive look normal without going to a contraction like idipso. (Lets not even get into the logistics of changing "his/its" to eius.)

So, yes. Hebrew language, thou hast failed me. And modern English, you don't work, either. As much as I like zhir, etc., it just won't work in this context, nor will a singular "they." And I am not going to use "it." An angel is not a table lamp. They're not getting the same personal pronoun.

Still more love than you deserve,



Dear ancient Romans,

Can't you people speak bloody English?

Again, more love than you deserve,


Ah, work!

Today was my last day at the day job. Let me make this clear to all and sundry: I did not quit because I have an agent. That would have been a very, very bad thing. Instead, I quit because my workload quite literally landed me in therapy. After a panic attack. That lasted two hours. And brought friends.

So I'm dropping in apps at every bookstore in town. *\o/*

But back to the point, I now have more time to work, at least until I get a job again. I had a great conversation with my lovely agent, and I now have more than enough to do in that time. No big. Well, yes big. But getting my books into saleable shape and making the overall story as strong as it can be takes precedence over my ego.

It's actually going to be a fairly painful process. I need to condense five doorstops into three 120K-ish books. That's going to take a lot of work. I know which of the three titles I want to keep--Little Less Than Divine, Glory In the Dust, and The Beasts That Perish--and I'm still pleased with the supertitle (The Heirs of the Earth), so I don't have to wibble over my babies. (BTW, Colleen, I'll have you know I spent hours reading the Tanakh to find those titles. :P I'm recycling the other two into something else!)

Yeah, the books need a hell of a lot of work. I can do this, though. I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonnit, people like me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Because, of course, there's a recession on.

So I've lost my mind and quit my day job, in approximately that order. Actually, the losing of the mind in the form of a very nasty panic attack (something I've never before experienced) triggered the quitting of the job. I figure that a company can have my time, my devotion, and my loyalty. My sanity and health, however, are for writing and writing alone.

I'm within five pages of finishing the rough draft of a novelette I started two frigging years ago. This makes me happy. So does the prospect of getting a part-time job in a bookstore. So does the prospect of moving along with THotE, which is my Great and Monstrous Series of Fantasy and Intrigue. I'm freaking out a little over the loss of income, because I'll be lucky to get half of what I'm earning now. However, like I said, it's not worth my me.

I'm leaving a good company. If things settle down here and they're amenable to the idea, there's always a chance I'll be back at some point in future. (Sweet Elvis, please don't let it come to that.)

So, yes. This is me setting forth once more upon the path of Writer. As in, properly. Besides, after a while, 100-hour weeks get really, really old.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I missed seeing the announcement go up because I'm taking a day off work and I slept right through it, but....

I am ecstatic, over the moon, excited, and all-around-pleased to say that Colleen Lindsay, aka La Gringa, has taken me on as a client. W00T! Her post on the subject is here if you'd like to see it.

This definitely outshines new glasses. :)

Thanks, Colleen! You're an awesome lady with awesome cats and great taste. Here's to a fantastic partnership!