Saturday, December 30, 2006

Work, work, work

I'm getting a lot done this week.

Dan Boyle asked me to do a blurb for his new novel. Flattered doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. I finished reading it last night. Now all I have to do is write a line or two that will make someone want to pick it up. For the record, I enjoyed it. I only meant to read a few chapters to get a feel for it, but ended up devouring the entire thing in two days. Before I write my blurb though, I think I need to sit back and let the themes percolate in my brain for a while.

I've also been slaving away over the rewrite of my novel. Slaving isn't quite the right word. I'm not to that point where I hate the characters or the story, so it isn't a chore to spend time tinkering with it. I do have concerns, though. One is the length. According to the Mad Hatter, the way to tell a story is to begin at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop. Sound advice there, even if it comes from a madman. The problem is that I doubt it'll reach 45,000 words. When I wrote Chaos Magic, the first draft was 116,000 words. I cut it back to 88,000. That seems to be the average length of a novel nowadays. My YA novel feels complete, and yet, I look at that word count and cringe. But what can I add? Just filler. I don't believe in that. I'm hoping for a very understanding publisher....

Another thing I've learned is how hard it is to convey emotional abuse. Physical abuse is so much easier to to write because it comes in bursts of action. Emotional abuse isn't that flashy. It's more like Water Torture, little events and words spread over a long period of time - each incident nothing much, but the sum of the parts is huge. This is where I doubt my writing skills. Am I showing a small event but putting it in context of a larger problem, or is the reader going to think, "So someone said something thoughtless and hurtful. Big deal. Happens all the time. Shake it off, you whining Emo."

My last concern is an epiphanous moment. How do you convey how huge an insight is to a character without going on and on and on that this is A HUGE INSIGHT. I don't want to flog a dead horse, but I don't want to gloss over a big moment either.

Argh! But at least I'm sitting down to my computer and facing it. It's tempting to do something else, anything else, other than deal with my doubts. But since I've been naggingtwo other writers for procrastinating, I can't possibly get away with it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I'm a huge fan of the scientific historian James Burke and his television series that were on PBS; Connections, and The Day The Universe Changed. Those shows haven't been on for a while, but I still think about the ideas he presented. He is my ultimate dinner companion, someone I'd love to chat with, although I'd prefer he talk the entire time so I could just listen.

In Connections, he follows seemingly unrelated chains of technology and thought and shows how they influence other events and people, finally bringing it full circle. The Day the Universe Changed was more linear, going back in history to the show how present day reality came about. Fascinating stuff, if you're a geek girl like me.

The reason why James Burke is on my mind is that lately I feel I'm a node in a connections framework. Everywhere I turn in the writing world, I run into the same people, but I see them in a different role each time. We're fans, writers, editors, co-panelists, partners-in-crime... so many different aspects but all interwoven. (I have a working theory that a certain person is where all these connections merge. It seems that whenever I explain how any writer/editor/publisher knows another one, his name comes up.) These connections are turning out to be pretty damn useful as I'm talking to more people about putting an erotica writer's conference together. Every person I know in turn connects me to others with knowledge I need. Sometimes the trail even leads back to someone I thought I knew pretty well, and I get to discover a side of that person I never knew existed.

When I started writing, people warned me that publishing is all about who you know. Yes, well, maybe. Connections can't turn crap writing into literature, or guarantee publication, but they sure do help me meet some fascinating people, and hopefully, they'll help me make this convention a reality.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I'm discussing terms of a contract with a publisher, and even though it's been polite (strained politeness), it's wearing me out. On one hand, it's just one story, and it seems silly to be arguing such picky details over my rights. On the other hand, if more writers refused to sign away all their rights for such small sums, we'd all be better off. So I feel as if I'm being stubborn not just for me, but for the sake of other writers who might not know better. Of course, they probably signed away all those rights without understanding what they'd sold so cheaply.


This is not an example of "happily published." I guess I have to decide if my principles are more important than the money (they are - no real decision there) but also if I want to risk my relationship with that publisher.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Writer's Salon

I held my semi-annual writer's salon today. As usual, I cooked enough for two armies and but only invited a battalion. The mimosas were flowing.

One of the advantages of getting writers together is that we talk about publishers and editors. It gives me a better sense of why people choose the publishers they did, and more importantly, if they are happily published. When I started writing my YA novel, I had a publisher in mind, and everything I heard convinced me they are the right ones to offer it to.

I got to talk some with a writer from my new e-publisher. I know that there are more writers in the LA area that work with that publisher, and hope that they can make the next gathering.

It's too bad I only have enough energy to do this several times a year, but at least I run into these people at readings too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some Nice Mentions

InsideOut BookCLub mentions my story Green Mountain Boys their review of Inside him.

I got my contributor's copies of Best Women's' Erotica 2007 in the mail, and there's a quote from my story Chill on the back cover, as well as some really kind words about in Violet Blue's introduction. Yay!

And it looks like She's On Top will be out in February. My story City Lights is in that one. Editor Rachel Kramer Bussel is already arraigning readings. (Only one so far, in Portland. Alas - can't make it.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

When I look at my budget, figure out what I can give, and start writing checks. Some of my favorite organizations:


Celebrates and encourages every facet of femininity without a conformist agenda. Fundamentalist Christian rhetoric against this group made me look closer, and I liked what I saw.

NO AIDS Task Force

Provides assistance for HIV + patients in New Orleans, as well as community education, etc. The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is tied to this group, another plus. Or give to your local GBLT cause - although I would like to point out that AIDS is not confined to the GBLT community. It's just that while the Christians were dancing in glee over the deaths sweeping the GBLT community, the GBLT community was building infrastructure to deal with patients, funding research, and supporting education. So it's the GBLT community that AIDS patients turn to for help and expertise now, regardless of sexual orientation.

Heifer International

Tired of exchanging meaningless clutter at the holidays? Why not buy a goat for a village? Flock of chickens more your style? How about a llama? Gotta love a llama.
Feel good, and avoid the malls.

Children of the Night

When the adults who are supposed to love and protect a child fail miserably at their responsibilities, you end up with a street kid. Help get those kids into a safe, nurturing environment.

Lambda Literary Foundation

If supporting the arts is more your style, think about donating something to Lambda.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Geek Girl Glee

The vacuum cleaner wasn't working yesterday, so on the pretext that it was necessary to fix it before cleaning the rest of the hovel, I dismantled it.

I love machines. They're so logical. Everything begins as linear motion. Then cogs and belts transform that into circular motion. Nothing could be clearer. All I had to do was understand how the parts worked together and figure out where things went awry. So I got down on the floor with some tools and set to work tracing the problem. Tinker, test, tinker, test. Pure geek girl nirvana.

If only writing stories were so straightforward. Or maybe it is.

Character A does something. (linear action)

Character B complains that Character A is "Always doing that," and "Since we're fighting anyway, I'm going to ambush you with this ancient bit of our history I dredged up too."
(circular, because with this person, no matter is ever settled.)

Character A wonders why Character B is suddenly picking a fight over the way Character A has always done things, while Character B vows never to forgive Character A for being such an insensitive ass. (aha! the conflict!)

I'll have to try out this approach to a story. Characters like gears, meshed together, so that when one moves, another must respond, but they can each only react in the set pattern of their character. It could be a fun exercise. Unfortunately, with the vacuum fixed, I have no more excuses to put off cleaning the hovel. So off to work... right after I figure out why the toaster doesn't brown evenly anymore.