Thursday, November 27, 2008

NaNoWriMo



All I have to say is, at 50,390 words, at least I broke the barrier. Now, all i have to do is actually finish the story. Shouldn't be that hard, right? ...Famous last words...



In any case: An Excerpt, all of which is subject to change. (For instance, neither of the men who are mentioned to be dead actually aren't, and Paitris knows this, but the book was written out of order, and at the time, I thought they were dead. I'm just the author. what do I know?)

Back inside the safe dimness of the cabin once again, Paitris eyed the bed, but couldn't bring himself to lie back down. He'd already spent so much time on his back. He sat at the table instead, picked a few crumbs from the bread, but the thought of eating more made him queasy.

After a few more minutes of enduring the uncanny stillness, he got up and moved to the door where he could at least hear the sound of the water and the wind in the trees. Closing his eyes, he let the sounds of nature and the smell of the pine forest lap over him. It wasn't home. There was no whistle of wind over snow, no long, low groan of pack ice shifting or smell of sea salt, but it was better than the more recent memories of the ship and the men's concrete buildings. He could get used to it, given time.

Lost in the sensation, his hands wandered, trailing over his shin and up his knee, trembling slightly over the scales there. The sensation made him shiver and he almost didn't hear the approach of footsteps on the path from the beach.

"Yer up, then."

Paitris jumped, staggered to his feet, and gripped the door frame as blood rushed to his head and threatened to topple him. Tarn's big hand gripped his arm and steered him back inside to the table.

"You ain't et." The big man's voice rumbled and his face, when Paitris looked up, was clouded. Curly hair dripped in long wet ringlets down his bare chest and his loose pants clung damply to lean leg muscles.

Paitris swallowed and pushed back in his seat. "I wasn't hungry." Tucking his hands into his lap in an attempt to hide the scales and their tell-tale iridescent shimmer he looked at the floor.

Tarn grunted and picked up the bowl of berries. Gently, he set it in front of Paitris. "Don't matter. Get somethin' into you, or you'll never get strong."

"Why do you need me strong?" Paitris took a faceted black berry and put it in his mouth. It was less sweet than tangy, but the taste didn't disagree. He still didn't look at Tarn, and returned his hand to his lap.

"Paitris, you look at me."

Too frightened not to, Paitris looked up. Tarn's eyes smoldered, but Paitris couldn't tell what he was thinking behind the intensity.

"I ain't gonna hurt you. Not ever. You is free to stay, free to go."

Paitris glanced at the door, still standing wide to let in the cool autumn breeze. "Where would I go?"

"Home?" Paitris said nothing. "Do you not hear the sea?"

"Of course I hear it. I hear it every waking minute. I hear it in my dreams." It had been denied him so long. "I have no home to go back to." Maikil was dead. Jaidrin was dead. What would he tell Mairbel? He'd been a coward, run from the only thing he'd ever loved, destroyed the only friend he'd had. He couldn't go back.

Tarn cupped his cheek with his bent, ruined fingers, surprising Paitris too much to pull away. "Then stay." The naked plea in Tarn's eyes was unmistakable and frightening. How long had he been here, living alone in this far place?

"You don't want me, Tarn," Paitris said at last. "I destroy everything I touch."

He got up, having to push past Tarn's bulk to get out the door. It was too close, suddenly, inside the little hut. Pulling off his shirt and tossing it aside, he headed for the lake. He managed to struggle out of the pants, too, by the time he reached the shore, and quickly discarded the splint as well. His arm throbbed but he waded into the cold water. His scales near sizzled with the feel of the liquid caress and he gritted his teeth against the sensation. It wasn't a pleasure any more, but a reminder of everything he's lost, everything that had been taken from him. Splashing through the shallows, he waded thigh deep and dove, pushing off the gravely bottom plunging into the frigid waves.

The water closed over him, and for the briefest of instants, he flirted with the idea of containing the change, staying under until his lungs burst, but the water sang in his ears, caressed his scales, cajoled and he let go. He felt the scales climb up his thighs, across his buttocks, and trail in their languid swirls up his torso and over his chest. His gills opened, drawing in the clear, cold water, and he breathed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Writing Integrity and Acceptable Compromise

Before I get into this post, and it's a long one, I want to first make my position very clear. This is not a post about slamming publishers. They have the right to publish whatever they want to publish, just as I have the right to write whatever I write, right? Left.

SO this isn't about the publisher, this is about me, and my desisions and choices, as a writer and as a human being, because more and more, I realize what I write is inextricably bound to what I believe to be right as a person.

If you feel the need to comment, and I do sincerely value people's thoughts and opinions, and encourage comment and discussion, be aware I will not tolerate flaming or slamming of publishers in general, or of any specifically.

So on to the point of the post. Today, I saw a post requesting submissions for a print anthology that I thought I might have the perfect, nearly finished story for. As there was no indication on the post who was publishing the anthology, I thought it would be prudent to ask, before I submitted anything, just to make sure my story would be suitable. Turns out, it was a good thing I asked.

The editor of the publication was prompt and polite to my inquiry, and even sent me a copy of the publisher's guidelines. In the guidelines was the following:


What we will NOT accept:


... We do not publish "alternate lifestyle" books;
no matter how "G" rated the author may feel they are. There are plenty of
publishers for such material. We aren't one of them.

That pretty much lets me out.

Which is fine. As I said, to each his own. But it got me thinking. The editor I spoke with, who, from the email exchange I had, seems like a decent kind of guy, did a bit of homework. He must have googled me, because I didn't supply any links to my website, or blogs, but he found out and asked about things I didn't mention in my first email. That's fine. The information is readily available on any of my blogs or my website, and I wouldn't put it there if I didn't expect people to find it. It was a pleasant surprise to find out we had a few things in common, and that he was interested enough in what he found to suggest that if I wanted to remove the allusions to the relationship between my characters, they would be happy to look at the story and consider it. Cool. But.

Always, there is a but.

I have to give this serious thought. The story's integrity would not, in the least, be compromised if I changed a few pronouns. There is nothing even remotely explicit. The two characters are rarely even in the same scenes together. Their love story is alluded to in comments and glimpses of the past. So, in theory, I could easily change the story to allude to a relationship between a man and a woman, or a friendship between two men.

But why should I? Just because it wouldn't compromise the story's integrity, would it compromise mine? Is it just a matter of changing a story to fit the market, or is it something deeper? I didn't ask the reasons behind why they don't publish GLBT stories. That's their choice, and everyone has the right to make those choices. It isn't my place to try and change anyone's mind, just to make up my own and live by it.

So I wonder if I am giving in to something more pervasive if I compromise my writing to fit this particular market. I suppose the issue is closer to my heart because I am a member of a community that grows tired of double standards. It isn't just that I write GLBT stories, but I identify with the label, as much as I try not to apply labels to anyone, including myself. The fact remains, I am part of a minority, I do identify with what I write in a very personal way, and it does matter to me that I not compromise, even in this small thing, because it is so easy to say 'just this once' and slide down that slope.

I'm not trying to change the world with my writing or my opinions, but I don't want anyone else to try and change my life with their opinions, either. I can't say that's what this publisher is trying to do, and I would never accuse them of it. I'm just trying to understand why this issue has struck such a cord with me when there are any number of plot and characterization suggestions editors and beta readers have made to me over the years that I haven't hesitated in taking. Why does this one matter so much?

Authors, what issues come out in your writing that bring out the stubborn in you when someone suggests you change it? Readers, do you choose books to read because they reflect something in your life that you identify with? Tell me what you think.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Progress

Yes, folks, there has been progress. My nano project now sits at 32, 693 words. I like to call that a broken barrier. go me.

I can see the end of the story now. Well, actually, I always could. what I didn't know was all that stuff in between the beginning and the end. Now, I can see that too, and I can tell you, I did not see half this shit coming. My poor mermen. My muse can be a right bastard, sometimes, I tell ya.

But, my friends, the book is written. Well, technically, not written, written. Thought out and planned. The actual typing has yet to happen, but I see it all, and yay! I made it.

Once again, go me.

Also, go all those people who talked me down from my little freak out a few days ago. that helped. Thanks bunches, everyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When I'm NOT Writing...

I save trees.

I origionally thought I would save posts like this for my LiveJournal and reserve this blog for writing-related posts, but since lj is down today and I wanted to share, here it is.

The tale actually starts yesterday, when the kids and I walked Hubs to school. They spotted, under a guard rail in a parking lot, a tiny spruce tree, about four or five inches high and determined, between themselves, that it should be saved. They conspired to hide trowels under their jackets today, and Ben took a plastic flower pot from the shed to put the refugee in once they had dug it up. He told me the pot was to collect rocks for the walkway that is slowly winding it's way across the back yard from the door to the composter. I guess their thinking was that once we were there and they started digging, there was no way I would say no to the whole endeavor. I probably wouldn't have said no anyway, but they were just covering their bases.

So, permission granted, we set out to save a tree. A tree.

Two things to note here:
1) It's half way through November, and we live in Northern Ontario. (Can you say frozen ground?)
2) Gravel is notoriously hard to dig through even when it's not frozen.

In the end, we salvaged four trees, between one and eight inches high. I think they are Red Pines and White Spruce, but I don't know. They have poky needles and are sitting in a black plastic garden pot on my kitchen counter. The black plastic pot not only has four trees, but about twelve pounds of sand and gravel. Did I mention we don't own a car? I don't think I mentioned that part. Or that the site from which the trees needed rescuing is about a mile from out home. --insert tired Mama emoticon here--

I can't tell you how much I love my kids, the little tree huggers.

:-D

Did you do something green today?

Friday, November 14, 2008

On writing a novel

NaNoWriMo is an odd thing. I'm working on a story idea I've had for a few months now. I still love the idea, and the characters, and I still think I have a good story here, but the thought of opening up that document and working on it makes me want to walk away from the computer completely.

I have no idea if this is something I should work through and write any way, without worrying how good or bad the material is, or if I should, as I always do, put it away for a while and work on something else.

The trouble with putting it away is that I do that a lot and I have a lot of unfinished work on my hard drive. Things are never going to get finished f I keep doing this. However, is it better to write drek in the hopes that I will actually get to the end, and worry about fixing it later? Will I finish it later if I do put it away?

I have no idea. Thirty or so thousand words, (give or take) seems to be my limit. Short stories around 10 to 15 k the norm. But I do have novel length ideas, and they are good ideas. They are half finished ideas. I thought NaNo would be a good way to take at least one of them to the end. Even if it sucked, I could say I finished it, or at least broke the thirty-thousand-word barrier, and worry about the rest later.

Thoughts? Advice?

For now, I have to keep going, if only because it's the opposite of what I've done in the past, and what I've been doing obviously isn't working for me. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Poor Boy

book cover

I have a contract, I have a cover, and soon, there will be a new release from Freya's Bower. All that's left is the editing. Just that. Heh. As soon as I have a release date, you can bet I'll be shouting it from the rooftops.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Day

Because I needed to expand my presence on the web, and so many people have blogs I want to follow, I decided it was time. For now, the layout remains simple, and the posts may be few and far between, but I will be boasting about my work here, and keeping fellow bloggers up to date on what I'm up to writing wise. I won't abandon my Live Journal, though. you can still find me there, and the Link is to the right. You can also find lots of free reading material on my website, and few things at the Live Journal that aren't at the website, so feel free to poke around. At some point when I feel the strong need to procrastinate, I'll make a list of links. (Please don't hold your breath unless you look really good in blue, and even then...)