textualdeviance: (Thunderstone)
What started as my first NaNoWriMo project almost two years ago is finally a real, live wordbaby, and is up for sale at Amazon!



Back-cover blurb:

The rebirth of the harpies begins with one young man . . .

Harper Reed's post-high-school plans are up in the air. His promising football career has been cut short by an injury, the girlfriend he thought he might marry has dumped him after he confided to her that he also likes guys, and now, on his 18th birthday, he's started growing feathers.

According to the mouthy poltergeist who appears in his room, Harper's becoming a "mythic," one of thousands of creatures thought imaginary by most humans. Oh, and he's also the subject of an ancient legend and might well bring on the doom of humanity. Finding a new career path has suddenly become a much lower priority.

With the help of his ghostly guide and some new friends, including a charming mythology student, a con-artist faun, and a dragon princess, the young harpy must adapt to the changes in his body and identity while trying to discover the truth behind the dangerous curse that has given him wings.


In addition to the bisexual, biracial lead (he has a Canadian dad and Egyptian mom), the story features other LGBT and PoC characters, and has a prominent same-sex love story. Tired of wall-to-wall straight, white folks in most YA fantasy? So was I, so I wrote something different. All that, and it has harpies and dragons and ghosts, oh, my! ;)

Hope folks enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Also: Hi! Most of my blather these days is on FB, Twitter or my Wordpress blogs, but I still read my flist fairly regularly. Ought to post more here, but between the World's Cutest Baby and writing, I've just not had the bandwidth, alas!
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textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)

It seems like it's been ages, and it kinda has--I started writing it more than four years ago--but my first novel is finally up for sale! Amazon has it in print and Kindle editions, and it's also at most of their international sites. Nook version is planned, but won't be out for a few months, since Amazon has exclusive digital rights for the first 90 days. However, the Kindle version is DRM-free, so if you're up for downloading and converting, have at it. It's also on the Kindle Lending Library, if you're short on cash.

Back-cover blurb, for those not already familiar with the story:

Young Mirya Thunderstone, like all Dwarf women, has lived her entire life inside her people's mountain home. Frustrated by her confinement, she longs to take up her family's legendary axe, and follow in the footsteps of her late, war-hero brother. But when an accident strands her outside the mountain, she finds there's more to being a hero than wielding a weapon.

Joined by a playful otterkin couple, a deadly Elf warrior, a laid-back Native hunter and an outcast orc, Mirya must use both her axe and her wits to find the truth behind the war that claimed her brother's life.

This is a YA novel in intent, but I think older and younger folks might like it, too. In terms of kid-friendliness, it's probably on the high end of PG: Some violence--not terribly graphic, and the romance bits are very tame. It's possible the language and social/philosophical issues might be a bit dense for younger ones, however. Basically, if your kid can handle Narnia or Harry Potter, she can probably handle this.

This thing is definitely fantasy-trope-a-go-go, but it's not exactly a Tolkien clone (nor did I intend it as such; I was actually influenced more by the Wizard of Oz and Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series.) The setting is a fantastical/alt-history version of the Pacific Northwest, centering on Mt. Rainier, and the characters' cultures are loosely modeled on those of middle-ages Russia (Dwarves), Japan (Elves) and Salishan tribes. And of course there are gay and feminist characters and themes. Of course. ;)

I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about it, and if you enjoy it, please do leave a review at Amazon!

P.S.: Big up to [livejournal.com profile] foxipher for the gorgeous cover art. It's like she got inside my head and knew exactly what Mirya looked like. So happy with it. :)
textualdeviance: (Default)
Not quite as much as 2011, as I was so sick for so long. But here's 2012's approximate tally:

Legit:
Finishing Harper: 32,000
Polishing up Thunderstone: 10,000
Worlds Away (new novel): 86,500

Fic: (Two Primeval and one Leverage): 2,350

Legit blog: 24,500 (49 posts at an average of 500 words each)

"Serious" LJ and Tumblr posts: ? But probably about the same as the legit blog.

Total: About 166,000

Vids:
Primeval: Brighter than the Sun, Heroes
PNW: An alt-edit of the opening titles

Graphics:
Two new designs up at Zazzle, a couple of ARCadians logos/headers, plus a few random things on Tumblr.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Spamming folks here who might not have me on Twitter, FB, etc.

Have posted a scene from the novel I just sent off for a contest (this is #2, the one I did for last year's NaNo.) it'll be a while before the whole shebang gets properly published, but I figured I may as well show folks what I do these days. :)

Posted over here on the quasi-legit blog.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

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textualdeviance: (Babies R Us)
We're in! Of course, it's nearly two months past when I thought it would happen, but we are, finally, in the adoption pool! We had a little conference call with our agency counselor to tie up a few other things, and she said we'd actually got in as of Monday--she'd just been out of office and hadn't got the info until late.

It's amazing how freeing this feels. We've spent nine months just getting this far, and even though a lot of that was waiting, it was anxious waiting: wanting to be sure we had all the paperwork right, and that they'd approve us, etc. There will be waiting now, of course--probably a year of it, at least--but we don't have to actually do anything until we get picked by birthparents, so it's a lot less stressful.

Actually, I take that back: we do have a couple of tasks ahead of us in the short term: getting together a pile of emergency baby gear, just in case we get a last-minute placement, and getting M (finally) snipped. But beyond that, we really don't need to do anything else but wait and hope that someone out there thinks we're awesome enough to raise their kid. We're somewhat restricted in what we can do during the wait--we need to keep any traveling within a short flight away from home--but beyond that, we can just go about our business, now.

---

At the moment, of course, the majority of my business is working on novel revision and thinking a bit about what else I might want to write for the proper NaNo coming up in ~6 weeks. I finally completed an overhaul of Harper that I've been meaning to do, and I feel pretty good about that. Also got another beta reader lined up for that, and I'm interested to hear what she has to say about it, since she's very familiar with the market I'm aiming for.

The other one, the one I just finished, does need some major surgery. I ditched the first two (grossly infodump-heavy) chapters, but it didn't quite feel right. Three hours of banging my head at it last night, and I finally fixed it: Same scene, different PoV character. Made all the difference in the world. Will probably spend much of the next week going over the rest of it and expanding where needed. I know M and D want to read it soon, but it does need quite a lot of polish before I'll let that (beta) wordbaby out into the world.

---

Other than the writing and the adoption stuff, though, I'm not doing anything special. Still mucking around with my container gardening. The tomato plants are scaring me with how huge they are, and I seem to actually be growing artichokes and Meyer lemons, which is kind of astonishing. I guess we've just had enough hot, sunny weather for them to grow. Not complaining! Also need to figure out bulb-planting stuff, since it's about that time. We don't have much of that already planted, and I always forget to do it in the fall, so I'm going to try to remedy that this time.

Amazed it's Seoptember already, though. Need to think about my plans for fall--the usual house parties, holiday stuff, of course. Also in a nesting mood, now, so there will be things like cleaning out freezers and general tidying, plus scheduling some regular house-maintenance services we need, like roof cleaning and such.

Or ... I may just spend what pre-parent, non-writing time I have left watching trashy TV shows, playing video games and doing dorky fan shit. :)
textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
As mentioned elsewhere: I finished my Camp NaNo project last Friday. I'd already hit the 50k a week before that, but I finished the story, too--the rough draft, of course. It'll need a lot of expansion and editing before it's truly done. Still. Yay?

But I also still have my mental Mean Girl nattering away in the back of my head, telling me that it was a big waste of time and that considering myself a writer is the height of ego, so I should just stop this silliness and go get another soul-crushing desk job again because that's all I'm really suited for. (Yes, my mental Mean Girl is a nasty creature and if she were a real human being I'd probably punch her. Damn fake people in my brain making me upset. Bleh.)

What's pushing me that direction is how much deja vu this is with my attempts at putting together singing and journalism careers. I'm entering this industry right when it's changing drastically, and when it's being flooded with amateurs and mass-market crap, all of which is far more marketable than I am. I may be more talented, and my work may be better, but because neither I nor my work is in the flavor-of-the-week sweet spot, my chances of getting paid to do this are pretty small.

But, unlike those other two careers, the work itself--if not the getting-paid part--doesn't necessarily depend on other people; here the only enemy is the aforementioned hateful brain squatter. She's tough, but I'm tougher. Or at least I hope I am. I'm coming to realize that I need a lot of work to get my stuff into sellable form, and I'm trying really hard not to be daunted by that.

Talent v. skill )

More than feeling guilty about not having a paycheck job, I feel guilty for not fulfilling the promise I had when I was a kid. I really was smart and talented and had the world in front of me then, and a lot of shit got in the way of me doing anything with it. Now that most of that shit is cleared away, I feel like I'd be doing my child self a great disservice by not picking up where she left off and fulfilling my potential. And, best as I can tell at the moment, my greatest chance of doing that is by publishing a novel. At least one, maybe a lot more.

Which means that the stupid mental mean girl needs to shut the hell up so I can learn how to do this right and make that happen. I refuse to die without having my obituary say something more than "survived by" so dammit, this has to happen, and soon. And the only way it's going to is if I stop thinking that only those people who are born to do this in their sleep can get paid for it. It's NOT true that unless something is easy for you, you're not good at it. Most everyone had to start somewhere, and I'm already well on my way. No sense in steering the car off a cliff now.
textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
Still high on my success of last November, I decided to do the summer version of NaNoWriMo, and I conquered it! Got the first 50k done in 24 days, and now seeing how much closer I can get to finishing the story by the end of the month.

Assuming I do finish it--and I'm sure I will--this will be my third completed novel in the last two years (fourth, if you count the 120k-word fanfic novel) and to be honest: I'm gobsmacked that I've done this.

I'm sure many reading this won't be surprised. I'm ridiculously verbose, after all (an LJ post of less than 500 words is incredibly short), so banging out ~300,000 words of fiction theoretically doesn't seem like much. However, most of that verbosity is in blog posts, commentary and other short-form nonfiction. Even my fanfic, until I started writing the series that eventually became a novel, was rarely more than 3,000 words each. I've been writing since I was a kid, and I've always had something to say, both in commentary and fiction, but I've never before had the stamina and focus to tell a long-form story. My ADD and tendency to get bored easily would always kick in, and I'd move on to something else before I'd got more than a couple of chapters in. There are probably as many words of unfinished stories sitting in various notebooks and hard drives as there are of the ones I've finished the last couple of years.

So what changed? How am I able to do this now when I wasn't before?

When strangers ask me what I do, I tell them I'm a writer. Then they ask me if I'm published. Well ... )
textualdeviance: (Andrew Whee!)
Hallefreakinlujah: I'm unemployed! Today was my last day--almost exactly three months since I started--and I've decided I'm never, ever going back there again. The people are nice, but the actual work itself has been miserable for me. I need out. And thankfully, I AM.

Have also decided that I'm going to stay unemployed for quite a while, unless we suddenly need the money or MSNBC has a gig I want. As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I've been mommy-tracking my career for years, now. Time to stop doing that, do the mommy thing, and then get started back up on it again once the kid's ready for day care. I've wasted far too many years in jobs in which my education and skills were utterly useless. If I go working again, I want it to be in something where I'm valued and useful and, I hope, can make a positive difference in the world. What I've been doing for the last five years? Not that. I think I burned out on this on my last go. These last three months have been excruciating. Yay that they paid for London, but still. Enough.

Near-term post-job plan is to dive back into the writing, and start pushing hard to get at least one of my novels sold. I'm not certain that'll happen, of course, but I want to at least try. Given that I've also already written a chapter on yet another new book, I think it's time I consider myself a serious writer. I'm always looking to improve, of course, but I think I'm at least as good as many of the published writers in my genre. All that's left, really, is people paying me for the pleasure of reading my stories, which is more a business effort than a creative one--and one I think I can handle.

So, yeah. I'm going to do that for the next several months--however long it takes to get picked by a birthfamily. Then I'll spend a year or so with the sprog while it's tiny and needs constant attention. Once that's all done--two years and change from now, prolly--I'll take a look at circumstances and decide then what to do about getting a proper paycheck again.

As I mentioned on FB, I don't want to go too long without having some sort of resume fodder--I'm far too practical of a person to screw myself over like that--but yes, I am going to take some time off for now. Honestly, we don't need the money. We DO need my sanity, and that was being sucked dry by that horrid job.

---

The only downside, of course, is that it means we have less money for travel. I think I'm good on that front for the time being, though. As I mentioned, London took a lot out of me, and I think my days of hardcore traveling like that are done. Definitely a few other things we want to do--New England, Mexico and of course some regular Hawaii and Florida jaunts--but the long, transoceanic flights to cavernous airports? Not so much. Oz and NZ will have to wait until I have more bandwidth. Which prolly won't happen until the kid is travel-ready, which will be a while. I know I'll get itchy feet again--soon, even--but I think I can keep them satisfied on this continent for now.

---

Speaking of the kid thing ... we're alllllmost done with the first half of the process. We've written the (enormous) check for the pool-entry fee, and tomorrow is the last of our home-study interviews. All that's left after this is getting a photo collage together and getting in a few reference letters, and we're good to go. I'm guessing another couple of weeks, tops, before I can point y'all to our profile page on the agency's waiting-parents site. I'm nervous as all hell, but also really looking forward to being done with this part of things. Idle waiting I can handle. Seven months of paperwork hell? Driving me bonkers.

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Have to remind myself: with at least a year of no real responsibilities, I don't HAVE to do everything on my to-do list in the next 48 hours. But oh, so tempted. The back yard, for one, has been begging for all sorts of attention. It's gotten some--there's a new batch of birdfeeders and a bunch of container garden stuff--but still needs more spiffing. It's rapidly becoming my favorite place to be on a nice day. It can be a bit noisy at times. There's all the games at the park across the street, a tiny bit of freeway noise from the 405 down the hill, and frequent Cessnas overhead (there's a small airport nearby.) But beyond that, it's actually very peaceful. Everything's green and lush and the birdies absolutely love it. We've had tons of hummingbirds this year so far, and I've counted every single kind of bird we've had back there before, plus a few new ones. Love it!

Also have some gaming to do, some fandom stuff (a few fics and vids) and a LOT of reading and movies/TV to catch up on. Also want to properly cook again. Planning to conduct the writing thing in a professional way--making sure I meet a daily wordcount--but beyond that, I'm squirming about having more freedom.

Honestly, this feels like I'm getting back to my real life--back to me. I think I've more than paid my working-world dues at this point. I want to work on the rest of who I am, now. I'm not getting any younger, and my health means I probably won't have many retirement years to do all this in. I'll be damned if I'm going to let any more of my life slip away in a tiny, flourescent-lit box if I don't absolutely have to.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Back from London, which was awesome (pics/report later), but good gods, I'm exhausted. Even though this trip was half as long as the first, it was hotter/more humid, and I did a lot more walking, so I'm just wiped. We went to bed at 8:30 last night (got up at 4--ugh) but I feel like I could still sleep for two days. Needless to say, being back at work today is extra miserable. Bleh.

Much as I hate admitting it, I think I'm going to have to cut back on hardcore trips like this. My body's just not up for it anymore. I'm still up for smaller-scale stuff, but I think the big cons, weeks spent at amusement parks, etc. just aren't going to happen. Even ended up cancelling our Comic-Con plans for that reason (also realized that the only few Famous People I still want to meet won't be there, so there’s pretty much no point to braving the heat/crowding/walking.)

This is, of course, depressing. I deal with my physical limitations every day, and I know very well my lifespan isn’t going to be huge, but I've sort of been in denial about exactly how much I'm going to be limited/slowed in this last ~20 years. I have planned for some of it--delaying parenting, for instance, so I could travel while I was still young/healthy enough--but facing the music now still stings. There's just so much more I want to do before I die, and knowing I won't be able to because of my stupid body really sucks. Theoretically, I could skip the parenting and squeeze in more of this stuff, but as parenting is also a huge entry on the bucket list, I'd rather not. It's not ideal, but I can always do some sort of creaky person's round-the-world cruise or something later. Best spend what energy I have left on the high-bandwidth baby-and-toddler stuff.


Will say though: seeing this quote from the recently late Ray Bradbury while I'm feeling like this really hit home:

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there."

… and this is why I write.

Being keenly aware of the ticking clock now means this is a lot more important to me. I get that some people are content to merely live on through their families, or don't even think about things this way at all, but for me, it's really important to have at least some little bit of myself that will continue on long after my body is dust. When I was younger, I figured that would happen with performing of some sort. Now that that's not really possible, all I have left is the writing. Yes, I'll have a kid who remembers me after I'm gone, but I need something more tangible than someone else's memories. I need something more than just a bunch of blog entries and photos as the residue of my existence. With so little energy for anything more elaborate, writing it is.

But! In order to do that--in order to do what I need to prove that I was here--I need to have the temporal bandwidth. Which in this case means I need to get rid of this horrid job. I have enough experience/resume fodder at this point to get a paycheck later if I really need one, but the huge things I needed to earn money for--travel, house, kid--are basically taken care of, now. It’d be nice to have more gravy, of course, but not at the mental health cost that this gig is charging me.

All that's left, I guess, is trying to figure out how to leave without burning bridges. So I think that's the challenge remaining for me for the rest of the week.

Well, after I've had more sleep. Eesh.
textualdeviance: (Button Monkey)
So, since I haven't updated about this since my last bellyaching ...

I first sent mail to my teammate, confirming that it wasn't just me--there's really next to no work for us. In the middle of that, I also discovered something else that's a roadblock for the team, with larger-scale potential repercussions. So, I broke down and wrote a long mail to my boss about it all late last week.

Things post-mail are still settling out, so I don't really know what's next. But it does seem like our workload is slowing down to a trickle--and a trickle of stuff I really don't want to do. I already suggested that if this really is just a one-person job, then I'm happy to train my teammate on the stuff she doesn't know, and let her have it. Having my position go away due to budget reasons would be the best course of action, I think. It'd mean I wouldn't lose brownie points with my agency for quitting/breaking contract (and thus can get another one later if I want) but it'd also get me out of this mind-numbingly boring and degrading position I'm in now.

There is still a dilemma, though, and I've come to realize that it's why, despite the adoption process going well, despite the upcoming London trip, despite the great weather and everything else, I'm actually kind of miserable right now.

Downwardly mobile dog )

It's weird to look around and see how much I have and yet still feel so desperate. I'm sure people look at my life and think I have it all, and wonder why I worry so much. But that's just the thing--I don't have it all. M does. This stuff isn't mine. It's his. And if we split up, it'd all go away. I'd keep some of the material goods, and we'd split whatever pittance we could get from selling the house, but that wouldn't last. He'd be perfectly fine--financially, at least--if we split. I'd be fucked. This is not how my life was supposed to go. I did well in school. I went to college. I worked like a dog as soon as I could, stopped only when my stupid body told me I had to, and started again as soon as I was able. This shouldn't be happening to me.

I suppose this is probably why I have so much sympathy for other people who are on various forms of public support. I know very well that but for the grace of my husband's paychecks, I'd be one of them. Not through any fault or laziness of my own, but just because this is how things are sometimes. Where you get in life is only about half what you put into it. The other half is where you start and fate. People who are fucked on that other half shouldn't be assumed to have fucked off on the effort part. Unless you're lucky enough to have 30 years of living expenses set away somewhere, anyone can come to ruin at any moment--even M could, if he lost his job. Sure, we could've lived closer to the edge all this time and saved more rainy-day money, but it wouldn't be enough to make that big of a difference, long-term (and the mental health benefits of travel, the safe, comfortable house, etc., go a long way to making the rest of it possible anyway. I don't regret what we've spent so far--it's been its own investment.)

So, no. It's not weird that I'm so worried about my future survival when my ability to support myself is so fragile.

At the moment, all my hope lies in one thing: being able to sell at least one of my novels, and write/sell more while I'm home with the little one. That doesn't pay a lot, either, but it's at least possibly steady work if I'm able to sell enough of one to get contracts for more. It's also something I could do while doing paycheck-earning work of other kinds until I got better established as a writer. Best of all, it would be something I could take pride in, rather than something that made me feel like a particularly technical worker bee.

But that's hardly a guarantee. And with the current gig having hit the iceberg, just waiting around for that lifeboat to maybe show up so I don't go down with this slowly sinking ship is agonizing.
textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
So, while I've been waiting for beta reader feedback on Harper (the novel I finished a few months back), I thought I'd get silly and do some fantasy casting for the eventual movie that will be made from it (because of course that'll happen, right? ;) )

Harper was the hardest to find, because he's half-Egyptian, but I think I totally found the right guy. Even better: I know he'd do the role, as he's the guy behind that Straight But Not Narrow thing Gethin did.

Avan Jogia


Tris needed to be someone who, though older than Harper by a few years, nevertheless seems bookish and frankly a little skittish. (He's older than he looks in some of these pics--see Treasure Island for an idea of what he currently looks like.)

Toby Regbo


And for his best bud Mo:

Amrita Acharia


Oliver I could see as Andrew or Gethin, though Gethin has more of the look I had in mind. And I want Eve Myles for the voice of Tanwen, and Alan Cumming for her mate Dilys. (Though they'd prolly be way too expensive.) Phil's essence is pretty much dead-on embodied by Ksenia Solo, but she's about 50 lbs too small, and it'd probably be seen as typecasting her as Kenzi again.

Not sure yet who I want for Lang--Judi Dench in an Amazonian package is a little hard to find! Donald Sumpter might be an interesting against-type cast for Hanover.

Of course, first I need to get this damned thing published. Which means getting it off to agents. Which means pestering my beta readers for feedback so I can do a final edit. ;)
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textualdeviance: (Default)
Way too many maudlin, self-pity-riddled navel-gazing posts here lately. Keep meaning to get back to this as a proper, far-more-diversified blog space instead of the endless whinefest it seems to be turning into, but I keep getting distracted by other stuff. Just don't have the daily bandwidth for anything other than burst-spewing on Twitter (and occasionally FB) so it's only the long-form bellyaching that ends up here.

So! To try to remedy that, here are some actual recent highlights of the Marvelous Life of the Texty:

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Started the new job: About five weeks into it, now. It's boring. Rather more so than I expected. I'm also doing a lot more of the same button-monkey stuff I did before. Kind of feel like there's been a bait-and-switch, in that I expected more content generation and editorial decision-making than has actually been happening.

That said, what I'm doing is just different enough, and my duties are just interesting and few enough, that I think I can tolerate it, at least for the short term. It's a 12-month contract, and I'm not 100% sure I can finish that out (or at least go until I'm on family leave) but I think I can at least stick with it through the summer. Which will be useful in terms of money. Which, really, is the reason I took the job in the first place (that and plugging a growing CV gap.)

The money, of course is going to help with three big things ...

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Random health stuff: Got my hearing aids this past week, and have been adjusting to them over the last few days. I can't say as I actually like them just yet, since they're a really abnormal feeling to wear, but I am seeing an improvement. Actually asked M to turn down the TV today. Whoa.

Have a bunch of other little stuff that needs taking care of soon, though. New glasses. Dermatologist. Some other bits and bobs. Need to go back to the periodontist soon to get my bone graft done. By the time I get the actual implant (about a year from now) I'll probably be completely used to the giant space where that molar used to be.

The bone graft is going to cost us about $3k, and I'm sort of wondering how long I can put it off, because I'd much rather spend that money on ...

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Travel: Hooray for my paychecks, because it means we're being naughty and going back to London at the end of May. Holy carp. Have been wanting to go back since the moment we left, and when it turned out that a couple of my lovelies are doing a fan event (plus the play) ... well. I kinda had to. Yes, it's not the most responsible thing I've ever done, but dammit, I want to, and I can (if barely) so I'm gonna. Yes, yes, I should sock all this money away in retirement or college funds or something, but life's pretty damn short (and my available time/energy for travel even shorter) so I may as well.

It's a much shorter trip this time--nine days as opposed to three weeks--but it'll be 90% London, with perhaps a side trip or two to Brighton and/or Cardiff (and the con, which is in a small town about an hour-ish to the north.) Very, very much looking forward to being back, and getting a little more in-depth to the things we'd only skimmed over before.

Also hitting Comic-Con this year, though Dragon*Con isn't happening, due to my missing the hotel reservation thing, plus remembering how miserable I was last year in the cloying Atlanta heat. It just completely drains me, and I end up not having any fun at all. At least with San Diego, there are some nice ocean breezes. That, and I expect Game of Thrones people to be at SDCC, and I'm dying to meet those folks.

We might do more travel after that. Not sure, yet. If we do, it'll be domestic--something where we can hop right on a plane and head back at a moment's notice if we need to. Which could, theoretically, happen, due to ...

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Adoption Stuff: Hooray! We're officially on to the next phase! We have our first home study visit scheduled for mid-May. This will be the in-home thing where the social worker gets to know us better, checks off the "safe for kids" list for the house, and generally gets more of a picture of who we are, so we can start building the family profile that gets handed out to the birthfamilies. After that first meeting, there are individual meetings with each of us, then one more in-home followup. After that, assuming all the paperwork and such is in, then we finally get to enter the waiting pool!

Then starts the interminable wait. Last we talked to our counselor, she said the average wait was actually getting just a little longer, too: about a year for most, and 14+ months for same-sex couples (I assume we'll be on the far end of that, what with the openly queer thing.) Eep. Still, I'm guessing we'll be in the pool by the end of June at the latest, and might well be in adoption planning a year from now. Really, it all comes down to whether we look interesting enough to a birthmom. It's kind of like matchmaking: never know if you're going to be sitting around forever because no-one wants to dance, or whether that one, perfect mate is going to show up right off the bat.

Still, knowing that we're qualified, and just waiting to be picked--which will happen eventually--will be very nice. And I can certainly keep myself busy in the meantime, what with the job--if I can tolerate it that long--mucking around in the back yard, and maybe more ...

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Writing: Still waiting to get feedback from some beta readers for the novel, though M and D both loved it. Once I hear back from more folks, I'm going to work in whatever suggestions they give me, and then get it polished up for agent shopping.

I'd been considering shopping the first one around, but the more I think about it, the more I like this one better. Have more ideas for sequels, too. Also like its publishing chances better. No clue, of course, whether it'll get picked up, but I hope so. I'd rather have the resources of a proper editor and publisher than to try to self-publish and market it on my own. Self-publishing is easy, but rarely lucrative, because it's so hard to get your book noticed when it doesn't have the resources of a proper marketing team.

Have also been writing quite a lot more on my quasi-legit blog, including a piece on online socialization, and a bunch of yammering on about TV shows and social responsibility. Do similar stuff over on my Tumblr these days, but with more shameless fanthing drooling over picspams and other general flailing about ...

---

Fandom life: Pretty darn busy right now, actually. In addition to my barely-coherent glee now that Game of Thrones is back on, I've been watching Eureka, The Borgias, Grimm, Fringe, Lost Girl and Criminal Minds. The big portion of my fanthing time, though, is going toward all the news and such for the Primeval spinoff that's filming in Vancouver right now. Got a chance to go up there for a con last weekend and see a panel with the new cast. They all seem like really nice folks, and I'm hopeful that the end product for this will be worth it for us fans of the original show. I think it's in good hands, at least.

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... and that's about it, really. Sleeping, working, writing, cooking, tending to the critters and the house, watching dorky TV shows, reading ... The usual. It's been pleasantly calm this month as opposed to the giant shitstorm from the end of last month. Hoping May is equally bland-but-satisfying.
textualdeviance: (WTF Tasty Bite)
So, I wrote this thing about fanworks over on my quasi-pro blog, and got a response from someone who's apparently a big Fanfic is Legit!!! crusader.

Oh, dear.

Her attitude, going by the LJ post she linked to, is emblematic of a huge problem I see among some fanworks creators (primarily fic writers, but I've seen it in other media): the notion that they're somehow on a creative par with people who create original works largely from scratch.

Ehm. No.

(Good) fanfic takes effort, of course (hi, may I show you all ~200,000 words of fic I've written?) but it's simply not the same thing as creating original characters and worlds from scratch, and it's also not even the same thing as creating a truly derivative work (as I explained in my comment, one that strips down a story to its component parts, and reassembles it into something largely new.)

There is, of course, virtually nothing out there that's wholly original. Most plots are variations on the hero's journey or boy-meets-girl, and most settings and characters can be boiled down to a handful of archetypes. Yet, there's still quite a lot of work that goes into world- and character-building when creating a new piece, even if you're using an existing template. If you're skipping over that step, and using worlds and characters someone else made as-is, you're simply not putting in the same amount of effort as someone who has--and you do NOT deserve the same amount of credit, creative respect or--FSM forbid--pay.

People, not plots )

Now, of course I'm not saying there's something wrong with fanfic or the people who write it. The vast majority of fic writers and readers are perfectly awesome people, and I'd have to hate myself if that were not the case. I'm also not saying that people who write fic are inherently bad writers. On the contrary, some are incredibly good at what they do, and many have also gone on to create some great original works. But fic itself simply doesn't take the same amount of skill and effort as creating a work with original characters and worlds, and therefore those works simply don't deserve the same amount of creative respect as ones that do. Yes, a 50,000-word fic takes effort, but it's just not the same as creating a 50,000-word novel from scratch, so don't expect the same kudos, yeah?

Fanworks serve a wonderful purpose in helping fans to immerse themselves further in a world they love. It's audience participation in its purest form. But it's important for us to remember that that's what our role is: audience. We are there to experience something that someone else made, and we create and consume fanworks as a way of experiencing that on a closer, more intimate level. We make what we do as tribute to the people whose work we love, not as a way to get attention or to make ourselves seem important to other fans. Those who spend much of their fanworks time worrying about feedback or arguing that they're making Art! are missing the point.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Haven't done one of these in a while!

Digest version, for those in tl;dr mode: I wrote another book, our adoption process marches on, I have yet to get an offer for a W2-earning job and I'm dying for a proper vacation.

The long version:

I wrote a book! Now, bring on the revision/publishing angst. )

---

I wrote another book. A while ago. And am also angsting about it. )

---

On to other things which are just as fraught with Social Bullshit angst, but a different kind, at least.

Adoption process update )

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Not going back to chorus )

---

Still unemployed. Now slightly annoyed by that. )

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I just need my own private jet so I can go whereever I want. )

---

Other than all that, life goes on. Still playing video games, hanging out in various fan circles, grousing about politics, getting annoyed at the cats, blah blah. Getting things together for spring back-yard mucking, too. Slightly angsty and irritated at the world for big meta stuff, but otherwise in good nick.
textualdeviance: (Connor:Reading)
I'm sure one of my SFF-savvy friends will know this:

Has there ever been a book/movie/etc. in which it's posited that ghosts are actually holographic projections of a flash-memory stored version of ourselves that gets uploaded somewhere when we die?

I'm thinking along the lines of our brain contents and basic physical image being stored in a cloud somewhere (a literal cloud, if one wants to use iconic heaven imagery) and then called up in virtual form when our meatspace hard drive crashes. And because the memory form in question is read/write, it can use that existing snapshot as a building block from which to create new actions and experiences, even if our meat machines aren't there to give us proper sensory input.

I know similar ideas have been used in terms of uploading exisitng people to new bodies (Old Man's War, I believe, does this, and then there's always the Cylon rebirth business) but I wasn't sure if it's been used to explain the metaphysical.
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Hilar:



A few things they left out of this formula:

7. An unfailingly loyal wingman with buttloads of honor. Bonus if there's some romantic tension: Sam, Hermione, Leia
8. One or two comic-relief sidekicks. Bonus points if they're put into a kick-the-puppy situation. Respectively for these: Merry & Pip; Ron (and Dobby, to an extent); C3P0/R2.
9. A loveable rogue. Bonus if s/he's a badass or has a dark past: Strider, and sort of Leggy/Gimli; Sirius, Lupin, etc., and the ultimate one: Han "I shot first" Solo.
10. A turncoat: Boromir, half of the single-book villains, Lando

Also, I decided to try to apply this formula to my two novels (the second of which is just three chapters away from completion! Woo!) and was amused that I seem to have dodged quite a lot of it, even without intentionally meaning to.

Thunderstone:

1. Young female, actually
2. Nope. Parents are annoying and frustrating, but present, and not evil.
3. Not really, no. An older female mentor is introduced later, but she's not a sage/crone type.
4. Lampshaded and subverted.
5. Without revealing spoilers: no. More just petty, misguided acts inspired by past trauma.
6. That one I'll cop to. But he's not at all a villain or anti-hero.
7. Sort of. I don't really have an A/B hero/sidekick model, but all of her companions could qualify for this. No romantic tension at all, though.
8. Yes, in a pair.
9. Not really, though one of the #8 pair could qualify.
10. Nope. No sudden-but-inevitable betrayals, here.

Harper:

1. Yep.
2. Nope. Has a great relationship with his family, actually.
3. Does a mouthy goth girl count?
4. Sort of, if you count his curse.
5. Yes, but it's way more complex than some power-mad freak who wants to rule the galaxy. Also: multiple villains, each with their own motivations.
6. Oddly, despite my major jones for this type, no.
7. Yep.
8. I have a couple of wisecrackers, but they're in other positions.
9. Hell, yes.
10. Not exactly, no.

Also, looking at the outline for my next book (working title: Eureka)

1. Young-ish woman, though she's more a pawn than a hero.
2. Sort of. She is an orphan, but it's more complex than that.
3. There's a Caterpiller-esque character that shows up in one chapter. Otherwise, no.
4. Yes, though it's not directly related to her.
5. The villain is a control freak, but in a very different way than usual.
6. Yes, but she's more a #9 type.
7. Yes.
8. Not yet. I have a pair who might qualify, but I'm not yet planning to use them much.
9. See above.
10. Yes, but it's over and done with by chapter 2.
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I really wish I could get rid of the Mean Girls who live inside my head. Problem is, there are just enough of them out there in the real world, and they are just rotten enough, that it takes a few dozen nice people to bandage every wound they've ever left me with, and that's left me incredibly gunshy of doing anything that might put me in their sights.

There are a lot of reasons why I often stop just short of true success in one area or another: getting bored, distracted with other stuff, not wanting to commit myself 100% to just one thing, etc. But probably the biggest one is that I'm desperately terrified of tall poppy syndrome. The higher I rise up a given ladder of success, the more salient I am. And the more salient I am, the more of a juicy target I make for people who consider any successful woman fair game for abuse.

Pardon the ego for a moment, but this isn't a matter of lack of confidence in my own skill. I know I'm good at what I do. Not world-class, and I'm always trying to improve, but I know I'm a better writer and singer than a significant percentage of people who already do those things professionally. Problem is that I'm not quite good enough to make it past the initial gauntlet of bile one has to pass through in order to start getting those paychecks, and I don't have any other advantages helping me along. Someone who is utterly mindblowing at this stuff can blast right through the first layer of hate and quickly earn herself enough of a posse to fend off the dogs (see: Adele.) And someone who already has other advantages, from a trust fund, to connections, to a pretty face, to being the pride and joy of a small town, can survive the onslaught long enough to get a toehold.

Me, though? I'm basically an army of one, and if I go riding out on the battlefield, proudly waving my banner around, I'm going to be an arrow-filled pincushion in about 10 seconds. I don't have the thermonuclear device of talent to strike fear in the hearts of the orcs, and I don't have shiny armor or a well-armed cavalry surrounding me, either.

If I wasn't so emotionally invested in my passions, I'd probably take the risk anyway. Truly, there's very little even the most determined orc can do to me at this point in my life to make things genuinely awful for me. They'd have to resort to actual criminal behavior to do that. But I have such dread of the idea of my work being torn to bits, even by people utterly unqualified to do so, who are motivated only by jealousy or a fear of competition, that I'm just not yet comfortable throwing it out there for them to piss on.

Obviously, there are some things I do put out there, but the confidence that leads me to do so--quality and knowing there's already a (small) army of support within that field--is what allows that. I can post fanfic and vids, and know that most people who are interested in the subject matter to begin with are probably going to like my stuff, and that anyone who doesn't is going to be in the minority. Likewise, I can do a bit of solo singing here and there, knowing that I'm generally supported by the rest of the group and a positively-predispositioned audience.

But I have no such reassurance for the other stuff, yet. I don't know for sure that higher-level music or writing folks are going to approve of my stuff. And because I've seen how easy it is for the snark brigade to lay waste to someone's work, I'm just not yet ready to go primetime with it. Maybe soon. I hope. I can see the light at the end of that tunnel, I think.

I just wish this fear didn't get in the way of me doing the work in the first place that will get me there. Getting past the voices of the mental mean girls to just sit down and write something, or hammer on sight-singing or vocalise work is a chore, and I wish it wasn't.
textualdeviance: (XKCD Complicated)
Agonizing a bit about difficult life choices. For those who've not followed this saga elsewhere: I'm trying to decide whether to go back to work, and if so, which job and when. There are some big concerns with mental health, bandwidth and money involved:

Job A and B )

Now, in an ideal world, here's what would happen: I'd get Job B, and they'd be fine with me starting in February, so I could survive January's nightmare schedule. I'd work there through our waiting time in the adoption pool, and then either quit entirely or take leave when the baby shows up, or maybe even only take a couple of weeks and then go back, as the schedule is childcare-friendly enough. And if the job turned out to be hell, I could find a way to leave without burning too many bridges. Ditching a contract before its end is bad form, definitely, but not unheard of, especially for parental leave.

Theoretically, I could also leave Job A at any time without too much drama--the open-ended contract helps a LOT with that---but the time/mental-health drain of it in the short term would make doing everything else really difficult. Really, the biggest reward of Job A comes down to one thing: Money. Quite a lot of it. And fast.

The dilemmas:Money vs. time/mental health )

Or, in summary: We don't absolutely need money from me working in order to make this all happen. It would just make things easier, faster and more secure.

Summation and decision making )

The Bottom Line:

The next phase of my life, in my ideal world, will consist of five things: Kid, writing, singing, friends/family and travel. Anything that doesn't fall into furthering one of those five categories is something I don't want to have to spend time/effort on.

I realize how very lucky I am to even have this choice to make, and I'm grateful to M's brain and the luck of the stock market from 15 years ago that made this happen. But I do have this choice, and I don't like feeling that I'm being selfish or irresponsible if I choose to do what will make me happy over what will fatten our bank account. Money for its own sake doesn't interest me. We have enough of it to have and do the things we want, so long as M keeps working. More of it isn't nearly as necessary to me as feeding my soul. And stuff that will take away my bandwith for singing and writing, without giving me anything in return but a paycheck, is actually starving it instead.

A footnote about M )
textualdeviance: (Default)
Pasting this over from Tumblr. Saw a post from someone asking fic writers some questions for a project she's doing, and this was my answer:

***

I’ve written in just two fandoms—LOTR and Primeval—but I’ve written quite a lot in both. In Primeval alone I’m probably at about 200k words, including a 120k-word novel centering on my OT3 (Abby/Becker/Connor.) I tend to prefer slash and mmf triads, but I’ve written plenty of femmeslash, het, gen and even RPF.

For me, fic is primarily about exploring relationships (primarily sexual, but sometimes other stuff) and situations that go beyond what a given canon will or can portray. It’s also very good practice for my legit writing, as it helps me work out plotting issues, correct bad habits, explore character and scene dynamics, and other technical writing stuff.

I find I’m most attracted to canons that have a lot of subtext going on, or a pairing or subplot that’s hinted at, but never fully explored. I know a lot of writers don’t really care about canon all that much and just gleefully go off and write whatever they will—AUs, etc.—but for me, finding a way to integrate my side stories and “after hours” scenes into a canon framework is a fun challenge, and makes the writing more satisfying. I also prefer to read stories like this; wildly AU or out-of-character fic doesn’t interest me. I’m there for the canon I love, not someone else’s virtually original fic. I much prefer to read professionally written original fiction, if I’m going there.

I rarely write fanfic OCs except as needed for certain plots or scenes. They’re red shirts or background characters, at best. Again, this is because I’m there for the canon. I write plenty of original fiction as well as fanfic, so if I have original characters I want to develop, I do that separately. And oh, do I! I wouldn’t say there’s a process I use to create them. They just come to me, sparked by ideas from other things, or sometimes even entirely spontaneously.

I definitely do fall in love with my characters, both the canon ones and the ones I write for my original stuff. Though I try to ensure my canon characters are as true to the originals as possible, there are, of course, things that are slightly different. More than that, however, it’s a deeper exploration of the lives and emotional states of those characters, and getting to know them more intimately like that does, definitely, create an emotional attachment for me.

It also happens that way for my original characters, and to an even stronger degree. I’d say that most writers of original fiction would agree that, in some ways, they’re kind of making their own best friends. In order to really understand a character’s motivation and write them authentically, you have to get intimate with them. They have to live inside your head quite a lot—as much as real loved ones would. And that naturally creates an emotional bond, even if the entire person only exists inside the mind.

I think people without a lot of imagination wouldn’t understand how this works. I’ve known people who can’t easily escape into fictional worlds at all, much less on an emotional level. They can’t relate to or care about anyone they don’t know in a physical, real-world context. I can’t imagine a life like that. Of course, I adore my meatspace friends and loved ones, but I also adore the ones I know only online, or the ones I know from fiction, or who exist only inside my head. Physical selves are important, of course, but the core of who a person is is intangible. Connecting on that intangible level, for those of us who can do it, is often just as rewarding as connecting in meatspace. Sometimes even more so.

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