~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Saturday, January 05, 2008


So. Goals for 2008. Not so much resolutions as changing of habits, evaluation of goals, and an honest as possible outlook about how I am.

(That’s not asking for much, is it?)

One of the things I’ve been meditating on for a month or so now are my work habits. Strangely, my writing habits are entirely different, completely opposite from everything else. With everything else, I’m all about lists, about crossing things off of lists, of knowing what I need to do and methodically doing it. Of being organized and in control. Of setting a goal and meeting it as best I can.

In writing, I still like lists and crossing things off of them, I still like being organized, but there’s a level of methodicalness that I don’t have, never will have, and really need to stop trying to force myself to have.

Yes, writing is my job. Yes, like any other job, I have to sit down regularly and do the job. But writing is also creative, and creativity can ebb and flow (as the amazing Suzanne Brockmann noted in an RWA session I just listened to). There will be off days, days where it’s a struggle. On struggle days, I need to power through, at least get some words out that can be edited later. But there will also be some off days where it’s more than a struggle, where it’s just not there, and on those days, I need to honestly acknowledge that my subconscious brain—where the magic happens—is clearly telling me it needs a little time to work on its own.

Last year I tried doing 100 for 100—committing to writing a minimum of 100 words a day for 100 days in a row. Because 100 words isn’t enough for a career, I added a concurrent challenge of 500 words for 50 days.

For a while, this worked. I really, really, really didn’t want to start over, and that got my butt into the chair several times. But then I did miss a day…and there was no incentive to sit down the next day, because there was no penalty.

Plus—and really, this is the crux of this whole ramble, the realization about myself that I need to work with and work around—I’m really good at the negative. I miss a goal, even a daily word count, and I promptly start that downward spiral towards the belief that I don’t have the determination and work ethic to be a full-time, professional writer. What happens then? Well, I don’t write. I get more and more convinced, and thus more and more depressed, and who can belly up to a computer in that mental state?

Despite the inclinations everywhere else in my life, I’ve realized, I’m not a methodical writer. I can’t handle writing every damn day. Nobody works every damn day at their job. Everybody needs time off. When I start trying to do this every day, hit a word count every day, I burn out like a Roman candle in a downpour. Sputtering and damp and grumpy.

In other words, for you OCW-ers reading this, I desperately want to be like Kris, whereas I’m really, truly more like Dean.

So here’s my resolution: Stop being so hard on myself. Cut myself some slack. Honestly recognize the difference between a difficult day I have to power through and a day I need to step back and work on something else, like updating files or submitting stories. (Or just take a vacation day to recharge the batteries.) And not beat myself up if I miss a goal, but step back and analyze and figure out how to use the information to move forward in a positive way.

To that end, I’ve just signed up for one of our Oregon Coast group’s quarterly challenges. It started as a Novel-in-a-Week challenge, but since not everybody can take off a week every three months, it’s a “set a goal and hit it” week. My goal is a minimum 10,000 words on High Spirits through 1/12. Why? Because I’m reasonably comfortable with 2K/day, and if I write 2K/day, I actually will get a day or two off.

Then we’ll go from there. I need to be fluid about my goals as well, and tweak them as time goes on. I hope to consider and outline my goals for each month at the beginning of the month, and review them at the end of the month. The only reason I haven’t done that yet this month is because I’m having a confab with Teresa on Monday to discuss upcoming Sophie projects.

Well, despite the rambly mess of all that, it took up my writing session for this morning! So after high tea with friends and a movie (The Golden Compass), I’ll hit the computer again. Having taken a little time away from HS, I’m feeling excited about working on it again (I started in again yesterday), which is exactly why I needed a short break…

Friday, January 04, 2008


Aaaaand the third rejection of the year. (I promise I’ll stop numbering them soon!)


Is it normal to do tequila shots with your massage therapist…while you’re getting a massage?

It was a really fun massage!


Currently Reading: Recovery Man, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Lately Listened To: RWA sessions
Recently Watched: Barefoot in the Park

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Writing Year

Welcome to a new year and editors’ resolutions to getting submissions off their desks. I’ve already received two: from Fantasy for “Heaven Has Eyes” and from TOTU for “Matchmaker” (“a nicely written and charming romantic fantasy that happens not to grab me enough as a story”).

Updating my spreadsheet for 2008 and retiring the 2007 one, I see that I received 91 rejections and 18 acceptances (although one I withdrew after acceptance). All of the sales were erotica except for one fantasy. Some are still pending in terms of sales (i.e., I haven’t signed a contract yet).

I didn’t keep as good records on some of the other stats, but here’s roughly what I think happened:
  • I wrote at least 12 solo stories and a few unfinished ones.
  • I wrote a goodly portion of High Spirits, but alas have not yet finished it.
  • I started With Soft Whispers Laden but discovered some fatal flaws with it and put it aside (for now).
  • Teresa and I wrote one Sophie story.
  • Teresa and I wrote one Sophie novella.
  • Teresa and I wrote one novel—Out of the Frying Pan—and one novel proposal—Caressing the Tiger (the latter is slated to be our next project, barring any unforeseen developments).
  • Sarah and I dealt with the proofs for A Little Night Music, which was published in 2007.
  • Either with Teresa or on my own (I’m too lazy to check specifics), I wrote 8 columns for Lust Bites.

That’s not bad, but neither is it enough. One thing I’m going to try this year is an end-of-month accounting and start-of-month plan; whether I publish it here or keep it for my own records remains to be seen. But the goal is to get a better sense of how I’m doing.

2008 will probably see fewer stories, as I really do need to focus on longer works, but I have a few anthologies I’d like to hit, plus I’d like to write some non-antho work (yes, Loren, if you’re reading this, I know you want more Battlecorps stories!). Novels currently planned are High Spirits (finish and submit), An Ever-Turning Wheel (heavy revision and submit), and Caressing the Tiger (new Sophie novel with Teresa).

I don’t make resolutions per se, but I’ve been meditating on a few things, and I’ll write about that soon; some of it is still in the coalescence stage….


Currently Reading: Recovery Man, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Lately Listened To: the weirdest songs keep getting stuck in my head…
Recently Watched: Alias, various home shows

Sunday, December 30, 2007

And then...

Let’s review yesterday’s list:
  • …finishing a short story. I wanted to be done with it today so Teresa could crit it before I sent it off, but I didn’t know she’s busy through New Year’s… So technically I have a little leeway, although I shouldn’t really allow myself any, as the story’s due 12/31. Update: About 500 words to go, and by the gods it’ll be done tonight so Ken can eyeball it.
  • …going to our Shire’s Twelfth Night party tonight. We made the coleslaw last night, so we’re good to go there, at least.
  • …hosting overnight guests tonight.
  • …having a writing meeting with a friend tomorrow. (I’ll finish the story then, absolutely.) Update: Writing date was fabulous, story’s almost done, considering doing this on a regular basis!
  • …cleaning the entire frakking house. Ken will do most of this since I can’t do a lot because of my back. But still. I’ll be rushing about, tidying and whatnot. Update: Um. We took a nap this afternoon…
  • …buying food and prepping the house and food for our party.
  • …meeting with my trainer for another gym session. Update: That’s tomorrow.
  • …going to a friend’s NYE party (need to make guacamole for that; avocados are ripening on the windowsill as I type). Update: Ditto.
  • …going on a bike ride on New Year’s morning, culminating with various riders following us home to kick off our New Year’s Day open house. Update: Forthcoming as well.
  • …hanging out with friends, doing some kumihimo, and making chili and rice and corn bread during the open house. Update: Don't feel like making cornbread, so there.
  • …finishing two one library book and return both by 1/2/08.

To elaborate on some of that…

Twelfth Night was quite fun. There was a metric ton of food ranging from ricotta and spinach pie to egg rolls to several meat dishes (astonishingly, though, nobody brought a roasted chicken from the grocery store!) and rice dishes and baklava and… Oof. A bunch of us sang carols—the hall is quite nice and echoey—and there was a bit of gift exchange and whatnot.

Afterwards, Cat and Mel were crashing with us, and Morgana and Brian and Sabas also came over. We sipped drinks and laughed and did handwork, and I told the story of Umberhilde and the story of getting drunk on what amounted to cheap cooking sherry for my birthday in Britain in 1987 (Mel cried, she laughed so hard). Then Cat wanted to see the bizarre and hilarious interview with Kate Bush about being a vegetarian, so I had to find that tape. Kate is an inhumanly brilliant artist, but in this particular interview she comes across as a brainless airhead. It doesn’t help that the interviewer is utterly useless herself.


Interviewer (slowly stirring a bowl of nuts and seeds): “This looks like an assortment of nuts.”
Kate: “Yes, nuts and sunflower seeds.”
Interviewer: “How do you eat it?”
Cat & I: buh?

Interviewer: “This looks like a fruit salad.”
Kate: “Yes.”
Interviewer: “What’s in it?”
Cat & I (shouting at TV): “Fruit, you idiot!”

Then we watched “Hamsters of Rock,” Ken’s computer graphic final project from 1988, which has to be experienced to be truly understood. By this time, we all had tears streaming down our faces.

Cat and Mel left early this morning, although they had to swing back to pick up something they’d forgotten. I once again woke way too early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I thought my writing date would be a bust, but once fortified with a caffĂ© mocha and some exuberant chatting about projects, I was away and typing contentedly. Since we have several LARA members in the area, I’m thinking this might work well as regular thing, maybe twice a month or so.

I picked up some groceries and came home to find Ken had scrubbed the kitchen, removing the last vestiges of the ants. We had lunch, and then everything started to move verrrrrry sloooooowwwwly. Eventually I gave up and staggered back to bed, where Ken joined me. I read until my eyelids drooped, and then I actually lost consciousness a couple of times for a few moments. But then I had to go to the bathroom, and all hope of napping was gone. I tossed and turned for a while longer before I finally admitted defeat and went downstairs with my book to make popcorn.

I can highly recommend Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert (Iuliana, I think you’ll particularly like it), and will be seeking out more of her work.

Now Ken’s off to get our water bottles filled and pick up the one item I forgot at the store (ground turkey) as well as a take-and-bake pizza, so I’m going to toddle downstairs and make salad and work on the story until he returns.


Currently Reading: Wizards anthology (about to start)
Lately Listened To: cats purring
Recently Watched: Hamsters of Rock!