Sunday, January 31st, 2010

(Unofficial) Write Your @ss Off Results

So how did I do?

It was surprisingly difficult for me to devote nearly eight hours in a single day to “all things about writing” and not “just” writing.

I’ve done the Nano-thing, and the 3-Day Writing Contest and have spent as much as a week “on retreat” totally dedicated to “just writing.”  Mixing it up by adding in the “business of things” as well as the day-dream/plot noodling tasks felt a bit…off.

For me, it feels like I didn’t get much accomplished.

And yet, if you look at my list…

  • Write my daily minimum on my current WIP
  • Write a duplicate daily minimum on something new
  • submit three short stories to three different markets, 2 electronic, 1 snail-mail
  • Sign and mail my new contracts with Damnation Books
  • Reply to all my writer friends’ email that I’ve ignored for (a while)
  • Update some minor things on my Web site

…I think I did pretty well.

Between the first two items, I actually more than tripled my daily required output.

I wound up sending three stories to three electronic markets because the snail-mail market I’d been contemplating had gone digital. So, I spent less time on submissions than I thought I would.

Signing and mailing out the stuff to Damnation Books took a bit longer than I thought it would because I copied and filed the items right away.  (A good thing, because this stuff tends to pile up on my desk.)

Sorry, friends! I still owe you some chatty messages. I promise I’ll get back to you soon. And well, dear Web site, the minor things will have to get fixed up catch-as-catch can.

Still, not a bad day’s work…and I’ve got the “official” Write Your @ss Off day (again, Friday) this week.

…and yet…I really wanted to write THOUSANDS of words on Friday. So, I’m a tad disappointed. If I’d noodled-out the plot of my new WIP prior to staring the WY@O, I probably could have whipped out thousands of words on that alone.

The silver lining: by multi-tasking, I was focused. I didn’t play a single game of solitaire all day. I should get a medal for that.

Did anyone else play along, unofficially? How’d you do? Anyone saving it up for this coming weekend and the official Write Your @ss Off? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Write Your @ss Off

Write Your @ss OffOne of my favorite publishing-industry bloggers, Moonrat, of the famous Editorial Ass Blog, has proposed a “Write Your @ss” Off” day…sort of a way to start the new year off right.

This will be the second, not quite annual –perhaps more than annual– running of the event.

Would you like to participate?

The original idea stemmed from JES on his blog, Running After My Hat.

He himself stole it from the New York Writer’s Coalition who gathered together in NYC last year to do their write-a-thon in person.

(You can read JES’s post that started it all, here.)

JES proposed a “Write Your @ss Off” day last year because:

“The blogosphere — or maybe it’s just the corner I’ve been mostly visiting, the one with the writers and other assorted wordsmiths — seems to have been overtaken by despair recently. Or maybe it’s not despair, exactly. Maybe more like anomie, a sort of formless uncertainty about the whole enterprise of getting language onto paper or screen, into lyrics and scripts.


I think we could all use a shot in the arm.”

And so it was born, the great web Write Your @ss Off, (or Write-a-Thon, for those who don’t want to use the word @ss…)

Logistics for scheduling a single day to to accommodate the scads of us interested seemed daunting, so a weekend of Write Your @ss Off has been declared. (You need only choose a single day, and only 8 hours therein to participate.) The weekend in question is next: Friday through Monday, February 5 – 8.

In my infinite wisdom, I jumped the gun and asked to take off tomorrow  from my day job. JES generously responded to my d’oh!  comment over on Moonie’s blog, to let me know that tomorrow is okay, too. I’ve been told to “Go for it.”

And so I will. (Quite possibly, I will participate next week as well, since I already have that Friday off…)

The rules for Write Your @ss Off are simple and easy:

You must spend eight hours devoted to writing.

It’s possible, of course, that I’m am oversimplifying. JES makes it clear:

Write some, sure. Nobody could object to that. But even if you never lay your fingers on your keyboard, never pick up your pen or handheld voice recorder, even then: can you set aside 7-1/2(ish) hours in a single block of 24 hours to think about, work on, research, accommodate, market, and/or otherwise honor the act and craft of writing? Your own writing, that is, and not someone else’s?

Easy, right?

So, with those rules in mind, I’ve created my to-do list:

  • Write my daily minimum word count on the current work in progress
  • Write a duplicate amount of my daily minimum word count on something new
  • Submit three short stories to three different markets, 2 electronic, 1 snail mail
  • Sign and mail my new contract with Damnation Books
  • Reply to all my writer friends’ email that I’ve ignored for the last (uh, several) week(s) or so
  • Update my Web page (just some minor things)
  • If I have time, I’ll:

    • Organize my 2009 (Writing) Tax Items
    • Set up my 2010 (Writing) Tax Spreadsheets
    • Read from one of the gazillion writing books I bought this year
    • Write a summarizing blog post

I know it’s really ambitious…but I think if I focus, I can do a lot of these things… If you decide to play along, you don’t need to be nearly so organized. Pinky swear.

You can see all the participants in this really cool map that JES set up over at CommunityWalk. As I write, there are 58 pegs on the map!

Won’t you join us? If so, wonder on over to Moonrat’s blog and let us know in the comments. If you want, peg yourself on the map. I’d love to hear what you’ll be working on in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Dear Inconsiderate Driver…

…when it is 5:20 a.m. and I am the only driver on our lonely rural road, please don’t pull out in front of me, hazard lights blinking, and proceed to drive at 10 miles an hour less than the 30 m.p.h. speed limit. Don’t you realize this is how road rage begins?

It’s especially painful to me when you do this, because I know I’m barred from passing you over the double-yellow line which stripes this entire road–for miles.

In the future, please wait until I pass, and then feel free pull out of your driveway onto the clear and open tarmac.

Don’t add insult to injury by coming to a complete stop on the narrowest part of the road — the tree-lined area by the bridge that crosses the creek — where oncoming traffic is difficult to see on a clear day. Even at 5:30 a.m., with few cars on the road, I’m reluctant to go around you — despite the fact that after a moment of waiting, you’ve rolled down the window and are waving me by.

50 Miles Later…

…when you are going to miss your exit off the highway because you’re in the hammer lane and want to drive 90 miles an hour, (and cars on the road are as thick as buzzards on fresh roadkill)…

…please don’t careen across four lanes of traffic, causing multiple fender benders and jackknifed tractor trailer trucks. Yes, I know it could have been worse, and I wasn’t involved in those incidents, but surely you see the wisdom of easing over gently and playing the cloverleaf?

A few turns around the exit ramps would put you right where you want to be, and would only delay your commute by two minutes or so. Although, at the speed you drive, I’d bet it wouldn’t cost you more than a moment of time.

Giving a passing thought to your fellow journeymen on the road to the big city every morning will ensure a happy commute for all. Please consider  it.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Two Bits of News

Cover: Requiem of the Human Soul by Jeremy LentReviews

Occasionally, I write reviews for

(It’s a fabulous place, by the way, packed with information and reviews for SF & F readers and writers. You should check it out.) just posted my review for Jeremy Lent’s Requiem of the Human Soul.

I thought about dual-posting the review here, but decided against it. Instead, I urge you to go to and read the review….while you’re there, look at all the other stuff has to offer.

(Short Review: Fabulous. I couldn’t put it down. For the synopsis (rather long, due to the complex plot) and my full review you really need to go to

Have I said it enough times yet? Go read the review!

And, in case you missed it, my review for Kimberly Raye’s Just One Bite  is also available on here. (Not my usual cup of tea…but I thoroughly enjoyed this one, too.)

Keep Your Fingers Crossed
I got an invitation to the Bad Ass Fairies 3 launch party today. That means that my story “Selk-Skin Deep” is under consideration to be published in that anthology. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Won’t you do the same?

The party will take place the Sunday evening of Balticon, which I’d already planned to attend. My schedule is going to be jam-packed…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Balticon, Here I Come!

Baltimore Science Fiction Society LogoYay! I’ve been invited back to Balticon this year. I’m so excited.

I had a lot of fun being on all the panels last year, and reading from Blood Soup  in the “Rapid Fire Reading” with other women authors from Broad Universe. (You can read what I had to say about last year’s awesome convention, here and here and here and here…)

This year I’ve proposed to run a critique session, (both a “how to critique” and a “how to start a critique group” seminar — based on a chapter I wrote for the book “How to Write Paranormal” (forthcoming!) and my own experience with my face-to-face critique group.

(Hi, guys! I know you’re reading!)

I’ll keep my fingers crossed, waiting to hear back from the Balticon folks about whether they’d like to host such a seminar. In the meantime, if you have questions about critiquing, or how to start a critique group…fire away. I’ll be happy to answer.

On Another Note
I’ll also be reading with some Broads at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC later this year. The date hasn’t been set in stone, but it looks like either April or June. If you’re in the DC area, I’d love to meet you. I hope you’ll stop on by to hear us read!

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Books in a Series…

Cover: Daughters of the Moon Book 1I’m reading this fabulous series of books called Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing.

The series is a modern-day paranormal, taking place in Los Angeles, and chronicles the lives of five high-school aged girls: Vanessa, Serena, Jimena, Catty, and Tiana. Each of them has a special power, bestowed upon them as a “daughter of the moon.”

Young Adult is not usually my cup of tea, but I was looking for something different and the first book really caught my interest. The series is based on the Pandora myth, but each book includes some parts of Greek mythology.

I’ve always been a sucker for the Greek myths, so picking up the first book was a no-brainer for me.

(And yeah, I know I’m late coming to the table on this series, but I’ve already explained: YA is not my usual good-time read.)

But the writing just sucked me in.

And, now, a few short weeks later, I’m up to book 10. (That’s the great part about reaching a series late in the game: all the books are available at once. No waiting for the sequel!)

But I’m having a problem with this one, The Talisman.  It’s about Penelope…not one of the original five girls, or even a peripheral character in any of the first nine books. It takes place in Athens, Greece in 431 B.C.

I’m halfway through the book and I can’t figure out how it relates to the others. The mythology is the same, and the “evil” the girls are fighting is the same…but Athens 431 B.C. is about as far away from present day L.A. as you can get.

I’m afraid the “aha” moment of how this is all connected is going to be revealed very close to the end of the book, if not on the final few pages.

“Disappointing” doesn’t even cover the range of emotions I’m feeling about this book. It just doesn’t belong in the series. I could be wrong, but I have a hunch that anything revealed in the final few pages of this book could just have well taken place in the first  few pages of the next.

It’s a neat story, but I’d have published it as a “related” book, or even just offered it for free on my Web site.

So that leads me to my questions: has anyone else read the series? Or have you read a similar series where one book takes a sharp turn away from the main story line? How did you feel? Did it make you stop reading the series? Would you take another chance with the author?

Hit me up in the comments. An inquiring mind wants to know.

Monday, January 4th, 2010

More on Resolving…

I made a mistake!

While updating my work-progress spreadsheet for 2010, I discovered in error in the “percentage of days written” column. In my post on 2010 Writing Goals, I mentioned that I’d failed to write more than 50% of the days in 2009.

Not so: it turns out that through the magic of cut and paste, I’d introduced a tiny error in my spreadsheet on those months that don’t have 31 days, consequently adding five more days to the calendar year.

I was dividing 370 days rather than 365. So…my actual days of writing last year were almost 53%.

With that in mind, it hardly seems fair to only shoot for a total of 57% days writing this year. What’s 4%? Not much to aspire to after last year’s results.

So…I’m upping the ante over my previous ante upping:

I’m shooting for 64% AND I’m increasing my word count goals by 50%. That should challenge me.

How about you? Have you changed your goals already?

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Have You Resolved?

I have not. However, I am  setting a few goals for myself.

A few years ago I wrote a post on my old Web site about not making resolutions for the new year. I’d have to dredge it up from the archives to quote myself accurately, but my reasoning went along the lines of:

“If you don’t make resolutions, you don’t have to worry about breaking them.”

Short-sighted, perhaps, but it left me feeling perfectly content in December when others were lamenting their lack of fortitude and inability to meet their resolutions (or scrambling madly to attain what a little pre-planning during the year would have accomplished…with much less fuss.)

Now, I simply make goals. I know it’s just semantics, but I’m a wordsmith, right? Semantics are my territory!

Last year I set a modest daily goal, and allowed myself to count my blog posts as part of that goal. I exceeded my goal, nearly doubling what I set out to do.

Don’t applaud yet.

I deliberately picked a small number of words to meet because I work full time, have a 2+ hour commute daily and a youngster…

Time is slim. So I picked a number which I thought was challenging, but doable.

As I’m reviewing my records (in columnar format in a spreadsheet, with a page for each month and a line for each day, and a “yearly” page with all the months at a glance with auto percentages and red font for negative goals) because I’m just analytical like that…I realized that I’d missed my own point.

I did meet my goal of a certain amount of words per day, but I didn’t actually write EVERY day. Except for the 1st, I wrote every day in January 2009, February only has a few days filled in, the rest of the year is better…especially October, when I went on my Writer’s Retreat… but on average, I failed to write daily.

In fact, I failed to write more than 50% of all days last year….and managed to produce quite a bit of stuff: some of which was published in 2009, some of which has been accepted, and much of which is making it’s rounds to editors now.

(And now I’m sitting here wondering how much more I could have accomplished in 2009 if I’d just considered my goal in a different light.)

I’m upping the ante this year.

My goal is to write between 57 and 71% of the days of the year. The difference between the two is one day a week. Writing four days out of seven = 57% of the time; five days out of seven is 71%. I’m reserving the weekends for family, even though these are the two days that I actually have the most time to write.

I’ll be content to meet 57%. I’ll be ecstatic if I manage 60% or better. Even if I don’t constrain myself to a minimum word count, I should still see the numbers increase for 2010.

My other main goal is to get my office organized. Does anyone else operate out of boxes?

This year, stuff is getting into the filing cabinet. I started doing a bit of that as I prepared for my retreat in September, but I’m determined to get the desk cleaned off, the boxes emptied, and everything still on floppies transferred to some other media.

Some minor goals include trying out Simon Haynes ywriter software with one of the novels I’m working on. I’m also going to try Writer’s Dreamkit software. I bought and tried it a long time ago and didn’t like it…but I’m going to give it a second chance. I’ll write about both here on the blog when I’ve evaluated them.

Finally, I want to get out more and meet more people, whether it’s an additional conference, a reading or a book store. In fact…just about anywhere will do.

So… what about you? Are you resolving?

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Happy New Year!

Champagne Popping
Wishing you a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!