Archive for March, 2010

Write What You Read Except When You Don’t

One of my WIPs (works in progress) is a steampunk. I’m mentioned before that this came about by accident. The house publishing my first novella had a blog entry from an editor saying she was looking for more steampunk. I mentioned this to my husband, who tossed out an entire plot off the top of his head. (My husband sparks off brilliant ideas like a unicorn’s ass shoots out glitter. He’s actually much better at plotting and world building than I am. The reason I’m the writer in the family is because I’m the one putting my butt in the seat and typing. Inspiration isn’t everything.)

It’s a terrific story and I’m madly in love with the characters. I am a huge fan of Victorian literature, and I even have my very own Godey’s Lady’s Book here in my office (a bound copy of ten issues).I started to type out the plot for you before I remembered that I wasn’t finished working yet and I don’t want to jinx it. I’ve done a ton of research on top of my existing knowledge of the period and my existing love of alternate history/worlds.

What I haven’t done is read a lot of steampunk. The giants in the genre don’t appeal to me, with the exception that I enjoyed Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. Notice that’s not his steampunk work. A title that never comes up in steampunk top ten lists that I loved was Pavane by Keith Roberts, even though it’s an alternate world where the tech is steam powered. (Although set in the present day, the world is built on the assumption that Elizabeth I was assassinated, England went Catholic, and the Catholic Church repressed technology such that industrial progress evolved very, very slowly.)

But I felt like I should read more of what I’m trying to write. I went to the library and got Steampunk, since that one is recommended on every top ten list on the topic.

The reason I haven’t declared it a wallbanger is because I would never huck a library book at a wall.

Also, I have not read all the stories yet. I got pissed off by the scholarly essay at the front of the book, where it basically says that steampunk, without the “punk” aspects of thinking negatively towards the society so described, is pitiful. Under this theory, focusing on the imaginative aspects, the technology, the social norms, and the clothing, without writing the rebellion, make the story inherently less valuable.

Pish and tosh. You can’t write about Victorian era clothes without considering what those clothes suggest about the society’s expectations and desires. Ditto relationships between men and women. And I’m sorry, but some of the stories I have read so far are just gadget porn. Science fiction is infested with this kind of “story” – endless nattering about how this doohickey works and blah blah blah. So to suggest that anyone writing fiction for the pleasure of invention (as opposed to Making Statements) has taken a step down is to be one of those people who doesn’t read or write popular fiction.

I’ve read enough to figure that out. So thanks, but I’ll take it from here.

Categories: Thinking Tags: , ,

A Writer’s Mental State

March 30, 2010 4 comments

I was doinking around on Absolute Write instead of writing last night, because my story sucks. I still met my word goal for the night, but those words were all boring. The story is boring. No one could ever possibly want to read it. Fortunately, there’s a chart for this.

The AW poster said this chart is courtesy of a science fiction author named Maureen McHugh. I am now going to purchase one of her books because A) science fiction author, B) I owe her one now.

Inspiration: Nifty!

I don’t remember how it happened, but I stumbled onto nearly ten years ago. This site is devoted to amateur erotic fiction. Text, not video. I still don’t recommend clicking the link if you’re at work or your kids are nearby. In order to keep themselves open, they have recently started accepting advertising from anyone willing and able to pay, and the intersection between “willing” and “able” consists mainly of porn sites.

It’s a funny thing when the ad visuals are the only thing making a site NSFW (not safe for work). But they gotta do what they gotta do to keep running, and they are quite the gateway drug for erotic fiction. I know a whole lot of people who stumbled into reading and writing erotica from Nifty.

The term amateur simply means that the writers aren’t doing it for money. None of the Nifty authors are paid. The site hosts don’t edit the material, although I have the impression that they decline to post stories that are so poorly written as to be illegible. They also bounce stories for having objectionable content (rape, unwilling partners, children, excessive violence, violence not part of a BDSM scenario, etc). Note that the site says it’s gay/lesbian erotica, and their submission guidelines say they don’t take hetero stories. I have found a number of straight stories, though, usually of the “doing it in public” or “as part of a threesome” varieties. Stories are filed by category so readers can find exactly what rings their bells.

It’s basically a short story slush pile with the worst 50% removed. A lot of it is still unreadable. There are enough heroines who are 5’7″ and 110 pounds with enormous tits to make you sprain your eyes rolling them. But such trials make finding the gems that much more satisfying. There’s one author named Marie who is theoretically telling us about her personal adventures (mostly F/F), and she writes well enough that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief.

Anyway, Nifty was absolutely one of my big inspirations in terms of what made me decide to start writing erotica. If you can get past the ads and into the story archives, and you write/enjoy erotica, this site is worth a bookmark.

Categories: Thinking, Writing Tags:

No Clever Post Today

This morning, my husband and I woke up our little boy at what I used to call the ass crack of dawn. We dressed him, which annoyed him, and then we put him into the car without any breakfast, which enraged him. Fortunately, by the time we got to the hospital for his tear duct surgery, he was a ray of sunshine. My mate said our little guy didn’t cry even when the anesthesia mask went on.

I feel weird even calling it surgery, because basically, they stuck a wire into his tear duct and out his nose in order to pop a little membrane (something that happens naturally for most kids before they’re six months old). He was under for less than ten minutes, and it didn’t hurt. He came out of it so fast that we didn’t even sit down in the waiting room before the orderly fetched us. He was more irritated at waking up to find a nurse cuddling him when he’d fallen “asleep” with Daddy cuddling him.

He is currently fine, and happy to be dismembering Mr. Potato Head.

Me, I’m a wreck, wondering if it’s too early in the morning for Bailey’s. See you Monday.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

iPad Options, Bookstore Apps, and Me

I’m a little crazed today, but I hate making the three of you click on my URL in vain. So here’s a link about how the iPad isn’t going to preinstall any particular bookstore, but allow the user to install her favorite app.

Me, I hope readers go directly to the publisher’s website to buy my book, because I will get twice as much money. And by “twice” I mean “nearly a dollar” instead of “not quite enough to get a soda from the machine.” That is true of every digital publisher I know of, by the way. The author’s royalty is double if the buyer got the book from the publisher, because distributors take such a huge cut.

I just wrote to the editor to ask if there was going to be  a Carina Press app 😉

PSA: Magnets Are Not Good For Your Computer

My computer tower is on my desk instead of the floor, thanks to toddlers, dogs, and my slackitude when it comes to vacuuming under my desk. This gives me a smooth clean surface perfect for post it notes. There are eight on it right now. Character names and thumbnail descriptions, questions for my friend in the army (color background for a story), list of blogs that I’d like to have review my book, books I want to read, that kind of stuff. The kinds of details I’d remember if I didn’t have a small child who does not sleep, and for the love of kumquats, the next person who suggests sleep training DIES, okay, because seriously, do people really think I’d have NOT CONSIDERED THAT after two years of not sleeping? If it worked on my particular kid, wouldn’t I be sleeping more? Anyway.

So I swapped pictures of this computer, bristling with post it notes, with a friend on Facebook who claimed to have the a better collection of notes than I did.

He did. Kind of. Two of his notes were attached to the computer case with magnets.

Y’all… don’t do that. Yes, it’s probably safe. The type of magnet that erases hard drives is much stronger than the “refrigerator” kind of magnet. But you can still do damage to other components. And if you’re a dork like I am, owning a rare earth magnet or two is not unthinkable. If you’re in the habit of sticking stuff to your computer, and you use that magnet because you’re muddy brained from not sleeping or whatever, you could really ruin your day.

It hasn’t happened to me, because sometimes, I can see the trap before I step in it.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Health Care

I’m already self-employed – I’m a consultant and a non-fiction writer before I go into a phone booth and put on my glasses – so all this yammering about health care makes me kind of want to reach out and hit people. If you believe in the American dream, in pursuing your dreams to be self-employed, in the importance of writing and art, you might consider making a fist yourself.

Read more…

Categories: Thinking Tags: ,