reached 40k! :D

Pretty much hit it yesterday, up to 39,300 (did an amazing 5400 word sprint!) and then brushed up to 40k in The Hated today.

I should have written more and gotten further but a few things happened — someone side-swiped my car this AM *grump*, and then I hit a little bit of a brain wall. Since I’d been pushing it hard for over a week and coming up with some amazing wordcounts I figured it was better to take it easy on myself today and nap and catch up with Sleepy Hollow.

But then on my way back out to pick up my husband — I figured out how to climb the wall and What Happens Next And Then Next! through the end of the book. While I’m working the next four days (boooooo) I have some days off next week and I really think this draft’ll be done by the end of the month! :D Then it’ll be back to Electricity! :D

Also, I bit the bullet and commissioned a cohesive series cover theme for all three books in the series, so when book 3 comes out, all of them will look like they match. I’m really pleased about that :D.

Less so about getting up at 5:30 am tomorrow, however, which is prolly how early I oughta get up to make it to work on time with this first rain :(. Ugh. But oh well. 2 shitty commute days, and then a weekend of less crappy commute and then Thanksgiving week should be lighter all over, I hope :D

a great week and a half :D

So all this past week my friend Rachel Swirsky was in town for an at-my-house writing retreat :D. It was pretty much the culmination of all my house-owning hopes and dreams! Having a guest room at a great place worth visiting and getting to Nerd It Up for a week straight! :D On Friday we had a writing salon/party and then it was like life got even better because I had 12 writers over in my living room to write with and talk to. So much fun! (If hanging out with other writers is your thing ;)).

Then on Sunday I went back home to Santa Cruz for a girlfriend’s baby shower (which was mustache themed — the temporary mustache tattoos on the backs of my hands just washed off ;)) and on Monday my folks came down and my in-laws came over and I did a not-a-thanksgiving-Thanksgiving, so now my fridge is full of yummy leftovers.

I got up to 33k that I like in The Hated now (my Sleeping with Monsters book 3) and I have the rest of today and tomorrow to hopefully hit 40-45k. Since I only expect this book to be 50-55k or so, I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far (most of which was made during this past week). Then I can turn it in and have a huge window to work on Electricity in.

After that, I only have the plot for one more Sleeping with Monsters book burning my brain (although I have ideas for several others!) and I’ll have to figure out which direction I want to go :D. I’m tempted to go back to Dark Ink, too, and do a serial. We’ll see! :D

Worldbuilders Critique Auction!

I’m auctioning off another thorough crit of the first 15,000 words of someone’s book, PLUS query, PLUS synopsis!

Check it out HERE!

Last year’s winner said he got a lot out of it, and I loved it too. Last year was my first year offering a crit, but I’ve done tons of other ones before at conventions (and I went through Clarion West & Viable Paradise, which are crit-based workshops.) When I’m the pro at workshops at conventions, I’m always limited by time, and trying to do things as a group. I found last year’s Worldbuilder’s crit deeply satisfying. To get into someone’s work, one on one, take my time, and tell them everything that I can that’ll make their work better — it felt so good.

Since I’ve been writing for (oh god!) 17 years, am working on my nineteenth book — I bring a lot to the table, and I have that teacher gene that really gets off on finally getting to share it with other likeminded people ;). (Here’s a throw-back post about getting an agent. See? I’m teachy ;))

And Worldbuilders is a great charity. All of their proceeds go to Heifer International.

So click through! And click on the other items! There’s a ton of great ones! Help support a good cause, and maybe get a writing leg-up! :D

bullies and stifling multiculturalism

Ah, here we go, another late Friday night confessional post, which likely no one will see.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, in 2002, there was a Worldcon in San Jose, prior to which I had made a terrible enemy.

A person I thought was a friend, because they acted like one, and I tend to take those sorts of things at face value, decided to unfriend me. As this was in the time before facebook, she couldn’t just unfollow or block me, heh —  so rather than telling me or just ignoring me thoroughly, she and a cadre of people went around telling everyone they knew that I was crazy and a bad writer. Did I mention she was low-level famous? Because yeah, she was, she was a famous TV writer’s assistant and everyone, I mean everyone, groveled to her. She was a big important fish in our very shallow pond.

The whole experience was shattering. I didn’t understand why she’d decided to stop being my friend, muchless why she’d decided to spread spurious lies about me to all sorts of writers I knew and didn’t know. Her friends went out of their way to approach editors to ‘warn’ them about me, and tried very hard to poison SFF’s rather inbred social well.

Luckily for me, I’d been around for awhile by then — I’d been attending cons regularly since 98, and was active on SFF.net, then the hip-SF nerd place to be. And because I knew people in person, and they knew me in person and online, most of the gossip was quickly stopped, because people would hear it and say, “Cassie? Really? Nahhhhh, that doesn’t sound like her.”

(In addition, at the time I was a shitty writer still — so it’s not like I had mss for consideration on many people’s desks, heh.)

But the whole con was like a strange test on a cruel reality show. You — contestant #1! — Try to spend four days among your peers acting with impeccable grace and manners as other people flounce away when you join group conversations! Try to ignore when people haul other people you’ve just met aside to ‘warn’ them about you before you’ve even said a word! Pretend you are made out of ice when people make a show of skipping your elevator because you are in it!

It was lovely, let me tell you.

I realized all I could do was concentrate on what I could manage — my attitude, and how I reacted to the frequent snubbing, and how often I could nervously put lip gloss on in an attempt to look professional at all times, heh. (God bless you, MAC lipglass. Never change.) And by the end of it, I managed to have a good time with my friends who knew better and who mattered — many of whom still matter in my life today.

Now, I already had an unnatural affinity for the underdog in things prior to that — but that experience pretty much sealed it, and turned me into the person I attempt to be today.

Forgive me this digression, but it ties into this: Laura Mixon’s Report on Damage Done By One Individual Under Several Names.

I’ve been aware of Requires Hate and her bullying reviews for some time. She’s taken apart friends of mine, and whatever valid points she might have made were completely lost inside her vitriol. I have met acid attack survivors. You do not get to threaten acid attacks on anyone, in any context, ever. There is no, ‘Oh, I was just joking’ with acid attacks. It is a hard line in the sand.

And I personally know what bullying in the writing community is — but what she did to other people was a step far, far beyond. Goading people into overdoses? Stalking them with a cadre of cronies and sock-puppets, always ready to attack? I cannot even begin to imagine how bad that kind of bullying would be. At least I was insulated by a prior reputation and friends. How many people did she attack that didn’t have any protection? Reading the comments at the end of that post — it turns my stomach to think on how many people she hurt, who all thought they were alone — which was precisely what Requires Hate wanted.

Apparently I was never on her radar because I was white (if you read the report you’ll understand) but she was definitely on mine. I was worried about her and people like her would come at me with pitchforks if they ever read my books — namely, Shapeshifted.

If you’ve read my books, you know I’ve gone way-way out of my way to create a universe that is multicultural — because I want it to reflect the world in which I live in and the places that I work. In addition to being tired of the normal skinny half-this, half-that PI littering urban fantasy, I was tired of the books I read being entirely full of white people — so I wrote against that as well, from Nightshifted on out.

Shapeshifted in particular though — I knew it would be a dangerous book. It’s set in a Latino community and while I may work with that patient population, and I was raised in Texas — I knew I didn’t know enough. So I spent three months of the six months I had to write it studying up on culture, Santa Muerte, girl gangs, curanderos, etc, in a desperate attempt to Get Things Right. Not only because I wanted to get them right for rightness’s sake — but because I didn’t want to be swarmed by an angry mob if I got anything wrong.

And there’s a little something wrong with that.

I knew that if I did screw up something worth mentioning, someone would tell me, and I would have to accept that I was wrong, no matter what I did. I definitely did not become a culture master in my three months of cramming. I would have to be gracious and considerate and try to do better next time out. I was totally prepared for that boom to drop — and grateful when it never did.

But it would have been way, way, way easier for me to not even to try to write another culture in the first place. Lord knows thousands of writers do it. Hundreds of thousands, more like.

I have to say it’s frustrating to make a good faith effort to try to do something right and know that even with the best of intentions it might explode on you (especially at the time when RH was at her most active) like a fumbled hand-grenade.

And there’s something sorrowful in that. Because the more examples of multiculturalism you get out there, done right, even by white people, the better things are going to be in the world. The more opportunities we’ll have to understand each other, to see one another working together for the betterment of all. I’m not saying that people who screw things up shouldn’t be told that — they should, and I would hope they’d be gracious and be given time to reflect — but that’s clearly not going to happen when they’re being threatened with acid burns simultaneously.

In writing Shapeshifted, I took a chance. Most people don’t know what it’s like to sit down and really write a book — with the power in them to actually finish one, one under contract that will see the light of day — and know that every choice they make in it could be held up for scrutiny later. It’s like trying to do a perfect run on a video game on the hardest setting.

I know I’m not a demon for trying to do something out of my comfort-zone — and neither were the multitudinous other writers that Requires Hate hunted down to mock and belittle mercilessly.

If we don’t try to change, and change better, change will never come. But I guarantee you no positive change has ever come from cruelty, bullying, intimidation, stalking, or threats of acid.

 

Ebola & Erasure & Erotica (what are things that begin with the letter E)

So I volunteered to be on my hospital’s ebola team. I’m pretty excited about it, it’s cool to learn new things and see what we’d do in a crisis. I had my first training this past Thurs — we practiced donning and doffing all of the gear and talking about what our plans would be.

My boss rolled by my room last week to tell me she was pleased I’d volunteered and said that it was noble of me. I didn’t know a good way to tell her that I wasn’t noble, so much as overly interested in weird things. (And a good friend pointed out that those things were not mutually exclusive, heh ;))

My hospital had a  [interesting thing redacted for HIPPA/personal privacy here] case, and I’ve had patients with H1N1, suspected TB, and HIV. What’s funny is that every time I’ve gotten one of those assignments, they’ve been dumped on me — I’ve floated to another floor, and the charge nurse has been all, “Yes, give the very contaminated patient to the stranger!” Little did they know I (childless, perpetually interested in research material, and intelligently reckless) would have volunteered.

I’d feel strange if my hospital did get an ebola case and I couldn’t help out is what I’m saying. I’d feel like I was missing out. Which may not be the right moral reason to want to know what to do in case it needs doing, but hey, at least I’m willing to do it ;).

Friday we went back home to Santa Cruz to party it up on Halloween, and then on Saturday I went to Erasure with friends!

Erasure was playing at the Fox Theater in Oakland, which I’d never been to before. It looks like an art-deco/Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom combo, very very cool inside, with statues up front near the stage with lit up eyes — we wiggled our general admission way up super close over to one side and still had room to dance. I swear they just ran through the Pop! album, it was so crazy to hear all these songs I’ve been listening to for twenty years now live. The whole show was like a massive sing-a-long, it was awesome :D

This week’s been worky, but I’m settling in for a big writing stretch. I have next week off and I’m going to try to do 25-30k in The Hated so that I can finish its rough draft and get back to Electricity for the end of the year. I feel good about things — I don’t want to jinx myself, but people’ve been buying/reviewing enough of my erotica that I feel good about that use of my time now.

Oh — one last E! – I had my echocardiogram. My heart is normal. Well, I haven’t had my Dr visit yet, but I used my nurse powers to look at my own report (which is legal :P) and the preliminary says I’m fine. So hopefully my heart stays chill for the rest of my life ;).

So that’s where I’m at! If I’m super feeling it, I’ll post word-counts here next week. :D

The House — free on Amazon for a limited time!

Hey y’all!

The House, my choose your own adventure erotica novel, is free on Amazon for a little bit here as an experiment. If you were on the fence about getting a copy, now’s your deliciously free chance ;).

The House

recently cool things

Had a really good week this past week — was super busy with too much work, but managed to swing getting out to Death Salon in SF last weekend, and a see Hozier play in SF on Friday, and hit the zoo today :D.

Death Salon was really fun — the speakers were interesting and the topics were super varied. I particular enjoyed the one on sex ghosts in Italian catacombs and Hygeia by the Bay — one civil war doctor’s attempt to create a Kellog-like utopia up where Tiburon is nowdays. Afterwards we went to the coolest bar I’ve ever been in — The Long Now’s Interval — it’s ridiculously cool. And since a friend of mine knew Caitlin Doughty (of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and the Order of the Good Death) we got to hang out with her. I wish I’d been able to attend the full day, since we started talking to someone who did forensic facial reconstruction at the bar and I would have looooveeed to see their presentation earlier.

Then seeing Hozier was awesome. Sometime this past spring, back when I was still on nightshift, I heard these two songs on the radio — Take me to Church, by Hozier, and Riptide by Vance Joy, and they’ve been my favorite songs so far this year. We were in the back for a bit — it was a general admission show — but we wandered out to see the merch booth, and then realized there was a door from it to right by the side of the stage — so we were like eight feet away from the stage for the last half of the show. Suuuuuper fun :D.

And then today we did a date over at the Oakland Zoo. It’s a small zoo, but it’s really well set up and the animals all look happy (unlike the SF zoo where I want to buy everything — even the ones with fur – a sweater). It’s so lovely to get out during the day and get some sun. I’m still really pleased by my new dayshift life ;).

This week gets a little crazy with work, but then I’ve got more fun to look forward to — dinner with friends on Friday, relatives over the weekend, and a three day trip next week to Santa Cruz to see my hometown peeps :D, and the holidays are shaping up nicely as well!

I’ve been mostly working on my next erotica book, because work has been so brutal lately — I keep working extra hours and doubles, (because somehow buying a house comes with this mysterious bill called a property tax :P) — and I haven’t had the brain cells to really work on Electricity much, since heavy edits require >>> more brains than spewing 1st draft. But I’ve got a week off in November to write with a friend and I expect to get back to it in a big way then. My goals in general are to finish this erotica (The Hated) and Electricity by the end of the year :D. I think it’s doable with a little hustling ;).

More news tomorrow, dum-dum-dummmmmmm!!!

The Hunted is Out!

The Hunted - High Resolution The Hunted is now live at Amazon!

The second in the Sleeping with Monsters series, about strong women and the monsters they love, The Hunted is a BDSM-themed werewolf thriller.

I had so much fun writing this book. So. Much. Fun. I hope some of y’all enjoy it too!

 

books begun and finished in Lake Tahoe

tahoe

So I’m in the mountains again, first time in a long while — but I used to come up here quite a bit. There’s something about the hypoxia of altitude that’s soothes the soul and makes it easier to write, which is good because I just wrote the first sentence of book 19.

I both love and hate measuring out time in book-lengths — I like that I’ve come this far, that I haven’t ever given up (or if I have, not for long!) but I also feel old having so many books under my belt.

I can still remember sitting on the patio at a friend’s family’s vacation place, typing away furiously in the middle of the summer while friends hung out inside watching a game. I had to sit here for a second and think very hard, and count using both hands — that was my seventh book about an accountant saving a nanite infected Earth with the help of a very enthusiastic wrestling fan club. (It worked in the book, I swear it.)  I loved that book — I loved all of them, frankly, except for book 8. That one, oh man, I pretty much said, ‘You know what? The end. All of you. The end!” and banished everyone off the page.  I may or may not have quit writing there for a bit, until the idea for book 9 came along…and yeah. I’ve never not wrestled with a book, but it’s always been worth it in the end.

I finished Nightshifted in Tahoe. It was with a different group of friends, different house, and I sat out on a deck as the sun went down, losing feeling in my fingers, racing the sinking light, oblivious to what I’m sure was the beauty of sunset over the lake, and the warm friendship waiting for me inside the house.

And that’s sort of it, isn’t it. Because writing is something you do alone, and no one else, no matter how well meaning (or self-evident they think they are) can do it for you. You either enjoy it or you don’t and press on anyways, and it pays rewards  only you can feel that are completely intangible to anyone else.

The last time I was in Tahoe was one of the best weekends of my life — the weather was gorgeous, the company divine, but if I’m honest…it’s mostly because I turned my back on all of that to hang out, again, in my own mind.

juggling like a juggler

I always hesitate to use that phrase, because my ex-husband was a juggler. (No, I’m not kidding. You have no idea how well going to juggling conventions prepared me for going to science fiction conventions. No idea.)

But that’s what I’m doing nowadays, and better than I was before (I think. So far.)

I’m up to 15,000 in the complete rewrite of my YA, and as grumpy as I am about rewriting the whole damn thing, I think it’s turning out spectacularly. What’s more, is that I can’t just let it go — which is a good sign. Any time things bite into my brain that hard, well — I’m on the right track. Even if it’ll be a few months before I’m done with rewriting it.

And I’m turning in the final version of The Hunted today, which feels awesome :D.

Annnnnd, I’m prescheduled to work a double tomorrow at work. (If something happens with my heart this time, I will pull it out myself and throw it onto the floor :P.)

I was in a fender-bender the other day on the way to work — it was my fault, and mostly my fender that got bent :(. I’m fine though, and my car’s at a bodyshop — I felt reallllly stupid for it having happened, but it hasn’t thrown my mojo off like I thought it would, which is nice.

I’m busy, but not overwhelmed, and I think things are going well, even if I’m having to bounce around a lot. I feel competent. It’s been awhile. It’s good. :D