Culture near and far

My dad’s been visiting me these past few days, and with him comes the opportunity to disconnect from work and writing and just be a magpie again — we went to the De Young Museum for the Turner exhibit, went on a walk of SF themed around Victorian homes, went to The Long Now’s Interval bar/cafe, which is the hands down coolest place to hang in all of SF, walked all over the USS Hornet, and went out to see Rhonda Benin at the Sound Room in downtown Oakland.

And also watched Nightcrawler, Whiplash, and the Nina Simone documentary on Netflix, all of which were really good in very different ways. (I have additional thoughts about Whiplash, but they’re not cogent enough to share yet.) ((PS: my dad’s into jazz, if you’re sensing a theme.))

And then-then, I read this month’s The Wicked and The Divine. (Here come spoilers!)

I came into comic-books secondhand, thru my husband reading them, and since I’m not a true believer I’m oftentimes frustrated by the medium. The art’s nice n’ all, but where’s the meat? The stories oftentimes don’t feel as fleshed out as I’d like them to be. And just when things feel like they’re ramping up, they get cut off.

So the Wicked and the Divine is the only comic book I’m making an effort to keep up with, because I love the premise — that every generation a group of people are turned into the incarnations of literal gods, and they’ll all be dead within two years.

And this month’s Wicdiv blew me away. It was one of the most feminist things I’ve read recently. Because the people in the comic are actual gods, one of the characters deals with the madonna/whore dichotomy plus fame plus social media intimately. It was glorious. Especially when you realize later that the entire comic was essentially a suicide note and you realize what you’re seeing is what she was seeing on her screens, right before she chose to die.

It was fantastic, just really well done, the best visual of bullying and the internet for women that I have ever seen.  I would recommend it to anyone wholeheartedly.

Anyhow — I’m off in a bit to go to another jazz thing in Jack London Square with my dad and then take him to the airport — and then to recuperate and hopefully put the book I’m working on currently to bed.

A huuuuuge catch-up —

It’s been two months, OMG, I have been so remiss!

In my defense, they’ve been two of the busiest months of my life!

Launchpad was amazing. It’s a yearly astronomy workshop held for writers so that we know to get the science right when the opportunity presents itself in our work. I learned so much amazing stuff there — I swear my brain hurt every single day, in a good way. (Apart from the altitude sickness! Laramie, WY is 7000 feet up, and that’s no laughing matter!) All of us stayed in an honors dorm and hung out and ate together and went to observatories together — it was really, really, fun.

Then…I worked a lot. A lot a lot. My work hired a bunch of new kids, which is great, we really did need the help, but I knew the second they got off of orientation the double-time $$$ would dry up, so I basically picked up So Many Shifts. Why? Because I wanted to pay for fun at San Diego Comiccon!

I got to go down to San Diego and stay with my brother in Oceanside and ride the train back and forth every day — Comiccon was a blast. I hung out with writer friends, went to panels when I felt like it, bought all my friends awesome shirts in the dealer’s room (exhibit hall, excuse me ;)) and took pictures of amazing cosplay, plus swam in the ocean twice :D. It was a completely ace time.

Then after that, OMG, July — my folks visited, I went to Palm Springs (swimming in hotel pools, yay!) on a business trip with my husband, I worked a ton still, friends visited, and I went camping for five days — I just got back on Sunday, actually. (That was the only possibly un-fun thing — we were camping with people I adored and we were near very scenic waterfalls that I got to swim in (this is my summer theme = swimming!), but it was 111 degrees out. Hooboy.)

Annnnd, now I’m back at work. Only all the kiddos have been set free — and I have a book to finish. I started my major rehaul of it at Comiccon, on the train back and forth to the convention, and I’m just about to the endity-end. August is gonna be busy too — I have a girl’s weekend coming up and my dad’s visiting — but since I’m not picking up any extra shifts, I should be done, with it turned in to my agent, by 9/1.

So there. I’m caught up, phew. And I’ll try to stay more on top of things from here out. It should be easier, because I don’t think I’ll be that busy again for a long while…until next summer, most likely ;).

busy bee-ing

I’ve reached the point where I need to catch up here or I’ll be so behind forever ;).

First off, Baycon was last weekend, and it was amazing. I had so much fun hanging out with friends, it was so relaxed and enjoyable. I was the pro for one of the writing workshops, which I love — talking to new writers about what makes their books tick is fantastic. And then I was on (and moderated!) a panel about the future of antibiotics, which, while grim subject-wise, was immensely fun to be on.

On Monday, I go off to Launchpad! It’s an astronomy camp for writers, and I pretty much can’t wait! I know a ton of people who’ve been in the past, and have some friends going among the current crew — it’s apparently like getting a year’s worth of graduate astronomy lectures crammed into one week. My brain is ready! :D

And, I’ve been writing. A ton. My book’s coming along nicely. I usually have a horse-and-rider relationship with my manuscripts, and up until now I’ve been the one in charge — but this book’s different. I’m the horse this time, just taking it where it needs to go. It’s strange, but good.

Last, but not least, I’ve been keeping up with boxing. I find it incredibly enjoyable. I already talked about this on FB, but yesterday I was assaulted by a homeless guy in Berkeley.

My last boxing lesson, I was totally drained at the end of last session, and my trainer started shouting at me to imagine punching someone I hated. That didn’t help because, as it turns out, I don’t hate anyone. Talking to my husband about it later, he made a face and was all, “I think your boxing instructor’s a psychopath,” in a teasing, half-not-teasing way.

Well, yesterday I was standing by a friend in Berkeley near a main street in daylight when a homeless person came up and kicked me in the back, hard. I screamed in surprise — he kicked me hard enough to make me fall into my friend and for my sunglasses to fall.

Luckily for me, he just walked off, and things didn’t escalate. We got into my friend’s car and trailed him while I talked to 911, and gave them a description. There not being much other crime in Berkeley, two cars went off to look for him, while another cop came over to talk to me.

I know how many homeless people are mentally ill, I see them each and every day at work. So we basically had a, “Yeah, it pretty much sucks,”-type convo. It’s not like I want to press charges. I only reported it in case this guy goes off on some sort of kicking-spree.

I know how it is. Coulda been my voice, my hair, my backpack, time of day, whatever. I hate those existential moments when there’s no reason for things, things just are. I know I’m lucky that it didn’t get worse. I am bemused that this happened in Berkeley, since Oakland’s the far more traditionally ‘dangerous’ locale.

After that, I picked up my husband early from work — and he’s all, “You can take as many boxing lessons as you want to,” heh.

More soon, after Launchpad probably :D

 

punching things out, in a good way ;)

wrapped hand

 

That’s my hand! All wrapped up for boxing! I just started today, but I can already tell I’m gonna love it. I used to do TKD as a kid and I was pretty good at it at the time. I’d always wanted to incorporate a martial art back into my life, but all the Asian ones seem to do a lot of knee stuff, and my knees are not what they used to be (likely because of TKD as a kid, heh). Anyhow — there’s a boxing gym a few blocks away from where I do yoga now, and I dropped in and had a really great time — and it’s so much more cardio for me than yoga or the treadmill desk. I’m very stoked and I’ll definitely keep going — punching things is bizarrely therapeutic.

As for punching out other things — The Haunted is going to be free on the 4th! (Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again when its time ;)) — and my Sleeping with Monsters box set is out now — if you wind up liking The Haunted, it’ll let you get the other two slightly on sale.

I’m up to 40k now in Electricity and it’s coming along nicely. And tomorrow I head off to go see my folks for a few days and take a break from working too hard (at work. The writing’s coming with me, heh.).

More soon! :D

 

when you go back to the beginning

I’ve reached that point…the point when you go back to the beginning. (Which is why I’ve linked this particular part of the Princess Bride ;))

It’s not a bad thing! It happens every book, and while I’d rather it not happen, it always does. Somewhere around 30k I realize what the book’s really about and have to go back and make it actually about that thing.

(No matter that I’ve already written this book once before. No, no, that would make too much sense for me to entirely grasp the thing now, nooooo.)

So tomorrow, I’m going to set to again, from the intro on out. It already feels good in my brain. (Deletion of many strained metaphors here.) I’m pretty happy to make the book realign.

In other news, I’ve been busy as heck. Still working a ton of extra shifts, and then went to two shows last week — I saw Florence and the Machine at the Masonic in SF, which I’d never been to. A very intimate show, my best friend and I were just 20 feet from the stage!

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She’s so beautiful — listening to her sing in person is like being visited by Galadriel. Just crazy intense.

And then my husband and I spent the rest of the weekend in Santa Cruz and saw the Reverend Horton Heat again, who always puts on an awesome show :D.

I just have this weekend off, and then I work 8 outta the next 11 days, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but trust me, it very much is, on my particularly back-breaking floor. But that’s OK — all the work makes me hungry to write, and this book has its teeth in me now, it’s not letting go :D.

Trips & Progress! :D

Hello neglected blog! I brought you flowers:

 

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Everything in our yard is blooming right now and gorgeous! The weather’s lovely now too — I even went into SF today to write with friends and wore shorts on accident and didn’t regret it! ;)

So there was an upside to working too much this past month! It made me miss writing — so I started hustling on my off days ;). I’m up to 25k in Electricity now and Daniel’s given the first 20k a A++ so I feel realllly good about things :D.

But work is still busy, which is actually good, because I need to earn some OT to pay for upcoming trips! I got into Launchpad, which I am amazingly excited about, and I’m going to San Diego Comic-con this year for reals with my brother, I have our tickets in hand! And then I’m also doing Baycon, over Memorial Day weekend, plus going camping with 8 of my closest friends this fall, like super rugged outdoors camping, for five days. That’s pretty much May, June, July, and August right there, phew ;). (And my fingers are crossed — and a hotel room booked — for Worldcon ;))

It feels so good to have trips to look forward to again. For a good 6-7 years there I was doing a trip every month, and as stressful as it would sometimes get to write around, last year’s housepoor no-trip-ness felt wrong to me. I enjoy other people and traveling too much.

It’ll probably be another month till I post here again, but hopefully I’ll be pushing 40k by then — or more! :D

Rainforest and patience, or the lack thereof

Been awhile since I’ve updated, and I’ve been very busy in the meantime.

I attended Rainforest Writing Retreat not that long ago. It’s up in Washington state’s Lake Quinault rainforest and it’s lovely —

IMG_20150221_111154 (1) See? :D

But I didn’t have much net while I was there, and I drove the whole way up (with Rachel Swirsky) and back and had to work a ton before that and a ton after that so I didn’t use too much vacation time, annnnnd, yeah. I’m pretty beat, and still catching up from that.

As pretty as the location was, and as awesome as the company, unfortunately I didn’t get a lot done while I was there. The book I’m working on right now is still in a liminal state, not a plunge-forward-and-crank-it place, which I get because I know how I work, but found frustrating because usually on retreats I get 30-40k of new material done, and I think I only managed 5k over the weekend.

But, I did a ton of important thinking — most of it in chatting with Rachel on the 13.5 hr car drive home on Sunday — and I think I’m ready to get rolling again.

Only…Fogcon is this upcoming weekend. I’ll be a pro at a writing workshop there, and I’ll also be on their ebola and other diseases panel, which I’m looking forward to, since I’m on my hospital’s ebola training team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to it, but I want to get some momentum going, and all this socializing is getting in the way, heh.

And to add to that — my beloved cat Desmo is getting sick. She’s got kidney problems. It’s not bad-bad yet, but it’s upsetting. I’ve had her for 14 yrs, she’s kept me sane more times than I can count, and anything I ever wrote that’s been worth a damn has been with her snuggled by my side. I know she’s had a good life, but I would greatly prefer it if she could just live forever.

Work’s been incredibly worky. I worked a 12 and then a 16 and I’ve signed up for a lot of extra shifts and doubles this month to get on top of vet bills and bill-bills, and that makes me anxious too — knowing that doing that is going to cut into my writing time as well :/.

And with all this travel and running around and being generally exhausted, I haven’t gone to yoga in two weeks which isn’t helping, either. (Today’s the day though. I’m typing this up at a coffee shop in between errands with my outfit on and am going at noon or else.)

I feel at loose ends in a hundred different ways, and it’s hard not to beat myself up about things — how much further I wish I were in this project, how much time I’ve ‘wasted’ (or am about to waste), etc etc etc. Fellow crazy people/authors, I’m sure you know the drill.

I just gotta take some deep breaths, realize that my book’ll still be waiting for me on the far side, and that everything’s going to be fine.

One more calming picture for the road:

 

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My birthday —

I should type this up quickly before the clock dings and my glass shoe falls off ;) —

It’s my birthday today, and I spent it largely goofing off, watching Jupiter Ascending (which I LOVED) and writing a bit, plus going to a local ex-Top Chef contestant’s restaurant to be ‘fancy’.

I dunno why I’m in a retrospective mood now (could be the sangria I had with dinner!) but I am.

I’m up to 12k in Electricity’s reboot. Waiting to hear back from Daniel on the 1st 10k. Feeling antsy, usually he’s a quick read, nervous that I screwed it all up, heh.

More nervous that I didn’t, and now I have to pull it off. I’m debating on if I should get to call this my 20th book or not, seeing as it’s a complete rewrite of a former book — even though it’s totally brand new — and….

that’s why i’m angsting. I’m about 5k away from the end of my ‘I know what happens now’ book tether, after that I’ll be floating off into the void with a kind-of plan, but not a real plan, and what I’ll be writing will bear so little resemblance to what came before that it’s not even helpful to think about it.

Discussed this at dinner with my husband. He says I do this every book. He’s right. But still :P. Doesn’t make it any less anxiety making — especially because this book is still The Book for me.

Of course, watching the movie today I had a 1001 great ideas for my next book (heh) but y’all know how that goes, the story-grass is always greener in another file.

I’ll just have to keep on keeping on. Rainforest retreat is next week. I really want to make some wordcount then, but I may have to be content with just figuring out goes next. I’ve been trying to creep up on this project sideways, 100 words here, 500 there, not embiggening it in my head, don’t want to scare it off, but hopefully I’ll catch the tail of something soon because it’d be nice to really crank again.

Anyhow — things are good, really. My brain’s still good. Like, really good, and work’s been awesome, I’m enjoying writing more than I’m scared of it, and my husband’s ace and kicking ass at his work.

I think 39 will be a pretty good year, actually. I just have a certain silly feeling about it :D.

The Hated is live!

(When I type things like that, I always want to cackle, ‘It’s alive! It’s alive!’, like I’m Dr. Frankenstein ;))

Hated Final Cover

The Hated, the third book in my Sleeping with Monsters series, is live on Amazon now! This is my vampiric science fantasy that borrows a little bit from everything I love — Elric of Melnibone, Dune, and Gormenghast — and whirs it all up with a lot of sexy times for a cool futuristic erotica.

Other life things — I’ve written a bunch of posts on Publishing Aunt about: Will my words matter, Writing with a job, Good but not good enough, and How to find an editor.

The treadmill desk is awesome — but I worked too much this past week to use it much :P. Tomorrow is another day, tho! :D

new year, new me — Publishing Aunt and treadmill desk

Hey all! So we’re halfway through Jan already and I thought I should update again!

I’ve been pretty busy this year already — I finished edits on The Hated, approved final covers for my Sleeping with Monsters series (you can check ’em out if you scroll over here, I’m rather proud of them since I picked the images out myself), I did the crit that I auctioned off for charity on Worldbuilders and have realio-trulio started my reboot of Electricity :D.

About a week ago I was having fun doing that crit, and then I helped a friend out on a query letter, and then someone on Goodreads used that function to ask me about the economics of continuing a defunct series self-pub, and I had this realization — I reallllly enjoy talking insider baseball, on how to write and the writing-life.

So to better express that side of myself in a venue where more eyes might hopefully see it, I started a tumblr: Publishing Aunt. I have a ton of experience with all the sides publishing has to offer — success, failure, writing 9 books before the 10th one sold, querying 52 agents — I’ve been there. I know how stressful being a new writer is and the desperate longing to get published. I think so much of the process is so opaque that I’ll be doing a real service answering a question 2-3 times a week over there. So if you ever wanted publishing advice or someone to hold your hand on that road — shoot me an email via the tumblr’s form, I’d love to help you.

In other exciting news, I am currently writing this from, *drumroll* — my new treadmill desk!!!

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This build was my husband’s Christmas present to me. As you can see in the 2nd photo, we’ve got quite a lot of room in this room — we moved into our house from a studio, remember? So we don’t have that much furniture to begin with — and our friend who was staying here long term just moved out for realsies this time honest swear, SO the room is mine! ;) I’m really pleased. I assumed going from nightshift to dayshift work I’d be losing weight, but no — my writing productivity has gone up, along with my sedentary-osity. This treadmill desk is hopefully a fun way to overcome that. I’m typing this at 2 miles an hour right now!

(I wish I knew how many steps I was doing, though :P. We had fitbit forces, which were fine even though they were recalled for allergy reasons — then they released the one fitbits that have heart rate monitors. I sent ours back for the recall and ordered new ones the day before the standing desk arrived — and the color of the one I want won’t be in for 6-8 weeks. Ah well!)

We followed the instructions from here: Treadmill Desk Diary and he’s even got youtube videos demonstrating the ‘taking the arms off the treadmill’ part. And then this is the standing desk I got, which is very solid. It has a monitor stand which I might wind up needing — I’m still looking down at the monitor here — but dang, I’m on floor level, in front of windows hat show the whole backyard, it’s so lovely. And we’re starting a veggie garden soon, so being on this level of the house more to remind me to water things will shortly be important ;).

Anyhow, that’s me! More news in the future, when I have it, or once I get the intro to Electricity solidly down :D