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:

 

IMG_20150221_175823

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!!!

IMG_20150115_150450 IMG_20150115_150501

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

 

The Year in Review

2014 has beeeeeeen interesting :D. Can’t say it’s been my favorite year, but I really like where I am now in it, so I shouldn’t complain.

Life stuff — had some serious ups and downs relationshipwise with my husband and certain friends. But, all in all, things have pulled through and I feel more positive and more connected now than I have at any time in the year prior. I think all the shakiness knocked things down to their foundations, and what’s been rebuilt has been made to last.

Health stuff — Oh, my silly heart. It hasn’t had any runs of SVT since the fall, but I went through all the testing and no one knows why any of that ever happened. I hope it behaves from here on out, but there are no guarantees. On a positive note though, my Christmas gift from my husband is a treadmill desk, all the components are being shipped to us as I type, so soon I’ll be typing and writing at the same dang time, I can’t wait ;). AND — I finally found a yoga studio I liked! It only took me six tries at assorted studios :P. (Luckily, there’s a ton of yoga out here, and new student specials.) I hadn’t realized what a special place my studio in Santa Cruz was until I started trying to find its like in Oakland. I’ve been going to one place exclusively though this past month and feel really good about continuing my practice there this upcoming year — my back needs yoga so badly to feel good.

Work stuff! Work’s been grand. Switching to dayshift has meant a much shittier commute, but only having to work ten days a month (although I do work more!) is awesome, and keeping normal daylight hours — OMG, it’s so lovely. I had no idea how nice this was when I was doing my six years of night shift time. I don’t know everything there is to know yet nursing-wise, but I know enough to feel pretty confident on a day to day basis at work. I’m a good nurse, and I do a good job. I love it, honestly.

Writing stuff! (I could include ‘mental health stuff!’ in here too, since my writing basically is my mental health ;)). That’s where 2014 gets a little tricky. I think this past year has been me processing my series not getting picked back up by SMP. It’s really hard to work your whole life towards one goal and accomplish it only to then kind-of-sort-of fail. (The awkward sort of failing that looks like success to anyone else who hasn’t succeed-failed yet, heh.) (I was so mystified-bewildered-upset by the entire thing that I sent a letter in to Dude In Publishing who was kind enough to answer it with an essay that made me cry.)

I didn’t know what to do with myself, really. Spent some time being depressed, and then realized that my series cancellation didn’t change things. I got existential rock-bottom and realized, all I really know is writing — and that I’m a writer. I don’t have any other hobbies or interests or anything. Writing is all I enjoy doing. I like being a writing machine. I like thinking writing-thoughts, I like plowing down words, I like editing things until they shine, I love talking shop with other writers — writing is pretty much all there is to me. If you told me I couldn’t write tomorrow…I honestly have no idea what it is I’d do. What do normal people do with their free time? I’d be lost.

Because of all of that, I couldn’t stop writing, you know? So my way of coping with my cancellation was to pour my energy into some low-ego projects — my Sleeping with Monsters erotica books, The Haunted, The Hunted, and The Hated (coming up.) I got the chance to roughhouse in some awesome genre playgrounds (ghost stories! werewolves! vampires!) and pretend that none of it matters because of all the explicit sex, heh.

But I’m actually really proud of the work I did and the original ideas inside those books — The Hated in particular, since it’s SF. And I wound up writing at least 180k on them this year (probably close to 220k for the year, if I add in Electricity) which is cool. I’m going to recover them and do an omnibus and see how that goes — and I’ve got ideas for a few more books in the series if they happen to take off ;).

I wound up selling three short stories this year too, under other names, which also felt really really good.

What’s coming up in 2015?

Well, now that The Hated’s gonna be turned in on Thurs — it’s back to the YA mines for me. I think I’m ready to take on this extreme rewrite on Electricity, finally. (I thought it was extreme before, no, this is from the ground up. All the way from the bones. Half the bones. Maybe one fragment of the skull.) Talking to Daniel about it, about what part of that story really mattered to me, has given me laser focus. I’m just hoping that I can do a good enough job to pull it off the way it deserves to be.

After that? I’m not sure. I’ve got 3-4 book ideas bumping around in my head, a middle grade series, a novella set in WWII, my erotica + PKD book that I want to write as a straight literary novel that just happens to be really weird, and I’m tempted to release an older unpublished book of mine on Wattpad just to see what, if anything, would happen to it. I loved that book, I don’t care if it doesn’t make any money, I’d just like it to get it some readers.

This whole year writing-wise — especially writing the eroticas so quickly — has made me realize what a good writer I am. I know my stuff. I can rely on my intuition. I’m talented. I can trust in me.

So now I suppose the best word for how I feel is liminal. It’s not an entirely comfortable feeling, but instead of being scared by that, the in-betweeness of my career and where I thought I’d be instead — I don’t know — I just can’t help but feel full of potential and opportunity. I’m back to where I was before Edie. I’m good at what I do and I can write anything I damn well please ;).

So yeah — that’s been 2014. And as for 2015? It’s time to get back to work. ;)

a quick update…

…which ought to be a long one, but hey, it is what it is.

So, shortly after my last cryptic blog post (the reasons for which I still have to be oblique) I found out that my grandmother had died. She was an excellent grandma — I only wish I’d been a better granddaughter for her.

One of our longest conversations at the end was about Nightshifted — she was a nurse back in the time before antibiotics, so we had a conversation about pre-penicillin treatments for syphilis, since I’ve got a syphilitic were-dragon in that book.

My husband and I flew out to Kansas for the funeral, and it was a surprisingly good time — I got to see all of my relatives on that side of the family, and really spend some quality time. I also got one of her nursing hats :D — and a small sewing box I’d made her when I was in elementary school.

Since then, this week’s been short-long, heh. I’ve gone to a lot of meetings and classes at work — I’m on my hospital’s ebola team, and so I went to three out of five donning and doffing classes, to get used to properly putting on gear and taking it back off again. The whole experience feels super Andromeda Strain every time — and walking around with the air-flow hoses hooked up makes you feel a little bit like you’re on Mars. While I doubt ebola will be a concern at my hospital in the future, I feel very confident in our ability to deal with whatever the next disease de jour is, and am proud that if needbe, I’m ready to go.

Last, but not least — I finished The Hated today. The Hated is the third book in my Sleeping with Monsters series, all of which I’ve written this year, since March. Even though these books are all in the 50-60k range, that’s still quite an accomplishment — if you add in my first draft material that didn’t make it into the final cut, I’ve averaged 800 words a day for the past nine months, easily. It’s a huge proof of concept for me going to dayshift and becoming way more productive.

The Hated is also my 19th lifetime book. Which means in two more years, my writing career can drink legally ;).

I still have a lot of projects on deck to look forward to — a quick one-off short story, mega-rewrite of Electricity, and the next book in the Sleeping with Monsters series which I actually might want to be a legit trad pub book, we’ll see :D. Onwards for now — this draft ain’t gonna decomma itself! ;).

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mysterious post…

…is mysterious.

Here’s a selection of things that I’m listening to right now for Mysterious Reasons and/or Personal Enjoyment ;).

Because this song is always what I listen to when I want something really bad. Muse is amazing, and Matthew Bellamy always gets it right.

The banana dance from Mitchell and Webb, because neither of them can ever do anything wrong. (Watch all of Peep Show or That Mitchell and Webb look, they’re so funny it hurts.)

And to continue the dancing British men in costumes theme….

The show this is from, This is Jinsy, is the best surreal British comic show out right now. It’s like a Douglas Adams book come to life. I adore it. (My husband says “Don’t show this to anyone, they won’t get it, they’ll think you’re weird…” I don’t care. If a grown man dancing in a carrot suit doesn’t make you laugh at least a little, your heart is dead.)

Last but not least!

Leggy Blonde — from the Flight of the Conchords.

My husband played this song for me every morning that I got up for the six months of my new nurse orientation program. I’m an awful getter-upper but it’s hard to be cranky when you’re singing along to Leggy Blonde on your way out the door.

Okay! Now on to tackle the work I need to get to today without getting too distracted :D

 

a three key week

I’m sitting at a breakfast diner writing again, which is lovely. I haven’t done this since we moved from Santa Cruz, and I can’t tell you how much I miss it. I do go out to coffee shops, but there’s something very indulgent about writing while eating delicious breakfast foods. It makes everything feel more nourishing and wholesome (even if you are writing erotica, heh! ;))

This past week has been good. I took a class at work on Mon and Tues, not in my specialty. I’d taken it before and it seemed like a good way to get CEs (as a nurse I have to get 30 every two years, this class is half of those) and you get them even if you don’t pass the test. Which is good because on Monday night I went home to Santa Cruz (let’s call it what it is now, it is my home – when people ask me where I’m from I don’t say Texas anymore, I say SC) and spent the night at a friend’s.

The first thing we did when I got there? Run to Home Depot and make a copy of the key for their new screen door. So that I would have the full set of house-keys for their place still. I love knowing I always have a place to stay in Santa Cruz, multiple places even :D.

Anyhow, instead of studying to pass my CE test, I decided to blow it off and hang out with her – we went off to a fancy dinner since her husband was out of town and had a girl’s night. We hadn’t done that in so long, it was awesome.

On Tues I went to class, and failed the test (but aced the practical, which is actually more nursing-skills-y ;)) but that night I went out to dinner with Daniel.

Daniel’s my alpha reader who gets how my books work and how I write and is the most well-read book-structure-thoughtful person I know. I love just hearing him talk about books, he’s amazing. Every author should be so lucky as to have a Daniel in their life.

So while I asked him to dinner with the intention of it being just-a-dinner, we totally restructured all of Electricity. (He could tell how unprepared I was, since I started writing notes on a business card, and bummed Hello Kitty paper from our waitress.) I’m going to have to rewrite it from scratch (and toss the 15k of my already-from-scratch rewrite) and then edit it again after that – but damn, if I can manage to write the book we talked about, it’ll be effing amazing – it’ll be the book I wanted to write in my head, and not the book I’ve got in this draft now. It’s all right now…but this is my great-American-novel-novel. I need it to fucking sing.

Anyhow, this past summer I house-sat for Daniel and I’ve still got his key on my keyring. And I thought as I was walking away from his house last night about mentioning that and giving his key back – and then I thought, no, I want to keep it. I’m part of his life, and he’s part of mine, and I like having a little bit of him in my pocket all the time.

The third key was from today. A friend needed some help with a thing, and I was very pleased to be the person she called, even if the circumstances were unfortunate. I know how to break-in to her house if I need too, heh.

And now that I’m done with this, I’m done with breakfast.  Time to head home and put some real words in :D.

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