An end to the radio silence

I have been doing a lot lately. I could blame the lack of blog posts on that, but if I’m going to be honest, I haven’t been posting blogs because I’ve been too lazy and uninspired for blog posting. But many things have been going on!

At the end of March, I found out that my mom needed to have brain surgery—on May 1st. Additionally, she wasn’t going to be having it here in Atlanta the way she did last time but instead was flying up to Pennsylvania to have the best doctor in the world for this type of surgery (called MVD, or microvascular decompression) operate on her. Lucky for her, she’s originally from Erie, PA, and has family in Pittsburgh, so she wouldn’t be reduced to staying in a hotel until she was able to fly home.

I took care of her during her recovery, and she is doing wonderfully. Her recovery was very quick, compared to last time! She’s at about 90% at this moment and last time she was at maybe 70% this many weeks out from surgery. (She also has fibromyalgia so it makes recovery take longer than it does for normal people.)

In June, I edited 235 pages of not-my-own-fiction in about 15 days. If that wasn’t enough, I stuck with my usual “write 1k words a day” and ended up writing 33k words that month. Still not quite on target for my goal for this year—I’m about 15k words short of the mark—but I’m at least staying in the ballpark this year!

Before both of these things, though, it was convention season part one.

I attended Atlanta Poly Weekend, Furry Weekend Atlanta, Frolicon, and Outlanta. Four cons in six weeks; yes, I was pretty worn out afterward and yes I had an absolutely fabulous time at every convention. I may do individual write-ups for each convention at some point, but that’ll have to wait for separate posts.

Come hell or high water (or two cons on the same weekend) I will be attending all of them again next year. I’m also attending Authors After Dark (with the SMP crew); Dragon*Con (where I volunteer); and possibly Anime Weekend Atlanta (where I will be there as a regular attendee in theory but probably not in practice because I have this weird habit of showing up at con ops and saying, “What can I do to help?”) but I’ll have to wait to be for sure on that one. These will make up the second and final part of convention season for me.

Oh, I also got to meet the owners of SMP in meatspace at Outlanta and it was a very, very fun experience… even if the three of them were bone-tired when we first met! (And I was so keyed up from first-night-at-the-con jitters.) They were fun people to be around, and I wish I lived closer to them so we could meet up offline more often. Conventions are the way to go for now, I think; I’m looking forward to Authors After Dark, where I will be rooming with them.

What about y’all: Anybody attending any of these cons? We should meet up!

Inspiration: Drums

My mom suggested “drummers”, so today’s search key is drums.

The first time I went to this type of drum circle was at the same place this photo was taken: the Land Trust in Atlanta, GA. I got taken there by a couple of my friends and they spent the whole time arguing very politely. It was kind of a surreal experience, flipping gears back and forth between this very primal sort of experience and then to a very moden type of argument–not just the way they argued, but the things they were talking about too.

At any rate, it will probably be a long, long time before I forget the experience. It was a blast, as I tend to find most primal things to be, and I want very much to go back at some point.

My favorite part was the fact that we’d gone with some other friends who’d brought drums/shakers, so I had an instrument in my hands all night long. Sometimes I followed the melody-beat, the lighter of the two parts of the music, but other times I dipped down and followed the low, thrumming baseline of the rhythm. It was so much like having sex that it left me with the question: do musicians in bands/orchestras feel the same way? That feeling like you’re part of creating something that is base but that is also beautiful… just the way sex should be.

Which is of course where the story lies.

This was actually on the very first page of the results, a something I took for a good sign :D Continue reading

Inspiration: Background music

I used to be pretty heavily into playing an MMORPG called Ragnarok Online. I got bored of it when my friends moved on to WoW, but one thing I didn’t get bored of was the background music. I still download new tracks whenever there are new tracks released (along with new maps, of course) and I love nearly every song I have. So I figure, why not share? Things other than pictures can inspire people!

I am going to do something a little different this week and try and connect all the pieces into one (semi-)cohesive story idea. Continue reading

On reviews: Inflation

Everyone seems to be talking about reviews lately. And they are saying good things:

I love reviewers/readers. Without them, I’d be out of a job. I respect that it takes a reviewer time to read and review my work, just as it does with a reader (though readers are out of time and money). I am not so arrogant or deluded to believe that a reviewer owes me a review, let alone a positive one, or that I have to right to pitch a fit if it’s negative.

[ . . . ]

In the end, reviews are for products people buy, not critical assessments of writing skill or talent. Reviews cover plot, theme, characterization, editing, formatting, cover art, and price of book. They’re about products, nothing more, and that bit of emotional distance can do an author a world of good when someone says that their book sucks.

S.L. Armstrong


When you put your book out, either through self-publishing venues or through a publisher, there has to be a certain sense of letting go. You might have been trying to send out a particular message or woven a subtle theme into the fabric of your story, but once it’s out there and available to the masses, you have to leave your expectations at the door. Some people will love your book, some will hate it, some will shrug their shoulders and say they think your idea could have been executed better, and some will read into aspects of the story in ways that you had never even imagined while writing it. There are ups and downs, and it’s really just part of the beast.

K. Piet

I think both of these posts are valid and should be read and internalized. But they fail to hit on the thing that I want to talk about today, which is sending your book to your friends in order to get favorable reviews.

There was a recent kerfluffle about an author who made a lot of sockpuppet accounts on Goodreads and gave all their books many five-star reviews; the whole community recoiled at this idea, this inflation of the score and this idea that the author would dare to do such a thing.

I think that the community’s reaction to this was right on the money. The author’s behavior is the type of thing that ought not be accepted since it is sneaky and dishonest to other authors who are not doing that sort of thing and also readers who are looking for an accurate opinion of a book before they read it.

You can probably see where I am going with this.

Sending a book to a bunch of friends* is only marginally better than sockpuppets; it’s still underhanded in this writer’s opinion. The action has the same outcome, and the exact same intent: inflation of the opinion of your book. It’s dishonest and I think that it’s actually pretty bad for business.


Think on it this way: what happens when the new reader–who bought your book on a whim, perhaps, after seeing that it had good reviews–reads the book and finds it to be not at all what the reviews portrayed it as? Not only have you earned another bad review (or bad reviews, if more than one person bought the book and was disappointed) but you’ve also repelled a reader; the chances of them buying any more books written by you are low.

It also makes for dismal chances that they will believe that future reviews written by certain people are accurate opinions of your book. You will gain a reputation for dishonesty, too. I know that doesn’t bother a lot of people, because integrity seems like a lost cause these days, but it bothers me, which is why I am writing about it.

Even with all of these things, I think the thing that an author loses the most from ignoring bad reviews and inflating their book with friends’ reviews is the chance to improve their craft. These reviewers are trying to tell you something; listen.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

* Sending it to one or two friends is kind of industry standard so I can’t frown on it too much. Besides, one or two reviews aren’t going to inflate anything; I mean when you send to five, ten, or more people.

Busy little bee

In the past week, I have:

  • Read over fifty short stories online; I quit counting at forty-seven, because I was going through them so fast that I forgot to mark them down, but I know I read at least six or seven stories after I stopped marking my tally. I don’t even know how I managed to read so much, but it has left me somewhat burnt out by the time it gets to my nightly reading. Skipping that has started to stress me out some, so I think I’ve found my limits in terms of how many stories I can read for work before I have just read too much.
  • Emailed six authors; I received a thanks-but-no-thanks from one, and to be honest it just made my day. Usually people don’t bother writing back when they’re not interested, so I just have a giant gaping “NO REPLY” on my spreadsheet, and I wonder if they got my e-mail… but I am pretty sure they have, more often than not. Anyway, this author responded and even though it was a no, it just felt nice to be able to close that mental file. I learned that this week!
  • Written a little over 8k words; this isn’t an “OMG SO MUCH” amount for me, but considering everything else I have been doing, it does take its toll. I am at just under 55k on What You Wish For, aka Hilo-story, and I am now doubting that I will finish it in under 80k words. My 60k estimate was entirely too hopeful.
  • Stayed up past midnight nearly every night; this may not sound like a big deal for most people, but for me… my bedtime is ten pm by the latest; normally I am in bed reading already by the time 10pm rolls around. So it’s just been really tiring, staying up late every night–and I was up until two last night! Argh. I am going to bed as soon as I post this entry.
  • Attended two writing groups; I started attending these groups in November, for NaNo, but I am glad they have gone beyond that. It’s an excuse to get out of the house and it’s socialization with people who are enjoyable to be around.

Other small things I have done which are significant to me, but not significant enough for a bullet point: scheduled the giving of platelets, scheduled an appointment with my pdoc, asked for something from a friend that I was afraid of asking for… I am sure there is more stuff, but I can’t think of it at the moment.

In other news, I am officially registered for Authors After Dark in August. It will be my first writers’ convention so I am super excited, and looking forward to the road trip and rooming with the SMP crew! This will be a good thing.

Yeah, I can really tell I am lacking sleep; my mind is going off into random places. I bid you goodnight, blogland; sweet dreams.

Call for Submissions: Sacrificed

My inspiration posts have been absent the last couple weeks because I have been at my parents’ house and their computer is… well, let’s just say that it doesn’t really have the processing power to handle the upload function in WordPress, or actually even the post thingy itself–it lags horribly and I can’t get anything done.

I know, I should get these things done ahead of time! I guess old habits just die hard.

Anyway, I am exciiiiited because I am editing a f/f anthology! This one is sort of a companion to Protect Me, though it is its own anthology as well. Here’s the call:

The allure of the beautiful young woman as a sacrifice is one that has long been a part of storytelling. From the virgin sacrifice given to calm the monsters/gods to the child who is tithe in fairy stories to a member of their party sacrificing themselves so that everyone else can continue their quest, there are all kinds of examples of women as sacrifices in fantasy fiction.

You can write any type of fantasy: high or low, mythic or fairy tale, urban, historical, or even a universe that combines fantasy and sci-fi elements–as long as the fantasy element is stronger than the sci-fi element, the story is fine. We want very much to see fantasy worlds that are lush and real, but make sure you never lose focus on your characters!

And make sure that your characters get a happily ever after; while we are interested in seeing the women in your story face death, we do not want to see any of them die. We are interested in what these women can do in spite of being the sacrificial lamb.

Submission deadline: October 26th, 2012
HEA or HFN Ending Required? Yes

And it is going to come out three days after my birthday next year! This is very exciting; it will be like a birthday present for me.

I have been wanting and meaning to edit a f/f anthology for some time now, but I had yet to hit on a topic that I liked well enough in the context of f/f. Tentacles are more a m/f thing–it’s pretty hard to write f/f tentacle sex, in my mind, and much easier to put that into the m/m box. Protect me… that could have translated well to f/f, maybe, but I think it’s more of an m/m trope.

But the sacrifice–that’s a very female thing, in fantasy and history and all. I debated for a little while–f/f is hard for me to write, and sometimes hard for me to read, because it’s very personal for me–and ended up deciding that yeah, I would do it. And here it is :3

I am so excited about this! Means I get to go drum up writers for submissions, which is going to be tons of fun. No, really, tons of fun; who else can say that their job is to read tons of porn on the internet?

A letter

Dear 2011,

You were a hard year for me, in a lot of ways. But I wouldn’t take any of it back; I am older and wiser and it is because things were not easy.

There was a month where I wrote less than 4k words, and another where I wrote 93k; neither wordcount was an easy thing for me to deal with mentally. I did them both, however, and I learned that I can write 23k words in 21 hours… at the cost of several days of productivity. I learned that productivity–or lack thereof–builds on itself. The more you do something, the more you are used to doing it, and I swear I spend the whole year forgetting that lesson and all of November and December having it hammered home.

Maybe this year it will stick. And maybe, just maybe, I will learn how to get through November and not feel completely disgusted and uninterested by what I spent November producing.

For the first time in years, I had an amazing time at family vacation this past summer. I felt very much a part of my family, and that belonging has stretched outside of the bounds of family vacation a bit; I feel closer to my brother now than I have ever felt before. It is a good place to be.

I edited my first anthology! And I learned that I can’t put off editing to the last minute; I have a pretty low threshold for how much editing I can do before I need to take a break. I felt really bad about that, but I learned the lesson that came with it, and it is one I plan on putting to good use this year. As soon as the stories for my next anthologies are finalized, I will start editing them.

Bipolar stuff was especially hard this year. I had a real depressive episode for the first time in years, and it seriously threatened my sanity. I came out the other side, though, and that is all that really counts in the end.

I fell in and out of infatuation. More than once. I am still in love, and I think I will always be in love with her just a little, but I have learned not to believe that caring about each other and being very sexually compatible will hold a relationship together when we butt heads over everything else. If I’m fighting constantly with my significant other, there is probably a good reason and I should probably pay attention to it. Everyone else might be fine with just love, but I learned this year that I need more than just that.

Sweat lodge stuff was very instructive this year, too. I started going to the lodges at R’s and I learned how to fire-tend the way he does it. All of it makes so much more sense than the stuff at K&B’s; I am so grateful for the chance to learn from him, and to continue growing spiritually. (Even if my spiritual growth ends up knocking everyone else in the lodge flat on their backs.)

I feel like this year I gained so many friends–not just people I talk to or hang out with, but people who genuinely Give A Fuck about me–and I am humbled by that. Every single one of them is an awesome friend and an inspiration to me in their own way.

Because that is another thing I learned this year, and I think this may be the most important idea of all: everyone has their own struggles. We’re all just living, and trying our best, and that is all we can do. My stepdad always said something on the lines of He’s doing what he can do, and that’s all he can do, and I don’t think it was until this year that I really began to understand what he was trying to teach me. It is an amazing lesson.

All in all, I regret nothing except for the instances where it took me a long damn time to pick up on the lessons I was being taught. I can’t help it, though; I am a slow learner when I am being stubborn.

With that I will bid you farewell, 2011. So long, and thanks for all the fish.