Rebecca Day

Archive for September, 2007

Titles? We don’t need no stinkin’ titles!

Posted by rwday on September 25, 2007

I submitted a story to the Hardboiled Horror anthology last night and got an almost immediate acknowledgement of receipt.  I really, really appreciate that.  So often you send your stuff off into a massive black hole and it’s anybody’s guess if it even got to the destination.

 That makes 4 stories currently out, which is way down from my former average of 10, but considering that till recently I hadn’t submitted anything in a year, it’s not a bad start.  I’ll be adding at least one more tonight as I’m going to try “Mourning Jewel” at Strange Horizons.  It’s a longshot, but worth a try.  And I’ll get “Urn” back to IGMS sometime tomorrow or Thursday, I hope, so there’s 6!

This was so much easier when I worked in the afternoon.  I’m a morning person, my most productive time is probably from 7 – 10 a.m.  I never should have switched my schedule when I had the chance, and now that they’ve hired the afternoon person, I can’t switch back.  What I really want to do is quit working and write full time, and if I’d been smarter with the money from my father, I could be doing that.  Of course, at the time, I thought I wasn’t going to write anymore.  *sighs*   I don’t regret the traveling, or the new garage, really, but if I could go back, I’d make different choices.  Oh well, at least I have a job that allows me to surf the Internet, write, and take time off pretty much whenever I want.  Many other writers have succeeded in far worse situations than mine.

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Posted in Submissions, Writing | 3 Comments »

Writers, gods, hubris.

Posted by rwday on September 23, 2007

Finally got the new ending of “Urn” written, but I’m not happy with it. It’s far less Pirates of the Caribbean than it was, which was the criticism the editor had when he requested the rewrite, but it still feels like a cheat. Maybe I need to go back and revisit the beginning and middle of the story to make it lead more logically to my ending. I hate doing that. If I mess with ‘what happens,’ it’s like I’m messing with reality. (Reality with wizards and cursed urns containing the remains of dead warriors ready to reconstitute as zombies. But reality.) I forget that as far as that story and those characters are concerned, I am God.

My Ashes edit is up to chapter 10, and I can see, even with the cutting I’m doing, that the book may end up too long. I’ve edited about the first 1/3 and it’s now 148k. Unfortunately, I’m no sure what the initial count was. I’m shooting for somewhere around 135-140k (Thaw was about 137k when it sold, cut down some after the edits.) That’s only cutting 8-13k, which I can do. Of course, I’ll add as well, and that will cancel out some of the cuts.

I just cringe at how bad some parts of this book are. You can really tell I was still very active in fandom when I was writing it. Parts of it bear the hallmarks of a classic hurt/comfort fic, and you can drown in the angst in places. Callan, especially, being the more introspective of the pair, angsts and worries over every little thing. David’s grammar, too, is something I’m readdressing. In Thaw, I was comfortable with his nonstandard grammar, but this book takes him out of his little town into a larger world and I think especially in the narration which is obviously him looking back at events much later, he’d be using more standard English.

Not the dialogue – that’s still going to be colloquial, and even in the narration, there will be turns of phrases that mark him culturally, and occasional lapsesl, say when he’s describing stressful events (as in all of part 3!) but most of it will be more standard than Thaw. The trick will be to keep David’s voice unique, especially as I’m using 2 first person narrators. It shouldn’t be too difficult, as they’re different people, you know? Different, and very real to me.

And now I’m back to that ‘stories are reality’ and I am God thing, I guess, so it’s a good place to stop.

Tomorrow:

  • Revisit the end of “Urn”
  • Edit and submit my Hardboiled story
  • Write 1k words of the Lovecraftian library story
  • One resub
  • One chapter’s worth of editing
  • One hour at least spent researching for the new novel.

Posted in Editing, Writing | 2 Comments »

Ideas: The good, the bad, the indifferent

Posted by rwday on September 20, 2007

I was talking to my friend Elaine at the SCA meeting tonight. She’s interested in writing (SF and YA historical, yay!) and asked that question that writers always seem to get. “Where do you get your ideas?” Nobody had ever asked me that before, and I wibbled and wandered around the point and really felt like I didn’t give a decent response.

So on the way home I started thinking about it, and thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to go through a couple of the short stories I’ve sold and analyze where the ideas came from. The first thing I’d say about ideas is that the more you think like a writer, the more ideas come to you. Second thing, ideas alone aren’t enough to make a story. Ideas aren’t plots, though they can lead to plots. So, the idea parade…

My first actual genre sale (I’m not counting the porn here – the ‘idea’ of most porn is pretty obvious) was “Denying the Cuckoo.” I wrote that based on a picture prompt for the Musemuggers LJ community – I think the picture was a broken tombstone in an old country cemetery, so I started writing from the POV of a girl whose mother had died – once I had her voice, the story just unfolded from there.

“Sic Transit Gloria’s Monday” started as a title. I wrote the story to fit the title, something I don’t really recommend.

“Bricks” has to be the most bizarre inspiration I’ve had yet. A brick on the side of the road. That’s it. Next thing I know, the brick is in the hands of a lonely little girl from a crumbling old mansion and she’s burying it to grow a house, a cottage where she and her mother can live happily ever after. And oh yes, her mother is Snow White, forever asleep in glass.

“The Reunion” came from a family trip to Gettysburg and a firsthand account of the 50 year veteran’s reunion. BTW, I have all the psychic sensitivity of a block of concrete, and I still felt something at Gettysburg. Lincoln had it right about the blood of those men consecrating the ground.

“Price of Electrum” was another musemuggers prompt.

“Triumph of Reason” and “Till Ragnarok” both started with characters.

“Hell and Half of Georgia” and “Magic’s Choice” were written for anthology calls. The anthologies had themes, and I started with the themes, brainstormed a list of words that related a la Ray Bradbury and let those lead me into a story. With “Hell” I deliberately wanted something light, as I figured most of the submissions to a “Hell on Earth” anthology would tend to be a bit on the depressing side.

Other stories (published and not) have come from the fire that burned down the house across the street, the flooding of my mother’s family’s land to create Dillon Dam in the 1930’s, a tarnished mirror, an article in National Geographic, one line from a Thea Gilmore song.

For more practical advice on finding ideas, I’d suggest trying Ray Bradbury’s word association thing. It’s discussed in this article, though his book, Zen and the Art of Writing is well worth a look. Pictures make great inspiration too. Poetry. Articles in newspapers, magazines. Quirky facts. Historical curiosities. Good fiction. Bad fiction. Dreams.

There’s really no consistency here, I know. I guess for me (and I don’t claim to have answers for anyone but me) the trick is to be open to the world around me, to allow inspiration to take root. To allow unrelated ideas to percolate in my subconscious so they meld into something that might become a plot. And to write every day, whether I have an idea or not. It may be cliched, but inspiration does indeed follow perspiration.
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Welcome!

Posted by rwday on September 18, 2007

I made a decision today and the result was this WordPress blog. I have a website I’m very proud of, http://www.rwday.net, designed by the talented Erastes, and I have a Livejournal. So why, you might ask, do I need yet another site?

Because when it comes down to it, I suck at html beyond bold, italics, underline and such. I don’t really enjoy updating my webpage, so the poor thing is always languishing in neglect, and my LJ has transitioned into much more than a writing journal – I talk there about the SCA, work, family, politics. Everything. But I’ve got people on my flist who are only interested in my writing and I hate making them read through long, dull blog entries about my dogs to get to the few posts about writing. Hence this blog, inspired both by the insightful article on web design for authors by Ann Somerville of Uniquely Pleasurable and Evremonde’s spiff new WordPress site

This will be all writing, all the time. Well, ‘all the time’ meaning as often as I update, which probably won’t be all that often. I’ll also keep up-to-date lists of my published works and my novels in progress here – they’re right above this entry in subpages. Eventually, there will be a page on submission stats, though not today – I’ve spent enough time on this already.

So. Today, while waiting for our kitchen floor to be put in, I edited chapter 2 of Ashes, queried a couple of old submissions and resubmitted three stories. Once I finish here, I’ve got to get back into my research into 19th century magical/esoteric movements, which is way more interesting than I thought it would be.

Stats – 9/18/07

  • Submissions sent – 3
  • Responses received -0
  • Words Written – 0
  • Pages edited – 48

Posted in Submissions, Writing | 4 Comments »