Rebecca Day

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


Posted by rwday on May 21, 2008

First one of 2008, “Imago Dei” to Fictitious Force for 1 cent a word.  That’s about $40, which for me, isn’t bad.  But it isn’t about the money, it’s about finally feeling like a writer again (Yeah, I know – I’d feel more like a writer if I spent more time writing.)  I’m happy.

This good news does a little bit to make up for the uncertainty about Thaw.  Still no word from Kellie – it’s as though she’s dropped off the face of the earth and taken my royalties with her.  Next week, when I get paid, I’m making an appointment with a lawyer. I’ve already researched some through, found some local IP/contracts people who should be able to help me.  At this point, even if the lawyer fees are far more than I could ever hope to make from royalties, I think I’m going to go ahead and do it.  I have nothing against Kellie personally – she always seemed very pleasant, and I enjoyed working with her on the editing of the book, but this isn’t personal.  It’s business, and I have to look out for my interests.

Anyway, on my quest to get re-motivated, I went looking for some writing prompts, and found a few.  The Prompt Writer, the Evil Overlord Plot Generator, Writing Prompt Generator (this one’s for kids, but seriously, who can resist writing about ‘the upscale pine tree that went crazy?’), and the Random Idea Generator .  I don’t know if they’re any good, but it’s worth a try.


Posted in Writing | 10 Comments »

Procrastination and such

Posted by rwday on May 16, 2008

I’ve been poking Horomancy again.  After going through my WiPs, thinking about what I wanted to write, it was the one that stuck in my head the most, so I’m going to see if it takes this time.  First step is to stop procrastinating and just write something.  I did some notes and planning yesterday at work – that’s a start, at least

I read an interesting blog post on Slate about the difference between writer’s block and procrastination.  The post focuses on Truman Capote and Ralph Ellison, wondering if they were blocked or just big time procrastinators.  No question which I am – I’ll do a blog post of my own on the subject, someday.  When I get around to it.

No word from Iris yet.  I hauled out my contract – royalties are supposed to be paid within 30 days of the close of the quarter, so they’re definitely in breach.  Before I go the legal route, I’ll send a registered snail mail letter – Tina tried that before and got no response, but I feel like I have to exhaust every reasonable means before I take steps that might turn things ugly.  I hate this.

Posted in Writing | 5 Comments »

Back from the Dead, Again

Posted by rwday on May 13, 2008

Wow.  It’s been a loooooooong time since I’ve updated here.  Sorry about that.  I’ll try not to ramble on – I think shorter, more frequent entries are probably more readable than spewing out the blogging equivalent of War & Peace every 3 months.

So, news.  Mostly bad – rejections from several publications, and I’ve been too lazy to send the stories out, or in one case, I’ve just about decided to retire it to the trunk.  I miss writing short stories, to be honest, and considering how awful I’m doing on the novel front, I really ought to just go back to the short stuff for a while.

Good – I’ve had a number of really nice emails from readers of Thaw wanting to know about a sequel.  It really is mostly done – it was all done till I got a bee in my bonnet about changing the Callan sequences into something a little less angst-filled.  I started on the rewrite, guns blazing, only to be totally distracted by life, my garden, a lot of novels (to read), and some very bad television.

Also in the ‘bad’ category – I can’t get through to my publisher.  I haven’t heard anything about my first quarter 2008 sales, so I’ve written 3 times now.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Not even a ‘I got your email, am working on it, please be patient.’  Not even bounce messages, so I can only assume my email is getting through and being ignored, or that something very awful has happened to my publisher. I can’t express how frustrating that is.  Seriously, any response is better than silence.  Even ‘eff off and die, you annoying author b***h’ would be an improvement.  ‘Nuff said for now, but there may be more on this topic if things don’t improve.

I mentioned this on the LJ, but as this blog is the ‘writing’ one, it should be noted here – I’m letting my website and domain name lapse.  I’m just not writing enough (or earning enough – see previous paragraph!) to justify its continued expense, not when this blog is free.  If at some point I start to sell seriously again, I’ll get another site, but as I’m not even writing under R.W. Day anymore, having doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I have some rambling thoughts on what I’m going to attempt to write next, but I think those can wait.  My basic problem is that I have too many ideas – I’m trying to write like I read.  I generally read anywhere from 3-6 books at a time.  They sit in various places in my house and I pick them up as I’m cooking, getting ready for bed, watching TV, on work breaks.  That works for reading.  It doesn’t work for writing, where you (or I, at least) really have to immerse myself in the world and characters.  I’ve got to commit.  Unfortunately, indecision is pretty much a theme of my life – see my 60 gazillion college majors, for example.

Posted in Rejections, Writing | 8 Comments »

Just a Spring Clean for the May Queen

Posted by rwday on February 13, 2008

I can’t believe I’m using Led Zepplin lyrics as titles.  What’s next, the Grateful Dead?  *headdesk* 

“Blossoming” went out yesterday.  “Stepchild” will follow today as soon as I can come up with a new title.  The old one is too revealing of the plot.  It’s not a ‘shaggy dog story’ per se, but I really don’t want the reader to know the outcome of the plot from word 1.  I think I’m going to go all out and send it to F&SF – I doubt it will get past the slush reader, but it’s worth a shot, and the turnaround with them is wonderfully rapid.  Town Drunk after that, I think, since they reopen on 2/15 and I like that market.  The world needs more light and less doom and gloom.  You wouldn’t believe the number of short fiction zines that have the word ‘Dark’ in the title.

I also made a good start on cleaning out my files.  It took four long hours, but I managed to go through all my WiPs, the completed novel files, the bunny files, everything.  I deleted duplicates, moved a whole lot of stuff to the trunk, and in general did a spring clean on both my laptop and PC.  Of course, this morning I remembered that I also had a bunch of writing-related stuff in the Documents file, so just like real spring cleaning, when you think you’re done, you see more dirt…

 Finally, I got a nice fan letter on Thaw yesterday – the only quibble the man had was the degree of angst, and I have to admit, he’s right.  That book has fandom written all over it in that regard.  I’ve come a long way, which makes me somewhat reluctant to really approach prepping Ashes for submission, as it’s like, ‘ahead angst factor 12.’  I’m thinking a serious rewrite, or maybe just forget it altogether – I’ve said what I want to say in that universe.

Posted in Writing | 6 Comments »

Back in the saddle, I hope

Posted by rwday on February 12, 2008

I achieved writing yesterday.  Have no idea how it happened, but something, possibly John Scalzi’s great post on money for writers, provided the ass-kicking I’ve so desperately needed. I got off the laptop, went into my office and started to make some sense out of my short stories – checking markets for resubs, dealing with the multiplicity of versions that have erupted like mushrooms as I’ve moved between my home PC, my laptop, my work PC.

 And then I opened Dreams of Houses and re-read it for the first time in a year or more.  It’s not bad.  Actually, it’s damn good in parts, abysmal in others, and is altogether publishable with some work, I think.  Dreams is a modern Lovecraftian gothic set in a house that’s essentially based on Westover Plantation .  It’s amazing how much clearer I can see what needs to be done to it after letting it sit so long, and how less attached I am to some of the scenes that really have to be axed.  It started as a novelette, then was rewritten into a novel (much like Thaw was), and what works in short form is not necessarily what works in a novel and vice versa.

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Posted in Editing, Writing | 2 Comments »

Update, at last

Posted by rwday on November 19, 2007

I’ve been awfully quiet around here – sorry about that.  It’s just hard to update a writing blog when you’re not actually doing any writing.  I won’t say I had writers’ block because I don’t really believe in writers’ block – any time I’ve ever been ‘blocked’ the real problem is that I lacked the discipline to sit myself down in a chair and make myself write, even if what comes out is crap.

 Crap can be revised into good writing. A blank page is pretty much useless unless you’re making paper airplanes.

 One of the facts I made myself face during my lazy period was that I’m not a good enough writer to do justice to Fimbulvetr at this time.  I love  the characters, the world, the story too much to do a half-assed job with it, and considering the most POVs I’ve ever worked with, really, is 2, doing 8+, all major characters was seriously bogging me down.  So I’ve set it aside.  I will return to it, but what I need to do right now, what I really need to do if I’m to continue to call myself a writer, is to finish something.  Anything.

 The work I’ve got closest to finished state is Peregrinatio.  I’ve done all the research, have the basic plot completely blocked out, and am working with 2 major characters and maybe 3-4 minor ones.  One of the reasons I abandoned it in the first place was a fear that it wouldn’t sell.  Though it has elements of a love story, it’s not ‘romantic enough’ to be a romance (though I could change that in revision).  I’m not sure it has the depth to be a serious historical piece a la Dorothy Dunnett, but I think it could rise to the level of Cecelia Holland or Anya Seton.

And in any case, the ultimate fate of the novel isn’t something I can worry about right now.  I just need to finish the damn thing, and tell the story the way it wants to be told, not get bogged down in worrying about whether the POV is ‘deep’ enough for a romance, or whatever.  If it never sells, so be it, but at least it will be DONE.

So I’m back in 12th century Jerusalem, taking a few days to refamiliarize myself with my research, doing some short character studies to get back in the groove and starting Friday at the latest, I’m going to crank out 2k words a day, even if they’re utter and total crap.  Even if they’re just me writing the same sentence over and over again.  There will be words.

Posted in Writing | 4 Comments »

Magical systems, generally

Posted by rwday on October 28, 2007

A couple of form rejections, one from Strange Horizons for “Mourning Jewel” and the other from ASIM for “Stepchild.”  I’ll get them sent out again tomorrow, but honestly, it’s depressing as hell sometimes, and short stories are, right now, a distraction from the novel I ought to be working on.  I’ll keep sending out the finished ones, but unless I get knocked upside the head with an idea that won’t leave me alone, I’m not going to write any new ones for a while.

We were in Ohio for family stuff this weekend, and as usual, I planned to write in the car, and as usual, I really didn’t.  I polished a bit, edited some, fiddled with ideas, and worked on organizing some files, but no actual writing was accomplished.  I really hate burying myself in my laptop while my poor husband drives in silence.  He’s not a big music listener, doesn’t do audiobooks, so my conversation is pretty necessary when the road gets long and boring.

I did go over my current project with him, basically making sure the way I’m handling the magic seems logical and consistent to him.  He’s read a lot of second world fantasy and has definite thoughts on magic, so it was very helpful.  We both agree that too often magic is either inconsistent (i.e. your wizards seem to be able to do pretty much anything, and yet Voldemort is still running loose  there are all these problems that could easily be solved by a couple of well-placed spells) or worse, the fantasy reads like a bad D&D adventure with people hurling magic missiles around willy-nilly.  Besieging a castle?  Why bother with trebuchets and starving them out?  Just zotz them into the stone age with your Awesome Spell o’Doom.

No thanks.

The thing about magic in my world is that it’s largely considered part of the past – like in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, there was once a time, an almost mythical past, when magic existed, but that time has passed.  Of course, that’s just the perception of most of the common people, which doesn’t necessarily reflect reality – magic is still there, it’s just kept quiet.   It’s the Middle Ages, after all, and their world has a Pope and will soon have an Inquisition, and besides, one guy with magic generally isn’t much good against ten thousand peasants with scythes and cudgels.  Magic is an ace in the hole, a last resort, so you don’t get people conjuring up chairs out of thin air a la Dumbledore.  My magicians get their chairs the old fashioned way – the make their peasants build them.

We also talked briefly about me doing a romance, just to see if I can.  I have a pretty decent plot developed for a futuristic romance, and when I finish Fim and set it aside to season, I may give it a go.  I know fantasy romance is what’s selling these days, but vampires bore me and I don’t see that I have anything new or original to say about werewolves, really.  Though neither does anyone else, from what I can see. Seems like half the books on the romance aisle have the word ‘Moon’ in the title.  Makes me want to write one called Arse Moon, about Bradley Barebutte, a ruggedly handsome cop who turns into a wolf when he drops trou. Somehow I don’t think the literary world is ready for that…

Posted in Rejections, Writing | 4 Comments »

And again…

Posted by rwday on October 18, 2007

Another rejection, this one on “Blossoming.”
Thanks for letting me read your story. It’s exceedingly well-written and enjoyable, but it didn’t quite make the final lineup for a couple reasons: first off, the anthology is practically filled at this time, and unfortunately, yours is but one of dozens of subs I received right before the deadline of a 6-month submission period, all of which has forced me to be make some rather hard decisions; second, although your story is very good, it stretches the guidelines (the book plays a smaller role than I had hoped). I certainly wish you the best in placing it elsewhere. I also hope that you will submit to any future anthologies I edit. I’ll try and email you so that you can submit earlier.

Not a bad rejection, and he’s right about stretching the guidelines, as I didn’t write it for that anthology, just had it in progress and it sort of fit, so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t expecting a sale on this one, really.  I’ve pretty much learned never to expect a sale.

When I first started out at this, every time I sent a story out I honestly thought (in the dark recesses of my mind) that it would sell.  I mean, how could any editor fail to appreciate the OMG brilliance that is moi?   I re-read those stories over now and cringe with embarrassment and have a much more realistic perspective on my own writing and the standards of the markets.  The problem for me comes in knowing I’m not doing the quality of work I want to do but forcing myself to keep writing anyway because if I don’t, I’ll never get to the point where I’m doing the quality of work I want to do.

Like with any field of endeavor, writing practice brings writing improvement.  I don’t say ‘practice makes perfect’ because some people (and I may very well be one of them), no matter how much they practice will never be perfect (how ever you choose to define that).  I played the clarinet in high school and I was good.  I practiced a fair amount.  If I’d practiced more, I’d have been better, but I can guarantee that no matter how much I practiced, I’d never have played at the level of, say, Benny Goodman.  Writing is like that for me – I look at certain books and know that no matter how many words I churn out, how hard I work to perfect this craft, I’ll never write at the level of those authors.  They’re geniuses.  Of course, the other side of that is that I read some books and know that even if I sat down blindfolded and just typed 75k words of nonsense, I’d end up ahead of the game.  Being honest, I suspect I’m somewhere in the middle.  Sometimes high middle, sometimes low.  I can move myself up through effort, but I’m never going to be top tier.  The question is whether or not I’m okay with that.  The answer is probably yes.

Back to “Blossoming,” I need to find another market – was thinking Dark Wisdom, but they’re overstocked and closed, plus I’d have to trim 1500 words or so. Maybe Clarkesworld or Weird Tales. Clarkesworld responds pretty quickly, and you always get crit whether you like it or not! I’ll read it through at work today and make a decision.

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Posted by rwday on October 14, 2007

26 day form rejection from All Possible Worlds for “Imago Dei.” I’ll flip it back out to the next market on the list tomorrow. *sighs*

No writing to speak of this weekend.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with taking a weekend off once in a while as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

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Viewpoints and such

Posted by rwday on October 12, 2007

Fimbulvetr is now up to about 23k words and I’m wrestling for what is essentially the first time with multiple POVs. The closest I’ve come before was my very first foray into novels, Spirals, which has one main POV and three supplementals. That was pretty easy, plus of course I had that sort of beginner’s luck thing going where I wasn’t educated enough to know I was supposed to have problems, hence, no problems.

This is another kettle of mahi-mahi. Here I will eventually have 6 viewpoint characters, all more or less equal, each telling different aspects of the story. Their individual stories will intersect at various places. This is essentially what George R.R. Martin does with Song of Ice and Fire. (Not comparing myself to Martin, who is a frelling genius, in any way other than the technique I’m currently using, mind.)

First problem – giving each POV character a distinctive voice, because I’m using a fairly deep POV technique. I don’t want my reader picking up the book and not being able to tell from the narrative whether the story’s being told by a 30 year old priest or a sulky 15 year old girl.

Second problem – continuity. I’m telling each character’s story, but sometimes the telling of it is separated by 2 or 3 chapters of other people’s stories and I forget what I’ve already said, what’s going on, etc. I have to do a lot of re-reading and referring to notes that’s bogging me down. I’m beginning to think it might be easier to just write all of character A, then all of character B, etc., then break it into chapters later. The issue with that is I’m not sure with certain scenes whose POV I will end up using. For example, I recently rewrote chapter 5, switching it from sulky girl to priest. If I do the all of A, then all of B strategy, I’m guaranteeing myself a good bit of rewriting. Which I hate.

Third problem – redundancy. I don’t need six different people explaining to my poor beleaguered readers how the dynasty was established or what magical powers the tyrannical kings had. I need different POV characters to reveal different parts of the worldbuilding, and they need to do it in character. What sulky peasant girl thinks about the institutional church is going to be very different from what the priest thinks from what my noblewoman thinks, and because some of the narrators are a little unreliable, the truth lies somewhere in between. I’ve never actually planned how to incorporate my worldbuilding before. In Thaw, it just sort of dribbled out via David’s rambling. That isn’t working here – I need to plan a little more.

Planning. *sighs* Yeah, guess I’d better go do some of that.

Posted in Writing | 3 Comments »