December 30, 2010

Year in Review

2010 was a difficult year for me on a personal and emotional level. A car accident, a breakup, and writer's block in the wake of both upheavals threatened my year professionally. But overall, I did quite well for myself in 2010. So here's a summary of my writing life.

  • I didn't do a very good job of keeping track of just how many pieces I submitted this year. However, I do know that I got 16 acceptances this year, mostly erotic fiction, but also one piece of nonfiction and one piece of poetry.
  • Of those 16 acceptances, 13 were published in 2010, and the remaining three will appear early in the New Year.
  • I made my first appearances in anthologies. Up till this point, I'd only gotten published on web sites. Now I'm in some e-books!
  • I didn't make anything resembling a living wage when it came to my creative endeavors, but I still made more money from my writing this year than I have at any other year in my life.
  • I made it through the first eight rounds of Smut Marathon, putting me in the top 5 competitors - and we started with 17! Look for round 9 early in the New Year!
  • I completed a novella and submitted it to a publisher.
  • I took an erotic writing course with Shanna Germain, which really helped me refine my craft.
  • I joined a writing group, which has been tough, humbling, motivating, and inspiring. 
So all in all, despite a number of setbacks, it was a fantastic year for me professionally. Certainly an improvement on last year, and last year was not too shabby at all. My hope is that 2011 is even better!

December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My Year in Reading

I firmly believe that being am avid reader is the first step to being a good writer. And at the end of every year, I like to look back on everything I read. So here are the highlights of my reading year.

Best New Poetry Collection: Okay, I admit it. I didn't read any new poetry this year. I read a lot of poetry, actually - just nothing that was published in 2010. This was a year of discovery for me, rather than a year of jumping towards new works.

Best Discovered Poetry Collection: New Collected Poems by Eavan Boland. I'd been exposed to Boland's poems in college, but never took the time to really read them. This year, I finally gave myself the chance to be immersed in her work.

Best New Novel: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It's a tough book for me, emotionally. It sometimes hits my triggers. But it's brilliant - definitely his best.

Best Discovered Novel: Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz. This was an unsolicited loan. A friend of mine finished the book, was convinced I'd like it, and brought it to me to borrow. And she was right! I love it when someone actually knows my taste.

Best New Nonfiction Book: Just like in 2009, I didn't actually read any new nonfiction. I read quite a bit of older nonfiction as research for various novels, but nothing new. Maybe next year.

Best Discovered Nonfiction Book: The Last Madame of New Orleans by Christina Wiltz. While Wiltz is not the best prose stylist I've ever encountered, she tells a great story, and writes on a fascinating subject.

Best New Collection or Anthology: Alison's Wonderland, edited by Alison Tyler. I wasn't quite sure I was going to like it, but it's proving to be one of my favorite anthologies, erotic or otherwise, of all time.

Best Discovered Collection or Anthology: Cathedral by Raymond Carver. While the feminist in me gets frustrated by Carver's relentless focus on white, lower-middle-class men, he's a brilliant stylist and he really knows how to write heartbreak.

Best New Short Story: "That Girl" by Cherry Bomb (from Fast Girls, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel). This is the first fiction piece with a character I could identify with completely. I'd never seen my sexual self represented in fiction before - hell, even my own characters aren't quite me. But the protagonist of "That Girl" resonated with me so much that I've probably read the story ten times already.

Best Discovered Short Story: "Fever" by Raymond Carver. A moving depiction of lost love that came to me right at a time when I really needed it. This piece will always stay with me.

Best New Periodical: Filament Magazine, without question. I aspire to have one of my stories grace their pages.

Best Discovered Periodical: Actually, I didn't really discover any established periodicals this year. I picked up Filament, but didn't look into other established periodicals beyond The Kenyon Review, which I read regularly.

December 28, 2010

Robert Lee Brewer's Facebook Tips for Writers

Over at My Name Is Not Bob, Robert Lee Brewer has a list of ten ways for writers to optimize their Facebook usage:Complete your profile. You don't have to include EVERYTHING, but I'd suggest at least covering these bases: Current City, Birthday (you don't have to include the year), Bio, Education and Work, Contact Information.

  1. Make everything public. As a writer, you should be using sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with other writers, editors, agents, and your audience. So make it easy for them to find you and learn more about you by making everything available to the public. That said...
  2. Think about your audience, friends, family, boss, former teachers, etc., in everything you do on Facebook. Like it or not, you have to understand that if you are completely public on Facebook (and you should be if you want to connect with your audience) that you need to think about what you do on Facebook before you do it. Because Facebook ain't like Vegas: What happens on Facebook could easily go viral. But don't get paranoid; just use common sense.
  3. Include a profile pic of yourself. Don't use a picture of a cute animal, house pet, your children, an animated character, a famous celebrity, a model, etc. Just a nice pic of yourself. Even though it's virtual, you want your profile to be as human as possible so that you can connect with others.
  4. Update your status regularly. You shouldn't update your status every hour, but once a day is a good pace. This just lets others on Facebook know that you are actively using the site.
  5. Communicate with friends on Facebook. Don't stalk your friends; communicate with them. If you like a friend's status update, comment on it--or at the very least, click the Like button (to acknowledge that you liked their update). Speaking of friends...
  6. Be selective about friends you add. Don't blindly accept every friend request, because some may be bogus, and others may be from serial frienders (people who are trying to hit their friend limits). You want quality friends who share your interests or who you know from the "real world."
  7. Be selective about adding apps. I'm not a huge fan of apps, because they are a distraction and time killer on Facebook. But there are some that could be useful. However, don't waste a month of your life playing Farmville or Mafia Wars; you'd be better off completing a crossword or sudoku puzzle.
  8. Join relevant groups. For writers, there are an abundance of groups you could join, from professional organizations to those based around magazines, publishers and literary events. These are great places to connect with other writers. On that same note...
  9. Follow relevant fan pages. There are many who once had groups that migrated over to using fan pages, so there are fan pages for writing organizations, magazines, publishers, literary events, and more.
When looking at my own Facebook usage, I find that I'm not really doing all I can. My profile is public and complete, and I learned the hard way about being selective about the friends I add and groups I join. But I admit that I do not communicate with friends on Facebook (I prefer Gchat, text messaging, and email), and I think I actually visit the site twice a month. The majority of my Facebook posts are fed over from my Twitter account, which I use almost as infrequently - once every ten days or so. I just don't want to have to be bothered to log into Facebook (or Twitter) every single day to tell people what I'm doing.

As I think about it more, Facebook just seems silly to me. I have a (fairly) regular posting schedule with this blog - some weeks are better than others, but I'm a pretty diligent blogger. I've had this blog since before I've had a Facebook account. Blogging is more satisfying than Facebook status updates. I have better conversations in blog comment threads than on Facebook threads.

I'm just not that much of a Facebooker, and that's okay. I'll still keep my profile. I like having it. But I just can't bring myself to post an update there every single day, because it feels like work and it ultimately distracts me from my writing. I'll focus on maintaining a good blog, and Facebook will be incidental.

However, I was really excited after reading Brewer's bonus tip:
If you have a blog, you can feed your Facebook profile automatically by using the Notes function. All you have to do is go to Notes, click the "Edit import settings" link, and enter your blog url in the correct field. (Note: I had to enter my full url, including the forward slash at the end, before the Notes function accepted my url.)
Enthused about a hands-off way to participate in Facebook, I went to my Notes function, tried to import several times . . . and could not get it to work. I tried using my blog URL as well as my RSS feed URL - nothing worked. Even after making sure that I had the forward slash at the end of the URL, I couldn't get it to work. *sigh*

It's not that I'm not optimized for Facebook. It's that Facebook isn't optimized for me.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I spent the night sleeping on the couch. My husband was (and hopefully will no longer be when his alarm goes off in a few minutes) suffering from what is either a migraine or the flu (his have the same symptoms), and either way, neither of us sleeps well in the same bed if he is sick. But my brother in law (who I really am glad is visiting) is in the other bedroom. So couch for me, because I am not about to make my guest sleep in the living room, where the degus will be up running around all night. Turns out that the brother in law has some late-night cough that echoes throughout the house.

I confess I am a bit of a zombie today. But when am I not, really? I feel like at least 50% of the time, I'm blogging from the throes of insomnia.

I confess that while of course I should not have made my guest sleep in the room with the degus that stay up till all hours (they're supposedly diurnal, but really, they operate on a cycle of doing whatever they want whenever they want, and this frequently means running on their wheels until 3 a.m.), I confess that I'm more glad that I didn't subject my poor pets to someone who would be coughing all night once they actually settled down to sleep.

I confess that I might take a nap soon.

I confess that though I'm wide awake, the house is still completely dark because the degus are sleeping and I don't want to wake them up early. Yes, I am one of *those* pet parents.

I confess that while it's bad for my eyesight and my posture, typing in a pitch-dark room while reclining on a seriously comfy couch is pretty cool. Or maybe that's the insomnia talking.

December 26, 2010

Sunday Pleasures

Lots of things making me happy this week!


  • My brother in law being in town. And getting to play tourist and show him all of our favorite places in Austin.
  • Spinach-mushroom lasagna with a ricotta-chevre cheese blend and tomato vodka sauce. I'm awesome.
  • Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos from Bottom of the Cup Tea Room. I love having relatives in New Orleans.
  • Girls With Slingshots. It's my new webcomic of choice!
  • Having plans to see Cake do a show on New Year's Eve.
  • Also, I have plans to attend a 2-hour restorative yoga class on New Year's Eve afternoon over at East Side Yoga.
  • The anticipation I always feel looking at my new day planner, knowing that it's almost time to use it. For 2011, I'm going with the Working Writer's Day Planner from Small Beer Press.

Profile at Erotica For All!

Erotica For All is a great new venture by author Lucy Felthouse, and I'm thrilled to say that I now have an author profile up on the site. I'm keeping good company there, and excited to be a part of this site. If you haven't done so already, go check it out!

December 23, 2010

Congratulations to Lyn Lifshin

Poet Lyn Lifshin has a new book available. Ballroom is a collection that focuses on dance as a metaphor for sex, regression, love, desire, change, growth, and a multitude of other states, actions, and emotions. You can read sample poems from the collection here.

I first encountered Lyn's work when I was editing Gloom Cupboard, and have always loved her emphasis on dance. As a dancer myself, I love how she writes movement, and all the emotions, thoughts, and actions that come with it.

Ballroom is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

Thankful Thursday

It's a gloomy morning. I'm feeling like a zombie because I was up till all hours with my brain still processing things from my breakup in July (it's been a long, slow road and last week I was stupid enough to read a series of emails he and I had exchanged two years ago, when we were first together and falling in love; it pretty much messed up my brain for the rest of the night; I knew better than to do that, but too late now). My brother in law will be here in 48 hours and the house is still a mess. My husband forgot to finish his chores last night, which interferes with my ability to get my own housework done.

But I have quite a bit to be thankful for, so I will elaborate on it here.

  1. Indoor plumbing. Words cannot express how much I love indoor plumbing.
  2. Tea. It de-zombies me.
  3. I have three avocado plants sprouting up from the seeds I planted, and possibly a fourth sprouting as well.
  4. Bagels from scratch. I haven't quite perfected my bagel-making technique yet, but I'm starting to get pretty good.
  5. The Working Writer's Daily Planner 2011. I admit that I'd already purchased a calendar for the year, but after reading about this one at Book of Kells, I couldn't resist. And BookWoman managed to get it for me super-fast!
  6. Tutoring work. It's fulfilling and it doesn't distract me too much from my writing.
  7. That the novel I started at the beginning of the month seems to be coming together somewhat. I'm hoping to have a rough draft by my birthday in April.
  8. My brother in law gets here on Saturday! I haven't seen him in over a year! I can't wait!

December 22, 2010

Dean Young Needs Your Help

Poet Dean Young, currently the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at UT-Austin, needs your help. He's been suffering from a degenerative heart condition for over a decade, and has been placed on the transplant list at a local hospital. If he can't get a transplant, he'll need mechanical intervention. Either way, the cost will be enormous. Poet Tony Hoagland has written an open letter on Young's behalf:


Dear Friends,

If you are reading this, you are probably a friend of Dean Young and/or a friend of poetry. And you may have heard that our friend is in a precarious position. Dean needs a heart transplant now. He also needs your assistance now. 
Over the past 10 or 15 years, Dean has lived with a degenerative heart condition--congestive heart failure due to idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy. After periods of more-or-less remission, in which his heart was stabilized and improved with the help of medications, the function of his heart has worsened. Now, radically.
For the last two years he has had periods in which he cannot walk a block without resting. Medications which once worked have lost their efficacy. He is in and out of the hospital, unable to breathe without discomfort, etc. Currently, Dean's heart is pumping at an estimated 8% of normal volume. 
In the past, doctors have been impressed with his ability to function in this condition. But now things are getting quickly worse. Dean has been placed on the transplant list at Seton Medical Center Austin, and has just been upgraded to a very critical category. He's got to get a heart soon, or go to intermediate drastic measures like a mechanical external pump.
Whatever the scenario, the financial expenses, both direct and collateral, will be massive. Yes, he has sound health insurance, but even so, he will have enormous bills not covered by insurance--which is where you can help, with your financial support.
If you know Dean, you know that his non-anatomical heart, though hardly normal, is not malfunctioning, but great in scope, affectionate and loyal. And you know that his poetry is what the Elizabethans would have called "one of the ornaments of our era"--hilarious, heartbreaking, courageous, brilliant and already a part of the American canon.
His 10-plus books, his long career of passionate and brilliant teaching, most recently as William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin; his instruction and mentorship of hundreds of younger poets; his many friendships; his high, reckless and uncompromised vision of what art is: all these are reasons for us to gather together now in his defense and support. 
Joe Di Prisco, one of Dean's oldest friends, is chairing a fundraising campaign conducted through the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT). NFT is a nonprofit organization that has been assisting transplant patients with advocacy and fundraising support since 1983.
If you have any questions about NFT, feel free to contact the staff at 800-489-3863. You may also contact Joe personally at jdiprisco@earthlink.net.
On behalf of Dean, myself, and the principle of all our friendships in art, I ask you to give all you can. Thanks, my friends.
Yours,
Tony Hoagland 

You can help.
To make a donation to NFT in honor of Dean, click the link below his photo. If you'd prefer to send your gift by mail, please send it to the NFT Texas Heart Fund, 5350 Poplar Avenue, Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write "in honor of Dean Young" on the memo line.
Thank you for your generosity!

I saw Dean Young read in 2008, and it was a magical evening. He's a priceless treasure to the American literary community. Consider donating funds to help with his medical expenses; help save a life this holiday. 

Wordless Wednesday

December 21, 2010

Reading Challenges!

Via Over Forty Shades:

Brighton Blogger of Book After Book has set up a series of reading challenges for 2011. You can choose as many or as few as you like! Below are the challenges she's created:

The Italy Reading Challenge
 I chose this topic because - as an Italian who has been living abroad for many years now - I feel the need to learn more about my home country and I’m curious to see the difference between the way it is portrayed by native Italians and others.
The LGBT Reading Challenge 
LGBT literature is so rich and varied and worth talking more about. That’s why I am hosting this challenge: to keep learning and sharing reading experiences. And, why not, to do my own tiny bit for a more accepting world – one book at a time!

I've decided to sign up for both challenges. I have to read 12 books set in Italy and as many LGBT books as I want. This on top of the research I'm doing for my new novel . . . hopefully I can find a way to combine the two! (This is likely possible.) I look forward to expanding my reading in 2011!

Confession Tuesday

I confess that the older I get, the less I care about Christmas.

For the record, I'm not actually a Christian. I was raised by a lapsed Catholic and a lapsed Methodist, who during my early years gave lip service to Jesus' birth, but then gave up the pretense entirely when we were teenagers (though my mom still watches the Pope on TV every Christmas Eve). Of course, neither of them is happy that my sister and I are atheists (with tendencies towards agnosticism), but that's the risk you take when you don't indoctrinate children from the moment they're born. Anyway, I stopped caring about Christmas as a religious holiday a decade ago.

For awhile, especially in high school and college, I reveled in the materialistic nature of American Christmas. In college and grad school in particular, I referred to it as "Capitalistmas." But as my identity as a capitalist weakened, so did my desire to participate in a holiday based on consumption. I'm not saying I'm a great sage Buddhist who has renounced all worldly possessions (my Amazon wishlist is prodigious), but I'm just not motivated by a holiday that revolves around giving things. I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of my mother's gifts, I really do - she puts a lot of care into selecting things that we will love and use. But at the same time, I find I'm not really fulfilled by giving people presents. She is, and that's fine. I'm not judging her; it's who she is. Giving people nice presents makes her happy. And I'm not her.

I confess that this year, my sister and I treated ourselves to a nice dinner before she went to visit Mom for Christmas (she's the good daughter). We had time together and a nice meal rather than just another object we probably wouldn't use that much. It was so much more fulfilling than buying the perfect gift would have been.

Honestly, I probably wouldn't even put up my (fake) tree if my mother didn't send me a new Christmas ornament every year. I feel obligated to put it up to give each ornament its moment. (And yes, my sister and I have tried talking to her about how we feel about celebrating Christmas. But she's a die-hard observer, and won't hear of it.)

Right now, I'm pretty much going through the motions to make my mother happy (and I'm not even going home for Christmas this year. I'm 1,500 miles away, and I'm still going through the motions enough to make her happy. Yes. I have a strange relationship with my mother). My sister says that once mom passes on, she's giving up Christmas completely, and I'm inclined to agree with her.

I confess that I was interested in celebrating Solstice, not because I attach any spiritual meaning to it, but because I think it would be cool to celebrate major temporal milestones easily observed in nature. Last night was the longest night of the year. The days will now (slowly) start getting longer. That is something to celebrate! But I always miss the solstices, no matter how interested I am in celebrating them. Yesterday (and today still) I'm battling a virus while finishing a course of antibiotics that gives me nasty side effects. Celebration was not happening.

I confess that this year, I've decided to take a cue from my sister and not send Christmas cards. I'm going to send New Year's cards instead. I've decided that I'm still going to put up the tree out of habit, and I'll visit friends who are hosting Christmas celebrations (I'm not going to miss out on moments of togetherness just because I'm a bit of a Grinch), but I personally will not observe Christmas anymore. Instead, I'm going to celebrate the New Year. It's more my style. It doesn't have religion at it's core. While department stores still build sales around it, it's not the capitalist feeding-frenzy that is Christmas. It's a holiday about fresh starts, about new beginnings, a constant reminder that the past is over and the future is still bright before us.

I confess that this year, I got my mom a Christmas present, and the only other friend who got a Christmas gift is the son of one of our friends (for some reason, giving kids Christmas presents doesn't make me Grinchy). (Okay, I gave my husband a Channukah gift, but he's actually Jewish and does observe Channukah, and it's an entirely different holiday; I don't lump it in with my Christmas angst.) My sister and I are not exchanging gifts. I have a few good friends I would like to give gifts to, but I haven't purchased them yet. I'm saving them for New Year's. I'll give New Year's gifts this year rather than Christmas gifts, and I think I'll make that a permanent change.

I confess that in the New Year, I will try to talk to my mom again about my feelings about Christmas, but I won't be offended if she won't listen. She has her traditions. While she raised me with those traditions, I find they don't fit the woman I have become. So I'm making my own.

(Though I confess that there will always be a place in my December schedule to watch A Christmas Story. Nothing will destroy my love for that film.)

December 16, 2010

Liquid Story Binder

I've spent my entire writing life either writing longhand in a notebook or typing using a word processor (Microsoft Office all the way through college; OpenOffice ever since). I've had elaborate filing systems to keep my planning separate for my drafts, and a filename system to distinguish between drafts. And these methods have always worked well for me.

And despite being familiar with the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," I couldn't help feeling compelled to try something new. I'd been hearing about Liquid Story Binder largely from NaNoWriMo friends, and decided I had to check it out.

My NaNoWriMo 2010 effort is currently in hiding in my hard drive, and I've started a new long project - a novel told in connected short stories (i.e. The Martian Chronicles or I, Robot). So far I have 25 prospective characters. I'm building a near-future world a bit different from the world we have right now. It's pretty complex. And I decided I wanted to see how Liquid Story Binder held up to my regular system when tacking such a project. So earlier this week, I downloaded the trial version.

So far, I'm pretty happy with it! There's a bit of a learning curve, and it's not always intuitive (I still don't understand what the MindMap feature dues, and I can't figure out how to create the Storyboard), but all in all, it's a fantastic way to store research, make little notes to myself about plot development, create an outline, store images, make to-do lists, and draft chapters. And it's pretty navigable even without reading any documentation (I'm pretty sure I could figure out how to work Storyboard if I just did a tutorial or something, but I haven't yet). I like to try to figure out software before I turn to the manual, and I'd say I'm operating it at about 75% efficiency without having glanced at the documentation.

Liquid Story Binder is not really a necessity for my writing. I'm enjoying it, but I would be doing just fine with my old system as well. But LSB is a lot more *fun* than word documents and folders. It's a lot more visual, and all-around cool.

The trial is free and doesn't expire until it's inactive for 30 days, meaning you could theoretically use it forever without paying, pending you didn't let it sit idle that long. I recommend that anyone working on a complex project give it a shot, if for no other reason than you can try fully-functional software to see if it works for you.

Thankful Thursday

A busy week! Which has resulted in some stress (like an unsightly cyst in my eyelid three days before a dance performance), but many, many good things.

This week, I'm thankful for:

  • Long talks with long-lost friends. It's nice to know that some connections don't wither with time or distance. 
  • Nice tech support representatives who realize that sometimes, their customers are actually intelligent when it comes to computers. Lenovo customer service rocks!
  • My friend finishing grad school (while working at a full-time job) unscathed!
  • Getting to meet the executive chef at one of my favorite hangouts.
  • A tutoring job! Yay money! And yay for students who pay in advance!
  • Rediscovering that I have not lost all my tutoring skills in the 2.5 years since I last worked with students. My skills are a tad rusty, but they're coming back fast.
  • Rediscovering that I LOVE tutoring. Why didn't I try to get into it as a career sooner? 
  • Casual, stress-free holiday celebrations with family and friends.
  • Having more story ideas than I have time. Frustrating that I can't get them all on paper rightthissecond, but it's so nice to have lots of inspiration.

December 15, 2010

52 Stitches Memorial Fund

Via Robert Swartwood: 52 Stitches Memorial Fund

Horror writer Jamie Eyeberg died earlier this year, overcome by gas as he worked on a well at his home. His wife, Ann, had also been working on the well, and died in the accident as well. They left behind two children.

Aaron Polson is dedicating the most recent issue of 52 Stitches to Eyeberg, and donating proceeds to a fund for the children. And to encourage sales, Cate Gardner is offering a free copy of her book if you but 52 Stitches from Amazon.

Please consider buying a copy of this great anthology in order to remember a great writer and to help his family.

Roach-O-Rama!

I encourage everyone who reads this blog to check out Roach-O-Rama! A collaboration between Ben Smith and Richard Wink, Roach-O-Rama is described as "the last punk zine." A print-only project, it's accepting submissions for the first edition until June 1st, 2011.

Wordless Wednesday

The writing space journey

I admit, progress on my workspace has gone much slower than it should. But hey, as long as progress happens at all, it's better than nothing!

I've mentioned recently that my old netbook died. When I bought a new computer, I actually went out and bought a real laptop this time. I know, there are things to be said for desktop systems, but I'm a mobile writer and I need a computer that can go everywhere. So laptop it is, with a bigger screen and keyboard. It's better on my eyes, and I don't need to hunch over so far to type.

Another major change happened yesterday. Though my yoga teacher told me months ago that writing from bed all day long was not good for my back and aggravating my problems, I could not bring myself to invest in a desk and chair, because I hate sitting in chairs. Even ergonomic chairs feel confining and uncomfortable. So yesterday, I asked her what specifically I should do instead. She suggested a medicine ball. I just so happen to have one, a gift I got in college. I've had it for six years, though haven't used it as much recently. I added air to it and started sitting on it to write yesterday afternoon - I can already feel the difference in my back! Granted, it's not nearly as cozy as writing in bed all day, but the lack of back pain is well-worth it!

The next obstacle is to find a desk that works well with the medicine ball. Right now I am making do with the end of my bed and a lap desk, but this is not an ideal solution. However, the only desk in the house is too tall to work with the medicine ball I have. I'm sure a solution will reveal itself in time. Certainly there might be a medium-height table at Goodwill that would work. I just need to think about it.

December 2, 2010

Disappointing news

I used to be a big fan of Flatmancrooked. They were one of the first literary sites I started reading regularly once I decided in earnest to begin a writing career. I've submitted work to them twice (rejected both times). But I don't plan on submitting with them again. Because they've now decided to offer expedited publishing for a $5 reading fee. And I'm not okay with that.

First off, I have problems enough with contests charging entry fees - and I'll occasionally pay to enter those, if I have the funds, and if it's a contest I want to support. Although I'm not a fan of contests charging money, intellectually, I understand why you need to collect funds to support the contest, especially if you're a struggling publication trying to keep your regular business practices going as well. So while I'm not a huge fan of them, contest entry fees are not a major crime against writers. But charging submission fees for regular publication? I'm not okay with that. Even if it's just $5, because $5 can really add up for struggling writers. We're struggling enough as it is; we shouldn't have to pay just to have our work considered for regular publication. We may little enough on our work as it is; if we pay for regular submissions, we'll barely break even.

But I think what bothers me the most about all this is that Flatmancrooked is willing to take your money to respond to your submission faster - but they don't pay their writers. They will pay writers semi-pro rates for the special anthologies, but for the regular website? Nope. Not one cent. They want you to pay them for expedited response time, but if your work is accepted, you don't get any money. You've been published at a loss. At least with most contests that charge entry fees, there's enough prize money to make a tiny profit or at least break even (and if there isn't, that's a contest I would never consider submitting to). I refuse to be published at a loss. That's just exploitation. A minor form of exploitation, to be sure, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a crappy business practice.

Granted, I could continue to submit to Flatmancrooked and not pay, and wait the 4-5 months (rather than 14 working days) to hear back. But I don't think I want to offer my work to any site or publication that would exploit writers in this way. And I don't think I want to pay for their anthologies, either. If they're going to charge for submissions, even an optional charge, they need to pay writers enough to at least break even (though they really should offer semi-pro rates). I will probably still read the free content online, because it's quite good, but if they want my dollars, they're going to have to treat writers better.

Thankful Thursday

Happy Channukah, everyone! Just a week after Thanksgiving, and already more to celebrate. I love being in a multifaith marriage - it means I get even more holidays! While this week's gratitude list isn't especially inspired by Channukah, I'm especially mindful of the fact that I'm giving thanks during a time when we're celebrating a miracle.

This week, I'm thankful for:

  1. Breakfast tacos! They're my favorite way to start the day.
  2. Avocados! My absolute favorite fruit.
  3. A kiss 10 years in the making.
  4. My hardy immune system (knock on wood . . .)
  5. Excellent tattoo artists.
  6. New ideas and constant inspiration.

December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

NaNoWriMo Reflections

NaNoWriMo is over for another year. I got a nearly-completed draft of a novel, and won with just over 55,000 words. And as always, I learned a few things along the way.

The first big thing I discovered is how naturally I gravitate towards short fiction. It is easy for me to tell a full story in 5,000 words (or even fewer than that!). But I have a lot of trouble sustaining my arc and my characters over the long haul. I know that this is something I can improve upon with practice and extensive revision, and it's something I plan to work on - I want to have a wide range of talents and not just limit myself to writing short pieces. But it's interesting for me to notice just how natural short stories feel to me.

The second big thing I learned relates to the first. This year, I realized that I am very bad at pacing myself. Well, maybe "very bad" is a bit of an overstatement. Again, this relates to my natural talent for short stories, whereas my struggle to learn to write long pieces. When I start a new project, I immerse myself in it. I let it consume my time. I throw myself into research, drafting, and revision until it's done. Well, sort of. This works really well for short stories. But with novels, I throw myself in completely, and then burn out. The frantic pace at which I like to work is great for writing short pieces because the short story is done before I get tired of it. But a novel, on the other hand? Not so much. I need to learn how to write long pieces in a way that's efficient, but won't leave me burned out halfway through.

Anyway, I had a great year, and I'm already worldbuilding and researching for NaNo 2011!

Another Victory!

I made it through Smut Marathon Round 8 by the skin of my teeth! I tied for last place with the fabulous Willsin Rowe, and we had to hold a runoff to decide the winner. Thankfully, I won. Thanks for everyone who voted for my story! (Though I admit, I would not have been ashamed to lose to Willsin and his excellent "Holed Up."

Now time to prepare for Round 9! It's going to be an interesting challenge, and Alison Tyler is giving us until after the holidays to finish it. Hooray for suspense!

November 28, 2010

Sunday Pleasures

I haven't spent much time being out and about this week. Writing, getting ready for the holiday, and spending time in the homes of friends. So today's pleasures are internet-based.

"Love is always a palimpsest" by Anton Gourman. I happened upon this on the internet via twitter and I absolutely adore it.

Salacious: A Queer Feminist Sex Magazine. I need to submit to this one! And so do you! It's going to be great!

The Cleveland Review. Nice to see a literary publication emerging from my hometown. And one of my friends from graduate school is the poetry editor. I can't wait for the first issue!

The Sinfest comic from November 24th. (Not to mention the one from November 23rd). They made my whole week!

The Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic from November 26th. When did journalism in general stop having standards?

Jonathan Franzen will deliver the commencement address at Kenyon College this year. I am so jealous! Though I doubt anything could ever beat David Foster Wallace's address from 2005.

The Walking Deadline. A meditation on zombies, death, and writing. One of the best things I have read this week.

NaNoWriMo Days 21-27

So . . . I burned out early this year. I haven't touched the novel in a week, nor been to a write-in in a week and a half. I've thrown myself into other projects - drafts that need revising before deadlines, new stories that I want to get down before I lose momentum, etc. And of course, the holiday took away from my writing. But really, it's that I'm bad at pacing myself, and I burned out.

And that's okay. It happens. I still have 55,000 words of a novel completed. I have all the chapters down. It's a very, very rough draft, but it's a draft nonetheless. And though I need a break from it now, and that break might last a long time, I have written something new. I put a lot of work into it, I learned a lot about history and poets and my own process, and I met my goal yet again.

Tinglmedia.com - Official Launch

As you might remember, this summer I published a story called "Parting Gift" at Tinglemedia.com, a startup venture that was still in beta at the time. While it can be risky to invest one's work with fledgling ventures, especially when one is still in the early stages of her career and struggling to get paid for her writing, I loved the concept of the site and couldn't resist taking a chance with it. So I sent out a story, it was accepted, and I'm glad such an intensely-personal piece found a home there.

Today, I'm pleased to announce that Tinglemedia is out of beta. Yep! It's now fully launched! I'm glad that founder/editor Scarlett's investment has paid off! Congratulations to Scarlett and all of us writers who took a chance on this one!

November 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo Days 19-20

I admit it. I've been a bad novelist. I took a whopping two days off in a row, and haven't written a word since Thursday. In fact, I've hardly written at all; a few fragments of a short story, but not much else. We've just been so busy celebrating my husband's birthday that I haven't made the time (okay, I've also gotten quite absorbed in Eavan Boland's New Collected Poems and have been spending much more time reading than writing). Hopefully I'll make it to a write-in today, and even if I don't, that's okay; I need to stop castigating myself for taking breaks. And I'll definitely get some writing done on it tomorrow; it's going to be a butt-in-chair day with a friend!

Sunday Pleasures

(Slightly hungover, post-birthday bash edition.)

This weekend we've been celebrating my husband's birthday. The actual day is tomorrow, but yesterday was our primary celebration.

The day started off when his girlfriend came by with breakfast tacos and queso from Tacodeli. (I admit that I'm a die-hard Torchy's fanatic, but I can very much appreciate Tacodeli and their dona salsa.) After breakfast, we went to the grand opening of Pinballz Arcade, a new place in town for classic and new pinball games and other arcade fare. Unfortunately, a lot of the games weren't holding up too well under the stress of the first day, and there were a lot of broken ones. But the owner is really nice, you can tell he's passionate about this place, and I think that once he works through the kinks, Pinballs will be a great place.

Once we were done with games, we headed over to Vino Vino for a wine tasting - $10 per person to taste 35 wines! We got a great sampling of new wines we'd never tasted before, and came home with a few bottles. Slightly tipsy and needing to sober up, we stopped by NewWorld Deli, which is one of my favorite places in town. My husband had never been there before, and was duly impressed.

Fortified by excellent sandwiches, we went to BookPeople for a reading by Gabrielle Faust and Skyler White. They were there promoting new books, and it was a great chance to hear some great writing, drink tea, admire steampunk outfits, and hang out with friends. And then after the reading, it was time to head home and prep for the party we hosted, which lasted till nearly 3:30 a.m.

Today will be more laid back. We're going to GameStop to pick up the copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns that I ordered him as a birthday gift. At which point, he will probably play all day. I might play a bit, but I don't like most video games other than Tetris. I'll probably go to a NaNoWriMo Write-In at Cafe Caffeine before heading to my fiction group to have one of my new stories picked apart so I can actually fix the problems in my draft.

Tomorrow, on his actual birthday, we're celebrating by going to an open mic at House Wine, and he's going to play some new stuff. Should be a great set! I haven't seen him play live in a long time, and I'm looking forward to it.

November 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo Days 17-18

Well, yesterday, I worked on various projects, sat down in the afternoon to work on the novel - and just didn't feel like it. At all. Just going into my Documents folder and clicking on the document to open it seemed like a momentous chore. So I took the day off, and focused entirely on other projects.

This morning, I woke up still not wanting to write. But I had a write-in to attend, darn it. And I wasn't about to let that go. So I got my butt out of bed, drove to south Austin, and parked myself in a chair for 2 hours. And wrote a little over 2,000 words. Go me!

The weekend forecast is not conducive to writing: party prep (including housecleaning) tomorrow; a party on Saturday as well as a number of other things during the day; and recovery on Sunday. I'm hoping to knock out another 2k over the weekend, though. We'll see!

Thankful Thursday

Good week this week! Lots of writing, lots of fun, lots of things to be thankful for!

  1. Finishing NaNoWriMo! Well, sort of. I got to 50,000 words, meaning I completed the challenge! I still need to finish the rest of the story, though, so I'm still writing! Hopefully I'll have finished the book by the end of the month!
  2. Job interview this afternoon, for something part-time that won't probably interfere with my writing or dancing schedule too much. Here's hoping it goes well! I could use the money.
  3. An excellent story acceptance and contract sent out this week!
  4. Husband's birthday this weekend; fun plans all day Saturday, with something special on his actual birthday Monday night. I absolutely love birthdays, more so than any other holiday.
  5. Good hang-out time with a good friend, and a fun evening with someone special.

November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 16

Up to 54k as of yesterday, and my goal is to get to 55k by the time I go to bed tonight. Yes, my progress is much slower, but as I mentioned yesterday, I am trying to strike a balance between the novel and other projects now that I've gotten the initial words out of the way.

The novel is still going in fits and starts. Some chapters still aren't complete, even foundational ones - for some reason, I haven't been in the mood to write the big sex scene. I've written plenty of smaller ones, but for whatever reason, I'm intellectually and emotionally resistant to the definitive one. It's a fear thing. I need to get over it. Maybe I will commit to writing it at the write-in tomorrow.

Funny how I've managed to write so much in such a short time, and yet I'm still having hang-ups that revolve around fear. Some things never change. And you just have to deal with them as they come.

Wordless Wednesday

November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo Days 14-15

Progress has slowed substantially since crossing the 50k mark. I want to finish the story, of course, but I also want to strike a better balance between the novel and my other projects - this isn't the only piece that requires my time and attention. I'm now content to write 1,000 words per day for the novel, leaving the rest of my writing time for short pieces, a new nonfiction project, and some poetry. I've managed to stick with this goal, and it's working well for me. I plan to attend at least one write-in this week as well. As I've said before, those are my favorite part of NaNoWriMo: coming together as a community to write!

Confession Tuesday

I confess that my room/workspace has become such a mess that I'm having trouble functioning in it, and yet, I'm still not motivated to clean it.

I confess that I moved the plants indoor for the winter, because I'm trying to grow avocados and they don't do especially well in cooler temperatures. The only place where I had room for all of them was my room/workspace, thus contributing to an already-cramped environment. On the one hand, this compounds my frustration. On the other hand, it's really nice to have all that green in my room!

I confess that I want to make tea, but since the plants are in the way of the kettle outlet, I can't at the moment. At least not until I clean the room enough to find the 3-prong adapters so my kettle can work in the 2-prong outlet.

I confess I might be blogging when I really should be cleaning my room.

November 14, 2010

Sunday Pleasures

It's been a busy week, filled with various life stresses, more computer problems, and winning NaNoWriMo! (but not being finished with the story yet). Here's a look at some of the things that brightened my week.

The Lenovo X-Series. Boxy and ugly, but with just the specs this writer needs, it will be saving me from my ongoing computer woes in approximately 10 days. Those 10 days cannot come soon enough. And I can upgrade that boring black exterior with a custom skin. I'm thinking leopard print.

My spouse's new LG computer monitor. He got it for the PC he's building piece by piece, but he's already hooked it up to his laptop, so he currently has a dual-screen setup. We use the LJ to watch TV online, and it is lovely.

Red Table Coffee. This is the coffee shop that hosts my regular Thursday morning write-ins during the month of November. It's on the opposite side of town, but it's totally worth the drive for the super-friendly wait staff, the company of NaNo-ers, and the 20% discount they're giving to write-in participants.

Opal Divine's. I've probably put it in Sunday Pleasures before, but if I have, it bears mentioning again. This is by far one of my favorite bars in Texas. I spent last night there and had some fantastic drinks.

And while I'm mentioning Opal's, I should mention that I love Geeks Who Drink trivia nights. We had a blast last night drinking at Opal's and playing the trivia game. And our team took 3rd, which got us $10 off our bar tab! A truly excellent Saturday night.

NaNoWriMo Days 11-13

Truly epic!

Things really took off for me over the start of this weekend. I went to a write-in on Thursday morning and knocked out about 2,500 words in two hours, then added about 1,500 more throughout the day. Friday was not actually a great writing day - my husband has Fridays off and we spent this one getting tacos, going for walks, and going to the movies - but I managed to get in just a little over the 1,667 word minimum (not that I needed it at that point). Yesterday morning I woke up in the vicinity of 38,500 and breezed into 40,000 words pretty easily - and then did not stop writing. Yes, I put in just 12,000 words in one day, and crossed the finish line. Currently sitting at just over 50,000 words!

Of course, I plan to keep writing. The story is not done yet. I have a bunch of half-written beginning chapters, and I still don't quite know where the end is going. But I won the official challenge!

As my computer problems seem to be getting worse before they get better, I probably won't work on the novel much today. (I only have computer access at the moment right now because my husband is asleep and therefore has no need for his machine's power supply.) I was hoping to go to a write-in, but barring someone being able to loan me an A/C adapter (I'm not borrowing one for a loaner laptop that is not exactly in the greatest shape ever), it looks like I'll be spending the afternoon reading rather than writing. Which is a bummer, because I love going to write-ins and hanging out with NaNo people. But it isn't too terrible, because I think I could stand a day off before I forage ahead to figure out how this book is going to end.

Literotica Holiday Contest

I'm participating in the Literotica.com Holiday Contest this year! This event will run through December with new entries being added daily. My story, "Spin the Driedel," is a sexy take on the celebration of Channukah. I encourage everyone to read it and rate it - even if they don't love it, any rating helps!

What I like best about the Literotica contests is that you don't have to vote for just one story. You can read all the stories and give them ratings, but if you have two or three strong favorites, you don't have to choose just one; you can give them all high marks. So please go through the stories and rate them. Help make this contest a great one!

Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss now available!


Huzzah! Just a reminder that The Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss is now available for sale on Xcite! I am so proud to be part of this anthology, especially because it's exciting to have some nonfiction erotica out there. Writing "Reclamation" was a great way to stretch my creative muscles, and I'm glad I have had the opportunity to tell my story for anyone interested in

November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Days 7-10

I had a mammoth writing day on Sunday the 7th, knocking out 5,000 words in 2.5 hours and putting me squarely at the halfway point of 25,000 words. Since then, the writing has gone a bit slower, as other projects have occupied my time (plus after writing that much on Sunday, my brain was totally shot on Monday). But I continue on, and finished at just over 32,000 words yesterday afternoon.

I should mention at this point that I'm now officially writing the whole novel without my outline. Although some wonderful professionals were able to recover my data from my broken computer, the outline file got corrupted at some point - meaning I have no outline. And it would take up too much precious writing time to actually try to re-create it. But I'm totally writing without a map. It's a little scary. But I seem to be doing okay.

Thankful Thursday

It's been a rough week. But there are definitely things to be thankful for.

1. A wonderful, supportive husband, sister, and friends.
2. Finding a stray unopened bag of my (now discontinued) favorite rooibos in the back of my tea closet
3. Having written 32,000 words of my NaNoWriMo novel
4. Having a write-in to go to today
5. Being sore in the good kind of way from strenuous yoga and dancing last night
6. Skipping a write-in last night to go have drinks with one of my closest friends, and getting to play skee-ball at the bar
7. An overwhelming amount of creativity at the moment
8. An idea (and a draft!) for the next round of Smut Marathon
9. Not needing to shower today if I don't want to

November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo Days 4-6

Still moving steadily along! Thursday the 4th, I attended a write-in and generated about 2,300 words in two hours, and managed to add another 1,000 words to the novel throughout the rest of the day. But I burned out pretty early, around 5 p.m.

On Friday, I was stuck, and struggled to get my 1,667 words. Granted, I could have taken time off, since I was already ahead, but I try to meet the minimum wordcount every day, no matter how big my buffer.

I had insomnia on Friday night/Saturday morning, so got up at 5 a.m. and wrote about 1,000 words in an hour. After a little more sleep, I went to a writer's conference, where I did a lot of writing, but none of it related to my novel. I came home emotionally and intellectually exhausted (one of the pieces I started drafting is a sort of letting-go piece about my recent breakup, and while it's good for me to write, it's also draining), but managed a few hundred more, putting me squarely at 20k last night.

I've taken Sunday off so far in order to recharge my batteries, but I'm gearing up for a 3-hour write-in. I'd like to get 5k done today, but even if that doesn't happen, I'm proud of myself so far.

Sunday Pleasures

I was out of town for most of last weekend, but got home in time to catch the premier of The Walking Dead, AMC's new series about life in a zombie apocalypse. It's graphic, gruesome, and a fantastic piece of television. I look forward to see where this is going! I also closed of Halloween by attending the Austin NaNoWriMo Midnight Write at the Dragon's Lair. As usual, a great way to start of November, see friends I pretty much only hang out with during NaNo, and kick-start my novel!

Yesterday, I attended the TexAROHO Day Conference for Women Writers 2010. I attended a workshop on short fiction (with Barb Johnson), poetry (with Liz Belile), and creative nonfiction (with Meredith Hall), and generated a bunch of drafts for new pieces. My creative nonfiction piece in particular has some excellent potential. The conference also allowed me to meet lots of other Austin-area writers and generally get inspired. And I'm looking forward to learning more about the AROHO organization and getting more involved.

Today has been a lazy day. Did yoga before my spouse got up, and then he made migas for breakfast. I read the newest issue of the Kenyon Review while he played around on the internet, and then we went for a walk and got lunch at Chipotle (with a gift card! yay free burritos!). Now we're catching up on Boardwalk Empire (probably one of my favorite shows this season; also, huzzah for getting HBO On Demand for free). Then, we're going to a NaNoWriMo Write-In at Mozart's, one of my favorite Austin coffee shops. I'll round the day off by sparring with my printer before heading out to my writer's group, and then have a quiet evening in.

November 4, 2010

By the skin of my teeth

Wooo! I made it through Smut Marathon Round 7. . . but just barely. The competition is getting fierce! We're down to 6 authors for the next round, as well as back to the 250-word maximum for our stories. It should be interesting! I'd better get writing . . . . At some point . . . when my novel allows me to pay attention to any project other than my novel . . . .

NaNoWriMo Days 2-3

Although my pace has slowed gradually over days 2 and 3, I'm still surpassing the minimum word count each day, meaning I'm still quite ahead of schedule. I closed out day 2 just over 10k, and I finished day 3 with 12,712 (for those of you keeping score, I needed to finish yesterday with 5,000 words).

I'm a little surprised how easy the writing is going considering I am still working without an outline, but I'm not complaining! I'm noticing also that these first three days have had me focusing almost exclusively on the latter third of the novel. This is also the part I had outlined the least before my hard drive died. I'm nervous to touch the beginning, the part I'd outlined heavily, without my guide, but I'm fine to wing it with things that weren't quite so established. Definitely interesting.

I haven't written yet today, but I'll be off to a write-in in South Austin pretty soon. Looking forward to it! Since I focus exclusively on noveling at these write-ins, I'm using the time beforehand to focus on other things which tend to get neglected. So far today, it's been showering, feeding the pets, and blogging. Whee!

Thankful Thursday

This week, I have gratitude for:


  • My cooking abilities. It's nice to know that I can feed myself well, and I always feel great when people compliment what I've made.
  • The luxury to take time off from projects if I need a bit of a break or am feeling burned out.
  • Scorned Woman Hot Sauce - it's the best hot sauce around!
  • How far ahead I am with my NaNoWriMo novel, and how easily it's coming out, even though I am still writing without my outline.
  • That the computer repair place was able to extract my data at all, even though it's taking longer than I'd like.
That I survived another round of Smut Marathon!

November 2, 2010

Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss available tomorrow!

Just a reminder that The Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss will be available from Xcite Books tomorrow! And it looks like the Kindle edition is already up at Amazon.com. Be sure to check it out! I've read the contributors copy, and all of the stories are just excellent. This is a fantastic e-anthology and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.


NaNoWriMo Day 1

I closed out Day 1 of NaNoWriMo with 6,830 words. Not as epic as 2009, where I hit 10k on the first day, but certainly a strong performance putting me several days ahead of schedule. Which is good, because my weekend is not looking conducive to writing.

Things are going better than I hoped, considering my dead netbook is still at the computer shop undergoing data extraction, and I probably won't have it until the end of the week. The problem with this is that while I was pretty diligent about backing up all of my NaNo prep work, for whatever reason, I never backed up my outline. Not once. My only copy was on my netbook. I don't know why I never bothered backing it up, but whatever. It happens. I'll have it back soon, and at the moment, I seem to be writing just fine without it. I will need it eventually, but at the moment things seem to be going okay. Perhaps I want it more as a security blanket than anything else.

Of course there are nagging thoughts about my abilities as a writer, but those come with any project. I can already tell I am doing better as a novelist than I was last year. Maybe this will be the year I write a truly strong, publishable novel. And if not, that's okay too. Practice makes perfect. I can see I'm improving. Someday I'll get there.

Already did some Day 2 writing and I'm up to 8,577 words. I would love to get up to 10k today, but even if I don't, that's fine. I'm still doing really well.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that NaNoWriMo is going pretty well! I'll give it a post of its own, though.

I confess that I've realized that cutting out all caffeine really does help me sleep better, but I'm really bad at avoiding it. I'm not addicted; I don't get headaches when I go without it. But I already struggle with insomnia, and even a little caffeine doesn't help things. But I'm a tea fanatic. I have herbal teas all over the house, and I've been taking care to only drink those lately, but if I go to a restaurant, I order hot (caffeinated) tea without even giving it much thought. And then I have another cup. And then I have some chocolate. You get the idea. I'm working on it.

I confess that while I hate the way insomnia makes me feel, I love how productive I can be when I am suffering from it.

I confess that people are confusing and complicated and it's difficult to remember that. I try not to judge, but I'm still working on it.

October 27, 2010

The Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss Coming Soon!

I'm thrilled to announce my forthcoming appearance in The Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss: A Blow-by-Blow Anthology of First-Time Fellatio and Other Oral Delights, from Xcite Books. This e-anthology, edited by Chrissie Bentley and Miranda Forbes, was designed to showcase a multitude of first experiences with oral sex, from the perfect to the embarrassing. My own piece, "Reclamation," discusses how growing up in a sex-negative environment and a disrespectful ex boyfriend inhibited my ability to enjoy oral sex, and it was only through reclaiming fellatio on my own terms that I was able to find pleasure. It's my first published nonfiction piece about sex, and I'm honored to have it included.

The Bad Girl's Sweet Kiss will be available from Xcite on November 3rd.

Smut Marathon Round 7

After a slight delay, Smut Marathon 7 is up and running! This round presents seven sexy stories of sex toys, so head on over, indulge in some sultry reading, and vote for your favorite! You have until 11:59 p.m. on November 1st, so get reading!

Wordless Wednesday

October 26, 2010

More Flash Fuck-tion!

Start your Tuesday off with some good smut and check out "Little Bo Peep" by Gary. It's excellent!

Confession Tuesday

I confess that we lost Bart, one of our pet degus, on Sunday, and I feel like it's my fault. She'd gotten injured on Saturday and I thought we should take her to the vet. My spouse wasn't sure, so we called, and the vet told us to wait and see. I wish I hadn't listened. Bart died on Sunday morning. I knew she needed medical attention. I should have just put her in the car and had her admitted anyway. She might still be alive. And even if she would have died anyway, at least her last hours would have been more comfortable. I feel like I failed Bart. She depended on me, and I screwed up big time. It's been a rough few days at this house.

I confess that it's really hard to get up and feed the degus in the morning; it reminds me so acutely that Bart isn't there anymore. It's also a little scary. I keep worrying that I'll go up to the cage and find another degu dead.

I confess that my laptop died on Thursday night and I have been really lazy about getting data I need for NaNoWriMo recovered off the hard drive. I don't know why I'm procrastinating, as NaNo starts in less than a week.

I confess that I'm actually a little scared for NaNoWriMo this year. Not because I'm not sure I can win - I know I can -  but because this year I want to write a really good novel. I've invested so much time into research, into writing prompts, and I worry that if I can't produce a good novel that is revisable and publishable, it will have all gone to waste. I know that's not true. I know that even if the novel itself is a failure, I still will have learned a lot. I still will have gotten novel-writing practice that will serve me when I try to write my next novel. I might even get the nugget of a good short story or novella in there. This effort will not be wasted.

I confess that I haven't been sleeping well, that I'm drained and groggy and grouchy and sad. I think I should go make some tea.

October 24, 2010

This is just wrong

Amazon.com has a new iPhone app available. Phone users can go to a bookstore, use the app to scan the book's bar code, and then order the book directly from Amazon on the spot.

Over the past couple of years, Amazon.com has been making business decisions that I consider questionable a best. But I can't get behind this one, because in my mind, Amazon.com is expressing the attitude that regular bookstores should serve as free showrooms for Amazon.com.

Of course, a potential customer can browse a bookstore, then go home and order the book from Amazon.com later anyway. Nobody can prevent that. But I think it's pretty skeevy of Amazon.com to facilitate that. This is just one of those things that sets me off as being definitively not-okay, and makes me really want to consider the extent to which I want to consider patronizing Amazon.com (not that I do so that frequently, and never for books, but perhaps I shouldn't be giving them my money at all).

Sunday Pleasures

Things have been interesting lately. My computer died on Thursday night, I spent much of Friday dealing with the problem (currently on a loaner laptop from a friend), spent Saturday being lazy, and it looks like Sunday is working out that way as well. But anyway. On to the things I've been enjoying lately. This week it's more of a link roundup, as I haven't been getting out of the house quite as much lately (lots of projects means less time for play).

Apparently, there are two kinds of writers: the caffeinated and the sleepy. I'm an insomniac with an anxiety disorder. I think that means I'm a little of both.

I'm currently a teensy-bit obsessed with Hyperbole and a Half. A friend sent me one of the posts last week, and since then I've been steadily reading through the archives. Allie never fails to crack me up.

I should have linked to this forever ago, but Kelli Russell Agodon (who blogs at Book of Kells) had  one of her poems up at Poetry Daily.

October 21, 2010

Interview with a Video Game Writer

There's an interview up with video game writer Emilie Poissenaut up at Hayden's Ferry Review Blog. I was excited to see this because, although I write primarily erotica these days, I'm also involved in a text-based video game writing project. I haven't elaborated on it very much here, because it's always difficult to talk about projects so rough and early in their development, but I think I'd like to discuss it obliquely for a bit.

A few months ago, a friend of mine was laid off. Suddenly confronted with extra time on his hands, he decided that this was the time when he was finally going to learn a programming language and write a text-based game. Not being a writer himself, he put up a Facebook status looking for writers. Even though I have hardly enough time to tackle all the projects on my to-write list, I took him up on it. He was a little surprised, as I'd never expressed interest in writing a game before (honestly, I hadn't thought about it before he posted it). But I wanted to try something completely different. So we joined forces.

Things have been going a little slower than expected. He's learning how to program. I'm flat-out learning how to write a video game story - something I'm attempting for the first time in my life. And a week and a half into the project, my friend found another job with a prominent gaming company, and it eats up a lot of his time. We were both grateful that he found paid employment again so quickly, but it has made us struggle to progress with the game. (Not to mention that we've both gone through major breakups within a few months of each other, and both of us struggle with creativity when we grieve). But even so, we continue on.

Writing a game is unlike anything I've written before. I can barely describe it. When I write a story, I typically begin at the beginning and write until I reach the end, and just let my creativity take me where it wants to go (though sometimes using my writing dice if I get stuck). But when writing a video game, I have to consider all possible outcomes/decisions for a character to make, and write out narrative for each of them. I have to figure out which actions are right and which are wrong. I can't just sit down and write out a story. I have to sit down, write a story, but also take into account all the ways a player might deviate from that story.

There are other differences. Writing game dialog and exposition is different. Writing descriptions of places and characters is different. I have to actually plot out directions for my main character to drive around town, because getting from one place to another is part of the challenge and adventure.

I'm glad that I started this challenge, and I look forward to playing the game when we're finally done. I'm glad I took the chance to expand my horizons, and see how video game writers work. This won't be my full career. But it's something that was fun to try, and that I would like to try again eventually.

Thankful Thursday

Posting with insomnia again . . .  hopefully the gratitude list will calm me down and let me get some rest.

I'm thankful that if I'm going to struggle with insomnia, at least I have the energy to get up and use the awake time in a productive manner.

I'm thankful for all of the writing opportunities I have been given this week. Real life likes to interfere, of course, but overall I've been productive.

I'm thankful for my new writing group. It's a group of talented professional writers who are committed to our craft. We're going to meet regularly, we're motivated, and we get along. Our first meeting already inspired me to revisit some goals that had become stagnant.

I'm thankful for rediscovering Raymond Carver. One of my writing group members suggested I read some of his work as I revise the story I brought to workshop last week. I first read his stories back in college, but I'm getting even more out of them now. Sometimes, I feel frustrated that I actually have to work and write and can't just sit at home reading his stories all day.

I'm thankful for dance. It keeps me happy and sane.

I'm thankful for yoga, especially my class focused on helping students with chronic injuries. My back has been feeling really good this week!

I'm thankful for awesome weekend plans.

October 19, 2010

Workspace Brainstorming, Part 1

For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room . . . In 1981, I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study . . . For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship's captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.
A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity and put it in a living-room suite where it had been . . . I got another desk - it's handmade, beautiful, and half the size of the T.rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave . . .
 [P]ut your desk in a corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around. - Stephen King, On Writing

I have chronic shoulder and back issues left over from an injury I sustained in college. Currently, I'm taking a yoga class designed for people with such issues, and it's helping a lot. Last week, I was talking with my teacher about my work space, and it came to my attention that it's contributing to these issues. My writing room functions as a second bedroom (so my husband and I can bring other partners home to stay the night and the other person will still have a space to sleep). I don't like desks. I write from that bed, or sometimes on the floor, or if I need a change of pace, on the couch in the living room. I only use desks/tables and chairs if I work at the library or a coffee shop, and I feel uncomfortable the entire time. The space is also disorganized and cluttered. But my yoga teacher outlined all the ways in which my bed/floor/couch habits, not to mention my tiny netbook that lacks a decent-sized screen or ergonomic keyboard, are just aggravating long-term issues. So the time has come for me to seriously think about a desk, an ergonomic chair, and (when I can afford it), a computer less likely to cause problems.

Ever since my teacher made me promise to work towards the goal of a healthier work space, I've had King's quotation in my mind. It doesn't have anything to do with carpal tunnel or middle-back problems, but it's also something I feel I need to keep in mind as I alter my space. There needs to be a sense of humility about it. I need a desk and a chair that will be good for my body, but don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on sexy, shiny, high-end models. I need something simple, functional, loveable. I need to make space for it, but not make the space revolve around it.

Just random meanderings as I begin my journey into a better work life.
 

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I always wait at least 15 minutes to open any reply from an editor regarding my submission. The nerves never go away. I know that no matter the outcome, I'll be fine, but there's always that little bit of anxiety.

I confess that I don't have a lot to blog about at the moment. I've been a sort of hermit, focusing on my researching and character development rather than producing new pieces. It's a nice change of pace, though I look forward to creating new stories again soon.

I confess that I'm stretching my creative limits, and it's intimidating, but also awesome. The new writer's group I joined is going to be very helpful in helping me stretch myself artistically.

I confess that I've gotten some disheartening rejections this month, but the acceptances I've received have made it worth it. More details to come as those near their publication dates.

I confess that after putting it aside for nearly a year, I want to try revising the manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2009. It's bloated, a novella (or even a novelette) with extra padding for the purposes of writing 50k in 30 days. But I really do think there's a good shorter piece in there. And I need to sit down and work on it. You know, when I'm not busy working on everything else . . .

October 12, 2010

Alex Chornyj on SensNeo

Check out poet Alex Chornyj on the SensNeo program on BlogTalk Radio. I've been a fan of Alex since my days as Gloom Cupboard editor, where he's been a frequent contributor. He's a great poet, and he has some fun things to say here.

Tattoo Series Volume 1 is Now Available!

The Tattoo Series: Volume 1 is now available from XOXO Press! Featuring a wide range of stories and art, this anthology is a must-have for any tattoo aficionado.

Volume 1 includes "Clyde's Tattoo," my story which first appeared in Sliptongue. It's great to see it in a collection now!

Thanks to XOXO Press for including my story. I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that the frustration I vaguely vented about on Sunday has been fortunately resolved. I'm pretty happy.

I confess that I wish I could get breakfast tacos delivered. Or better yet, snap my fingers and just have them appear in front of me. I confess that oatmeal is less-interesting breakfast.

I confess that I need to go grocery shopping and bake bread, and many of my breakfast woes are due to the fact that I have been procrastinating on food purchasing and production chores.

I confess that my Wednesday is going to be busier than my Wednesdays typically are, and while I'm not entirely thrilled by the prospect, one item on the agenda is going to make my life easier, and another is going to further my route to closure after one of the difficult things that happened to me this year. So it will be worth it.

I confess that I wish the avocado plants I started would show more progress. I can't tell if they're dead or not and I'm impatient. 

I confess that my evenings revolve almost entirely around dance these days, as I'm preparing for a big competition at the end of the month, and I couldn't be happier. 

October 10, 2010

Sunday Pleasures

Glad I have this meme to cheer me up. I just got some really frustrating career-related news that I can't really talk about here. Let's just say that I am frustrated. And that it's partially my own fault. And I hope I can figure out a way to fix it. And it's time to go over some pleasureful things to take my mind off of it for a bit.

I got to see The Mountain Goats on Friday! They played at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and the set was fantastic. John Darnielle was as charismatic as ever, and they played "Going to Georgia" (a song they rarely do live anymore), "No Children," and a ton of my favorites, most of them from We Shall All Be Healed. And they closed on "Houseguest," which is the song they closed on when I first saw them live in 2008. I was at their tent 2.5 hours early, to ensure I was right up front, and it was worth the wait. The rest of ACl I kind of hated. It was crowded, the people at the Black Keys set were just rude, and we left soon after. But all that matters is that I got to see my all-time favorite band, rock out, and sing along.

Yesterday was a day for cheesemaking! After going to brunch, my sister accompanied me to Austin Homebrew Supply, which, in addition to having supplies for making your own beer and wine, they have the requisite stuff for amateur cheesemaking. I'm making a Parmesan for the first time, using instructions from Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses. Currently, the cheese is sitting in a brine bath until tomorrow, at which point I will wrap it and let it age for 10 months before I have a chance to taste it. Hard cheeses are truly an exercise in patience.

And last night, my husband and I saw Buried. It's intense, emotional, claustrophobic, and exhausting, and I loved it. I'm glad I ordered that second glass of wine, and left the theater needing a hug, but it really is a fantastic film.

Flash-Fuck-Tion Roundup #3

Just one story posted since the last time I wrote, but I love this one so much that I don't want to wait for more to appear: Strands by Monocle.

October 7, 2010

Smut Marathon Round 6 Results

My story, entitled "In Bed," took 4th place in the most current round of Smut Marathon! It was a fairly tight race this time around, and I send a hearty congratulation to May Deva for winning with "Turning the Wheel." Her story was truly excellent.

The theme for round 7 is sex toys. This should be very interesting, indeed. I already have a few ideas sketched out; sometime this weekend I will pick one and start writing.

Thankful Thursday

It's a bit odd to be sitting here trying to think of all the things I'm thankful for when suffering from insomnia at four in the morning. Especially because I decided a hot shower would help, but then found a gigantic roach in the shower. Ick. But hey, I'm up, I might as well knock some things off my to-do list. And who knows? Maybe this exercise will calm me.

I'm thankful for my wonderful, hardworking dance partner. We're going to be awesome at competition in a few weeks.

I'm thankful that I get to see the Mountain Goats play at Austin City Limits on Friday.

I'm thankful for understanding clients who realize that technological bugs happen sometimes, and don't hold it against me.

I'm thankful that the NaNoWriMo forums are up and running (almost entirely) smoothly. It's so fun to be chatting with the other writers! I can't wait to start my novel! Even though in a few hours I'll be freaking out that November is only a few weeks away and there's no way I'll be able to finish my research in time.

October 5, 2010

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I'm eating apple pie for breakfast because the bread was covered in mold.

I confess that I can't believe the bread went so moldy so quickly. It's not even a week old, I've kept it wrapped, and the temperatures and humidity are decreasing.

I confess that the potatoes are starting to sprout, so today I will probably make a large batch of potato salad.

I confess that my decision to make pie yesterday was motivated by the fact that the apples were starting to get soft.

I confess that many of my cooking decisions are motivated by what is about to go bad.

I confess that I don't know why I try to buy in bulk. With the exception of flour, dried grains/pasta, and dried beans, everything else just goes to waste. But it's really hard to ignore the great deals. Still, it's not much of a deal if things are going bad because I bought more than I could hope to eat before things spoiled.

I confess that I could probably just freeze things, but I do have a tendency to put stuff in the freezer and then forget about it.

I confess that this all makes me feel like I am not doing my part for the environment.

Flash-Fuck-Tion Roundup Part II

Alison Tyler has published three more Flash-Fuck-Tion stories on her blog since I last updated, and they're great! Go check them out!

"Mind Your Manners" by Miz Angell

"Gloves" by Aurora Hunter

"Why?" by Antalianna

September 30, 2010

Smut Marathon 6 is up!

A little last in posting (blogging schedule? what blogging schedule?), but Smut Marathon 6 is up and looking for votes! It's looking to be stiff competition already, so get out there and cast some votes!

Thankful Thursday

A lot of frustrating things going on today, and this week in general. But here are a few things I'm thankful about, just to keep things in perspective.

I'm thankful to have some paid work.

Thankful for great friends who know how to make sushi.

Thankful for a lot of fun events happening this weekend - an all-day movie party on Saturday, a day trip to Fredericksburg on Sunday for Oktoberfest.

Thankful for flirtation, for feeling really special for the first time in weeks.

Thankful for dancing. Lots of dancing.