March 6, 2011

New URL!

The Wordpress switchover went easier than expected! The entirety of this blog is now available at http://dorlamoorehouse.com. I'll leave this site up for awhile, but please update any necessary RSS feeds. I look forward to seeing you over at the new site!

Excuse my dust!

I'm going switch to Wordpress and get a stable URL. And there's big news coming soon!

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Free SXSW Literary Event!

A couple of posts back, I was bemoaning the cost of South by Southwest Interactive, and thus my ability to attend any literary events. But as luck would have it, Kirkus Reviews is sponsoring a FREE four-hour publication camp on Friday, March 11th. I'm so excited! Now I don't feel quite so left out of the whole thing. I'm especially interested to see what advice they offer given how much time I've spent reading Dean Wesley Smith's Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series.

You have to register in advance, so if you're interested, don't delay!

March 3, 2011

Congratulations to Jonathan Pinnock!

Writer Jonathan Pinnock has just found out that he's been shortlisted for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize, an award given for a debut collection of short stories. There were 60 entries and now 10 authors remain on the shortlist. Winners will be announced in April. Congratulations, Jonathan, and good luck on the next round!

March 2, 2011

Submissions in 2011

I'm a maniac! While my goal of getting all my old work back out into the publishing ether by the end of the weekend was far too ambitious, I'm still submitting like I've never submitted before, and I'm quite proud of myself for it. I've spent too much time in recent months not living up to my submission potential, and part of that was due to disorganization. But now I seem to be getting back on track. Now if only I would hear back from editors one way or another!


Wordless Wednesday

February 27, 2011

I am continually amazed by celebrity egos

Via The A.V. Club:
The Tarzana-based Columbia (school motto: “No, not that one”) has announced via press release that it is launching a course entitled “Master Class: Editing James Franco…with James Franco,” in which students will come to a deeper understanding of Franco by compiling a 30-minute documentary on Franco, using footage of Franco supplied by Franco, all in the academic pursuit of Franco. Overseen by Franco’s right-hand Franco, Tyler Danna, the class will ask student editors to “create a cinematic image of James Franco”—a task akin to producing a rainstorm on paper—using Franco-chosen behind-the-scenes videos from the short films that Franco has directed.
I've always admired Franco's acting ability, but I keep hoping that this is a hoax. It's just too over-the-top. I mean, I wouldn't mind if one day I wrote a novel that was studied in a college class. And I've taken courses on writers who are still alive (Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje) - but this seems different. It's not a film analysis class; it's not a film-as-text class; this seems more to me like studies in egotism. And students are paying a lot of money to feel Franco's ego.

Sunday Pleasures

I'm having a relaxing Sunday as a way to round off a wonderful weekend. My spouse and I spent yesterday evening watching most of the 2011 Oscar-nominated short films. Our theater wasn't screening the documentaries, but we did see the animated and the live-action shorts. My favorite animated short was Madagascar: A Travel Journal, though I think The Gruffalo is a shoe-in for the Oscar. After much deliberation, Wish 143 was my favorite of the live-action films (though they are really all quite stellar), though Na WeWe, my least-favorite film due to what I felt was a cop-out ending, seems nonetheless most likely to win.

In other media news, I'm currently making my way through season 2 of Breaking Bad. This is one of the most emotionally intense shows I have ever watched, and I can't get enough of it.

And going back to Friday night, J and I had a fabulously unhealthy dinner at Johnny T's BBQ up in Round Rock. It's cheap and the food is delicious. They put more efforts into their delicious meats than they do their side dishes, but it's all-around delicious. Unless you're a vegetarian, that is.

February 24, 2011

The Poetry Table, Stage 1

Last Saturday, I realized that in 48 hours, I would be hosting the first meeting of my new poetry critique group, and that I really needed to have some kind of coffee table in the living room.

Target didn't have anything I liked in a price I wanted to pay. Goodwill didn't have anything I liked. So although I'm not a big fan of the Salvation Army, I went there in desperation and found a table in the size and shape I wanted for a whopping $20. One of the shelves was broken and the cheap black paint was peeling, but I figured I could throw a tablecloth over it and nobody at poetry group would be the wiser. Problem solved!

But then I began thinking about all the ways I could take this table and make it pretty. And I settled on a poetry table. This is going to be a bit of a slow process, but here is what I've done so far:

First, I started stripping the paint. Unfortunately, the previous owners used latex paint, which is kind of a pain in the ass to remove. I've found that a razor blade is working pretty well. It's resulted in a few nicks in the wood, but those won't matter in the end. I hope to finish this phase of the project by the end of the month, so I can have the table completed before a big party I'm having in mid-March. Here's the table, partially stripped:



I plan to cover the table in poetry. Here are some of the poems I've cut out or printed off my computer that I plan on shellacking to the table once the paint is all gone.


And here is last year's Texas Poetry Calendar, which I am using as source material. I'm so glad I can do something with this used-up planner and it doesn't have to go to waste!

Thankful Thursday

It's been a tough week, but I'm thankful for my great friends and my wonderful spouse who have all helped me out.

I'm thankful that I have a two-hour massage scheduled tonight.

I'm thankful I was able to reschedule the appointment I had to cancel due to this week's (still ongoing) car trouble, so I didn't actually lose the opportunity to make money.

I'm thankful that neither mechanic has charged me for a diagnostic fee on my car. Now if they could just get her fixed . . .

I'm thankful that although I haven't been sleeping well, at least I've been able to get a LOT of writing and submitting done this week. I'm thankful that the weekend is almost here. Things will definitely get easier.

February 23, 2011

Submissions in 2011

So I admit, I went a little crazy on submissions yesterday.

First off, last week: In addition to submitting my one-act, I submitted my novella to a second publisher. I need to get it into more markets. I can't be lazy about this. Then, on Sunday, a story I submitted in 2010 got rejected. Now, I really try not to take rejections personally. I try not to let them affect me. But this one did. This story means a lot to me on an emotional level, it's one of my best pieces, and having it rejected really stung. So how did I deal with it? By going a little crazy and submitting it to 5 new markets. This might have been a touch of overkill, I admit. But it made me feel better!

Yesterday, I also submitted three erotica pieces - one a story I finished Monday, and two stories I finished yesterday morning.

Although I've neglected my big novel project this week, I've done a really good job of clearing out a backlog of stories that were nearing the final stages of revision but had yet to be completed. I only have one left, which I plan to finish today, especially because, due to my car being in the shop, I had to cancel some appointments due to transportation issues.

I also came to the hard realization that I have a lot of stories that have been out for over a year but not formally rejected but need to be resubmitted. After a year, you can be pretty sure they weren't taken, for one reason or another. I've kept them out in hopes that they might still be accepted, even though I know darn well it's unlikely at this point. Unfortunately, I did a bad job of keeping an up-do-date submission spreadsheet last year (part of why I'm publishing it on the blog this year - keeps me accountable). And the "fiction" folder in my hard drive? A total mess. So my goal for the weekend is to get my old stories organized and submitted. By Sunday night, I'd like it if I didn't have any old work lying around, languishing on my computer. My goal is for everything to be out somewhere.

Wordless Wednesday

February 22, 2011

Literary Events at SxSW Interactive

If you were able to blow the money on a pass for South by Southwest, there are a ton of great literary events at the Interactive portion of the festival. Literary Austin has a rundown of all the book readings and other literary celebrations.

As much as I'd like to be able to attend some of these, I don't have several hundred dollars to blow on a pass, even not an Interactive pass, which is much cheaper than the cost to attend the music or film portions of the festival. I'm especially bummed at how expensive the Interactive festival is. Music and film are great, sure, but the Interactive portion has panels on the future of publishing and other aspects of literary culture that are important to me as a writer. But I just don't have the cash to spend.

Festivals always seem to have this aim of bringing people together, and yet SxSW seems to do a pretty good job of only letting monied people in. Yeah, I'm grumpy about it. I hate missing out on fun just because I don't have an extra $400-$700 lying around in my bank account.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I haven't submitted any new writing this week and I'm feeling anxious about it. I know, I know, it's Tuesday. But I seem to be having one of those weeks, and I'm paranoid it just won't get done. I confess that of all the monthly goals I let slide, doing one new submission a week is not one that I'm okay slacking off on.

I confess that my car's check engine light came on yesterday and I got more upset than I probably should have. I confess that it's just a bad week for my car to need work. But that's always the way, isn't it? I'm sure by the time next week rolls around, something else will have happened that makes it inconvenient for me to have car trouble.

I confess that I wish Autozone opened sooner than 7:30. I'm wide awake after a nightmare and want to get this taken care of NOW.

I confess I'm the impatient type.

I confess that a hot cup of tea is making this seem a teensy bit better.

February 20, 2011

LGBT Reading Challenge 2011: Unspeakable Horror



I'm not much of a horror fan - it's not that I don't like the genre, I just never had much of an interest in it. But last year, I bought a copy of this book when I found out my friend Reesa Brown was published in it. And because I always have more unread books on hand than ones I've read, this one languished in my ever-growing "to read" stack until I decided to pick it up and read it for this challenge.

Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of the Closet is an anthology of queer-themed horror stories. The horrors here aren't just the ghosts that haunt you, the spirits that possess you, or the evil people who persecute you. The real horrors are instead the oppression and repression these characters face, and the lengths they have to go in order to hide their sexualities, protect themselves, stay closeted. The fear of the thought of having to deny one's self, to deny one's love, and the consequences of all that denial. There are ghouls and goblins here, sure - but the psychological torture and trauma these characters experience is far greater than any harm the creatures could cause them.

Although, as I mentioned above, I found Unspeakable Horror to be a good introduction to the genre. It provides a mix of "things that go bump in the night" with pure psychological stuff, and gave me a good feel for what I like and don't like in terms of horror stories. It taught me that horror writing isn't all blood and guts, and in fact is far more insidious. And as a bisexual woman in an open marriage and trying to balance (and occasionally hide) that with a family who refuses to understand her life, I found something of myself in most of these.

But I think Unspeakable Horror is relevant even for those who are not LGBT. We all have our secrets, and those secrets can haunt us. Anyone who reads these stories will understand the feelings of alienation and repression that come from hiding, that come from having to pretend you're somebody you're not. This is a fantastic anthology, and I highly recommend it.

Sunday Pleasures: Belated Post-Marfa Edition

I actually dreamed about being in Marfa last night, probably because I spent part of yesterday evening working on a collage of our trip. Nearly two weeks post-vacation, here are some of the lovely places we visited out west.

We were supposed to stay at the adorable and cheap STAY Marfa, but due to a freeze, their plumbing burst. Although we were bummed about not being able to stay in these cool apartments, we didn't complain when we found out we'd been put up in the historic Hotel Paisano for no extra charge. After a long day of driving, we got a few groceries from the Get Go and settled into our room to drink boxed wine and watch bad cable TV.

On Saturday we drove out to Prada Marfa and had fun fooling around taking pretentious photos. On our way back into Marfa proper we got absolutely delicious (and cheap!) tacos at Tacos Del Norte. Even better than many of the tacos you can get in Austin. Back in town, we walked around taking photos of Marfa and stopped in at Marfa Book Company, where I dropped far more money than I'd budgeted. Dinner that night was at Pizza Foundation, which has a fantastic array of toppings to make the pie of your dreams. And after getting lost and having to drive up a mountain in the dark, we finally made it out to the McDonald Observatory, where we got to look through powerful telescopes and have an astronomer point out constellations with the most badass laser pointer I have ever seen.

Sunday was all about hiking in Big Bend National Park. After breakfast at the Austin Street Cafe, we drove two hours (and went through a border patrol checkpoint) to have an adventure. We went down into a canyon and could see Mexico across the Rio Grande - and the river was so low that if we'd wanted to risk getting in trouble with border patrol, I would have run across and touched it. We spent the entire afternoon being floored by the beauty of the Texas mountains. I can't wait to go back so I can see them again. After getting dusty and dirty while hiking (and realizing the hard way that you really can't go off-roading in a Honda Civic), we stopped in at the Terlingua ghost town and went on the walking tour. Then we stopped in for a beer at the Starlight Theatre before heading back to our hotel to be lazy after a busy day.

On Monday morning we took a yoga class at Marfa Yoga, checked out of the hotel, and headed out to Chinati Hot Springs. We had to drive up a mountain again, but this time it was a totally unpaved mountain. After a slightly stressful trip up, we found ourselves in a beautiful, remote place without wifi or cell phone signal. We hiked, we cooked in the communal kitchen, and we spent a nice long time soaking in the springs. It was a great way to cap off our West Texas adventure.

February 17, 2011

Vote in Smut Marathon Round 10

Just because I'm out of Smut Marathon doesn't mean I'm done supporting it! Round 10 is up and ready for votes!

For round 10, the remaining four contestants were asked to revise and expand one of their earlier pieces. Alison Tyler put up each piece as its own post. Joss Lockwood revised "Something Like Love," Angell Brooks revised "Fucked to Death," May Deva revised "Overtime," and Emma Hillman revised "In the Middle."

Check out each story and then vote for your favorite!

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful that after my stressed-out post on Tuesday, I'm starting to feel like my life is back on track.

I'm thankful for two new tutoring clients.

I'm thankful that Texas has warm weather again.

I'm thankful that I get to go dancing tonight.

I'm thankful that I get to go home with someone special after dancing . . .

I'm thankful that my spouse and I finally have health insurance.

February 16, 2011

Italy Reading Challenge 2011: Baudolino


The second book I chose for the Italy in Books Reading Challenge was Baudolino by Umberto Eco. Although the book is only set in Italy some of the time (it is also set in Constantinople, Paris, and the Far East), a major plot point occurs in Italy and the title character was born there.

The novel is set in 1204, with Constantinople being raided during the 4th Crusade. Baudolino, at this point an old man, saves a court official and historian named Niketas from certain death, and as they flee to safety, Baudolino narrates his entire life story and his adventures.

Theoretically, I should have loved this book. It's historical fiction, and I love historical fiction. It's about religion, and while I'm not religious, I love stories about religion. It's also about storytelling and the ways in which history and myth are told, retold, and established. And Baudolino is an unreliable narrator - I love a story with an unreliable narrator, when I can't be sure if he's telling me the truth or if he's telling me a lie.

However, I just couldn't get into Baudolino. It's a good story, and the translation is beautiful, but for some reason, the book failed to captivate my interest or keep my attention. In fact, there was one point at which I considered giving up - it was really only this reading challenge that kept me motivated to make it to the last page. And the frustrating part is that I can't really explain why I didn't like it. Intellectually, I know it's a good book. But it didn't do anything for me on an emotional level.

I've heard from more than one person that Baudolino is not Eco's best work, and that I'd like his other writings much more. I haven't written Eco off yet, and I'm going to guess that my friends are right; that Eco is a wonderful writer, but Baudolino is not the place to start.

Wordless Wednesday

February 15, 2011

Submissions in 2011

This week I sent off the one-act I've been working on. It's been a long, slow road to get this piece up and running, but I've loved the journey.

I can't believe we're 11 weeks into the new year and so many of my submissions are still up in the air. I am so tired of the waiting game. Not to mention that I'm still waiting to hear back from pieces I submitted at the end of 2010. Granted, the waiting game is nothing new. It's a natural part of publishing life. But patience has never been my strong suit.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I feel horribly behind on life. I don't remember I put serious effort into my novel. I have a mountain of short stories building up. And life just sort of keeps interfering. The West Texas road trip was the start of me getting behind schedule (though I don't regret a thing). The day after I got back, I got sick, and spent the entire day unable to do much more than watch TV or read. Then there was just one day until the weekend, which involved more social events than usual. Plus I've picked up two new tutoring clients. I'm not going to bemoan the presence of new clients in my life, because I can fit them into my schedule and I need the money, but I'm nonetheless frustrated by the fact that I have a deadline for the first draft of my novel (April 11th) and I'm worried that I'm not going to meet it, plus the fact that my output has been lower than usual. After several weeks of not seeing any calls for submissions that piqued my interest, I'm now seeing two or three a day. I know there's no way I could meet them all even if I had all the time in the world, so I shouldn't be frustrated, but it doesn't help.

I confess that I know that the problem of feeling behind and overwhelmed is not a new one, and it will pass. It helps to air it anyway.

I confess that I crashed at 9:30 pm last night and slept for 10 hours and in fact am feeling much more optimistic about all this, so hopefully my creative life will turn around soon.

February 10, 2011

New Musical Obsession

Entirely apropos of the general theme of this blog, I have to share this video. My friend introduced me to the band Hello Saferide on our road trip, and I nearly drove her crazy asking her to play the EP we were listening to over and over. So here's the first track from "Would You Let Me Play This EP 10 Times a Day?" Because I'm obsessed.

Thankful Thursday

I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend 5 days traveling around West Texas. To have a wonderful traveling companion with a good music collection and a hybrid. To finally get to see Marfa. To hike through Big Bend and get closer to Mexico than I ever have before. Thankful that the ice in Austin on Friday didn't prevent us from getting out of town, and that driving conditions were wonderful for the rest of the trip.

I'm thankful that we made it back to Austin in time for me to go dancing.

I'm thankful that the virus I began suffering from at three o'clock on Wednesday morning was short-lived and that I now feel great.

I'm thankful that I have a busy, fun-filled weekend ahead.

February 9, 2011

Submissions in 2011

Despite spending the first part of the week on the road and falling behind in some goals, I've still managed to keep up with my weekly submission goal. I sent out a flash fiction piece this week! Would love to hear back on older submissions soon as well.

Wordless Wednesday

February 3, 2011

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing

I'm currently making my way (slowly) through Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing, a series that Dean Wesley Smith created for his blog. In this series, Smith deconstructs major myths about writing and publishing that hold writers back or cause them to make bad business decisions. It has been an eye-opening experience and even though I'm less than halfway through, has already taught me a lot.

So far, the articles that have been most helpful are "Writing is Hard" and "Can't Make Money In Fiction." While the articles on agents, editors, and publishers have given me the most information that I didn't have before, these two pieces, about the writing progress and making money, have given me more in terms of motivation. I've realized just how much myths about how difficult writing should be and how little I can expect to make are holding me back. I don't expect instant turnaround success now that I've finished these pieces, but they've taught me more about what I should expect from myself.

Dean Wesley Smith won't teach you about style or grammar in this series. It's not one of those fluffy writing guides. And yet I'm learning a lot, and I think once it's done, I will emerge a better writer.

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful because tomorrow I get to leave for 5 days in Marfa. I'll be farther west than I've ever been before! I'll get to see the desert! I get 5 whole days with my best friend and her adorable pug! I'll hopefully be inspired and write a lot! (And now I need to think about packing and what stuff I should by for the trip .  . . .)

I'm thankful that Sugar & Spice has been published. This is my biggest career accomplishment to date. I'm so proud of myself, my fellow writers, Mira Paul, and everyone else at Ravenous Romance who put this together.

I'm thankful that nothing in life is permanent and soon enough this cold weather will break. I'm thankful for tea, hot cocoa, and hot buttered rum for helping me through this. I'm also thankful for central heating.

February 2, 2011

Submissions in 2011

Nothing new this week in terms of acceptances or rejections, but I did get new work out on Monday! Well, I submitted a previously-published story to Best Lesbian Erotica 2012. "Enforcement in the story that was just published in Sugar and Spice, and it's one of my best pieces of erotica. Since BLE2012 accepts previously-published work, and since I consider it one of my three best stories of my career so far, I decided to see if it would make the cut for the anthology.

I'm pleased that despite all the various business and schedule changes life has thrown my way, I've managed to nonetheless meet my goal of submitting work once a week. I do hate playing the waiting game, though.

Wordless Wednesday

February 1, 2011

Sugar and Spice is Out!!



I'm proud to announce the publication of Sugar and Spice, a brand-new e-anthology of lesbian erotic romance. Edited by Mira Paul and published by Ravenous Romance, this collection includes hot, sweet, and sexy writing by a bunch of fantastic erotica and erotic romance authors - one of them being me! I'm really proud to be included in this collection alongside the likes of Elizabeth Thorne, Xan West, and others.

Confession Tuesday

We have genuine winter weather in Austin this morning. Not as extreme as the real winters up north, but it's icy out there. I'm starting my day with cocoa instead of tea, and I confess that I might actually have a second cup.

In Austin (as in many other parts of Texas), the plumbing isn't insulated, on the grounds that we hardly ever have winter weather. However, on the occasions that we do, this means that we have to leave our faucets dripping to ensure the pipes don't freeze. I confess that I hate this. I confess that it's driving me crazy. I confess that I hate the sound of dripping coming from all three taps in the house.

I confess that I feel a bit judgmental towards Texas right now. I confess I'm irritated at the thought of how much water is being wasted by the entire city having their taps running. Wouldn't it be better for the environment to start putting insulated plumbing into new buildings?

I confess that my spouse set the thermostat at 81 and I flipped a little bit and wondered what planet he might be from. Yes, it's cold, but not cold enough for the thermostat to be above 75.

I confess that I can't wait for sun and warmth.

January 30, 2011

Robert Swartwood's Q & A With Grand Mal Press

Via Robert Swartwood: Q & A With Grand Mal Press

In December, Robert Swartwood wrote a post about Grand Mal Press, in which, after going through their information about the submission process, royalty rates, etc., and pointing out the problematic aspects, advised writers to stay away from this publisher.

After seeing the blog post, Darren Heath of Grand Mal Press contacted Swartwood, addressing his concerns. This resulted in a great Q&A about publishing that you should definitely check out.

Sunday Pleasures

On Friday night, I celebrated my friend's birthday by taking her to dinner at Cru. The food was delicious and the wine flights excellent. I also had the best red wine I have ever tasted - El Picaro de Matsu. I dropped a bit of extra money to get a bottle to take home. So worth it! After dinner, we got drinks at The Highball and then saw The King's Speech at the Alamo Drafthouse. A great start to a great weekend.

Yesterday was the Free Day of Dance in Austin, Texas. Although I didn't have time to go to every single class I wanted to attend, I got the chance to take some great free lessons and hang out with wonderful people!

I spent last night celebrating at the Austin City Dance Club 1st Anniversary Party. I took a fantastic workshop and then danced all night. I absolutely love this club, and am excited to dance with them as they move into their second year.

This afternoon, I'll be helping out with inventory at BookWoman. Although inventory is a lot of work, the atmosphere is actually really fun. This will be my third year doing inventory, and my second as a volunteer rather than an employee. Yep, I do it even though I don't get paid!

January 27, 2011

Calling Austin Book Lovers

The staff at BookWoman are doing their annual inventory, and they need your help! There simply aren't enough staff members to get it all done in one day. They need volunteers to help get everything squared away.

Inventory will take place on Sunday, January 30th, starting at 9 a.m., with a shift change at noon. I've done it two years in a row now, and while there is some hard work, it's a wonderful atmosphere, and I always end up having fun. If you're able to come for one of the shifts, call the store at 512-472-2785 to let them know.

Thankful Thursday

So much to be thankful for this week!!

1. My settlement money came in. The ordeal from the accident is OVER. And I don't have to worry about money at all for the next few months. And I might splurge on Lasik. Such a happy week.

2. Some excellent career news that I shouldn't say too much about at the moment. But it's good. And exciting. And scary. And awesome. And has hijacked my whole writing schedule this week. And is more than worth it.

3. I got my email inbox down to fewer than 10 messages. This seems like a small thing, but is really quite cool, considering the backlog I had.

4. I got a free smartphone! A friend of mine got one free with a new plan, didn't want it, and just gave it to me. So now I have a shiny new Palm Pre! and I didn't have to pay for it!

So yes. Lots of wonderful things all around. 2011 is going great so far.

January 26, 2011

Submissions in 2011

As I mentioned yesterday, I got my first acceptance of 2011! I've published a second story up at Tinglemedia.com.

I also got a submission out this week, despite being really busy with another big project (more details on that later). But I revised an old story and sent it off to the Filament magazine fiction competition. Submissions are open until January 31st, so check out the guidelines and submit!

Wordless Wednesday

January 25, 2011

New story up at Tinglemedia.com!

My first publication of 2011 is up! I have a story entitled "Breakup/Hookup" available for purchase at Tinglemedia.com. You'll need to set up an account and a queue in order to read it, but the rates are cheap! Tinglemedia.com is a great venture for erotica, and I encourage you to check it out.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that 2011 is going great so far.

I confess that I cashed the settlement money from my scooter accident today. Even after lawyer's fees and covering the medical expenses, I came away with a good chunk of change - enough that I don't need to worry about money for about a year, maybe a little less (as I plan on doing significant traveling this year).

I confess that I made a few impulse buys this afternoon with my new funds, including some jewelry and a new pizza stone to replace the one that got damaged in the oven fire over Christmas.

I confess that I got a new smartphone (a Palm Pre Plus), and I am in love with it. Best of all, I got it for free when it came included in a friend's plan and he decided he didn't want it anymore.

I confess that I am working on an outline for a novel and I'm going to submit it to a publisher by February 1st. I am so excited.

January 20, 2011

Submissions in 2011

This week, I sent a story to Tinglemedia.com. I have a story up on the site already, and I love the Tinglemedia venture - small bits of erotic fiction delivered to your cell phone or other mobile device. Since I want to support the site's success, I decided to send over another piece.

January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Smut Marathon 9 Results

It was a pretty close race - I lost round 9 by two votes. On the one hand, I'm disappointed. I've really been enjoying this challenge, and was of course hoping to continue on. But on the other hand, I'm pretty pleased with myself. We started with 17 writers and I made it into the top five. That's nothing to sneeze at. I'm really proud that I made it that far, especially dealing with a personal setback that affected my motivation and inspiration.

As a result of participating in Smut Marathon, I've started doubting myself a little less. I'm always my own worst critic, but I made it into the top 5 of this contest; I'm good. Not the best. There's room for improvement. I still need to hone my skills. But when you get right down to it, I'm good.

Participating in this competition also reinforced the importance of writing even when you don't feel like it. Been dumped and don't feel like writing a frisky sex story? Too bad, you have a deadline. I wasn't about to drop out of the competition - not when I had already come so far. Having these contest deadlines every few weeks reinforced that, while you might need a break from time to time due to certain life circumstances, if you want to be a writer you can't let those bad experiences overwhelm you forever. You need to write despite all of that. You can't give up that essence of yourself for very long. Besides, having something to focus on other than the problems at hand is often quite helpful.

So while I'm a little bummed to be leaving, I'm proud of myself, and I'm very happy that I participated. Congrats to all the winners! I look forward to seeing how this contest ends.

January 18, 2011

Small press publishers offer lifetime subscriptions to readers who get tattoos inspired by their books | MLive.com

Via the Hayden's Ferry Review blog: Small press publishers offer lifetime subscriptions to readers who get tattoos inspired by their books | MLive.com

Think that the University of Pittsburgh Press will give me a lifetime subscription because I have a few lines from Barbara Hamby's All Night Lingo Tango inked onto my right bicep? It's great publicity! I always have people coming up and reading my tattoo, asking me what it means, where it came from, etc.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that though I'm trying to eat out less often, my main downfall is breakfast tacos. For some reason, my brain doesn't consider grabbing some tacos while I'm out doing my morning errands as "eating out." "Eating out" connotes a full sit-down meal in a restaurant, or ordering appetizers while out on drinks with friends - not grabbing some tacos to-go while on a grocery run. I think this is because I don't eat fast food. I haven't been through a real drive-thru in nearly five years at this point. And while taco places aren't drive-thrus (typically, at least, though there are a few exceptions around town), it's the same principle: I'm just grabbing some (cheap) tacos as I go about my day. That's not really eating out. Except it is. While tacos are cheap, they would be even cheaper to make at home. They're not especially time-consuming, either. I need to remember that getting tacos really does count as eating out.

Totally unrelated to tacos, I confess that I've been having trouble getting back in my writing routine since getting sick. About a week and a half ago, I got severe food poisoning that had me out of commission for 3 days. For some reason, it's been really hard to get back in my routine. I think it's because the day before I got sick, I had family in town for 9 days. And while I did an admirable job of writing every day despite the distraction, I was still distracted. Add that to being sick and not being able to write at all (it was too much effort for my body to sit upright and focus on the computer screen), and you have a perfect recipe for losing track. Since then, I have been prone to distraction - and a weekend-long dance competition this past weekend didn't help. I'm hoping to get my chores done early this morning and then focus intently on writing for 5 solid hours this afternoon, until it's time to go to dance.

I also confess to feeling lost in my work because I have so many incomplete projects. There's a new novel I'm drafting and I'm not sure where it's going. The more I work on it, the more things fall into place, but it's still very fresh, new, and unfinished, and it makes me nervous. And I have two characters I want to write a story about, but the story itself is slow in coming together. I have a lot of projects undergoing revision, but nothing close to being done. It's frustrating to feel like I don't know the next time I'll see a completed piece. I know it's nothing about my value as a writer, because I know I can finish and submit projects. I know that I will soon enough. I know that sometimes, these phases happen, and that sooner or later I'll have a lot of finished pieces and be freaking out about where my next idea is going to come from. It's just weird to have so little finished right now. It makes me feel insecure.

January 13, 2011

Submissions in 2011

Three poems out this week to the Austin International Poetry Festival anthology. Still no response on my other submissions, but it's been too soon.

I notice I've been submitting a lot of poetry lately. I haven't been writing as much fiction, instead focusing on drafting my new novel project. But I do have a piece up for revision. I should focus on that after my competition and get it out.

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful that I'm learning how to rest when I need to - especially if I'm sick - rather than trying to power through and risking making things worse.

I'm thankful that I'm learning to let go of certain goals when certain unexpected events (such as getting sick) prevent me from meeting them - my bout with food poisoning cause me to fail to meet one of my monthly goals for January. But it's okay. It wasn't my fault. Things happen. I'm grateful that I'm learning to accept such realities of life.

I'm thankful that I've still managed to accomplish 11 of 25 goals so far this month.

I'm thankful that all of my motorcycle accident insurance settlement stuff is about to get resolved. It's not quite done yet, but there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm thankful for 2 hours of Thai massage yesterday.

January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

LGBT Reading Challenge 2011: Swan by Mary Oliver


For my first book in the LGBT Reading Challenge 2011, I chose Swan, Mary Oliver's newest poetry collection. Unfortunately, to be entered in the monthly prize drawing, we have to read fiction or non-fiction, which I totally forgot about when I selected the book, but oh well. [Edit: Nevermind! It's all good!] Hopefully I can take a break from my novel research to get a good LGBT novel in before the end of the month! If not, no worries.

Anyway, to the review. Mary Oliver's poetry is not especially political. There are moments when politics shows up, but it takes the form largely of peace activism and war protest - I have read nearly all of her collections, and never seen an overt reference to issues she's faced as a lesbian. But I chose to read the book anyway because (1) she's my favorite poet, and (2) because I don't believe LGBTQ authors have to carry the political label all the time.

One of the things that has especially fascinated me about Mary Oliver is the way she uses the masculine pronoun (he) for almost everything - animals, plants, whatever doesn't have a concept of gender the way we do. I understand why she wouldn't want to use "it" (while I have no problem with that, I know that many people find it objectifying), as someone who cut her teeth on feminist rhetoric, I'm not really used to seeing late-twentieth and twenty-first century women writers using the masculine pronoun as the default. Often, it irritates me. I admit, I don't like it. I don't mind that she's apolitical, but I do mind that masculine pronouns are neutral to her. But that doesn't change how I feel about Mary Oliver's poetry as a whole, so I read anyway.

Unfortunately, I really didn't connect with Swan as I've connected with Oliver's other books. In the first poem, entitled "What Can I Say?," she writes:

What can I say that I have not said before?
So I'll say it again.

What bothers me not is that she revisits old themes - what I have always loved about her work is the emphasis on nature and peace, and I appreciate that she writes about both frequently. What bothers me is that her thoughts seem repetitive this time around. While in her previous books, Oliver has found the ability to talk about the same ideas in new ways, she does not appear to be thinking anything innovative this time around. Further, her style appears to lack a certain intangible spark that her other collections have had. I feel like she's more imitating herself than anything else. Whereas in her other books every other poem has lines bracketed or highlighted because they've overwhelmed me or spoken some truth, in this collection there are only three poems with such annotation. Whereas in other collections I have often been moved to tears, only the afterword, "Percy," makes me cry.

I feel almost guilty in writing this. Mary Oliver has been my favorite poet since 2004. She's something of an institution. But Swan simply lacks the qualities that made me fall in love with her work in the first place.

January 11, 2011

Italy Reading Challenge 2011: The English Patient


My first book of the Italy Reading Challenge 2011 was a re-read of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient - which, despite the title, is actually set in an Italian villa. I first read it six years ago (holy cow! I feel old!) in an undergraduate literature course which consisted entirely of works by Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. To this day, it remains one of the most memorable classes I ever took in college; I loved everything we read, every class discussion, and every paper. So I was excited to re-read this novel with a new perspective.

However, I found The English Patient far less engaging than I did in college, and it took me awhile to figure out why. But finally, I understood. While The English Patient is not a mystery novel in the genre sense, there is a lot of concealment. There are twists, hidden identities, and all sorts of other intrigues. Part of what drew me in back in college was the mystery behind the title character, as well as all the others holed up with him in the villa. Going back to re-read it, there was really no mystery. I knew everything that was going to happen, everything about all the characters - I will never be able to reclaim the feelings I had during that first read, because they were based so much on the discovery process.

Which is not to say that The English Patient is boring the second time around. Ondaatje writes some of the most elegant prose I have ever encountered. I enjoyed being swept up in his writing style. And as I continue to work through a breakup, I found the title character's meditation's on heartbreak to be far more poignant and relevant than they were back when I was an undergrad. Ondaatje can write about lost love without being sentimental or ridiculous; his words ring perfectly true, especially now that I have experienced it firsthand.

Italy, however, is more of a backdrop in this novel than anything else. We see a lot of countryside, but little local color. I'm hoping the next book I pick really gives me a sense of the country as well as narrative.

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I'm a little stressed this week. I got horrible food poisoning on Thursday night that put me under until Monday morning, so I'm behind on stuff I had to do last week. And of course, I'm trying to stay on top of all of the stuff I already had to do this week, including getting ready for a major dance competition this weekend. It's one of those situations where I feel like I'm just holding on. It's not that bad, it will pass, but it's definitely frustrating.

I confess that I've made progress in terms of actually taking time to rest when I'm sick, and that's good. While in other years, I would have tried to power through and work through my illness, I just let my body rest and take all the time it needed to heal, rather than trying to push myself to get things done when I wasn't really up to it. While my productivity took a hit, it's good that I've finally learned to slow down when I'm not well.

January 9, 2011

Poetry Exercise

Caveat: This is an exercise. It's a response to Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" that uses the same form and borrows many of the same words. I did it for both poetic and personal reasons, and it was immensely helpful in both regards. Normally, I don't like to post exercises, especially rough ones, but I feel compelled to do so this time around. I feel the need to put this one out there.

Lost Art
I thought that loss would be easier to master
Especially when it wasn't my intent
But it seems I just create disaster

It's been five months; no day regains its luster
I wonder where my optimism went
I thought that loss would be easier to master

They're all surprised I don't recover faster
That I let me sorrow be so evident
That I let myself create disaster

And every time I try to make a gesture
Of forgiveness, it only sparks dissent -
I thought that loss would be easier to master

But the pain, it seems, only grows vaster
And it seems more energy is spent
On creating (or trying to clean up after) disaster

Recovery is sealed away in plaster -
But in my weakness, feels hard as cement -
I thought that loss would be easier to master
But it seems I just create disaster

January 6, 2011

Smut Marathon #9!

After a break for the holidays, Smut Marathon 9 is up! This time around, we were instructed to write a 2,000-3,000 word story (the longest challenge yet), as well as include a photo of our inspirations. This was a really fun challenge, and provided a nice break from the holiday stress.

Voting will run until January 18th (extra time because the stories are longer), so go vote!

Thankful Thursday

Sad as I am to see my brother in law head back to Louisiana, I am thankful to have the house to just me and my husband again. And I'm thankful that we finally get some couple time. It's been nearly 2 weeks! But I'm also thankful we got to spend so much time together.

I'm thankful that I finally got things together and sent out a book proposal! My very first book proposal! Wahoo!

I'm thankful that three of my avocado plants are growing strong; two are definitely going to be repotted this weekend because they've outgrown their starter containers. I hope that in 5-7 years I'll have some fruit!

I'm thankful that I've managed to be productive in terms of accomplishing weekly and monthly goals so early in the new year. I know that there will be hiccups along the way, but last week the only thing I didn't accomplish was my fitness goals (and I at least got those partially done). And I've already accomplished 6 of 25 monthly goals. I'm reveling in productivity now, in hopes that if a slow period hits, I can look back on how much I already accomplished.

I'm thankful that I've been getting sleep recently.

January 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Filmpoem

Via dumbfoundry:

Filmpoem, a project by poet and artist Alastair Cook, is an endeavor dedicated to the filming of poetry. The pieces he has up there so far are entrancing - in fact, have eaten up more of my morning than I care to admit. His work is just beautiful. Check it out!

January 4, 2011

Submissions in 2011

I'm going to try an experiment in 2011, in which I keep track of all of my submissions on this blog. Since I am supposed to be submitting once a week, we'll all know if I flake out. And since I'm generally bad at updating any submission tracker I attempt to maintain, it might help if said tracker was on display. Look for weekly updates on my submissions as the year goes on!

So here is what I have so far:

Confession Tuesday

I confess that as much as I love having my brother-in-law here, I look forward to having more space in the apartment in a few days. And also some quiet time.

I confess that I'm not getting much writing or reading done while my brother-in-law is visiting, and I look forward to getting my routine back.

I confess that even at 26, I still have trouble with "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

I confess that I'm stressed out because though our health insurance was supposed to kick in 4 days ago, we haven't gotten our cards yet. My husband is handling this one because I can't do everything. The HR department is hard to reach. Blah. I feel scattered and worried.

I confess that 2011 started with a bang in both a good way and a bad way, and I'm hoping for a more peaceful New Year.

January 2, 2011

New Year's Goals

I'm not a big fan of resolutions, when you get right down to it. Largely because I've never been able to accomplish these mysterious New Year's Resolutions. But I'm great at setting goals! So here are my plans for my writing life in 2011:


  • Continue with a semi-regular blogging schedule.
  • Make a concerted effort to secure a publisher for my novella. If I feel I've put forth a good effort and it's just not working, self-publish.
  • Accomplish certain milestones for my super-secret anthology project. I wish I could elaborate more here, but that would kill the secrecy. I do have them written down elsewhere, though.
  • Have a rough draft of my newest novel finished by my birthday in April; have a draft ready to submit to agents and publishers by the end of the year.
  • Get my one-act play produced and/or published.
  • Submit one poem, story, or nonfiction piece per week to either a journal or a contest.
I'm sure new goals will creep up throughout the year. But these are going to be my priority. 

Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you well on your own writing endeavors.