Sunday, May 26, 2013

Time, Time, See What's Become of Me ...

I woke up this morning when something dawned on me: it's Sunday. This made me happy for a few reasons. First off, no work, school, second job, volunteer shifts, doctor's appointments, phone calls to make, or errands to run. Huzzah! And secondly (should I be embarrassed to admit this?) I remembered that Winter Well is out--as of Friday! Two days after, I finally got around to noticing the date. Sheesh, talk about doing too much stuff. Honestly, after last Monday's Blog Hop, I haven't had time to think about it. Which I seem to say a lot these days. About various topics. To everybody I know.

Anyway, it's out! And purchaseable (don't tell me that's not a word!). Right here: !

The awesome cover, again. Because it's awesome.

Naturally I'm inordinately excited about this. I'm entitled to it. And some chocolate fudge ice cream, or cookies, or a confetti shower. I actually don't know what I want to celebrate with. And is it too late to celebrate now? I--I don't know!!!!

What I do know is, I'm glad I read the whole anthology when I got a galley copy (bwahaha ...) because now ... I DON'T HAVE TIME!!! --It's almost finals week, so when I say this currently I do it with a slight bit of maniacal laughter attached ... Don't worry, a couple more weeks and it'll pass, and then things can go back to "normal." Whatever that is.

The only other thing I'll say is, my NEXT story comes out pretty soon, too. Third Flatiron will be publishing Playing with Fire, with Meteor Story nestled among its pages, on June 1st. ... Wait, that's not even a week away! Why doesn't anyone tell me these things??? Oh, they did. I just DIDN'T HAVE TIME to remember to put it in my day planner as something really important. Which it is.

playingrough250.jpgCover for Playing with Fire. Requires more flames and burning, if you ask me. But then, I don't know which story it relates to.

And then ... ? I don't know, actually. I'm waiting on a few submissions that have taken a suspiciously long  time to get back to me, but after Playing with Fire, I don't have any more upcoming publications. Well, at least it's almost summertime and I can get serious again pretty soon!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Next Big Thing - Work in Progress

Well, here we are, and time for my part in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! My lovely editor for Winter Well (coming out this Friday! So excited!!), Kay Holt, tagged me to participate today.
But before I start: please note that I fiddled with the questions. Yes, all those strike-throughs were me needing to make the questions relevant to my own writing. Haha. Because if we're going to talk about writing BOOKS, as in, stories that are so long they can fill two covers all on their own, that's something I haven't been bold enough (or free enough) to do for years. Come on, people, books are serious work!
I also wanted to say thanks to Kay for hunting me down to take part--yes, even having to resort to the ol' stone-and-chisel of email because I don't exist in the fast paced world of Twitter. I apologize for being an inconvenience! I still can't stomach one more social media!
And for all you readers out there, please use your imagination to conjure the toughest, most no-nonsense reporter voice for the questions. That's right, don't let me off the hook easy!
So, without further ado ...
1. What is the working title of your next book story?
I don't win any creativity points for this one: Samurai. I'm sure something better will come up but I just haven't put any thought into it yet.
2.Where did the idea come from for the book tale?
The main character, Tsutomu (he's the samurai) and some of the supporting characters exist in another tale I've written, which has a different main character although the story revolves around all of their interactions and adventures. Tsutomu's actions instigated the events of that tale becoming what they were--at the beginning of it, he'd 'kidnapped' a girl , Needlani, in order to save her from being sold to someone. This tale goes back in time to explain how he managed to kidnap her, and why he had to. (Don't worry, she was in on it.)

The concept for the world they inhabit, which is roughly equivalent to the late 1800s (the setting is roughly equivalent to the Ottoman Empire at that time) came to me in a different way. Originally the idea was for a world where national borders delimit chronological spaces--as in, you could step across the border of a Victorian world back into the 1700s. Or some such. I'll probably still use that idea, but in this story it shifted over to: what if countries were laid side by side with all the "boring parts" taken out? And so the Iymah, eminent sorcerers and traders, stepped in (probably from an alternate dimension) and basically dissected the world and put it back together how they thought it should be, which meant only keeping the parts that produce saleable product. Goodbye deserts, goodbye grasslands and oceans. It's not a good setup from an ecological point of view, and also creates a huge mix-up of peoples and cultures. Which is why our samurai is in the Ottoman Empire. Although, you don't get to move across borders unless the Iymah say you can. So how are you supposed to get out, with a priceless girl in tow?

3.What genre does your book yarn fall under?

I would call it steampunk fantasy, as it takes place in a Victorian Era world with trains, dirigibles, guns, but also sorcery. I wanted to write a steampunk tale that could also, logically, (HA!) be ethnically diverse. In this world, everyone's on the same footing regardless of race or background because the Iymah consider everyone equally inferior to themselves. Although, this may sound like some other imperialist power that was running around in the 1800s, hey?

4.What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Imagine the toughest, smartest, and probably scariest-looking Japanese actor you know. No, I don't know who that would be, but that would be Tsutomu. He's average height and square-chinned.

The Iymah are all tall and good looking in a dangerous sort of way, with skin that's bone-white. So I would elect Matthew McConaughey to be one of the main antagonists.

I can't think of anyone to play Kehel, but he's Tsutomu's local love interest. A pretty boy with a long, straight nose and lots of curly hair.

Needlani, the girl who this whole caper circles around, is easy because she's imbued with sorcery that gives her the ability to change her appearance. She can assume 30 different faces. So pick 30 widely different actresses you consider attractive, and there you go.

Finally, I will need to have Guillermo del Toro direct, because I don't trust just anybody with crazy ideas like this.

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book story?
The world's last samurai leaves his past behind hoping for a peaceful life as a harem guard--only to become embroiled in more intrigue, romance, and danger than he ever thought possible. (Based On a True Story!--okay, it's not, but still...)

6.Will your book tale be self-published or represented by an agency?
Once finished, I will fold this tale up into an origami airplane and toss it in the direction of any publishers who might be interested but, seeing as it's probably going to end up novella-length, who will that be? I don't know, but I'll try. I just love the characters so much that I have to write this story, if only to make myself happy.

7.How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I started writing this over six months ago, then got stuck on a teeny weeny plot point, then got distracted, then school swallowed me like a raging tsunami. The answer, if we're talking only the time I put into writing it, would probably be "a couple months". The answer with life inserted into the mix is, "maybe I'll have it done before September?"

Oh, and I anticipate 40-50 pages, finished.

8.What other books yarns would you compare this story to within your genre?
I have trouble thinking of anything as weird as this. As a matter of fact, I wrote the original tale acutely aware that I wanted it to be pretty damn weird so people wouldn't have anything to compare it to. But I think if you took the movie Looper and mixed the feel of it with, say, steampunk tales like Entrapment by Jay Lake, and then took your high school history book and essentially pulled it inside out, you'd have a feel for the world we're operating in.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book story?
As I mentioned, this was originally an offshoot of a different story--an explanation of where that one came from, if you will. But also, I was drawn to Tsutomu because I wanted a main character who could be strong, confident, and intelligent while being both non-white and homosexual. And I wanted to present all of this as normal and in no way impeding his ability to be an utterly awesome hero. 
And by the end of this tale, Constant Reader will know how this mess ended up where the next story takes off from. 
10.What else about the book tale might pique the reader's interest?
What more do you want? It's got samurai, and dancing boys, and magically infused girls, and dirigibles, and bad guys, and almost no white people, and romance. Cussing, drinking, smoking, fighting, intrigue, and attempted murder and successful kidnap! There's nothing NOT interesting! As a wise author once said--"Don't write the boring parts."
And so it is time, now, for me to tag the next author in this ongoing chain of wonderment. Kay tagged Anna Caro to go next in the Winter Well chain on the 23rd, so check out her blog, too!
I, however, would like to tag the wonderful Kait Heacock. (Fortunately she said I could!) Kait is a reporter at the Rearguard newspaper where I'm an editor, so I am quite familiar with her non-fiction. I wonder what she'll discuss for the Blog Hop though? Find out next Monday!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Happens Next

Oh my gosh! I haven't blogged in forever! Hello, it's me again! Good to see you!

Oh, and I even have a topic this time!

Often when watching movies with my husband I do this thing that's probably exceptionally annoying: I guess out loud what the next plot development, or line of dialog, is going to be.

I couldn't tell you my batting average, but it seems pretty good. At least, the hubby is fairly impressed now and then when I can say "a potato" three seconds before the actor on the screen says "a potato."

But there's really nothing to be impressed about. For me, this is just a natural reflex that comes about from having been steeped in fiction--whether written or filmed--for all my life. And, on top of that, from having absorbed a wide array of plot points and lines of rote dialog in that time, as well as from reading up on writing theory. When you're watching a comedy and you just know the punchline to a joke is going to be the most unbelievable thing you can think of--well, think of that, then.

For example, we used to love to watch this show called Dead Like Me. Oh, how I miss it. Once, when the main character suddenly had to explain to her rather old-fashioned boss why her computer password was a creatively inappropriate word, I took my wildest logical guess.

"It was my hamster," I decided for her.

"That was my hamster's name," George said. Yes, a girl named George. Deal with it.

My hubby thought this was some real impressive, maybe pseudo-scientific, ability. Next I'd be bending spoons and weaving carpets with my brain! No, I'd just spent so many hours watching this show, and other shows and movies like it, that it made sense. What else would a girl like George say when put on the spot?

I wonder if other people out there have this experience. Studying the ins and outs of how to write, or construct plots, or create characters, puts me in the position of always analyzing other people's writing (including films and TV), even if only at a subconscious level, to decide what happens next. Or which main character gets the girl. Or whether the monster is behind the door or in the vat of toxic chemicals. If I can figure out how a story is going to resolve well before I get to the end, I get bored and feel patronized. Maybe this is why I so rarely watch movies a second time, or reread books--the surprise is gone, I've got it figured out, and that's what held my interest.

Sometimes I think it would be better to be in my hubby's shoes. He has no reason to study plot construction or writing theory so, when watching a movie, he can just think, "This is so cool! This is great!" while I'm thinking, "Wow, the music and shadows build tension so effectively--I wonder how I'd turn that into words on a page? If the monster isn't in this vat of chemicals this whole movie is a cop-out--oh, and why was this main character chick sleeping in her makeup, again?" (Why do they ALWAYS do that??)

After delving into the many theories of how to make a plot into a well-oiled machine, it's almost impossible to watch movies purely for entertainment anymore. Sometimes it works, but more often, not. Which is disappointing. I don't watch movies because I want to see how the actors/directors/scriptwriters effectively portray pathos, but because I want to be entertained. But now that I know some of these secrets, it's impossible not to see them in everything I watch and read. Alas! The magic is gone! Or something.


In other EXCITING NEWS, my third short story has been announced, along with all the other contents for Playing with Fire, Third Flatiron's newest anthology! My THIRD story, THIRD Flatiron--sounds like it was meant to be! You can take a look here: if you're the sort of person who likes to look at lists of names and story titles. I do believe Third Flatiron has saved the best for last with this book. Ho, ho.

If you like to look at LONGER lists of names, I'm also posted on Writers of the Future's blog for Honorable Mention right here: You have to hit "read more" and really search, but I'm in there, I promise!

ALSO AWESOME is the fact that I will be participating in a Blog Hop next Monday. All right, so I'll be honest: I don't know what it is or what happens if I do it wrong (the blog gods shall smite me! Save yourselves!!), but I'm going to do it anyway. I will be answering questions about what I'm currently working on (HA! Surviving, that's what!) which, I must admit, looked easier before I started trying to answer them. So stay tuned, all! It's going to be lots of fun!