Jean Marie Bauhaus

Any day that involves a sonic screwdriver is a good day.

Today I added 486 words to Radium Town — 182 this afternoon plus another 304 just now. That brings the grand total so far to 6,919. I’m frustrated that it’s going so slowly, but considering that up until this time last week I hadn’t written anything on it in over a year, nor had I written any fiction whatsoever in several weeks, I guess I’ll cut myself some slack. I’m still figuring out this world and these characters. I’m confident that I’ll pick up the pace once it’s all more familiar to me and the plot gets rolling along.

Here’s the rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Betty shifted in her seat. She wasn’t accustomed to being the center of conversation. That was uncomfortable enough without having attention called to Will’s regard for her. She could sense Will fidgeting uncomfortably in his seat, as well. She braced herself for the joke he was certain to make, but to her surprised he simply said, “Nope. Not surprised at all.” She turned toward him in time to catch him looking at her, a mixture of pride and wonder on his face. Betty quickly looked down at her plate and took a bite of her roast quail.

Matt and I both felt better today, and a mix of cabin fever and spring fever made us antsy to get out of the house for a while. We went to Gardner’s Used Books, where we scored a beautiful set of second edition Lord of the Rings trade paperbacks in really good condition.

I also nabbed the next Dark Tower book (Wolves of Calla; I’m currently making my way through Wizard and Glass) and the latest Rizzoli and Isles novel (spellcheck wants to change Rizzoli to grizzly; considering what a scary mama-bear book Rizzoli can be that seems appropos). And being that I’ve been reading all this dark stuff lately (House of Leaves, scads of Stephen King, The Ocean at the End of the Lane which is lovely but not exactly the happiest of Neil Gaiman’s books), I also grabbed Maybe Baby by Lani Diane Rich, because I’m starting to crave something light and fluffy to cleanse my palate, and also because Lani is awesome.

And speaking of LDR, I’ve also finally begun listening to the Story Wonk podcast she does with her husband, Alastair Stephens. You should listen to it, too.

The first 182 words today were added from a booth at the coffee shop at Gardner’s, where I dorked out when Matt showed me the LotR set he’d found, and then dorked out again when I got up to the coffee counter and saw a replica of Eleven’s sonic screwdriver sitting next to the cash register. The barista (who might actually be the shop’s owner) let me hold it. It was shiny. I want one.

Came home, fed the dog, apologized profusely for leaving him and the kitties so long, took him and the turtle out in the back yard to soak up the sun, came back in and fed the turtle, wrote some freelance website copy, fed myself (well, Matt fed me) and watched Wolf Creek 2 before Matt turned in and I got busy writing.

Not at all what I’d call a bad day. And now I’m going to go dork out over Supernatural and SHIELD before I turn in.

Killing My Darlings

All of my efforts to avoid catching my husband’s bug last week failed in their original intent, which became apparent Wednesday night when I realized I’d caught his sore throat. Thankfully, though, all that extra garlic and vitamin C I consumed did seem to lessen the severity of my illness, as it never moved up into my sinuses like it did with poor Matt. My sore throat lasted several days, and I felt pretty achy and run-down, but at least I could breathe. Even so, I’d anticipated being much sicker than what I ended up being and wrapped up my essential work early and gave myself a few days off to rest. That meant a pretty uneventful Easter Sunday, but at least it was relaxing. Now I’m feeling much better, albeit not quite 100 percent.

I didn’t write while I was feeling blechy. The last bit I did was Wednesday night, when I added 509 words to Radium Town. I added another 300 or so this morning, and then tonight I scrubbed more than 1300, including all of the excerpts I posted last week, because that scene just was not working. But then I started over on it and added 522 new words, and the scene is flowing much better now. That brings the total word count so far to 6,433. Here’s a rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Betty had been surprised to see the two cowboys, although if she’d thought about what Will had told her that morning about his father, she might have thought to expect him there. By the look on Will’s face when she’d first been shown into the parlor, he hadn’t expected her, either. Had there been approval mixed with the surprise on his face?

At first Betty had dismissed the notion. She wore a simple dress of pea-green silk and white cotton lace that she had sewn herself. It fit fine, and it was suitable enough for a formal dinner, but it hardly matched the finery of the mayors’ wives, or even the delicate cobalt embroidery on Mrs. Bayless’s black dress. She’d done her short brown hair up in such a way that it looked feminine and didn’t call attention to how little of it there was. She was presentable, but hardly dressed to draw attention.

Nevertheless, as they’d entered the dining room, Will had taken her arm and whispered, “You look right pretty tonight, Betty.”

She’d felt herself flush at the compliment, and warmth again started to spread across her chest and up her neck at the memory. A burst of laughter brought her back to the present, and she returned her attention to Tom Mix, who was regaling the other guests with an account of how Betty had bested Will that morning at the train station.

“Did you really shock him?” asked one of the wives. Betty wasn’t sure which was which, but was fairly certain it was Mrs. Rohde.

“Not enough to do permanent damage,” Betty assured her.

“I don’t know about that,” said Will. “Some of my hair got singed.”

“I said permanent,” Betty pointed out. “Hair will grow back.”

In other news, I finally started researching agents and agencies today. I also de-listed Dominion of the Damned from all the places that had it for sale. You might surmise that these two things are related, and you would be correct.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that in the coming days and weeks.

Of Green Dresses and Green Skies

Only 291 words added to Radium Town today. However, I brushed up on a lot of research, as my Pinterest board can attest. No, shut up, it was not just an excuse to be on Pinterest. I learned some useful things, mostly about ladies’ evening fashions in 1907, and that resulted in today’s rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Betty relinquished her wool cape and adjusted her dress. Despite her surprise that the professor had accepted the dinner invitation, such an invitation itself had been anticipated, and Betty had come prepared. Her dress was a simple number of pea green silk and white lace, lacking any elaborate detail. She had made it herself, and while years of working as a seamstress before the government got a hold of her had made her quite good at designing her own dresses, her work left her little time for embroidery or bead work. Still, it would do for a dinner dress, and more importantly, it had plenty of hidden pockets in the silk folds for hiding her weapons. Not that she expected to need them tonight; but she’d be negligent if she didn’t come prepared for the unexpected.

I also had a breakthrough in writing what might be the opening of a short story, but I’m not sure yet. Or rather, I don’t actually know what it’s about yet. I might just keep writing on it and see if it decides to tell me. On a whim, I submitted the first line for the opening line contest Chuck Wendig is hosting on his blog this week. Here’s my entry:

When the sky goes green, you take cover — if you’re smart; if not, you stand on the porch, crack open a beer, fire up the video camera, and wait.

I don’t know what that is, or even what genre it wants to be. I guess one thing’s for sure — springtime in Oklahoma means I’ve got tornadoes on the brain.

Otherwise, today was full of distraction and I was highly distractible. I did manage to finish finishing the laundry (i.e. folding and putting away the last load), so there’s that. My husband is sick, so a lot of my thoughts were occupied with concern for him, and also trying to make sure I don’t catch whatever he has. I’m not sure it’s working, because I’m coming down with a cough, but I’m highly suggestible when it comes to this sort of thing, so that might be psychosomatic. Here’s hoping that’s all it is.

We did our taxes on Saturday, so I didn’t have to worry about that. It didn’t turn out so well for us, but at least that’s one less thing I have to think about until next year.

And now I think I’m going to let my tired brain chill out and watch Supernatural, then try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I’ve got some client work lined up for tomorrow, so it’s best if I get a good night’s sleep.

Back in the Saddle Again

With not a lot of paying work on my plate so far this week, I decided to set aside today to finally break through my weeks-long writer’s block (well, and to finish doing the laundry. Writing is glamorous, yo). Today was the first time since I said I was going to get back to work on Radium Town that I actually added words to it. 494 of them, to be exact, and let me tell you, getting that first hundred down was like pulling teeth, but I’m glad I did it. As Stephen King said in On Writing, a reread of which I just finished yesterday, the scariest thing is the moment just before you start. So I’m glad that’s out of the way.

It took hours to get done, most of which were spent reading what I already had and trying to get my head back into the story, and then figuring out how to end the scene where I’d left off in the middle. I also had to do some research and fact-checking, although I really should have saved that for the second draft. At any rate, here’s a rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output: Continue reading

Level Up: Adult

When I was in my 20s, I thought maybe once I reached 30 some kind of magical adult switch would get flipped and then I’d have it all together. When I reached 30 and that didn’t happen, I thought maybe it would happen at 35. At 36, still having trouble with the whole adulting thing, I thought, surely, it must be 40. Everybody figures out how to adult by the time they’re 40. Right?

I turned 41 on Sunday, and if you’re wondering if 40 is indeed the magic number, I’m sorry to tell you that it is not. While I have more days where I’m able to pull myself together and get stuff done than I did ten years ago, those days are still outnumbered by the days wherein just brushing my teeth feels like a monumental responsibility that I’m just not sure I can handle.

I’m beginning to suspect that there is no switch. There is no magic number. And as cohorts show the same signs of struggling I do, I’m also beginning to suspect that the entire idea that there is this achievable level called “adulthood” where one levels up and gets some sort of power pack that causes things to come easily like organization and punctuality and meeting responsibilities and obligations and having a perfect home and always knowing what’s up and never flailing about wondering if one should thaw something out for dinner or maybe just eat ice cream and you need to do laundry and yard work and work work and you’re not sure which should come first but really you just want to lie down or watch TV because that’s about all you have energy for and hey who needs pants if you don’t plan to leave the house anyway? That idea, I’m fairly certain, is a myth.

I’m beginning instead to suspect that what learning how to adult really means is to give yourself grace and accept that there will always be areas of struggle in your life. That being an adult is really about having your priorities straight and being able to get the things done that really need to be done and to let go of worrying or feeling guilty about the things that don’t really matter. To accept that you might never be a perfect housekeeper and your home will never look like it should be featured in Better Homes and Gardens, but as long as you can keep it from looking like it should be on Clean House or Hoarders then you’re doing okay. Or to make peace with the fact that you’ll never be a time management or organizational whiz, but you’ve got your system that works for you most of the time and who cares if nobody will ever want to feature it on Lifehacker as long as you manage to meet your deadlines.

If that’s what it really means to be an adult, then I think I might have finally unlocked that achievement.

Song Lyrics: Untouchable

I enjoy writing song lyrics and poetry, although I don’t do nearly enough of it. To date, I’ve got two songs under my belt (not counting a slew of Buffy the Vampire Slayer filk I contributed to the Mighty Big TV forums back in the day). This here is the first song I wrote, back in 2011. Parts of it are a little trite and cliche, but it came from the heart.

This past Tuesday was the fourth anniversary of the occasion that prompted it — my second miscarriage. I don’t feel the need to talk about those as much as I used to, but it didn’t strike me until last night that the anniversary had come and gone, and I don’t know how to feel about that. I still have sadness around due dates that might have been birthdays, but I don’t know what it means that I forgot to remember this anniversary. I guess it’s a healthy sign that I’m moving on, but there’s also guilt in moving on from something like that.

But forgetting the date doesn’t mean I forgot the life whose passing it marked. So here’s the song I wrote to make sure I would never forget. As if I ever could.

Continue reading

Stripped.

So, I redid this here blog. As much as I love my old custom theme, I felt the need to go back to basics, stop trying to live up to a “brand” that I’ve never been able to quite pin down and stop treating this as my “author blog.” It’s just my blog, and I’m just a writer, so I’ve stripped away distractions to focus on what really matters: the writing.

This is all part of rebooting my writing career. I’ve decided to go ahead and take a break from self-publishing for a while (except maybe for short stories) and try to give traditional publishing a fair chance. Like I said earlier, I can’t do it all by myself — at least not as well as I thought I could — so I’m going to try finding an agent and then go from there. This means that Intruder and any other Restless Spirits or Dominion of the Damned sequels are on hold while I see if I can find an agent and a publishing home for those two books. Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to work on Radium Town, and also keep writing short stories.

Speaking of short stories, I also rebooted my Patreon page to put the focus there. I’m still tinkering with the page — for one thing, I still need to shoot an introductory video, which kind of terrifies me — but as far as pledge amounts and what I plan to deliver it’s pretty much set. Although if you have any ideas for what you’d like to see offered there, I’m all ears. At any rate, I plan to write at least one short story per month and publish it exclusively for my patrons — which you can still become for as little as a buck a month. Do you wanna? Then click here!

In other news, I barely slept last night, and consequently got very little done today other than tinkering with the blog. I think I’m going to head to bed early tonight, but not before spending the next hour or so in House of Leaves. Goodnight, lovelies.

Radium Town explained, badly.

I hate trying to explain to people what my books are about in conversation. To illustrate why, here’s a close approximation to a conversation I had with my husband this morning:

Him: What’s Radium Town about?

Me: It’s a steampunk western with monsters and Will Rogers set in Claremore [my hometown in Oklahoma] at the dawn of statehood.

Him: But, what’s it about?

Me: Um. There’s this Lovecraftian underground monster that gets woken up by oil drilling? And it infects the artesian water that was so popular back then and turns people into zombie slaves.

Him: Where does the steampunk element come in?

Me: Um. Well, it’s the technology that they use to fight the monsters.

Him: But how is it integral to the story?

Me: … Well, see, there’s this whole back story about monster attacks occurring in Europe and elsewhere, so Teddy Roosevelt put together this government agency, and this agent (who is Will Rogers’ future wife) escorts this scientist to Claremore to test this new drilling machine he invented, and that’s what awakens the monster. And also the weapons and technology that the agents use are steam-powered.

Him: Ooookay.

Sigh. At least when I write down my plots I can make them sound cool instead of convoluted and stupid. Not so much when I’m trying to put it into speech.

The truth is I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m taking a break from my Stephen King binge to read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It’s been on my wish list for a while now and when I came across a (battered but readable) copy at the used book store the other day I snatched it up and since then I’ve been doing my very best to force myself to meet my responsibilities and obligations and not just lose myself in this book until I’m done. I don’t want to say too much about it yet — partly because I don’t want to spoil anything; you don’t read this book so much as experience it, and it’s really best if you come to it knowing as little about it as possible — and also because I get the feeling I won’t really know what I’m talking about until I’ve finished it. Anyway, it’s good. Scary. Scary good.

My patreon campaign isn’t going so well, which is discouraging, because to be honest this is kind of my last-ditch effort at being an indie author. I’ve been looking over my sales totals and, despite excellent reviews, despite decent publicity here and there, despite about a dozen other things, the numbers are just pitiful. I’ve said since I started this experiment that self-publishing isn’t for everybody. Now I’m starting to face the harsh truth that it might not be for me. At first I liked the idea of DIYing everything and being in total control, but the truth is I just can’t do it all by myself, and I don’t have the resources to put together a team to polish everything and make it look truly professional. And honestly, if you can’t do that, then you don’t have much hope of competing in this market.

I’ve been kind of depressed about this, honestly. Definitely discouraged. Trying to figure out where to go from here. With nobody showing any real interest in Intruder (apart from a small handful of Facebook likes) I’m wondering if I should back-burner it and focus my wee slivers of writing time on finishing Radium Town and then submitting it to agents. Or if I should start submitting Restless Spirits and/or Dominion of the Damned to some small publishing houses. Or maybe even submit them to agents. I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed and flailing, and this is why I think I might need an agent, so he or she can help me figure out what’s best.

Or should I just stick it out and focus on getting two more books out there and see what happens when I get to the “magical” number six? Six books seems to be the average number when sales really start to take off and royalties start to become a livable wage. Am I just not being patient enough? Not tenacious enough? I don’t know. I only know that I’m very tired and the technical production and design aspects of my books leave a lot to be desired and I’m barely finding time to write, let alone to market them effectively, and it seems that teaming with an agent and publisher(s) could help fix at least some of those problems, but I fear it would also create as many problems as it solves.

Just thinking out loud here. Maybe I shouldn’t, but there it is.

In other news, Hannibal and Once Upon a Time both kind of broke my heart this week, and the Walking Dead season finale was kind of uneventful. Right now on Twitter everybody’s talking about the How I Met Your Mother finale, but I don’t watch that show, so I can’t comment.

And now I’m going to make some cocoa and dive back into my scary book and try not to think about my even scarier sales reports.

Farewell, Tubey.

So NBC Universal is shutting down Television Without Pity (normally I’d link that, but I guess there’s really no point, since they won’t even be keeping an archive online). I haven’t actually been on that site in over a year (I think the last show for which I kept up with the recaps was Fringe), but even so, this announcement is stirring up a lot of nostalgia and remembrance. It’s funny how what began as a snarky little website that featured a handful of friends riffing on Dawson’s Creek every week grew into something so big and influential, and how many lives were affected and careers were launched because of it.

I started hanging out on the site when it was still known as Mighty Big TV. I visited it here and there for various show recaps, but I didn’t really get into the forums until Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, specifically right after the episode Fool for Love aired, which marked the point where my fondness of the show (and the character Spike) ramped up to full-on obsession. My burning need to discuss it with somebody who wouldn’t just nod at me with glazed over eyes led me to the MBTV Buffy forum, which led me to several friendships. Most of those have, sadly, dissolved since then, but not before they led to me travelling to places like Nashville and Louisville and Chicago and San Jose and San Franscisco to meet up and have adventures and form amazing memories with some awesome and hilarious women.

The Buffy forum also launched my former fanfic career, so if you’re here because of my Spuffy fic, we can all thank TWoP for that. I still get more feedback and fan mail for my fan fiction than I do for any of my original novels, which is equal parts flattering and frustrating. Would I be a fiction writer now if not for TWoP? Certainly. I was already a writer when I came to it, so I can’t give it credit for that. But writing all that fan fiction, and having it vetted and beta’d by those aforementioned awesome women, taught me a lot about plotting, pacing, characterization, dialogue and other useful mechanics of building a novel. I might have still learned all that stuff by writing in my own sandbox with my own characters, but I wouldn’t have had half as much fun in the process.

Eventually, though, the forums devolved into a lot of drama, and I think I even got banned from them. If I recall correctly, some of my friends got banned, and then all of the rest of us flamed out and got ourselves banned in solidarity. Looking back, I know we all took both the show and the forums and the whole fandom (not to mention the whole Spike vs. Angel debate) just a wee bit too seriously. At least, I know did. But that’s fandom for you.

Which is all to say that, like many People On the Internet, MBTV/TWoP was a pretty big influence on my life, and because of this I’m sad to see it come to an end. Somewhere around here I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a Cafe Press mug made just for the Buffy forum that says “Snark, Snerk and Scoobie Snacks.” I think tomorrow I’ll dig it out and use it to drink a toast to Tubey.

Are you a former TWoPer? If so, I’d love to hear your TWoP memories in the comments. Also, if you’re still addicted to the recaps and this news has hit you especially hard, you should check out Previously.TV, a new iteration created by the original TWoP founders (they just opened a forum, even!). And for hilarious recaps by good-natured people who just really love TV, check out Hey, Don’t Judge Me!

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