Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween weekend? W00t!

Well, Nanowrimo is out of the question. *sigh* I'm making terrific headway on the revision, but that terrific headway has turned into a major retooling of the last third of the book. I'm excited, but I'm also a little stunned. The good ideas in this book just keep bludgeoning me over my head--if they're not careful, they might give me brain damage!

I have a bunch of great plans for this magical weekend--dinner & a movie (Ichabod Crane! The Disney version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" WITH Bing Crosby as a narrator!) with a good friend, a walk in a cemetery ... I'm really excited!

Earlier this year (okay, even this week) I was incredibly bummed about missing the World Fantasy Convention. My writing clan will be there, and there will be some great events, including a party with some Rigor Amortis readings. But I'm feeling a lot better. It doesn't hurt to know that I'll be doing my own Rigor reading in just two weeks!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Final week of October

Since I'm deep in the bowels of this final edit, I'm going to try to limit my online activities this week. That means I should be spending ONE hour a day instead three slacking on the Internet ... ha ha ha.

(It also doesn't help that everybody I know will be at World Fantasy, so I'll pretty much be talking to myself, feeling like an absolute loser.)

But if I'm really lucky, by the end of the week I'll be jamming java and rocking a rough outline for my next book! I'm looking forward to hearing all about everyone's upcoming Nanowrimo projects. Pass along your best survival tips--I'm eager to listen, even if it takes me a while to get back to you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's not a cliche--it's true!

"I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them." --Edith Wharton

Back in January, I dubbed this year "The Year of Science Fiction." I planned to catch up on my reading, play around writing a few science fiction short stories and soak up as much science and technology info as possible. Some of that's been going well. I've read some great stuff this year! But the writing ... nope. That's pretty much tanked. I've written a handful of SF pieces, but there's just something missing in them. They haven't been fun, and they haven't gleamed with the fun, manic energy of a piece that comes together in that just-right way.

And it hit me today: I've been violating the #1 cliched piece of writing advice: Write what you know.

Not that factual knowing, but what you know. Like a belief, something honest and true that you can feel in your bones.

Well, I'm a lot like Edith Wharton. Deep down, I don't believe in the future--but I'm absolutely, positively afraid of it. The other day, I read a really enjoyable story over at Lightspeed ("The Taste of Starlight," by John R. Fultz). It's a great story, full of gore and a highly depressing ending, but for me, it was too cheery. I can't bring myself to believe we'll ever leave Earth. I think we'll wipe ourselves out first. Or devolve. Or something else incredibly god-awful. But space travel and colonization, tropes I've always enjoyed in novels and tried to use in my own pieces, are things beyond the knowing of my inner universe.

What we know, you see, is a system of symbols and emotions and ideas that are leached out of the things we read and do. Our inner universes are built out of our experiences in both the real world and the imagination. The creative endeavors we create are the logbooks of our explorations that those inner worlds.

That's one of the reasons why, when an author finally hits his or her stride, their books begin to sound more alike. They have found what needs to be explored inside them, and it is infusing every word they create. This doesn't mean all their books and stories are exactly the same or even that they're all set in the same places. It just means that the iconographies of the texts begin to hint at each other.

My inner world doesn't include the normal stuff of science fiction, even though I love science and I adore science fiction. Somehow my world gelled around other landscapes. (I'm not giving them away because then you wouldn't need to read any of my future books or stories!)

That doesn't mean I won't write science fiction--and by that, I mean scientifically reasonable futuristic fiction. I just have to write the right science fiction. The bad news for all of you guys? Some of those stories might make "The Taste of Starlight" read like a children's matinee. There's a lot of ugliness in the future I see.

But ugly or not, I think I'll be happier writing science fiction now. It's like I threw out a travel guide someone else bought for me, and now I'm setting out on my own trail.

I've got my helmet light on. I'm ready for the monsters.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Lately, I've been calling my kid "Evangelion."

Her actual name is Fiona, but when she was little, I called her my "inky binky biddy baby" (I know, yuck!), and it just sort of evolved from there. I actually call her "Inga" about 75% of the time, or more frequently, "Ee." Evangelion was a natural spin-off, I guess.

Nicknames are a big part of my world. For example, I grew up being called Winnie. That was just what my dad called me, a secret identity. I went through a phase where I hated it, and then I recently started liking it again. And by recently, I mean in college, when I saw The Shining for the first time. Winnie suddenly seemed like the coolest name in the whole dang world after watching Shelley Duvall take on Jack with that baseball bat.

On the other hand, my brother wound up changing his name. He always hated his real name and the nickname my dad gave him. But one day he invented a character for an RPG--and found his real identity. He got all his teachers to call him by his new name and eventually convinced my parents to help him change it legally!

Fiona loves her name and tolerates all the weird things I call her. I suppose that Evangelion doesn't sound too bad compared to the pet-name I gave my mom: Skoonamagawa.

So if you're doing any writing, keep nicknames in mind. They say a lot about the characters who use them and the characters who created them. The nicknames I use for my family members probably show that I'm a goofball who ought to have her mouth taped shut.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Raising the bar

I've been doing some thinking since the post before last--you know, the whiny, terrified about the seriousness of writing short fiction. And I haven't changed my mind. I'm not ready to crank out short stories at the pace I've been hoping for, at least, not ready to crank out GOOD stories. I'm not Jay Lake, who shot for a story a week and actually produced something good. Maybe I just don't have enough vision.

But this is the perfect time for a slow-down. I'm wrapping up the 2nd draft of my novel and Nanowrimo is lurking in the wings. The big family season, with its power-trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas, has arrived, demanding a major chunk of my attention. And the book list is piling up. There is something wonderful about settling into winter, sinking down into a mellower and more absorbent frame of mind.

Maybe I just need to recharge my creative batteries.

Here's one place I plan on hitting to rev up my scary powers: The David GraveYard. These guys are Portland legends, normal people who have transformed their home into the ultimate Halloween display. I can't wait to check them out this year!

Speaking of checking things out, don't miss today's awesome post over at the Inpunks blog. Morgan Dempsey is an exceptionally clever blogger!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Macabre fun

And since I promised everyone a taste of Halloween goodness, here's a link to some amazing skull images!

Also, I don't know about you guys, but I'd love to try making a sugar skull like this one:
Calavera de azĂșcar

(from By El Comandante [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons)
This year I might just try to whip up a batch--I saw a recipe last year for EZ Kids Sugar Skulls, which used Marshmallow Fluff (they've got a vegan variety at the food co-op!) and almond paste. That would make a batch of skulls you'd actually enjoy eating!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ugly thoughts

I don't know if it's because I've never seen myself as a short fiction writer--I mean, I used to have zero interest in short stories--but I never really thought of my short stories as anything but a game. They're play, the kind of fun thing you noodle around on to see how things work, the way a car mechanic builds go-karts. They're not real. They're toys. Practice. And when I sent them out in the world, I just wanted to show them to my friends. Oh sure, I sent them to the big markets, too, because that's just what people do, but mostly I was just happy that editors I liked, editors I knew, were getting to play the word game with me.

I sometimes forget that those short stories are the stuff careers are made of. Those editors I know and like so much at second-tier markets? They're dreaming of stories that will launch their magazines to pro status. And the big guys, the people I sent stories because you're supposed to send things to them--well, they're paying attention. Your name gets around in this little industry.

It's easy to forget in all the supportive kindness of the spec fic community that everyone in it is in business. And it's a serious business. Underneath the smiling faces, the successful writers are sleek word-killing machines. Sharks.

I am not a shark.

I don't know if I can make it in this business. But I do know it'll be a hell of a long time* before I send out another short story.

*Appended: In the hyperactive world of Wendy, this means like, a month. Or maybe 3 weeks.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Brain scrub--stat!

No, I haven't been freaked out by reading (ok, RE-reading) Rigor Amortis. Nope, this is a much, much worse thing to have happen to my brain. Brace yourself.

I was walking along Monday afternoon, admiring the beautiful autumn day, the lovely leaves, the cute baby passing by, the friendly orange cat--when out of the blue the most preposterous, horrific thought crossed my mind: "Wouldn't it be sweet to have another little baby?"

Those were the exact words. I actually stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and slapped myself in the forehead as if I could knock them out of my brain. Jeebus. I can't even imagine living with myself if I had another kid.

It's not just the environmental factors (OMG POPULATION CRISIS, people--put your freakin' legs together!) or the expense thing (kids are powered by money, I think). It's not just the fear of sibling rivalry or the endless mess, or even the forty weeks of misery. It's idea of living in absolute terror for four long years.

I say four, although it's an approximate. I mean, you live through the agony of pregnancy, where the least little mistake could make the little critter shoot out three or four extra limbs or a harelip. A morsel of bad sushi could annihilate the poor thing. Then it finally gets here. There are germs and SIDS and colic and random viruses just waiting to pounce on the tiny, undeveloped immune system. There are all the food issues--dare I breastfeed after I've had Pad Thai, for fear of peanut allergies? There are all the fears that I'll drop the slippery, squirmy thing after I've given it a bath.

And those are just the infant terrors! Toddlerhood with its wobbly legs and attempts at running and climbing--that's where the real hell begins. Everything is a lethal weapon in the toddler's hands. Death is a second away at any point in time.

Just typing this stuff is making my tummy hurt. I am too big a sissy to be a parent. I feel damn lucky I made it this long, and you better believe that I have raised a child who is obsessed with safety. She's the school safety bully. Don't let her see you doing anything dangerous or you'll get your ear chewed off.

Well, luckily that thought passed. But in different "baby" news, I am feeling a bit like an empty nester. I'm pretty sure I feel exactly like a baby-sitter feels when she learns the kids she watches have gotten too big to need a sitter. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself!

You see, the last couple of months I've gotten to enjoy a truly, awesomely fabulous experience: working with John Joseph Adams on a couple of his projects. If you're like me, you've read all his anthologies and love them. (If you're not like me, you can keep it to yourself.) Somehow, a miracle happened and this guy, my hero, let me work on story headers for the coolest, most awesome anthology of all time: Brave New Worlds. This book is going to be amazing and I can't wait till it comes out, which is something like next January.

But now my work is done and it's been sent off to the publisher and I am just sitting here, twiddling my thumbs. I guess it means I'll have plenty of time to get ready for Nanowrimo!

I think I'll write something scary. But not as scary as thoughts about babies.

Yes, I am geeked out about this!

Monday, October 04, 2010


We really kicked off October right: we spent Saturday at Rasmussen's Farm out in Hood River. Rasmussen's is great because it has amazingly good apples & pears, as well as goofy, silly pumpkin patch fun. Also, they make a delicious caramel apple.

At Rasmussen's, they have a barn filled with tableaux of punkin & gourd art. This year I saw my favorite ever pumpkin:

Geek pumpkin art at Rasmussen's Farm! on Twitpic

What a cutie!

I promised to share some of my favorite October-ish treats this month, so I thought I'd put up a link to an article about some of the most inspirational--er, creepy--place on the planet. I'd like to check out a few of these places, especially this one:

Friday, October 01, 2010

EEEK! It's October!

Sweet jeebus, today is a big day. For one, it's the first day of the month I call Halloween season, my absolute favorite. There should be scary movies in my mailbox and I've already put a ton of ghost novels on hold at the library. I'm also shooting for blog updates throughout the month featuring my favorite creepy stuff on the web.

Today's favorite creepy item is easily my favorite. It's RIGOR AMORTIS, the zombie anthology that began as a joke, was nourished by love and grew into the sexiest monster you'll ever meet. You can expect me to talk about it a lot. It's cute and I'm completely in love with it (you can tell I just got my contributor copy, huh?).

Another big thing that starts today is the new Inkpunks blog. Some of my most treasured writing friends--the friends I most trust to read my stories and help me edit them--have banded together to write about life as part of a virtual writing community. We'll all be bringing our specialties together to shine a light on life as writers just breaking into the biz. Expect great anecdotes, tips and the occasional recipe. What? Even struggling writer-types have to eat!

Well, that's all the news that fit to print. Here's wishing everyone a fantastic Halloween season!