Hard Fought

Seven hundred words, up hill all the way. I’m in the heavy revision zone. I’m sure that I’ll buff it up in the rewrite.

I really miss the release time I had during the HH:PW writing. You’d have a few hours, rather than an hour at the end of a long day. Yeah, yeah. Whine, whine.

At least we’re still moving forward, even if I did cut words tonight.

26492 / 60000 words. 44% done!


I’ve been thinking about the future.

Currently, I am receiving laudits from the college because of all the growth and new curriculum in the ELA program. They’ve let me have new and exciting software for the language lab. They’ve expanded our number of sections, and I’m hiring like mad. All is well in the ELA universe.

So well that my dean is going to ask for a couple of full time positions for the program next year, besides mine. There is no guarantee that the college would approve the positions, but if so, that would be great.

It would also be my chance to become a teacher again, rather than a teacher/administrator. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, even though there are times when it is really difficult and overwhelming. I generally plow through, so it’s nothing I can’t handle.

The issue is the writing. I would have LOADS more time to write if I were a teacher, rather than a teacher/administrator. Scads more. Oodles. I would be a fool, as someone who wants to publish and write books, if I passed up that opportunity.

I’m not going anywhere this year. Nothing can change until May for sure, or when the board decides how we’re going to budget for next year. Really, though, it’s not a hard decision to make. It sort of makes itself.

It’s nice to think about the future. It never does anything but surprise you. I’m listening, powers that be. Send me your cues.


Another Word on Word Count

Courtesy of Jay Lake‘s Link Salad, I give you a very good journal entry by Caren Johnson on word count.

I have a few things to say about this, but I’ll keep it concise, because, you know, word count.

1. Do what they tell you for the first book. You can be all special later, when and if they let you. Your goal is to break in.

2. Caren says, “I think writers with those long sprawling manuscripts should rethink their word count. Look at the writers you admire and those who you’d like to compare your work to (another reason why I ask who your contemporaries are; those who don’t know better start reading to find out). Are their books longer or shorter than yours? Are you making yours longer because its essential to tell your story or because you’re trying to match their writing style? Think about all this before you submit that 100,000 plus word manuscript to more agents. It could be the difference between getting an offer or representation vs hearing that your story took too long to grab them or sagged during the middle and that’s why they’re passing on your book.”

Food for thought. I am always on the other end of the spectrum. My initial manuscripts are short, and I usually plump them up with more details that are essential to the story. I envy those of you with words to spare.


International Blog Against Racism Week: Book Recommendations

Rather than writing a post about my feelings and this issue, I’m going to do something fairly educational. I’m going to recommend some books which I have taught over the years that are from authors whose background is not mine. Sometimes the authors handle the issues of racism seriously, and sometimes humorously. Occasionally they do both at the same time. All of the books I’m recommending are by authors from the ethnicity written about in the book.

Let’s start with Reservation Blues, one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Reservation Blues focuses on the brief rise and fall of the rock band Coyote Springs, and features famous guitarist Robert Johnson, two dead US army generals, and life on the reservation. It’s a funny book and it’s a serious book, which is Alexie’s way. The book is a great study for fantacists as well as lit students.

More book recommendations follow.

Continue reading “International Blog Against Racism Week: Book Recommendations”

Today’s Interesting Post

Here’ today’s interesting post: a letter concerning recent events from the Carl Brandon Society. Read it, think about it, reflect upon it. Papers are 2-3 pages, and are due Friday.


In case you didn’t know, you should also be aware that it is International Blog against Racism Week.

How do you participate?

1. Announce the week in your blog.

2. Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of color, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc. (Linking back here is highly appreciated!) The optional theme this year is “global.”

3. Let us know by bookmarking your post on Delicious with “for:ibarw,” or comment with a link to your post in one of the link collecting posts.

I have to get a few more work tasks behind me before I can do some blogging in this regard, but I hope to. I figured you’d all want to know, so maybe you can participate.


Inching Ahead

Finally! Work continues to be vicious (you’d think I had an actual job or something!), but I managed to squeak in some writing this evening. I finished the King of Faeries oatmeal scene, which isn’t as kinky as it sounds, and started the new Sigfried meets minion of Quartz scene. Tomorrow, I have another writing project to look at, so I’m not sure if I’ll get back to this.

Anyway, stats.

26195 / 60000 words. 44% done!

I’ve added so many new scene slots that I’m not sure that there is relevance to posting scenes right now.

I hope to have some threatening and some battle action in the next few days.



I don’t have a special spin on Harlan Ellison joining an internet fray, nor do I have a side to take on anything. What I do have is a sort of surprised pause, when, in the course of reading about an issue that I had no plan to comment on, someone on a message board professed that Wiscon was a con that only existed as an -ism con.

What does that mean? I’m not sure. Wiscon is one of the highlights of my year. It’s a place where I feel very comfortable, a place where I pilgrimage with a couple of excellent friends. I go because of the strong writing track, but I’m also pleased that there are tracks in academics, fandom, and other issues. It seems to me that it’s a rare place, one that approaches our genre fiction from an analytical viewpoint, something I’m not unfamiliar with during the course of my academic work.

Apparently, someone finds the idea of a con that tackles issues in literature of the fantastic distasteful somehow, a reason for chastisement. I’m sure that this person votes with their dollars by not going, and therefore can continue to disdain the endeavor from a distance. Everyone has a right to their opinion.

It is true that Wiscon calls itself a feminist SF convention. I suppose that could be threatening to some. It could send the message to those who don’t understand feminism that feminism can include both genders. In truth, most of the attendees are women. It could frighten away those who feel that SF and fantasy shouldn’t be politicized or examined. It could be perceived of as a place that celebrates difference, and difference can be pretty intimidating to some.

I wonder if people realize when their words are written down and left haphazardly on the internet, they run the risk of being perceived by one facet, one sentence, one line of their existence. I only know the person who said this from one disgruntled discussion on a message board. I wonder why that person felt the need to attack Wiscon. Sometimes you wonder about the why, which is actually why I like Wiscon. Wiscon itself wonders about the why of so many things.

If you look deep down, what we say speaks volumes about ourselves. I can’t understand anyone or anything until I gather a complete body of evidence. I think it’s dangerous to be dismissive and paint with a broad brush when you observe from the outside. This is what I try to teach my students in every class. This is why I don’t jump into Internet battles, because I have no idea of metalanguage or of a body of evidence and discussion.

It could be that this person has tried the convention, and has decided its not for them, but to dismiss the con because it thinks about issues and causes. I’m baffled.

It makes me sad that someone takes something I think is worthwhile after amassing a large amount of evidence of its worthiness, and dismisses it seemingly in a moment of pique. By writing this, I want to discourage the culture of the immediate, which is ever more prevalent in our electronic medium. We have to be careful about what we say, and when we say it, not to mention what we believe, and what causes us to believe it. And even then, perhaps, we shouldn’t write down something that will later become an unflattering snapshot of ourselves, if that’s not the way we want to be perceived. And to those who rigidly and stubbornly stand behind every assertion as unchangeable and true, I hope you will think of your future as well as your present self, because an open mind doesn’t mean changing your views, but does mean respecting those of others.

To counterbalance the dismissal, I like Wiscon a lot, based on observing it, up close and personal, for a long time. And you can hit a lot of previous entries to see why.

I continue to hope for a world where civil discourse even makes a more gentle internet, but I know that I am by nature naive.


Toasted, but Full of Rommegrot

Bryon and I have returned from the Decorah Nordic Fest.

I’d like to do a shout out to fellow Viable Pardiser Matt Hughes and his wife Steph for being kind enough to show us around a little bit, and talk writing. Matt gave Bryon and I a great tour of Luther College on Friday, and today he and Steph wandered about with us while we looked at handicrafts and long ships.

Thanks again, and Matt, try not to kill over a 100 characters before the workshop!


Yesterday was all about taking pictures at Luther. Now I have a really good feel for Quartz’ office, and where Sigfried and Sigurda would essentially live while they’re scouting out Decorah for Queen Janetta. Luther is a beautiful campus. As Iowa State grads, Bryon and I both were appreciative of their green belt. Their performing arts centers were truly impressive. Matt helped us get behind a lot of locked doors.

In the evening, Bryon and I went to the festival. I’ll cut here, but if you want to get all Norse, just click the link.

Continue reading “Toasted, but Full of Rommegrot”