I’ve strapped myself into the pilot’s seat, and I’m flying the plane of the novel right to its destination.

You’d be surprised how you don’t have creative energy after working all day and then writing most of the night, to come up with something all meta and insightful to say about the life of a writer.

Or maybe you wouldn’t.

Day job writer (me) usually can manage to write about two hours at night before that’s it, and she feels like her brain is full of virgin polyester (why yes, I *do* know quilters!).

Is the difference between a freelance and a day job writer that you have more of those two hour increments during the day, and you can get in, say, three writing sessions? Or do we work about the same speed?

And if a tree falls in the forest, and a publicist isn’t around to report on it, does it really make a sound?

Those of you who write for more than two hours at a time, tell me, how did you build up those big writer muscles?

Inchoate and incoherent,


Mahabharata: Bhima’s Promise

Some of you may remember during Draupadi’s shame that since Duhsasana had tried to undress Draupadi, Bhima swore that he would drink his blood.

In the giant battle, Bhima’s son is killed. Bhima manages to hunt down Duhsasana and rip his chest open and drink his blood. If Arjuna’s attacking of Karna was out of line with the etiquette of war, this act was truly out there. Draupadi finishes up the whole incident by washing her long hair in Duhsasana’s blood. Yup. Nice.

After this, the Pandavas pretty much take the day. Duryodhana retreats and hides under a frozen lake (he can create ice and breathe water–who knew?) However ,the Pandavas coax him out. They break his legs and leave him for dead.

A couple of the Kaurava warriors come, see Duryodhana, and decide to avenge him. Pretty much the Pandava camp is wiped out. Everyone from the parent generation is sent into the burning woods. The Pandavas themselves win because they are the last group standing, and they have Krishna’s blessing.

Yudhisthira, however, decides this has all been a waste, and the Pandavas wander back into exile.

Last: A word on the afterlife.

Hulk Hercules Promotional Coin

I am blessed in my life to know many talented people.

One of the things I wanted to do when I visited schools, or signed books for Hulk Hercules was to be able to give out a freebie. Book marks are the usual thing, but I didn’t know how excited kids would be by a bookmark.

What was perfect, I thought, would be a video game token from Morty Moose’s, which serves an important role at a couple of points in the story. Morty’s is the book’s Chucky Cheese, a pizza and whack-a-mole place that the kids go to.

My friend Gerald Dagel is a master at little plastic things. We’ve known each other for years. We discussed the matter when we met up at a convention this summer, and Gerald volunteered to make the token. Morty on one side, Hercules on the other. From there, Bryon and our friend Aric Stewart would make molds, and we would create the little guys from plastic.

I’m excited to share pictures of the front and back of the Morty Moose token/Hercules coin with you today. The book’s out in January, and you can order it on your own, but you’ll need to talk to me about getting the coin. We can make that happen. I’ll always have a fistful for signings as well. Wiscon, for example, you should be able to get them.

Thanks, Gerald, for all your hard work. Your check’s in the mail.




Why yes, the first four chapters are done to my satisfaction. In their glorious entirety. Which is not to say I won’t let y’all help me make them better.

Features of interest?
–Frost trolls remain angsty. They pose like models in Vogue
–Hild gets her first POV scene
–I’ve started every single intertwining plot thread

Tomorrow I’ll return to writing through the threads. I’ve decided not to bake the Widow. I know it’s classic, but classic sometimes is code for cliche. Her ending should be scarier. And costly.

Hope your words are flowing.


A Most Improper Magick

You know I would never lead you astray about a new author, right? My track record hasn’t been too bad, right?

What you really want right now, just in time for the holidays, is an ARC of the new book A Most Improper Magick.

Well, let’s be honest. I really want an ARC, which is why I’m telling you about it. However, you should visit Stephanie, find out more about Kat and her book, and think about doing the same.

If you like Austen-like books. No, there are no zombies. Nothing is better with zombies. There, I’ve said. it.


One thing I did not want to grow up to be was the Midwestern lady who thought that eating at bland buffets was a good idea. I prided myself on my adventurous nature in the realm of culinary endeavor.

And then, I got reflux disease. This weekend, while shopping and socializing, a friend took us to a really good Indian restaurant. Being the considerate friend she is, she asked if I’d be okay. I assured her, I’d be able to find things to eat.

It was a very spicy buffet. Apparently, my sensitivity to whatever it is that triggers my heartburn in Mexican, Indian, and Thai foods was present in full force. It’s going to be a two day, possibly more heartburn bender. Yes, I won’t do that again.

I am that Midwestern woman. It’s time to start carrying covered dishes in my purse for emergencies.

Writing? I spent yesterday in the car. I got nothin’ but Christmas presents. We’ll change that tonight.


The New Year

I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots of resolution posts, like this one from Maggie Stiefvater, which is a good discussion of goals and goal setting.

2009 has been interesting. My writer life took some steps forward this year, what with Viable Paradise and making my baby steps as a published writer.

What about 2010? I expect 2010 will be the year of slow and steady. Since the beginning of November, I’ve been whittling my weight down, slowly and steadily. Lots of reasons to do this, but the biggest for me is my dad’s death from a stroke at 53 (the only complication we share is high cholesterol) and my mom’s type 2 diabetes. Nope, don’t need either of those life clippers. There’s the usual medical litany you hear. Slowly, steadily, I intend to make the right lifestyle choices. And I mean it, damn it. I’m in the zone.

I expect to write every day. Like watching what I eat. In drips and drops there will be books.

Will I be published? Will I have an agent? Will I? I don’t know. The psychological tight rope is goal three.

I’m noticing that artists put on their pants one leg at a time, like everyone else. I just dropped out of this article, and talked to my jewelry-making friend Kim who is having a little motivation trouble right now. I think the over-arching message is that I have to learn to stop stressing myself about my expectations, and remind myself that goals don’t entirely run the show. There’s replenishing the artistic, finding joy in it, and minimizing the stress in other parts of my life to make the artistic possible.

So. A slow and steady year. Not because I don’t have big goals and dreams. But because I want to realize them at a slow and steady pace.


Balance the Geek

Are there writers of fantasy and science fiction that don’t start off as fans of the genre? I’m sure there’s evidence of some writer, somewhere, who doesn’t have a past where flying unicorns/space ships/insert media here has influence them and taught them some love of the genre. It might be hard for us to get interest in speculative literature without being exposed to something speculative to show us what is possible.

For me, it was reading. My father casually left Alice in Wonderland laying around. I read the encyclopedia of folklore and mythology at the local library. I grew up on a steady diet of Emma Peel, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Samantha Stevens. Things…mushroomed.

There were three ways in which I found myself embracing the geek, and actively trying to contribute. I tried to write stories like the ones I enjoyed reading. It was a heartbreaking day when I lost my own Lord of the Rings rip-off story, but it was probably a better thing for the entirety of mankind that that ouevre was lost in transit on a TWA plane somewhere. On and off through the years I continued the writing.

Linked in there was a love of role-playing, the old school kind, sitting around a table with dice, but less like a game, and more like a really bad serial. Very fun and self-indulgent, and a great way to spend my college years. Also a good way to meet my future spouse. And practice story-telling skills, however maudlin those efforts were.

In another life, I could have been a costume designer. I worked during my freshman year in theater shop making outfits, and I continued that as I balanced the geek. In 2006 I gained a Costume Guild master class status, and still like the idea of making a costume from time to time. It’s a different kind of creative skill, touching different parts of my mind and replenishing my creativity.

I love the idea of spending more time on my writing and working my way through to publication. It is important to be a professional and to treat my writing career as a business and investment. It is also important to pay tribute to the imagination that brought me here in the first place.

I stay in touch by watching shows, reading comics and books I like, and still designing the odd outfit or two. I game once a month. Strangely enough, that’s where Oliver Toddle came from, the indirect well of inspiration. I remember that writing is play, as well as work.

How do you play? How do you balance the geek?


Literary Agent Appreciation Day

Yes. I know. I don’t have an agent. I’m in sort of a cuspy situation.

But in case you’re reading, agent who is waiting on the next 75-100 of the next project, thank you very much for entertaining my writing in the long term. I would be excited to work with you, and I hope we can get begin a partnership in 2010.

We now return you to less mysterious programming.


Cath’s Top Ten Reads for 2009

First from the “I Knew Them When” category, another VP XIII’er makes their first professional sale. All of you go and congratulate George Galuschak on the sale of his story Middle Aged Weirdo in a Cadillac to Strange Horizons. I guess it’ll be out in April or May or so.


Since I keep track of this sort of thing, I thought it might be time to tell you about the top ten books I read in 2009. Mind you, these are not books that were published this year, but books that I read this year. And the only order they’re in is alphabetical.

In the name of hubris, let the games begin!

Christopher Barzak. The Love We Share without Knowing. A tender and wonderful set of short stories that immortalize the interactions of gaikokujin in Japan. Combining literature and fantasy at their best.

Ray Bradbury. The Martian Chronicles. The poetics of Bradbury are beautiful, and the stories are still as sound as they were when they were written, making this text a true classic.

Reimund Kvideland and Henning K. Sehmsdorf. Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend. I learned a great deal from this book, and enjoyed burying myself in Scandinavian culture.

Scott Lynch. The Lies of Locke Lamora. Just when you thought it was time to give up on epic fantasy, Scott Lynch has to go and write a book with two compelling characters at its core that I can’t put down. I don’t know what to think any more.

Mervyn Peake. Gormenghast. While all of Peake’s Gormenghast cycle deserve to be here, this one is the most epic of the arc.

Terry Pratchett. Small Gods. Pratchett is profound about religion in ways that a serious author could not be in this book.

Maggie Stiefvater. Ballad. I was dissatisfied about the fate of James after Lament, and Maggie delivers exactly the right fate to James and Deirdre both in this YA.

J. Michael Straczynski. Thor. You can, apparently, make up for Babylon 5. Everything Marvel’s Thor should be. Some things that maybe it shouldn’t be, but I like.

Jeff Vandermeer. Booklife. The first half of the book pegs the modern rhetoric of an online writer with precision.

Greg Van Eekhout. Norse Code. Some reviews have called him the Douglas Adams of YA. I’d go so far with this book to grant homage to Esther Friesner in her early days. A writer to watch.

Honorable Mention

Michael Resnick. Travels with Cats. Tender and beautiful, a love story that makes you cry at the end. It is a short story, but it was so good, it deserves mention here.

Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island. There is no substitute for the original pirate, Johny Depp! NO substitute!

I’d love to hear about your favorites for the year.