Story Rec; Your Worth Part III

Today I link to The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear, posted at This story works for me on many levels. The artwork for the story initially drew me (John Jude Palencar). Then, Bear opens with a Beagle quote, and if you know me, you know how highly I think of Peter Beagle. A beautiful print and a quote from your favorite author make it very easy to click the link.

Here’s the thing: Bear echoes Beagle’s style in this story. She writes a slightly self-aware internal narrative that looks at the fantastic element of the story in a quirky, yet every day, commentary, which is a vital part of a Beagle story. Bear’s doing it. At the same time Bear makes the story her own, with relevant social commentary and drama.

My. Blending your own style with that of one of your favorite authors while still keeping your own identity. That’s not easy to do. I’m impressed. I wanted to share.


We are currently getting ready to do the blizzard. I’m not at work, and snow removal will probably not commence until it is relevant, tomorrow after the blowing. That means that from here on out, I’ll be working on the book today. The gift of time. Can’t say no to that.


Lots of talk on the internet about money, writing, and doing it for the love. There is one more point that hasn’t been made about doing something for the love.

Hello. I’m Catherine. I’m a teacher. Let’s talk salary.

Continue reading “Story Rec; Your Worth Part III”

Save Amanda Feral

Thanks, In the Blue, for the lovely virtual snowflake. I just wish you hadn’t sent so many real ones to follow it up.


Today is sort of an extreme day. I finally posted my next Mahabharata installment, which is kind of high brow.

Now, I’m not saying my next topic is low brow, but it is a REAL departure.

About two years ago, I bought this really funny, unexpectedly delightful book called Happy Hour of the Damned.

So many things about this book are WRONG, but in the right kind of way. The idea of fashionista Amanda Feral bitching her way through awakening zombie-hood might not seem like a good recipe for a book, but, well, it works, and it works well.

Unfortunately for Amanda and her crew, Happy Hour and its sequel Road Trip of the Living Dead were published in a beautiful and expensive format which didn’t help their sales (although they look fine on my book shelf). Things look grim for our author and our zombie heroine.

The magic word is relaunch. Happy Hour is going to be republished in a mass market paperback format. It’s going on sale January 23, 2010. For all those enthusiasts on your Christmas list, however, you can go here and order the book following these instructions.

For those of us already following the series, don’t forget that Battle of the Network Zombies is due out February 23, 2010.

Happy shopping, and I hope you consider putting the very funny and fresh (not in the alive sense) Amanda Feral on your list.


Mahabharata: Death of Karna

Bhisma was taken out of the final battle in our last entry. This meant that Karna could take the field, as Karna really didn’t like Bhisma, and wouldn’t enter the fray until he was out of the picture.

Karna, you will remember, is Kunti’s first son. His little brothers are the Pandavas, but they do not know this. Kunti sent Karna on down the river in a basket (yes, like Moses), and Karna was raised by a charioteer. During the battle, Karna’s son Vrishasena is killed. Karna calls Arjuna out for a battle.

Karna had been cursed by a Brahman because he killed a defenseless cow. He was supposed to be killed in battle when his attention was diverted. At that time, he would be unable to defend himself. Karna was cursed two other times, the end results being that he would be weaponless and chariotless when his end came. Karna himself completed the tragedy by giving away the armor and earrings that made him invulnerable before the battle.

During the battle between Arjuna and Karna, all of these factors came into play. Karna’s chariot became stuck, and Arjuna was waiting for him to unstick the chariot, but Krishna advised Arjuna to kill Karna, because he might never get another good opportunity. This is a real departure from the etiquette of war, and makes things look bad for the Pandavas.

After the war, Kunti tells the Pandavas that Karna is their older brother. Everyone feels really bad.

Next up: Bhima and Draupadi and blood.


After a fairly bureaucratic morning yesterday (several board meetings in my capacity as a member of the group that put on Iowa SF/F conventions), Bryon and I spent the day elfing. We shopped. A lot. The highlight of the day was our BBQ lunch with Mark and Michelle.

Today was more of same. The tree and lights are up. Just a wee bit more shopping left, some wrapping, and some cards.

I’m going to seize a little writing time tonight. Hope you’re getting festive.


Respect Yourself: Newbies and Getting Paid

John Scalzi discusses getting paid like a professional and why you should care. Cat Valente elaborates on her own philosophy about publishing short stories and what getting paid for them means to her income as a writer.

Scalzi suggests that we put value on our work as writers. I agree.

Yup, I am a newbie writer who isn’t published widely. I feel your pain. What I don’t feel is so desperate for exposure that I’m willing to send my work out for just exposure. Why? There’s my reputation to consider in the long term.

I consider, like Ms. Valente, markets that are semi-pro markets and up. I will also consider markets that might not be semi-pro if there is a reason of reputation or prestige among professionals in the field to consider. What I am trying to do as an author is build a career.

I understand from some editors that a writer can become slotted if they’re not careful. If the writer is constantly getting published in a certain type of market, there might be a negative stigma attached to that writer.

Does this mean that professional markets are snobby and inaccessible? Nope. A pianist has to practice a lot to get to Carnegie Hall. A writer may not break into a more professional market until the writer develops the requisite skills. It’s worth the time to work on the skills, even if it means more time spent in the rejection wilderness.

The comment Scalzi makes that seems the most important for beginning writers is this:

“We can’t all make what the pros make” — Why not? All it takes is the decision not to take less than that for your work, and patience until you get to that point. This is why I advise writers to keep their day jobs. If you can’t or won’t wait, pick a lower amount you’re happy with, below which you do not go. Allow me to suggest that amount be a positive integer when it comes to pennies per word.

This strikes me as the difference between approaching writing as a supplicant desperate for any recognition versus approaching writing as a professional with standards. I plan to set my standards high, and work until I get there. I’m thinking beyond the now, because I want to be a career novelist. An investment in my career is worth more than the immediate gratification of seeing my name somewhere, anywhere else.

I believe that this also applies to being agented. Be a professional. Consider yourself a valuable commodity.

Saving myself for marriage,


Deep Writing

I had about 40 minutes to write tonight before I met up with my partner in Victorian squid-dom (a project which has been moved to the new year for a variety of reasons.) I spent most of that reading about the wonders of napkin dispensers. What? I didn’t know how they worked. Manuel was helping his abuela.


I have sketched out the entire Widow story line in the troll book, and now I’m going back to do Deep Writing. Not that my writing process is unique, but first I sketch, then I comb the scene over and add details, almost overwriting. After that, I do a strong polish, and it’s ready to wait until I do the entire book read through.

If a story is really working, it occasionally comes out mostly write the first time. That isn’t the troll book at all, although there are scenes that have worked like that.

If I’m lucky, the story I’m working on rolls out like a movie. With the troll story, the process is more like making a movie. I “film” out of order, use a master to edit the story together, and then watch for continuity. I think this conceptualization is working well. It’s another reason I decided I’d better learn to become an outliner.

When do you add the detail in? And how do you do it?


I Wish I Was Writing That

I’m getting cranky, and it’s showing. After the break that wasn’t, and running at registration pace, I’m beginning to cringe at everyone who stops by, and every ring of my phone. I told a student who came in to argue with me about whether her daughter should take our placement test or not that I didn’t have time to argue about it, and that she had to take the test. It was amazing how that stopped further contestation. Must have been the cranky look around my eyes.


It’s hard going, trying to read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Not only is it hardcore SF, which I don’t digest well, but Heinlein decides that subjects are optional in many of his sentences. Yes, I get that he’s trying to emulate Russian. It’s also making my mind stutter and stop. I haven’t returned to the book in three days. That’s a bad sign.


We get to the heart of the post. I sat down last night and successfully sketched out the entire Widow story line in The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick. I wrote the following on Twitter:

*knuckle crack* All right, let’s eat some children!

Tiffany Trent weighed in with:

I wish I was writing this novel!

Ironically, when Tiffany was writing her novel throughout this year, I thought the same thing. What she was detailing sort of sounded cool, and I thought that was a ride I wanted to be on as a writer.
Continue reading “I Wish I Was Writing That”

The Subconscious and Your Steering Wheel

December is here. Tomorrow’s Iowa forecast is for a serious 20 degree drop in temperature. I think we’re getting serious about this winter business. You’d think the plethora of Black Friday commercials would be my first clue.

As I oft do while I was driving to Iowa City to register students, I accessed the ole subconscious today, and the Klarion saga came popping out. All of the grimness of the last several days is material I can use for the misunderstood and stunted aunt in the first book. I may even be telling the book from her misunderstood and stunted point of view. I have the same feeling I did when Errol told me to listen to a story, although he told me someone else’s story. Stunted aunt is too self-centered for that.

I dragged my mind back to the present project. I am planning to make a required word count each day this month. I want to make a January deadline with this troll book. This is going to be discipline, because ever since October, the other project has been goading me. (Write me! People want me!) It’s no biggie. I am a workhorse. I’ll get the troll book done because I know when it’s realistically due.

And finally, the other thing that occurred. What will the next big thing be in publishing? Because we’ve peaked the Steampunk summit, so it’s now on it’s way out.

The next big thing will be ansty demon binding magicians from the 19th century, full of melodrama and betrayal. We’ll call it Steam Goth.

No, I guess we will not. 😛


So this post isn’t totally clueless, here’s something from Seanan McGuire about believing your own press and how everyone can’t and won’t like your books. It’s worth a looksie.