Novelists Anonymous

Hey cats and kitties.

My enthusiasm after coming off a morning of writing has cooled, having been back in the office for about an hour and a half, but what a glorious morning it was! I wrote the first draft of my Substance outline for Taos, read through all the comment posts that I’d gotten, and started the proof read and revise the Taos entry. I won’t be making substantial changes, but I have lots of ideas for them based on initial feedback and the outline.

I’m feeling pretty good. I just completed a rough draft of another novel, and I have definite goals for the moment that I’m reaching. I’m also excited about Substance again, after having taken a month off of it and seeing it with fresh eyes.


A few months ago, I was watching many people I know publish short stories and wishing I could be doing that. I have always enjoyed the longer form of the novel, but I have learned to work on short stories as well, and have gotten fairly good at writing them and getting the ones I’ve sent out accepted this year. Which is, by the way, why I don’t have many circulating at the moment. The two I’ve recently written fell right into their intended markets, leaving me only one to ship around.

I felt like I was spinning my wheels writing novels, and I wanted some immediate gratification. I would still like to have more out there circulating, but this, this post is about why I am buzzed about writing novels, and why I will probably devote my time to making the two longer drafts I have in progress better.

Hello. My name is Catherine and I’m a novelist.

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The New 52: Catwoman, Deadman

Although at this point in time the new DC 52 are sort of the moderately scuffed DC 52, I still want to take a moment to weigh in with some comments. Particularly, Catwoman was held up as a reprehensible example of what would be wrong with the new comics. Well, I’ve read a lot of first issues and some second issues, and here’s what we got generally.

1. These are not comics for new readers. If you don’t know the DC universe, you will be so very, very lost. The idea that these comics are being rebooted to attract new readers is patently false. There is no set-up or characterization that marks these characters for you. You fall into the action, and you’re supposed to figure out what’s going on and why. Without that background, it is nigh unto impossible.

2. These are not comics for women or girls. I haven’t seen a single one of the new 52 that portray women in an intelligent or developed way. You might hold up Batgirl as an example. We’ll see. Because of number one above and number three below, the jury’s still out. Most of the characters, not just women, are cardboard cut outs. Some of the characterizations are just horribly, horribly yucky. And I use that terminology as an academic.

3. These comics do not tell stories. The majority of these comics just sort of throw you in some punchy action, and hope you don’t notice that the writing is just not there.

4. These comics clearly pander to adolescent male fantasy. Some of you might say what’s new.


Of course, these are generalizations, and are not true for each and every new 52 comic. I thought I’d give you a break down of a really good one, and a really bad one.

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Abigail Rath Versus Blood Sucking Fiends

This is what I’ve been doing, and will continue doing until I am done with the first floppy unwieldy first draft, and consequently NaNoWriMo. I hope to get another entry in of The Standard Bearer this week, as well as a comparison of the worst of DC’s new 52, with a better DC new 52. But this must come first.

Anyway, to show you I haven’t been asleep at the wheel, in spite of the magic of Lortab, I give you a little of Abigail Rath Versus Blood Sucking Fiends.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.


“He’s sparkling,” said Marty. Her eyes were wide, like an anime girl’s, or a bad puppy painting.

“Yeah, he is,” I said.

“Just like Angus Von Trapp,” Marty sighed.

Angus Von Trapp, for those of you who aren’t a girl, and are not aware of the middle school sweeping phenomena, is the hero of a popular series of novels, Dusk. Dusk is the captivating, yet mushy story of a girl who is caught in a love triangle between Angus Von Trapp, a sexy stalkery vampire who breaks every rule of vampire behavior. He’s out in the daylight, and he doesn’t turn all corpsy under the right circumstances. For all intents and purposes, he could be a superhero or an elf or something.

The other part of the triangle is Duke No Last Name, who is a native-American type werewolf ironically named after John Wayne, whoever he was. Duke never eats raw meat and doesn’t get blood on his maw. He’s never out of control. And he always runs around with his shirt off.

This kind of fiction is entirely irresponsible. It gives girls absolutely the wrong view of what monsters are like. They are scary, horrible, nasty creatures who would rather eat you than date you. I sometimes wonder if monsters are putting out these books to get a free meal. Because frankly, that’s what’s happening.

Although I don’t think too much of the intelligence level of the average kid my age if they buy this. I mean, the information to counter it is out there. Anyone can watch my dad’s movies, or anyone can read back issues of Fangoria or Famous Monsters of Film Land, which are two of the finest magazines for people who want to be alert to the supernatural world.

VP Profile #22: Darice Moore

Here’s Darice! She completes our set of Viable Paradise XIII interviews here at the Tamago. Please enjoy!

Tamago: How long have you wanted to be a writer?

Darice: I think my mother still has the first book I wrote, when I was five—it was about a cat and a mouse, and owed quite a bit to the Looney Tunes school of plots. I always enjoyed writing and wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t get serious about it until I was in graduate school and wrote my first (execrable) novel, because I figured I’d better stop talking about writing and just do it. A lesson I still need to relearn every once in a while.

Tamago: Who are your creative influences?

Darice: Madeleine L’Engle’s books made me want to be a writer and taught me about balancing the everyday and the fantastic (my daughter is named Meg for a reason…). When I was a teen, Tamora Pierce’s and Robin McKinley’s books brought me into fantasy.

These days, I turn a lot to Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men—not just because it’s a cracking good read (my entire family loves it), but also because it’s a lesson in writing, both overtly and through example, and I learn something new every time I read it. (That narrativium really works.)

Another influence is Connie Willis, who plunges me into her characters’ lives so effectively that I never quite leave them behind (having worked in the corporate world for a while, I have a weird soft spot for Bellwether). And I wish I’d discovered Diana Wynne Jones when I was a teen; I found her books as an adult, and Dark Lord of Derkholm is my favorite epic quest/family/coming of age/parody novel ever.

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Three Good News Items and Penn State

Still treading water at the day job, folks, but a quick pop in to tell you all that’s right with the world.

1. The Mississippi Personhood amendment was defeated. While I was getting my oil changed yesterday morning, Fox News went so far as to say the amendment was too extreme, in that it didn’t allow for cases of rape or incest. Hey, Fox News, nice thing to say. I didn’t know my dealership was in another dimension. Kudos to you.

2. Ohio voters soundly rejected restrictions on bargaining rights for policemen, firemen, and other government workers. Because they like unions in Ohio. Also on Fox News, the governor of Ohio said he needed to take a step back.

3. The Iowa Legislature maintained its one seat Democratic majority. Due to a smart political manipulation by our Republican governor, we had to have a special replacement election, and we re-elected…a Democrat. The campaign spent a lot of money and had a highly visible local personality run. The losing Republican was peevish, although I imagine if she’d been on Fox News yesterday morning, she would have been rational.


It is with this good news, then, that I come to the issue of Penn State. I have thoughts and things to say about it, but the thing is, you know what I’m going to say. Report abuse. Report abuse you might expect, let alone see. Some kid is counting on you.

If you’re wrong, you can always apologize. If you’re right, you’ve saved someone.

John Scalzi has written such a good piece on this that what I’d really rather do is link you to him. And thanks to John for writing the piece. I appreciate, always, the advocacy that people show for children of sexual abuse. You would think that there wouldn’t be any puzzlement about how this advocacy should work, but I refer you to rioting Penn Staters to show you how gray this area can be.

Keep thinking good thoughts.


The Standard Bearer, Part 3

The Standard Bearer and her loyal Companion returned home. Their friends had held the keep in their absence, and the influence of the keep had attracted more people. A village grew up around the keep, but the Standard Bearer made sure that people knew for whom the keep was kept.

There was a rumbling among the people of the town. They understood the Standard Bearer, but they weren’t sure of this foreign king and queen in the tumbled down castle.

There were messages from the King and Queen. At first, the Standard Bearer received messages about her duty, and what a terrible and disloyal subject she was, what an ungrateful wretch to those who had given her everything in the world. Then there were the sad letters from the Queen, wondering how anything would be managed without the Standard Bearer at the castle. And angry letters. And cajoling letters.

But the Standard Bearer crumpled all the letters in her gauntlet.

Continue reading “The Standard Bearer, Part 3”

Looking for Books on Developing Character? Or Bad Food?

Recently, I plugged Nancy Kress’ book Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated as a great book about developing character.

I’d like to add to that recommendation Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches: Writing the Bad Guys of Fiction. Jessica Page Morrell spends pages talking about the intensity of these complicated characters, encouraging readers to look into backgrounds, to pry into psychologies, and to write characters with layers. Morrell lists good sources for research and good examples of bad characters as well.


In my continuing quest for ingestibles that can kill you, I’ve recently purchased Swindled: From Poisoned Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee–The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson.

And I’m about 10K into Abigail Rath.

How are you?


VP Profile #21: Christian Walter

Today we hear from the second German writer at VP XIII, Christian Walter.

Tamago: How long have you wanted to be a writer?

Christian: That depends. Do you mean the concept, the idea of being a writer or the cold, reality of it? Regarding the former, for a long time, though I don’t know how far back it extends. I remember writing a story in 5th grade I then had to read to my classmates. For some reason the other kids came up to me afterwards and congratulated me on a story well done. One even drew a picture. But wanting to be a real writer is a fairly recent development. Maybe ten years ago. I say recent in regard to that number because there were pretty big spaces between the first real attempts.

Tamago: Which genre do you most enjoy working in? Why?

Christian: I cannot really answer that question. When I came to VP I was thinking about S&SF. Strangely I have written a few horror pieces since, though that is by far the genre I read the least of. I think, I see myself in service of the story and don’t want to be constrained by genre. Those question most come into play when I consciously want to challenge myself: Have I tried this before? What are the rules? How can I make it work, things like that. There is still much left to experiment with and I’m not sure if I will settle on anything in the long run.

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