Abigail Rath Released into the Wild

Happy New Year, one and all.

As of this very minute, Abigail Rath has begun her sojourn into the publishing world. After six drafts, lots of beta reading, and one Taos Toolbox later, she’s as ready as she’ll ever be.

I’d like to thank all of you who helped out, whether it was with encouragement, support, insights, or editing.

It feels great to have something in circulation again.


What next? Well, right now this girl has to go make a winter dinner (mixed berry crumble, lemony chicken over noodles, cucumber and dill salad), and then she’s taking the rest of the evening off. Tomorrow I have a few home improvement items to see to before I go back to work, but I will begin a final revision on The Were-Humans before I ask for some readers for that. It’s *much* shorter, being a novella, and all. I’ll be sending out an email, but if you know you’d like to look at it, well, hey, just let me know.

I am very hot to get started on as yet unnamed Klarion Book One. But let me get this other thing finished first, and then we can enjoy that new book smell.

I wish you a wonderful, safe, and healthy 2013.


You will not see me back here until Abigail Rath has integrated the best of the beta reader suggestions and is in the hands of my top 5 agents.

Just an FYI.

So, have a happy new year, and save me some virtual champagne for celebrating, because when I come back, I will want to whoop some.

Tell Me What You Want. What You Really, Really Want.

If the world is going to end, apparently it is going to end with a writing rejection. I received the penultimate rejection for O-Taga-San today. I will send it to Scape when they reopen for submissions in February, when it will receive its final rejection and I will retire it.

A little context: O-Taga-San was accepted twice, and languished for a year each time before I pulled it. It had a near miss at one magazine, but that’s about all the love it’s gotten. I’ve just about hit all the markets I planned to with it.

I am pleased with the story. I like it a lot. It’s just not hitting other people’s cylinders. So it goes. The reason I give it so much attention is that it is the ONLY piece I have circulating at the moment. In order to complete novels with my small amounts of writing time, I need to write novels when I have time. Short stories take away from that time.


Soon, I will be sending a novel out. This week and next I’ll be working hard at boiling down a lot of editing commentary and sharpening the middle grade novel I’ve been working on. I am pleased with the story. I believe that this time, I’ve done my best, and I’ve mastered at every turn the temptation to send it out before it was ready. I believe I learned a lot at Taos about how to make a novel move.

Will an agent pick me up? I don’t know. Will someone buy it to publish it? I don’t know. I have confidence in the work. Rejection is something I live with. This will be what it will be.

And then I have been asked for a novella. I have some rethinking to do there, since it’s in a much earlier draft stage. I don’t know if it will be picked up or not. But I won’t send it until I have the same confidence in the work.

I can’t do much about rejection. Writers should be willing to change their work, sure, but the intrinsic value of knowing that you’ve done a good job might be all you get for a long period of time. That doesn’t seem to be a bad note to have the world end on.

Christmas Grab Bag

First, a little more about the gun control thing.

From Steve Buchheit: Warren Ellis talks about “The Acceptable Cost of the Right to Bear Arms.” Yup, that Warren Ellis.

From Jay Lake: The NRA promises “meaningful contributions” to avert another Newtown. I appreciate your classy silence at this time, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

From Nnedi Okorafor: Ms. Magazine’s Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America?


Snow is upon us tonight. I suspect our drive home will be interesting, as I plan to leave the office about 4 o’clock. In preparation, I have already filled up our car and purchased cat food. Our cupboards are well-stocked, so if we were at home the next through Friday, we would be well-prepared. It’ll just be a matter of reaching our destination safely.

The boss has given me permission to work from home, and it sounds like I should take it. Current weather reports from the National Weather Service suggest we will have 8-12 inches. This looks like a job for the snow blower! Our snow event begins at 6 pm today and ends at 6 pm tomorrow. The big problem will be the wind, as it always is in the case of blizzards.


Well, I *hope* today was my last doctor’s appointment, but since I will need to have another blood test to make sure that my liver is handling the ringworm meds, maybe not. That’ll be in two weeks. Not knowing that the new med had the same effect as the old med, I did have a sugar cookie martini this weekend. The doctor assured me one drink should be fine. Good. It was a damned fine drink. It had little sprinkles around the rim.

Sekhmet has her own ringworm now, no doubt from me. I am treating her with Lotrimin per the vet’s advice, and I am becoming public enemy number one. Ha! She hasn’t seen anything yet. Tonight I get to put it on her belly because she’s developed a patch there.


I do not expect to be around much after tomorrow. I have some revising to do, and it is my goal to make that my full time work over Christmas break. The feedback is that the book is mostly sound, although my betas did raise some interesting questions I need to see to. So, that’s mostly what I’ll be up to.


Stay warm. Stay safe. Enjoy the season. Back soon (ish).

Holiday Stuff

This weekend we are off to the MiLs and some gatherings with friends for our usual round of Christmas antics. These are fine Christmas gatherings that I will enjoy.

Last year I posted (Not) Home for the Holidays, which I think is some helpful advice for those of you who have to deal with those dysfunctional families over break. As always, I wish you the best. Dysfunction can be no fun. Remember, number one is protecting yourself.

God bless us all, everyone.

TT Profile #7: Catherine Evleshin


My roommate from Taos Toolbox, Catherine Evleshin, has been everywhere and done everything. And now she shares her wit and wisdom with us.


Tamago: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Catherine: I still haven’t decided, just like it took me a long time to realize that I was a dancer. The IRS will make those decisions, and so far, they have not been brought into my writing “career.”

Tamago: Which writers are important to you?

Catherine: I adore Kim Stanley Robinson for his intellect, careful research, and inspired visions of our future. He can turn an unforgettable phrase, as well. I enjoy many other SF writers (often West Coast) who find a “mundane,” plausible near-future to be an exciting thing. Much of SF is fantasy to me, although often a pleasure.

Tamago: Why is so much of your writing about the environment?

Catherine: It is the future, and trumps all other concerns, in my opinion. So many “experts” on human problems, e.g. poverty, fail to factor in resources, because of the prevailing myth that humans can solve anything if we set our minds to it. it is unthinkable that we may be doomed to suffer. Indeed, half our species is already suffering…and dying.

Continue reading “TT Profile #7: Catherine Evleshin”

Schools and Shooting

You may as well unfriend me now if you support the ownership of guns in the U.S.

Newtown, CT. is my tipping point, from which there is no return. I can see no reason for there to be a gun in any home. I don’t care about the idea that you need to protect yourself, or that only criminals will have guns if we take guns out of the hands of good, law-bidin’ people. I don’t care if you like guns, but would never shoot children. The ownership of guns and a stubborn resistance against calling people out for owning them, the problem of having these weapons of easy and thoughtless violence in our hands, is the problem.

It’s not the crazy people problem. Crazy people kill people with what’s at hand, but people have a better chance of survival against a knife rather than a gun. It’s not an irresponsible gun owner problem. Most of the guns in the hands of criminals come from regular channels. It’s not a lack of training. It’s not facism taking away our self-defense. It’s not even a chance that the government may try to get you to do what you don’t want, and you need to shoot someone. What the fuck ever.

What it is is the sheer availability of guns. So children can shoot each other. So crazy people can shoot children. So disgruntled children can snap and kill Mom and Dad. So angry lovers can passionately kill each other. So malls, homes, churches, movie theaters and schools become places where you don’t feel safe because there are crazy people out there with guns. Our response? Should we buy guns to protect ourselves, carry concealed weapons, praise God and pass the ammunition, because a man and a woman need to defend ourselves in these horrible times?

Or would it be wiser to get the hell rid of the guns? Because you know, if you’re trying to kill a bunch of people in a mall, and you can’t get, say, a gun, or explosives, or weapons, what are you going to do? Be very frustrated, but not become a mass shooter.

Statistics, Schaff-Stump? We don’t need no stinkin’ statistics, but Tobias Buckell has done that work for you anyhow, and saved me some. Go read. Go read.

What, you may ask has triggered this? If this killing of tiny, innocent babies with automatic weapons that someone’s MOM just had around the house isn’t enough, I have no idea what it would take to cure this country of this strange mental illness and paranoia. Guys, the government is not going to take away your liberty. You don’t need these guns. You strange, paranoid weirdos.

One set of my in-laws, my husband’s oldest brother and his wife, who have recently decided they are going full on Tea Party, are going to get guns for themselves in light of this recent tragedy. I am amazed.

And you know, living here in tiny Cedar Rapids, twice as big as Newtown, I have lived every day of my married life knowing that the statistic could be my high school teaching husband. Or even myself, as we had a shooting lock down at my college last year. It just takes one crazy person who gets his or her hands on one of the guns made available for the public to kill with by the paranoid antiquated second amendment.

Shame on you. And shame on us for letting you continue to keep them.


And so…links:

Bryon (my husband) forwards me this truly intelligent article on DC’s New 52 and why it doesn’t work for Laura Hudson. Since this article is from September, you may have seen it, but if you haven’t, go look.


And I wanted to post about Jim Hines’ charity drive for Aicardi Syndrome, which has raised a little over $6800, but I got a little behind because of the good ‘ole self-induced cancer scare. It would be truly awesome if fandom could raise $10K for this charity, so please consider it.

The charity poses themselves have raised some comment given that they were not contextualized for people who haven’t been reading Jim for a long time, so in order to beat any issues you might have to the punch, read Jim’s entry and John Scalzi’s entry before looking at the pose pictures to understand what this is and isn’t about.


Tonight, a little shopping. I still need to buy a cat castle for one cat, some stocking stuffers for The Man, and use that Barnes and Noble tea coupon. The Hobbit and dinner with friends tonight. Holiday gift exchange tomorrow. Abigail Rath the final revision before agents see it oh my gods begins Sunday.

Because it’s that time of year, think tinsel! I’ll be back with an interview on Monday.

The Writing Process and Mer Haskell

Mer Haskell is the author of The Princess Curse, one of the best middle grade novels to hit in years, as well as author of Handbook for Dragon Slayers, coming out summer, 2013. She was kind enough to talk to us about her writing process.

Tamago: Do you have a regular drafting process, or does your drafting process vary from book to book. Can you describe it to us generally, or at least for one project?

Mer: For the most part, my natural process is that I sit down and see what comes out. That makes me a pantser, I guess. The penalty to that is that pantsers are obligate rewriters, and since I hate rewriting, I have been trying to “fix” my process for a while now. (And learning the lesson that not everything needs to be fixed, but that’s a different issue.) Problematically, I’ve always been very secretive in the midst of my process. I don’t want to talk about the book. I don’t want to brainstorm. I don’t want to even breathe an iota of energy elsewhere than the draft itself.

This secretiveness, combined with pantsing, worked just fine before I had contracts to fulfill. The last book I finished (Handbook for Dragon Slayers) was my first book written to deadline, and dealing with the inevitable process change was like trying to restructure my brain. My editor was very, very kind and didn’t require me to do more than send a few sample pages her way to see if we agreed on the book I was working on, but the mere existence of the contract messed up my mojo in a big way. Part of the problem of not talking about my books while in process also meant not really talking ABOUT my process, and thereby I didn’t really know my process, and everything was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I never realized, for example, that I sit on a book like a broody chicken for about a year before anything comes out onto the page. So this last book, it got maybe a month, possibly two, of brooding, and it came out a very malformed egg indeed. With most of my books: my drafting process includes a lot of brain work time, upwards of a year or two, and then I write it very speedily, usually in 3-4 months. That was how The Princess Curse went, and all my trunk novels. And then… this other book. It just… well, I wrote it in about 8 months, and then I rewrote for all the time I should have been brooding on it.

Tamago: How do you know when a draft is working?

Mer: By my output. If I can sit down and doodle happily along every day for a month, I know it’s going okay. If I start sputtering on my productivity before then, I know that I’m doing something wrong. About once a month in the first draft process, though, I have to take a weekend and write *anything* else. Usually a short story. And this reinvigorates me and I get back on track easily.

Tamago: How many drafts of a project will you write? What do you do in each draft?

Mer: Well, left to my own devices, I would write about two. But I’ve never met any YA/MG author who has been able to get away with that few drafts. So far, 8 seems to be my average. Yep. Eight. There’s the first draft–the massive erp onto paper (well, into a computer); then there’s my second draft, the Shame Draft, where I try to get the grossly bad bits out before anyone else sees it. Then there’s the draft I do with the advice of Trusted Betas, who tell me if I’ve gone off my rocker anywhere–number 3. Then I seem to at that point do a draft or two with my agent, before it goes into high gear with my editor. The common denominator in all drafts is that I am spending my time smoothing, clarifying, checking plot and emotional continuity, and so forth. I might be cutting or combining characters as late as draft 6, or reworking theme even, so nothing is off the table. Though, it is often hard to tell where one draft begins and another ends, and I have only done this twice for publication, which is not a true statistical sample, so the best I can say is that I’m still learning how I generally do this.

Continue reading “The Writing Process and Mer Haskell”