Da Blues

Yesterday, early in the day, I was just down. (No, this is not an emo post. Shush.) I was feeling pretty sad about the whole writing thing, and the likelihood of publication, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum. You know. You’ve been there.

Then I rolled up my sleeves and did some work in my real world. I checked finals, portfolios, and figured grades for six hours. And when I wasn’t doing that, I solved student and teacher problems, and worked on a budget, and just made myself thoroughly useful. Then, after that, I went home and I critiqued all the short stories I had to critique for a workshop at the end of the month. In between, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting since bronchitis, and the gain was not that bad.

Puritan work ethic, you served me well. At the end of the day, I went to bed tired, but satisfied. Today, I’m working through several things as well. Yes, I like getting things done. It just makes me feel good.

I then realized that the problem wasn’t the lack of acceptance. The problem was too much going on in life, too much hanging over my head. I needed to dig out some, and that made me feel better.

Which is not to say that if the universe felt like it could throw me an okay on this book, I wouldn’t say no…but that’s obviously not the real problem here.

Just interesting when you figure these things out. Let me write you a real entry now.

Outline of the Summer

I’m about to launch myself into my email box and download a whole lot of finals. Then I’m about to tackle a tower of portfolios from my classes, and then I’ll probably do some more work. I am buried alive at the moment in work stuff, Mindbridge stuff, retreat stuff, and the only way out is through, with a shovel. Some evil genius upstairs thought that maybe it would be a good idea to have only three days between the end of spring session and the beginning of summer session. Sigh.


It looks to be a very busy few weeks. I’ve begun my full time period here at Kirkwood, and I will not have writing hours on the job until August again. However, I do go on vacation on June 13th. My life is like this: this week, hugely here. Next week, hugely here until Thursday. Then, Wiscon. The following week I work one day, because after Wiscon, Colorado retreat. And then a three day work week, a four day work week, and vacation.

From June 15-30, this journal will be on a little vacation. I’ll be doing a service learning project in Vietnam, and it’s not recommended we take tech with us…so apart from a camera and an emergency phone for the college, I’ll be living the tech free life. I’ll obviously have loads to show and tell when I get back.


After this, I have some vacation in July. This will include Convergence, and my fake family reunion, before I go back to work July 24th. It goes without saying that I’ll be doing some writing on vacation. Then full time until school starts again on August 19th.

Don’t you wish you could plan your summer away in a short set of paragraphs?


So, other things. In addition to being busy, Abby Rath is out and about. At the end of things, probably about September, I’ll sum things up. There’s at least one shiny bubble, so that’s something. As usual, the query process is hard on you. I could use at least one massage and a margarita. A day. You know, to console oneself.

The new book progresses, and I’d like to have more time to work on it.


I wonder what plans you have for your summer. I wonder what you’re writing. I wonder what flavor of margarita you like. Just askin’.

Get Me a Can Opener: Iron Man 3

Bryon and I went to see Iron Man 3 last Friday. It’s certainly not the most anticipated film of the new wave, but I wanted to see it. Iron Man was fine, and had some nice twists. Iron Man 2 was an all out armor fest (meh for me) except for those 5 minutes where the Black Widow fights everything and wins. So, I didn’t know what to expect from IM3.

Continue reading “Get Me a Can Opener: Iron Man 3”

Feast and Famine

Sometimes, when you look into the mawing abyss of the universe, and you feel that maybe you are sending bottled messages into the ocean, and no one is responding to your query letters, well, then the universe will send you a way to make you feel included.

In my case, that is the dozens of students that I’ve seen today who want help without about everything under the sun. So, it does matter that I exist. And I shouldn’t be having any time to think about the silence of the submission.

The mystery of life? Sometimes you can have no rain, and it can pour AT THE SAME TIME.

Off to faculty luncheon. Will nod and smile a lot.

Don’t Be Distracted by the Shiny

I have yet another new rule. You may remember Schaff-Stump’s First Rule of Writing:

THOU SHALL NOT SEND OUT CRAP. (which boils down to multiple drafts, multiple readings of the work by others, going with the gut instincts of which suggestions feel right to implement, and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done. which does not mean holding on to a work until it’s perfect.)

Well, here’s Schaff-Stump’s Second Rule of Writing:


What on earth does that mean????

Continue reading “Don’t Be Distracted by the Shiny”


Horus is the last of the Ennead. He is the child of Isis and the re-assembled Osiris, and primarily his role in Egyptian mythology is to retake the kingship of the gods from his usurping uncle Set. There is a pivotal moment in that battle where Isis tries to help Horus, and Horus gets mad at her and that could symbolize some cutting of the apron strings. Horus does gain ascendancy over the pantheon.

Now, here’s where things get a little confusing. Horus and Ra are often conflated, so Horus is also associated with the sun, and is also associated with ruling the gods. The thinking is that Horus was absorbed into an earlier version of the pantheon and since he was a ruler, the combining of Horus and Ra was easy. Ra is represented as an old man, Horus as a falcon headed god, and usually the combined Horus Ra is falcon-headed as well. That’s why in the Klarion novels, both Horus and Ra will be raptors.


Now that we’re finished with the Ennead, we should talk about the duality of Sekhmet and Hathor. Many pantheons around the world love duality. Who doesn’t like, say, Parvati and Kali? So, next time, get ready for drunken dancing and lots of blood.

My First Fan Letter for Published Work

The day started off inauspiciously, with a small auto accident. I scraped a woman’s mirror, and I have called to get it taken care of. Ironic that I have an accident when my facilities are at the best they’ve been while I’ve been driving for a while.

Coming up VERY soon: Horus. Utena. Iron Man.


But I have to post this, which is the first letter I’ve ever gotten from a fan for a published work. I will reproduce it as accurately as I can, and since it’s from a 10-year-old, well, there will be misspellings. I am charmed and humbled at the same time.

Continue reading “My First Fan Letter for Published Work”

The Writing Process and Walter Jon Williams

Walter Jon Williams, the man who changed how I write, is kind enough to weigh in on his writing process. If you would like to change the way you write, you should visit the Taos Toolbox page on this site.


Tamago: Do you have a regular drafting process, or does your drafting process vary from book to book? (If it varies, please keep one project in mind as you answer these questions.)

Walter: Normally I start at the beginning and work through to the end, following an outline I’ve carefully constructed beforehand. Sometimes, though, I’ll start by writing several key scenes, then string them together afterwards.

Tamago: Which part of writing–drafting, revising, critique from others–do you enjoy the most? Why? The least? Why?

Walter: The most fun part is the most creative part, which is coming up with the idea, developing it, and constructing the outline. Drafting can range from tedious to enormous fun, depending on how close I am to my original inspiration. Some books are a joy to write, and some are a slog, and I don’t know which is which till it happens.

Redrafting is generally enjoyable, because I get to rediscover earlier parts of the work. The critiques can be fun, because I get to see my friends, and the comments are often useful.

Tamago: What is the longest time it’s taken you to complete a project? The shortest time?

Walter: I think I’ve written a short-short in one sitting. But that’s not hard.

The longest I’ve taken on a book was two years, but then the book was more than twice as long as my average book, something well into George RR Martin territory. It was a horrific experience, and I never want to do it again.

Tamago: In what ways, if any, has your writing process changed over time?

Walter: I’ve grown a lot more organized. I always had outlines, but now my outlines are a lot more detailed, with the big scenes all set out.

And I’ve also got better. There’s a good deal less anxiety when I run into a problem, because I have more skills to deploy.

Tamago: Do you work alone, or do you participate in a critique group? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages to your approach?

Walter: I’ve worked with one critique group or another for thirty years. The only disadvantage to working with a critique group that features four or five full-time writers is that the pages add up, and you have to devote a lot of time to reading your colleagues’ work. But then most of my colleagues write pretty good stuff, so that’s a minor complaint at best.

Continue reading “The Writing Process and Walter Jon Williams”

The Zone

Oh writing. Sometimes you are a pain in the ass, and you are drudgery, and you are pain, and it’s hard to get things to come out right.

But not today, baybee. Actually, last night, two of the characters at the end of the chapter 3 rewrite came alive. There’s some improvement, sure, but they are there, solid. And today, Lucy sprang off the page like she’d just been waiting for me to write her.

Don’t let anyone kid you. The writing zone is like the runner’s high. That’s not to say your work is great, and that’s why you’re joyous. It’s more to say that you’re feeling it, and joy is the reason you’re writing. And this is what I’m looking for. Joy. Among other things.

Rock on, little keyboard.


This weekend, I’ll be at Demicon in Des Moines. Reading from the new novel Sunday at 11 am. If you’re around, I’d be happy to see you there.

Seed of Hope 2013

The SEED students come from Central America and Haiti to study agriculture and take the skills back home to do good things with them. Recently, they had a national conference on our campus, which regrettably I was unable to attend.

These students come to us with virtually no English, so they spend a lot of time with us over here in ELA, and their skills build, some of them amazingly.

Jaime Santos, one of my students from last semester, well, he produced this for the conference. It should make you think why it is vital for these exceptional scholarship students to take their skills home and make their countries better.

These are my students. I am so proud of them.