Tag Archives: Writing

Writing Hath Destroyed My Reading.

I was once A READER.  We’re talking hardcore Olympic level “digest a book every other day or third day” scale reader.  And now I’m not.  Don’t get me wrong, I still read, but not nearly as much as I used to, nor as much as I’d like.  I still love books, still love stories and worlds pieced together through a well told tale.  The problem is, I became A Writer.  See, I have this phobia of inadvertently lifting material from things I read and putting it into my own work.  I don’t do it consciously, but one time a very long time ago, I finished reading a book I loved and promptly went to sit down and write.  I got this “FIT OF BRILLIANCE” and produced a chapter I thought was epic, awesome, and wonderful.  It took the third re-read to see that I’d literally just reworded and spit out a huge theme from the book I’d just read.  I freaked out, deleted my chapter, and probably hyperventilated into a cat.

Since that time, I’ve not been able to mix reading and writing.  Between every major writing project, I have this stack of books I want to get through, but  I never get as far with them as I intend.  I end up picking up two or three, plow through them, and then get back to my computer, plunking away at a manuscript of some sort and going on hiatus.  I usually make my “between writing project” choices based upon which one Lauren beat me over the head with most recently (see:  Mira Grant’s Feed and Stephen King’s The Dome).  Joe Abercrombie was supposed to be in that last mix, but then the Lydie story came around, and I had to put him on the back burner despite a few wonderfully engaging first chapters.

Now, there are certain authors I’ll take a forced break from writing for.  Christopher Moore is one, Stephen King is one, Neil Gaiman is one.  They drop a book, I drop my project and sit down to read, getting my swerve on with someone else’s prose.  I used to do that with Laurell K Hamilton (she was my popcorn fic-chick guilty pleasure, stop judging me) but then I moved away from her as I noticed a few too many orgies and very little plot.  The point is, I’ll make exceptions for things I love, but it takes a lot to break me away from my projects.

I’m sort of hoping one of these days I’ll be able to balance the reading and the writing. I  miss being a bookworm.  I used to be one of those people that when folks started book-talk, I’d contribute a lot.  Now I find myself listening more than talking, and that actually bothers me quite a bit.  I think mayhaps I’m going to break my own rule soon and settle down with some Abercrombie and a cup of coffee.

So, got any good books I should check out?



Writing Geekery.

I got a huge reminder of how small the writing world is today, and I figured I’d share it considering how many of my friends are aspiring authors (or at the very least writing dabblers). There’s a site every potential author will use at some point in their journey called Query Tracker. QT is one of the best databases out there for finding a literary agent. You can look up by agency, by agent name, or by genre. Considering Publisher’s Marketplace is 20 bucks a month for a subscription fee and this thing is free? Yeah, it’s a wonderful tool. If you’re writing a book or planning on writing a book, I’d suggest you get chummy with QT real quick.

Anyway, on QT there’s a comments field for people to exchange important information about the lit agencies they’ve talked to. Some comments are favorable, some are not, but everything is very above the boards and respectful. After I signed with Miriam, I hopped back over there to see what folks had to say about her. A lot of people were stating they’d queried her and were closing out after a month of no response. I chimed in to say Lauren and I had a very odd road to representation in that we were bounced from Miriam to Barbara Poelle and back to Miriam again, but that a month is nowhere near enough time to say that it’s a definitive “no”.

My comment was met with a response from another new client of Miriam’s who’d signed with her this summer. She agreed with me on the wait time, offered a congrats, and we parted ways.

Now, some months back, Lauren had a SQUEE AGENT post up at her site. A woman we didn’t know chimed in named Sarah Bromley just saying congrats and that she’d recently signed with Miriam, too – like a month and a half before we did. I sort of put one and one together and figured out that the person who responded to my comment on QT was also the woman who answered Lauren, and I was pretty sure she didn’t necessarily know Lauren was my writing partner on Nin. So last night I sucked it up and emailed her and flat out asked “Was that you”. Come to find out, yes it was, and we’ve emailed a few times this morning. Miriam doesn’t take a lot of new clients, apparently, and the thing that really sticks out with Sarah and us is that we were slush pile finds. Kinda cool, huh?

It’s great to hear how things are going for Sarah. She’s slightly ahead of our curve – that month and a half, two month padding means we’re exactly where she was a little while ago. She had some really supportive things to say, most of it the expected “your hair will fall out but stick with it” stuff, but it’s still awesome to talk to someone who experienced it first hand just a few weeks back. From what I can tell her own book is progressing nicely so far, and I wish her nothing but the best with it. I hope to hear OMG YIPPEE screams from her neck of the woods soon.

So, keep in mind if you venture into publishing, it is a very, very small community and names are bound to pop up multiple times in multiple places. The person you briefly encounter on QT one day might end up randomly popping up on another blog another day. Also, if you get the chance go check Sarah’s site out, do it. She’s got some great blog posts over there with lots of information. She’s part of a blog chain that’s pretty impressive, too. I bet you could spend a day just clicking links and reading.

As I will be Turkifying tomorrow, there likely won’t be a blog post, so please make sure you have a wonderful Gobbler day, everyone! Happy, happy!

And There’s A Creepy Doll . . .

That always follows you. Good morning, from me and Jonathan Coulton, whose song inspired today’s blog post. Actually, no it didn’t. I just like the song. Today’s blog post is definitely about Laren. Who’s Laren you say? THANK YOU FOR ASKING!

Laren was my imaginary best friend. Being an only child can be a lonely affair. You spend a lot of time with no one to punch, no one to blame for your fuck ups, and no one to force feed shit and worm mud pies to. As such you’re required to invent your own friends to abuse, though I’m now conjuring images of a smaller version of Hillary beating the crap out of a Cabbage Patch Kid and screaming “DO YOU WANT ANOTHER LYLE BAILEY, DO YOU WANT ANOTHER?!”. (Note, I remember the name of my first Cabbage Patch Kid, but not important things like whether or not I took my medicine this morning. Psycho much? Why yes, thank you).

Now, to be clear, Laren didn’t start out as an imaginary friend. She was a creepy doll first.

I don’t know how I got her, but she was an enormous yarn-haired Goliath with a painted face and a cheap looking dress. As far as the doll community goes, she ranked somewhere between streetwalker and lunch lady. My memories of her are a little vague, but in my defense I was four when I had her (mind you, my mother would claim I was 16, but she’s a liar and SHUT UP). Anyway, I remember Laren’s gorgeous yellow locks sticking out of her head in every direction, and that eerie clown smile that would never fade no matter how many smelt I tried to give her at breakfast.**

Mom says I adored Laren, to the point I took her everywhere. She inevitably started smelling like a cross between old people farts and Cheetos after a while, but I didn’t care. It was MY bad stink. I made it, I was proud of it, and damn it all, Laren was my homegirl. My parents, trying to protect their noses from my four year old form of terrorism, decided it was time to make Laren “go away”. See, while Laren existed, no other doll would do. They’d done the typical parental thing of trying to bribe me with newer dolls, but they apparently weren’t scary or offensive enough for me, and I’d cling to Laren with something akin to desperation. My mother, feeling guilted by the small thing in front of her crying over her doll, would attempt to patch Laren up by washing her or washing her dress or spraying her with whatever the early 80’s version of Febreeze was, which was probably Glade in an ozone-destroying aerosol can. It’d work for a while, but then the day came when no amount of washing or perfuming was going to do. Laren was so bad she offended the dogs. I don’t know who got the unenviable task of getting Laren out of my grubby little hands and into the trash, but someone did a snatch and grab and tossed Laren into a Rubbermaid outside of my grandparents house. Her feet poked out of the side, awaiting her long, final journey to the dump in my grandfather’s Cadillac. My tiny psychic powers (or perhaps the odor trails coming from outside of the house instead of to my immediate right) told me something terrible had just occurred in West Bridgewater. I stumbled around in a frenzy, looking for my precious Laren, likely quoting emo soliloquies from Hamlet as I searched for my best bud.

Aaaand then I promptly found her in the trash. I dug her out, brought her back into the house, and commenced playing with her like nothing had happened. My parents resorted to guerrilla warfare tactics to nuke the doll after that, and eventually, much to my chagrin, Laren was buried under Giants stadium, her remains forever lost to time. That may have been Jimmy Hoffa, but in my world it’s the same as what happened to Laren. Left to grieve for my odoriferous best pal, I did what any only child in my place would do: I started talking to myself, claiming it was Laren. Cause yeah, in retrospect, that’s not at all crazy.

Laren stayed with me for a good long while. I’d try to give you an approximate age that she finally left me – it may have been in Mrs. Cullens kindergarten class when I realized other small beings like myself actually existed, and damn it why can’t I use the green handled scissors instead of the stupid plain righty scissors – but the truth is, I don’t think she ever left me. I think she’s why I write to this day. A cast of characters is much like a passel of imaginary friends that only I can hear. Sometimes they kiss, sometimes they fight. Sometimes they stab deer and offer deer guts up to Satan in a really fucked up ritual. It’s all the same as playing with your imaginary best friend when you’re five, isn’t it? The stories just get bigger in theme, and darker. There’s more swearing, you’ve introduced fucking into the mix, but the fact is . . . if I wanna make someone eat a worm and shit mud pie, all I gotta do is sit at my desk and start writing. And BAM! Just like that Laren’s back, 28 years later.

Kinda interesting to think about, really.

So tell me, did you have an imaginary friend? And if so, whatever happened to them?

((* An aside. My grandmother was half Welsh, and as such, she ate fish in the morning for breakfast, as Welshies are wont to do. So I’d wake up every morning to a house that reeked of fish, and you know what? I couldn’t have been happier about it. I’d sit down at the kitchen table and eat those fishy little bastards Gram hucked at my plate. Up ’til the day she died she claimed it’s why I’m as smart as I am. Yep. You guys got Booberry, I got fish with bones still intact. And I loved every minute of it. Life’s a beautiful thing.))

Music Dump.

Neglected blog is neglected. In my own defense, I’ve been busy lately doing that not sick bit (trying anyway), finishing writing a novel, and starting a new novel. I’m also outlining my 4 SRS novel coming up, which I’ve pre-emptively titled Chasing the Sunset.

While I get my thoughts together, have some /amazing/ music I’ve stumbled across:

Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man

Sia – Breathe Me

Jets Overhead – Where Did You Go (Thank you House)

Florence + The Machine – Drumming Song

A Fine Frenzy – The Minnow And The Trout