::whew::

Nov. 5th, 2009 04:52 pm
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There. Kith and Kin, the rewrite thereof, is finished. A nice, clean version of the novel exists for sharing, so now's the time to speak up if you're inclined to read it. Canum would be pleased to make your acquaintance.

This is the second book in the series; the first book is with the agent, looking for work. I'm hoping that the lack of a follow-on novel is what stalled possible sales, and so the completion of Kith is a big deal for me. That, and I'm just plain tired of rewriting.

Oh, man, am I tired.

***

I also managed to get that flu shot on Wednesday afternoon by standing in line for two and a half hours to ensure I'd be one of the 1,000 people they had vaccine doses for. Well, I was sitting in line; knowing it would be a long wait, I brought a chair, my lunch, a bottle of water, and a book. (Elizabeth Bear's Carnival, probably my favorite of hers to date.) As with the regular seasonal flu shot I got in early October, this one has resulted in my neck being a little stiffer than usual, so I've been taking Tylenol and ice cream to remedy that. *g*

***

And now I have time to read. A trip to the bookstore is warranted, as several new books have come out recently that I've been wanting to read but could not, on account of (a) focusing on the rewrite and (b) tired. (That originally came out "ired," which fits, as does "mired.")

What have you read recently that you liked?

***

Here, have some seasonal color:

Lake in autumn

That photo was actually taken a couple of years ago, but it's pretty enough to be a keeper. If you like colorful leaves, you might want to check out the viburnum photo, too.
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I expect to wrap up the final handful of items in this rewrite of Kith and Kin before the end of the week, and I could use some eyes on the changes I've made. My primary concern is continuity and tone - I can promise a clean draft.

If you think you'd like to read this second book in the Canum 'verse, please speak up! I need some readers. I'll be happy to reciprocate.
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Preference check: (a) Stone Dog, (b) Stone Boar (a/k/a Stoned Hog? Stone Bore?)

Details: tavern in a fairly large city set upon a stony plateau alongside a big river, athwart the major trade route from north to south. As I am not known for my humorous writing, it's safe to assume this is a dramatic novel in tone. *g* It's not a major setting, but who knows if I'll get to use it later, and it ought to be interesting if I can make it happen, yes?

I'm currently going with Stone Dog, but am willing to be persuaded otherwise.

***

The lemon tree has managed to escape indoor confinement for the past couple of days since it was sunny and in the 70s and 80s, but it's back indoors after tonight. Many of the back deck plants traveled to my office windows a week ago, since those south-facing stretches of glass effectively triple my plant overwintering capability without turning my dining room (with its south-facing sliding glass door) into a jungle.

(And which of us don't have memories of childhood homes turning into jungles over the winter? Tell me that isn't just me and my mom.)

***

I'm happy to report--late, but it's been a bitch of a couple of weeks--that staycation did indeed result in a finished draft in the sense that all of the structural changes to Kith got made. I'm now well into the next pass, where I fix all of the remaining "notes to self" patches that were only roughed in, if that, in the previous pass.

I'd have liked to have this rewrite done by now. Just assume the above comment about bitch of a week applies to the entire year to date, and you'll have an idea why that hasn't occurred. (Sorry, Lovely Agent.) Nevertheless, I am so very close to being able to prep a clean draft and figure out just how many pages this thing actually has grown to. My habit is to leave my notes in my draft, color-coding for their status (yellow for needs attention, green for handled, blue for really important to remember or really cool idea), and thus my current draft is bloated with rainbows.

I need to keep reminding myself, however, that the all but cover to cover rewrite of Break, the novel immediately following Kith in the linear sequence of this series, took eight very long months and I was about ready to die when I finally wrapped up that work. I don't need to be that exhausted with this one. November will be eight months, so really, I'm not doing all that bad. I just want to be done….

/whine

***

This weekend is the local highland games and celtic festival. (http://www.richmondceltic.com/) Hopefully, if the storm system about to overtake the eastern seaboard doesn’t arrive until late on Saturday, we’ll get a chance to attend. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to dress up (as such things apply to me)! It’s certainly as close as I’ll get to a Halloween costume party.

***

And now, nose back to the workaday grindstone. Have a great weekend, folks!

Coolness

Oct. 6th, 2009 04:43 pm
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This is too cool not to propagate further:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLwFKAzOO1w&feature=player_embedded

It's a two minute animated short with plot, by dog, and worth the time. (Besides, the animation's beautiful.)

***

This is just to note that early October up in the Blue Ridge Mountains gets damned cool, especially in the mornings, but the crispness of the air is worth it.

And also to note that I need a better pillow.

***

Would you believe that, as of this morning, my staycation effort to press forward on this unending rewrite has moved me inside of 50 pages from the end of Kith and Kin? It's amazing what a little peace and quiet, without impinging deadlines, can do for one's output.

I wonder if it's too optimistic to think I might finish it up this week?

Let's just see. *g*
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I've just added a new book to my Keep shelf. This one's Amanda Downum's ([livejournal.com profile] stillsostrange) debut novel, The Drowning City. Forensic sorcery for the win! I like the coherency of the worldbuilding, the consistency of detail; this is a world that is as real as the one outside my workroom window. I'm very much looking forward to its sequel!

***

I decided, last weekend, that at the rate the Grimes Golden apple tree in my front yard was dropping apples (helped along mightily by birds and squirrels, damn it), if I waited until the remaining apples were the bright golden yellow they're supposed to turn I might have half a dozen, tops. So, as I was picking up the windfallen and chucking them into bags for transport to the compost pile/wasp bit-o-heaven, I set aside six or eight of the best looking ones, and Sunday afternoon I made apple crisp.

And was reminded, once more, that skin color is no predictor of ripeness. Want to know if an apple is ripe? Cut it open. If the seed coat is dark brown, it's ripe. The flesh might soften, and the skin might brighten, but it's ripe.

Guess what I've been eating for breakfasts all this week? *G*

***

I am at the top of the third of the three major changes I'm making to Kith. This puts me about 100 pages out from the end of the book. It also means that progress has slowed to a crawl while I work out what I need to change, what effects those changes will have elsewhere (in this book as well as the next, since they appear to want to be a duology), and how the themes of the book are best served by the changes.

It also means that I am better than two thirds done with this rewrite. I don't know about you and your rewrites, but man, I'm glad to be this far along.

And doubly glad that, in about 100 pages, I can put this damned thing down.

***

The current landscape design client has approved both the form of the redesigned courtyard garden and the plants to go within it. All that remains is transferring the details over to the vellum I drew the base plan on, finalizing the plant list, and making copies for presentation.

Woo!

***

I found an interesting new caterpillar on the lespedeza plant this morning. Photos to follow as soon as I get around to downloading them.

AKICILJ*

Jul. 3rd, 2009 02:18 pm
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I'll take male bonding rituals for 100, Alex.

I know that Western military training of young men is steeped in the sort of blustering interaction that Western males, for the most part, seem automatically to fall into whenever three or more of them get together.

What I do not know, however, is if this is a cultural phenomenon or if it's something that, say, young Asian males also exhibit in groups. Anyone out there have evidence on either side of this question?

The military training portion of my statement is important for context, though I'm not sure it really matters to the question, so please don't feel you can't respond if your experience isn't military related.

(*That's All Knowledge Is Contained In LiveJournal, of course.)

***

This book is something like 400 pages long. I'm currently on page 211 of the rewrite, though that's misleading since there are lots of notes and highlighted things to fix embedded within it; I won't have an accurate page count until I clean all of that up, once the rewrite is done. At any rate, I am firmly in the middle of the book, in the second act of three, or however you might wish to measure such things. While there remains one crucial major change yet to be made, I am somewhat cheered by having this many pages behind me. The first part is where all the hard changes had to be made. *g* The part I'm in now is fixing echoes and tweaks.

***

Get a load of this really gorgeous German manor house: http://www.schloss-lohrbach.de/. Can't you see Canum looking out one of those third floor windows, watching the house's guards company drilling on the greensward below? (Yeah, this one's got a moat and Harlendon doesn't, but the form of the house is just so perfect otherwise.) You can click on the flag emblems below the image to change the language of the page and, incidentally, the image itself, which I personally find way cool. Check out the French version as well - an actual photo; yes, this is a real structure. ::covets::

***

Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

Photos!

Jun. 25th, 2009 08:48 am
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One of my greatest joys lately has been hiking and camping with my son and the dogs up in Shenandoah National Park. I love getting away from the traffic noise and congestion, up into fresh breezes and soaring elevations and nights cool enough to really relax into. I am ever fascinated by rocky outcrops and overlooks. And campfires—who doesn’t love campfires?

We’ve been able to take two weekend trips up into Shenandoah this spring, and I’ve finally managed to download the photos I took. I’ve posted some of the best to my Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8556491@N07/), but I’ll drop one in here as a teaser. Left to right, that’s my son with his beagle, Beenie, the son of the family we hike with, myself and my dog, Kay, and the mom of our hiking buddies, posed in front of a waterfall as we hiked down to Rapidan Camp/Camp Hoover.

Posed

***

The revision slog continues. I’ve pushed my way through two of the three major changes I wanted to make to Kith and am almost halfway through the book. I keep moving by promising myself that I’ll take a break, oh dog! a break, and read some stuff and watch mindless TV and wander around looking at pretty things until my brain cools off enough to maybe create some new words. There is life after Kith - there’s Satisfaction, the pirate story (Josh’s story, for those who joined me in struggling through [livejournal.com profile] novel_in_90) and there’s Bells, both of which have problems that need working out.

Mostly, though, I just want some down time.
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I get to keep Canum socking Kale! You don't know how happy realizing that made me. *g*

Yes, I'm still slogging along through Kith and Kin. Following a fairly detailed critique of the novel earlier this year, I spent some time thinking about the shortcomings that had been pointed out. I concluded that there were three major changes I wanted to make, and it's those changes and the seismic ripples spreading out from them that I've been working on ever since. I doubt I'm unique in the level to which a single event is intertwined and affects other events in my work. Catching all those little changes, and smoothing over the patched parts, is taking so much more time than I'd hoped, but I think what comes out the other side will be a stronger book, so go me. (And thank you, Critiquer.)

As I managed to push my way through the second of the two major scene-changes, however, I figured out how to keep Canum finally giving Kale what he deserved. It had to be rewritten, yes, because its venue and timing changed, but as of earlier this morning Kale is sporting a lovely bruised face and Canum got some of his own back.

***

[livejournal.com profile] jonquil linked to a post by [livejournal.com profile] oliviacirce about a divide in SFF fandom that, amongst other things, talks about how discussions proliferate across the internet, occurring at many different levels and with potentially thousands of users all commenting on a single post that then cross-indexes in new and interesting non-linear ways. One can hardly read all the posts on a given topic - certainly not in real time, and even with significant delays sometimes those of us more heavily scheduled often have to prioritize what we read and what we have to hope someone else will summarize. Nevertheless, there's this fascinating (to me) way in which the original conversation so often reappears in references three or six or a dozen links down the chain, thus perpetuating and deepening the discussion. I - admittedly one of the more heavily scheduled people I know - am delighted that this is so, given that there's no chance in hell I'd catch up with the conversation if this didn't happen!

***

One of the things I am getting to do with this rewrite is deepen the universe of the books. I spent one entire half-braindead evening looking at pictures of horses. (I swear, it was pertinent research. It didn't hurt that they were really beautiful horses: http://lusitano-interagro.com/collection/verdugoOR.htm.) Places I hadn't described before are getting mortar and floorboards. This makes me happy...but it also is giving my continuity awareness brain cell fits, because more detail means more potential screw-ups.

Is it any wonder I keep lists of people and horse and place descriptions?

**

Oh: for those who may remember last winter's and the previous winter's posts about ginger shortbread, let me take a quick moment to say this: Five Spice Powder, in shortbread, is intriguing. To me, at least. I'm taking some to work tomorrow, so we'll see just how widely that opinion might be held. *g* (The recipe originally was orange-spice shortbread. I didn't have any oranges to get peel from. Then it occurred to me that Five Spice Powder has both orange peel and cinnamon, as well as some other really cool spice flavors, so....)
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Further to the previous post - I note that the Tiptree award results came out today. Sarah Hall's The Carhullan Army won, and in her comments about the book Gwenda Bond said, "Hall does so many things well in this book – writing female aggression in a believable way, dealing with real bodies in a way that makes sense, and getting right to the heart of the contradictions that violence brings out in people, but particularly in women in ways we still don't see explored that often."

Aggression is not, to my mind, a truly gendered thing. However, I agree that there are aggressive behaviors which appear more often amongst one gender or another. What sort of aggressive behavior would you think that a woman--especially a woman in a man's world, in a swords-and-sorcery-style setting--might exhibit? (Yes, of course this relates to something I'm working on, fiction-wise. Irie thanks you for your interest...or not, depending on her mood.)

Aside from the Hall book, which I am going to look up, do you have other books that you'd recommend as delving into this concept of the aggression of women?
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With all those queries printed and posted, that now leaves me staring right at Kith and Kin. I'm also doing a lot more reading of new material in genre and out, in the hope that what my poor brain needs is fresh air.

I suspect, though, that what my brain needs is to fully synthesize what I've learned in the past couple of years about plot, and to get over itself. Knowing some of the plot in advance of writing the first draft is not a death sentence, Muse. I promise, I'll let you drop surprises on me, and won't argue too stringently if you decide not to take a left turn at Albuquerque.
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I didn't think I'd get to this point with this damned book. I just wrote a brand-new final scene for Kith and Kin, and I like it. I've fought this book for so long that it feels surreal to have reached this point.

There are still things that need fixing, and I'll get to those, but for the moment I'll just be thoroughly happy and surprised and leave it at that. ::grin::
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In the past I have been accused, and rightly so, of letting my characters wallow in angst. I say this is a valid accusation, not because I was not seeking angst, or pathos, or tragedy but because I recognize that my use of it was not working.

And that's the one rule of writing that you can't break, yes? That whatever you do must work?

So I've been letting my subconscious stew on the subject for a while. It came to me that what I wanted was not angst, but tragedy. Tragedy as a literary structure (or what-have-you; I'm not educated in literature and like as not will get the terms backasswards) has a very long lineage, all the way back to the Greeks in the written form. More recently, Arthur Miller wrote an essay dealing with the modern use of the term and structure, a copy of which can be found here: http://theliterarylink.com/miller1.html. Miller describes in words I can comprehend exactly what the power of tragedy is, and how we as modern fiction writers can best make use of that power.

Which will be helpful, once I can assimilate it, because I'm working on the kernel of characterization that will become, I hope, a riff on the Noyes poem The Highwayman (http://www.potw.org/archive/potw85.html). I want to better make use of the concept and structure of tragedy in writing this one, to make the inevitable rewrite easier.

In other news, I recently was able to see where I'd made a plot mistake (like, failing to have one) in a short/flash story I'd put together last year or the year before, and can maybe see what I need to do to mend my not-so-short story about love and death in an alternate Serbia, otherwise known as the Xavier story. Xavier in particular is an emotional favorite of mine, and I'd like to fix it so that others can appreciate the tale. I'm still cleaning up the rewritten version of Kith and Kin before sending it off to be read, though, so Xavier will have to wait his turn. The flash, however, I plan on sending off to Fortean Bureau or some such. I think that'd be a good market for this oddling.
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Shit. My novel has just handed me another subplot, on page 222 of about 300. At this point I need to be wrapping up subplots, not creating new ones...especially new ones that appear to violate my previously held and defended belief that subplots be wrapped up in the book in which they're created, damn it.

If the chaos that ensues from this one's inclusion causes readers to shout "Authorial Intrusion!", I'm going to scream.
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[profile] corrinalaw and I were discussing scene openers and breaks. I recently had a reviewer note I'd opened a new chapter with seven paragraphs of summary and, looking at the chapter I'm working on now, I realized that that's become a habit with me. The current chapter went four paragraphs before I got in any action or dialogue. The new scene opener is all dialogue and body language, with the exposition in the dialogue, and I think it reads much better. (It's probably helpful to those not familiar with Canum and Irie to note that Irie is disguised as a young man here, and the three of them are in a rented room in an unfamiliar city seeking relatives of Canum's and Conner's who may not want to be found.)

***

I studied my knuckles where they curled in my lap. "Elder."

Conner scowled. He released the bag containing my mother's necklace. "This is a very small room in which to waste several days."

"A very small bolthole, too, if we're run to ground here," I replied, my gaze on the door, the only entrance and exit. "Let us wander around and evaluate the situation."

I had an army to find, anyway, and intended to scout Taillard's contact before approaching him. In neither of those pursuits would Conner's presence be helpful.

Irie snorted. She adjusted her weaponry--this knife moved into better view, that dagger placed for quick draw, the handle of a third just glinting from the top of her boot--and then swapped her long traveling cloak for a jacket with its own weather cape. Long fingers brushed the red ribbons sewn into its shoulder seams, where they would flutter in the breeze of her movement and provide a handy distraction from her hands' pursuit of business.

As a finishing touch, she dug from her pack a small brass pot and dabbed its contents on her hands and neck and the lining of her coat. This past summer we'd discovered the salve she'd concocted to repel insects masked very effectively the obvious clue to her gender my lupine relations might pick up on. The scent of peppery mint was strong.

Conner, watching all this, pursed his lips and then, sighing, peeled off his own cloak. "If you are not back by sundown, I will go on my own."

I nodded, swallowing my worry for him. "We'll be back.”

***

It's certainly much more active, at any rate, and I'm still getting across the information I needed to have before the reader.

Better, yes. >;-]
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A quiet day at the day job, so I've made some progress on this rewrite of the WIP, Kith and Kin. This is a real rewrite, rather than a polishing; the ms was first put together some ten years ago, and has seen minor edits since, but changes made in the book that precedes it (In the Shape of a Man) forced major plot thread changes. That, and my skill level has changed, shall we say, since I last poked this tale. (For the better, I think. Less angst, more intensity--see last rock.)

It's no fun reworking for plot. I had to resort to writing out a synopsis to find the holes in my plot and subplot arcs, and am now plugging along, mopping up the mess. The good news is the fleshing out is providing much needed wordage, as the draft I started with after cutting all the unnecessary scenes and boring dialogue left me nearly 100 pages shy of my usual goal of 300. The bad news is, I've now been working on this rewrite for the better part of a year.

My intention is to finish this blinking rewrite before starting anything new. I want both Shape and Kith done, clean, and ready for eyeballs before I start hunting an agent for what I think is my best work to date, Cavalier Attitude (a fantasy cross between Zorro the Gay Blade and James Bond, believe it or not).

At the moment, I'm roughly at page 194, chapter 7, scene iv (of about xiii; it's a long chapter, 34 pages or so). If reporting wordage is any incentive, maybe I'll see the end of a couple more of those scenes before the weekend is through. >;-]

Skoal!

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