Writing the New Project

I’ve spent much of the last few days shaking off the 2016-2017 school year.  It wasn’t a bad year, as teaching years go, but it still takes a lot out of you.

But, it’s over, and now is the Writing Time.  And the house-cleaning time, and the child-raising time.  But without work-time, those other things go smoother.

I’ve been looking over my plot outline for _Year of Rage_, and … wow, it was bad.  Whole chapters had to go.  Luckily, I’ve been on a roll writing new chapter outlines, so I think the book will be okay.  It just needed some adjustments.  A character was cut, but I think she was superfluous, and a new character was created that will fit into the plotline even better than her predecessor.

The hard part right now is answering questions about the stellar nations in the book.  Why is the T’lari Alliance so interested in the Boundless Empire?  Why did the Matuush Ascendancy stop innovating so long ago?  Why did nobody explore Khuta in the 1400 years it’s been a dead world? What happens if the Emperor of the Boundless Empire dies without heirs (hint: They’re tanists).

It’s exhausting, and often the questions are answered, then a note saying “Gods below, don’t ever put this in the book!” is appended.

Right.  Back to work.

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Reporting from the Query Wars

Queried: 38 Agents, 3 publishers
Form Rejections: 30 (28 Agents, 2 publishers)
Requests for Partials: 5 (all agents)
Personal Rejections: 3
Still out: 3 Agents, 1 Publisher

Neither publisher got past the slushers, near as I can tell.  And that’s okay; I expected that.  I haven’t had a partial request since last summer, which is wearing on me, but them’s the breaks, and as a friend has said, it’s basically a numbers game.  40 queries is still in the little league of novel rejections.

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Tor Books Submission Reply (Spoiler: It’s a no)

Which is to say, “We are sorry to say that it’s not right for us at this time.”

Which I expected.

Still sucks.

Okay.  Back to it. But later.

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What I Want as a Writer

Every writer has a dream of what they want for their career.  For some, it’s riches (ha!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!), for some, it’s getting a place at the table that is SFF Publishing and fandom, and for others it’s fans.

Me?  I don’t hope for riches, though I certainly won’t say no if the option ever comes to me.  A place at that table would be nice, but not all writers get that, either.  Fans?  Yeah, sure, but that’s secondary to what I really want.

I want to entertain readers. More than that, though, I want to affect them.

I want to make readers weep the way Melanie Rawn, Anne McCaffrey, and Harlan Ellison made me weep.  I want to make readers think the way Harlan’s introductions, or Asimov’s robot stories, or even Star Trek made me think.  I want to make readers so eager for my next book that they haunt bookstores (or, I guess, book sites these days), the way I checked for the next CJ Cherryh or CS Friedman novel.

I want teenage readers to be so in love with my work that their parents see my name on a book and know it’s a good choice for their kid, the way my aunt knew that buying me a new book by Anne McCaffrey was a good choice even though she never read the stuff.  I want to make people second-guess their lifelong beliefs once in a while.  I want to make them laugh.  I want to make them smile, sit back, and say “Man, that was a good story.”

And I want to create book evangelists, who shove one of my books into their friend’s hands and say “No, really, read it, it’s awesome,” in the same way I insisted my friends read Ian McDonald’s Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone or Children of Dune.

I want to write passages so achingly good that they make the reader cry not just the first time they read it, but every time, just like I still cry when I read the ends of books 2 and 3 of The Books of the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, even though I see the flaws in those books, too.

I want to console people drowning in grief just like Steven Gould consoled me through Jumper, and how Neil Gaiman did in just about the entire run of Sandman.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I want to be for others the same thing so many writers were for me.  I want to be their clown, their muse, their lifeline in moments of self doubt, and their solace in times of grief.

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The Home Depot Loop

Almost every time I decide to do a new home repair project, I end up going to Home Depot multiple times.

No matter how much research I do, no matter how prepared I think I am, my initial supply run will miss something that I won’t realize I need until I’ve gotten into the process.  So I’ll go get that thing.  And then, further down the line, I’ll realize I need something else–either because I forgot about it, or because something’s not working right and I need a part to fix it.

Today I was replacing an anti-siphon sprinkler valve.  I got the old one off, and realized I needed new PVC Solvent Cement, because the stuff I had had turned to jelly (which means it’s not safe anymore and won’t work, either).  So I went to get some.  And then I realized the pipes on the old valve are about 1/2 an inch wider than the inlets on the new valve.  So I had to go back for a clamp to bring the pipes together–and if that doesn’t work when I test the pressure, I’m going to need to dig the whole thing up, through the old rose vine roots that are in that bed, and basically start from scratch.

Sometimes I miss the days I could call the landlord and he’d deal with it.

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WIP Progress

After a writing dry spell in which I simply couldn’t focus enough to write, I’m finally moving forward again.  The Year of Rage, which may be a standalone but is meant to be book one of Rage Across the Stars, is now plotted out.

Unlike my last book (still being shopped), this one is told from multiple third-person POVs, and will tell five overlapping stories I’m pretty sure I’ve nattered about here before, though it’s changed somewhat.

The story is ready.  This afternoon, while my child does her spins in gymnastics, I’ll be trying to start this roller coaster.

I’m actually looking forward to it.

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What I Need to Keep Writing: A Realization and a Resolution (and a tiny bit of whining)

When I attended Viable Paradise 17, back in 2013, I got a massive shot of “YES, YOU COULD BE A PROFESSIONAL WRITER OF FICTION” juice.  And that kept me going, when I got home, so that it took me about another year to finish the book, even accounting for all the rewrites required by what I’d learned at VP.

At that point, my self-confidence was flagging.  Surely, this book sucked.  Nothing any of the pros at VP had said about the book, or about my skill, was real.  They were just being nice.  So I sent the book out to Beta, and while I got some feedback that was critical of elements of the book, most of them were also quite complimentary, with a running comment being variations of “If I’d bought this in a bookstore, I’d consider it money well spent.”  That renewed my self-belief, and I spent a few months rewriting and editing quite happily, and polished it up.  Then I sent it out to agents.

I’ve talked before about how the agent submission process is long and often debilitating. Nothing has changed. And so, my “Writer self-belief” is now at an all-time low.  And I’m finding myself working on a new project, but unable to actually write.  I’ve got an outline; I know the shape of the plot… and it’s going precisely nowhere.

I am realizing that I am a writer who needs semi-regular bolstering of my belief in myself.  Which is lame, but there it is. I need to do more writing-related activities, at least once a year or so, to keep my belief in this path going.  Otherwise I crawl into a hole and stop writing, which drives me insane.  I want to write.  I maybe even need to write.  But if I’m not doing it, I lose the thread.

So: In the short term, more talking to my VP friends.  In the long term: Paradise Lost next year.  Maybe even Taos Toolbox.

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