Saturday, January 31, 2015

Personal Digest Saturday: January 24 – January 30

Life news this week: 
  • I got another acceptance for a piece of writing! At the end of February I'll have an article (about asexual stuff, as usual) published in the zine Drunk Monkeys. It's pretty cool.
  • I got interviewed by Iris at The Varsity, which will be published the week before Valentine's Day, haha.
  • Finished editing my novel Finding Mulligan and am now sharing it with lovely CP Heather.
  • Started writing again on Bad Fairy 2. It's kinda slow going because I stopped at a particularly difficult part. But it'll grind into gear probably this weekend.
  • Jeaux Day involved a weird restaurant visit that we'd never tried before. It's a smokehouse called 4 Rivers. They put your food right onto the tray instead of on a plate, and the tables are cafeteria seating--like, long tables where you have to be next to strangers. Haha. I ate okra there for the first time. It tasted okay. We saw the season finale of Galavant.
New reviews of my book:
                        Places featured:
                                  Reading progress:

                                  New singing performances:

                                  Here I'm singing "Adia" by Sarah McLachlan. I recorded this song a long time ago but that was before I had the better equipment and upgraded account.

                                  New drawings:

                                  Webcomic Negative One Issue 0507: "The Easy Answer."

                                  New videos:

                                  Here's Letters to an Asexual #24, which is about asexual characters (and addresses someone's comment that suggests there's no reason for us to need/want them).

                                  New photos:  

                                  Me with J.C. Fann's book, complaining about its dysfunctional families
                                  The restaurant where they apparently think plates are stupid

                                  Social media counts:YouTube subscribers: 4,266 for swankivy (5 new this week), 430 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 603 for swankivy (lost one OMG), 827 for JulieSondra (12 new but I think they're mostly junk accounts that I'll lose by next week). Facebook: 274 friends (1 new--friended Rory) and 156 followers (no change) for swankivy, 513 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 54 likes for Negative One (no change), 100 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 1,790 (lost one OMG).

                                  Wednesday, January 28, 2015

                                  Tuesday, January 27, 2015

                                  A return to Bad Fairy

                                  I jumped back into writing last night after a long hiatus. The reasons behind the hiatus are kind of a long story. But now, going back into it, I wonder if there's some subconscious reason why I didn't want to dive back into this thing too.

                                  I left the character at a pivotal moment in the story. It's Chapter 10. A little background: This is a sequel. Book 1 details Delia's childhood. She's a very ambitious student in her fairy school, and her success story turns to misery when some people in charge decide her intentions are too radical. Some of the fairy authorities' doubts about her are rooted in distrust of her half-human heritage. She's picking up the pieces from that going into Book 2.

                                  Delia begins the second book determined to prove her worth. She's spent six years of her life becoming the best and the brightest in her fairy school, and that was supposed to earn her the right to audition to work for royalty, but she's essentially been blackballed because of some messy stuff from Book 1, and she's trying to fight it by appealing to the king himself. Delia spends the beginning of the book exploring, plotting, wallowing, and learning, and she dabbles in understanding the human half of her heritage and experimenting with romance. But then she actually GETS the chance she's been waiting for--the chance to prove herself--and bombs it spectacularly. Now she's got to figure out what to do next. Now that all her shiny options are gone.

                                  And it's really depressing to write, if you can believe that.

                                  So now I've got to move in the direction of the real plot here. Everything else was setup and justification for what she does later. The plot demands that I push forward into the part where Delia becomes the bad fairy from the well-known fairy tale, and one of the complications is that I've actually already written the whole story before. I'm sort of adapting it from the old version.

                                  Turns out the old version jumped forward two years and glossed over the part I'm writing now. I don't want to do that. But I think the reason I did that is that I have no idea about the actual details involved in establishing a new home in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world, and just wanted to fast-forward to the part where it was done and she was living there. I have no desire to spend an entire chapter reciting details about it, of course, because nobody cares about the actual building of a home and caring for a garden/a couple farm animals, but I do want the story to reflect accurate details and give enough sense of setting that it doesn't feel like it's happening in a void.

                                  Most of the words I've added to the document as of last night weren't really new. They were adaptations of the old, made a little less flowery (or adapted to the correct level of floweriness; Delia's pretty dramatic). But when I pick it up again (hopefully tonight and for the rest of the week), I'll be writing her fifteenth birthday party--the first scene that happens within her new home. I don't have specific plans for what will happen there. I just know her friends and her mom will be there and she'll get to show them around and kind of show off. I think I'll also get to touch on her loved ones' confusion over her direction in life and her own trepidation about what her adult life will be devoted to.

                                  I'm not concerned about not knowing what will happen, though. My characters always figure that out once I put them on the page. :)

                                  Hopefully I'll have a Bad Fairy update for you next week detailing how many words I got down and how far I've gotten in the story. Whee!

                                  Monday, January 26, 2015

                                  Perpetually waiting

                                  I've become very good at waiting.

                                  Before I signed with an agent for the first time, I usually had a few queries out at a time and maybe a few short stories being considered. The only thing I really expected to see in my inbox was letters that started with "Thank you but unfortunately." Sometimes the responses would startle me by asking for a partial or full manuscript. Eventually one of those letters turned into a request for a phone call and an offer of representation.

                                  It's kind of one of those things you don't really know what it will feel like when it happens. Like, you're always expecting that one day someone will say yes, and then they do and you're like "oh."

                                  "Oh, okay."


                                  Since then, the waiting has continued, but it feels different.

                                  I know what yes feels like. I've since gotten to "yes" on another agent offering me representation, a book deal, and several short stories and short nonfiction pieces. I have developed a cautious expectation of seeing "yes" in the inbox instead of "no." And that's pretty nice--developing the confidence to know that they won't be rejections forever and they do sometimes turn into actual publication offers and I will be able to handle it when it happens.

                                  But I've also been waiting for a very long time.

                                  I'm waiting for updates on when we start edits for the paperback release. I'm waiting for news from my agent on whether any publishers have nibbled on my fantasy trilogy. I'm waiting for news from my agent as to whether she wants to represent my next book. I'm waiting to find out when an accepted short story is going to be published. I'm waiting for verdicts on half a dozen short stories.

                                  And I've developed this fizzy feeling of always expecting someone's opinion to hit my inbox any minute.

                                  It comes and goes. Sometimes I'm sure that it's going to happen any minute, and I'm keeping the inbox open in another window all day, eying it to see if that (1) pops up to notify me of a new message, flipping out when spam filters in. And sometimes I feel like it's a long way off--that I can't expect any news today or this week or this month. Sometimes I see a new message from an editor and immediately think "Oh, who's rejecting me today?" (Spoiler: I've actually thought that immediately before opening a message that said yes.) Sometimes I see a new message convinced that it's going to be good news and it blindsides me with a rejection. Sometimes I just look at the empty inbox and yell something into it to see if it echoes.

                                  But, despite how maddening and heart-rending WAITING is, I think I've gotten to the point where I want to be waiting. Waiting means I always have something new on the horizon. Waiting means good news could be right around the corner, while bad news can be processed and forgotten. Waiting means I always have balls in the air and possibilities cooking. Waiting means even if I'm not actively creating new material right then, I'm also technically not stagnant.

                                  Waiting is exhausting and invigorating at the same time.

                                  Whenever the waiting comes to an end, I know I'll do something to get it going again.

                                  Saturday, January 24, 2015

                                  Personal Digest Saturday: January 17 – January 23

                                  Life news this week: 
                                  • The big thing this week was of course BIRTHDAY TRIP! And I am now 37. I spent part of the week vacationing in Cape Coral with Meghan, whose birthday is two days after mine, and we did a ton of movie-watching and food-eating. It's nice to have a vacation that isn't about constant runaround--just down time and relaxing. It was great.
                                  • We also saw a musical, which was The Book of Mormon. We enjoyed it!
                                  • My mom seems to have recovered from her food poisoning nonsense, but other mishaps plagued our vacation too. Meg's husband fell and had to get stitches on his eyebrow. I tripped over my pants in the kitchen and bashed my knee again--the same one I fell on in the parking lot last week. Meg's car got towed from my apartment complex. And annoying publishing-world stuff happened.
                                  • Jeaux Day was Wednesday, but I was late to it because of having to work late. We ate at Moe's and listened to Night Vale podcast and watched Galavant, and I managed to get us tickets for the Night Vale live show that is coming to my area in April!
                                  • One of my friends got a book deal so that is pretty damn amazing.
                                  • In other bookish news, I bought my friend Kippur's newly released book and you should too. The Tropes of Fantasy Fiction!
                                  New reviews of my book:
                                                        Places featured:
                                                              Reading progress:

                                                              New singing performances:

                                                              Here I'm singing "Holiday" by Madonna, because I just went on holiday and it seemed appropriate.

                                                              New drawings:

                                                              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0506: "Watching for Signs."

                                                              New videos:

                                                              None this week.

                                                              New photos:  

                                                              Wine was left for us in the home we rented for no apparent reason. (We didn't drink it.)
                                                              My very pink birthday photo.
                                                              Kitchen wenches battle it out!

                                                              Social media counts:YouTube subscribers: 4,261 for swankivy (7 new this week), 430 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 604 for swankivy (2 new), 815 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 273 friends (no change) and 156 followers (no change) for swankivy, 511 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 54 likes for Negative One (no change), 100 likes for So You Write (9 new). Tumblr followers: 1,791 (9 new).

                                                              Thursday, January 22, 2015

                                                              Never Never by Brianna Shrum!

                                                              Hey everyone! Guess what? I'm helping out with a cover reveal for one of my fellow Pitch Wars 2014 Mentors, Brianna Shrum . . . and guess what else? We have something very interesting in common. We both wrote fantasy retellings. From the "bad" character's point of view.

                                                              Introducing NEVER NEVER.

                                                              So this book is about Captain Hook's side of the story. From when he was just a boy named James who wanted to be a man and--okay, wait, I think I'll just go ahead and show you the official blurb, all right?

                                                              James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

                                                              When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

                                                              But grow up he does.      
                                                              And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

                                                              This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

                                                              Except one.

                                                              This lovely thing will be out in September 2015 from Spencer Hill Press (woohoo!), and those of you who love retellings and sympathetic villains will want to add it to your Goodreads list and/or keep up with Brianna on Twitter. YEAHHHHHHHHH!!

                                                              Wednesday, January 21, 2015

                                                              Wednesday Factoid: Sports

                                                              Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Did you participate in any sports while in school? 

                                                              I didn't really play any sports in school, except the stuff I had to do as part of my physical education classes. We'd have to play kickball at recess sometimes--I was bad at kicking and not particularly fast at running, but I could catch the ball pretty well and liked playing second base. My middle school had a football unit and I got to play a weird modified version of football with my team; I usually played center. And sometimes we played volleyball, which I was okay at, but not fantastic. I did, however, try out for the tennis team when I was in high school, and took a whole tennis class in the summer before ninth grade.

                                                              I didn't make the team, and the reason sounds kind of convoluted if I try to explain it, but I "lost" a key game to someone who was terrible at tennis because I felt embarrassed trying to explain the rules to her. She kept thinking she was winning when she was serving to the wrong place or hitting the ball out, and when I kept telling her she wasn't winning those points she would get really aggressive and insist that we had to "do it over" if I thought she hadn't won the point. If I told her her serve was out, for instance, she would insist that there was no rule about where the serve needed to go, and then claim that it was her point because I didn't return the ball when I just called it out. It happened over and over, and she accused me of cheating, until finally she tied me 40/40 and immediately ran off the court to report to the coach that she had won our game. I didn't bother to counter her because I was sure she would claim I was cheating again (even though she clearly didn't understand the rules because arriving at deuce is not winning), and I thought I would have more chances, but later the same day I got cut from the team. I didn't try out again. But I continued playing tennis off and on throughout my life.

                                                              I wonder how my high school life might have been different if I had bothered to be aggressive in return and drag in an authority to watch that girl's nonsensical objections to the rules of tennis. (I know she didn't make the team either, but ugh.)

                                                              Monday, January 19, 2015

                                                              Giving a bad review

                                                              You know that saying "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"?

                                                              Well, I don't really believe in it.

                                                              People saying things that weren't especially kind was instrumental in helping me become a better writer, and while I don't appreciate when people seem to delight in tearing me down or have no regard for my feelings at all, I do prefer people focusing more on the content than on how I'll feel about their reaction.

                                                              So that brings me to bad reviews.

                                                              I've given precious few really bad reviews in my time. And I have been especially careful about it since embarking on the "actually becoming a professional writer" train. Other writers may have written books you hate, books you disagree with, books that are just crap, but . . . they're also your peers. And anything you say could be seen to be tearing down a competitor, possibly out of jealousy or petty attempts to lift up your own work.

                                                              Most authors actually feel this is very far from the truth; we don't consider ourselves competition for the most part, though places like Amazon have rules about reviewers engaging in any behavior that could be perceived as financially benefiting them (and that includes having friends/family promote their own books with good reviews as well as leaving bad reviews for other people whose books are similar to yours). We're perceived as competition by those who view our books as a product. And though I think it's pretty clear that people who would like both my book and another author's similar book would very rarely buy one instead of the other, especially in fiction, we're still viewed as rivals and disallowed from participating in supposedly self-supporting behavior.

                                                              So what I try to do is only write a really scathing, highly critical review if it's something I would honestly feel capable of saying to the author's face.

                                                              If an author offended me or made some terrible choices or just did something I want to give them a harsh lecture over, I might put it in the review. Most other times, I'll say one or two critical things if I think it's appropriate, but I'm not nasty about it, and I'm much more focused on discussing why I would or wouldn't recommend the book to others. I'll also be more likely to say negative things about a book I didn't like if it's very, very popular, because it's unlikely my opinion will affect the author negatively in any measurable way, and I'll be less "sensitive" about my wording if I really hate the book and the author is no longer living.

                                                              But considering it is always possible I, as a person who aspires to a lifelong career as a fantasy/SF author, could theoretically end up on a panel with some of these people, it would behoove me to never say anything I wouldn't be prepared to defend if I met them in person.

                                                              You can see the books I've read and reviewed with lowest ranking at the top here on my Goodreads account, though my own book is at the top because it's marked read with no star ranking. (I couldn't bring myself to rate or review my own book.) Check out what I thought deserved a spanking and why. And let me know if you read any that you feel are in poor taste, and I'll listen to why I should change it.

                                                              Saturday, January 17, 2015

                                                              Personal Digest Saturday: January 10 – January 16

                                                              Life news this week: 
                                                              • I spent last weekend drawing, reading, making videos, eating tasty food, and getting a ton of stuff done. I was very productive, especially on Sunday!
                                                              • I finally turned my latest novel in to my agent. She's reading it now and I guess soon I'll know whether she liked it and if she wants to represent it. It will feel really weird to have a new book on submission.
                                                              • Got BIRTHDAY PRESENTS from Mommy, Ronni, Daddy, and Jeaux!
                                                              • Monday I released a blog interview of my friend and crit partner J.C. Fann and did a bunch of stuff online to draw attention to it. I hope it caused a little bump in sales from the attention--and that better yet, more readers will find something they love!
                                                              • Tuesday I spent a restaurant gift certificate I got for a holiday gift on taking my mom to Carrabba's. We had a good time except she seems to have gotten food poisoning and spent the rest of the week sick. I hope she gets better soon. :(
                                                              • Jeaux Day was Wednesday, as always. Jeaux bought me Gail's book (Gail is a Pitch Wars pal) and we ate at Best NY Pizza. Then at my place we watched two more episodes of Galavant and listened to the Night Vale episode we didn't get a chance to hear last week. And we found out they're actually finally coming to Florida! We might get to go to one of their live shows! YES NIGHT VALE!!! We'll see if I can slide in and get tickets when they go on sale. Supposedly tickets sell out in like under an hour.
                                                              • Thursday was kind of a bummer day--I had to ride my bike in the rain after dark to go buy things that might help Mom feel better and help her keep herself hydrated, and got my sister to take the stuff over to her, and then I fell down in the parking lot while picking up my mail and scraped my knee.
                                                              • And Friday I didn't have to go to work because IT IS BIRTHDAY VACATION TIME! I spent Friday morning packing and panicking because I hate packing. Really really hate it. But I just didn't have time to do it the night before because I was finishing Negative One and it turned out to need 14 frames instead of the usual 10. Trust me to plan a long issue for a night when I have a time crunch.
                                                              • I got to begin my vacation with Meggie driving to Cape Coral and getting into our rental home with no hiccups. We went out for a celebratory pizza, went grocery shopping to stock the house for our vacation festivities (we'll be here Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, leaving Tuesday), and watched The LEGO Movie after we got home. I hadn't seen it and wasn't disappointed. :)
                                                              New reviews of my book:
                                                                        • Nobody loves me this week.
                                                                                    Places featured:
                                                                                      • Gail's post on Kidliterati showed off several photos she got of her book "in the wild" during release week, and the picture I tweeted was one of them.
                                                                                          Reading progress:

                                                                                          New singing performances:

                                                                                          Here I'm singing "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles.

                                                                                          New drawings:

                                                                                          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0505: "A Word About Me."

                                                                                          Webcomic So You Write Issue 44: "Always a Hobby."

                                                                                          New videos:

                                                                                          I published Not-So-Frequently Asked Submission Questions, which is all about questions authors might have while on submission to publishers. 

                                                                                          New photos:  

                                                                                          I ate cellophane noodles while wearing glasses and . . . they fogged up.
                                                                                          Here's me with Gail's book, Breaking the Ice!
                                                                                          Here's me with Meggie in the pizza restaurant at the start of our birthday vacation!
                                                                                          Meg with her pizza. (We shared that pie and ate it!)
                                                                                          Me with pizza. It was a cheese pizza with mushrooms!
                                                                                          Back in the vacation home, it's sweatpants o'clock.

                                                                                          And finally, the monthly haircut comparison photos:

                                                                                          Back, February 2014
                                                                                          Back, January 2015
                                                                                          Front, February 2014
                                                                                          Front, January 2015

                                                                                          Social media counts:YouTube subscribers: 4,254 for swankivy (20 new this week), 429 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 602 for swankivy (1 new), 815 for JulieSondra (3 new). Facebook: 273 friends (no change) and 156 followers (no change) for swankivy, 509 likes for JulieSondra (lost one--someone unliked me lol), 54 likes for Negative One (no change), 91 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 1,782 (1 new).

                                                                                          Wednesday, January 14, 2015

                                                                                          Wednesday Factoid: Traveling

                                                                                          Today's Wednesday Factoid is . . . Do you wish to travel a lot?


                                                                                          Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm really not into traveling. Which is weird because I do it fairly frequently--especially since I started getting more involved in asexuality activism and ended up attending various events in other states and even other countries (well, one: Canada). But I'm not really that into traveling. I don't enjoy being away from home and not being able to control certain things about my environment and my company. I love getting to see friends and family, but doing so usually involves such discomfort as sharing space with pets, functioning in a home that is colder than I like, eating when everyone else eats, and not being able to retreat into my Internet world or a book as often as I would otherwise.

                                                                                          But I'm still more interested in the people than the places. I'll still enjoy getting to see famous monuments, go to cool museums, do activities I can't do at home, or take in different environments, but I don't relate at all to wanting to travel just to see a place. I kind of like in-between places while traveling, like airports, airplanes, and buses, but even though I have no phobias about those things or about traveling, I just don't crave it. I'd rather stay home.

                                                                                          Sometimes people who hear me say such things feel compelled to regale me with stories of how inherently fabulous the rest of the world is and how limited my life will be if I don't see everything while I can, and what they don't seem to get is that I recognize the value of traveling. I reject the notion that I am incomplete or "not truly living life" if I'm really not a big fan of traveling or doing make it my priority, though, especially since you absolutely cannot do everything in the world with the limited time you have and saying you must travel to have a full life is like saying you must read all the most important works of literature to truly know humanity. People have different priorities. I really wish people didn't treat their own interests and inclinations as universally necessary for a complete life for everyone else.

                                                                                          I've still gotten many valuable experiences and happy memories out of traveling, though, and I wouldn't do it differently if I could go back and change it.

                                                                                          Cool places I've been:

                                                                                          Tokyo (Japan)
                                                                                          Kamakura (Japan)
                                                                                          Nagano (Japan)
                                                                                          Columbus (Ohio)
                                                                                          Melbourne (Florida)
                                                                                          Plant City (Florida)
                                                                                          Sedona (Arizona)
                                                                                          Phoenix (Arizona)
                                                                                          Las Vegas (Nevada)
                                                                                          St. Augustine (Florida)
                                                                                          Sarasota (Florida)
                                                                                          Jacksonville (Florida)
                                                                                          Chicago (Illinois)
                                                                                          Tarpon Springs (Florida)
                                                                                          Ann Arbor (Michigan)
                                                                                          Anna Maria Island (Florida)
                                                                                          San Francisco (California)
                                                                                          Disney World: Orlando (Florida)
                                                                                          Atlanta (Georgia)
                                                                                          Charleston (South Carolina)
                                                                                          Myrtle Beach (South Carolina)
                                                                                          Washington, D.C. Metro Area (technically Virginia)
                                                                                          Charlotte (North Carolina)
                                                                                          Princeton (New Jersey)
                                                                                          Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
                                                                                          Winston-Salem (North Carolina, where I grew up)
                                                                                          Wilmington (North Carolina, where I grew up)
                                                                                          New Jersey (where I was born)
                                                                                          Vermont (ski trip!)
                                                                                          North Carolina (some campground)
                                                                                          Gainesville (Florida--my college town)
                                                                                          And . . . Tampa, Florida, my current home!