Mermaid #4 - Urban Fantasy - 2,629 words...

Seven out of eight done for the Dare and only two Rewrites. I need to Rewrite as often as I Write and then there'll be steady output. lol

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Yes, those of you who are following me as I hobble through my progress toward Pro in 2002 with Baby Steps, beset with occasional fits of absentmindedness or anxiety or old bad habits... the payoff.

The manuscript and the query are in the mail. A significant quantity of odd denomination postage is in my file folder to help me use up those odd lot stamps I found when I cleaned up my desk when I moved, and to top off any future manuscript packages when they have strange amounts of postage needed. Such as submissions to Canada and so on. The postal worker even thoughtfully gave me a new rate sheet, so now my postal scale is useful again and I do not have to try to read the teeny numbers on its face. Just the how many ounces it is side, where the numbers are printed larger.

Step Next is to repeat the process, repeatedly. At least and especially the manuscript process. I'm very irritated at the size of the stack of unsent stories, especially since I made that resolution to throw everything at a pro market at least once before dropping it to lower paying ones and to my own story collections. How to balance the immediate cash benefits of doing e-books, which take no upload fee and will sell a few copies if I post about them here and there where people have already seen my writing - or selling them to paying markets and hoping to find the ones that pay faster?

Any of them could be the one that made the sale. It was tough to let go of the idea of quick money by throwing a volume together, but maybe I can work on a batch of submissions as if I was doing that volume. Some do pay faster than others too, and it will look even more like the Aegean Stables if I just keep doing two or three more short stories a week and don't start rewriting the same quantity to get them out there. The outgo has to match the output. That takes practice. I have to believe that after a couple dozen more times it will start to get more habitual and trust myself to do it.

As for novels - I've been premeditating the rewrite on Rites of Chavateykar for weeks. The easy way is to pad it to 40,000 or 45,000 words and have a nice short novel as an e-book with no upload money that will hopefully earn enough to shift it over into Print On Demand or help pay for Launchpad. There's also the longer gamble of really gritting my teeth and padding 37,500 words of very tight short novel into a good 75,000 or 80,000 words of solid fat fantasy novel in the currently most marketable length expectation.

The one that I'm good at and have done most of my books in.

It seems ludicrous. Pad it to twice its length and still keep it that gripping? How can I add that much muscle, if I do that, won't it go to fat?

But it's starting to look doable. Laugh if you like. I bought two multipacks of sticky notes today, with a combination of five different neon colors. I'm planning that rewrite. I'm going to print out the rough of the book, then identify the plot threads and especially the ones I want to expand on. There's actually some room for expansion. There's a great scene toward the beginning that establishes characterization and well, has a lot of humor in it. Size humor mostly. It's written multiple point of view and I did a scene from the point of view of the dragons in the dragon caverns - intelligent, witty, funny dragons commenting on the Imperial Court and the activities of the assorted humanoids in it. Dragon Banter Scene was one of the more memorable ones and the dragons are interesting side characters. Then everyone in the Imperial Court gets up to go marching off to war. There's a reason for dragons and dragon characters, this is an important military branch. But nothing in the rest of it is seen from the dragons' point of view, though the Empress's dragon has a dialogue scene with her toward the end. That side plot can expand, seriously expand. The logistics of the march could come into it as well, since the dragons are doing most of the carrying and probably a dragon's in charge of the supply train.

This rewrite is going to be almost like writing another book that size.

While basing it on the previous one and using probably about 95% of it - not much needs cutting in Rites, thank the gods.

The more I think of it, the more my little 3 Day Novel was almost anorexic. The more possible the rewrite looks - the more ambitious version of the rewrite that would take it out of 'cheap little ebook' status into Agent Bait and Query Pro Publishers category. With the additional final task of synopsizing and writing up a nice proposal package to have that ready to ship on the drop of an interested reply to a query.

Dragon Empress Zathikora will die in three days if she doesn't discover the Rites of Chavateykar...

Not a bad hook line. I can play with it.

I can also fiddle with her lover a bit, he needs more depth and more background and possibly more relatives looking to benefit from his Court position as the Empress's favorite. I think he needs obnoxious relatives. There's nothing wrong with expanding on the humor threads when I've got that much action in it. And expand a little more on his witty friend because everyone who read it liked his witty friend - who isn't a classic sidekick type at all, not a wuss or a coward or anything like that. More just that he's sarcastic and quick with words.

I can also take the major plot points and throw a few more difficulties in the way of the characters, that would help.

Scary, but it's starting to look doable - and I've got no reason not to try it. Every reason in the world to run with it. I adore Zathikora, she's great, she's a character and a half. Flawed, colorful, bold, tough, good at recovering from it when she makes mistakes, she's memorable and yes, darn sexy. Bigger than life. And I still love Chavateykar himself, it's darn hard to take a character who's a god and make *him* that heroic, but he is and there's a nice subplot around him that I could deepen.

Hm... the battle scenes could expand too...

I think the sticky notes were a commitment to give it my best. It's been done. Some writers have even taken short stories and expanded them into good novels without losing quality. Therefore it can be done. More action, more conflicts, keep the same timescale where they're concerned so that it does have that Three Day Countdown flavor to it and just show more of what all went into its interesting ending.

As for embarrassment about sticky notes or postage buying or manila envelopes... it's a long story. I haven't put it into the blog yet. Might as well, in short form.

For most of my life every one of the people in my family and mysteriously everyone I went out with before Holly the Romance Writer (not Holly Lisle, but I'm beginning to believe that women named Holly simply grow up to be brilliant writers and deeply good people. If you're a girl's parent, consider naming her Holly for the auspices. I have never met a cruel, stupid or boring Holly) hated my writing. I have had chronic money trouble all of my life. In childhood I wasn't allowed any allowance - because I would 'waste' it on candy - or worse, on postage and writing materials or save up for a typewriter. Then at fifteen, family disharmony exploded into separation and I wound up living with my generous, loving grandmother who did buy candy or clothes or anything else for me that I wanted... she was very generous, impossibly so by my previous experience and fairly extreme compared to the other high school kids I hung with. Except for one thing. Books or writing materials or postage.

Then came adulthood and bad relationships and money trouble when going out to eat was mandatory to end fights, when spending sprees on stuff for the house or on clothes (for some reason the people around me seemed to think I ought to put a lot of money into clothing and I've always had a deep desire to just get a lot of black stuff that's comfortable and replace only when it wears out) and in fact, several relationships, wound up tanking important things like rent or bills on spending sprees to avoid domestic arguments. I was brainless. I'd rather have my wallet out than go for a 36-hour personal brawl over my assorted many faults that eventually accurately included being a wimp for not standing up to the fights - some fights you just can't win. I learned that. But I also had a lifetime's terror of getting in trouble and having to defend the purchase if what I wanted was in any way connected with writing.

It's one of the reasons mind control comes up as a theme in my books. I recovered from a lot of it and am still recovering from a lot of it. I have to remind myself that a $5 box of manila envelopes or $3 worth of sticky notes is spending money on work to make more money in exactly the same way that buying art materials is. I sold enough drawings to just get over the flinch when it came to art toys and art books. Even very expensive art toys will usually pay for themselves.

Every time I do that, I get a little bit stronger. Every time I get past that flinch, I am successfully desensitizing myself to an old conditioned reflex. Bruised Apple Used Books really helped, for the past few months I've been raiding their cheapest rack without destroying my budget on it and I'm getting used to having new books I haven't read yet and replacements of old favorites every week. Parents, it's important to let your kid have an allowance whether it's that or paying them for chores. They will get very weird about money if they don't get to handle money or make any choices or decisions in their lives. They may wind up either spendaholics or so stingy with themselves for years and years that it gets ugly - and joyless. Buying things that are just for pleasure is harder, movies and things like that aren't even on my list after the troubles in the relationship. I made a ton of money and it all went down the 'stop the fighting' drain. I had a bankruptcy. Put me off eating out in a big way.

But it's possible to overcome bad habits and it's possible to overcome a flinch like that. The sticky notes weren't an absolute necessity. I have to stop being quite so crazy-stingy, this type of rewrite really will take a hard copy that I can scribble on. They will make the process a lot easier. They will help me organize it.

I don't have to defend that decision to anyone but me. But I do have to get rid of the shadows of the past and the habits that do not serve any purpose.

And the soft feet pawing my feet are reason to finish up and feed the cat a Pounce treat.

I need to adapt myself to heaven and lose all the habits of hell.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


I gotta blog this...

Baby steps count. Yes. I did print out the manuscript for High Goth and the nicely phrased cover letter with a hook line, a one sentence hook line for the story. Correctly addressed to the editor personally. All very pro. No Typos. Ten years as a typesetter working half of my time on overtime convinced me to get it perfect before sending it to print. Too many nights I did not want to stay that half hour at work to print out anything twice. So I'm real good at spotting errors on screen. A quirk weird background that happens to be useful - about as useful as lightning arithmetic to a real mathematician. Which is to say it's a convenience and a fun thing to show off at parties. It means I get to be cheap with the printer cartridges.

And I printed my nice followup query for Patrick Neilsen Hayden too, made out the SASE envelopes and it's all sealed up and stamped and sitting right on the clipboard with the art materials for tomorrow's first day covers. Therefore will not be forgotten.

I need to do this more often, to the point where I'm not making a fuss about it. That's like saying "Wow, man, I punched the time clock" - but there was a time when I was a kid that was in itself something pretty new. More like going to the interview in terms of nerves. And we all go through it all the time - nothing new about that.

But it's cool to sit here and realize I'm doing it. I did this pretty recently. Doing it again right after sending out a previous one and not waiting till I hear back from the last before nerving myself up - that's new pattern. That's good habits. That's good habits I really would have benefited from all those years - but all that time behind is the past. It can't be changed. Today and the future are what's in reach.

I've never sent out a story as good as this one before either - and that's a good feeling. On purely technical merits when I compare this to the ones I sent out in previous years, it's just plain - better crafted. No other word for it. That's a solid sense of accomplishment and it gives me a little more confidence that High Goth will sell to one of the vampire markets. Maybe not the first one, but it will bring some money home.

No fiction for today, but I did do another article for http://www.selfhelpforwriters.com and that's also an accomplishment. Decent nonfiction in a column people do read counts. And what I did tonight for my career is a lot bigger than just bashing out another short story.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Another small step for the writer guy...

Tiny chore. Much less than half an hour to do, but boy, was it a major item on my Procrastination List: query Patrick Neilsen Hayden to find out the status of my Tor submission. That little thing is taken care of. Left for tonight, major importance, clear the left side of the desk and print everything out nicely.

I don't want to stay up late tonight, not when I have to get up and be ready to leave by eleven when Andrew comes. Tomorrow's Thursday - the day I take off to spend time with my friend doing First Day Covers. I'm doing a dead president on the latest batch. Having a little trouble with the likeness, not all that familiar with the source and it's been years since I did portraits - the little variances between the covers bug me but I might be a bit perfectionist about it. That and I'm working from another artwork, not a photo reference. Hamilton's got no photo references. Still, it's interesting and they're good for swappers. I prefer the nature subjects but there aren't as many of those...

Onward... to a clean desk and a few important printouts...

Robert and Ari >^..^< (Gotcha! Got your feet! Bounce!)
Just another short brag, blog. After doing the story left me in a good mood, I plowed into the Next Rewrite, second pass on High Goth. I just finished writing up the cover letter to Dreams of Decadence.

No excuses, the final draft is finished and the cover letter's written. That means it gets printed out and nicely tucked up in its envelope with SASE and appropriate weighed postage, tossed in the mail on Thursday when I go out and it's on its way. I feel so good about this one. If it doesn't stick there, it will stick in one of the vampire markets. I'm sure of it. Naturally I hope to get a hit on the first time out though! This starts at the Pro Market level and if it sticks, I will be a very happy camper.

Tonight I'm just patting myself on the back for taking a chance and spending the postage on the ticket. This is going to work. Second hook on the trotline. I've got more in the bait bucket, maybe what I'll do for the rest of today is just sift through what I've got for what's closest to final draft or most easily fixed. See if I can do it again, see if I can knock out a bunch of them in a sustained effort before I go back where High Goth came from and work on Earth Hostage!

The more of them I send, the better my odds...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Little short gloat! Another short story done, A Wild Ride. 1,917 words of fantasy. It's that. TSIA like many of the Exercise stories - and not the one that had me shivering whenever I reached for the keys. I just wasn't in a horror mood and I haven't thought of a way to write a kid out of that situation. When I do, I may write that one too. It just has to be plausible. I have to play fair with the readers.

I'd rather play fair with the readers than play Kafka with them. I'm not a 'downer' style writer.

Robert A Sloan and Ari the Gorgeous Kitten >^..^<


Unprocrastinated. Got some things done. Wrote an article for http://www.SelfHelpForWriters.com which was good, that needed updating. Got the rewrite done on my Vision article. Blogged of course and updated LiveJournal. Thought of doing a story for a break from rewriting and nonfiction, something I could finish that wouldn't need depth immersion like Earth Hostage!

Had an idea for one and it sickened me so much I just deleted a little one line story synopsis. Horror story. Yes, I do sometimes get scared of some of my own horror stories. This one would be tragic, I can't think of a way for it to end in anything but tragedy. It's one of those 'take something horrible that happened to me and make it about ten times worse' ideas and when I look at it - I wouldn't have made it through that. There wasn't a way out. Maybe I'll write it, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll just look at the Exercise and see if I can come up with something else interesting off of it, even if that would be a good story. If it turns my stomach to think of it, that would make it strong. But I don't like doing stories that would leave me in a downer of a mood afterward, not proud of it and happy with it but just depressed. I don't like depressing my readers either if I can help it.

Feh. There's got to be a better way of handling it.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Procrastination... and I'm juggling different procrastinations right now. I think today's a good day to plow into my rewrites. I have this massive backlog of short stories that need rewriting and sending out. A good long trotline in the water will definitely improve my shot at publication. I know what I need to do. Willpower's going to help a lot in doing it.

And procrastinating on Earth Hostage! by getting something else done may actually kick that into motion again. And procrastinating a little bit with a short Blog just to warm up to doing it. I'm up a bit early today. This month has been a weirdly slow month, just, harder to get going on things than usual. I don't know why, but I know I'm annoyed enough to want to bash through it and have a bigger stack of Done and Taken Care of to stand on and relax.

Robert and Ari >^..^< (he's just lazily flopped behind the chair looking up as if to say 'and you worry too much'...)


Interesting thing up on Star Lines, Top Ten Reasons not to kill yourself.

Some of them were really good. I mean, hilarious. Oddly, I liked #10 the best out of what was listed and that's a lever I sometimes use to haul myself up on a dark night. I think about things worse than what I've been through and sometimes they're in my past. I got through those all right, so hey, this whatever it is that's eating me isn't that bad. I won some now and then over the years too.

But my own, personal, #1 reason not to kill myself is so simple.

"You're a writer."

No one in this world could ever write the things I've written. I'm not as good at it yet as I will be and I'm nowhere near as lousy at it as I used to be, but, if I'd died when I was ten there simply wouldn't be any Dorayan of House Dzur. Malcolm Evans would have gone into the grave with me. Ranson the dang spy who's screamed at me for three weeks that he wants to live and be a series character would not be around to do so. Empress Zathikora never would have ruled and her planet wouldn't have existed. None of that would be real and some of it's already made that leap to immortality beyond me - Raven Dance is no longer dependent on me, Raven Dance is available indefinitely in print. Malcolm will always be there for the readers and Janna will always argue with him in the first chapter and start a martial art workout in his parlor to be rude. Hey. You know he's got to try to get that girl if she punches him in the first chapter. Cats reading it would get that bit.

And there's all the ones I haven't even thought of yet. There's every cigarette I haven't smoked yet. Hello, while the topic of suicide's up a few odd things come up like that. I knew someone once who chose not to kill himself because PBS was doing a rerun of an old British sci-fi series and neither of us knew how it came out yet and he wanted to see the next episode. Had to live through to the following week to get it. He did. People can choose to live for just about anything, #9, think of never having sex again, applies to any pleasure in life. Whatever it is, if you want it being dead makes sure you absolutely never will get it. Being alive means you don't know if they'll wind up doing bionic hip extensions and turning you into an Olympic skier when you're a 120 year old famous writer with the money for weird surgery.

That and staying alive will seriously bug your enemies. They lose. Every day that I breathe, my enemies are that much weaker and anyone that ever wanted to put me down or stop me has a little less chance of succeeding. Nice goals and nice emotions don't always cut it on the razor's edge. Living for spite can work, just for the hour that it matters - till another cigarette sounds good and so does the thought of someday getting out and having a cat again, someday getting out of the shelter, someday showing them all...

Funny about that.

I'm not in the shelter and my cat's banging around in the bathtub playing with his high bounce super balls on the hard surface that makes them bounce real good. I have a cigarette that tastes good right now and it tastes better because I've cut back, because no one's harassing me about them and I've got no roommates giving me a hard time. I've got a bookcase behind me and did manage to save most of my reference books. I've got a computer under my paws that I'd have pulled teeth for only a few years ago when my last one died and I didn't know if I'd ever be able to get one again. Heck. I've got a box of 9 x 12" manila envelopes and a folder full of postage in odd denominations and a copy of Writer's Market 2002 on order and 2001 on my desk - I have everything I ever wanted in life in this office, barring a love life. With the reasonable means of pursuing a love life fairly soon on the horizon, because a first advance would put me in a car. This would get me out of the house into coffee shops where interesting weird women who smoke sit around late at night talking about books wishing they could meet a weird guy who smokes and likes their stories, their art, their ideas about life, the universe and everything. She might even have plastic fangs and a manuscript shoved in her shoulder bag. It's not real high on the priority of needs because it's possible - and what's in the way now is only a matter of logistics.

So the other reasons to live that I have start to form a pretty long list - all of the good things in life. All the good friends that I have. All the real readers who have actually read things I wrote - I'm not 'writer in a vacuum' any more, wow, people besides me know Malcolm and know Janna and know why I would, okay, weird as I am, be attracted to a girl with hardly any hair who argued quasi Marxist political wierdness and tried to start martial arts contests in living rooms. Judging by my heroines, the girl that I go out with is not likely to be timid and she'll be a strong character with strong opinions and great talents. This is a cool thing. The world is full of unappreciated smart, tough, interesting women and most of the people who haven't found someone are lonely at least once in a while, so that's just luck. They don't generally go for corpses. Vampires are another matter. I need to pick up a set of plastic fangs for mutual exotica somewhere on my list of cool things to do while I get ready to go courting.

It gets better. No matter what it is, it gets better and slow cumulative efforts do add up in the long run.

I've got a character on the page right now who's a vampire and I tried to kill him off in Chapter One. I honestly thought he was kaput. Down and out for the rest of the book. Wouldn't you know it, this guy refused to die. He was burned. He was cooked. There was a technical medical question of whether there was enough unburned tissue left in this vampire for him to regenerate from at all. Loneliness? His profession, he's a spy. Hanging way out in the cold, can't trust anyone, least of all his own family, he's a clone of a vampire crazier and more destructive than he is and under all the other conflicts, that one's trying to kill himself and has to wipe out all of his offspring to do it or he might regenerate from that. And they're telepaths. What kills vampires in my books is themselves. They're that psychosomatic. They heal that well if they mean to and oh, they die that easily if they believe they will. Teach one that the touch of pink cloth will kill a vampire and he'll burn if that girl in the pink dress turns around and brushes into him. That's what he's fighting. Himself.

The price of life was pain.

He put that line in, this character who won't die. That's a quote from "Earth Hostage!" the book in progress. People go crazy in burn wards with a lot less burn damage than he's got and the fight back to life for my character is a fight to accept and hang on even to the pain he's got right now because pain means he's alive and he will be able to get up again. He choked the author for two weeks not letting me get on with the book till I wrote him back into it, so he's getting the rough ride. I'm enjoying this. I'm getting a kick writing him and his guts and his situation.

And when I want to read the next page, I want to write the next page. Getting published and going to cons and getting a car and all the other motivators, they're cool, they're all real goals too on the ever growing list of good things in life that are in reach instead of things to ignore by way of being out of reach. But the next page is very much in reach and I'm going back to it. See you later!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Whew! LeechQuest is done! 6,698 words. Still technically a short story, but on the long end of the range instead of the usual 2,000 - 3,000 lengths I've been doing. It's not all that bad either. Could stand a rewrite naturally but thanks to mosylu, another member of the Holly Lisle Forward Motion Community, it got a nice boot to the head and rolled on to a natural ending tweaked a lot more toward what it ought to be than the original one. Even a gag like LeechQuest ought to have meaning behind the magic if it's got magic at all.

This breaks down some of the blockage I've been having for about a week or two now - where it's very hard to get going and very hard to finish things.

Nomad Novel has a working title now: Earth Hostage! It may have a different MC, not the fellow I thought it was. If not MC, Ranson has made himself a bigger character in it and he's arguing for becoming a permanent series character. I've retaliated by hanging over his head the possibility the good guys may fail in this novel leaving him sole survivor muttering "Call me Ishmael" as he has to start over with a new ship and crew to do the mission the book's about! He's - motivated. Therefore it may move on. Of course I've stuck him with a suicidal terrorist on board who's got to be stopped in the next chapter or two or they're all kerblooey...


Robert and Ari >^..^< (But I like laying in the sink, Daddy, it's my favorite place!)