Five things make a post.
1) First, the ending. Long Hidden goes out of print on May 9th.
*sob* The last copies are being sold at a steep discount, with proceeds partially benefiting We Need Diverse Books. You can get discounted copies of Hidden Youth
while you're there. Go help Bart and Kay clean out their warehouse while they're still allowed to sell the books! All details at that link.
2) Now, the beginnings. J has a new job! He got laid off at the end of last year and the last few months have been challenging. We are all very super excited that his nonstop hustle has landed him an excellent gig doing work he enjoys at a company he likes for good money.
3) X got a bonus and a raise! They inch ever closer to being paid what they deserve.
4) I joined a Slack for queer writers (if you want to join, let me know! All I need is your email address and i can add you) and it's been amaaaaazing for my productivity. People do 20-minute productivity sprints and then share snippets of their work and praise/critique one another in very supportive ways. Sometimes I use the sprints for day job work and sometimes for writing. I've outlined both my novels and passed the 10k mark on Valour Advances the Man
(though a good chunk of that is in scenes that probably won't make it into the book but shhhhh), which is my current focus project. I haven't forgotten the Persuasion
retelling but it's on the back burner right now. They'll inevitably swap at some point. I'm just so pleased to be writing! And it feels so good!
5) I reworked my Story Hospital Patreon tiers
and got more people into Story Hospital Slack, hooray! Now to figure out how to keep conversations going in there. For some reason they just don't catch fire. I will probably be better at that once I'm over this rotten stinking head cold.
6) Bonus sixth thing: the DST changeover happened and I didn't hate it nearly as much as I usually do, probably because I slept 11 hours that night to try to shake the cold. (Didn't work, alas.) Kit's body clock is on the same schedule, of course, so now they're going to sleep at 9 and waking up at 7 and it's WONDERFUL. They have dinner with us! J gets to sleep in instead of waking up at 5! Not sure what we'll do in the fall when the clocks go back but for now we're just enjoying this.
- thinking about:
body.illness, body.sleep, experiences.dst, experiences.endings, people.groups.qwc, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, projects.story hospital, words.books, words.books.valour advances, words.editing, words.editing.venues.long hidden, words.writing
ALEXIS HALL'S FOR REAL
WON A RITA AWARD
AND THEN SARINA BOWEN AND ELLE KENNEDY'S HIM
WON ANOTHER ONE
AND I MAY NEVER TURN MY CAPS LOCK OFF
RWA approved the creation of the Rainbow Chapter in 2009. 2009.
It took them that long
to openly acknowledge that queer romance is romance. And now, in 2016, TWO male/male romances, one of them written by a queer author and published by a queer publisher for a queer audience
and one of them in a contemporary romance category
, are winners of the organization's highest award.
The contemporary romance thing is key because queer romance is often assumed to be erotic, or treated as though it's erotic just because it has queer content. So winning both within and outside of the erotic romance category is a big deal. And the Ritas are voted on by RWA members, most of whom are straight women who have probably never read anything remotely like the glorious queer kinkiness of For Real
Hall's editor, sarahf
, gave a particular shout-out to #ownvoices authors, "queer and trans, black and brown". (Was that the first time anyone's ever said "trans" onstage at RWA? It might well have been.) And Sarah is a cancer survivor and a good friend of mine and so passionate about her work, and has put an incredible amount of effort and energy into making her small queer romance press succeed, and this is their first Rita, so yeah, I was sobbing.
Robyn Carr, who won this year's lifetime achievement award, gave an amazing inspiring speech about keeping your head down and doing the work. And last night I picked up my writing notebook for the first time in nearly two months and read a bit in The Plot Whisperer
, and one particular bit in the section on story structure inspired me to fix the giant gaping hole in my novel outline. (I know what the characters' problems are and I know what the eventual solution is. So what makes that solution so incredibly difficult for the characters to accept and invest themselves in? What psychological cliff do they have to step over? OH HELLO EMOTIONAL CLIMAX scribble scribble scribble
) What with that and Readercon and seeing a book that looks a little like my book win an actual goddamn Rita motherfucking Award, I am pretty fired up.
It's coming up on a year and a half since Valour Advances the Man
started kicking around in my head. I still want to write it. I haven't put any new words on the page since last fall. And yes, we had a baby, all of that, but there's other stuff in the way too.
I've been poking at this in various places, and today I did the thing where I ask Twitter to solve my problems
mostly so that I can see what I dislike about people's suggested solutions, which in turn helps me define the actual
problem.( Definitions )
=====( Analysis )
Realistically, it seems very unlikely that anyone is going to hire me to write a novel that I haven't already written. First novels are nearly always written on spec, and I say "nearly always" rather than "always" only because I'm sure there must be exceptions somewhere, not because I personally know of any. (Also, honestly, if I were an editor, I wouldn't hire someone with my résumé to write a novel sight unseen.) But I feel much better having come up with what feels like a plausible scenario for success. I'm going to set it aside for a bit and go get some work done, and let the back of my brain work on figuring out how to mimic or approximate those conditions.
Wednesdays are often slow work days, and today was especially so. That suited me fine. I don't fast or take time off work for Yom Kippur, but I try to observe it as a quiet, low-key day.
So after I finished my work, I put on sunscreen and took my laptop out to Prospect Park. I had a picnic lunch, honoring my grandmother's scandalous custom. Then I opened up Scrivener and reread everything I'd written so far, and decided to tackle the scene where Nathaniel comes out to Algernon as trans.
Whoof, that was a hard one. Usually I can write 1500 words or so in a couple of hours. Today I wrote just over 800 words in two hours before J met me for dinner, and then another couple hundred just now to wrap it up. I know I can fix a lot in revisions, but this scene is so important to get right, because of how it influences their relationship development and their own individual stories. J and I talked it out a bit and he reminded me of the importance of maintaining dramatic tension, which is good, because of course I personally don't want to leave Nathaniel hanging for a minute
, but it is kind of important for the book's arc--and for character accuracy and historical authenticity--if Algernon isn't perfectly understanding and cool with it from moment one. So I wrote the ending I wanted the scene to have, and then I cut that ending and put it in a separate file to attach to a later scene where Algernon (spoilers) decides he really doesn't mind if his boyfriend is a somewhat unusual boy. Poor Nathaniel, and the poor reader, will just have to endure the wait for that scene. (Fortunately there are plenty of other things that can happen in the meantime.)( A snippet )
I did my week of not reading Twitter, with the exception of my mentions and the very small group of people I follow from my private account. It was awesome.
In fact, it was so awesome that I locked my main Twitter account.
Everyone who was following me still has access to my tweets. If I post something, people see it and respond. But I don't get followed by spammers, and I don't get trolled, and I don't hover over my RT and fave counts, and people can't embed my tweets in their blog posts and articles. It's everything I like about Twitter without everything I don't like. It's perfect
With 5300+ followers, I still think of it as public; of course anything I tweet can be screenshotted and passed around, and I have no idea who many of those followers even are. But I can still relax and unwind a little. I also took my professional affiliation out of my bio. That account is just for me now. In theory it always was, but in practice it was very hard to separate personal and professional. Locking it makes that separation clear.
I'm still not reading most of Twitter. (I glimpse it occasionally via my phone's Twitter app, because Tweetdeck on Chrome for Android is deadly slow and checking my mentions on the app is much faster.) I know there are things I'm missing. For example, I didn't hear about Ferguson Is the Future
until after the fact, and it sounds incredible. But even if I had heard about it well in advance, I wouldn't have been able to go. So I mostly don't feel bad about missing the news and gossip, because I wouldn't be able to do much with it anyway. And when I'm itching for a conversation, I start one.
I am sad about missing milestones in my friends' lives. But there's no way to filter Twitter for only those things, unfortunately, and I can't really expect people to remember to tell me everything individually in addition to broadcasting it. I guess I'll just have a lot of catching up to do once I'm ready to be social again.
What I'm doing with all this free time and brainspace:
Catching up on work. I'm taking a week off from work in October, which means I need to start working ahead now. And our annual Best Books feature is coming up alarmingly soon.
Reading books! I read a book last week and another one last night and another one tonight. I don't think I read three books in the entire month of August. It feels so wonderful to be gulping down books again.
Thinking a lot about my own book, and tentatively moving toward working on it again. I figured out how it ends! That was a huge relief, and knowing the ending removes a lot of my hesitation and anxiety around the actual writing.
Snuggling with J and X and X's belly (there are very definitely 3.5 of us now). Doing relationship maintenance, and savoring our last months of adults-only time. Getting the house ready for the baby. Being cozily domestic.
Cooking. It's cooking weather and I can't wait to cook up lots of soups and stews to freeze for January, when we'll have a tiny baby and be too exhausted to safely handle knives or fire.
Walking all over the city, loving the cool breezes. (Autumn at last, at last.) Going to PT. Trying to get back in the exercise groove.
Spending time with family and close friends. It's the high holidays and there's a baby shower coming up and J's mother is in town and lots of other people are visiting in the next few weeks. I don't lack for socialness right now, which makes it much easier to step away from social media.
I might even start knitting again. Today at work I spotted a book of one-skein knitting projects for babies. It literally had not occurred to me until that moment that the entire vast realm of cute baby knitting projects is open to me now. So that could be a huge timesink if I let it. I'm very tempted to let it.
There are definitely times when I feel like I ought to feel guilty for the way I'm using Twitter now. It's arguably very selfish of me to tweet things and hope for replies while not even reading most other people. But I don't feel guilty at all about this generally being a very inward-facing time for me. Everyone needs to focus on self and/or home sometimes. I'll come back when the pendulum swings the other way. By then some folks may have unfollowed me or otherwise moved on; that happens. And other folks will say "welcome back!" and pick up where we left off; that happens too. It's all fine.
- thinking about:
body.exercise, experiences.reading, experiences.work, food, food.cooking, mind.wiring, people, people.groups, people.groups.twitter, people.kit, places.home, projects.crafts, projects.crafts.knitting, words.books.valour advances, words.writing
Remember how I started writing a novel and then the whole pregnancy thing happened and I kind of dropped it for a while? I'd like to get back to it, but it's hard to regain my momentum.
A technique I've seen for getting past a writing block is to write fanfic of your own characters--it feels less serious, and you can play around and get to know them a bit without being constrained by your plot outline.
To that end, I would really appreciate it if you could toss a fanfic prompt or two my way. Obviously you haven't read the canon, because it doesn't exist yet. :) And I'm not quite certain enough of my outline to share it. But here's jacket copy of a sort:Nathaniel Axton is in a bit of a bind. The printing shop he works for, Carroll & Co., is losing money hand over fist. Everyone expects him to marry the shop's owner, Eliza Carroll, but he's mostly interested in men, and she's mostly interested in printing salacious Sapphist poems to sell to her bluestocking friends. Cautious Nathaniel isn't sure the potential profits are worth the risk to the shop's reputation--or the chance that someone will discover that he too was once a bluestocking.
Sir Algernon Smythe enjoyed his years in Canada, hiking through the woods by day and fooling around with his fellow explorers by night. Then his father summons him back to London to start building the family fortune. Algernon hopes to marry Sarah Silverthorne, the daughter of a well-known and wealthy adventurer. But she's looking for someone to build a home with, not another man who will abandon her for years at a time. And Algernon soon realizes a wife isn't what he wants at all.
When Algernon strolls into Carroll & Co. and locks eyes with Nathaniel, both men are smitten. When Sarah approaches Eliza about publishing a book of poetry, sparks fly. Can the four lovebirds find a way to make all their dreams come true?
And ( here's the backstory of the protagonists. )
And to refresh your memories, a bit of Nathaniel and Eliza at work
and Algernon's grand entrance
Is that enough to inspire a prompt or two? Perhaps? Help me out here, folks; I'm really struggling to get anything like back in the groove.
EDIT: No AUs, please, but I'm willing to introduce speculative elements.
Shiny new userpic! The typeface is Grit Primer
and the image is from an 1813 painting by James Green that was used to illustrate "The Library" in Rudolph Ackermann's Poetical Sketches of Scarborough
That library is about five times the size of Nathaniel and Eliza's little shop, but it gives you a sense of the space, and the customers. I love this drawing so much.
On Sunday I felt frantic and overwhelmed by overdue work. I spent all of yesterday working my way through the heap and catching up. Which meant that today I could write. And I actually wrote
, putting down the opening scene that's been in my head for months. I cannot begin to articulate what it's like to have the text overlaid on the more nebulous mental concept, or vice versa; there are places where it doesn't quite feel right yet, and somewhere in the back of my head (and trying to come to the front, though I won't let it) I'm already writing editorial notes to myself. But: draft first, revise later. I even caught myself starting to revise when I was about 500 words in, and I made myself stop revising and keep writing. And now the scene's done, at about 1270 actual honest-to-gosh words.
Writing at this length is so freeing! There's room for banter, for character development, for delicate lashings of exposition! I can sneak in the occasional reference to obscure historical figures! (I have helpfully footnoted them in the excerpt below.) I plan to write long, long, long, gloriously long, and cut it down later. 1270 words for just one scene--not even a full chapter! Such a luxurious change from reviewing a book in 200. :D
It's a rough draft it's a rough draft it's a rough draft. I will tattoo these words on my eyelids. But since you've all cheered me on so much, you deserve a peek at the fruits of my research, and so I will stop tweaking the damn thing and just post it. You all understand it can and will change between now and whenever I consider the book actually done, right? Right.( A taste )
Positive and supportive comments only, please; I am v. vulnerable around this and not equipped to handle even the smallest and most helpful suggestion. If you think it sucks or you want to go on a rant about people speaking with contractions in 1810 (p.s. they totally did) or you want to make sure I know about the very obscure law forbidding people named Hawthorne from becoming butchers or whatever, I'm sure you can find another place to express those feelings, secure in the knowledge that I will re-research every word of this book once I write those words