unexpected finish

This really wasn’t my plan for the night (I thought I’d write a bit, then stop), but I finished “A Mask of Flesh.” Total of 4296 words, when all is said and done; 2538 of that was tonight.

I found the description in this story to be interesting. Ordinarily, me describing something (a person, a building, an object) is a sign that it’s important. For much of this tale, though, the two most important people in it — the lord of the land, and Neniza herself — were not described at all. Those omissions, surrounded by description that’s lusher than my usual and should probably get more lush when I revise, speak quite loudly. It’s an interesting inversion.

And I had fun with the description overall. I’ll need to go back and consult some visual references when I edit it, to make myself be even more concrete, but it was neat to sink my brain into a Mesoamerican context. So many details change. The people coming into the city don’t have carts, just packs — I didn’t have to keep to real-world Mesoamerican technology, of course, given that this is a fantasy setting, but I wanted to. They don’t eat beef or mutton or goat, but peccary and monkey. Clothing, even for the elite, is minimal, because of the heat of their environment. I had to fight not to shoehorn all of my ideas and research into this one vessel, and even then, I couldn’t resist slipping in touches like bloodletting and the World Tree. The whole point of this project, after all, is to present a society that is not what we’re used to.

So it’s done, which is nice, given how few short stories I’ve been writing lately. <looks around> Okay, what next?

something for everyone . . . .

. . . but particularly Moonartemis, Tooth-and-Claw, Gollumgollum, and heck, even Oddsboy (just to make him twitch).

What’s better than gay guys or cowboys?

Gay cowboys, of course.

What’s better than gay cowboys or figure skating?

Gay cowboys on ice.

And yeah, that is Kurt Browning out there, and Alexei Yagudin too.

guest blogging

I’m doing my first-ever stint as a guest blogger on behalf of Tobias Buckell. He’s hunkering down for a week of solid work on his second novel, and arranged a lineup of seven stand-ins to entertain his readers while he’s gone. Today is my day.

Now to decide what to do with it . . . .

meme from Mris

I’m not sure this was designed as a meme, but I ran off with the questions anyway, because I’m in a mood to be moderately introspective.

1. If you’re a novelist, how many books have you finished at least first drafts of?

Seven. Two of which are on their way to print.

2. How many of these are books you want to pretend don’t exist (so your teenage angst-tastic stories DO count, people!)?

I didn’t actually finish my teenage angst-tastic stories, though I wrote quite a bit on them. I wouldn’t quite deny their existence, but neither The Kestori Hawks nor Sunlight and Storm (numbers three and four, respectively) is fit to be seen at present, and may never be so. TKH would require obscene amounts of rebuilding, and I’m not sure I have sufficient enthusiasm to do so — though every so often, Eleanor pokes her head up and asks me to. (The fact that Eleanor, and secondarily Luke, are the characters who make me want to go back and work on it, is a telling point. Neither of them is technically the protagonist. Leonard, I mostly want to kick in the head. And at present I am not, like Dunnett, able to make you love a protagonist while simultaneously wanting to kick him in the head.) S&S I may revisit some day. I’m not sure. I think there’s something there, but in two radically different drafts, I haven’t yet found it.

3. How many do you especially like?

Depends on my mood, but generally two or three. The Vengeance of Trees (number five) is quirky fun; I wrote it in seven weeks flat, which says something about it. The Waking of Angantyr (number six) is tougher to love, but something about its grittiness and mythiness pleases me immensely. And then there’s the urban fantasy I’m trying to not call by its title because I’m working on coming up with a new one, which is the first one I wrote, and the next one I hope to sell, once I’ve given it another rewrite. That will always have a particularly treasured place in my heart.

4. How many do you have starts of (like, frex, you started, then got a better idea, so went somewhere else)?

I’ve got bits of . . . let’s see . . . twelve that I can think of. Four Winds (the S&S sequel), Manifestation (urban fantasy prequel), a title-less urban fantasy sequel, The Iron Rose (several beginnings for that one), The Changing Sea, the “Second Troy” and exploration SF novel bits, the Book-of-Kells-esque thing, the Nine Lands thing, the really old dragons thing and polarization thing and shadow-side thing . . . .

5. How many novel first drafts are you working on currently?

Actively working on? None. Noodling around with? Mostly the urban fantasy sequel, or at least that’s what I intend to noodle around with soon. My attention’s been on short stories, and on revising the first one (again).

6. How many are polished? Like you don’t think you can look at them again or you’ll explode finished?

scene three

I’ve posted a third scene to the Doppelganger excerpt. Someone asked me about this recently, so I’ll clarify: all of the scenes are contiguous, and they start from the beginning of the novel, so you needn’t worry about spoilers. I should and will put in anchor tags at some point, so I can link people directly to the new material each week, but that’s not happening tonight.

a slightly belated announcement

Hark, all ye commitment-shy types, to my tale, and learn ye from my example, that ye not cause yourselves the problems I did.

Kyle and I started dating in February of 1999. (On the 12th, perhaps, or the 16th. “Averaging” these two dates to make our anniversary Valentine’s Day is not correct, no matter what he says — especially when he deliberately avoided asking me out on Valentine’s Day at the time.) Within about three years or so, he made it clear that he was happy with me and more or less ready to propose. I, on the other hand, being twitchy and commitment-shy, made it clear that I was not ready to be proposed to. Thus began a half-unspoken agreement wherein he would not propose until I was ready for it.

This went on for about four years.

I realized some months ago that I’d put myself in a bind. Assuming I was ready — which I wasn’t sure of — then telling him so would be tantamount to telling him to propose. Telling him to propose would (assuming I wasn’t a truly sadistic bitch) be tantamount to telling him my answer. So the minute I said I was ready, whether I passed it through intermediaries or not (as was suggested to me), I would feel like I had a target painted on my forehead, waiting for him to ask.

This was awkward.

So then I got it into my head that I could circumvent the problem by proposing to him myself, thereby avoiding the “sitting duck” stage of the process.

Which I did. On Thursday. (The 16th.)

Let the record show that he spent about three minutes laughing hysterically before he got around to answering me. (He accepted.) He then asked me if I had a ring for him, so I took off the one I was wearing (which he gave to me several years ago) and put it on his pinkie finger (the only one it would fit on). He has also pointed out to me repeatedly that he hasn’t proposed to me, so I haven’t technically agreed to marry him. There might be a proposal in my future yet. But any way you slice it, we are now engaged.

It amuses me that it’s apparently family tradition on both sides: my mother proposed to my father, and so did Kyle’s mother to his father. Of couse, he’s just vexed that I ruined all of his plans, since he’d pretty much decided to propose to me in the next six months whether I wanted him to or not.

The delay in posting this came about because, halfway through telling people, Kyle decided that he wanted to wait to tell people here in town until Saturday night, when there would be a party at which we could announce the news. I agreed that this would be preferable to letting all our local friends find out via LJ, hence the delay. But now it’s as public as it gets: I am engaged, after seven years of dating.

And no, we haven’t set a date yet. If people keep asking me that, I may just have to deck somebody.

back into the usual groove

Given that I had about zero enthusiasm for yesterday’s game going into it, I had a pleasingly good time. Started off by chatting with Eleanor-Elise about nobility, segued to convincing Mantokele not to flip out and kill people (well, certain people, anyway — he can kill others), then got sucked into the vortex of “did we mention the world’s coming to an end?” chaoticness. Enjoyed the Areopagos trial (did I even spell that right?), since it gave Ree a chance to express certain aspects of herself that haven’t really been given much of a workout since she came back.

Now I have papers to grade, e-mails to answer, short stories to write, a game to prep — all that fun stuff. (Okay, so only some of it is fun.) I just hope I’m not coming down with the cold/flu-thing that seemed to be plaguing a couple of people at the game (and yes, I use that word deliberately). Because I don’t need that right now.

returning to work

The boy is watching a movie I have no particular interest in seeing, and I’d rather stab myself through the hands than grade today, so instead I’m writing.

“A Mask of Flesh”

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou
word meter
1,758 /
6,000
(28.0%)

I’m experimenting with a word meter to see if a visual indication of my progress helps promote a feeling of accomplishment. Of course, I haven’t the faintest clue how long the story’s really going to be — I believe the Zokutou meter was created for NaNoWriMo writers aiming for a set goal — so that 6000 is totally a guess. I know that Neniza is cooling her heels in the petitioners’ plaza, and the lord is about to show up, so I might be more like halfway through.

Or not, depending on how much description I find myself indulging in. This is a lush-description kind of story, and I haven’t even gotten to the lord.

Anyway, time to break, since I haven’t yet decided by which of two routes Neniza’s going to get to her goal. And besides, I’m hungry.

next scene up

In honor of the impending publication of Doppelganger (goodgodsit’scomingoutsoon), I’ve posted a second scene from the novel on my site. (Didn’t know I’d posted a first scene? That’s because I was busy and did a very bad job of mentioning it anywhere.) My intent is to go on posting a scene every week until I hit the limit of what I’m allowed to put online, which should happen around the time that the novel itself hits the shelves.

(And yes, that would be a new icon, there. I counteract my embarrassment about having an icon of my own novel cover by telling myself I’ll only use it for posts specifically related to said novel. It just barely works.)

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I think it’s time for me to go twitch and hide under the bed some more.