So, one of the questions that writers get all the time is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Now... there are any number of snarky answers to this (including the title of this post), but the real truth is that ideas are everywhere. Ideas are like white girls at Starbucks during Pumpkin Spice season. You can't swing a tire iron without hitting one of them, they are often clingier than you'd prefer for a given interaction, and once you have one on hand you rarely know what to do with it.
Hey, gang. I come to you bearing tidings of great joy. As of 12:28pm MST today, I received the single best rejection email of all time. Not only was it tactful and encouraging, it was the last hold out of hope that the zombie novel would shuffle its way into the publishing door.
But wait! you say. Why are you happy to get a rejection letter? Did you spend months writing/revising/editing/pursuing publication on this very project? How can you be happy to see it just fizzle and die on the vine?
Gentle reader, I'm not just happy. I'm fucking ecstatic. And here's why.
So, for those of you that followed along on the journey with me and my second novel I WANT HIM FOR HIS BRAINS, you may recall that this is a project I started outlining 2 years ago. I wrote the rough draft of my zombie book quickly and then spent months polishing it and making it ready for the ball. I even landed an agent with it this time last year. But, if you've been around you know that my agent situation changed this year. Since then, I've been working to salvage BRAINS' chance at publication. I had a lot of support from people in the industry and community. I sent out fresh queries and submissions to a handful of interested (and obviously deranged ;) ) agents. Feedback came in saying it still needed a lot of work. Looking over the combined comments, I realized they were all right. The book needed about 80% ripped out and replaced.
The thing is...at this point... I don't care enough about that story or those characters to do that work. It's not that I'm lazy, but that it doesn't even excite me any more. I look back at my first novel (Dreamseed) and see it as a true freshman effort. BRAINS took what I learned and built on it, refined technique, but it still missed the mark. I wrote STITCH, a novella companion to BRAINS and worked on my short game... then I started working on TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES and I'm in love with this whole project. The series is going to be a ton of work, but I love the material, the characters, the world... it's fun.
Going back to BRAINS right now would require a lot of love. And right now, I just don't love that book. It deserves more time and effort than I'm willing to put into it right now. Approaching a project with that mindset? Toxic.
I gave up on BRAINS a while ago and have been holding out on this last response. Today, when I saw it in my mailbox, I cheered. I could finally move forward without that project hanging over my shoulder. And--and this is pretty important, too--it's the last shred of the drama that happened in June. It's done.
So, this is actually pretty damn awesome. I'm officially free of any contractual sticky tape I might have had with the former agency. I know beyond a doubt that this book is done and I'm free to move on.
I was asked if I will self-pub BRAINS. No. I will not. A) That's admitting defeat. and B) I'd be putting out sub-optimal work and that is not acceptable to me.
I'm going to play in my TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES universe and run around with satyrs and technomages. I finished the 3rd draft last night, as a matter of fact. I already know where I need to start with round 4. I will work and polish and refine this puppy until I think it is shiny and ready to go into the world. When that day comes, I'll cut the cord and send queries flying into the inboxes of poor, hapless agents. I know, though, that this book isn't ready. I didn't know that with BRAINS.
So, you see, once again we've learned something. I'm so grateful to that book, those characters and that story. They brought me a step closer to where I want to be. The experience was more than worth it.
Now, though, it's time to pull the plug. Or in this case, maybe it's better to say that it's time to double tap those zombies. Because, for now at least, it's closing time for I WANT HIM FOR HIS BRAINS.
Antartica: Day 51. Our rations are running low. We lost Thompson sometime during the night. Morale dwindling. The men speak of mutiny. But I must persevere. Ahem. Sorry...I'm a little off today. And by off I mean absolutely fucking batshit crazy. Why? Well, let me tell you a story (or four).
Approximately 5 and a half years ago I played a game called Shadows Over Camelot. Fun, cooperative game where 3-7 players are the Knights of the Round Table (quite indefatigable). Players fend off invasions from Saxon hordes and quest for legendary trinkets. Generally entertaining and has a lot of replay value, especially when you put in the "traitor" mechanic. (One knight is secretly working against you. Maybe. *shifty eyes*) So, anywho, I played this game once many moons ago and the next day I had a baby. (Disclaimer: Any correlation between Shadows over Camelot and pregnancy or childbirth is coincidental. If you experience a Grail quest that lasts for more than 4 hours please see the rules because you're doing it wrong.) I haven't gotten to play it since. Friends have pulled the game off the shelf in the interim but never while I'm around and when I've suggested it, I'm overruled.
So, Friday night, we had some friends by to game and hang out. We ended up playing on the Wii rather than doing any table top gaming, but my friend Jeff brought Shadows just in case. He accidentally left it here and I "accidentally" forgot to take it to a party I knew he'd be attending on Saturday.
Yesterday, after taking the kiddo to explore the under sea wonders at the Sea Life aquarium (I saw a starfish's feet!), I decided that I wanted people to come to my house and do my bidding: PLAY SHADOWS!!! I posed the invite on Facebook and got a few people in on the action. What was cool was that a dear friend of mine brought along a guy I gamed with at Phoenix Comic Con who brought a long a total stranger who rocks. There was pizza, caffeine, laughter and a successful game of Shadows. (Finally!) Well, we were all having such a good time we got out Thunderstone. And played til 12:30am.
By that time, I was wired. Couldn't even think of sleeping. Stayed up til 2:30 and decided to try that going to bed thing. At 3:30 I was still awake and listening to the awesome thunderstorm outside. I listened to it until it started to peter out around 5am. By that time, TyGrr (my stripey kitty) wanted snuggles and worship in the form of tummy rubs. And Sean's alarm started going off. When TyGrr was appeased, Sprocket wanted her tithe and it was about 6am.
So, as you can tell by my Twitter feed, I haven't slept! I've caffeinated and right now I feel like a jittery drunken Kung Fu master. Or a particularly insane zombie who doesn't crave brains but cascades on Bejeweled.
When I get tired ... like really tired... I get what I call "your mom" tired. I call it this because at that point, I'm likely to answer any questions with YOUR MOM! I've passed that point and gone straight to Arkham levels of mentally unhinged. And yet, I'm bouncing about like Tigger with a Starbucks IV drip.
I wanted to tell you... so, my daughter (5, small and cute) woke up this morning. As I usually do when I'm about to make our breakfasts, I asked her to feed the cats.
Her: Okay. I'll do that while you get my breakfast. Can I have toast and butter, please? Me: Sure. Thank you for asking so nicely. Her: You're welcome. *gets cat food and puts it into the bowls* Me: Orange juice or milk today? Her: Orange juice, please. Me: You've got excellent manners today. (This is something we're working on as it has slipped recently.) Her: Thanks. I know I've been kinda bad the past few days. I just wanted to show you that I can be good.
With an attitude like that, today's going to be great even without any sleep.
And now, I have too much blood in my caffeine system. Time to go do mom things with a stellar kiddo and hope for the best as far as energy goes.
Have a great day, kids!
So, I've been lax in posting...again. Well, it's been a crazy couple of weeks and the next 7 days are only going to get more psychotic. This weekend is many things to many people. In my home town, folks are gearing up for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing (that's the Indy 500 for the rest of you). But, around these parts, it's time for Phoenix Comic Con. That's right, kids, your intrepid Wahine (that's me, for you newcomers) will be spending her weekend going to and fro and getting her geek on. Have I mentioned I dig comics? Fables, Green Lantern, Frank Miller's Batman work...Marvel...I'm especially partial to all things involving the Phoenix (LOVE Dark Phoenix and the Endsong book...Warsong, however, doesn't exist to me).
As some of you may know, I work closely with the Guise Knights. GK is a gaming group here in Phoenix that travels to cons and such specifically to give you an enjoyable gaming experience. This weekend I will be running several hours worth of games for the Knights. (Hey, if you're going to be at PHX CC, I'll be running an overnight gaming bender Saturday night into Sunday morning. Come hang out!) While I'd love to make the circuit of the panels and signings (Takei, Nimoy, Stan Lee, Boxleitner, Adam Baldwin, John Scalzi, Max Brooks, Cherie Priest, Wil Wheaton... guh! So much awesome!!!), this con will be more work than ... well, wait, it's play. Anyway, I'm only going to 3 panels and all of them are writerly panels. I won't be going to the Brain Eating Contest or the Zombie Walk, but I will be at the Zombie Panel. Boomdeyada!
The Knights will be out in force running enough games to put down a rabid zombie dinosaur. Representatives will be running big guns like D&D and Doom while other knights take on board games like Fluxx, Dixit and Small World (just for starters). We've got all night gaming with stuff like Apples 2 Apples. Bored overnight? Come see us and we'll set you up. We're going to be there to have a great time, so swing on by and show some love! Also, our own Zoot has been working her ass off getting sponsors to give prize support for some of our bigger events. Sock Dreams, Geek Chic and Shannon Butcher are just a few of our sponsors! But you have to play if you want to win.
So, on top of trying to organize 4 straight days of Con for myself and the Mister, I've got to sort out the logistics of what the 5 year old will be doing during this time and how we're all going to handle this. My beloved Mom is taking the kiddo for some of the time, including an overnight, but there are still a few kinks to smooth out. As if Con weren't enough... this is K's last week of school and it's chock full of activities. Every day has something new going with it. Today, the graduating kindergarten kids were taken to McDonald's for ice cream. Tomorrow, the school is turning into a water park. Thursday is the day of the actual graduation ceremony (and that night we kick off con). She has school Friday while Sean and I head to the convention center.
Oh! And I've been walking Kiara to and from school. I did more than 20 miles last week!
So yeah, it's been a little chaotic around the house. June will slow down, right?
Because I don't have much other than "i'm going crazy busy busy busy aaaaaaah! *head explodes*" to say, I will give you a dose of geekish awesomeness.
Adam Savage + Faraday Cage + Tesla Coils + Dr. Who Theme = Epic.
Yup, the calendar has turned and it's that day again. February 14th. Saint Valentine's Day. Stores and cubicles are festooned with red and pink hearts, people stand on street corners hawking roses and over-sized teddy bears, and the lament begins. Happy Singles' Awareness Day. Every Kiss begins with Kay (TM). I even saw a commercial with a guy in satin pajamas lounging in a candlelit bedroom imploring men to give their women the ultimate gift for Valentine's Day - self-exam for testicular cancer. The tagline: "Why give her a diamond when you can give the family jewels?" Are you fucking kidding me?
I know it may seem blasphemous of me. That I might have to turn in my woman card or that as a married woman I should just shut the fuck up, but I hate Valentine's Day.
I had the typical childhood experiences with this "holiday". I actually liked it back in the day when all you had to do was take a shoe box, some glue and construction paper and BAM! you've made yourself a little mailbox. Everyone in your class got a list of names, so no one would be left out. On Valentine's Day, you'd get a bunch of pre-made, store-bought cards with cartoon characters and super heroes slinging bad puns about love when you're still at an age that the opposite gender has cooties. Back then, it was enough to know that your mom paid $3 for someone to bring you a paper heart with a mint Scotch-taped to it in the middle of class.
Oh, dear God... PUBERTY! I'd say that's when my utter loathing for Valentine's Day began. Gone were the days of indiscriminate card giving. Down with conversation hearts and shoe-box greetings. Candygrams became a status of your worth! If Cupid sent you something it meant that you had value in the world. As you can probably tell, I never got one. I spent many a Valentine's Day single and hating it. Spent many dances in the corner wishing someone other than my probably-gay friend would ask me to dance. Then, I got a boyfriend and I basked in it. I overcompensated by being disgustingly cute and ignoring everything else in the world except for him and marching band. When that relationship ended, I got used to flying solo for February 14th...and hated it even more.
Many years later, after it has "gotten better" just like they say, I am a married woman with a spectacular family. I've married my best friend, we have a daughter... I smile so much my face hurts and can't stop thinking that I've either won some kind of lottery or I'm in a coma and got really good drugs. But, even still, I find myself cringing on Valentine's Day. Maybe it's performance anxiety. Maybe it's just a lingering habit from my single years. Or maybe, this "holiday" is a bunch of bullshit.
Money/Candy/Diamonds/Flowers = Affection and Worth in the World
This is the equation we're given to believe. And Money/Candy/Diamonds/Flowers received on a specific calendar date = Exponentially More Affection and Worth?
I don't think so.
We're told that we're alone if we don't have that ONE special person on this ONE day of the year. That we are meaningless to the rest of society. That is bullshit. You can still be alone in a crowd of people who love you? It goes like this: you define your worth, not a Hallmark holiday. Being loved by one person? Eh. My friends and family love me and that is pretty damn cool. As my friend Giorgos commented, he is blessed with not one but DOZENS of people who care about him and take pleasure that he is in the world.
My point? Every day is an opportunity to tell people that you care, that you love them and are blessed to know them. You don't have to have a "special" someone to be loved. No one day with its red and pink frippery can contain the amount of love there is in this world to give.
So, I've come full circle, in an odd way. Where once Valentine's Day was a thing for kids, just another day with silly cards, now I come to it with some bitterness toward the consumerist nature of the day, but with a sense of juvenile humor.
Happy Valentine's Day from me to you...