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C/O The Village of Monsters Past is live!

galaxy's edge MarchApril 2016

 

I’ve been so caught up with taxes and preparing for DFWCon that I neglected to mention that C/O The Village of Monsters Past went live at Galaxy’s Edge. So go and read! It’s free to read online until the end of April.

I love this setting with the heat of a hundred and two suns, and I’m excited to write more stories about it when I have time.

In related news, Tangent Online  went and reviewed it. As usual they keep their reviews brief, but I’ll take ‘heartwarming’ and snuggle that until my next sale comes along.

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ConDFW 2016 Recap/Post Mortem/Summary

Doing a post mortem on a convention sounds awfully grim, doesn’t it? But I suppose recap sounds like we’re talking about sports, and a summary just sounds boring.

Anyway, ConDFW ended yesterday and I’m still recovering. I got to meet up with lovely friends and meet new ones. My reading and signing, while not swarming with people, were pleasant. I got to sign a couple of my books and read some of my stories, and that’s all I need, really. I didn’t spend as much time socializing as I’d planned to, because I had deadlines I was trying to hit and it was just too tempting not to take advantage of a little of that time to get some writing in.

Speaking of new people and signings! Seanan McGuire, one of the GOH, was a treat to listen to. I never got to any of her panels, though, which I was disappointed by. Somehow I didn’t make it to any of John Scalzi’s events, either. I’d wanted to ask him to sign one of his books for me, but everything I have of his is on Audible, so! Alas. That’s what I get for saving shelf space.

Oh, and that slam poetry contest? I won 2nd place. (woot!) Rie Sheridan Rose won with a fun bawdy poem about Jenny the pirate, I believe, which seems appropriate as first place, especially considering the Seadog Slam was hosting the contest. Not that I didn’t love my own piece, “Livecasting My Descent into the Martian Underworld,” but it makes sense, doesn’t it? Now I’m trying to decide if I should send it out to markets as a poem or as a weird little bit of flash.

I was quite pleased with my assigned panels: Worldbuilding in Steampunk, How to Brainstorm a Story, and The Short Story: Advantages and Benefits. I love reading and writing steampunk, and I left the steampunk panel with even more books to add to my list. In particular I’m looking forward to reading Shanna Swenson’s Rebel Mechanics.

The panel on the advantages and benefits of writing short stories didn’t go as I expected it would – we spent precious little time on talking about the advantages and benefits of writing short stories – but we covered that eventually, and I think it was still an interesting panel for the audience members. We covered quite a bit of ground on quite a few topics, including resolving issues with writing short stories, deciding how to utilize critiques, and finding markets to submit to. I love what Rhonda Eudaly said about the markets available, pro or semi pro.

BTW, if you were there and you have any questions about something we talked about, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As to the resources I mentioned, here is the link to The Submission Grinder, and another for Ralan.com. I’d post a link to Duotrope, but the Grinder is a better, cost-free version of Duotrope with more tools, so I feel confident someone can find it if they really wanted to.

Final thoughts: I want to mention Patrice Sarath’s post yesterday (link here). I DID have a good time, but everything she wrote matches what I’d felt at different points over the weekend.  Her thoughts are kind but blunt, and I love how she summed it up at the end:

“We’re all in this together. The pressure from media cons and the aging of fandom means that cons are threatened as never before. We need to bring in the anime fans, the cosplayers, and the media fans and show them that they can have as much fun here — and for far less money — than at a big ComiCon or Comicpalooza. For most of us, we were fans first. Let’s remember the excitement of our first cons and try to recreate that. It’s not always easy, and I will be the first to admit I didn’t exactly bring my game this weekend. But let’s try to get our mojo back, hmm?

Because the alternative is not that much fun — boring conventions with a dwindling fan base.”

I want these local conventions to stick around for a long, long time, but they need a little more oomph from all of us to keep them so exciting, thought-provoking, and enticing that the younger fans can’t help but come.

Character Motivations and Growing as a Writer

Sometime in the recent past (I haven’t kept track, so this could have been over a year ago) I realized that the reason I was usually struggling with writing my stories was because I didn’t really know the characters’ motivations. I looked back at my stories written thus far, and found that the stories in which I figured out the character motivations early were the stories I had less frustration writing, tended to be written quicker, and I considered them to be my strongest stories – not just for understanding the characters, but plot and such too.

This was a very important revelation to have, and it’s a sign that I’m growing as a writer.

However.

It’s also made it extremely aggravating to write when I don’t know the characters’ motivations. Now I know the reason why some stories are written with ease and others aren’t; my trouble is knowing how to find the character motivations for the works-in-progress that I don’t fully understand yet (which is a bit of a ‘chicken and the egg’ conundrum). Like all things in writing (and all facets of life) the hard things seem hard and nearly impossible until you’ve done it enough that it feels easy, or at least doable – and often that doesn’t come until some new hard thing reveals itself and then you stress over improving that.

Still, there’s no way around it, is there? Shining a light on our weaknesses is the only way to make the changes we need to improve.

Onwards and upwards.

Where’s my Shape Up Saturday?

No post again this week, folks. Lately I only have time for blogging OR writing stories. I’ve got to pick one for a while. I’m hoping that after the middle of December I’ll have more time to devote to writing in general, but until then all my posts will need to be ones that don’t require oodles of research and carefully inserted photos and videos, which is how I’d prefer to do the Shape Up Saturdays. So until then, I’m putting Shape Up Saturday on indefinite hiatus and will be writing less stress-inducing posts.

 

Cook something today, so I have time to write tomorrow… and the day after…

I’m feeling quite accomplished and homemakey tonight. I just made a HUGE pot of potato and kale soup and portioned it and labeled it and put most of it in the freezer. It’s joining several containers of sweet pork as well as vegetable soup. I also have a pot of pinto beans and a pot of black beans soaking, ready to be boiled tomorrow and also go into the freezer for future projects (like tasty, tasty sweet pork burritos).

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I’m doing this because I’m determined to 1) have more time to write instead of feeling concerned about not having dinner ready, and 2) to be prepared for the near future when I’ll need to be on an even tighter budget. I feel the need to get the hang of cooking on a budget NOW when mistakes can be financially forgotten easier.

Did you know that a dry bag of beans costs .88 and makes 4x the portion of a can of beans, which costs around 1.10? Yes, it takes some prior planning, but I’ve make some incredibly savory pinto beans with just a little bacon added and it tastes better than any can of beans I’ve ever eaten.

Beans also go great in burritos with the sweet pork I made yesterday. Mmm…

But for now, the biggest bonus (besides cooking with fresh ingredients which is AMAZING and way healthier) is giving myself more time to write.

You may have noticed (or not, I understand if you don’t hang on my every word… yet) that my Shape Up Saturdays aren’t arriving each Saturday. That’s because I can’t keep up with all the demands on my time right now AND present a well-explained post for each body issue I’d like to cover. I’ve considered just posting a picture or short video of one pose or exercise to try each week. Would this be helpful? You tell me in the comments and help me decide where to take my Shape Up Saturdays from here.

In the meantime… I’m off to take a few minutes to write.

Long days (and nights) in the Cherry household

So Roz is growing up lovely and fine, but it’s a bit disheartening that she went from sleeping almost through the night – usually 4-6 hours between feedings – to every 2 hours. I feel a bit betrayed by all my friends-who-are-also-parents.

“Once they start sleeping through the night, it gets so much easier.”

Does it? Does it? Because the last couple weeks have not been all that easy.

But it’s fine. I am, as they say, as healthy as an ox, and my ‘schedule’ for sleeping (or doing just about anything besides my laid-in-stone commitments) is about as well formed as the scribblings of a toddler. So I can deal for quite a while with sleep deprivation before I start hallucinating.

My other big surprise of the last couple weeks is that Roz has developed an extreme need for bouncing. I have discovered, after about a week and a half of wondering where the screaming banshee came from, that if my baby is upset and it’s not that she’s hungry, it’s that she wants to bounce. Or have her legs pushed up to her chest repeatedly.

So with the crazy nighttime feedings and the bouncing, my baby is asking for way more attention than a couple of weeks ago. Lest I deprive her of attention (and teach her that Mommy has more interesting, important things to do – like staring at a bright white screen – rather than play), I’ve spent a great deal of time bouncing and jiggling my child. We’re achieving relative peace in the house once more, though I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she changes again. And again. She can roll from her tummy to her back (though only occasionally, as Tummy Time is akin to torture), so the Potted Plant stage of infancy is almost over.

Alas.

So the writing isn’t streaming out of me right now in great floods, but I feel like I have more ideas to work on. I find myself developing and working on several short stories, as well as continue work on The Novel.

While it’s certainly never much at a time – the biggest chunk I’ve written in a single day lately was about 1000 words, while many other days it’s between zero and 200 words – it’s still creeping along, and all the ideas I’m working on make writing that much better when I actually do get time.

And progress is still progress, so I’ll take it.