Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Live at GigaNotoSaurus: MY STORY!!!

Shameless self-promotion time:

My science fiction story, Nine Instances of Rain, which I workshopped with Connie Willis during Clarion West 2012, is now published and available to read (for free!) at GigaNotoSaurus.org.

I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Write-a-thon: Week 6 Update

Dear readers and write-a-thon sponsors,

Thank you.

Thank you for sponsoring me in the Write-a-thon, for supporting Clarion West, and for encouraging me in my writing.

Today is the last day of the Write-a-thon and as of yesterday's official report, we (you sponsoring me) have raised $560. So we're still $40 short of the $600 goal, but we've done far, far better than I'd expected when I started (makes one think of Mr. Carton... "It is a far better thing..." and all. Nevermind). 

The workshop is over and it's been the best of times (there I go again). I, like the students in this year's class, am tired. But happy. And... I've met all of my writing goals for the entire six weeks: I have written at least 250 words per day every day. Over the past week, I've written a total of 2305 words, for a daily average of 329. My slimmest day was 272. All of my writing this week was on the bead story, so now, for your reading pleasure, I present another excerpt:


When I returned with my plastic shovel and pail, he laughed and I thought he was going to make fun of me, but then he didn’t. He said, “That’s pretty smart, actually. Thanks for not bringing a metal shovel. This way I won’t lose an ear.”

I started making the hole bigger, but dirt kept falling on his face, so I put a paper towel over his face and told him to yell if it got so he couldn’t breath. He laughed and told me to just spill as little dirt as possible.

I had to stop twice while I was digging to go inside and pee. The first time, I didn’t see Mama at all and her door was closed. The second time, she was asleep in front of the TV. 

When I’d finally made the hole big enough that I could get down in it and stand on a flat place that I’d made next to Carl’s face, I moved the napkin and he winked at me.

“I’m really tired,” I said. “Can I finish later?”

“Tell you what,” he said. “I already feel a whole lot lighter and more free. How about if you just clear away the dirt around my head and neck and then we’ll see if maybe I can’t wiggle myself loose a bit.


I scraped dirt away from under his chin, so he was finally able to tilt his head forward. He had been looking straight up for a long time and when it moved, he sighed. I dug down on one side of his neck and he rolled his head into the space like his neck was stiff and he was stretching it out. I dug out even more on the other side and his head leaned over that way. He kept stretching it further and further. Then his head fell over. Fell on its side, one ear facing up, so I could see straight down into it.


Thank you for reading, and if you would like to sponsor me--to help me achieve my fund-raising goal of $600, please visit my Write-a-thon page. There are some super cool kick-starter-esque premiums!


[My Clarion West Write-a-thon Page]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Write-a-thon: Week 5 Update

Greetings, dear readers and sponsors.

First... THANK YOU to my new sponsors! I'm utterly delighted, astounded, and humbled to have so many generous donors sponsoring me in the write-a-thon. As of today, you, my sponsors, have donated $535 to Clarion West... so I'm just $65 from my fund-raising goal of $600. THANK YOU!

And now for the writing stats...

The total word count for week 5 was 2282, for a daily average of 326, and my slimmest day was 256 words, so I'm down a little from last week, but still meeting my daily minimum of 250 words.

Most of those words have been on the bead story and or the New Orleans piece. The bead story is now hovering around 16,000 words and has a ways to go, so it will be at least a novella by the time it's done. It keeps surprising me. One character that I thought had gone away for good just came back... and he's turning out to be far more interesting than I'd anticipated. Currently, he's a disembodied head, so there's that. He's also the closest thing that this story has to a villain. Not sure what's going to become of him yet. He's manipulative and resourceful, though, so I'm pretty sure he'll get out of his current jam--at least for long enough to cause more trouble for the good folk.

As for other writing projects I've been working on this week, I've continued to poke around at Elm & Fergus, and I'm contemplating some major alterations to the ending of one of my Clarion West stories from 2012. This latter is entitled, Wayward: A [Space] Opera in Three Acts. It's a retelling of Verde's La Traviata (which is a retelling of La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils) that's set in a future in which humanity has largely evolved beyond biological existence and the few remaining societies of biological humans are preserved as treasured historical relics. In its original form--the version that earned me one of the most memorable critiques of my Clarion West experience... from none other than George R.R. Martin--the story closely paralleled the source material. The revised form that has gone out to (and been returned by) several magazines diverges to a greater extent, but even so, I've been trying to think of a way to let the story jump its rails entirely and become something new, something more relevant. Last week, I finally had a breakthrough. So now, two years after its inception, I'll be returning to Wayward for what I hope will be its final re-write. This is my favorite of my Clarion West stories, and quite possibly my favorite of all of my stories, so I'm very excited to dive back into its world and play some more.

Okay. Enough rambling and babbling about writing. Here's your weekly sample. This is new stuff from the bead story:


In the morning I finished the cereal and the milk. There wasn’t very much. Then I found a package of ramen noodles and opened it and sat on the floor in the living room, munching on them dry, and watched cartoons. I didn’t sit on the part of the floor with the blood stain. I tried to never touch that place. 

Mama didn’t get up until after lunch time, but she didn’t say anything about cooking. She barely even looked at me when she walked from her bedroom to the bathroom. There was a can of cream corn in the cupboard and I already knew how to use a can opener, so I opened it and poured it into a bowl and ate it cold with a spoon. I’d always wanted to eat a whole can of cream corn by myself, so that was nice.

Then there weren’t any more cartoons, so I walked around inside the house and counted the windows even though I had done that before and I already knew that there were nineteen. So I counted the doors. There were seventeen if you counted all of the cupboards in the kitchen and the bathroom. And there were thirteen drawers—not counting the two fake drawers in front of the sinks. And four faucets and eight chairs and three giant soup pots and one chain saw and two axes and four machetes and eight drinking glasses and six coils of rope and one straw cowboy hat. 

The hat wasn’t actually in the house, though. It was sitting outside, next to the driveway. It hadn’t been there when I’d gone around counting windows, because I’d looked through all of them to see if there was any blue in the sky and I would have noticed the hat sitting outside. I only saw it when I walked past the front window on my way back from counting the tools that Carl had left in the coat closet. 

It was Carl’s hat. I hadn’t ever seen him wear it, but it had always been on the shelf at the top of the closet in Mama’s room. Until he left. Because when he left, I’d looked to see if he’d taken all of his clothes and he had and he’d taken the hat too because it wasn’t on the shelf in the closet. Except now, it was sitting outside, on top of one of the raised flower beds Carl had put in a few months before and had planted with flowers, but then hadn’t watered, so all the flowers died. I went out to see if I could see Carl’s truck parked farther up the driveway, but it wasn’t there. The wind was blowing in little gusts and torn up little clouds were running across the sky, below the big flat clouds that covered up the blue. 

There was nobody outside. Just me and Mama’s car and the hat.

I walked over to the hat and stood in front of it, just looking at it for a while. I reached out to touch it, but then stopped and pulled my hand back. It didn’t feel right. I couldn’t say why. Like there was a wiggle in my chest and my arm when I reached toward it. It didn’t look right either. I leaned in closer, and I saw that it wasn’t Carl’s straw hat at all, but a hat made out of paper or clay or something and painted to look like a hat. Every detail of the woven straw and the holes and the hatband and everything were there—all painted so carefully that until you got really close, it looked completely real. 

I touched it lightly with a fingertip and it dented where I touched it and it didn’t spring back at all. I poked harder and my finger went right through and the stuff that the hat was made out of was soft and a little bit sticky and a piece of it stuck to my finger. I brushed it off, and when I did, I smelled mint. And then I knew what the hat was made out of. It was chewed up mint gum mixed with soggy tissues.

A gust of wind caught the hat and picked it up, then smashed it hard against the side of the house—flattened it. Like a green and grey and straw paint splatter. Where it had been sitting on the ground there was a hole. I looked down into the hole and down at the bottom—which close enough that I could have reached it by laying down on the ground and sticking my whole arm in, but there was no way I would have done that—was a face.

It wasn’t Dolly.


It was Carl. And he was smiling.



Thank you for reading, and if you would like to sponsor me--to help me achieve my fund-raising goal of $600, please visit my Write-a-thon page. There are some super cool kick-starter-esque premiums!


[My Clarion West Write-a-thon Page]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Write-a-thon: Week 4 Update

Greetings, dear readers and sponsors.

We've reached the two-thirds point!

The word count for week 4 was 2986, for a daily average of 427, and (coincidentally) my slimmest day was (again) 261 words.

I've continued work on the bead story, though its forward progress has slowed as I've had to spend more time thinking and outlining, rather than actually writing. I've also written a bit more on the additional scenes needed for my novel revisions, and I started another new story. This one is set in New Orleans (where I lived for a year, back in '01-'02). Actually, calling it a "story" may be a bit of a stretch. I really don't know where it's going. Mostly, I just had a very memorable scenario in mind that I wanted to get down... and then I was having so much fun writing it that I just kept going. Maybe it will develop into a story.

Oh, and I've also been reworking a story that I wrote last fall called Elm & Fergus. I sent it out to several magazines without success, and then in February, I was invited to do three micro-readings (seven minutes each) at the Winter's Hill Winery's "Wine and Words" event. I selected three excerpts from the Elm & Fergus that together comprise the important parts of the story. Afterwards, I decided that the story was stronger without the parts I'd left unread, so now I'm polishing up the trimmed-down version and I hope to get it sent out again before the end of write-a-thon.

On the fund-raising end, no forward progress yet. I'm still $227 short of my $600 goal, so maybe I need to get out there and start campaigning a bit more.

And now... here's your weekly sample of work (from the New Orleans thing):


As on most Thursday afternoons, at 3:15, Mordechai Davies took a clean t-shirt from one drawer, a pair of socks from another, and a mesh bag containing a pair of shoes from the closet. All of these items went into a light backpack. He brushed his teeth, even though he had done so three hours before, immediately after his lunch of instant ramen and carrot sticks. He checked his wallet for small bills, slid loose change from the top of the dresser into an open palm and from there, to his jeans pocket. A pen and checkbook went into the small pouch on the front of the backpack, then he lifted the apartment key from the hook beside the door and exited. 

There was a six-block walk to St. Charles, but he was not aware of it, as his mind was already fully engaged in the approaching encounter. Similarly, the streetcar ride—paying the fare and choosing a seat, even—were automatic functions that he performed without notice. His feet moved him from the Felicity Street stop to his destination, but the steps that possessed his mind, accompanied by absent melodies, took him nowhere, transported him.

Outside the red-footed tan stucco building at the corner of Sophie Wright Place and St. Mary Street, standing under the daylight-deadened neon signage of the Half Moon Bar and Grill, Mordechai checked his watch. Four minutes early. Good.
He breathed deeply. Calmed his mind. His body. And he laughed.
Because of what his classmate—no, not just classmate, but, increasingly, friend—Jonathan had said when Mordechai told him about his Thursday appointments.

“So let me get this straight. You walk up every week, ring her bell, spend sixty minutes in her arms, body-to-sweat-drenched body, and then you pass her a couple of twenties and leave?”

“I write a check,” Mordechai had said.

“You do get how this looks though, don’t you?”

The thought of someone else thinking of it in those terms when Mordechai was so careful not to, prompted a tension in his jeans that—he checked his watch—he had less than three minutes to dispel. He walked briskly to the end of the block, then back. And again. After the third trip he felt ready.

He rang the bell.



Thanks for reading, and if you would like to sponsor me, you may do so by visiting my Write-a-thon page.


[My Clarion West Write-a-thon Page]

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Write-a-thon: Week 3 Update

Hi, readers and sponsors.

Halfway through the write-a-thon... and the six-week workshop.

It's been incredibly exciting to be so closely involved with the day-to-day operations of the workshop and to see the students develop, both as writers and as a group. It's also been challenging to find time to write every day, but thus far, I'm still fulfilling all of my write-a-thon goals.

I wrote 2653 words during the third week of the write-a-thon, for a daily average of 379 (down a bit from last week), and my slimmest day was 261 words. Again, I worked on both the previously-mentioned bead story and on revisions of my novel.

Also, I've gained a couple more sponsors, but I'm still $227 shy of my $600 goal... so if you know any readers who might want to chip in and support Clarion West (and encourage me in my writing), spread the word!

Finally, here's your weekly sample of my work (from the bead story):

I walked until I got to the place where only the foam edge of the bravest waves could reach, after all of their power was used up and they were tired and ready to fall back into the big water behind. I dropped to my knees, set the pail aside, and started digging. I piled the sand that I took out of the beach to one side of me. The pile grew faster than the hole, because the bottom of the hole was full of water and every time a wave came, it washed more sand into the hole.

I kept digging, though. I wanted to see if I could get to the other side of the world that Dorothea had told me about. I knew that Earth was a ball and I’d never really be able to dig all the way through it, but I was pretty sure that Dorothea knew that too, so I don’t think that when she talked about making holes through to the other side of the world, she was really talking about the Earth as a planet, but some other type of world, and I knew that it was stupid of me to even dream of digging my way there with a plastic shovel. Still, I didn’t stop digging.


The wind had been blowing in hard little gusts when we arrived at the beach, but it got stronger and more steady the longer I dug, so I started thinking about going back and getting Mama to help me launch a kite. But then my shovel hit something that wasn’t sand. I set the shovel down and reached down into the hole with my hand—down through the water in the hole—and felt for what I’d struck.


Thanks for reading, and if you would like to sponsor me, you may do so by visiting my Write-a-thon page.


[My Clarion West Write-a-thon Page]

Friday, July 4, 2014

Write-a-thon: Week 2 Update

Hi, readers and sponsors!

A few announcements:

First, I'm delighted to be participating in the Write-a-thon Google Hangout Event on Sunday, July 6th, and 11:00am (Pacific Time), a broadcast gathering, in which Write-a-thoners will read 10-minute samples of their own works. I will read the opening to my novel Florence Park, and it will be the first time I've read aloud from it, so come tune in and enjoy!

Next, I'm thrilled to announce that thanks to all of you, as of this morning, I'm over half way to reaching my fund-raising goal of $600 for Clarion West. If you know others who might be interested in sponsoring me (and supporting this amazing organization and all of its efforts), please spread the word!

And finally... the statistics: Since last friday (days 7-13 of Clarion West's Write-a-thon), I've written 2811 words of fiction (about 401 per day, on average, and never less than 271 on any given day), so I continue to meet my writing goal of at least 250 words per day and my daily average has increased by 53 words as compared to last week. I've worked on two different projects. In addition to the science-fiction/horror story inspired by Vonda McIntyre's amazing bead creations that I mentioned last Friday, I am also working on revisions to the above-mentioned novel, Florence Park.

And here's your weekly sample of my work (from the bead story):

When we got to her room, Dorothea set her tea on top of the dresser without even tasting it and she took the paper coasters from me and sat down at her table. She cut halfway through each of them, from the outside to the middle. Then she folded and unfolded them a bunch of times, so that they looked like little fans, and she taped the two fans to each other so that they made a single circle that didn’t lay flat anymore, but bent up and down and up and down like the stretchy middle part of an accordian.

“You see that?" she said. "How if you look straight down on it, it has the same area as just one coaster? See how I fit two whole circles into the space of one by forcing its perimeter to rise and fall out of the plane?” I kind of understood what she was talking about, now that she had shown me, so I nodded.

“It’s the same with the bead flowers I make,” she said. “If you flatten out any little part, it will be just like a little part of any circle that's stuck to a plane, but you will never be able to flatten the whole thing.” She handed me the taped-together, ruffled-up coasters and I tried smoothing out the folds, but when I flattened one part, it made the rest just fold up tighter.

“I will teach you more tomorrow,” she said. "Right now, it's time to learn about today."

Then she gave me paper and markers and asked me to draw her a picture of my favorite thing. I drew the library with Hannah in it, but then I thought it might be bad of me if I didn't have Mama in the picture too, so I put her in the yard outside the library, next to the flag-pole.

While I was drawing, Dorothea went back to threading beads onto the peach-colored flower she was building. When I was done, she didn’t say anything. She just took the picture and taped it to the wall above her dresser. 

Then she gave me another piece of paper. 

“Draw the thing that scares you most,” she said.

I drew the stain on my living room floor.


Thanks for reading, and if you would like to sponsor me, you may do so by visiting my Write-a-thon page.


[My Clarion West Write-a-thon Page]

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Write-a-thon: Week 1 Update

During the first six days of Clarion West's Write-a-thon, I wrote 2090 words (about 348 per day, average, never less than 250 on any given day), so thus far, I am meeting my writing goals.

Here is a small sample from my work-in-progress, which is a science-fiction/horror story inspired by Vonda McIntyre's amazing bead creations:

The tiny black beads are my favorite. Like caviar in linear formation. Or shrews’ eyes, cut from their pointy brown faces and lined up to stare back at me as I string them on a wire filament. Colorful beads are nice too. Black ones, though—shiny black ones—they are special because they know how to vanish into their own shadows when the light isn’t shining on them just so.

I learned this from Dorothea. Dorothea saw it as a bad thing, though. She let me have as many beads as I wanted, but not the black ones. Dorothea never used black beads in her creations, so it was a mystery to me how she managed to drop so many on the floor each day. Also, why she bought them in the first place.

Thanks for reading, and if you would like to sponsor me, you may do so by visiting my Write-a-thon page.


[My Clarion West Write-a-thon Page]

Creative Commons License