O is for opportunity

Opportunity, we’re told, unlike the postman, only knocks once. There are both truths and fictions inherent in that idea. Anthologies, for example, are a one-shot deal, generally: if you don’t have a story that fits, the deadline passes and with it, the opportunity. Many contests, however, are repeating — quarterly (Writers of the Future) or annually (the Science Fiction at the UPC Award, the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest). Submissions in general can be repeated to other magazines, other editors, other agents. Opportunities litter the ground.

On the other hand, when a new opportunity comes up, it’s nice to be able to grab it immediately. When Daily Science Fiction opened to submissions last year, I sent them something the very first day. When Moongypsy Press had their contest to celebrate their first anniversary, I took time out from my other commitments to put together a novel proposal. Both of those actions paid off for me — I sold “Essence of Truth” to Daily Science Fiction, and my proposed novel, Touching Time, won Moongypsy’s contest.

I heard about another potential opportunity recently, and I immediately started brainstorming on how I could address it. I think the window on this chance is a bit wider than for some others — at least, I hope it is. This time, I don’t feel comfortable dropping everything else to the back burner while I take a flyer on something that might not play out. I’ve made commitments, such as finishing Touching Time, and I feel meeting those before I chase the latest opportunity is important.

On the other hand, I am planning ahead, getting things set up so I can grab the opportunity when I can. Given a choice, I grab every opportunity I can.

N is also for No Excuses

You didn’t think I’d forget my mantra, did you?

What am I not making excuses for now?

  • Running — I’m two-thirds of the way through the Couch-to-5k running plan, and I’m contemplating entering a 5k race on May 7.
  • Paperwork — Not only does it have to get done now, but I’m spending time tweaking my system so it’s easier to deal with papers as they come in (at least once every week or two, when I’m paying bills), rather than letting them just pile up.
  • Planning ahead — I’m thinking about a five-year plan. Not in detail of what specific projects I want to have done when, but in more general terms of where I want to take my career and its different aspects over time.
  • Writing — Not a lot done on that this week, but that’s because (to refer to Tuesday’s post) I’m juggling, and those balls are in the air while I deal with taxes and so forth. They’ll come down again, though, when it’s their turn, and I’ll write. That’s not an excuse; it’s the reality of how I work.
  • Family — My work day is limited by the time I spend with my husband and kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What about reasons, instead of excuses?

Well, the water transmission main that broke this week put a crimp on housework, with dishes and laundry stacking up for an extra day. (That was a little problematic for the boy, who needed a clean pair of sweats for his gym class. I figured a little dirt in the water wouldn’t hurt the wash for those, so he had them, and then they were washed again after the water was clean.)

What about you? What commitments are you holding yourself to?

As always, thanks for reading!

M is for mystery, mayhem, and murder

When I joined GSHW, one of the questions I was asked was, “How many bodies, and where have you hidden them?” My response (I don’t remember whether it actually showed up in the newsletter):

Um, let’s see . . . two with a chainsaw, one was burned to death, I lost track of the knife ones, and there are at least a few with a sword. Some had their hearts ripped out by a werewolf. At least one death by poisoning. Most of a clutch destroyed by a game. Oh, then there’s this planet . . . I kill people a lot. You were talking about fiction, right?

I still haven’t gotten around to killing the planet; that’s an SF novel that’s on the to-do list for some time. On the other hand, I have bumped off a couple more people with blunt objects to the head. That’s all I can think of at the moment.

I’ve maimed some others. Carved things in people’s skin. Taken away people’s memories. Threatened to toss them off flying ships. Being a writer is fun!

Not everything has been finished. Not everything that has been finished has been accepted for publication somewhere.

Doesn’t matter. I’m having fun writing it. The next time you see me and I have an evil grin on my face, don’t ask why. The odds are good I’m planning another killing.

J is for juggling

When people think of balance, they often think of a static situation — a pair of scales, equal weights on both sides. Dynamic balance — the kind you need to ride a bike or walk on a tightrope — isn’t usually what people are striving for in their lives. There’s this idea that you can get everything together and cope for once and all with everything you have to do.


That’s why I prefer to think of juggling. When you’re juggling, the more you’re juggling, the more is out of your hands. If you’re doing it well, things fall into place, right in your hands. And occasionally, balls get dropped, but it’s not the end of the world. That describes what I live with.

There’s the personal — wife, mother, manager of family finances, cook, washerwoman, gardener, and more.

There’s the professional — copyeditor, indexer, proofreader. Running the business, dealing with finances, finding new work.

There’s the writer — um. Current count of projects on my list for the next couple of months? I’ve got one short story now, but I’m hoping to participate in the Story-a-Day challenge on Forward Motion in May. I’ve got the Mayan book I’m working on for Moongypsy Press, and Daniel’s book (under Doru’s name) that I promised to have up by the end of this month. I have four other books in various states of completion that I want to send out to NY publishers, at least 2 of which I’d like to get done in the next month or two. I have another project, Bridge, which I started this month but really won’t talk about until December or January. I have the steampunk adventure stories. I want to write another novella to submit to the UPC Science-Fiction Award this year. I just got an idea for a new series yesterday, and I was reminded of an old idea for a series that I probably won’t get to before next year. Oh, and then there are the short stories already written that I keep sending out to markets (occasionally selling one), as well as the ones I’m considering putting up for sale.

So, yes. Juggling.

No balls dropped so far today, but the day is young.

G is for GSHW

What is the GSHW, you may ask. (I didn’t say you had to; I said you may.)

GSHW stands for Garden State Horror Writers, but it’s not exclusively a collection of horror writers. Historically, it started as a branch of the RWA, and it currently classifies itself as a multi-genre writers’ group, open to anyone who wants to write. Now, I don’t live in the Garden State, so why did I join?

Initially, I joined because my friend Ed is a member, and he kept urging me to come to meetings. I was impressed by the people they got in to talk to the group — Elizabeth Bear, John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Gregory Frost, and more. Tomorrow’s meeting will feature Jonathan Maberry.

It made sense to join a writers’ group because I would be exposed to new ideas, make new friends, and see facets of the industry that I won’t while sitting at my computer (no matter how many blogs I read). I don’t make it to all the meetings — less than half, in fact, with family and other commitments — but I enjoy the ones I get to, just as I enjoy hanging out and talking to people at the diner afterward. For the meetings I miss, there’s often a recording available so I can hear the talk (teasers available at the Website if you want to check them out), which is nice. Additionally, the Yahoo Group is full of supportive people talking about successes, trials, and what’s going on in the business.

I get a lot for my membership, even with as few meetings as I get to, and I really appreciate the GSHW. I encourage others to check them out, or find a writing group closer to home that may offer the same sorts of things.

F is for family, friends, freelancing, and fiction

I had an epiphany this morning at 5:00, but I can’t use “epiphany” because E was yesterday. I suppose I could have used “F is for five o’clock,” but the time isn’t as important as the content. I was awakened by the girl fussing (she got herself back to sleep), and I started to complain to myself that I was just barely going to fall back asleep before it would be time to get up and get the kids ready, then start on my day — same old, same old. That’s when it hit me — I chose this life.

Okay, that may be obvious to others. Epiphanies do tend to be personal, after all. Still, I’m going to explore what I mean.

I chose marriage and children. I chose work that I could do anywhere we lived because I didn’t have to look for a new employer. I chose to start telling the stories in my soul. And, if it comes right down to it, I choose to do our taxes because I’m a bit of a control freak.

Every part of the day before me is a direct consequence of something I chose, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m married to a wonderful man whom I love, we have incredible kids, and my work allows me to be who I am.

There are downsides — the only family here is the one my husband and I have made; our closest relatives are several states away. I don’t have any close friends where we live, though certainly part of that is that I’m not good at reaching out. With the Internet, though, I’m in touch with friends and family that I haven’t seen in decades, and I’ve made several excellent new friends through on-line communities (especially Forward Motion).

This is my life, and I’m grateful for it.

A trip via Serendip to reading

. . . or why I’m reading Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy.

Like many people recently, I’ve heard of her success on Kindle, and from curiosity, I downloaded the sample of the first book, Switched, to my iPod Touch Kindle app. I wanted to know what she was doing that hooked readers. Now, I know not everyone likes her writing (my friend Alex initially liked the sample, but quit reading halfway through the book), but I had to read it, given the sample. (It’s possible I just haven’t gotten fed up with Wendy’s angst yet, and I’ll agree with Alex in the long run. We’ll see.)

You see, the first book I wrote, for NaNoWriMo 2003, was called Changeling. Summer wasn’t precisely a changeling; she was half-fey. However, she didn’t know that. She’d never known her father, and now weird things were happening to her and she didn’t know why. Where my book failed, though, was in figuring out what happened when she learned the truth. I didn’t have a real society for her to interact with, or real plans for what exactly she had to overcome. My story was overly simplistic compared to Hocking’s because I neglected world-building.

However, if you want to know why her sample hooked me, read the following scene from Changeling. I had to know how she took something so similar and worked through it. (Yes, I know the writing is wooden. It was my first. Sorry.)
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Boskone 48 in Review

This is the more detailed report of what I got up to in Boston last weekend. If you’re not interested, come back next week. I’m sure to talk about something else. This discussion is chronological. Events that I don’t remember times for (such as visiting the Art Gallery, which had some amazing stuff) are not included.
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Home again, home again

Just some quick notes today.

I didn’t post from Boskone itself because Wi-Fi at the hotel was $13/day, and I couldn’t get my iPod Touch to log on correctly in the lobby, where access apparently was free.

My son had a terrific time, got his picture taken with Bruce Coville, went to a kaffeeklatsch with both Bruce Coville and Jane Yolen, played games with other kids, learned how to armor a knight, and attended several panel discussions (including the one where he vehemently disagreed with the audience member who said that our education system traumatized kids for math and science, which is why they also won’t look at science fiction; those are his favorite subjects).

I also had a good time, and this year I attended a wider variety of events than my usual, including the play on Saturday night (“The Giant’s Tooth,” based on a story by Bruce Coville).

Between the busy weekend and the long drive home, I’m still feeling a little tired, but I should be up to posting some notes later this week.

Bound to Boston

Tomorrow is time for my annual pilgrimage to Boston to attend
Boskone, to see other writers face-to-face, to get all tongue-tied
around editors (Oh, no, wait — I’m actually planning to try to talk
to them this year, even ask a few questions for a Vision article!),
and to overload my muse with new ideas to write about.

I’m taking my iPod Touch, so I won’t be out of contact — at the very
least, I’ll try to hit Twitter and Facebook a couple of times over
the weekend. I’m also testing my ability to post to my blog by
e-mail, as well as the new plug-in that should cross-post entries to
LJ. I’m not live-blogging by any stretch of the imagination, but I
should be in touch.

Every year, I have trouble deciding which panels to attend. Since I
write across the board, everything is interesting. This year is going
to be slightly different — yes, I will still attend panels and
sometimes have trouble choosing between a couple of different
options. However, there is the aforementioned attempt to be more
sociable and talk to editors, and this year, I’m taking my son with

He’s done the children’s counterpart to NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers’
Program, a couple of times, and he even printed out copies of one of
his books a couple years ago and distributed copies to his classmates
— which means he’s actually planning to go to a panel discussion or
two himself. He’s also really excited at the chance to meet and talk
to Bruce Coville (even planning on staying up late Friday to go to
Bruce Coville’s 10 p.m. reading) and to see the swordplay
demonstrations. So sometimes my choices will be determined by what he
wants to do.

It’s going to be a lot of fun, that much is certain. Boskone always
is, no matter who I see or what I listen to!