Twelfth Night

Hello! I hope everybody had a pleasant set of late-December holidays! We’re getting back into the swing of things around here, although it’s… not really the swing we had planned.

See, my husband and housemate both got laid off on the same day, ten days before Christmas. (Not a huge coincidence since they both worked on the same project.) It does rather change things, though. They paid all the bills while I worked on getting this writing thing off the ground! And while they have various things on various burners and everything may be glorious and stable again by the time March rolls around, it’s a bit uncertain right now. (And sometimes bloody terrifying.)

Right now I’m not planning on changing how I’m posting Nightlights (although I do want to talk about the ebook variant later). I will definitely be pushing Matchbox Girls when it comes out on February 21st, though. Hopefully early next week a Kickstarter will be appearing, in which interested parties can help fund the initial print run.

I’m currently about a month and a half out from my due date– yes, the Handy Small Child’s sibling will be debuting around the same time as my first published novel. Yay! However, I’m often pretty dozy as a result. I’d like to say I’ve been hard at work on Gravity’s Angels (and maybe write a post about how the current economic and social climate has influenced it) but I sometimes feel like I’m barely managing to keep my head above water. All the changes at home as the guys set up a home office and work on a playroom for the Handy Small Child have been distracting, too.

All right, so on the ebooks: I’m no longer committed to putting out the monthly ebooks. This might be a mistake in light of the layoffs, or it might be a good idea, in light of being rather pregnant and having other priorities.  Only time will tell! But they haven’t really been selling (which is fine, it was an experiment) and I’d rather save the promotional energy for other projects. I am planning on putting out the full text of Nightlights as an ebook after it finishes its run on the website, which will probably be in May or June? As usual, if this is a huge disappointment, please let me know. I don’t like disappointing people (or even abandoning ideas, really) but I’ve talked myself into the idea that people are pretty much enjoying things as they are.

I really wish there was a way to connect up WordPress and Google Plus. I always feel like I’m writing letters to distant family when I write these blog posts. I’m really much chattier in the short form! Oh well. Someday!

 

 

Hey! Check it out!

I’m inserting this into the story feed as well as my blog feed, which I try to avoid normally. But– I really wanted to show this off! It is relevant to readers of my stories!

So, I’ve had a busy week: new bus routes for the Handy Small Child, a car accident, and lots of layout and design work on Matchbox Girls. Of course, I’m not really doing any of that work myself but it’s still pretty exciting, and more fun to think about than my minivan being smashed up. And I finally have permission to show off the cover! Maybe you’ve seen it elsewhere, but I bet if so you won’t mind seeing it again!

I will, at least, put it behind a cut. 🙂

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Oh so busy revising and writing and driving

Well, the Handy Small Child has started preschool, and I’ve started working through the Matchbox Girls edit notes in earnest. The lazy days of summer, when all I had to do was write a Nightlights scene a day and do chores, have drifted away like autumn leaves.

Of course, it’s the hottest weather we’ve had all summer right now. I mean, my tomatoes  don’t care, they’re still stubbornly staying green, because they’re conspiring against me. But still, hot weather.

Anyhow, this weekly post is supposed to be about Matchbox Girls. It’s my novel! It’s coming out in February! I’m going through it closely for the first time in at least six months. It hasn’t faded as much as I thought it might, but I did spend three years weeping tears of blood over it. Maybe it takes more than six months for those to fade.

Yes, okay, hyperbole. I don’t think I even cried salt tears over it. I did, however, reach the 3/4th point in the original draft, then decide it was All Crap and wrote it all over again from scratch. And it took a long time. Three+ years from start to finish, as I said (and for comparison, I’ve written 111,000 words since starting Nightlights in April).

A few scenes from the initial draft made it into the second draft mostly unmodified, but there were huge, huge changes, too. Characters cut, characters added, sub-plots expanded, sub-plots removed. Sometimes I run into brainstorming from before I even started the initial draft and it’s barely recognizable.

One thing I’ve noticed I do in the process of refining a story idea is that I strip information from the protagonist. In early iterations of an idea, the protagonist is often well-informed, with clear instructions and knowledgeable mentors. This makes maintaining tension harder, which affects pacing. So I throw out most of the information and make acquiring it part of the plot. What I do is probably a bit of a cheat, and I’m sure many excellent authors are able to provide a well-paced story without throwing characters in over their heads.

But it seems to be an effective cheat.

Okay, going through editorial comments and changes probably adds a lot of tension to the reading process for me. But while every scene is still laser-engraved in my memory, I still picked up this sense of growing anxiety and dread from the story, an awful sense of ‘Oh God, what’s going to happen next?’ Ridiculous, because I know. I wrote it. Ridiculous and weird. A couple of beta readers mentioned that they’d read most of the story in one sitting, which I dismissed at the time as ‘they were trying to get through it fast’. (Sorry, beta readers! Please forgive me!) Now, I’m wondering if I maybe did something right.

Posts like this are hard for me. The idea that saying something good about myself or my work will backfire on me is deeply, deeply ingrained. But I also need to do lots of self-promotion to succeed in this new publishing world. Or at least– I need to do some self-promotion. I still firmly believe that quality should rise to the top, but I’ve grudgingly come to admit that it can’t happen if it’s hidden in a closet. It’s easier for introverted me to work on quality improvement over selling myself, but I’ve got to work on both.

So, Matchbox Girls. Every sixty pages or so, it changes gears, always going faster. I think people will like it. And you’ll probably be hearing more from me about it.

Parenthood and Urban Fantasy

I just found out that the artist who agreed to paint a cover for Matchbox Girls has a little girl of his own. Coincidentally, Matchbox Girls is about some little girls. I do wonder if the two are related

Everybody knows people change when they have children. Before I had a kid, I thought that some of the changes were just in lifestyle– it’s harder to jet out for dinner and a movie with an infant, after all. And the rumors of some of the other changes frightened me. Hormones, supposedly, would change my entire personality and completely reshuffle my priorities.

This didn’t happen. At least, not the way I envisioned it. I still valued all the same things I’d valued before. I still disliked a lot of the same things I’d disliked before. Change crept in mostly in places where I was previously neutral. Things that would previously be nothing but background noise can now upset me or reduce me to sentimental tears. Some things got nudged down the priority list, or moved fractionally lower on the dislike list, but I didn’t suddenly love poopy diapers, children screaming in public, or messy houses. It’s just that new stuff got added to both lists, and the ripples were felt all over the place.

So yeah, parenthood changes you.

For the most part urban fantasy provides a landscape where the reader can identify with being young, powerful, attractive and unattached. ‘Sexy’ is a word often used to describe a new UF novel.  It’s a pretty safe landscape. Who doesn’t want to follow along with the adventures of a supernatural badass as she interacts with tons of other supernatural sexy badasses?

Parenthood doesn’t show up much in these books. Kids don’t either, especially those who are too small to be useful and too big to be worn in a papoose on your back. Kids are many things but they don’t lend themselves to books described as ‘sexy’. As any new parent can tell you, kids are nature’s favorite mood killer.

Matchbox Girls is about a young woman who unexpectedly acquires a pair of little girls. She subsequently does her best to protect and guide them, in the face of some very tough opposition. It’s still an urban fantasy, so there’s lots of magic, supernatural entities and asskicking. There’s attractive guys. There’s good friends. And there’s even a few bits that I consider sexy.

But it’s also, fundamentally, a novel about parenthood. I don’t think it could be otherwise, written as it was during the first three years of my own child’s life. It’s my hope that, while nothing will replace the charm of traditional urban fantasy, Matchbox Girls will tickle the same place in other people that it came from in me.

I just put The Incredibles in for my little guy to watch, and laughed. In a way, that’s exactly what Matchbox Girls is:  The Incredibles of urban fantasy. And I really do hope people enjoy it when it comes out in February.

 

Next time: Matchbox Girls didn’t consciously start out as a novel about parenthood. It started out as a novel about sisters.

Spring On Fire

After a few months of querying agents for Matchbox Girls, I decided to switch my focus to publishers. I was still interested in agents, but despite having a query that seemed reasonably functional, I was getting very few requests. I’d already realized that MG wasn’t as commercial as many other urban fantasies (and by ‘commercial’, I mean, focused on using the factors known to sell a lot- I don’t know if that’s what publishing professionals mean when they use that term) so I couldn’t blame an agent for not being interested in something that they probably wouldn’t be able to sell for very much. After all, they only get a percentage of what I would!

Still, I was pretty sure that there were people out there who would enjoy Matchbox Girls. Not everybody enjoys what’s considered commercial, after all. So I started looking at small presses as well as doing my weekly agent submissions.

A few weeks ago, the editor of Candlemark and Gleam asked to see the full manuscript of Matchbox Girls. And a week after that, she sent me an extremely nice email telling me how much she’d enjoyed Matchbox Girls, and how she’d like to send me a contract.

This made me jump up from my seat, pick up a handy child, and twirl him around in a circle. Then I sat back down sedately, asked her for the contract and started doing research.

I did a lot of research, on Candlemark and Gleam, on small presses in general, and on contracts. I thought about what I wanted for Matchbox Girls. Then, I signed the contract!

Matchbox Girls is scheduled to come out in February 2012! It’s with an editor now and I’ve already contributed my cover suggestions.  I’m pretty excited, but also pretty busy: I’m still planning on launching my serial novel Nightlights in August, and I’d like to get a draft of the sequel to Matchbox Girls done by February. I’ll also have to find time for the MG revisions and proofing.

I’ve been accelerating my schedule for Nightlights. It still won’t be complete when I launch it– which is by design and part of the experiment– but it will probably be more than half done. I’ve also been playing around with this website, since my current plan is to launch Nightlights in this blog. Some lucky invisible reader might even have seen the first scene of Nightlights when I started testing out some options!

So, yeah. I’ve suddenly got a lot going on, and I’ve been working harder than ever. But don’t worry, invisible audience! I’m still going to be posting here at least weekly. And I’m still hoping to have a contest later this summer.