9.27.2010

So Many Voices...

Lately, blog topics have been backing up in my head in a big old log jam of shit to be said. But every time I sit down to deal with the matter, I get sleepy. So I guess this calls for a good old plate of blog vomit. Sort of a specialty of mine. Let the randomness begin.

1. Now that autumn is upon us, both in theory and in practice, my inner Martha has sprung into action. Right now, the projects are making and canning fresh apple butter and baking bread. I will expound further on these topics in other posts (and include recipes), but right now I'll just say it's lovely to break out the Crockpot and the KitchenAid and give them both workouts. My house has never smelled better. As it gets closer to Christmas, I hope to start experimenting with making candy. Particularly truffles, marshmallows, caramels, and Turkish Delight among others. I love giving food gifts for the holidays, and the object of my obsession seems to change every year. Come November, this site may start to look more like a food blog, so be prepared.

2. When not working on The Oilman's Daughter, my collaborative steampunk novel project with Ian Healy, I have been focusing a lot on my short fiction. I am determined to break into the pro market by the end of this year or the beginning of next. If I step up my production, I am confident it will happen. I got a very encouraging rejection from the editor of Asimov's today, and I intend to use it to fuel my motivation even more. Having been published a few times, I sort of get a "feeling" about certain stories. It's not a matter of "if" they'll find a home, but "when." I have one story out on the market that is definitely a "when" and another that's a firm "if." Two others are tied up in competitions. If I don't manage to place in either of those, I am confident they will become "whens" as well.  My focus on the short speculative fiction spectrum is going to become more intensified on science-fiction and fantasy, however, with maybe a touch of supernatural or paranormal if the right market opens up for it. That is because for the time being, the horror markets are all but dead. I don't know if it's a seasonal thing or not, but sifting through the paying horror markets on Duotrope and other sites has been nothing short of depressing.  If it improves, I'll happily return to scaring the crap out of you people. I know how this sounds. I'm writing for the market, the big writer's no-no. Well, in my opinion, short stories don't work quite the same way. I'm building a platform, and short stories are the planks in that platform. But it doesn't do me a whole lot of good to pick wood I can't use.

3. I received a great bit of help the other day from my writer friend DeAnna Knippling in regards to voice when she critiqued a story of mine I've been struggling with. Voice is such an abstract concept that I often find it difficult to nail down. I always tend to think of what I write as ME writing it. And, well, that's not exactly right. There is a fine line between leaving a subtle fingerprint on a piece of work and editorializing, and the latter is what I usually end up doing. I seem to have moments when I'm firmly in my characters' heads, and others when I fall completely out of them and make observations that Allie would make rather than ones that my character would, and while some of these observations are well-worded, they hit like bum notes in an otherwise coherent symphony, and it throws a reader right out of whatever I'm writing. I regularly hear in critiques: "You need to bring me in closer to your main character." Well okay, fine. I'm working on it. As I revise, it's going to be my job to go through and ask myself, whenever a character observes or says something, whether that's something I would say or the character. It isn't enough to write "well" or be clever with a neato word arrangement. The observation has to match the character, and in order to make sure I'm doing this, I need to know my character and BE that character (see: Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash for a great example of voice at work). It is my hope that by concentrating on this, I will be able to develop a voice that is unique to the kind of story I'm telling and that you, Congenial Reader, will feel emotionally connected to it. But at the same time, you'd still be able to tell it was I who wrote it. What a balancing act that is. Ah, isn't writing fun? Stay tuned...

4. I'm looking forward to November, when I begin my NaNoWriMo book tentatively titled On Her Shoulders, (formerly Aster in Bloom...the title will almost certainly change yet again to match the eventual spirit/theme of the book, which I'll better know when I start writing it.) It will be a YA fantasy told in the quirky almost fairytale-esque style of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. It will touch on topics of family obligation, vanity, motherly love, infanticide, and witchcraft. Sarah Palin will love it, I am sure. This will be a whole new avenue for me, but I fully intend to enjoy it. I've been wanting to write something like this for a long time. Then in December/January, it's back to Archer's Velvet and finishing up and polishing Oilman's Daughter to have in the hands of Ian's agent soon thereafter.

4a. Speaking of Ian, if you're interested in learning how to write a better action scene (because, really, I suck at it and I know plenty of writers who do as well), check out his new site, Write Better Action. He's going full-bore with this thing (because, really, there isn't quite enough on his plate between working on two separate novels, a web comic, and starting a third book in November in addition to this whole separate non-fic gig that will also include a book and a workshop). He's also doing critiques of action scenes that people submit to him. Feel free to sub yours or encourage your friends to sub theirs.

5. And finally (because I can never end even a random list on a non-round number), what is it with Segways? Those things are dangerous.

4 comments:

  1. Hey, thanks for pimping me! And you're spot-on with your self-analysis of your voice issues. I've already seen the improvement in your portions of OD. Keep it up! :)

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  2. Thanks for the links, especially to Ian's site on help with action. I know I can use the help on action scenes. Once I finish the children's book, I want to get back to another book idea which has more focused action in it.

    I still am hesitant and sensitive about letting people critique my stuff. I think I am still too wrapped up in what I write. GAH!

    Congrats on the positive-sounding rejection letter from Asimov's (as odd as that sounds). I know you'll break into the scene. You already have the talent.

    You know that I'm looking forward to the apple butter recipe. :)

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  3. Allie wrote a story and I hepped :)

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  4. First off, if this becomes a food blog I will be so f**ked..lacking all domestic talent in the area of cooking, etc..However, it's possible you will rub off on me and I'll be inspired.
    SO looking forward to "On Her Shoulders". I love how you take constructive criticism and run with it. I was reading that Time article about Franzen and "Freedom" and he mentioned that at the end of writing his voice is hoarse because he says the dialog out loud to see if it rings true.
    I greedily read these blog posts because honestly, I am convinced it is only a matter of time that you get published and well known. Congrats on the feedback from Asimov! Furthermore, the Segway thing?? There's a horror story for ya!

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