Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting Back on That Horse…

After promising this blog topic, I received a Facebook comment asking how many times one should get back on before giving up.  Another friend said at least 100.

While I've used the "get back on that horse" metaphor a number of times in this blog, I'm here to say that I've got some new clarity on that metaphor.

It may have be based on the fact I broke Sue's fence rail with my head…

Regardless, my new vision on that is this:  "It depends."

Believe it or not, I'm not going to say you always have to get back on.  At least not right away.

The Story

Here's what happened in Real Life:

My Mom and her best friend had come all the way out to Oakham to visit me and my horse.  I was overly excited, especially after a fabulous weekend of Calico being a total angel.  I was also more than a little nervous because I realllly wanted to show off for my mom.  "Look how cool I am!  Look how great my horse is!  You don't have to worry so much about us."

You see where this is going?

In any case, my thought was just to hop on her, bareback, and walk once around the ring.

I may also want to mention here that it was drizzling out.  And while lunging her, I could tell she was NOT in a good mood.  And I knew I was nervous and overexcited.

In any case, I walked her over to the mounting stairs, proudly climbed and plopped on her back, slipped, freaked, and she started.  I fell… right into Sue's fence.

Still shaken, my stubborn side decided I needed to prove that this could be done.

I was humble enough to let Mom's friend hold Calico this time.

Mounting was uneventful.  We walked around the ring, and I was set to dismount.  I lost my balance yet again, but instead of letting myself fall, I panicked and grabbed Cali's neck.  Yeah… stupid.  She freaked at my grab and rather than fall, I kind of flew.

Needless to say, my mom was all worked up and made me swear I'd call her every single night this week.

The Lesson

If I had stopped and took a good assessment of the situation, I wouldn't have gotten on Cali's back at all.  It was a crappy day, I was tired, and she was grumpy.  Oh, and I'm barely a beginner when it comes to riding.

Getting on a second time was an even worse idea.

I have a good relationship with my Mom.  She was just happy to have seen me and my horse; I really had nothing to prove.  But people do stupid things.  (And animals want to know WTF we are thinking.)

Now, if I was on a trail, I'd have to get back on and deal.  That's just the situation.  There's a need to do that, and I've done it before (a few times).  In this case, there was no need and the effect was just spooking my poor horse (who did, by the way, stop and make sure I was ok both times) and hurting myself.

Know yourself; know your situation; decide accordingly.

Applied to writing?

Some days writing just sucks.  You can physically make yourself sick (I know, I have) trying to get something down.  Anything!

If you're writing on spec (i.e. you don't have a deadline for which someone has given/promised you money to complete by), maybe you don't need to get on THAT horse right now.  Maybe you just need to walk it out, outline, let it ruminate a little.  Try getting back on another day.

Note the last sentence.  Try getting back on another day.  Don't quit forever.  I'll be getting back on Calico again, in a situation where I'm better prepared and have a trainer or trusty horseperson with me. 

The danger in giving yourself time after you fall off is that your brain develops a fear of going back.  It's a common problem… even in horse training.  That's why you always end a training session with something positive.  After my second fall, I walked her and gave her a good rub-down/massage.  Too often, writers will say they can't do it, they have writers block, and they say that EVERY DAY THEREAFTER because they are afraid of the situation, of the story, of what might or might not happen.

I was back out at the barn today.  We did some ground work and started building our relationship again.  In a week and a half, I've got a trainer coming and I'll hop back on her then.  The project and relationship is not at a dead end.  I just needed to step back.

With writing, it's a relationship with the Work In Progress.  At any time, I've got 3-4 WIPs, so if I'm stuck on one, I write on another.  I also can go back and do some character profiling, or outlining, or research (like learning how one does, in fact, deal with kelpies).  Just because I can't pump out words doesn't mean I have to not work on something, or that it's dead in the water. 

Maybe I don't feel like hopping on Calico right away - at least not without some help - but it doesn't mean I can't work with her.  It doesn't mean I won't ever try riding her again.  That would be awful!  Think of everything I'd miss - trail rides, the feel of riding, the bonding.

With a story, think of what you're missing by not riding it out.  What adventures won't happen?  What characters will you never meet or love?  What emotions will you never explore?  Take a breath, take a break, assess the situation - where you are, where your story is - and then take the next steps you need to take.  It may mean better outlining or slower plotting, but keep working with it, even in a reduced capacity.

Just remember, though, you don't always have to get right back on after a fall.  Sometimes it's okay to take a break… so that next time you're ready to get on your horse, you're better prepared for the adventure.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mane-ic Monday

Ok, that's a terrible play on "Manic," but in case you didn't guess, you're getting a horsey post!

First, a few interesting observations since Calico joined my life:


More than doubled my word count in one month on the WIP I started back in March.  (Granted, horses are important to the plot).

Sent out 2 queries for my other novel, plus 3 other queries.  (Granted, it's also September.)


Figured out how current WIP will end!  (Got some ideas from time with Renée, but it was a chat with the woman who's boarding Calico that sent the "ping" of the lightbulb - Thanks Sue!)


Besides those writing related things, I had my first formal riding lesson With My Own Horse this weekend, too.  Most of the lesson:  The Importance of the Right Saddle.

You WILL see a metaphor post on saddles and writing.

But it was a great lesson.  Calico has only had minimal training in her life.  (Her prior Mom went nice and slow and had to spend many years teaching the poor girl that Humans Can Be Nice - particularly after 12 horrible years of life as a PMU mare.)  Despite that, she picked up things very quickly and demonstrated a work ethic that made me proud.  (And I average 12-hours a day Monday-Thursday, and 5-6 hours on Sunday and Friday!)

Even better than that, her sweet and patient personality really shone through!  And that's more important than anything!

So, from now on, she will also be known as MM-o-A:  Mare Made of Awesome!


Well, besides sitting through three different saddle changes (one of which I got stuck on and couldn't get my freaking leg over the back of to dismount!) without more than a sigh, besides our continued re-figuring-out of her bitless bridle, besides being kind of stuck on cross ties and her stall while tacked during a few adventures today, she especially impressed me with how sweet she was with my good friends' two kids: aged 2 and 1.  And my friends. And me.  All today.

After our adventures in tacking (did I mention till I got her it's been well over a year since I tacked any horse?  and even then it was sporadic?), we started with the 2 year old first.  Calico has a nice smooth gait anyway, but she didn't have any problem and kept slowing and stopping (gently) whenever the little girl was coming close to being off balance.  We walked for a good 10 or so minutes.  Then my friend, Caroline got on her, and she was very good for Caroline, even breaking into a little trot on command!  Then the 1-year-old wanted to be with his Mommy, so we sat him on Caroline's lap and went back to leading in circles.  Too cute!!  After that, Dad Jesse wanted a turn.  He was able to mount right from the ground and readjust the saddle (because I need more practice with tack) right on her back.  Not a flinch.  Once we got all adjusted again, she walked a few more laps with Jesse.  Then, I decided to get a little daring.  (After all, Jesse is an EMT and Caroline works at a doctor's office.)  I got on Cali bareback.  Ooooh - she has the best back I've ever ridden bare on! (Shut up all of you sick-minded people!)  I was as comfy as I would have been in the saddle, and she was even more responsive to the leaning and turning.  Then, Caroline took a turn, and she was even better for Caroline!

After that, the kids were quite tired, needed food, and Cali had worked quite enough for the day.

Tomorrow we'll do some trotting on the lunge line and continue working on the mysterious "Whoa!" command that she's not entirely keen on.

Hm… not quite knowing when to stop?  Yep, yet another thing this horse has in common with me.  J  MM-of-A!

… of course, I forgot to grab my camera for the riding part, why do you ask?

Jesse took some pix with his iPhone, so I'm hoping to have something posted sooner or later.  ;)

In any case, I've just spent two pages talking about my awesome horse.  :)  My blogging requirement is complete.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fill-in-the-F Friday

Like my friend Teresa Jusino, I am rather fond of alliteration, so feel free to F-up my Friday… just, in a positive way 'cos I'm in a good mood.

Oh, ok, yes I know that F can also be positive.  But I do try to keep my blog around PG-13.  It's easier that way, and I'm lazy.

And generally polite.

So, some F is for Food…

I'm at Sturbridge Coffee House right now.  It's my 2nd favorite/most visited coffee shop in the area.  (The first is still Sturbridge Coffee Roasters – which started in Sturbridge and moved to Southbridge.  How's that for confusing!)  The SCH beans are Red Barn, which is a decent brand, but the barristas work some potent magic – especially with the crème brulee lattes.  The food is also good, though some is shipped in.  But the soups are homemade and excellent.  The best thing about this coffee shop is the atmosphere and its positive interaction with the community.  I've gotten a lot of great writing done here. 

And I love their southwestern veggie pattie breakfast sandwiches with crème brulee latte (iced or hot.)

Some F is for Friends (and Food)…

The reason I'm at the SCH instead of the SCR is twofold.  One is that John, Billy and their pup Audrey are over in P-town fundraising for a dog rescue.  (Yay!)  The other is that I'm also off to visit the CT crew down at ArTraxx Studios.  I get a lot of writing done down there, too, and the reason for that is because all of them are great inspiration.  I love all the glass works and Stef's paintings and just the energy that permeates the shops and studios.

On top of these friends, yesterday I met, in person, a wonderful member of my correspondence writing group.  A lovely young woman of 75 years old who continues to live a life of adventure and then writes the most charming narratives about her adventures.  Thanks to meeting with her for a three-hour lunch that just flew by, I have my inspiration for my essay for C. Hope Clark's annual essay contest.  It needs a little bit of rumination, and I'll sit down and bang it out.

Some F is for farrier…

… which, if you don't know, that's what you call the person who trims a horse's hooves.  Word, obviously, doesn't know it, and despite writing horse articles for years, I haven't gotten around to adding it to my dictionary.
            In any case, the farrier is coming tomorrow for Calico's hooves, and then I might have a lesson with Sue's trainer… or Sue and I will just hang out with horses.

Some F is for Fall…

Just 'cos.  It's pretty out side, and I get to wear some of my super-comfy long sleeved shirts, corduroys, and jeans,  and there are apples, pumpkins, squash, baking, etc.

Some F is for Freaking Crazy…

Because I still have a ton of stuff to do.  Yet, I need to get some of this fiction out or I won't be able to focus on other stuff.

F is for Fun!

Because I'm still in that kind of mood despite the stress, cramps, lack of sleep, and other such things.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writerly Bits & Ends

Chaos reigns!

Yay chaos?  Can I get some reins for it?

In any case, I'm exhausted and this blog is obviously later than late.

What's going on?  Funny you should ask!  'Cos thatsa what Ima gonna list right now.


My good friend Aimee, the Tokyo Writer, has some fabulous news that is tentative in it's concrete-ness… at least by American standards.  In any case, we are doing some hopeful, yet mysterious celebration.  Check out her blog for a few more hints!



Here's a cute pic of my friend Renee riding.  Calico's not keen on actually walking forward with people on her back, so we all needed a little help in making her move.


I am still crazily working on the revamped Broad Universe page (Link is to the current/old one).  As I have been allowed to appoint myself both the Readings and Events chick, I kinda took over all of the Events and Events-related sections (which include readings).  Will I ever learn to stop taking on more work?  Probably not, but damnit if it we aren't gonna have a sweet new website with a kick-ass Events section!


I owe an interview email to Shaenon K. Garrity for the Broad Sheet, but I'm behind.  I love her comic, though, so go check it out.

I also owe an interview with Voltaire to Worcester Magazine, but he is insanely busier than I am.  And I need to hear my editor about time & length.  -poke poke … in case said editor reads my blog.  <3 U! -


Still getting through Kelpie.  Had a great review with new in-person writer's group.  Which reminds me I owe some DragonWriters some crits - eep!

But, Kelpie is moving slowly as I have a gap of how I get from where I am to another part, and then from that part to the end.  In other words, neither my protag nor I have any clue exactly how we will fix this kelpie issue… just that the ending requires said kelpie issue fixed/removed.

Yeah… not exactly writer's block, but definitely writer's spinning gears.  I will likely end up writing lots of useless crap until I figure it out… and believe me, useless crap is flowing.  Advanced apologies to pre-readers.


Some MAJOR updates over at the Bad-Ass Faeries website. A few more artist pages are up, the complete set of freebie wallpaper is live, and all existing  author pages have live excerpt links. Check it out!


I keep meaning to do a link plop of people who's blogs you should be reading… but I am a terrible friend who is too exhausted to actually look up the urls for the blogs that remind me to read them via email (or diligent friends in chats, on FB, or Twitter.)

I still love you gals & guys!



Monday, September 20, 2010

September New Beginnings

Last Manic Monday, I chatted a little about my "New Year" of September.  A good part of that post was prompted by Indie Biz Chicks' Crissy Herron's Blogging Challenge.

Obviously, I'm not alone in feeling this rush of "Giddyap! Let's go!" with September. 

(Speaking of "Giddyap!", I rode Calico for the first time today!  Manda, Smart Steps Life Coach - I'm ahead of my project goal on that.)

All things considered, I went all out with my change of direction with September.  Between the teal-now-greenish hair, the horse, doing web design - albeit very LIMITED web design - of all things… Yeah, pretty big, and a LOT of learning curves.

On top of that, things are starting back up with the Society of Professional Communicators in Worcester, and I've got planned a Speed Networking meeting with the Downtown Women's Club. 

I may as well be back in School.

And I'm loving every minute of it.  Even the fact it's almost 4AM, and I'm exhausted.  I'm smiling.  Of course, I always loved the learning part of school.

As an adult, I'm also loving the social aspect - something I missed very much through most of school until I discovered fen-friends (granted, my understanding of the term "fen" for "fandom of SF/F/H" is also a recent learning thing, too).  Now, though, I've got a pretty active social and business life.  October, for example, has only one Sunday that is not scheduled, and no Saturdays.  The weekdays aren't looking that free either.  That, also, has been a big September thing.  My journey into fandom and freelance writing all began with contacts I made at my very first Dragon*Con in 2002. 

Even deeper, for me, September of 1996 was another life-changer.  Starting college, knowing nobody, I dove into a new commitment into social skills a week into classes where I crashed a friend of a friend of a roomate's (or something like that) Rocky Horror Picture Show Party.  Yeeeah - THAT was a learning curve for this sheltered Catholic girl.  But, I was undeterred!  In fact, I found an assertive moment and asked people in the room if anyone played D&D.

To this day, I'm friends with most of the people who were in that room.

I even married one of 'em!  Four Septembers later.

But I'm not the only person who would start new schools in September, or new jobs, or new learning endeavors.  September is hardly my special month alone.  Others have had similar experiences, so this new beginning while (at least in our hemisphere) everything is starting to die is a collective experience and blessing… and conundrum.

In any case, the School of Life is back in session… What are you doing to make the most of it? 

I'm pretty sure there'll be a test somewhere down the line.  Are you ready?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple-y Goodness!

It's rather apropos that I'm posting this blog post so gosh darn late.  Normally, Scott and I only manage to go apple picking in mid-late October, when we really have to work to find good apples.  We still come home with at least a good bushel, though, and then continue our "apple date" by baking crisps, pies, pizza (yes, apple pizza!) making sauce, and incorporating apples into every other dinner dish.

This year, though, I am getting a head start.  I've been doing a column for Worcester Magazine since spring called "Fresh Picked Woo," where I've been reviewing local Farmer's Markets.  As it's now apple season, I've shifted to orchards.  I know of three around here, which, with the 2-week regularity of the column, is probably all I'll get to cover for the season.

With "Fresh Picked Woo," I've been giving recipes for whatever I pick up at the markets, ranging from savory to sweet, BBQ side dishes to vegan main courses.  Since we're in New England, you can't throw a stone without encountering at least a good, if not outstanding apple pie or pie recipe; same goes for apple crisp, baked apples, apple streusel, apple cake… or basically, any freaking "American" apple dessert in existence.  So, I decided to go with all savory recipes.

Hadn't thought of apples as savory?  Oh - you're missing out!

This week has my apple stuffing which I use in pork chops, chicken, and (with added browned sausage) pumpkin and pepper stuffing.  Next "FPW" will be a spinach salad garnished with apples and drizzled with an apple-bacon-mustard dressing.  After that, I'm debating if I want to do my BBQ Chicken & apple pizza or a this dish I don't have a name for but is apples, sauerkraut, red onions fried in beer and served with either kielbasa or brats.  Oktober-applebeerfest?  Hmm…  Feel free to help me out on that one in the comments.

To snag those articles, you'll have to keep an eye on (or pick it up of you're a local.)  Online and print are both FREE!

What apple-icious stuff am I offering to my blog readers, though?

I'm offering a peck of tips and techniques that can be applied to a number of recipes.

Tip 1:  Diversify! 

Going apple picking means you can mix and match.  Throw in some Granny Smiths, Macouns, McIntosh, Cortland, Pink Lady… all in one bag.  While a lot of recipes will specifically call for one kind of apple, I found that putting in a few kinds - especially in pastry or dessert recipes, yields a better texture and more complex flavor.

Different kinds apples have different levels of sugar, starch, and other chemicals, which means that some apples will retain their bite when cooked while others turn to mush.  In a pie, crumble, streusel, crisp, applesauce, etc, - this is GREAT!  You get the best of all worlds in juice, smoosh, crunch, and tenderness.  You also get a mix of flavors, tart, super-sweet, floral, etc. 

Tip 2:  Mix and match prep.

Cooks Illustrated just happened to have one of their great deconstruction recipes for apple crisp this month, and I learned something I should have thought of myself.  Sauté your apples before you bake them.  I can totally see this adding more dimension to crisp - but also, think of the pie?  And, my thoughts, what if you want to try a few different textures?  Sauté some, leave others raw.   I do this in my apple stuffing already, and I always break my batch of apples up in the Oktober-beer-apple-etc. thingy, too, so some can cook down to next to nothing, and others are still firm when you serve it up.

Tip 3:  Fusion

Add apples to some of your favorite ethnic dishes, like curry, stir-fry, pasta, tabouleh, paella, fajitas…  Seriously.  Very yummy!  Dip tart apples, like Granny Smiths, in a plain hummus, or get creative and make a hummus with a touch of nutmeg and clove for apple-dipping.  Apple chipotle tart?  It works!  Throw some apples into jasmine or Basmati rice and eat it plain or with your favorite saucy dish or add some cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and milk or cream for a delicious dessert.  And I already mentioned apple pizza.

Tip 4:  Healthier substitutions!

I'm constantly surprised at how few people know you can replace the oil in a lot of the instant cake or quick bread mixes with an equal volume of apple sauce (or pumpkin - but that's a different post.)  Also, try baking or dehydrating apples seasoned with sea-salt, pepper, and a touch of malt vinegar for a savory chip-type snack.

Tip 5:  Just add them!

So many recipes take on a new, and delicious, personality when apples join in the fun and games.  Dice apple into oatmeal, whole grain side dishes and salads, and chopped salads.  Grate apple into just about any slaw (tart ones tend to better for the slaws, but be daring!).  Slice apples on your cheese plate (toss with lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar to keep them from browning).  Throw cubes of apple into just about any stuffing recipe.  Steam them with a veggie side dish.  Greens (collard, mustard, mixed…).  Baked beans.  Squash soup.  BBQ sauce…

Of course, pairing the apples with whatever you're cooking means you should take some time to get an idea of their flavor profiles.  Also, keep in mind fresh-picked apples will taste and act differently than store bought apples, which could actually sit for up to 9 or 10 months!  But really, there's little excuse not to keep sampling. 

You know what they say about an apple a day…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Sequels

"Don't work on the sequel while waiting to hear back on your first book…"

"Write a stand alone novel first…"

If you follow agents, attend writing workshops and panels, or read writing articles, you've probably seen or heard this advice once or twice.  If you're a science fiction or fantasy writer, in particular, you may sport some bruises for having it banged over your head.  What is it about sequels that intrigues and inspires us – particularly sf&f writers – so much that people feel the need to constantly advise us about them?  And what can we do when we've planned out the sequels' sequels in our heads already?

I've got some ideas.

On the "Why?":  It's about our relationship to books.

Most writers – at least the good ones or the ones who actually have a chance of selling a book – are voracious readers.  And, like chefs who cook their favorite styles of foods, writers will often find themselves writing the kinds of books they love to read.  Because those are the books they have a relationship with.

Before we jump on the self-perpetuation of various fiction genres, particularly the already sequel-ridden SFF fiction, let me say there is more too it than that.  There is a certain psychological profile of people who like these genres; the readers come looking for different things – thusly, so do most of the genre's writers.

As I haven't any "official" research to this, I offer only my own humble observations and experiences – but they paint a pretty vivid picture.

When I do read outside of genre, or speak with readers of mainstream, literary, or chick-lit type books, the overwhelming purpose of reading is entertainment, diversion; the book is just another medium that delivers entertainment similar to a television series or movie.  The next largest reason for reading is intellectual stimulus: the reader is looking to learn something either from a trusted source or within the beautiful chambers of fiction prose.

To personify this relationship, some might compare the book characters to friendly colleagues or bar buddies or casual acquaintances.  For others it’s a passionate fling, maybe including breakfast, but with an exchange of numbers and no real intent to follow through unless chance throws you together or you want another – temporary – sense of familiarity.  "Yeah, I like those people.  Sure, I'll grab a few drinks with them again."

Most SFF readers I know start a book looking for a relationship – at least on a subconscious level.  You might say that they're "just meeting for coffee" or "having a few drinks,"  but the antennae are up, like any date.  "Will this be a new lover?  New close friend?  Someone I can go to when the world is just too much to take?"

Part of that comes from the fact that many fans have gone through a certain level of being socially ostracized.  In all the SFF conventions I've attended, I'm constantly finding people who share similar experiences of being bullied, not feeling comfortable in social situations.  Some have confided social disabilities, such as autism, Asperger's syndrome; others have physical disabilities or issues that led them to be easy targets of childhood's cruelty.  Many were just the "smart ones" in class, leading to the taunting and daily torture by classmates.

Books were our escape to places away from the painful classroom; characters were the friends we didn't have in person, who we could cry to, and who would never leave us for the "popular" group.  Books with sequels created "peers" who would travel with us, confronting new challenges as we did, and – in the good books, changing and growing as we did. 

On top of that, these characters were the ideal partners we just weren't cool enough to have in real life.  I, for one, had a steady relationship with R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden for most of high school.  And he forgave me for my flings with Margaret Weis's and Tracy Hickman's Tasslehoff Burrfoot.

Another look at how SFF fans create such deep relationships with our characters is the flourishing fanfic communities.  If the author is no longer providing us with sequels (or even if s/he is), readers and writers take their relationships with the characters to all sorts of levels.  Think of the oft-cited Mary Sue problem of writers who write a more perfect version of themselves into the story!

I know there are some fanfic writers and more obsessive readers outside of SFF fandom, but their numbers can't even compare.  However, those would be the non-SFF writers the above warnings were written for.

So, this need for a deep, ongoing relationship with characters is what drives the constant need for sequels.  Many in the SFF community are also gamers, who've created these fictional but safe – though real on an emotional and psychological level - relationships via role-playing games, so their writing (you know, those 400,000 word doorstops that drive fear and loathing into the hearts of agents and editors) reflects that level of obsession.  Writers, who have grown up nurtured by these long-term relationships with book characters, continue to create those kind of relationships in the characters they write.  It's part of their entire psychological, spiritual, and emotional definition of relationships: fictional characters.  There are even studies into fandom's mourning rituals for characters who die.

Sometimes, you just can't help the fact that your writing will have sequels; you just have that relationship with some characters.  What can help is to look at other potential fictional relationships.  Have you ever had that one person who came into your life, changed you at soul level (for better or for worse), and left?  What about some of those work colleagues or bar buddies or casual friends?  Treasure the relationships you have with your ongoing character(s), but even in real life, utter devotion to a person or small group – to the extent of excluding others – is unhealthy.  Search out and discover other relationships you can have with characters that let you work in a variety of media: short story, stand alone novel, poem.  Unless one of my short stories is tied into a novel, most of my relationships with those characters don't have deep character sheets or workbooks or bibles.  They're my casual acquaintances, work friends, and coffee-shop buddies (I'm not too much of a barfly). 

When you have a work interview, you don't focus on the deep intricacies of your love life, right?  (Please, say you don't.)  Or how, exactly, you expect each and every one of your children, pets, siblings, and spouses will live their whole entire lives?  You might share a single story to show who you are and why you're best for the job--that doesn't require the interviewer to know you crashed your (then-future) husband's Rocky Horror Picture Show party, started dating over a 4-hour long staring contest, which 8 months later, resulted in a proposal with a rubber chicken, and let me tell you about the sex!  (Again, you don't do this, right?  Right?)  Your interview anecdotes should still reveal your passion, but they should suit the situation.  Your first novel (that you send to an agent or editor) should also be able to stand alone; it shouldn't require sequels and prequels (though they may exist).  Make it as amazing as you would want to present yourself in an interview, but just like you wouldn't expect your potential boss tie her/himself to your entire life in one sitting, don't expect that of your agent or editor. 

As you're writing, absolutely cultivate your relationships with your characters – all kinds of relationships!  Know their whole life stories and sequels, even if all the details won't ever make it to the most final sequel ever.  If have a passionate relationship with your characters, others will want to, also.  (And it's not even cheating!)  When you're querying, however, remember it's for a job and present your relationships accordingly – professionally. 

You want a sequel to that book contract, too, right?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Second New Year

Yes, I have my big ritual for the New Year most of the world celebrates on January 1st, but September is often its own New Year to kick-start our productivity.

School starts right before or in September.

A new television season starts in September.

The air is getting cooler and there's a bustle of preparation for winter.

Fall Harvest is traditionally a major time of change and preparation.

For me, Dragon*Con now also kicks off September.  Whenever I get together with the DragonWriters, meet so many people who are mentors or inspirations for me - and interact with them, attend so many workshops and panels on writing and literature… I just can't help but feel inspired!

                                          (Trish; JIM BUTCHER; Husband-of-Awesome Scott)

Since Dragon*Con:

I redid my 1-page synopsis for Starbard
Wrote almost 4000 words on Kelpie
Banged out a poem inspired by my friend Stef's painting, "Eagle Dance"
Went through a big change with Aurelio that I will deal with in January
Recovered enough from certain injuries where I could go and play with Calico
Started a new semester with Smarthinking
Am planning for another big editing project
Am redesigning 2 different websites
Finished editing "Cemetery Angels"
Set up a publicity interview for a friend
Caught up on all my correspondence critiques
Published a new Broad Pod
Cleaned my desk… again

All in less than a week!

Ok, so maybe I only got one and a half loads of laundry done… and Scott cooked most of the meals… minus the take out a couple times… but I did dishes!

What I'm planning to do starting Monday/today:

Finish my Broad Universe web editing
SUBMIT Starbard
SUBMIT some short stories, including "Cemetery Angels"
Get cracking on 2011 Broad Pod… for TWO episodes per month - stay tuned!
New semester Smarthinking Work
Possibly start on the NEW BAF4 short story

And throughout the week:

New editing project
SPC meeting on Tuesday
MORE writing on Kelpie
FINALLY get my email back to < 100 in the inbox

And… um… more than I feel like typing right now because, welllll… look what the heck I've got planned!

(Check out the super-fab art from Christy's H-of-A for BAF3's "Last Gate to Faerie"!)

Episode 8: Death & Loss

Broad Pod September Episode by Broad Universe  
Download now or listen on posterous
September Episode.mp3 (12106 KB)

Welcome to the September Episode 8 of the Broad Pod!  Hosted by Trisha Wooldridge, this month brings you readers Kelly A. Harmon, Roberta Gregory, Christy Tohara, Bonnie Lee, and Jean Marie Ward as they explore the many sides of Death and Loss.  Join us as we pay our respects in these poignant tales!


Please let us know what you think in the comments.  :)

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fun Faery Friday!

Yippy-Skippy Faery news!

Bad-Ass Faeries now has its own webpage and blog.  Whooooo!

So, check us out on Livejournal here.

Our website is

Here's my bio and pic!  Danielle did a great job with them: Do want a copy of that pic.  BTW, I'm wearing horns made by Danielle there, too.

Also, props to Danielle Ackley-McPhail for putting it all together.  Check out her other site for her great military fiction here:

On top of that, Christy and I are slated for the next Bad-Ass Faeries anthology: It's Elemental.  We're tackling some Hawaiian faerie in a sorta-kinda love story… which, if you know us, means heartache, violence, and tragedy.  Not necessarily in that order.

At least we're sure it shouldn't be as dark as the last BAF we did.  How messed up am I that I use this little anecdote to promote the story:

My mom and aunt had attended the Massachusetts release part for Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, so I got up and proceeded to say that I would read one of the less dark and violent parts.  My editor [Lee], then asked, "What are you going to read then?"


In any case, check out the website and blog!  Look for more updates on our work, and even a nice variety of blog posts from Bad-Ass Faerie authors. 

Woot faeries!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Post DragonCon Delirium

Warning: More Scattered than Usual Blog post!


DRAGON*CON!!  I'm Back!! 

Points of fabulosity:



Both BEYOND BINARIES panels.  Great panelists, great audience… great ideas to make it even better for next year!

(The Beyond Binaries panels were done with my friend Sunder Cameron Addams and explored SF&F beyond male/female gender/sexuality.  'Cos, you know, it's SF&F… aliens and other fantastic beings.  Why do we get so stuck with traditionally gendered pairings and sex?)

Also, after Beyond Binaries 101, Jim Butcher flew up about a million more points in my opinion as he stayed until wellll after the panel to sign things for fans, chat, and have pictures taken.  Yay Jim Butcher!

Beyond Binaries 201 also had a full room and talked about sex - whee!

Sunder moderated the WHAT WOMEN WANT panel, which also flew by and was a ton of fun.  It was basically about what women want to see in SF/F writing/reading/etc. - with a lot of wonderful discussion. Thanks, Sunder!

In the Alternate History Track, Emilie Bush moderated a most fun STEAM QUEENS AND CLOCKWORK HOOKERS panel discussing feminism and women in Steampunk genre.  We had a ton of fun there, with a lot of great audience questions and conversations.  Thanks, Emilie!

We had not one but two RAPID FIRE READINGS for Broad UniverseCindy Macleod invited us to revisit BROADS THRU TIME for alternate history, where I read one piece of "Last Gate to Faerie" from the latest Bad-Ass Faeries anthology: In All Their Glory.  I read another section for the BROAD UNIVERSE RAPID FIRE READING in the Literary track run by Sue Phillips.  Both readings had nice audiences and, as always, I enjoyed hearing my sister Broads read!

Very special thanks to Cindy and Sue for inviting us back in 2010!  We're looking forward to 2011.


Another bit of Dragon*Con Awesomeness:

Weird Tales editor Stephen Segal started a new poetry slam/performance panel on the Lit Track (Even more Props to Sue!).  On the panel he included Cherie Priest and...

*drum roll*


I can't imagine many more things that get a "ZOMGsqueeee!" than that.

Scott was in the audience, thankfully, or I mighta just chickened out.

I didn't.

I took my place among the readers, pulled out my cute little chapbook, and read all of "The Unicorn & the Old Woman" to the audience and panel.

Not to sound proud, but I really think that was the best performance I've ever given of that poem.

At the end, and again at the end of the whole panel, I got many compliments, sold copies of the chap book… and more specifically, Rogue said he liked it!!!*

In case you didn't know or couldn't tell by context, Rogue is the writer/head man for my number-one-favorite-ever band, the Crüxshadows.  Were it not for the Crüxshadows, I would not have found out or attended my first ever Dragon*Con in 2002.  The lyrics are the most powerful and personally moving to me than any other band in my collection.

The fact I read MY poem in front of Rogue?  And the fact he complimented me on it?!

Forget Cloud 9… I was on Cloud 11.  (Take that Spinal Tap!)  And still am.

*Reality check:  Yes, Rogue was exceptionally kind and supportive to everyone, not just me.  BUT the Husband-of-Awesome, who WILL tell me if that dress makes me look fat, said that the panel was watching me attentively, including Rogue, and he doesn't lie.  :)


That's all I can fit now… but that's not "All."  Stay tuned for Faery Friday and more great news!

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