Still writing!

The team is still writing, and will, I suspect, continue to do so long after the current write-a-thon is a fond memory.

In the first week of the write-a-thon I sold my story “The Telling” to the online Fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  That’s had me in a Fantasy mood.  Here are excerpts from a couple of stories I have been working on over the last few weeks:

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On Word Counts and Write-A-Thons

I finished a new draft of a key scene in my novella today. It’s one that I’ve come back to again and again, never feeling like the latest iteration hits the right notes. This new version seems solid, though. It’s good enough that my brain has moved on to thinking of other scenes.

Through the rewrites great and small, my word count has changed by a few hundred words. So by Write-A-Thon terms, I haven’t made much progress. I deliberately choose words as my metric because I’m trying to string enough of them together to finish this novella/novel, and that won’t happen without the accumulation of words into sentences, sentences into scenes.

It happens, though, that another part of my brain is working to make sure the parts that are written do what they ought. And that’s fine. I made good progress today by either measure. New words were written, old ones expunged. I think the exchanges were good ones.

All the while things move, always too slowly, forward.

Kari Weighs In

I don’t actually have time to do anything at all at the moment, so I’m starting this entry at 1:24 a.m. on a Saturday.  I shall claim this makes sense to me.

My name is Kari Maaren, and I’ve never been to Clarion, but I did the Write-a-Thon last year and enjoyed it very much.  I spent the six weeks editing a novel I had completed several months before.  This year, I’m writing the sequel to that novel.  I’m not sure if this makes me an optimist or just kind of nuts.

I’ve actually written a lot of novels.  My usual process is:  1)  spend months or years shaping a novel in my head; 2) write everything down over a relatively short period of time; 3) obsessively edit for a rather longer period of time; 4) put the novel away forever on a particular bookshelf.  I sent a novel out once when I was twenty or so.  That was before there was such a thing as an e-mail submission process, so I sent it via snail mail.  The rejection was not unexpected, but I still somehow managed to use it as an excuse over the course of the next decade and a half not to shop out my stuff.  My stated excuse was always that synopses and cover letters were much harder to write than actual novels.

Last year’s Write-a-Thon constituted my attempt to force myself to end the Cycle of Inaction.  It worked, too.  In the course of the Write-a-Thon, I edited until I could edit no more, then, for the first time in my life, wrote a synopsis that was not ten pages long.  I’ve even managed to submit to a few agents and publishers.  Rejection still hurts, but it’s better than sitting around whining about how I can’t write a synopsis.  I’ve managed to send out a short story as well; it was shortlisted for a competition in the spring, and it’s now making the rounds.  I don’t write all that much short fiction, though I wish I did.

This year’s Write-a-Thon is going to be a bit insane because I need to do about six other things on top of it.  For the Write-a-Thon, I’ve pledged to write 30,000 words of my current novel.  The first in the series was a YA time-travel tale, and the second continues the story from the perspective of a different character.  I’m also developing an online university course on fairy tales and fantasy; it’s supposed to be done, oh, around now, though I still have two and a half units to go.  I’m teaching yet another online course and will soon have about 120 essays to mark, then another 120 later in the summer.  I’m keeping up my webcomic, which I post every two days.  Finally, I have been doing a lot with my music lately; I write geeky songs and perform them, accompanying myself on the ukulele, at a monthly reading series run by a small publisher for which I sometimes read slush.  I’m not really much of a singer, but people seem to find the songs amusing.  I’ve just put four of them online (in not particularly professional recorded-with-one-microphone-in-my-apartment versions), prompted by the fact that Paul and Storm released their George R. R. Martin song five days before I was to perform mine.  These things do happen, alas.

So yeah, I am insane to be doing the Write-a-Thon, but that’s okay.  It’s enjoyable, and the money goes to a cause I believe in.

Have some links:  my Clarion profile page, my comic, my blog (mostly associated with the comic, but containing other stuff too), and my Audioboo channel (the first four “boos” are the songs I recently posted; the others are mostly just me noodling on the ukulele).

I shall leave you with a comic about writing I did a few years ago:

Another Day, Another Story. What Monica Is Writing.

I’ve never been to the Clarion Workshops, but I’ve known a lot of authors and mentors who have. I have a lot of love for intense workshops because that’s one of the best ways to get the guidance needed to write and keep revising and shaping your work.

That’s part of the reason why I joined the Write-A-Thon and am excited this is going through August 4th. The other reason is because my focus has shifted from work-for-hire to writing on spec. This is unusual for me because it’s been a long time since I’ve worked on my original novels or stories. I started out in a very literary atmosphere in a Creative Writing program. Life (and monetary concerns, coupled with deer-in-headlights I have “no” idea how to move forward with my career) got in the way. Eventually I found myself knee-deep in games, game fiction, and other entertainment-related writing. My work has changed with the tech; I’ve had a few stories included in Kickstarter projects and published an enhanced e-book called “The Queen of Crows.”

But now? I have a day job that supports my ability to write on spec. I have two more stories I’m revising for other people then I’m on to my own work: one novel, and a series of novellas. (My bookkeeping isn’t so great, though, I’ll have to update my word count after this weekend…)

It’s a rough publishing world out there, I know, but part of what Clarion and other places like this provide is a sense of community. We all love to tell good stories and read them. Now we have the chance to share them and get to know one another, too.

Regardless of whether or not you sponsor me, personally, I hope you’ll consider helping someone else in any way you can. The path of a writer is not an easy one, but sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to boost an author’s morale.

For more about me and my work, visit http://www.mlvwrites.com/. You can also read some excerpts on my Clarion Writer’s profile here.

Happy writing (and reading)!

Let’s Get Started – What Camille Is Up To

Since this blog is for the public, who might not know what’s going on, maybe we should start by talking a little about what we’re doing here: about our goals, about our projects, about Clarion and the Write-a-thon.  (Or any of the above in separate posts.)

My name is Camille LaGuire. I went to Clarion in 1982.  This is the second year I’ve done the Write-a-thon.  I really like writing challenges — especially ones which let you set your own goals.  My blog is called  “The Daring Novelist” because it’s a kind of personal on-going novel dare.

Lately I’ve been using the A Round Of Words In 80 Days challenges to keep working.  (They are year-around writing efforts: 80 days on, 10 days off.)  The next round will be starting on July 2, so I’m going to be combining TWO challenges for a while. (I generally don’t do NaNoWriMo because it’s too restrictive in terms what you can do and when you can do it.  But I like to cheer people on who do it.)

The one thing I’m just not good at for a write-a-thon is fundraising. I don’t like spam, I don’t send it and I don’t read it myself.  I don’t mind, however, just talking about things I’m doing … and this year, a thought struck me:

This summer, I’m writing a serialized story on my blog. It’s for fun and my education, and I’m talking about it a lot.  And I’m illustrating it, and I’m talking about that too.  So instead of talking about Clarion and the serial and the art all separately, I decided to combine them.

That’s my fundraising strategy right there.  I have a begging bug at the bottom of every episode, and I’m promising anyone who pledges an early look at the end of the story.

Is it working yet?  Uhhhhhh, no.  I did get some nice donations, but they were from fellow Clarion writers.  But then the serial itself only has a couple of dozen regular readers as yet.

As for my goals:

One episode on The Misplaced Hero finished every day, for 42 episodes.

There are probably only 20-24 more episodes to go in the story, howevever, because I’m focusing on really super short episodes (600-700 words) I want to let the corset out and expand it when I turn it into an ebook.  So on any day I don’t finish a blog episode, I have to take an existing blog episode and turn it into a more fleshed out book chapter.

I post the story twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, on my blog. Here are links to the intro and first episode.

Whoops, I forgot, I was going to end with one of the illustrations from the serial: