Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's Official

As of 7:30 pm tonight:


A writer is a world trapped in a person. -- Victor Hugo

We're four days out from the finish line of NaNoWriMo 2014, and hopefully everyone has made some gratifying progress toward their writing goals. I know some of you are thinking now that you won't make 50K, and that's okay. Really.

Making the big goal is nice -- very nice -- but you aren't a loser if you have to deal with life instead of writing, or the story you chose to write isn't working for you, or whatever else keeps you from stepping into the official winner's circle this year. Losing Jak, one of my beloved rescue cats, kept me from finishing NaNo back in 2010; as it happens when I reached the end of the month I hadn't even make the halfway point. Still, I was very proud of what I did manage to write that year, and it helped me through a horrible time.

Earlier I was cruising around the NaNoWriMo forums when I found in the You know you're a writer when . . . topic one of those so-true-it-hurts comments:

"Every song is about your characters." (posted by crossing)

Every song is, actually -- I can't listen to music without applying it to a character in some story I'm writing or have written or want to write. Even music I don't care for eventually becomes theme songs for my antagonists. Same goes for art; I'm always thinking which of my people would own this painting or that sculpture (I once had an epiphany about Lucan from the Darkyn novels while wandering around a glass-blower's booth at an art show; that's where his Shatter talent was actually born.)

It doesn't stop there. When I cook I think about recipes that would please my characters, and when I shop I check out the latest fashions to dress my younger, hipper crews. In reality I can't cook or shop for them (that's the line into Writer LaLaLand I won't cross) but thinking about it is natural. My characters are with me everywhere I go, as they have been since I was eight years old and wrote my first story. They may not be real, but they're mine and I'm the one who knows them best and they belong to me as nothing else in life has.

Which is why all the songs are about them, and all the art revolves around them, and everything that teases my imagination in some way goes to them. Because I belong to them, too.

Any last thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2014? Let us know in comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Canadian Sub Op

Here's an open call for Canadian writers only to submit steampunk short stories for the upcoming Clockwork Canada anthology: "I am interested in all permutations of Steampunk, including Boilerpunk, Clockpunk, Gaslight Romance, Raygun Gothic, Stitchpunk, and other variations. Stories must be set in Canada. There are no restrictions on the time period, though technology should be limited to pre-twentieth century. I want to see Canadian takes on classic Steampunk elements, but I would also like to see more than just steam technology. I highly recommend reading Amal El-Mohtar’s excellent article, Towards a Steampunk Without Steam, for inspiration in this respect: Many great Steampunk stories interrogate and engage with historical and cultural elements in their setting. In particular, we often see the exploration of characters and stories that were ignored by dominant historical narratives. Although alternate history is a large component of Steampunk, be aware of Canadian history and utilize it or rework it in original ways. For example, how would the proliferation of more capable steamships and airships have altered immigration in Canada? How would the western expansion, the Trans-Canada Railway, and the Underground Railroad have been affected by alternate forms of transportation? I am looking for stories that explore diverse settings with all manner of characters: Aboriginals, Francophones, senior citizens, LGBTQIAs, PoC, etc." Length: 2-8K; Payment: "5 cents/word for original fiction and a contributor’s copy." On reprints: "will be considered if the story has appeared in journals and magazines, but NOT in book form (collections, anthologies, etc.). Payment for reprints is 2 cents per word. Indicate where the story was first published and when in the cover letter. Reprint stories must also be set in Canada." Electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Reading period opens" Reading period: December 1st, 2014 (don't submit stories before this date.) Deadline: April 30th, 2015.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Ten

Ten Things to Help with Thanksgiving

21 easy Thanksgiving crafts for kids will keep them busy while Mom cooks. has some neat, before-the-big-meal ideas here for Thanksgiving appetizers; I might try these blue cheese and pear tartlets.

The simplest no-cook appetizer I know that just about everyone loves: alternate chunks of fruit and cheese on bamboo skewers to make pretty nibbly kabobs (and older kids who can be trusted with pointy sticks can easily put these together, too.)

Better Homes & Gardens has some suggestions here for indoor Thanksgiving decorating.

Not sure how long to thaw, how much to stuff, and/or how long to roast your turkey? You can call, chat or e-mail the experts at Butterball Turkey; get more details at their website contact page here.

The Cooking Channel has a yummy photo gallery of Thanksgiving Dessert recipes here.

Cooking Light has a great celebrations section here with lots of interesting healthy-option recipes and menu ideas for your turkey day.

Three easy and elegant Thanksgiving centerpieces from Good Housekeeping.

For those who want to skip the turkey and go meatless this holiday, Martha Stewart has a nice selection of main dish options here.

And finally, for those like me who can't be trusted with a candy thermometer (I've broken about a hundred, actually) but want to make a sweet treat for Thanksgiving, my famous No-Brainer Fudge recipe is #5 on this holiday helps ten list.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sub Op

Parsec Ink has an open call for their upcoming Lost Voices antho: Theme: "We are a speculative fiction market. We accept science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Please do not send stories without any speculative element. We love creative interpretations of our themes, but we do require that stories fit the current theme. We will run mature content if we like the story and if the mature content is integral to the story. We will not accept fanfic, even if it’s of a fictional universe that has passed into public domain." Length: "We will consider fiction up to 6,000 words. There is no minimum word count." Payment: " We pay 2 cents per word. Authors will also receive an e-book and print version of the anthology and wholesale pricing for additional printed copies (typically 50% of cover price)." No reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Submissions Open: December 1st, 2014 (do not submit before this date.) Deadline: February 28th, 2015.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

LT Secret Santa

Library Thing is holding their eighth annual SantaThing:

"What’s SantaThing? SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

Done this before? SantaThing sign up is now open!

How it works: You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others."

I did this last year, and had such a neat time that I've signed up again for 2014 -- so if you join in, you just might end up with me as your Secret Santa (and my Santee last year really enjoyed my picks, so I'm also a pretty decent book Santa.) Sign-ups for SantaThing will close next Sunday, November 30th, 2014 at 8pm Eastern, so if you want to join in, get to it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The 29

This short video offers 29 simple ways to stay creative; my personal favorite is #14 (and this one has some snappy background music, for those of you at work):


Thursday, November 20, 2014

ETA Ten Days

This past week has been eventful and interesting, in the Chinese curse kind of way. I took the weekend off from NaNoWriMo to wrap up my ghost writing gig, which I turned in two weeks early (hooray!) at which point my client instantly offered me another job (gulp) that started immediately (of course). So I'm very glad I've been putting in a few hundred extra words over my NaNo daily goal, because they allowed me to take those two days off and say yes to the new job offer.

I admit, I'm a bit tired, too. Mentally bouncing betweem two projects isn't the problem -- it actually helps keep me fresh and engaged in both -- but trying to manage two separate writing sessions every day and also juggle my domestic responsibilities is the real challenge. I just discovered a couple of tiny mountaineers scaling the dirty laundry piled in the washroom hamper. Thanksgiving is in one week, and while I have a nice turkey in the freezer I haven't yet confirmed the guest list, planned the final menu or found my favorite holiday tablecloth. P.S., sometime between now and next Monday I'm having the carpets cleaned.* Don't ask me which day; I forgot to write it down on the calendar.

Still, whenever I remember to look up from whatever I'm working on, I can catch just a glimpse of that 50K waiting for me at that November 30th finish line. For some reason it doesn't look worried, either. I think it knows how much fun I'm having, and how good it's been for me to get back to a daily writing routine, and that no matter how tired I feel, even that's wonderful, because it's the good, satisfied, I-kicked-butt writer tired I haven't felt for most of this year.

So how are things going with you NaNo novelists out there? Let us know in comments.

*Guess what? They just called to confirm -- they're coming today!