studious

May in Review

Apparently I forgot to get to this at the begining of the month. Oops. Let's see if I remember anything I did!

Writing
I finished writing The Moon Etherium! So that was cool.

I made some notes for a sequel, The Sun Etherium.

The Business of Writing
I started work on the cover for The Moon Etherium. I made a couple of versions that I kind of hate. I will see if I can hire a real artist to do the cover for this one. WISH ME LUCK.

I finished first-round edits on The Moon Etherium and sent it off to beta readers.

Art/Other
Did a few color doodles of characters from The Moon Etherium and a couple of random sketches, plus the aforementioned work on cover art.

Socializing
I went to Seattle and visited terrycloth! It was a good low-key visit.  <3

Happiness
May was mixed. To be honest, I've been kind of depressed ever since I finished writing The Moon Etherium. Every now and then I pull myself out of the funk for a little while, but I keep slipping back into it.
studious

Only the Open, MCA Hogarth

This is the book haikujaguar wrote while I was writing The Moon Etherium. We talked about what we were writing a fair bit as we did so, but we weren't reading on another's work while it was in progress. I didn't start reading Only the Open until it was published.

I finished Only the Open (Amazon link) less than 24 hours after I started reading it, and enjoyed it a great deal. The cast is huge and deftly-drawn, with lots of distinctive personalities, traits, and quirks to make even minor characters endearing. I loved some of the little touches, like the two enslaved Christians who debated religion to pass the time.

This is my favorite book in the series since Even the Wingless. I like the way the Chatcaavan Empire has become fleshed out as a more real and varied place than Wingless suggests, and that while the author still shows the casual cruelty of the culture, there's also Chatcaavans doing ordinary things and taking pleasure in pedestrian acts. In general, I think this worked very well: the point being that even monsters can be banal or kind. At certain points, they struck me as too flexible, too willing to accept the possibility that they were wrong, which made some solutions too facile.

But overall, I like the way the scope and variety of individual natures was portrayed, and the way experience of the setting varied depending on the character's place in it.

There's a lot of violence, torture, rape, and abuse in Only the Open (and a little bit of consensual sex). Not as much as with Wingless, but more than in Some Things Transcend or Amulet Rampant. Also lots of action and clever planning, some of which is amusing in its outside-the-action/adventure-box quality. It's the fourth in what will probably be a six book series, so it relies heavily on elements established in the previous books. It has a satisfying wrap-up of the central conflict for this book, but there are many more unresolved conflicts and some major characters are left in serious jeopardy at the end. I have faith Micah won't leave her readers dangling for too long before the next installment, however. I am rating this one a 9,
studious

Call for Beta Readers for The Moon Etherium

I am almost done* with my first round of edits on The Moon Etherium. So I am looking for beta readers!

Blurb:

As prince of the Sun Etherium, Mirohirokon has everything: immortality, invulnerability, and the aetheric power to be anything he desires, to satisfy almost any desire.

But the one thing aether cannot give him is his father's freedom. For a chance to win that, he will have to give up everything, and trust that the woman he loves will not betray him.

Even after he betrays her.

The Moon Etherium is a fantasy M/F romance in a magic-rich setting.  It has a strong fantasy action/adventure plotline in addition to the romance (unlike, say, A Rational Arrangement or Further Arrangements, which I consider to have romance-only plots). There is some explicit sex. It's about 118,000 words (400ish paperback pages)

No one has read this book yet but me!  This is so weird. I'm interested in:

  • General feedback

  • Spelling/grammar/editing artifact errors

  • Continuity errors

  • Overused words

  • Confusing text: (eg, if you find yourself confused about what's going on, or what this word the characters keep using means in the context of the story, or things of that nature)

If you'd like to beta-read it, please leave a comment with your email address! Comments are screened**.  Or you can send an email/private message/whatever. I will be sending a link to Google Docs, so please provide a Google-enabled email address.

I'd like to receive feedback in the next couple of weeks.

I'll pick a handful of readers for the first pass, and possibly more for a second, depending on how many revisions I make after the first.

I'll be sending out invitations either today (Friday) or tomorrow.

Thank you!

* ie, "ready to give up on"
** (*double-checks*) Really, they are!
Me 2012

Seattle-bound tomorrow!

I am leaving for Seattle Way Too Early tomorrow morning!  I will be in the area, visiting <lj user="terrycloth">, until Monday morning. If you are in the area and would like to see me, drop me a line!  :)
Me 2012

Questions on Fictional Genderqueer Character

In the book I just finished drafting, The Moon Etherium, shapeshifting is trivial, and many people in the setting change their appearance casually, including changing their gender. Gender is mostly about aesthetics, but gender differences are considered a fun thing to play with.

One of the major characters, Jino, likes to present variously as either male or female. Jino has a mild preference for male forms; let's say Jino has historically chosen to present as male about 75% of the time.
When Jino is present in a scene, the narrator and characters interacting with Jino use the pronouns appropriate to Jino's current gender presentation. When Jino presents as a woman, everyone uses "she", and when Jino presents as a man, everyone uses "he". I'm reasonably happy with the way this part works.

Jino is the parent to one of my main characters, and that character variously calls Jino either "Dad" or "Mom", as appropriate.  I'm a little squidgier on this one; I am concerned that it will confuse the reader, especially since the character's other parent, Ele, is also a significant character and consistently presents as female. (Ele is never called "Mom"; she's referred to as "mother" or by title).

There are a number of conversations that take place where other characters are talking about Jino while Jino's not present, and the characters have not particularly consistent in what pronouns they use for Jino.  I haven't come up with a good solution for this issue.  Is the character who only met Jino once while Jino was presenting as female going to consistently use 'she'? Or 'he' because the son usually calls Jino "Dad"? I don't really want to use "they"; I've been using "they" for characters using nonbinary gender presentations, and Jino presents unambiguously as either male or female. Moreover, it wouldn't get me out of "should the son call Jino "Dad" when Jino isn't around, even if Jino was female the last time the son saw Jino?" issue.  I don't think there's a good gender-neutral parental nickname? If someone knows of one, please let me know!

Anyway, looking for thoughts on the topic, particularly from folks who identify as genderqueer themselves. Thanks!

Edit: Members of this society learned relatively recently how to shapeshift. Their language still has words for gender and still has pronouns for gender, and people still use these. Because seriously, reinventing a language that has gender-based pronouns to not use them is painful. You think getting English speakers to accept a non-gendered third person pronoun is bad? Try getting them to ditch "she" and "he" entirely. Distinguishing pronoun antecedents becomes twice as hard. Yes, it's a stupid arbitrary way to categorize people, but from a language standpoint, arbitrary categories are better than no categories.

Also, my book is written in English, so I am going to use English pronouns, regardless of what the characters in the story are used to.
Me 2012

Dragon vs Depression, Round Two

Me: "Muse ... it's 4AM. Why am I awake?"
Muse: *shrugs* "I dunno."
Me: "I finished The Moon Etherium yesterday. Let me sleep."
Depression: "It needs so much editing and you will never be able to fix everything that's wrong with it and it's terrible and why did you waste 200 hours of your life writing it and you are terrible."
Me: "Seriously?"
Depression: "And everything is terrible."
Me: "I'm going to lie here in the dark until you go away."
Depression: "Did I mention Donald Trump might be elected president?"
Me: "LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU."
Depression: "Mwahahah! Nothing quiet about that!"
Me: "DANGIT." *lies quietly*
Depression: *yammers about how terrible everything is until I finally fall back to sleep.*

*

9AM:
Me *asks Twitter* "So ... this 'depressed because I finished writing a book thing', how long does it last?"
Jeffe Kennedy and haikujaguar, in chorus: "Until you start the next one."
Me: "WHAT."
Depression: *cackles evilly*
Me: "Okay. NO."
Depression: "What do you mean 'no'?"
Me: "I mean I've never been depressed about finishing a book before and I'm not starting now."
Depression: "Yes you are.  You started yesterday. Right after you finished it."
Me: "FINE. Then I am STOPPING now. It's been, what, 16 hours?  That's long enough to mope. I wrote a book. I am going to be glad about that."
Depression: "You can't just will depression away!"
Me: "OH YEAH? Just WATCH ME, you hormone-faced neurological waste product. It's time to DRAGON UP."
Depression: "You can't angry your way into a good mood! Brains do not work that way!"
Me: "THEY DO NOW." *breathes fire all over Depression*
Depression: *incinerates to ash pile*
Me: "I'm gonna make some celebratory brownies and play some games and maybe make some editing notes and BE HAPPY.  What've you got to say about THAT, Depression?"
Depression: *smolders gently*
Me: "DARN STRAIGHT."
studious

April in Review

Health/Fitness
There were TWO WEEKS of bake sale at the bank in April. TWO WEEKS. Of delicious homemade junk food.

Somehow, my weight hasn't changed. I dunno how that works, but at least it's working in my favor for a change.

Writing
ZOMG ALL THE WRITING.

I wrote 67,000 words in April.

I don't even know why I'm bothering to fill out the rest of this because "wrote 67,000 words" is pretty much What I Did In April.

The Business of Writing
Nope. JUST WRITING. No business. The closest I got to business was putting A Rational Arrangement and Further Arrangements on sale after the serial ended.

Art/Other
I did four little quick digital color things and one digital sketch. And I colored a picture from one of haikujaguar's books.

Socializing
No. I wrote in April. I talked to Lut, occasionally.

Happiness
Mostly, I was tired and also blindingly happy about writing a new book at what was, to be honest, a really fast pace by almost anyone's standards.

Goals for coming month
Uhhhh.

Well, it's halfway through the month. I guess "Finish the rough draft of The Moon Etherium" would go on here. I finished that today. It's 109,000 words. I think I'll write about that process in its own post.

For the rest of the month ... I don't know. I want to make a list of the changes I want to make during edits to The Moon Etherium. I kind of want to start another book outline just so I can stop being depressed that I finished The Moon Etherium. Maybe I will go back to doing not-enough-research. (Research is so fraught.) I might write some LJ posts? I have been really neglectful about posting to LJ.

But if I take the rest of the month off, that's fine. I wrote a book in six weeks. I have earned some time off.

I will be going to Seattle for a week, starting next Wednesday, so I will definitely be vacationing then. \o/ (If any Seattle folks would like to see me while I'm there, drop me a message!)
studious

The Accidental Nano

April is "Camp Nanowrimo", a choose-your-own-goal version of Nanowrimo.

I did not intend to do Camp Nano. I didn't set a writing goal for April. On April 1st, my goal for April was "do more research for Birthright". I did do a little of that, but not much.

What I did instead was accidentally win Nanowrimo.

Not even just win: CRUSH Nanowrimo. I started writing The Moon Etherium on April 5. By the end of April 30, the draft was up to 67,000 words. By the end of May 4 -- 30 days after I started -- it was 81,700.

This is the fastest and most easily I've ever written anything. By a huge margin. My previous record for "most writing in one month" was Nanowrimo 2007, where I dragged myself to just over 50,000 words and disliked the process so much that I never finished the half-completed book. (It's about 80% done now, but has serious structural flaws.) My record for "most writing in 30 days when I was enjoying myself" was 40,000 words in 2006, when I was finishing Silver Scales.

This April, the days when I wrote 1700 or 1800 words were the ones when I groused about how little I had written. ME. I was COMPLAINING about writing a MEASLY Nanowrimo target number. Even I thought this was kind of intolerable on my part.

I slowed down last week: last Monday-Friday I averaged 2200 words per day, and when I woke up Saturday morning I didn't want to write. I wrote anyway, because it's what I do now, but "only" 1800 words or so. Then on Sunday, haikujaguar wrote ten thousand words, and I was spurred to write faster. I've written eighteen thousand words in the last five days. As of this writing Friday morning, the draft stands at 85,200 words.

I have finished writing three books in my life, and each one has been an adventure in what exactly is my writing process, anyway? As of today, I can honestly say: Beats me. *shrug*

I don't know why this book is coming along so quickly and relatively painlessly. I have some guesses, though. In no particular order:

M.C.A. Hogarth

By coincidence, haikujaguar and I started our current WIPs at the same time. We did not start out competing, because my normal standard for a good clip is 500-1000 words per day, and her normal standard is 1500-2500 words per day.

But I came out of the gate unusually fast for me on The Moon Etherium, and rocketed through the first weekend writing over 4,000 words per day. Micah said, "You're on fire!" and then progressed from fire emojis to a volcano emoji. "I should make my new goal 'stay ahead of Rowyn'," she joked. And "ahhhh the lava is going to catch me!"

And then I did.

For ten or fifteen days, I was actually in the lead of our mock race. And if you'd asked me beforehand, "is it a good idea to compete with a friend on who can write faster?" I'd've said "NO NO STAHP WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF AND SOMEONE YOU LIKE?" But we had a competition that consisted entirely of silly jokes and cheering each other on. Any competitive impulse I had to say "no write slower Micah" was overwhelmed by the pleasure of watching her book grow and knowing I'd get to read it sooner the faster she wrote it. She took the lead last Sunday, and I was afraid I'd slow down after it became clear I wasn't going to catch her again. (In the 5 days that I wrote 18,000 words, Micah wrote 30,700).

But I didn't slow. I've been writing 10-20% faster, actually. I make jokes on Twitter about riding my turtle in her wake, and I cheer her on, and I still like the race metaphor just as much now that I'm behind. It's just been fun.

Preparation

I started writing on April 5, but I started noodling with what became The Moon Etherium six days earlier, on March 30. I wrote several thousand words of notes, world-building, and the solidest outline I've ever made. I labored over the outline, because the book I wanted to write required some cleverness on the part of the characters, and I was afraid I couldn't make it work. When I had the last piece in place and I thought it would all hang together, I wondered if I'd still want to write it. "I already know how the story goes."

Turns out, I do still want to write it. And having the outline there meant I was rarely unsure what I wanted to do next. A couple of times, I stopped to refine the outline further, either because I'd gone off the rails or because it didn't have enough detail for me to know what I was doing. On the whole, it's been great. I do not always want to write what's next, and I have made substitutions/additions/removals as I go along. But so far, I've never felt stuck.

Oh, and the freakiest thing about the outline? When I started, I estimated the total scene count at 74. (In fact, as I was putting the outline together, I simplified something that could easily have been very complicated, because I didn't want to end up with another 200k novel.)

And now, after finishing 57 scenes, my estimated scene count? 78. Four scenes. I'm almost 75% done and my estimate has only gone up by four. Plot points that took more scenes than expected have been almost exactly cancelled out by ones that took fewer.

My estimated length when I started was "80,000 to 120,000 words, but strongly leaning towards 120K". My estimate now? Still about120K. What. I have never accurately predicted length before. O.o Technically, I haven't yet, but I'm two scenes from the book's climax so. Pretty sure it's not going to run to 200K.

\o/

Motivation

I started noodling with a new book idea on March 30 because I'd spent March writing romance-oriented dragon bios in Flight Rising. After the last one, I decided, "If I'm this desperate to write romance, I should write origfic so I can get paid for it."

The Moon Etherium has a lot more non-romance plot than I had originally intended. It was supposed to be the B-plot to keep my protagonists together while they fell in love, and now it's more like the A-plot while the romance is a strong B-plot.

But there's still a lot of romance, and I made a point of scattering the kinds of scenes I like to write throughout the outline. So there were always fun scenes to look forward to, even if the current scene was tricky or hard to write. And I just really like to write people falling in love. This may be bad news for all my story ideas that do not have people falling in love. Oops.

In Progress Readers

I don't know if this made a difference or not, but I'm going to note it here anyway. I haven't had any cheerleaders reading along as I wrote. Usually i serialize my novels-in-progress to a small group of close friends. But I haven't felt a need for outside encouragement, so I haven't looked for it this time. I showed the outline to two people and the first scene to one, and that's it. 85,000 words that no one's seen but me. I haven't even re-read most of it yet myself. WEIRD.

On the other hand, I didn't show most of Further Arrangements to anyone while it was in progress, either, so I don't think this actually gets me to write at several times my usual speed. I suspect "I want to write quickly" correlates with "I don't need encouragement", but the cause is internal motivation, not that external motivation is particularly detrimental to my writing speed.

*

This weekend will probably be a slow one for me, writing-wise. I am renting a car so I can run errands, I have to mow the lawn (SO BADLY), and I'm feeling a bit burned out. I mean, I wrote a page already today. I'm not STOPPING. But I may not make it to 3000 words today. That's OK.

I do expect to finish the book in May. I'd like to finish it before my trip to Seattle on May 18. We'll see.

And then I have to revise and oh no get a cover and write a blurb and find beta readers and

*flail*

I'm sure it'll be fine.

PS: 85,000 words in 31 days! WHOA.
lazy

Postponing the Inevitable

Me: I don't want to write.
Also Me: Hmph. If you're not gonna write, don't just sit there webbrowsing aimlessly. Go do some of those chores you've been avoiding with the excuse that you're writing.
Me: ...
Me: Okay.
*starts a load of laundry*
*cleans the litterboxes*
*sweeps the cat area*
*unloads half the dishwasher*
*gets distracted from unloading the rest of the dishes by cleaning off the kitchen table*
*cleans out the refrigerator*
*cleans the toilet*
Also Me: ... Well. The forces of procrastination are strong in this one.
Me: I still don't want to write.
Also Me: There's more chores left to do, you know.
Me: *opens file to do some writing*
Me 2012

April Showers

Weather.gov: It's raining.
Me: *checks weather outside*
Weather: lol only if you call this two-drops-per-minute thing "rain".
Me: *takes bike to work instead of umbrella*
*halfway to work*
Weather: oh hey weren't we supposed to be raining? *POURS*
Me: *gets to work* *drip drip drip*
Weather.gov: Should've listened to me.
Weather: lol