I finished The First Law trilogy about a week ago, but I’ve had to put off writing my final thoughts on Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings in favor of paying off the significant sleep debt I accrued over several nights of reading into the early morning hours. (Just one more chapter, it’s always just one more chapter. I can quit any time, I swear.) So, having spent most of the week sleeping in the prime hours of night (also known as the time when I write) I haven’t put much thought into what I’m actually going to write for my review other than “OMG! Five stars—no! Ten—No! Nine fingers! RAWR! LOVE SO MUCH!”
What I’m going to do instead of book gushing is reflect a little on what’s been going on over in my pocket of existence.
◕ ◡ ◕
My first ever digital and physical print short story went up for sale on January 15th. Considering how long it took me to write it, how many times I revised it, chopped it, and changed everything from the POV to the age of the main character, I’m surprised it was even accepted, but it only goes to prove what I already knew: I’m a horrible judge of my own work. Also, reading it now, I want to rewrite it. Do other writers feel this way about their works? Is there ever a point of permanent satisfaction with what one has written?
For the horror readers out there, Growing Concerns is filled with nineteen stories of murder, paranormal vengeance, biological experiments, botanical hallucinations and more. I wrote “Journal 6 of 8: Techniques in Grafting” as a sort of add on to a novella I’ve been bouncing around for a little while now, (oh so creatively titled The Docks) but as these things go, as I went it had less and less to do with its parent material until I had to just shake my head and write the story the way it wanted to be written. Fun fact, ‘6 of 8’ refers to which version of the story I finally went with, to give you an idea of how much frustration this one caused me.
Daniel, the actually unnamed protagonist (yet another detail cut out of the drafts) has been up to no good. Armed with his grandmother’s occult books to guide him, he’s found a place where the gardens of the living and the gardens of the dead touch, and has ushered in a few unnatural botanical guests. Admittedly, the forested grounds of a local private school might not have been the best place to set up his experiments but really, aren’t teachers supposed to keep their students from wandering into the woods?
My new guest groaned, and I was made conscious yet again of the danger of having someone else overhear. I put my hand over his mouth and while he was still too disoriented to object, searched his pockets for a wallet, or ID, or any other personal item that might identify him. I think it was clear to me from when I first heard his cries for help that I didn’t intend on letting him leave. He sacrificed his humanity the unfortunate moment he entered my garden.
My fingers closed around the folded leather of a wallet and pulled it out of his jeans’ side pocket. Jackson Laster, his driver’s license said. Laster. Violet Laster. I snapped the wallet shut and studied the man’s face. There wasn’t really a strong resemblance, but then again, I’d hit him pretty hard; the whole left side of his head was swollen. It’s possible that he’s her father. He had only appeared briefly on the news to plea for his daughter’s safe return. Violet’s face on the other hand has been splashed across every newspaper and broadcast in the country. I would be well familiar with it now even if I hadn’t seen it here nearly every day.
After studying him a while, I can allow that he might resemble her. A father searching for his daughter finds her, only to share her fate.
I told you I’m not very poetic.
While I’m not, strictly speaking, authorized to give out cookies to those who buy the book, I can promise that I will eat a cookie in your name if you do. And if not, I’ll eat a cookie in sadness. Either way, a cookie will be eaten.
And if that wasn’t enough plugging, I had a second story accepted for publication in an anthology at the beginning of January. “Where the Fireflies Go” will appear in Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction later this year, so you can put your wallets away; I know how eager you all are to have two honorary cookies. More information on this one to come.
Work on the outline of Beyond the Bone Wall has been going well. After outlining the first four chapters, Alex pointed out that of all the POV characters I have (I only wanted it to be one, damnit!) one of them doesn’t really have a reason for being. She suggested I remove the character, which I did, reluctantly, for less than a day. Something keeps telling me that I need this one. It could just be stubbornness, or it could be intuition. It’s really had to tell them apart, sometimes. In any case, I rewrote the character into a stronger position in the story. Alex approves, which means it’s a step in the right direction, so we’ll see how this goes.
I’ve needed to take a bit of a break on it at the moment, when I realized that my bi-annual contribution to Out of Print is coming due in March. Damnit. Since I stepped out of my box last time to write a contemporary fiction, this time I’ll edge a little bit closer to it with a dystopian fantasy based loosely on Tarot cards. (By loosely I mean, drawing on my limited knowledge.) I blasted out the outline for this one in three hours, almost forgetting to feed myself in the process, which is a very real danger when writing. I’m liking the direction this one is taking. I just need to iron out a few details and keep it under 2500 words and it should be just fine.
One of the pieces of advice that I hear a lot for aspiring or budding authors is the importance of being everywhere on the internet. While I do agree that being seen is definitely preferable to being ignored in most professions (sniper, ninja and sniper ninja aside), I’m not entirely sold on the necessity of maintaining more social media profiles than I can count on all of my fingers and some of my toes. With no product to sell until very recently the idea that I should be branding and marketing myself as an author seemed a little disingenuous. Now that I have a couple meager publications to my name I look at the god-awful black hole of time that my morning social media ritual takes me through and think, ‘I could be writing’.
Now, this could very well be me making excuses on behalf of my stage-shy, socially awkward self, but I’m at a loss as to what to say a good deal of the time when I try to fill the huge blank spaces of feed that my personal pages embarrassingly showcase. I don’t even have the coding skills to have a few animated tumbleweeds roll across the screen. No one else seems to have this problem. All their feeds are loaded with cool internet content, pop culture references, news articles, witty social commentary, self-promotion and cats (oh, so many cats); ping-backs, re-tweets, shares and links.
A part of me feels like linking to content already featured somewhere else is pointless, not because I don’t feel like it’s worth my time to post it, but because I’m sure that everyone has already seen it all already and I’m going to be the late one to the party–that one who laughs at a joke five seconds too late. This unfortunately puts the pressure on to come up with witty observations from my narrow experience and cultural position on the other side of the world. Needless to say, there are a lot of crickets chirping.
All that aside, I now find myself in possession of a Twitter account, a Google+ profile, a Facebook author page and a Tumblr blog. I haven’t figured out how to use the latter, however, or really what Tumblr is used for, so there’s nothing there yet. Suggestions welcome. Still waiting to hear back from Goodreads on that author profile.
That about wraps up January in writerly news. I should be getting reviews for Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings up within a week or two. Spoiler alert: they’re freaking amazing books. Go read them if you haven’t already done so. The next book on my reading list is Empires of Sand by David Ball. It’s almost eight hundred pages, so I guess it’s a good thing that I set my reading goal at only thirty books this year, if so many of them are going to be mammoths.