Friday, February 29, 2008

8PM on a Friday Night

... and I think I'm headed to bed.

This has been a long week.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Diabetic Rockstar

Diabetic Rockstar appears to be a social networking site for diabetics (primarily, it appears, T1s).

There's a forum where folks can show off their tattoos. Also, I can buy a t-shirt that says "I'm an addict."

Heh heh heh.

Training Sessions

For those of you keeping track at home, our twice-a-week training sessions at work this week consisted of:

5 mins running on the track at the Y, 1 min strength training, 3 minutes running, 1 min strength training, repeat for 40 minutes.


Writing Weird Shit

One of the things that always interested me when I was reading Really Weird Shit (like, say, a Mieville or a VanderMeer or even a Catherynne Valente), is this:

Do they come up with all the weird shit in there the first time through, carefully working it all out, or is there just this made dash through the tangle with the occasional cleanup as they go?

Cause what I've discovered is that writing weird, really weird, and staying consistently weird (it might be weird to us, but not the world), isn't something I do on a first pass (and still not something I do well. I'm young. I have a long way to go yet). My drafts sometimes have the rough outline-feel of, say, Titus Alone vs. the fully-formed crackpit that is Gormenghast.

Sure, there's some stuff in there the first time through. I mean, I knew the bakkies would be powered by bugs. I knew there weren't going to be a lot of big animals and most of the protein was just bugs. But it wasn't until the very last couple of drafts (*after* they'd been seen by my crit group and at least one editor) that the chickens got scales and the bakkies belched and got organic guts.

And there are about a million places where I could push the book more than it already is. One of the biggest challenges of Black Desert is knowing that I need to push the level of weird and newness to another level. You can't just write the same shit in the same world over and over again. That defeats the point of having a series. You write a series because the world's so big and cool and weird that you want to open it up and reveal it even more than you did last time. And, ideally, I want to reveal it in a way that doesn't necessarily make it more knowable, but makes it weirder and more interesting and more fucked up. You aren't going to get any hard and fast answers.

One of the things that annoys me about a lot of SF is that there's this need to explain exactly how the world got to be the way it is. Here's the ship's name, where it came from (oh the mystical EARTH!!). But I like writing SF that's so far future it's become fantasy again. I like the Gene Wolfe idea where the world's so ancient they don't really remember anything before it. Sure, they came from the sky, but from another planet? A seed ship? A multitude of worlds? Who knows? And, honestly, within the context of the stories I'm telling on the world, it's not terribly relevant. Who cares? Suffice to say, here's the world they made it, and it's wacky.

The thing with pushing yourself every book is that you push harder every time, and if your head's not hurting, you're not trying hard enough. I sat down last night to clip off my draft and described Tirhani houses and landscape and knew even as I did it that I was going to have to go back over it several times to flesh out the weird. Because most writers, I think, are lazy.

First pass through, all my folks have living rooms and kitchen nooks and mailboxes and happy 50s social pairings, and as I go further, dig deeper, draft after draft, the whole landscape starts to change. There's the ubiquitous Ras Tiegan servant in every house, the bug pillar for collection of message swarms, the organic flooring, the prayer nook, the spider garden, the stairs that no longer lead anywhere. And then you go over it again, and stuff starts breathing and sprouting wings and the kitchen's not black and white anymore, it's technicolor, and you're not even sure it could be called a kitchen now anyway.

Thing is, if I concentrated on the weird shit during my first drafts I'd lose 1) the plot 2) the character relationships.

First run through, it's all about the relationships, with an eye for keeping myself on track with plot everytime folks try and sit down over tea and over-explain themselves. Pieces of the world that are already in place, I can weave those in and they hook up with the plot and the folks, but as I start to push it on the second and third and fourth pass, what happens to the scenery and mechanics does change the character interactions and plot somewhat.

First time through, though, I'm lazy. Lazy writing, lazy ideas. A great example of this was, in God's War Nyx and her team need to cross the war-torn border, so, you know, I have them get in their bakkie and, um... drive across. Cause I needed them to get across the border, yo. Oh sure, there was a brief run-in with some wasp swarms, but it didn't mean anything, didn't add anything, and it made the border a lot less messy and scary that it should have been.

It wasn't until I watched an episode of Aeon Flux where she infiltrates Bregna by getting dropped over the border with a big load of dead in metal coffins raining from the sky that I realized that a fun way of getting over a border would be to smuggle yourself in with the dead.

Yummy. And not quite ordinary. Is the scene the best it could be? No. I think it could be weirder. But it's a long way from the lazy place it started out, and it means a lot more to the characters and the world. You learn a lot more about how it all fits together with this scene than you do when they just drive across the border (not to mention the sheer suspension of disbelief you'd be requiring of your reader for that one, and I say that as somebody who's writing books about chicks with swords and bad aim who come back from the dead and practice magic with bugs).

There are all sorts of assumptions we make about other worlds, other places, as writers. It's easier that way. Easier to go with our assumptions. And lots of times, we'll look at the impact of a technology on the way lives are lived, physically, but not the way lives are lived, emotionally. What happens to our families? Our friendships? If you take us out of our time and place, who are we? What sorts of morals do we have? Are people really basically born good? What's "good"? What makes us all the same? What makes us different?

It's these questions that really got me writing SF/F. If we strip everything else away, what are we? Who are we, if things are really different?

No, really:

What if things were REALLY different?

And the questions I ask are very personal questions, ones that I've run into in my own life, of course. What if women were measured by strength instead of beauty? What if we could manipulate the fabric of the world? What would it be like to BE the law, and then lose that privilege? What would it be like to feel no fear, no shame, no self-consciousness, about your body? What would a world where the nuclear family was unknown look like? How does changing the nature of the family change the society?

What if cutting off heads was a respectable way to earn a living?

You know, real important shit like that.

But when you ask those questions, you can't be superficial. When you answer those questions superficially you end up re-writing somebody else's book. Your book sounds like every other feminist dystopia of vampire bounty-hunter bodice ripper, and you're just another jelly bean; a thousand flavors, one type.

There's nothing wrong with different flavored jellybeans. The trouble comes when all you have is eighteen flavors of vanilla and not one strawberry, because look at how much everybody likes vanilla! They eat vanilla up! We sell 8 bazillion vanilla-flavored jelly beans a year!

It doesn't mean vanilla's the best jellybean. It just means we haven't tasted anything else yet.

I write the books I write because I wanted this flavor jelly bean.

The hope is that a lot of other people wanted it too.

I guess we'll find out.

And until then, hey, even at this pay rate the writing keeps me in bread and boys, and I, at least, find the books terribly tasty. Can't knock that.


I do not ever want my author bio to read:

"Kameron now lives in (insert small midwestern town name here) with her three cats."

Call me crazy, but I want more than that. At the same time, I also don't want it to read:

"Kameron now lives in (insert small midwestern town name here) with her adoring, supportive attorney husband Walter and their three adorable children, Minnie, Mickey, and Mike."

I think my bio should just say:

"Kameron Hurley subsists primarily on the blood of her enemies and should not be allowed out in direct sunlight. She prefers fucking in Marrakech to boxing in Madrid, but it depends on the time of year. When she's not shooting up in service to her life-sustaining drug habit, she can still drink small children under the table. She lives with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a substantial number of Chipotle burritos and occasionally sees a boy whose name she can't remember, but right now she's probably out at a bar learning French from a one-legged prostitute named Bruno."

At least it's more memorable, and has less of the "inevitable boring death" slant to it.

The inevitable death of us all could at least be spiced up a little.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh, the Glamorous Writing Life

Up this morning at 5:30 am, morning weights routine, green tea and a cup of frozen raspberries. Out the door at 7:10, catch the bus at 7:27, at work at 7:45.

Script writing in the lobby from 8-10, com meeting from 10-10:30 to communicate assignments and deadlines. Shift from scripts to design changes for company intranet at 11. Lunch is cabbage and pulled pork in a low carb totilla wrap and a spinach salad eaten while reading tips on how to write good web copy.

Intranet & sales process meeting from 1-2, revised sales process up and sent out by 2:30. Approved sales letters given over to intranet manager by 3:00pm.

4:00pm, finalized change process doc done for intranet home page redesign submitted to project manager. 4:30pm, finalized sales brochure mockup sent to graphics designer. 4:45pm, finalized sales brochure sent to videographer.

5:00pm, out the door to catch the bus.

5:11pm on the bus.

5:30pm at home, pack up stuff for a writing night, realize the Starbucks within walking distance is closed.

Steph drops me off at the Books & co down the street.

6:10pm stop by Chipotle across from Books & co. for a quick dinner (steak fajjita burrito, no rice, no beans).

Hole up at Books & co. from 7-9 and squeeze out 1500 bloody, misbegotten words on Black Desert while researching some new fitness routines, bringing me within 500 words of where I'm supposed to be according to my writing schedule.

9:05pm cell phone alarm goes off telling me to pack up and walk to the bus.

9:18pm bus arrives right on time.

9:23pm arrive home. Eat half a dark chocolate bar in the fridge. Roommates tell me pilot light on the furnace went out, so don't try and take a shower or do dishes until morning.

9:25pm unpack computer. Repack gym clothes for personal training session at work.

9:40pm write blog post while reminscing about my glamorous writing life.

This is it, folks.

And you know what?

I love it.

I love my job. Both of them. All of them.

Now somebody needs to start paying me real money for them.

10:00 collapse into bed.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Write Night

Went out to the coffee shop down the street tonight to catch up on my Black Desert writing. Finished up nearly 5K, getting me back within 1K of where I'm actually supposed to be according to my writing schedule.

It was an intense little session. I haven't been that deep in the book in awhile, and when I came out of it I had one of those weird periods of dissonance, where five minutes ago I was in bed with Rhys and his wife in balmy Tirhan in the bloody moonglow, and suddenly I'm trudging down the snow glutted streets of Dayton at 9 o'clock at night wondering where in the hell I am.

Man, I'm a cruel bitch, too. This is that happy jump the narrative takes just before it all goes to hell. This is where you realize just how much the protagonists have to lose, and how hard they fought for it. There are some ichy scenes coming up, and after writing what I did tonight, I have a feeling I'm going to cry through them when I write them. Maybe after.

A whole world, all broken down.

Such a bloody bitch.

I like writing about characters who are drawn to each other but aren't necessarily good for each other. Nyx walks back into your life and you see everything you love destroyed, but some vital piece of you, something you can't name, something you didn't even know was missing, is somehow there again. Whole. Full. Like a missing piece of your heart that chokes you.

Yes, I know: I'm a bloody bitch. But why else would I be a writer?


Tastes like concentrated saccharine.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Movin On Up

Steph and the Old Man and I had a chat tonight about where we're all at with the living situation. They're happy to have me if I need to stay, but honestly, me and the Old Man have been itching to have our own places for months now. They're not as neat-freaky as I am, and I'm getting tired of picking up dirty dishes and he's tired of me playing loud music. It's not like we want to murder each other, but we both really like our own space, and I've been dying to get my own - he's been dying to get his back.

What triggered the conversation was that they wanted to remodel the bathroom this summer, and to be dead honest, I wanted the hell out of the house before that happened. I've been in the house during major remodeling before, and this one is going to take even longer. I really don't want to be here when it happens.

So I'm pretty much bouncing off the walls right now because oh man do I want my own damn place. Oh man oh man.

If I wanted to live in Ghetto Dayton, I could pay $325 on the north side or downtown, but for $450 I can get a one bedroom near the U of Dayton (OK neighborhood, not ghetto). Take the $350 a month I give over to the CC that'll be paid off when I get my first book check and $250 I currently pay for rent and viola! You have $450 for rent and $150 for utilities.

We're looking at a June 1 or July 1 move out/move-in date, so I'll start my planning accordingly. By the end of March/April I'll be doing serious apartment hunting (it's also a great time of year to pick up apartments near UD cause the students are leaving for the summer). We can do all the moving with the truck and car they've got, so no rental van necessary. I haven't bought, well, pretty much anything since I moved in, so the actual moving of stuff will just be a couple big pieces of furniture and lots of books.

Waiting for the summer means waiting for the book check and a little more job security at work (as of June, I'll have been there a year). And also means I'll move before the bathroom remodel (OH THANK YOU GOD).

I'm so frickin' happy to be in a place where I'm actually, you know, physically and mentally and financially capable of being on my own again. It's been a fucking rough two years. Steph is broken up about me going, but I was like, um, yo: that's how you know you did a good job. The busted up bird is able to fly on its own again.

You guys did good.


Recipes that Should be Illegal

Seriously, yo. This is one of those "cruelty to diabetics" recipes.

Also, they're selling Girl Scout cookies at work next week.

God's War Posters

Make your own!

Dating 101

If you go on a date with a girl and:

1) she does not contact you for a week (no call, text, e-mail)
2) you do not contact her for a week (no call, text, e-mail)

She will likely make the assumption that you're aware she is not interested, and has already happily assumed you are not interested as well.

So when you do call, a week later, she will be very Perplexed.

I have book deadlines now. Tra-la.

At this point, it'd take a pretty swoon-worthy date to pull my attention away from the book deadlines.

I have yet to have one of those.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bowling, Beer, & Brutal Women

Steph and I went bowling tonight for free with a bunch of her coworkers. She works for a fairly large medical practice, so they'd reserved 26 lanes for their annual bowling tournament. Because the weather was icy, the other folks who were supposed to be in our team didn't show up, so it was me and Steph bowling, badly, in lane 26, drinking beer, calling out insults, giving each other high fives and snark for 3 games.

I dressed in one of my most comfortable, relaxed outfits. Long flared jeans and green T-shirt with a black zip up vest and hemp necklace choker, and I spent a lot of time with my thumbs hooked in my pockets and sidling up to the lane and being all cocky and walking tall, and oh man, it felt good. And as I bowled with Steph I realized, again, how good it feels to just act like myself. To swill beer and snark and walk like somebody who has her shit together. I actually haven't done that in awhile. People find me intimidating sometimes, and out here, I just feel.... well, this just doesn't feel like a place I can be me, sometimes. A lot of this came from the not-Boyfriend, I realize, who was terrified of the fact that I talked too loud and walked too confident, terrified of how I presented myself; not because he didn't like it (oh indeed he did), but because he was terrified of what other people would think of me. There's a lot of that "but oh God what would the herd think!" mentality out here.

And as I looked at the assembly of Steph's coworkers, I realized, again, how obviously and absurdly we just don't fit in here. Or, at least, in this subset of Ohio. These people have completely different values. They consider different things when they pick a spouse. Lives are run on guilt and obligation more than independence and commitment. It's like, you're supposed to have a life that's a certain way, and that's the life you make, even if you want something completely different. You build what you're supposed to have, even if it makes you miserable.

It's the weirdest thing out here that you get people my age who are on their second marriage or divorced and already have 3 or more kids. The "starter marriage" thing gets started early out here. You pick somebody based on... I don't know. I've always been incredibly picky about that. You build a life based on... I don't know. Not what I base mine on, that's for sure. Your goals, hopes, dreams, aspirations... nothing at all like mine. Interests, passions... I have so little in common with anybody out here, and I realized how odd and out of place that's made me feel.

I like my strong, butch personae. Not only has it gotten me pretty far, but I physically feel better when I step into it. When I try to quiet down and fem up, I feel stupid. I feel like a liar, and I feel weak and completely powerless. I'm just not me. But at least I "fit in" right?

Fuck that.

As I bowled, badly, and swilled beer tonight, I realized how far I'd come from where I'd been. I liked who I was (also, I really miss drinking, but I digress). I miss feeling safe, among folks who accept me for who I am. I don't trust anybody here to accept me for me. Not one bit. Everybody I've met out here wants me to change to fit their conception of what a good little girl should be (except Steph and the Old Man, of course).

And you know what?

That's not me. I don't accept your religions blindly. I don't agree with your politics. I don't agree with a lot of your hypocritical family values. I don't believe your gay son is going to hell and I don't believe your daughter only has her looks and breeding potential going for her. I don't think the height of refinement is beer and pizza on a Friday night, but it sure can be fun. Now let's discuss some literature and do explain to me why you think Bush's foreign policy is making friends and influencing people. Show me you can use your head. Demonstrate to me that you're not a sheep. I don't care what you believe so long as I know you got there by actually thinking about it. Do you just accept things that people tell you? Is what you have always enough?

Because it's never enough for me. And I realize that, out here, that makes me weird. It also means I'll never be as happy as most of these folks. Will I live a more interesting life? Maybe. Depends on your definition of interesting. One life isn't any better than the other, but I'm clear that the life that's OK for most folks out here isn't OK for me, and I get tired of feeling like I'm in the figurative closet all the time, trying to figure out how I can dress better and fem up and lose weight and dumb down my conversation so people take me seriously.

Fuck that.

God, you know, sitting there swilling beer and trading insults with Steph, I realized how much I miss being me. I miss being the me I was before I got sick. The whiskey-drinking, risk-taking nomad who never got attached to her lovers and ran around the world writing books. I liked that. And you know, when I came here, and my body had betrayed me and my world fell apart and it didn't look like the books were going anywhere, I built another life for myself, in my head. A life that would be different than the one I had. Not better or worse, but different. I found somebody I loved. I had a job a loved. I could get a little house and a garden and a dog and put my energy into building a life and a family and doing all those things that folks out here did. Not better or worse, just... different than what I was.

And tonight I realized just what I was planning to give up, how much of myself was getting lost along the way. Not better, not worse: different. A different self.

Did I like that different path? I don't know. Again, it was just... different. It wasn't what I had. It wasn't who I was tonight.

My dad said that my blog sounded a lot different since I moved to Dayton, and it's true. When you get hit with a shovel, when your whole world gets turned upside down, you have to decide where you're at, what happened, what needs to change. I wanted the boy and the dog and the garden and the house, not necessarily in that order.

Now I have no idea what I want or who I am, because all I want to do is swill whiskey and fuck the night away and chain smoke and get on a plane to Marrakech... and then I realize I already did that, and it brought me here.

So where do I go from here?

I don't know. I feel alive on nights like tonight, yes. But I was happy with the boy and the garden and the dog, too. Maybe they aren't mutually exclusive.

When somebody loves you, they love you for everything you are, good, bad, butch, brutal, bad bowler. And I'm all of those things and a lot more. Pretending I'm not, hiding it, covering it up, pretending that *all* I want is the garden and the house and not the midnight fucking in Marrakech, is a lie. It's gutting half of myself. It's sacrificing one to get the other.

I shouldn't have to sacrifice it. Those parts of myself should make each other stronger. Gutting one guts the other. I can't live a life that's half a person. I can't live half a life.

Now how do I get the house and the garden and the fucking in Marrakech?

This is the real question.


I feel like it.

Since last Friday when we agreed to the book contract, I've been allowing myself to eat pretty indiscriminately (there have been Chipotle runs, beer and cake, frosted cookies, chocolate cream pie, nachos, and more), and I've only worked out once this week. Some of this also has to do with a lot of work and lingering personal life stress, and the stress and unhealthy eating habits feed one another. The more stressed I am, the more I want to eat shit. The more shit I eat, the worse I feel. The more shit I eat, the more I don't care that I'm eating shit and feeling like shit. I haven't eaten so much shit the entire time since I got diagnosed as I have this week.

I've spent the whole week feeling up and down, mostly eight kinds of down, and now I'm just kind of weepy and exhausted.

I hate that I have to be so hyper-vigilant about food and exercise all the time. I hate that I can't eat what I want. I hate that I feel like shit, and the only way to get feeling level again is to tighten my control back up again and practice that hyper-vigilance.

I think that sometimes I just get tired of living under that tight control all the time. Sometimes I just want to bust out. Then I do, and this is where it gets me. I have to keep myself under control if I want to live any kind of life worth living.

Whine. Whine. Whine.

Quote of the Day

"A useless life is but an early death."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Man, it's been awhile since I got behind on e-mail. My day job is eating my life. In a *good* way, mind. It's keeping my brain busy, challenging, rewarding, but yeah, after this big sales project is done I'll need to slow down a little.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Because the Spice Must Flow

"She found him in the magicians' gym, where she should have expected him all along."

Which then explains why I was stuck for two months while she stood there waiting at his door. She was looking in the wrong place.

And just like that, the words come purling down the pipe once again.

Funny how that is.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Only Reason to Live in Ohio

Cause after I pay off some debts in May, I'll have freed up $450 a month.

And then I'll get something like this.

It must be Spring Fever. I'm dying for my own place, even though Steph and the Old Man are happy to have me another year and staying here another year would make more sense.

We'll see how the job goes and what the bills look like this summer and see what makes the most sense.

But man, I'm itching for my own place.

Still Waiting at the Door

I'm about 2 months behind on my self-imposed deadline for Black Desert.

I was supposed to have a draft by next month, but it looks like it'll be May instead, with heavy revisions and something of a caliber that could be submitted to my editor by September or so (yes, I'm a heavy rewriter. Not just as I go - which is also heavy rewriting - but heavy rewriting after I have the draft. Until I know the final shape of the book, I can't edit it properly. It's complicated. I'll rant about it another time).

In any case, I usually have some trouble in the Dreaded Middle of a book, and tax season and heartbreak didn't exactly help the already muddy middle.

This weekend, I realized my sticking point in the narrative was that point in the book when Nyx knocks on Rhys's door for the first time in six years. And then... I stopped.

I wrote some scenes ahead of that, the scene where she meets Khos and Inaya, some later scenes of violence and destruction and trippy shapeshifting, but it was this point in the story, when she's gotta knock on the door of the guy who turned his back on her to make his own life that stuck me.

I've continued writing around the scene. I just keep staring at it. Tomorrow I'll be writing the thing out in a plain old notebook. Sometimes when I get stuck, taking it to another writing medium helps.

There's more I want to say about this particular sticking point, but I think I'll leave it at that for now.

Tomorrow I get through it, cause I've got two full-time jobs here now, and deadlines, yo.

Oddities of the Midwest

In conversation with somebody here in Dayton, I heard that he'd gone "snowboarding" over the weekend. How odd, I thought. Where the hell does somebody go skiing for a weekend in the middle of Ohio?

You have to understand, I'm from the Pacific Northwest. If we want to go skiing, you know, we drive the two hours to the Mountain. If we want to go to the beach, we drive the two hours to the beach.

This is Dayton, OH. Where the hell do you go skiing?

Well, it turns out, here in Middle America, find a hill and make some snow.

No, seriously.

Um, folks? If you like skiing, move within driving distance of actual mountains. They make snow out here.

They make snow.

I'm sorry, I know I really shouldn't find this shocking, but fake snow on a bumpy hill in the middle of the midwest, and you call that skiing?

No, no people.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Proper Celebration

Steph & the Old Man took me out to the Amber Rose, here in Dayton, a surprisingly excellent Polish/Hungarian/Luthianian restaurant. This was our proper celebration dinner; their treat, as I won't see a penny for at least 60 days or so. The food was excellent. The Old Man and I split a pitcher of beer, of which I drank *at least* my half.

Ate bread and carrot cake and saurkraut and oohhhh did I mention I drank half a pitcher of dark beer and oh my yes, with my reduced diabetic tolerance, I feeling QUITE LOVELY THANK YOU. Mmmmmmm beeeeeeeeer!

Thanks again to everyone for the congrats. I'm bubbling over with happiness. And some drunkenness. But mostly happiness. I think. Well, the beer helps.

And yes, I worked on Black Desert today. Also saw Juno today (a second date that will be a last, but the movie was fun), which is just as incredibly sweet and brilliantly put together as everyone says it is. For those saying it's silly that she doesn't get an abortion - indeed, you're right, but there would be no movie otherwise. And for those who say, "She's way more snarky and put together than any 16 year old," well yes, you're right. And, "Somebody that snarky wouldn't have pre-meditated unprotected sex," well, you're right. Welcome to Hollywood. It's called suspension of disbelief. Did you think "Live Free or Die Hard" was a cutting-edge documentary?

In any case, if you haven't seen Juno, I highly recommend it (also, holy shit, she's the same actress who played the lead in Hard Candy. Now her kick ass performance in Juno doesn't seem so much like she came out of nowhere. If you have the stomach for it, I highly recommend Hard Candy, too. A quote straight from Ellen Page off set [who also considers herself a feminist] "As a girl, you're supposed to love Sleeping Beauty. I mean who wants to love Sleeping Beauty when you can be Aladdin?" ).

Then go out and have a lovely drunken dinner afterward, because really, you deserve it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Yes, It's More-or-Less Official

Song of the night, just gifted to myself from iTunes. Because everyone needs ridiculous songs to flail around wildly to during nights like this one.

In fact, listen to it while you read the rest of this post.

Cause I am.

I have been informed that the following news has already been announced to the industry channels, and I've been told I can post about it, but I haven't gotten to it until now because hey, I was out celebrating with a Chipotle dinner, so I'm a little behind on my announcements, and this is one of those weird deals that makes for awesome bar chat.

So, God's War has been bouncing around at publishers since this summer. First on a query I sent out to Del Rey, who ultimately passed, even after a round of revisions ("not marketable enough"), then on to one of the editors at Bantam ("ultimately not marketable enough") and had been sitting out at another publisher for three weeks when my agent suddenly heard from the senior editor at Bantam, Juliet Ulman.

Ulman had gotten wind of the project (which, again, had already been passed on by another editor at Bantam) and asked my agent to send the book back to Bantam. This time, it landed on Ulman's desk.

24 hours later, Ulman sent my agent an offer for a 3 book deal with an option for my next book.

No, seriously.

My book was accepted by an editor at a house where it had already been rejected.


What a 24-hour receipt-to-offer time tells me is that Ulman was thinking something like, "I don't fucking care if nobody has any idea how to market this. I WANT TO BUY THIS BOOK" (but you'll have to ask her for her exact thought process on this one).

And you know what 24-hour-receipt-to-offer means to me?

I found somebody who fucking LOVES my book. And that makes me so fucking happy I can't even tell you. I so wanted to find somebody who loved this weird, bloody, contaminated desert slash-and-hack adventure novel, I just can't tell you (and after I found out Ulman was also K.J. Bishop and Jeff VanderMeer's editor at Bantam, it suddenly made sense that this was the editor who liked this book).

We officially accepted Bantam's offer today, after the third publisher decided not to make a counter-offer (Yes: "just not marketable enough").

Ok, jump up and down for glee and be happy.

Now I'm going to explain to you why I am not suddenly J.K. Rowling rich, and there's a reason my celebratory dinner tonight was out at Chipotle.

Cause see, Scalzi wasn't just blowing smoke up his ass with his money post.

The typical advance for a first novel is $5-15K. Minus agent's 15%. Minus self-employed taxes (generally, 30%).

And since these are checks that will end up with me, I'll break this all down for you without any shame.

I got a 3 book deal at 10K per book.

Now, do the math (yes, it's hard, but this is what I was doing all last night).

Math, folks.

After agent's (awesomely deserved, let me tell you!) fee, and taxes, I'll get paid out roughly half of what the deal is actually for, paid out over the next 3 years.

So I'm not rich.

But you better bet I'm paying off a credit card just before Wiscon and getting myself some goddamn new pants after all.


Want to see more books like God's War (because I know at least half of you have been reading excerpts of it here for years)? Want kick-ass heroines who chop off people's heads and bloody their way across the desert with not too much interest in husbands and kids (but sex is yummy) and bring brutal justice and whiskey drinking back into style?

God's War. Fall 2009

Buy it.


Buy it for your kids (12+ If you're squeamish about violence or swearing, you probably don't read this blog), yourself, your significant other, your coworkers (mine are already asking when they can pre-order from Amazon), all the geeks you know (Nyx is way hotter than that lame-o Cylon in the red dress; Nyx is fucking SCARY), Sue & Joe Blow on the street (really, who doesn't love a good far-future romp across the desert with a kick-ass heroine?), your dogs (there are shapeshifters in this book, did I mention that?), your martial arts and boxing buddies (boxing as plot device! Yes, it has boxing too!), and every woman you know who ever wanted to kick a little ass.

Because it's an ass-kicking little book.

And I am very, very proud of it right about now.

There's a reason I was redoing my writing schedule last night, too. Black Desert will be due by the end of the year at the latest (shouldn't be a problem; it's halfway done), and Babylon a year after that. Oh shit I have to get cracking. Yes, that's right:

Start the 2010 decade off right with Nyx & co.

God's War: Fall 2009
Black Desert: Fall 2010
Babylon: Fall 2011

(tentative titles and schedules. I haven't seen this in writing yet)

You keep buying them, I'll keep writing them.

And though they'll all get proper acknowledgements full of enthusiastic swear words and colorful verbs later, huge thanks right now to Jenn Jackson and Juliet Ulman, because I quickly learned that there wasn't a clear marketing niche for this one, and they're both taking a risk with the project.

Thanks for believing in it, cause I know we're just getting started.

Writing peeps (you know who you are): thanks for keeping the faith with me. There were times when it got lonely here. And now it's all uphill. But. Hey. I reached the hill!

Now go buy my book! ;)


Thursday, February 14, 2008

It Should Not Suprise Me....

... that what I'm sitting here doing on Valentine's Day is revising my book writing schedule for 2008-2009.

Also, still recovering from all those lunges we did yesterday.

My poor, sorry ass.

Seriously, it's tough to get in and out of my chair.

And I have bowling Saturday.

Oh, my ass.


I'm rolling over my big CC balance to a 0% interest card (finally found a card with a limit high enough that I can do this).

The smaller card will be paid off this year without a hitch, but this bigger one will take the two years, even knowing some things about how the financial year may turn in my favor here in a bit.

This was another thing the Old Man had on my list of things to do in order to get my finances in order. Even at 9.7% interest, carrying a $13,500 balance on a card means blowing through over a thousand a year in interest payments. Or, I could pay $420 right now and have 0% interest on the whole thing until I pay it off.

In the case of my smaller card, this wouldn't make sense because it will get paid off here in a few months, but this big one, even with a nice work raise and possible freelancing money, is going to take at least a year and a half. At least.

I did actually sit down and do the math, figuring I'm paying $550 month, plus about 10% interest, from now until December. That's still $1125 in interest alone from now until December.


Yeah, transferred that balance today.

I'm getting my financial shit together, people. It's just a pain in the ass.

God's War Back Cover Blurb

If you're working on writing up queries or synposes, I've found it sorta fun and helpful to write up one of those "back cover" blurbs that you see on the back of books as practice. Writers tend to be huge readers, which means we've all read about a million of these.

Not only is it fun to imagine that your books will actually have one of these written about it sometime, it's also a really helpful warmup for writing synopses (which I hate).

Here's one I wrote up for fun for God's War a while back:

Nyx had already been to Hell. One prayer more or less wouldn’t make any difference...

In the bloody wastes of Nasheen, a centuries-old holy war rages.

Fueled by Tirhani arms dealers, organic technicians, brawling mullahs, and swarms of magician-trained locusts, the origins of the war are shady and complex. It’s taken a bloody mix of mercenaries, bounty hunters, rogues, pirates and bel dames to enforce it.

Today, a godless woman may end it.

Bounty hunter Nyxnissa so Dasheen left God and her dead brothers at the front. Now she works the border cities cutting heads off terrorists for cash.

But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s crooked reputation makes her the preferred tool for the rogue’s recovery. The stuff inside this bounty’s head could end the war… but at what price?

Nyx is about to find out.


Man, I'm a fan girl.

Got Agent?

Speaking of agentry, my buddy Colleen Lindsay is now a new agent for Fine Print Literary Management.

Got novel?

She's looking for brand spanking new clients in fantasy, science fiction, pop culture, graphic novels, and maybe more. Check out her submission guidelines for details.

Colleen is bloody awesome, and she's the one who initially recommended I send God's War to Del Rey and got the whole thing started. She's been in the biz for ages, and specializes in publicity, so know that you'll have a great book lover and rampant publicist on your side.

If I hadn't already signed with Jackson last year, I would have signed on and taken a chance with Colleen without a blink this year. She knows her shit, and she's got a lit agency behind her to help her learn the nitty-gritty of agentry.

So, checkout the guidelines and send her a query if it looks like your stuff's a good fit!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Tomorrow's always better, people.

Steph's work is taking them all out bowling next Friday, and since the Old Man has no interest, she's taking me to be her bowling partner! Whooo hooo!

That's three weeks of bowling in a row! (I have another bowling date on Saturday)And this one's free! Also, free beer and pizza! (because trust me, I deserve it, people!)

All that bowling is good for the ass. I'm telling you, though, my ass is really gonna have to start shaping up.

Today, at our work workout session, we added lunges to our sets and increased all our weights. Not just lunges in place, but across the gym. I'm not a weakling, mind, but I could barely get down the stairs afterward. It occurred to me that having a personal trainer is a lot like having an agent. That is, it's having somebody who can do/think about a piece of a process for you so you don't have to think about and you can actually concentrate on your work. Sure, you must be *aware* of that process, but you don't have to take up all your time worrying about it.

I don't have to remember how much weight I lifted last time or when I need to increase it or what exercise is next. They keep track of that and tell me and mix up the exercises every four weeks to make sure we're getting different types of workouts that keep us seeing results. I don't have to make up routines. About all I need to do is, you know, the actual work, and maybe count my own reps.

I could get used to this free personal trainer stuff.

Tasty, tasty work benefits.

The Return of the Overdraft

One of the things I discovered when I got my free credit report is that I had a student loan payment that was 120 days late.

I found this rather confusing, since I didn't remember receiving any kind of notice that this payment was due. I deferred all of my student loans back when I was unemployed, and two of the three of them duly resumed sending me statements after six months. Why this one didn't, I don't know, and in my hazy financially lazy mind, I figured they'd just granted me a 12-month reprieve instead of a 6 month, and never followed up.

My bad, yes. I'm financially retarded. I'm working on it.

I owed them $248 in overdue back payments.

I looked over the money I had in the bank, and according to my fuzzy math, I could pay them this and still stay in budget. I could make up the difference by paying less toward my CC payments next month (not paying the loan further injures my credit score).

But, once again, my lazy, imprecise "well, that's about right" math didn't work, and I overdrafted again for the first time since I started my new budget.

The real killer about the student loan payment is that it's another $64 I have to pull out of my budget somewhere. I'm honestly not sure from where. I can cancel the Netflix and maybe - maybe - take $40 out of my food budget and pay $10 less a month toward my old medical bills, but... well. I have to keep paying those huge payments to my credit card debt every month if I ever want to see the sun again, which means that money has to come out of things that are nice, but unneccessary. And no, I don't want to pull it out of my $100 fun budget.

That $100 fun budget is killing me as it is. Chopping that to $50? I wouldn't make it. What's that, a movie once a month and a couple Chipotle runs? No bowling, no coffee dates, no buying pants or socks when I need them. No occasional coke or peanuts or avocados.

I can barely do it as is right now.

I hate money.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I did absolutely nothing useful today. Seriously: nothing. I'm not sure how I so effectively did nothing.

Also, now that I've gotten used to working out every day, I can seriously notice the deleterious results when I don't.


Deleterious. That's an excellent word. I haven't used that one in awhile.

Anyhow: no news is good news?

Things Not to Do Even During a Snow Day at Home

Eat four sugar-free pecan cookies and coolwhip an hour after eating a carbolicious pancake for lunch that had raspberries and more of the aforementioned coolwhip.

You will get a sugar headache and find it difficult to concentrate for the next hour or so (no, these headaches make no sense. When I test my sugar, I'm at 122, which is a perfectly decent number. I don't know why my body does this when I have too many carbs at once sometimes).

Mmmmm diabetes!

Homemade Samoas... (my favorite Girlscout cookie! At a fraction of the cost!)

OMG the goodness!

I'm already concocting ways to make these more diabetic friendly. They will never be diabetic friendly, but at least I can make them *more* diabetic friendly, people....

Taking a Swim in Devil's Pool

I wanna go!

Rugby canceled tonight. They're sending us home from work at noon.

There's seriously not a lot of snow out there. I lived in Chicago for four years, and the city didn't stop for 4 inches, people. Oh well.

Home at noon!


Sweet library goodness.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More for Today

It appears I'm just going to keep filling up my social calendar until I explode and can't take it anymore.

I realize I'm doing it to distract myself. It's working, and keeping me focused on improvement instead of wallowing.

But... but, well.

In other news, I ate some pizza today at work. It was divine. I'm paying for it now with loose numbers, but hey. It was divine.

Anyhow, dates and rugby and bowling oh my this week!

I've started keeping a Google calendar to keep track.

Oh, the ridiculousity.


Got an official 1099 from Hartwell for my Year's Best SF sale. That was quite nice, actually. Most short sales don't send you 1099s.

I honestly couldn't remember if I'd made $75 or $100 for it.

Yes, all you dewy-eyed young writers out there: making a Year's Best Sale will net you an incredible $100!!

Want to know how much I made writing just 500 more words the year before?


Seriously (and yes, I made that money 10% talent, 80% pure luck through a writing colleague who was looking for writers. No, I don't know what the other 10% was. Math is hard).

I don't know why it never occurred to me before this year to turn to corp writing. No experience in it, maybe? I couldn't find a way to position myself for a cushy corp writing job. The one I fell into this year, again, was 80% luck.

Right place, right time, just like relationships.

There's writing work to be done that'll actually pay you for it. Why fiction doesn't?

Go figure.

Writing & Money

Scalzi has a great post up about writing and money.

Everything he says here is basically stuff my roommates have been telling me. You know, they of my same age who have a house, two cars, no credit card debt, and IRAs.

I wouldn't take back any of the shit I did in my early 20s. They were awesome experiences. Looking at it, though, I would have managed my Chicago job money a lot better. I blew loads and loads of money on books that I have since given away and/or never read and going out to eat twice or three times or more a week; blew loads on coffee, of all things (at one point I was spending, I think, nearly $200 a month in books and coffee).

Going on trips is one thing; blowing money on food, coffee, and books you'll never read is quite another. I also very nearly slaughtered myself the year before I got sick by nearly passing on the "free" health insurance I was getting through my company. I mean, hey, I'd get nearly $80 a month back if I chose to opt-out, and you know, I never got sick, so why not?

Yeah, seriously, in December when we were renewing, I seriously thought about opting out. In May I got a 30K hospital bill, all but 7K of which was paid for by my insurance company.

It's not worth opting out.

In some ways, looking back at everything that's happened the last few years, me getting sick is the best thing that could have happened for me, financially. Why, you ask, when health costs are so high?

Because it's forcing me to keep my day job no matter what kind of advance I get for ANY book EVER.

I spent much of my early 20s just spending money like water, figuring I would pay off the debts with my first 10K or 20K book advance. After that, I'm sure I would have quit my day job with the next Great Advance as my career improved, but that's always been my goal: make enough money writing full time to make it my day job. Give up the 8-5 grind.


But, well... It's something I can never do now. I pull my own weight in every relationship I get into. "Quitting" just isn't an option, even if I were to ever have a spouse that had benefits (which would also require me to get married. It would take a pretty fucking amazing person to convince me to marry them. I have yet to meet this person. So).

So I work for my own benefits. I make more as a technical writer than a lot of freelance writers who write fiction exclusively make, and I have great health insurance.

Living alone in a garret and bleeding all over your pages while slowly starving to death or dying of consumption sounds a lot more romantic than it actually is. I lived something close to that in South Africa, and though it's fun for a year, it's not the kind of life I want to build.

I want to be financially secure and successful. That means every penny I make right now is going toward debt. And it fucking sucks. All I want to do is go to Chipotle and buy some expensive cheese and go to the movies all the time and some shows downtown. As it is, bowling is something I can do maybe twice a month and about the only sort of dates I can afford these days are coffee dates and maybe some evenings spent watching Netflix.

And that's how it's going to be for the next couple of years. Because you know what? I'm tired of being poor. I'm tired of being uncertain, and being poor doesn't make you a better or worse writer than anyone else. Starving for my art just isn't all that cool.

Like Scalzi said, writing is a job - my day job, in fact, and my weekend passion - and I treat it like a job.

I'm inordinately lucky to be able to do a job from 8-5 that I love and get paid for it. Not everybody's that lucky. If you're going to be a writer who makes an actual living wage, though, this is a nice way to do it.

I like my living wage, my downtime for freelance writing, and I'm currently looking for other freelancing opportunities to help with aforementioned debts and bowling money.

Being poor isn't any fun. Not going to Chipotle isn't fun either, but it beats being poor.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Church-going in Ohio

The roommates have been looking for a church here in Ohio, and though I figured it would be too liberal-hippie for them, I told them I was looking into the local Unitarian church just north of here. I figured it would get us all out of the house, and it would get me socializing at a place I could feel comfortable talking about ideas of faith, history, and religion in.

Overall, it was a good experience for me. It was the first time I went to a church and didn't feel like I was some kind of imposter. I don't generally feel welcome and comfortable at churches. They spend a lot of time saying, "here's what we are and what we believe, and if you don't believe this, you aren't welcome" Or, "if you don't believe this, we'll make you believe it, because we'll use fear and coercion to convince you, because your lack of belief makes us uncomfortable."

This church was more about talking about faith and religions and ideas thrown around in other churches, questioning those, looking at different texts (including the Bible). It was focused on faith and love and acceptance more than stony religion, and I appreciated that.

It was funny, though, afterward, talking to the roommates about it. They thought the church was nice and enjoyed the experience, but didn't feel at home there.

The Old Man put it in just the right way. He said, "It seems to be the kind of church where people go who feel like outsiders, who feel like they never fit anywhere else. And you know what? That's not a part of my experience. I don't share that."

Which makes perfect sense, really. A straight white Christian guy comfortable with his family and faith growing up in a society that largely preaches the same values of faith and family and is geared toward making straight white Christian guys successful wouldn't share that experience.

But me? With my "mostly" straightness, queer-friendly thoughts and ideas, discomfort with the idea of a fire-and-brimstone God that hates the very people he's supposed to have created, never feeling that religious certainty or comfort in what I'm doing, what I think, what I believe, because the things I think and believe aren't really scripted... well, for me, it was the first time I actually walked into a church that didn't make me want to run screaming from it.

I appreciate a minister who says, "here's what I think, but I don't expect it to be what you think. Let's talk about it."

That's a pretty cool idea, and something I'm drawn to.

I don't like being preached at, and I don't like folks who preach hate or intolerance. "Hate the sin but not the sinner," is a stupid, hypocritical piece of garbage. If the sin you hate is "teh gay," I'm sorry to say, you also hate the person. Because like it our not, our fears, our desires, our passions, are also intrinsic parts of who we are. You can't take one away without changing the whole. You can't tell me that a love between people that makes them both better and stronger and more whole is somehow bad. Why don't we encourage people to be better for the sheer joy of being better, of having love in their lives, instead of using fear and coercion? A society that uses fear and coercion to control its people isn't a society I want to promote.

I believe in loving and respecting people and helping in whatever way you can. I get uncomfortable in places telling me what I should think, or believe, especially if it means believing that otherwise good and decent people are so hated by God because they question Jesus's true paternity or don't believe in the Trinity are going to hell. At the same time, I like the idea of a community where you can explore faith and religion in an open, accepting environment.

That sort of environment is a faith and belief system all its own, of course. And it's certainly a place I'll feel more comfortable.

Steph and the Old Man will be looking into other churches in the area, but I think I'll be going back to this one at least a few more times. It challenges me to think; it gives me a safe space in Dayton, where I often feel like a total freak (I always feel far more comfortable in places where same-sex couples feel safe enough to hold hands or put their arms around one another in public. It's like my whole body just relaxes, like, "Oh, OK, it's safe here to be different. I don't have to play by a script").

In conservative Dayton, it's a breath of fresh air, and something I think I need right now, you know. Finding some people who won't freak out if they find out you one dated a woman you cared very much for once, you vote democrat, you believe in social justice, social programs, and equality, and you don't feel welcome in a mainstream religious establishment.

It's nice to go somewhere I can just take a deep breath in and not worry about being "outed" as... well, as whatever it is I am.

Outed for being me, I guess.

Who Would Have Thought?

Went bowling with the not-boyfriend for a couple of hours. Good times were had. This morning, I awoke to find that, damn, my ass hurts.

I didn't expect bowling to result in a sore ass. Sore wrist, maybe, sore arm.

Sore ass?

It was totally innocent bowling, I promise!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Yes, Yes, I Know: More Rollerderby, Less Boyfriend

I'll get there.

Rugby's rescheduled for Tuesday, as Dayton public transit sucks, and getting home from downtown at 10pm was near impossible. Rugby folks will help me set up a ride home for the Tuesday practice instead.



That was a very nice date.

Now I really need to finish my novel.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Thursday, 8pm.

It's a date!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dayton Has a Women's Rugby Team

Oh yes indeed it does.

One of my workday workout companions suggested this, actually, after watching me doing my assisted pull-ups yesterday. She mentioned Dayton had a team, and I said I was interested. She has a friend who coaches, and said they're always welcoming new folks, even those without rugby experience.

I checked out the website and asked them for more info. Wouldn't that be a blast?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Quote of the Evening

Was clicking through some shows tonight while finishing up my Greek yogurt, and happened upon Dr. 90210, in which a porn star was having her third breast augmentation surgery because the first two had been screwed up.

While the doctor pressed and cupped these enormous bubble breasts protruding from her tube-shaped boyish body, he said, "See, by tightening up this here they'll look much more natural, but still sexy."

That's right, ladies, this doctor is so talented he can make unnatural breasts look natural... but still sexy. Newsflash: unnatural breasts are the only kind we're supposed to find attractive anymore.

When she came out from under the anathestic, she contorted her face into a grimace of pain and began to sob because it hurt so much.

Please stop doing this to yourselves.

If this is the future, I want my money back.

Things That Make You Go "Hm"

"...and their women"!!!


Today's xkcd

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Because Life is Short

I did 50 minutes of cardio on a *Sunday.*

I have two low-cost coffee dates set up for this week (because life is better when we socialize, people). I don't like to think of this as me dating again. I am merely socializing. We'll see what happens as a result.

I lost 6 lbs, for some odd reason (lack of cheese, probably).

According to my (highly fuzzy) math, I should get back $947 on my tax return this year. I'm not holding my breath. Me and math don't get along very well.

Would be lovely, tho. Oh yes it would.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Don't Buy a Tablet PC, Buy a Wii

The more I hang out with the IT guys at work, the more I love cheap hacks.

Indeed We Do

I let this little old woman go ahead of me at Trader Joe's today, because she only had two items, and it seemed silly for this frail little woman to stand there behind me with her pack of tuna curry and soy sauce while I bought my $35 in groceries.

She thanked me for allowing her to go ahead and offered me the counter space to set my basket down on.

"Oh no," I said, "it's not that heavy. I work out." I laughed. "I'm pretty strong."

She smiled, then looked me up and down and said, "Oh yes, you do look very strong. A strong woman. Yes." She paused, then said more softly, "We need more of those."

Indeed we do.

Well, it Was Bound to Happen

I had dreams last night that I was spending money. Vasts amounts of fun money, far over budget, in particular, on food and books. In particular, sugar-free chocolate.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Read books from your cell phone (or your iTouch)

For free. Though there isn't exactly much selection at the moment.