Friday, May 30, 2014

I am the Zombies

Follow me, if you will, through a little experiment.

First, take a towel. The cleanest, whitest one you have. Then go outside and find the muddiest patch you can. Use the towel to wipe it up. Stray cat leave a hairball on your doorstep? Use the towel. Neighbor forgot the doggie bag in your yard? Towel. Clean up the entirety of the outdoors with that towel. Now look at your handiwork. Not the clean yard, the towel.

That towel represents how I felt last week, which is why there hasn't been a post until now.

There are stories everywhere you look. Every experience is research. As a writer, it's part of my job to pay extra attention to these experiences. And from my experience, I can now write a story about the ER of a hospital in Myrtle Beach. For the record, I do not live in Myrtle Beach.

On top of terrible sickness, I also realized I'd drained myself writing. Both my muse and myself needed a break. Luckily, I'd decided on that BEFORE my functional level was closer to zombie-buried-in-a-steel-coffin-before-the-apocalypse than human (and let me tell you, that's one grumpy zombie,) so I was able to avoid arguing with myself over getting my daily allotment done. I've allowed myself a break to heal physically and mentally, and that included the blog too. Over the past two weeks, I have recovered both and put the zombie away.

So maybe that whole "write every day" thing isn't for me. I can manage it during NaNos, but at the cost of my sanity for a month. Evidently, this is the way I am whether the word count is 1,667 or 250. So now I get to figure out a new schedule, a new plan to keep me working without slacking off. Find out a little bit more about me as a writer. You'd think after so many years, I'd know myself inside and out, and yet I still feel like such a beginner at times. As long as I keep at it, though, I'll keep learning. Eventually I'll know what I'd doing. For now, I just have to "do." 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Recommendation: Uglies

Cover image from Wikipedia
If you've noticed my reading list on the right lately, you've probably seen that it's been filled up with a couple of books by Scott Westerfield. I got the first one, Uglies, in a group of ebooks from a Humble Bundle sale (pay however much you want for a collection of books. Part goes to the authors, part to the site, part to charity. It's wonderful for discovering new favorites. John Scalzi wrote two articles about his participation in one.) My writing buddy J R read it before me and recommended it as "better than the Hunger Games." Now, I loved the Hunger Games. I thought it was great, and with it's popularity, how could there be a series better?

She wasn't wrong. It's got dystopia with a dark truth and a mystery of the old world. It's got a strong heroine who's manipulated by the system and fights it. And the basis for the dystopia is just fascinating: What if the world's obsession with beauty went too far?

From Amazon: "Scott Westerfeld ... projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty."

It's a three book series with a follow-up fourth book, and something more coming in September apparently. As soon as I finished the first one, I had to go buy the second and third. I'm halfway done with the third and love it just as much as the first. It just keeps digging deeper into how messed up the world is, how far the bad guys will go to keep their perfect world. The technology is creative yet believable for the time (hoverboards that work on magnetism, recyclable clothing), the touches of our world long left behind haunting (cars with corpses locked inside running through crumbling city ruins.) The language is just different enough to be understandable, but obvious that time has changed the slang. Westerfield has built his dystopia beautifully. If you want to fill the void left behind by Hunger Games withdrawl, pick up Uglies.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

And the Verdict is...

Rejection. Form rejection. As much as the little voices wanted to, tried to convince me otherwise, I'm glad I listened to the sensible voice in my head that said it was to be expected well before it came. I would have been setting myself up for crushing disappointment had I gone in expecting an acceptance. My first story, first submission, bought with no problems? Unlikely. I've been knocked down, but instead of sitting there crying about being on the ground, I choose to get back up, dust myself off, and say, "All right, let's try this again." I'll build up my callouses, collect the scars. I'm proud to have my first one.

I'm not going back in as blindly as before, though. Late last week, someone on AW mentioned a site called The Grinder, where submissions are followed and days out tracked. And I'll be damned if the ones for Asimov's weren't right on the nose. The last few responses were rejections at 52, 53, 54 days. I was at day 49 and the status had just changed to "Under Review" on the website. Yesterday, at 53 days waiting, my rejection came in, exactly as expected. So now I have a resource to track wait times, try to submit to the places that are responding faster. At the very least, I won't have to live in my email anymore. It's cold in there.