I’ve just finished the 0th draft of Book 2.
WOO HOOOOOO!!! ::thunk::
In the desert city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, there is no crime or violence. Priests of the dream-goddess, known as Gatherers, maintain order: harvesting the dreams of the citizens, healing the injured, and guiding the dreamers into the afterlife. . .
When Ehiru-the most famous of the city's Gatherers-is sent to harvest the dreams of a diplomatic envoy, he finds himself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to drag the dreaming city into war.
I’ve just finished the 0th draft of Book 2.
WOO HOOOOOO!!! ::thunk::
I just broke 100,000 words on Book 2. WOO HOO!!
…but I’m not done yet. Crap.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and a belated Happy Hannukah, Joyous Noel/Yule, etc., to those who celebrate otherwise. Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves with friends and family, like I am. =)
Addendum: Just realized I have been meme-tagged by Mary Robinette Kowal! For the next 8 days I have to list things that make me happy, then tag 8 other people. OK, then I will list 1 thing and tag 1 person per day. Things that make me happy today: being up in Canada, having a white Christmas and hanging out with longtime BFF K, who I haven’t seen in years. I would tag her, but she prefers more privacy than I do. So instead I’ll tag fellow writer Vylar Kaftan, who seems a cheery soul. =)
In the home stretch in Noraville lately — I’m determined to finish Book 2 before Christmas. That’s looking pretty likely at this point given that I’m at 88,000 words thus far, and have been averaging 2K words per day. But all work and no play makes Nora a dull girl, so here’s some of what else I’ve been doing in my spare time:
-Advance warning for anyone reading who doesn’t already know: I’m very liberal, politically speaking. But it isn’t solely due to ideology that I find the shoe incident and this followup hysterically funny. I do plan to send my funkiest, oldest pair of shoes, by the way. (Gacked from Making Light.)
-In light of my earlier post about the need for diversity in fantasy, I’ve been incensed to hear that one of the most intriguing and original children’s fantasies I’ve ever seen — Avatar: The Last Airbender — has been whitewashed in its film version. Great shades of Earthsea! There seem to be a few fan efforts organizing to fight this, and the best-organized of them is Aang Ain’t White. I’m not sure about this effort; I think an organized and public boycott would be more effective. But I’m glad to see that the fans aren’t taking this lying down, so I’m supporting them.
-I’m reading Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “Shard of Glass” for Podcastle! I’ve never done any sort of voice acting before, so this is both intimidating and a lot of fun. Had to learn to silence my inner Virgo, though, because I kept erasing and restarting the takes, hoping to get them perfect, which meant I made very little progress at first. Must remember — that’s what editing is for.
-Because most of my friends and family live far from New York, much of my holiday shopping has been done online. I prefer online shopping anyway to the horrors of Black Friday — no hassle, no crowds, and someone else does the wrapping and shipping for you. I always tend to like sending region-specific gifts to people who aren’t from that area. When I lived in New Orleans, my favorite gifts to give were Loretta’s Pralines and Gambino’s exquisite Doberge Cakes, both of which are to die for. In Boston, it was Legal Seafood’s lobsters — surprisingly affordable, if your loved ones don’t mind receiving a live animal on their doorstep, and boiling it for dinner. So since I moved to New York last year, I’ve been looking for something quintessentially New York to send. And what’s more New York than cheesecake? Unfortunately I hate cheesecake myself — but I have it on good authority from cheesecake lovers that Junior’s Cheesecake is pretty darn good. I’d dearly love to send a Cake Man cake too, since I have tried those and determined them to be, ahem, the shiznit. But since the Cake Man’s cakes are all handmade, they don’t do mail order. Alas. Anyway, bringing a NY cheesecake with me next week when I go up to Canada to visit one of my BFFs for the hols. (Beware New Yorkers bearing gifts! They’re sure to be fattening.)
-And last but not least, the deal I mentioned a couple of posts ago is done; German rights to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and its sequels have sold to publisher Blanvalet, a subsidiary of Random House/Bertelsmann. This calls for beer and bratwurst! Except I don’t like beer. Hmm, maybe I’d like a German one, if I tried it. (Any recs, beer connoisseurs?)
Back to work!
So now I have a Twitter account. Yee. Ha.
Sorry to sound less than excited about it. I’m that most curious of creatures, a Luddite technophile. I love the web and all its varied gadgets, but I also like keeping my life simple. Having multiple accounts across multiple networking services is messy. It irks my Virgo soul. Not to mention the fact that I often find Twittering itself kind of irritating when other people overuse it; I really don’t want to know the minutia of my friends’ lives. So for those of you who similarly find Twittering irksome, I promise you now:
Anyway, I’m going to play with it for awhile, and see how it goes.
Next up: Facebook and MySpace. But I’m going to have to build up some inner strength before tackling those babies.
ETA: Oh, and I’ve added another plugin to this blog, which you can see if you look at posts individually (rather than full-page view); it lists related sites from Social Action. They’re not ads, they’re community service. Check them out, and help if you can!
Due to the apartment move, social life, teaching, etc., I’ve missed my initial goal of finishing BrightGod by Thanksgiving. And I recently decided to remove another 10,000 words from the novel that, for various reasons, just weren’t right. Replacing them is proceeding apace, and I’m making good progress — but the overall result of this whole mess is that I’m now about 30,000 words behind where I wanted to be. ARGH.
This is simple enough to fix; I’ve just got to buckle down and resume my original goal of 2000 words/day. If I can do that, I’ll knock out the 30K by mid-December. So here it is: my own private NaNoWriMo.
Always did enjoy a challenge. ::rolls up sleeves:: So, here we go. Wish me luck!
So much to see, so much to see. Like…
-Paranormal Romance Week, via my agent Lucienne Diver’s blog, in which she has authors, agents, and sundry folk from that end of the fantasy field wax eloquent about… whatever they want. =) Some interesting articles there, so check it out!
-No, I haven’t seen Twilight. I have to admit I tried the book and found it not to my liking at all — probably because I’m a thirtysomething woman and not a teenysomething girl. I suspect that if I’d been 14 when I attempted it, I’d’ve sopped the whole series up with a biscuit, but nowadays… no. However, I’m actually tempted to go see the movie, because this makes it sound like the movie is actually kind of interesting. But then this makes me want to skip the movie, because it can’t possibly be as funny.
fit of insanity surge of camaraderie for my writing-group mates, I became a slush reader for Sybil’s Garage some while back. It’s been fun, though I’m horribly behind on my slushpile due to moving. But all good things must end sometime, and Sybil’s editor Matt Kressel has put the word out that November 30 is the last day to submit for their current open slush period. Guidelines here, if you’re interested.
-And this thoughtful, in-depth, insightful post on Huffington pretty much describes my feelings about Obama’s election in a nutshell. (Via Making Light.)
Back to work!
I feel like I’m channeling the Horta today. For reasons I’ve never quite understood, I’ve begun developing these absolutely awful headaches in the last couple of years. They seem to come at random, though dry weather, too much sugar/alcohol, red wine, and some hormonal shifts sometimes contribute. And they’re grinding, twisting, chewing things, like there’s some critter inside my skull steadily boring its way out through one spot (just above my right eye). Sometimes there are weird afterimagey things too, like when you look at a bright light, except I haven’t, and sometimes I get queasy. Friends who know tell me these are all the signs of the dreaded M-word: migraine. But I’m 36, for pity’s sake; why would my body wait ’til now to hit me with this? ::grumblemutter:: Well, I guess denial ain’t just a river in Egypt; I’ll have to go talk to a doctor.
But the only reason I’m online right now and not draped across my couch groaning and contemplating trepanning, is because I got an email from L, my intrepid agent, who let me know that a German publisher has made an offer for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and its sequels. Farfegnugen! (Translation: I know absolutely no German, but I’m thrilled.)
Today, Germany. Tomorrow, some other parts of Europe and maybe Russia!
Sorry for the silence lately. Moved into a new apartment on Monday, and my life has only just begun settling back into sanity. Hopefully my new writing study will be configged by tomorrow, at which point I can finally resume work on BrightGod, which has been on hold for about a week. I’m itching to get back to it.
But!! Before I do, I must share the following. With extra exclamation points!!!
Those of you in New York City, or ever to visit New York in the near future — you must visit the Dessert Truck!! Before now, my favoritest dessert place in all the world was Boston’s Finale. And… well, Finale’s still up there, mostly because they do hot toddies and coffee/chocolate drink mixes that are to die for. (Mmmm… hot chocolate with Bailey’s.) But finally I’ve found someplace in my new hometown that’s just as good. And so unpretentious and inexpensive! Every one of the Dessert Truck’s items are $5 or less. But bottom line: the taste. I’ve had their Molten Chocolate Cake, their Creme Brulee, and — tonight — their hot chocolate. All three are stunning, but let me tell you about this hot chocolate. Think of the richest, finest, smoothest imported chocolate pieces you’ve ever had. (Imported because most American chocolate has issues.) Then liquefy it — but leave it thick, I mean molasses-thick, so heavy on the tongue that you actually have to stop and take a moment work it around in your mouth before swallowing. “Swallowing” is in fact a misnomer, because you can’t swallow this. Instead you have to sort of relax the muscles in your mouth and throat and let it find its own path to your stomach, which it does, but in its own good, thick, sweet time. But before it goes, it lingers awhile in your mouth, just kind of hanging out, kickin’ it with your taste buds. Your taste buds are all like, “YO!! I can’t believe this! I never felt anything like this in my LIFE!!” And the chocolate is all, “‘Sup.” And it grins and winks and leans back, knowing full well it’s amazing.
I think this might be deadly. Thick rich gourmet chocolate is attacking my braaaain. Lord knows what it’s doing to me, but if I die, know, all of you, that I died happy. ::wistful sigh::
I’ve been hearing about this phenomenal webcomic called Bayou by Jeremy Love, and I finally decided to check it out. It’s utterly brilliant. A fantasy take on life in just-post-slavery Louisiana, beautifully and powerfully rendered. Little Lee is trying to enjoy her childhood as the daughter of a hard-working sharecropper, though the ugliness of racism rapidly erodes what carefree innocence she had. After a day when she dives into the bayou to fetch the body of lynched child, Lee sees the child’s spirit in the act of transitioning into a supernatural, magical realm. Eventually she travels to that realm herself — a place that is home to talking animals, terrifying creatures like the carnivorous Jim Crows, and monsters. But not all of the monsters are terrible. Lee befriends a big green monster called Bayou, who has great strength but not much courage. Since Lee’s got courage in plenty, but she’s still just a little girl, they pair up and go off on a quest, hoping to rescue Lee’s friend Miss Lily (and in the process, also saving Lee’s father, who is in danger of being lynched for Lily’s disappearance).
The story is superficially a children’s tale, referencing everything from Alice in Wonderland to European faerie myths. But it goes deeper than that, retooling many African and Native American myths (and true stories) to meld seamlessly with the rest. The result is sheer beauty.
I’m not sure it’s really meant for children, though, given the amount of violence and ugliness in the story. It’s mostly stuff that really happened back in those days — lynchings, whippings, and worse — and it’s portrayed unflinchingly, with an artful starkness that’s both beautiful and shocking. I would show it to my kids if I had any, because this too is educational; I think all American children should know both the good and the bad about our country’s history. It would be a great springboard for discussion, IMO. But if any of you reading are parents, I’d advise you to read the comic yourself before sharing it with your kids, and decide whether yours are ready for it. Some of the stuff in it is gory and a bit scary, even for me.
All that said — let me reiterate. Bayou is brilliant. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most original pieces of fantasy I’ve ever read, period. Apparently others have figured this out too: DC Comics is going to be putting it into print. Yay for Jeremy Love! And yay for me, because now I’ll be able to read my new favorite comic on the train commute.
Go read it! Oh, wait, forgot. Go read it!!!!!!!!!!!!
I brought a camera with me to WFC, and of course completely forgot to use it 95% of the time. So the best photos I have from the con were actually taken by other people. The first is from Doselle Young, whom I met on Saturday night, along with his wife Janine. We were discussing an odd incident that had just occurred, in which a stranger had stared at me and then asked me whether I was Nalo Hopkinson. -_- Since I look nothing like Nalo (though our first names do share three letters!), I could only laugh about it — but then we found out my fellow writing-group member Alaya had been mistaken for me throughout the con. (We also look nothing alike.) At this point we started joking about all the other people we could be mistaken for, finally culminating in the great (but dead) Octavia Butler herself. So in the spirit of Halloween, here is me as “undead Octavia Butler”:
The night before this, there was the Signing Session, which was huge and a lot of fun. As I mentioned before, I completely lost it over meeting several of my favorite authors. Here’s me fangirling on Marjorie Liu, snagged from her:
I’m so geeky.
All that said… the mistaken-identity incident does bring home some realities in the wake of Obama’s victory. As powerful a symbol as he now is — and yeah, I’m thrilled — it doesn’t change a lot. People will still mistake the only two black women at a small convention for completely different black people. I will still have conversations in the bar with random strangers who insist that “you people” should stop complaining now that “racism is dead”. (Yeah, that happened too.) And racism won’t be dead, by any stretch — in fact I suspect it’ll get a little worse for awhile, as more people go into denial and decide that it’s no longer worth talking about or working to eliminate.
Just like a Democratic sweep doesn’t indicate some sudden progressive awakening among the American people, as the Prop 8 horror illustrates. So my feelings right now are best encapsulated by a fortune cookie message I got the night after I found out 100K would be published, and which I’ve kept as an inspiration: You had a great start! Now work harder.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do to fix this country.
Anyway, back to writing.
Tired, sick (caught a cold, bleagh), but happy.
For those who don’t know (I didn’t), World Fantasy Con is basically “the professionals’ con” of the spec fic field. It’s expensive as cons go, which unfortunately puts it out of the reach of most casual fans, but which results in a nice collection of pro authors, editors, agents, and reviewers all glomming together and enjoying themselves for a whopping 5 days. This year was my first visit to WFC, so it was all shiny and new for me.
And oh so much fun. I have to confess that I’d been very nervous about this con, having already imagined it to be full of distinguished individuals from the rarefied upper echelons of publishing. It was. But distinguished or not, these individuals’ favorite pastime seemed to be kicking back in the lounge with a beer (or three) and waxing eloquent about cheese. (No, really. The conversation got quite heated, as I recall, though I don’t recall why — something to do with substandard Gruyere. I’d had a few glasses of wine at that point.)
There were panels to, though I’ll admit I didn’t find these as much fun — I guess I’ve been spoiled by the nerdpunk panels of Readercon and the “anything goes” panels of Wiscon. They weren’t bad by any stretch, just not as thought-provoking/controversy-addressing/informative as I usually like. (Though I did enjoy the heck out of “The Language of Fantasy”, in which Farah Mendelson taught me two new words! …both of which I’ve forgotten. Gah. I have them written down, though, and I’m planning to order her book, which should teach me even more.) Was also amused by the “Stealth Halloween” which took place on Friday. WFC is a no-costumes con, owing to its professional nature, so there were several people in costume but not obviously so. There was an excellent Sarah Palin, and though I saw Mary Robinette Kowal that day, I didn’t realize she was dressed as Agent Scully. Excellent costume, just… well, stealthy. =)
I really enjoyed the readings, which introduced me to several new authors I’ve never read. But the real gem of this con was that I got the chance to meet so many people whose work I’ve enjoyed, or with whom I’ve only worked/interacted online. I can’t even list them all, but among them were Wendy Delmater of Abyss & Apex (I just bumped into her in an elevator), Jetse de Vries formerly of Interzone (who actually remembered my last submission and who I now apparently owe a grasshopper next year), authors Carol Berg, Marjorie Liu, and Kay Kenyon (all of whom I went fangirl on; it was embarassing, but I couldn’t help myself) and so many more.
My one regret is that I didn’t ask to do a reading this year, mostly because I keep thinking “Well, the book won’t be out for a year; who would remember?” But what I hadn’t realized was that because the folks at this con are pros, they understand the long timelines involved with publication, and they have correspondingly long memories. And there were a lot of people at the con who, for whatever reason, were looking for new voices via the readings, thus generating fresh buzz for the authors. So I missed an opportunity. =( Ah, well, part of the learning process. At the next few cons I attend, I’ll definitely be doing readings.
All that aside, though — ::happysigh:: So much fun.
Next up: packing and preparing to move to my new apartment! ::sigh:: Guess the fun had to end sometime.