nalohop's blog

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Writing

Classes are over, but there's still admin work to be done. Today was reading, marking and meetings. But I still managed to get in a couple of pages of writing. Some raw sentences are below. I've also been invited to join a summer writing "collective" on campus. We'll each have our own office in a pleasant building that has the look of a converted cottage. It has a lovely kitchen, and a screening room where I may try to show films from time to time, if I have the energy. There's a lily pond outside, with what look to be guppies living in it. There are also signs that warn of the possibility of rattlesnakes. For some reason, this amuses me.

From the cupboard near the door of the hut, Clara pulled out the wooden box that held Mummy’s needles, awl, and good strong thread. She could have traded the box long since for food or some other freeness. She was glad now that she hadn’t been able to bear the thought of giving away Mummy’s tools. Clara hated sewing, but she knew how to use the needles. If she could beg or thief a scissors, she would have a trade with which to make her way in the world. “Selvon,” she said, “you know where I could find a scissors?”

Help me find my Amazon links?

You may know that Amazon is trying to strongarm Hachette Books -- my main publisher -- by obstructing Hachette authors' titles on Amazon's websites. Amazon has in some cases removed "buy" buttons and is suggesting other books instead. It is telling readers that Hachette Books are unavailable, and/or that they will take weeks to be shipped. So much for Amazon customer service. Yes, yes, I know that it's a battle of titans and that the giant multinational that owns Hachette has issues of its own. I know that within the bounds of the law, Amazon has the right to decide what it doesn't or doesn't want to sell, and how. And I have the right to dislike it. Amazon's market share is 40%. Their current business tactics are hurting writers and readers. Now, I'm not going to give anyone static for buying through Amazon. They sell more than books, they're quick, they're convenient, and if you don't have or can't access local bookstores, you may find Amazon a good option. Do ya do. For my part, even though I was already buying many of my books locally, from the excellent Cellar Door Books, I have cancelled my Amazon Prime membership and am making an extra effort to purchase my books and media elsewhere, from places that aren't actively trying to scuttle my sales. I'm also pulling any Amazon links from my web site. If you should happen to notice any that I haven't caught, I'd appreciate it if you could drop me a note.

New novel underway

School's sort of out for the summer -- which for UCR means till the end of September -- so, aside from marking and meetings and general admin, I've been able to begin work on the new novel that side-swiped me after the news of winning the Norton Award. I had been trying to continue work on one of the two novels I've had on the back burner for a few years now, when my concept for one of them began to change. In fact, it changed so much that it's no longer anything like the novel I'd planned. At all. The decade and the protagonist's name and sex are the same, but that's about it. Different location, different storyline, different characters, different dilemma, different solution. There was another key change as well; for the first time in a very, very long time, I didn't feel my energy ebbing away as I began to contemplate all the research, thought and writing a novel entails. I wrote up a two-page summary for my agent and began research and writing immediately. As of today's 471 words, I'm now 3,110 words in. Agent likes the idea, thinks it needs fleshing out. So do I. We'll have a telephone writing conference together sometime over the summer. Here are some of today's words:

Clara folded her dress and smalls around her pistol. She laid them down atop her boots in an alcove that stank of beer piss and dried jism. Her belly grumbled. All animal ichors smelled like food to the creature. Clara went over to Samuel. Knelt by his side. The beast inside sent a surge of joy. Yes. Prey. Feast. And then a bile of disappointment when it realized Clara was going to do nothing of the sort. Instead, she examined Samuel’s clothes. Not much blood on them. Some on the collar.

So, this happened...

Last weekend I attended the Nebula Awards in San Jose, California. To my surprise and utter delight, I returned with the Norton Award for young adult science fiction and fantasy. For Sister Mine. It's a decidedly adult novel, if you consider some of the sexual content. However, the protagonist, though adult, is only just about to make the step of living away from her family. So in that way, it's apt. You can watch the video of the Nebula proceedings here. Ellen Klages made a great MC (plus she looked amazing in her tux and cummerbund). Samuel R. Delany was given the Grand Master Award, and women swept the fiction awards, for what I think is the first time!

And someday soon, I'll stop cradling my award like it's a baby.

Day off so far

  • Woke. Sleep app (Sleep Cycle) says my sleep quality was 89% last night. Vast improvement over the past few weeks, where it's been hovering between 35% and 54%. Guess last night's hot bath worked.
  • Checked email. Emailed permission for a prof to include one of my short stories in a course packet.
  • Checked the condition of plaster casts I left to cure overnight. (I'm teaching myself plaster casting.) Learned a) don't pour the plaster past the midline, or it affects the clarity of the cast; b) mold release is my friend. Failing that, a hammer. c) Don't make a mold out of anything I'm not willing to destroy.
  • Washed two loads of dishes; one by hand, one in the mini countertop dishwasher.
  • Breakfast: tasty, though unbalanced: bacon, castelvetrano olives, a cherimoya.
  • Started writing. Got stuck on an historical detail (where would 19th C travelling circuses have gotten the water they must have needed daily for cooking, laundry, feeding animals, doing dishes?). Managed to abort the resulting web trance and continue writing. Footnoted places where I need to research circus water sources and when a word/phrase came into usage.
  • Wrote just over a page, iow 262 words. Low by size queen standards, but twice what my capacity has been lately. Another sign my mental stamina may be improving. Amazing what a regular paycheque can do to improve sleep, alleviate hunger, raise iron levels, afford medication, reduce stress! Noticed that I write narrative by figuring out protagonist's bodily sensations with each new action/experience, and deciding which sensations to describe/invent, and how to write them. I find that so much more effective than naming emotion after emotion.
  • Washed another load of dishes. Things get kind of hairy during the teaching week; dishes get done not so much.
  • Jay Lake's cancer fighting fundraiser; please help if you can

    Oh yes, I did

    Opened Blackheart Man file tonight. Couldn't face it. Instead wrote 500+ words of a story about chicken pieces. Oh yes, I did. Had fun, too.

    That's my secret

    (Pace the Hulk.)