Tag Archives: writing

Projects, Playlists, & Purple Hair

I’ve got a new project I’m working on – the working title is Gods of the Fallen. I’ve put about 2650 words into it this weekend but there’s a lot of worldbuilding going on in my head. I’ve got some pages full of notes on the history of the planet, the science of the planet. I like thinking about how people would deal with specific things that we could find if we did colonize other worlds. How would we deal with a planet where you either never got to see the sun or never got to see the dark – both of which we humans seem to need. I’m having some fun with the mythologies but that’s always my favorite part of world building. I make the rest up as I go. I’ll note geography and characters and all of my little checkov’s guns along the way so I can keep true and make sure all those guns go off by the end.

I do have a fun playlist for this one. It’s in two parts because I’m still building up my Pandora station for it and some of the things are so not related that I don’t think Pandora would put them together. I’ve been having fun exploring the music of it though. And I have a whole bunch of new to me rocking women to listen to and you can’t beat that.

Today was more productive than just my writing. My oldest son and I planted most of the garden, I snuggled with my poor little Alfred who has a hurt toe and is absolutely milking it. Then I went to the store and caught up with an old friend and got caught in a super downpour where I discovered that there is a slight downside to my purple hair. Playing in the rain stains my shirt a little. At least it wasn’t a good shirt.

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Music and Writing

I have been listening to the same handful of songs for about a week. I know there is something in my brain that this particular list speaks to. It’s right there, just beyond my fingertips but it’s coming. The more I listen to the songs, the closer it comes. I don’t know yet exactly what it is but it feels pretty desolate and angry which feels about right for right now. I really don’t think it’s a short story. I think this is a new book brewing and I don’t think it’s related to any of the ones I’ve written before. I see big, sweeping battles amidst a barren landscape full of fire and smoke and I’m pretty sure that’s not Earth’s surface they’re fighting on.

This playlist consists of mostly Black Veil Brides with a little Godsmack, Metallica, and Sisters of Mercy thrown in for good measure. I’m looking for more in that vein right now. I’m open to suggestions if you have them, especially a female lead with a sound/feel somewhere between Otep (a little too aggressive for this project) and Myrkur (a little too ethereal for this project).

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Feeling that Spark

It’s been really difficult to write so far this year. It’ll come in fits and starts but nothing holds up for long. I know a lot of it has to do with the loss of my dad and the fact that I’m working something akin to a day job (or two) now. I tell myself that I don’t have time. Which is a great lie I tell myself. There is always time to be found to write. I can go to bed later or put down the paintbrush. I could do a lot of things. Today, I’m percolating on an idea that I hope comes to something but it doesn’t feel like it’s decided what it wants to be yet. Percolating is a heck of a lot better than where I have been. I need to do a lot of things but I mostly just need to put on some music, open a clean file, and see what happens from there. Honestly, though, I’m just glad to feel that spark again, even the desire to write has been dulled the last few months so feeling that spark come alive and not immediately puff out of existence again is awesome.

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What’s in a Name?

I picked up a little snippet of an idea I jotted down a couple of years ago and am running with it. I see it growing up to be a short story, just this side of novelette most likely. It’s a rough length but once it’s done I can muck around with it until it’s a more saleable length. The problems I’m running into are all in the names. I do not like my placeholder names at all. It does not fit this woman at all. It does not fit her boss or her friend. I did get two names right but the rest will not work.

Sometimes names are easy. Sometimes I use a baby naming website. And then there are those other times when a regular name just isn’t going to cut it. I like to use ingredient lists for my fantasy characters. Take a syllable of this chemical and a syllable of that chemical and bang, you’ve got Tenorack (from Eldercynne Rising) and Ketryl (from a story that may never see daylight).

I suppose for this one, I’ll go back to a baby naming website since, even though it’s fantasy-ish, it is earthbound and contemporary. Have to find a name for a bad-ass government agent that doesn’t sound too happy. The name she has right now is much too happy to keep calling her.

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Monsters and Mayhem

 

Fall 1997's Threshold containing my first ever published story.

Fall 1997’s Threshold containing my first ever published story.

I love writing about myths, monsters, and the mayhem they leave in their wake. Which, if you’ve read Hunter’s Crossing, Guardian of the Gods or Eldercynne Rising, should be pretty clear. All the main characters are monster hunters in their own way.

 

I’ve been writing about monsters from the very beginning.

My first few non-school lit-mag publications were all in the same local zine. And technically, the first fiction in that school lit-mag was monster related too – she was a Scottish death goddess, yes, but very much a monster. Apart from her, I started with vampires like any good Poppy Z Brite and Anne Rice fan. A tragic, miserable vampire in his last moments before committing suicide by sunrise because his love is dead.

At the time of its publication, I hadn’t even met my husband yet so it is under my maiden name but, I think there are only a handful of publications under McBride. I was young and the writing definitely shows it. It’s all very purple and flowery and very different from the style I’ve grown into in the last two decades.

My first fiction publication (1997).

My first fiction publication (1997).

I have always been a mythology junkie. I’ve read up on the mythology from all over the world. Mythology speaks to the primal part of me, the stories still waiting to be told that live in my brain. I cut my literary teeth on the old Grimm fairy tales and all the books I could get my hands on about Greek, Roman, Scottish, Irish, and Native American mythology. Later I’d find Japanese, Chinese, and Mongolian myths.

Not all of my monsters are actually monsters – Leilani’s BFF is a very old vampire after all – but I do love a good monster. I like to find more obscure creatures or, on occasion, create my own entirely.

We all know vampires, werewolves, fairies, elves, and djinn but what about Kitsune or an aswang (and yes, that one is just super fun to say)? Old school sirens, harpies, and Russian style mermaids. There are so many neat mythological critters out there that sometimes I  wonder what it is about the vampires and werewolves that draw us all in so. Probably because, at least on the most basic level, nearly all cultures have something similar to a vampire or a werewolf.

Do you have a favorite underused monster? Something you’d like to see in a future story?

 

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Twenty Years and Counting

I don’t have an exact date for this particular anniversary but it’s sometime in the beginning of February. Around this time twenty years ago, I sent out my very first submission packet. I sent a jumbled mess that very clearly showed my age, I’m sure. This was in the days before I had a proper email address or consistent access to the Internet so the big envelope was mailed off with a little envelope inside it. It was about a month later when I received my very first rejection from a publisher (and rightly so! That poetry may have been good for my age but I cringe reading most of it now!). Two weeks later, I got my first acceptance (for two poems and a short story) so that softened the blow, even if it was a local zine that didn’t pay, everyone else in that publication was much more established than I and it was a balm to my ego.

From 1997 until 2004, I didn’t keep very good track of submissions at all. There were a handful of acceptances in that time, almost all poetry I believe, but mostly there were rejections. Rejection after rejection. On at least two occasions, I very nearly quit. Until I remembered that there isn’t much else I’m good at or passionate about. In late 2003, after accidently sending the same poem to the same market twice, I started my tracking spreadsheet so it never happened again.

From 2004 until now, I’ve had acceptances, rejections, withdrawals, and dead markets. I’ve had more failures than successes but those successes make it all worth it for me. So, in the last 13 years, I’ve sent out 769 submissions, not including query letters or work for the blogs I write for. Of those, 14 markets went dead while they had my submission, 12 got lost in the ether, 6 were withdrawn, 624 rejections, 76 acceptances, 1 rewrite request, and the rest are currently under consideration. The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually.

The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually and I don’t see myself narrowing that too much. Except with my novels – I will probably stick to genre work because I enjoy it more.

Let’s break down the acceptances. Some submission packets had more than one item in them, at least with the poetry, some things have been published more than once. I’ve had 25 short stories (plus at least 2 prior to 2004) and 1 short story collection (Hardwired Humanity). 8 essays, mostly about my mother. 51 poems (plus at least 6 from prior to 2004). And last, but certainly not least, the three novels: Guardian of the Gods, Hunter’s Crossing, and Eldercynne Rising.

Maybe it’s not where I had imagined I’d be in 20 years, but it’s not too shabby either and it’s not like I’m done yet.

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Holidays!

I love Christmas. Everything just feels brighter, lighter, more cheerful, at this time of year. It reminds me how lucky I am. I have a few thoughts mulling around about all that and I’ll probably get them down soon. I’ve been very busy – working on a short story that is fighting me, having my annual Make-A-Thon where I make neat stuff for the people I care for (and I’m particularly proud of a couple of them this year), and putting together a present for all of you. I put together a little sampler – a few short stories and a couple of profiles from my stories. You can find them here: 2016 Sampler. I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Not a winner

The puppy lies sleeping. Yay for Blanket season!

The puppy lies sleeping. Yay for Blanket season!

Not of NaNoWriMo. Not this year anyway but I am writing and that is all that matters. I took a little break  earlier this year because I had a little crisis of ego – it happens and I’m not completely over it but that’s never stopped me for long before! The new story is plugging along so that’s good. I also have a book to review, a short story to finish, and a puppy to cuddle. Ok, so that last one isn’t a job but it is impossible to resist.

I’m listening to Cohen on loop and feeling a little maudlin but remembering that I’m not leaving the table or the game anytime soon so I’d probably ought to get my tush in gear and do something. And I don’t just mean make cool things for Christmas (though I plan to do some of that too!).

I hope you all are having a productive month.

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And we’re back on – maybe

I might not finish it but I’m pretty sure this one isn’t a short story. I’ve finished a NaNoWriMo is less time than I have left – but I’m not going to be super upset if I don’t manage to get it finished in the official 30 days. I’m just glad to be working on something. If I don’t make it this year, I’m not going to worry about it or be upset with myself if I don’t manage 50,000 words in the next 18 days but I will be super proud of myself if I do.

I don’t even have a working title yet but I’m about 1000 words in and we’ll see where it goes. Sometime next year, I’ll get to polishing up Crow Queen. This week, I’ve got a comic and a book to review. Even if I don’t win Nano this year, I should have a new book by the end of the year. Whether it’s this one or a different one – I’m determined.

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Or not

Usually, by this time, my nanowrimo novel is well past half done and I’m not just excited about writing it but forget that there are things I really do need to do while I’m writing it. This year, it’s a bit more like drudgery. I like the images in my head, I even like the character, but this story is completely the wrong one or at least, how I’m going about it. Between that, the puppy, and making sure all my boys have clothes to wear and get fed, I don’t think I’m going to accomplish a win this year.

I’m not saying I won’t get a huge idea in the next day or two and bring it home, squeaking my way into a win by the skin of some poor character’s teeth, but it isn’t looking likely. I’m not giving up on this image in my head but I’m starting to think that maybe Crow Queen is a short story and nowhere near novel length. The beginning, yep. Solid. I just don’t think there’s anything past that.

If I manage to find the right story to write, I’ll get back to it but for this year, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

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