Come to My New Blog!

If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Killing my darlings

I learned a new phrase this week. ::points up:: That's what I'm doing right now. Well, actually, right now I'm blogging about killing my darlings, because actually doing it is too hard.

And of course, my productivity has plummeted since school began. Hopefully I will reach some sort of equilibrium with that soon, and be able to be at least as productive as I was last spring. I've got too much interest in this book for me to fall off the face of the earth now.

I'm contemplating doing one of those dreaded mirror-gazing scenes. Mine would be different, of course. I'm not doing it as a cheap way of giving you a full visual without breaking POV. Nothing like, "She gazed in the mirror on her way out the door. Her long, brown hair framed her green eyes and freckled skin, and rested on the shoulders of her green turtleneck. 'Too fat,' she thought disapprovingly, despite the fact that she weighed barely over a hundred pounds." But I've killed the scene in which I established that Chris looks young for his age, and that's a fairly important plot point. So I'm thinking that he can be annoyed over a scene offstage, just before this scene, in which someone told him he looked like he was X years old, where he briefly examines his reflection in a car window, wondering if it's really true, and when it'll stop being true. That doesn't seem quite as egregious to me.

On the other hand, in a prepublished author, I'm not sure it's a good idea to even skirt by a cliché. Will editors and such be paying attention to the nuance, or will they say, "Ugh, a mirror scene. How trite!" and toss it?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cutting: Icarus's Labyrinth goes emo on you

I needed an impartial person to help me go through my MS and find scenes I could cut. This week, my brilliant wife helped me do just that. There were some tough decisions. Some scenes I love that aren't strictly necessary. Scenes that serve a purpose, but where the purpose can be served by another scene. A whole freaking character. Luís, who went from being a very important character to being a minor character to being left out altogether. Sorry bro. I like to try to work at least one Latino character into everything I write, but now this story's just about all white.

But still, it wasn't too hard to make the cuts--on my outline.

Now I'm trying to implement those decisions. And it's not as easy as highlighting scenes and pressing the delete key. Scene one established my protagonist's age and physical appearance, and some sense of what the chip on his shoulder is. But it's too similar to scene eleven, really, and scene two has some nice, tense action that will make a good opening hook. But now I've got to find a way to convey the information that used to be in scene one. I've got to look closely at the good stuff I'm taking out and think about making the story work without any obvious gaps. Sorry for going gruesome on you, but it's the difference between having your dog put down and doing it yourself.

And now I'm back to getting up at six every morning, and staying up late grading and lesson-planning. It's finally Friday . . . and I'm exhausted.

(Say, why do places like Writertopia only make counters for counting up to a certain goal? What about those of us trying to make works shorter?)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

v 2.0 is done

It still needs polishing. And tightening. And just general shortening. Lord, does it need shortening.

(Sounds like I'm making cookies, don't it?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Well, we all need someone we can sneer at . . .

. . . And if you want to, well you can sneer at me.

Just got in from NerdCon WorldCon. (Hey, it's like how minorities are allowed to make fun of their own group. I was there, so I can make fun of it.) Our flight landed at 1 AM, we got home at 2 AM, and at 7:30 AM I was back at work. ≥_≤ I'll probably blog about WorldCon several times, because it was a great and wild experience. Just one thought for today, though.

Throughout the week, I was struck by how naturally we tend toward building little hierarchies and ingroups and outgroups. My wife and I dressed pretty normally. While we are fans, we were also there hoping to make contacts with people who could help further our writing career, so vaguely professional attire was the order of the day. Besides, my body doesn't lend itself to costumes. But as we were heading out to lunch one of the days, we saw some yahoos in a pickup truck shout disparaging remarks at a guy in costume outside of the convention center. (And he was far from one of the more freakishly dressed people around.) The local media was about at least once or twice, and I'm sure some Colorado locals couldn't decide what to make of the freakshow that had descended upon them. Getting out and mocking them is always a good way to build up your own self-esteem, though.

I'm sure most if not all science fiction fans have had somewhat similar experiences. Heck, on my Rate-My-Teachers page, some nimrod said you shouldn't take my classes if you don't like Star Wars, when I never bring up Star Wars or science fiction myself, and, really, Star Wars and Star Trek are the least of my fannish obsessions--I'm much more about the printed word than I am about movies or television. But neither do I hide the fact that I like Science Fiction, and those of us who do seem to be a little bit threatening to those who don't, for some reason.

That's not what fascinates me, though. No boo hoo woe is us emofication here, thanks. What fascinated me was seeing the exact same dynamic played out inside the Con. I'm sure anybody who reads this blog has seen The Geek Hierarchy. Well, I kind of got to see it played out in real life. I saw fans not wearing costume point and snicker at those who were, and likewise at those who had stuffed animals about their person somewhere, and heard derogatory comments about filkers. On Thursday, I was at the bid party for Peggy Rae’s House in 2010 when a little mustachioed troll of a woman glanced at my name tag and made a derisive comment about the fact that I'm from Celebration, Florida. Hey lady, we're all freaks--you more than me, truly--why do we need to bag on each other?

It reminded me of growing up Cuban-American in Miami. In Miami, there is such a tension/rivalry/what-have-you between Latinos, African-Americans, and Jews. Miami politicians love to play us off against each other for their own gain. And hell, in the end, we're all minorities, and we all experience prejudice and discrimination. Don't we have more in common than not? I've seen prejudiced minority group members--where's the sense in that? Oh, no, all those people who bag on Cubans are wrong--except when they're talking about blacks! Seriously?!

Anyway, sorry for going Deep. I was just so thrown by nerds looking down on other nerds.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Greetings from *wheeze* *gasp* Denver

It's always wild when you plan something for months and the day finally comes. My wife and I decided to go to WorldCon like in January . . . I hope it can live up to that level of anticipation!

The thin air thing is freaky because I *don't* notice it most of the time. Then suddenly I'm short of breath and I don't know why--until my brain kicks in and I remember it's because I'm in freaking Denver. I wonder if people from Denver have issues with the air when they travel at sea level. I've lived almost all my life in Florida, where most people say it's unbearably humid--and I agree, in general. But when I've spent substantial periods of time, like more than a month, where it's less humid, even other places most people find too humid, like North Carolina, I've found it unpleasantly arid.

Anyway, that's about as much time as I'm devoting to blogging today, after spending a fortune to get out here. See ya!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Contest time

My wife convinced me to enter a short story into a contest today, and I spent all day working on that. The postmark deadline was August first, so at quarter to eleven tonight I found myself at the late night post office by the airport. Nothing like running right up against deadlines two nights in a row.

I have a great track record with writing contests . . . I won the only one I ever entered, about fifteen years ago. I'm a little afraid to put my perfect record on the line! ;)

Friday, August 1, 2008

I got something to say--okay, well, actually, no I don't

For the first time in seven months, I'm not writing.

Seven months.

It feels really weird.

I could be writing. I have ideas and all. But what I really need to be doing right now is editing. I have a completed first draft and three-quarters of a second draft, and if I don't put the time in to make it better, it will be just a great big writing exercise. I also think it's a good idea to let my story ideas ferment a bit, so that when I start again, I'll be creative and ready to go.

But it still feels weird.

Post-Adrenal Collapse

I just shot off my story submission for an anthology that's in the works, less than ten minutes before the deadline. I had the idea months ago, and I've been working solidly on it for weeks, and just finished last night. I spend today furiously editing. After at least a week in deathmarch mode, I feel a strange sort of restlessness. I've been getting to bed at 4, 6, 7 am. Now there's no reason not to go sleep . . . but I can't bring myself to.

It's a horror story, set in Puerto Rico in 1961, with Clinical Vampirism and all kinds of other fun stuff. To do my research, I've been googling some sick shit, so if you never hear from me again, the FBI probably has me, 'kay?

That's the thing about writing a horror story, although to an extent, it's true for all stories. You really expose yourself. It's hard, sometimes, to show someone a story, because everything in it came from you. If what's in it is vile, people might look at you and wonder at the vileness within you. Not just in horror--I wrote a scene with my bad guy in Vanishing Act where I let him be a real dick, and my First Reader was a bit taken aback by it. But I feel like my story is more compelling when I dig deep into myself, when I take that chance and expose myself. If nothing else, hopefully my antagonists are more compelling when I do that.