Menus, Venues, and Story Updates

Hi, there. This is a non-fancy post about the latest additions to this website and to a few of my stories.

Growth on SiM

Did you notice the faeries? The wide cavern in my previous header image needed an uplift. I got carried away and compiled an entirely new scene.

The top right menu below that contains several new pages. External Links is one of my favorites but badly named (for now). That page is a cheat sheet for writing reference sites.

I’ve been wanting to track information on Twitter better so created my own account under @writeramlynn. So far, the most active part of my new social media account is the lists of fiction-related accounts.

Baby sparrow in a hand
No guarantees that @writeramlynn will grow into anything beautiful.

Story Developments

Long fiction

Do7 is at 5,000 words of the estimated 40,000 I’m trying to complete by the end of February. Also, all seven of the dwarves now have names that are much better than [D1], [D7], etc.

I’ve given in the temptation to write a cold war between the merpeople and humans into the outline for OotS. My little sea-prince is more subversive than submissive. Although he will retain his naturally sweet nature in his silent battles.

Ocean sunset
“The sun rose above the waves, and his warm rays fell on the cold foam of the little mermaid”. (Andersen)

Short fiction

I completed one flash of science fiction and a longer short that’s maybe literary? (Genres outside of speculative fiction confuse me.) They will travel more of the world as soon as I can figure out who to test these stories against.

Aaaand, this last update I wasn’t sure how to announce. I’ve made my first sale to a professional magazine if you can believe that. One of my sci-fi pieces was accepted by Strange Horizons! The editor tweeted about the acceptance.

 

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What Happened in June?

My state has been burning, both in terms of fire and record-breaking temperatures. This has made for an interesting start of summer, although one that requires this pregnant writer–who, along with many people in her typically cool climate, doesn’t have air conditioning–to lie around like a half-drugged bum during the hottest periods of the day.

My pregnancy is going well. A minor health concern (on my part, not the fetus’s) seems to be resolving itself with doses of willpower, and we’ve acquired many of the supplies we’re told we’ll need once our baby is out in the world. In the meantime, my husband and I are listening to bits of advice from other parents and caretakers, and enjoying the newly converted nursery, especially the lovely room-wrapping mural painted by a friend of ours.

Image
I’ve continued working out of town, though I’ll soon have to cut my hours. Working a full shift has become more difficult as my belly expands so far that I can’t even look at my own knees without contorting.

At home, there are more challenges. The nursery was easy; my husband cleared the piles of fabric, stacks of sewing and art supplies, medieval-style clothing, miscellaneous mementos, and furniture out of the room, our friend painted the walls and ceiling, then my husband and I arranged new furniture and supplies into the neatest and best decorated room in the house–an admirable state that lasted for less than a day.

My sister and her family moved into our house later that day. My toddler nephew is now occupied in our nursery, and our entire home has been overtaken by piles of stuff that needs sorting and storing.

With regards to writing…well, progress has been measured in terms of plot-directing thoughts, stylistic realizations, and temporary sentences jotted down before I fall asleep atop the page. Maybe after our baby’s birth, I’ll produce more?

Here’s hoping.

Is there anything you want to share about June?

Living and Writing Through the Holidays

It’s December and time for an update!

Employment

Since my last post, I said good-bye to my wonderful coworkers at my temporary job, agonized through a week and a half of unemployment, and then accepted a permanent full-time job–directly across the street from my previous office.

Thanksgiving Day Guests and Thoughts

Thanksgiving Turkey
CC by tuchodi

My mom, aunt, sister, and brother-in-law visited for Thanksgiving Day and related activities.

While they were here, they reminded me that all of the house is usable space. Certain areas such as the “living room” are rarely used. Guests want to see and use every area they can, but we usually stuck to the four most important rooms: the “library”, kitchen, bathroom, and primary bedroom.

Oddly, we don’t own a large home; we just spend most of our time on the computer or out of the house. For example, I’m away for my paying job more than I’m at home, even counting hours of sleep.

Relief and Accolade from the SCA

I enthusiastically handed my position in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) over to a friend. Later that day, my baron and baroness (the ceremonial heads of our local group) awarded me for “outstanding service to the barony, above and beyond that normally expected.”

‘Tis the Season

My pets got sick from an annual trip to the vets, I got sick from my new coworkers, and my husband is currently dealing with a cold. Treat this as a reminder to stay healthy, please!

Writing

The free writing software yWriter is helping me to identify and correct the gaps in DeCo. Look here for my review of yWriter in a few weeks.

Short stories went on the back burner this month. I only managed to produce a couple pages for a fantasy undergoing a rewrite. My goal is to complete the current version this week and immediately give it to a test reader. Maybe it will make the 2011 first quarter deadline for the Writers of the Future (WOTF) contest.

By the way, the contest director probably won’t start announcing the WOTF fourth quarter results until after New Year’s.

~

Watch the sky on the start of Tuesday, December 21 for an early morning eclipse (link to Science Daily article) of a full moon. Happy Yule!

WOTF and Current Work

The most popular posts on this blog are those that provide useful information on one topic each.

But this isn’t one of those posts. This is yet another catch-up post.

I received notice from L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest director Joni Labaqui more than a month ago that my story is an entry in the fourth quarter (July through September) of 2010. Results for that quarter are expected in December or January.

While I wait, I’m slowly rewriting a fantasy short.

Test readers liked the story but repeatedly pointed out structural problems and distractions from what they saw as the main point of the story.

The readers did not all agree with each other and no one agreed with me on what is the main point of the story, but I eventually conceded that I could write a cleaner version of the story–a version that provides enough details of the world, characters, and action to build the story in readers’ minds and that excludes details relevant only in parallel stories.

My goal is to give the rewritten story to test readers who won’t be then compelled to ask, “Um, did you really want to write a novel?”

Because, no, the fantasy short is supposed to be short. Although, the minor characters do have interesting stories of their own (inside my head) that impact the main character, I want readers to understand this short story without knowing how and why the supporting characters came to be the way they are.

Anyway, I already have two partial novels on my mind.

I’m fortunately able to apply the lessons I’ve learned from the fantasy short to one of my existing novels-in-development: DeCo.

The main conflict of DeCo has been difficult to describe. I plan on simplifying it by making one of the protagonist‘s teammates into the main antagonist. Maybe he was always meant to fill this role.

As I recall, this antagonist interested a couple of a dozen or so test readers of a DeCo-related short story.

I think I now understand why. He’s moody and murderous; but a high level of competence at his job makes him cool. In addition, he’s important to the protagonist. They hate each other, but they also rely on each other for survival.

The first meeting of these two characters is the novel’s current opening, which I wrote many months ago.

Maybe my subconscious already knew what I needed to do.

Related Posts:

The Hero vs. the Main Character” in the Shadows Archives

The Archetypal Characters: Protagonist and Antagonist” by Melanie Anne Phillips at Storymind.com

Fizzles and Sparks

The exciting blog post ideas that form during the day manage without fail to fizzle out by the time I reach home.

Yet story ideas cling to the forefront of my mind.

Fireworks - Click for source
© Amyn Kassam

I’m worldbuilding for my short sci-fi–it has alien hand-to-hand combat and conflict between social values–while I complete the first draft.

Although the draft was due yesterday, no one else in the writing group is ready with their stories. The group won’t mind, or maybe they’ll appreciate, that I’m taking a few extra days to submit.

After I send off that story to be  scrutinized by online friends, I’ll focus again on my current short fantasy.

The latest reader of the fantasy noticed a few minor issues that I can correct quickly. I’m hoping to the same happens with my final reader, who took my story with her on vacation and promised to give me her feedback when she returns.

She also promised to give me a copy of her novel. So, I’ll be critiquing a novel and five short stories in the next couple weeks. Yay! (I mean that. Yay!)

And DeCo… somehow I WILL carve out enough space to make serious progress. I’m feeling confident in the novel plan again, but the main character has been pushing into my thoughts with the reminder that he’d like attention, too.

What has and hasn’t kept YOUR attention this week?