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Published: "Under a Lady's Skirts"

I have a short story called "Under a Lady's Skirts" in the September issue (#38) of Aoife's Kiss! Won't you order a copy (if you can afford it)? It's $8 plus $3 shipping for US orders, $5 for Canadian orders and $8 for international orders.

I don't make any further money on these sales, but still... buy one?

No, I will not be offended if you are broke. I still love you. ♥
I'd like to talk for a minute about structure. And how much I suck at it. Because frankly, what I don't know about it could easily fill the Grand Canyon.

I wrote three (3) novels in high school, and I learned something about writing and about myself as a writer from each of them. I learned how to create amazing characters, catchy dialogue, memorable settings and thought-provoking conflict. So each novel was moderately less sucky than the one before.

What I never managed to learn was structure: how to construct a story from the ground up so that every character and line and plot threads hangs together neatly, so that everything the characters do makes sense in the context of the story and all the plots and sub-plots follow through to the end.

In my academic life, I've taken the equivalent of three years of creative writing courses, most of those with the same teacher. And I have... issues with that teacher. So I'm really trying to be objective here. This professor's focus during all of his classes always seemed to be less about writing and more how to put one over on the reader--everything he taught was a trick designed to distract the reader from what was going on in the story or what was NOT going on in the story. Having started each semester with the statement "My job is to discourage you from pursuing a career in writing" (and the same god damn lecture on Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants every single time), he proceeded to try and teach us to write like Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Toni Morrison--not because they're good at their craft but solely based on their success as commercial authors.

There were a lot of lessons on brainstorming, theme, tone, metaphor... but to the best of my recollection, never anything about characterization, how to plot a story from A to B or from A to Z or from A to ZZ (if necessary), or how to combine and structure several plots into a cohesive whole.

And those were lessons I could have really used! As it stands, all three of my completed novels suffer from Plot Decay. Characters follow plot threads to dead ends, or just don't follow them at all. The stories meander placidly along, and sometimes things forget to happen, or sometimes things happen out of nowhere and for no apparent reason.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I know better than to let things carry on to that point. Now, when I find something like that happening in a story I'm writing... I stop. And generally, because I don't know how to fix the problem, the story dies a slow and lonely death.

I don't like that. :( So... what do you folks know about structuring a story?

And feel free to expound upon this basic premise at considerable length, if the mood so strikes you. I'm prepared to take notes.

*I was supposed to post this at Eventyr weeks ago, but life has been fraying at the edges for a while now. Lucky to remember to post it anywhere at all, at this point.
Husband's health is mostly better. Roommate's moved out. Time to get back to work!

Banged out the first three chapters of Unmentionables last week, just in time to visit my friend Nella in NYC. Nella is the basis for one of the minor characters (though she totally needs a spotlight of her own; check her out in the Nostalgia Chick videos, especially the Grease one) and she got a major kick out of seeing herself described as "an adventurous chap with Sapphic tendencies" who sings burlesque songs in a shitty nightclub.

Also spoke with Nella about performing in a supremely nerdy webseries that she and another friend are trying to get off the ground for next summer. If all goes well, I will be portraying a pub owner and hurling my friend Wyatt out of a door. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS.

Oh, and I got to hang out with the cast of Team NChick. It was pretty awesome! And highly alcoholic!

For those three people still waiting for my breakdown of how I write a short story... erm, it's coming? If you know what I mean? Sorry, I haven't forgotten, but that particular piece is kicking and screaming at me, and there might be 57 drafts before I have something worth pontificating about.

Hmm, what else... OH! I will have a review up after Christmas, of Christian sci-fi/fantasy author Nathan James Norman's radio play Untold Alliances. (If you'd rather not wait for my review, go download it and listen to it yourself. It's free!) To give you an idea of how behind I am, I was supposed to review this thing back in May. Nathan, buddy, I am so sorry.

Gullible by choice

The older I get, the more I come to realize that, like Mulder, I just want to believe.

I describe myself as cheerfully agnostic, and I'm all about healthy doses of skepticism. I love evidence. I want proof that won't get itself laughed out of a crowded pub.

But I also operate mainly in the realms of fiction. I'm a writer--everything around me is fuel for my fire. So I tend to get very... irritated depressed unsettled when I hear people heartlessly debunking something that I hold very near and dear to my fantastical little heart, stuff like interstellar space flight or time travel, merely because they don't think it will ever be possible.

We are star-stuff writers of fiction. We must believe in everything we write, at least while we are in the act of writing it.

April's Writing Mantras

* Nothing is ever impossible.

* 'Because it's there' is a completely acceptable reason for pursuing anything.

* I will believe, at least for a little while.


NOT DEAD YET!!! *falls over*

So, I feel like I should explain where the hell I've been the last few weeks months.

Click for medical TMI and flashbacks!

In the meantime... I've worked on pretty much nothing, especially in the last 4 weeks. There was some slight progress on Unmentionable back in... May? I think? Oh, and Danielle is totally kickin' butt on the Dommi layouts, so there should be some more progress on that front soon.

And now if you'll excuse me, thar be a bottle o' mountain dew callin' me name. Yarr...
In preparation for what is, I hope, a good chunk of foward momentum for Dommi (hey, remember I finished the first issue?!), last evening I went ahead and bought a domain for the book. And, predictably, spent most of last night freaking the hell out about it. I mean, it's a decent chunk of change to plunk down for something that may only ever appeal to a marginally small number of people (Dommi is a weird book). But I think it's going to be okay; Danielle is talking with a friend of hers to design the CSS for the site, and since I know kung-fu HTML, I think the site itself will turn out all right. Then comes the part I suck at: site/product promotion and the directing of traffic.


Um, what else am I working on? Erm... Oh, right, "Deep Places". Right, that. Must get back to work on that. In fact, I'm gonna do that today! Right after I write up character bio blurbs for Danielle. *headdesk*

In Unmentionable news, the outline for the novel is coming along slowly but steadily, I finally got my husband to give my Aubrey novella, "The Eternities of Hobbis Black," a preliminary read-through, and I've got the two completed short stories making the submission rounds (still). So there's that.

And I've friended a boatload of new people on Facebook (hence all the explanatory linkage), so I'd better get off my duff and update my website, preferably before 2011.

Signs of progress

I finished a script!


Last night I sent the script for the first issue of Dommi, entitled "Out of the Fog," to my artist (the disgustingly talented Danielle Ellison). She's been waiting for this thing literally for months, so I hope it's good. (I got to see her reaction to the villain's opening scene, so I think she'll be pleased.:P)

Apologies to those who've been waiting for the step-by-step process of how I write a short story; this script needed to get done. (Actually, it needed to get done six months ago, but I digress.) But it's finished now, so I'll be able to get back to work on "Deep Places." Woohoo!

Oh, and Danielle is selling stuff! You should go take a look!


Would anyone be interesting in seeing the step-by-step process of how I write a short story? The piece I'm working on right now would be an excellent example, and I'll post scans and screen-caps and whatnot.

Comment if you're interested. :)

Of women and microbes...

I thought I'd give any interested viewers a brief glimpse of my current project, a science-fiction short story called "Deep Places."

After many years of swearing that I would never write 'hard' science-fiction, I abruptly decided that I was going to attempt a piece that would at least resemble science. No, I don't know why. Well, it's hard all right. /lame pun

Usually, when I sit down to write a story, I have a plot in my head already, or a set of characters that I'm at least tolerably familiar with. This time, all I had was a setting (Callisto, a moon of Jupiter) and a pair of characters names that needed to become characters. So what did I make of them?

Elcidiba Sun left Earth five years ago, settling down on Callisto and making her living tending to the labyrinth of pipes that bring fresh water from the desalination plant to the small settlements. An industrial accident among her fellow technicians brings her into contact with a rookie tender, Alys Hylos, whom Cid finds unsettling. But the two are drawn together by a single occurrence: on the subfloor of the plant, where the drill brings salt water up from six hundred feet below the ground, Cid and Alys can hear screaming.

And... that's all I've got so far.

Tweet tweet, feckin' tweet!

For those of you who do the Twitter thing, an announcement:

I will be closing my @afwkickshaws account at the end of March. I tried having one account for business and one for personal nonsense, but I keep forgetting that the business one exists. So it's going bye-bye.

Please follow me @kiwimouse for actual timely chitchat.


Also, this article about getting motivated to write says two of the greatest truest things about writing that were every said:

"It’s intangible – Many people don’t seem to consider writing a proper job, maybe because often writers type away for days with apparently little to show for it. Yes, there may be the occasional article in a newspaper, possibly even a published book you can actually show people. But even then that small book, an object you can hold in one hand, isn’t a good indication of the many hours, months or possibly years of work that went in to actually writing it."


"It’s intellectual – People see hard work as being physical like laboring, or stressful like being a fighter pilot. They don’t realize the kind of mental determination that writing calls for, the inner motivation that’s required to get you writing and keep you going until you actually finish the work."

Sing it loud.


Book junkie

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October 2011


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