Last Sunday, I brought the awesome kiddo named THE EMSTER back to college, which is about five hours away in normal driving times. But last Sunday was not normal driving times. Last Sunday was a day where:
1. A train derailed in Brooklyn killing people.
2. There was a 70-car pile up in Worcester, Mass.
3. About 50 cars went off the road on the turnpike I was driving on.
4. It took eight hours to get home instead of five.
And I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. I got the Emster down to college without going off the road or even slipping. I got out of Cambridge, Mass. without getting stuck in traffic any where. But once I was back in Maine, things got crazy again. It sleeted. It rained. It snowed. It hailed. It wasn't super bad weather, really, but it wasn't nice. The first few cars I came across all had tow trucks or state troopers helping them. Then there was the guy in the pick-up truck who was in the center median. His front grill was smashed into trees. I pulled over and so did another guy in a truck. I ran across the highway, which was kind of fun because it was like that old video game FROGGER and since I wasn't flattened by any semis, I totally made it to the next level. I tried to remember all my first aid. But the guy in the smashed-up pickup was totally fine and already calling for help. I got back in the car and drove more.
Another state-trooper covered accident.
Another accident without a trooper. But they were okay, too.
And then there was the Maine State trooper car that was smashed up, which seemed like a kind of bad sign.
And then there was a sudden stopping of all the cars on the highway.
"It is the apocalypse," I texted once the car was stopped. "Or maybe just an accident."
My friend texted back, "BE ALERT FOR ZOMBIES!"
And I wondered if he meant real zombies or people who become zombie like when a turnpike turns into a parking lot.
According to the truck driver in the Ames Hardware Store 18-wheeler, who was the source of all turnpike knowledge, there was a multi-car pile-up and we would be stopped for about an hour. That hour became two. Which was totally okay with me because it's nice to not be dead or have your car off the road.
And it seemed to kind of be okay with everyone. People got out of their cars, stepped into a darkness only illuminated by headlights. They stretched. They made friends. They walked into the woods in the middle of the highway and stumbled out again. Okay. That reminded me of zombies, honestly. They talked.
At one point, the truck driver came out of his truck with a mallet/sledgehammer type thing, which was kind of freaky, but he just used it to smash snow or something off his tires.
At one point, a woman sang Christmas carols off key as she walked between the cars. Thankfully, she stopped. This reminded me that one nice thing about a zombie apocalypse is a lack of off-key singing because zombies don't sing. Score one for zombies, honestly.
At one point, a man came around offering water bottles. They were not spiked with zombie virus. They were just Poland Spring water bottles.
People turned off their cars. People eventually stopped texting. People talked to each other (and not just about the off-key caroler, I swear). They talked about being stuck in the dark and the snow. They talked about their trips, their destinations, whether or not they should turn off their cars to save gas.
And at one point, cars started moving and everyone who was out of their cars sprinted back, which was humorous because the road way was slippery.
And then we all moved again, past tow trucks, past the accident scene, past other accidents, and home.
I kind of miss those people and Mr. Truckdriver (who would be totally handy in a real apocalypse) and I really hope the people in the accident weren't hurt, but what I love is how kind all these strangers on the turnpike were to each other and how quickly community can be built if you want it to be.
*SCORE! TWO BLOGS IN ONE DAY! - I feel all triumphant. *
So, I was thinking about why I never blog any more and I decided that I am too scared to blog.
"You? Carrie Jones? The blabber mouth? The person who blogged pretty much every single day from 2007- 2011? You are afraid to blog?" Imagine my brain saying this to itself or something like that, okay?
And I was like, "Yes, Brain that is talking to itself. I am indeed afraid to blog."
And Other Part of my Brain was like, "Um… why?"
It's like this:
1. Blogging used to be easy and fun because nobody read it and when people did read it they were ultra-supportive.
2. Blogging isn't like that any more.
Blogging is almost like an invitation to argue for some people, and I am super conflict-averse. How conflict averse? You could basically say every major mistake in my life has happened because I was afraid of yelling or fighting back on behalf of myself.
So… one day I had a blog about how guns were not the issue in an episode of mass violence, but that it was deeper than guns. The event that I blogged about involved a lot of people instantly guessing the gunman's motives. I said that wasn't cool. I also said that mental health issues and societal mores are just as important as guns when trying to prevent massive violence. And I writer I respected became very upset with me. I explained to that writer that I had to delete his comments because they were full of swears and back then my publisher paid for my website and my publisher was not too keen on swears, but he could totally post his opposing opinion again without the swears. The writer took this as censorship. We have not been friends since and I pretty much dread seeing him.
And I know half of you are all like, "Dude, be the bigger person and go reach out the hand of friendship."
And the other half of you are like, "Dude, do NOT talk to him again. He went cray-cray on you."
This is sort of the issue. I feel like every time I post, every time I speak, it could invite conflict and right now I am so anti-conflict. In the past two years my nana, my mom, and my dad have died. I don't have a lot of energy left to invite cranky into my life. And there is something essentially vulnerable in the act of blogging that is more frightening than the act of writing stories about pixie apocalypses or aliens or cross-dressing spies. When you write fiction you get to hide behind your characters and if your soul peeks through in those made-up sentences, it isn't as big a deal. But when you blog it's more like writing a poem in a weird less beautiful way - You are there. Right there. Naked.
Don't imagine me naked. Not pretty.
But at the same time, I don't want to be a total wimp and I understand that blogging is pretty important to writers.
So… I am going to try.
Be warned all my blogs are probably going to have to do with:
1. My dogs
2. Dog fur
4. Cat fur
6. Writers' block
7. Dogs with Writers' block
But most likely they will just be random pictures of one of the seven above things. At least until I feel brave again. Sorry!
So, in the picture above ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I am at friends' house having Thanksgiving where I am most likely giving thanks for dogs, dog fur, firefighting and people who read my books. Thank you! (Also, I am second on the left)
- Tue, 12:51: RT @SeattleHumane: Get in the spirit of giving! Help pets in need this #GivingTuesday by making a donation to Seattle Humane at http://t.co…
- Tue, 13:14: I submit: the Emporer and the Clone Wars. Bezos and the Drone Wars. DEJA VU ANYBODY?
- Tue, 13:56: Tuesday Trivia Time! Who's ready for their tuesday brain work out? - Marc What instrument does Arial D'Artigo... http://t.co/Nm2gQI88CI
- Tue, 15:39: I just bought Dragon software. We'll see if it understands me better than Siri does. I seem to have a weird accent that Siri hates.
- Tue, 15:40: I figure Dragon should help me knock out my blog posts and other stuff easier. Leave my wrists for writing.
- Tue, 15:40: RT @LuvKittensDaily: Someone needs a nap http://t.co/rO83s3PvsY
- Tue, 15:40: RT @kcpets: Be sure your #pet is prepared for the chill. RT @AVMAvets: VIDEO: Keeping pets warm IS crucial in winter months http://t.co/Jxo…
- Tue, 16:45: Attempting to decorate my cats. They do not seem to appreciate this gesture.
- Tue, 16:47: Caly inna bow http://t.co/dcEIcjwdzo
- Tue, 16:48: Caly wearing a butterfly http://t.co/iGpclNQqzC
Yesterday I went to Costco and on the way out, I got to see a guy (at least 30, but I think in his 40s) pull up his underwear (gray), but not his pants (sliding down his thighs). Why oh why?
Three/fourths of my office is painted. The light walls. I need to fix a bit of trim, but today we do the dark wall. I say we, but I think it will be them. Basically, I did the primering of the entire room, but turns out I stink on ice at rolling paint. I slide the roller more than roll, leaving little lines of paints, and an uneven coat. The man tells me I probably press to hard. I’m much better at trim. When it came time to paint the room, the man did the rolling and the kids forcibly took over the trim painting. As in, demanded and actually whined (one of them), so what could I do? I had to let them. I’m
planning hoping they will be up for it again tonight.
I did some Christmas shopping. I need to wrap before little googley children (not so little) get their eyes on them. I really need to actually start looking for things for those I have to send stuff to.
The dog barfed this morning. Actually on the hardwood (he was inches from the carpet, so I was surprised).
Went to the chiro and I’m feeling lots better.
I need to get out and walk the dogs and also trim their toenails, but I feel guilty about the nail trimming since they hate it so much and the one already is having a barfy day. Both are snuggled up next to me and both want to be on my lap, which is being hogged by the interloper, aka, my laptop.
I still love turkey sandwiches. The rest of my family would like me to get a much smaller turkey in the future. There will be ham for Christmas.
I should now go back to work. And dog petting.
One bit of advice aspiring writers are given is to study the market by reading a lot of the kind of books they want to write. The question is, what should you look for, and what do you do with this information?
The answer is that it varies, depending on what you're trying to write. One area where market research is essential is category romance, such as the books published by Harlequin. They have defined lines that are distinguished by length, tone, degree of "heat" and other elements. If you want to target one of these lines, you need to get a really good sense of what they're publishing, and that goes beyond the guidelines they issue. By reading a lot of these books, you'll get a sense of what kinds of characters and settings they seem to like and what plotlines are overused or possibly desired. If every other book is about a cowboy hero, then that generally means they really like cowboys. This is one area of publishing where writing specifically for a particular line is a good idea. There's not much else you can do with that kind of book, so it makes sense to be very targeted to what they seem to be publishing.
In other kinds of publishing, researching the market is more to give you a general sense of things rather than telling you what to write. If you read a lot of what's been published recently, you can start to learn the cliches that might be overused and you'll know how original your story really is. You can get a better idea of what publisher might be a good fit for you, based on the general kinds of things they publish. In that area, look more for style or tone than plot because most publishers don't want to have two authors doing really similar stories. But you can tell if a particular editor or publisher seems more in favor of dark and angsty vs. light and fun, for example. Sometimes authors mention their agents and editors in the acknowledgements of a book, so you can make a list of people you think might be interested in your work.
One thing you shouldn't do is chase the market. Most books hitting the shelves today were probably bought about a year ago and may have been written a year before that. By the time you get a book written and submitted, things are likely to have changed. Angsty shapeshifters may be the hot thing now, but by the time you go and write a book about an angsty shapeshifter, the publishers may have had their fill. However, if you've written a book about an angsty shapeshifter, you'll know you need to strike while the iron's hot, and a publisher that hasn't done one yet but that seems to publish books with your style of writing might be a really good target.
What if you can't find anything like your book? That doesn't mean you should give up, but you need to be aware that you might have an uphill battle -- and if it does sell, you could possibly start the next trend. If you're not writing what's currently hot, you need to make that book brilliant and so enthralling that editors can't put it down. Theoretically, every submission should be that way, but the "hot" trends are an easier sell, either to an editor or within the publisher (because even if an editor likes it, she has to get buy-in from the people who hold the purse strings). You can also look for books that have elements in common with yours, even if there's nothing exactly like it. Do you have a similar writing style or tone to something else in your genre? Is your main character similar to a main character in a published book? Are there plot elements that might appeal to the same people?
When I set out to write something new, I try to read as much as I can along those lines, whether it's setting, subject matter, plot, time period or even style. That gives me a sense of what I like and don't like in that kind of book and helps me be sure that I'm being moderately original rather than accidentally duplicating something that's already out there. I can sometimes find patterns of what seems to work best, and I get ideas from twisting existing tropes. Then when it's time to submit, I can give my agent a list of comparable titles that she can use when pitching my book, or that list helps her narrow down her plan of where to submit.
- Tue, 14:53: Why do I not already own the MST3K 25th Anniversary Boxed set yet?!
- Tue, 15:26: If rampant insecurity were a productive tool for writing, the printed manuscript pages of my day's work would stack to the moon
- Tue, 16:22: Maybe if someone makes an offer on my YA Steampunk Dickensian Iron Man series, I'll be motivated to finish book one #reverseengineering
- Tue, 17:58: The term cyber-Monday makes me feel like I should be up to no good #sanspants
- Tue, 19:41: Watching authors gripe about the success of other authors feels somewhat cannibalistic at best and painfully petty at its worst
- Tue, 20:03: Over at the amazing @swordandlaser podcast learn how inimitably awesome author @MykeCole will kick your ass for free! http://t.co/PYHqzIroAT
- Tue, 21:09: Typo of the day: My eyes slid shit. #ScataOptimalogical
- Wed, 01:57: Eff off, word.. it's writin' time!
Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody gorgeous. Tor.com does well by its authors when it comes to artwork, I have to say. This is the work of Iain McCaig, and it will be paired with my story "Mad Maudlin" when it's published.
When will that be? I don't actually know. But soon, I hope. :-)
This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/603645.h
- Mon, 13:17: RT @victoriastrauss: Dragon Con founder Ed Kramer pleads guilty to child molestation http://t.co/7DzwONtmm1
- Mon, 13:30: RT @KIRO7Seattle: RT @wsdot_traffic: EB SR 520 at midspan has both lanes blocked by collision. http://t.co/catGEMxaYu
- Mon, 13:30: RT @KIRO7Seattle: Eastbound lanes closed now. Westbound lanes expected to be shut down soon. Watch live here >> http://t.co/xVCm30OqFJ http…
- Mon, 13:31: RT @KIRO7Seattle: RT @SeattlePD: Traffic being diverted from West Seattle bridge following collisions. More info as we get it.
- Mon, 13:31: RT @KING5Seattle: Drivers should avoid W. Seattle Bridge. Traffic being diverted following collisions. via @SeattlePD
- Mon, 13:32: Jeez...what's going on on the roads today? @KIRO7Seattle
- Mon, 13:36: Yikes! RT @KIRO7Seattle: Eastbound West Seattle Bridge closed by collisions; westbound lanes to close as well http://t.co/Or3bINTwAL
- Mon, 13:38: Hey peeps, @TantorAudio is having a 50% off sale--now is the chance to stock up on a lot of my audio books!
- Mon, 14:00: No one can give you the cold shoulder like a gargoyle. Say hello to Wendell! http://t.co/XBSS3JSud0
- Mon, 14:28: Well, then. I guess he wanted to go for a boat trip? -->Man steals Victoria Clipper from Seattle dock http://t.co/2axfxAI9YN
—from "Frontier ABCs: The Life and Times of Charity Smith, Schoolteacher."
I am delighted to announce that Raygun Chronicles is available now from a bookstore near you (although here is a handy sales link, if you need one). Featuring my story, "Frontier ABCs," this is a collection of stories in the high-pulp space opera tradition, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it.
It's especially exciting, and sobering, to be in an anthology with A.C. Crispin, who has been a hero of mine since I was a child, and who passed away before this book could be completed. I probably won't ever be in an anthology with her again. This is an honor. I just wish it were a sweeter one.
Check out Raygun Chronicles for the space fan in your life, whether it be you, or someone that you love, and shoot for the stars.
Just mind the stars don't shoot back.
- Current Mood: excited
- Current Music:Sara Bareilles, "Inside Out."