Silly trees

Feb. 6th, 2009 07:25 am
j_cheney: (Bunny)
Horrible shot from my cell phone, at the park yesterday...

Yes, the fluffy is going on the pear trees, a sign that leaves are going to be arriving soon. Several of my shrubs at home have started leafing out as well, and a lot of the bulbs are coming up.

I went ahead and ordered by new caryopteris plants, since they won't be in stores until August or Sept (they don't want them there until they're blooming).

I spent a good deal of time last night working on some setting stuff in Saratoga Springs. Found a photo blog with modern pictures of the Adirondack Trust Building, Menges & Curtis Apothecary (the photog is associated with that store) and the house that I'm 'using' as Mother's Hawkes' town residence (the house is currently yellow, but I've chosen to re-imagine it as light blue). Great photos of the carriage house at that residence, too.

Not much has changed at Menges & Curtis in 100 years....the same tile, woodwork, scale. Amazing. What I haven't determined is whether the soda fountain was there in 1905 (on the left side of the store as one enters.) Not there now, BTW...

Iron Shoes

Feb. 2nd, 2009 07:40 am
j_cheney: (Horse)
At first I thought it should be classified as a rewrite request, but I've since discovered that the editors consider their suggested changes as 'editing', not a rewrite.

So, it's definite then....I've sold Iron Shoes to PaperGolem for publication in the next volume of Alembical, a market that publishes four novellas in each volume.

As novellas are notoriously hard to place, I'm really excited about this. The plot bunny had me doing all kinds of research about 1905 Saratoga Springs for this (which I talked about in my posts tagged "process") and I kept doubting the plot bunny's masterplan, but in the end, the bunny won. I'm really glad I wrote it now!

Since there are supposed to be 4 (ETA: According to the editor, four is not the magical number, but I'm certain that there shall be more than 1) novellas in the next volume of Alembical, the editors (including the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] klingonguy) still need more. [livejournal.com profile] klingonguy posted recently that he was having trouble getting submissions that the editors felt were worthy of inclusion (I asked him in comments if he wanted to look at my loooooong fantasy/romance, concerned that he would find it too romancy for their market, but he encouraged me to send it anyway.)

Therefore I'm urging those of you who have novellas tucked under your wings to let them fly! The editors were prompt and super nice, and I want really cool people to share this volume with me. (The last volume had Jay Lake, Bruce Taylor, Ray Vuckevich, and James Van Pelt, so the standards are high!)

ETA:: And special kudos go out to [livejournal.com profile] snickelish, [livejournal.com profile] displacedtexan, and [livejournal.com profile] melissajm who critted the super long mss for me and made numersou really helpful suggestions! Thanks!
j_cheney: (Plot Bunny)
Once in a while, I don't have an image in my cut-up-magazine files to represent a character, so I have to go looking on-line. Good pictures of kids are especially hard to find.

FOr the piece I'm working on right now (which would be a follow up to Iron Shoes*)I needed a two-year-old boy, dark hair and eyes, something of a holy terror. I found this:

Snurched from this article.

Isn't that one perfect? It was on my first search page. Sometimes you just get lucky.
_______________
*Yes, the bunny has already come in with suggestions...I guess 36K just isn't enough.
j_cheney: (Sword)
1) The Campbell Eligibility Page is now UP at Writertopia, and I'm on it...along with a lot of other really good people. ;o)
I haven't, however, been able to access the profile, yet, so it only has the one story listed on the bibliography. I hope to get around to that soon. I also noted that there are a lot of peopleI know who are eligible who havent' put their names on the list.

2) Happy BD to [livejournal.com profile] mkhobson. May the next year not have the pains of the last.

3) Story in, story back out...the circle of life.

4) I found Blood Oranges (Moros) at one of the local grocery stores. They're very tart and small. I expect bigger ones later.

5) I've started reading The Lone Star Stories Reader, and the first story is "Wolf Night" by Martha Wells. I've read this one a few times before and I also put it in one of my Anthology Builder anthologies, but I still enjoy reading it, which is why I didn't skip over. Best line:
He had never had a woman hit anybody with an axe for him before, and it had quite turned his head.
Subtle and funny, very nice ;o)

6) Finished Iron Shoes at 36.5K. Will think about it for a while, and then start sending it out.
j_cheney: (Default)
Happy BD to [livejournal.com profile] kijjohnson!

A voice from the edge of the void:
28 days to a 3rd round hold notice from ASIM.

I must say that I'm impressed with their submission system. This is the first time I've subbed there, but they've been nicely communicative at every step so far. I hope they like my story well enough to buy it ;o)

This story now joins the others being held for final consideration. (494, 456, 180, 127.....28) I'm learning patience, which is the point of this, right? Unfortunately, my prognostojections have me worried about my other two submissions out there.
::goodthoughtsgoodthoughtsgoodthoughtsgoodthoughts::

Almost done with Iron Shoes 36K. I'm crazy for writing this one.
j_cheney: (Horse)
In the story I'm working on that happens to be set in Saratoga Springs, I have a horse named Blue Streak. He's the farm's prime two-year-old, their best bet for the Saratoga Special.

I've done a load of research for this already, but I was just on-line trying to find an aerial picture of the Oklahoma Track (I'm trying to figure out what color the roof of the grandstand is) and ran across the rather uncomfortable information that the local high school are the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks....

Oops. Perhaps I should change that.

ETA: I should explain that my story is set in 1905. I haven't turned up the HS in my research because I doubt it existed then....Oh, and the horse dies.
j_cheney: (Horse)
I've been working on section 4 of Iron Shoes, which is the most complicated of the original five sections (5 needs a ton more setting put in, and as such, I believe it will become sections 5 and 6).

Oddly, this story is more of a romance than a fantasy, so I've been doing a lot of thinking about the "elements" that one has to have in a romance. nattering on after the cut )

Anyhow, that's how I tend to see the parts of a romance story. Just thinking, here.
j_cheney: (Sword)
I'm trying to have discipline in certain areas, although the miserable cold hasn't helped. So far so good, though.

Things I'm working on for the next month:

These aren't so much 'goals' as what I'm planning to work on...

Dreaming Death
I'm going through my mss scene by scene (planned at 1 chapter a day) and making certain that each scene has enough setting detail. This is a weak point for me that writing short stories has not helped much. I'm not naturally big on setting, and often in my own reading, I skim through setting sections.

The problem here stems from the fact that one of the POV characters is blind. That is not the real challenge, BTW--I've sold blind characters before. The challenge is that I tend to forget that in the scenes with the other POVs....and waste a chance to put in lovely visual details. That's what I'm looking out for. (Also, I found a typo in the first 32 pages. Eep! As many times as this mss has beeen combed, I should have caught every one.)

Ah, well. I'm hoping that in the next novel, I'll remember to write each scene with lots of setting. That way I don't have to do it later (it's almost always a 'second draft' thing for me).

Iron Shoes
I'm working on the re-write of Iron Shoes as well, one section at a time. I'm through section 1 (which had the most massive changes) and will start 2 today.

Devil in the Details
I'm hoping to have both of the above done by the end of the month so that I can start on Feb 2 on the rewrite of DitD. So right now, I'm thinking about DitD. Like with most finished rough drafts, I'm thinking about the story arcs and how to make them 'land' properly. One of the things that I had trouble with is that Kirien's original motivation is lost, replaced by another....which leaves something to be desired in the 'reader satisfaction' area.

Today while I was in the shower, I finally figured out the connection between the two motivations, which should allow me to restructure some of the plot details nicely. Woo Hoo!
(OK, it doesn't sound big, but it makes the difference between a weak plot and a solid one.)

Anything else?
No, not really. If the plot bunny throws something my way, I'll bite, but right now these should keep me busy.
j_cheney: (The Thinking Angel)
Yes, I haven't forgotten. BTW, reading this won't ruin your New Year's Resolutions unless you actually go and bake the pie and then eat it.

Eggnog Custard Pie Recipe
This turned out to be a tasty pie (if you like eggnog). We essentially used the recipe here, with a few minor changes. We didn't make the topping, and substituted extract for the actual rum, although in far lower quantities (I think a teaspon, instead).
The finished pie had a great eggnog flavor with a custard texture. I will warn, however, that like all custards, it began to separate a bit when chilled overnight, so I would prefer to serve it lukewarm, or eat it at one sitting.

In other news:
I got 1/6 of the way through the second draft of Iron Shoes. 10 gruesomely marked-up pages, plus an added scene, which I must now type in.

This is about how much I change things between first and second draft, so you can see that there's quite a bit being altered due to the response of the first readers.

I am feeling better, and think I got a good night's sleep.

And I'm waiting on tenterhooks, terrified that a rejection will be in the mail today (I've been watching others from this venue pop up on Duotrope for the last few days). Please think good thoughts for that story for me.
j_cheney: (Horse)
Finished the first draft of Iron Shoes. Came in at just under 31K, and I'll probably zip it out to the brave people who actually said they wanted to read it in the morning. First draft, folks, remember that!

[livejournal.com profile] asakiyume had a lovely note earlier about snarkiness by Merriam-Webster (regarding principle/principal). In a separate incident, I got into a discussion regarding my own word rantiness. (Gee, you didn't realize I had word issues? Where have you been all this time?)

My big ones?
1)Further(furthest)/farther(farthest)
You can walk far, farther, or farthest. These are words for distance. You cannot walk fur, further, or furthest.
2) Enormity/enormousness
Enormity denotes terribleness. It is not a reference to SIZE. You use enormousness for that.
3) Continuous/Continual
Any Calculus teacher can tell you the difference between these. You almost never mean 'continuous.' Almost never. If you don't know the difference, it's easiest to stick with continual.
4) Prodigal/Returning
Wait, those two don't look alike! No, they don't. Nor do they mean the same thing.

Those are the ones that I'm most likely to jump on in a critique. Which are your bugaboo word mistakes?

And, as hinted, the Amish Friendship Bread recipe under the cut. )
j_cheney: (The Thinking Angel)
Still working on D2, massaging the text....it's down to 10.5K, about where I want it. I'll give it another once over after this one, and then throw it out the door....

[livejournal.com profile] displacedtexan bravely sat down and read my rough draft of Iron Shoes yesterday (at about 30K). He says it holds together pretty well, and is fairly complete at this length, without much description or setting worked in. (And isn't too girly, despite being more a romance than a fantasy.)

His suggestion? Clean up this version and send it out (probaby at 30-33K), but then keep the option open to expand it to novel length. Hmmmm....really hadn't thought of that.

The Saratoga Racing Association may never forgive me....but really, do they read my stuff anyway?

I need to go to the Cheesecake Factory today. There's only one in this part of the state, and it's in a mall parking lot. Closer to a mall than I really want to get....

Iron Shoes

Nov. 21st, 2008 01:43 pm
j_cheney: (Horse)
Finished the first draft at 27.5K....a messy FD even for me. An extra draft will be needed before I let anyone read this. I'm still thinking it could be stretched to 90K if I wanted. It's at 27.5, and I haven't even worked in setting or description....oh dear...
j_cheney: (Horse)
Happy belated birthday to [livejournal.com profile] dotar_sojat and more timely salutations to [livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas and [livejournal.com profile] babarnett!

Ah now, on to the boring stuff.

Drafts.
ROUGH DRAFT
Some people produce a first draft. I produce a "rough" draft the first time out.
yadda yadda yadda )

So, how many drafts do you do? How many before you let anyone see it?
j_cheney: (Horse)
This is almost always an issue for me.

I was cuddled up in bed this morning, post shower, and the plot bunny whispered in my ear, its sibilant voice (hissy because with those huge front teeth, you can't help but lisp) saying, "You can make this longer...novel length, even."

Yes, the bunny often says this to me. I offer it lettuce if it will just go away.

Pretty much anything can be stretched to novel length, you know.

I knew this one would be 25K when I started it because there's a lot packed into it. Could I make it 90K? Well, yeah....
j_cheney: (Horse)
A process note:
That scene I scribbled out in the outline? Then said I would probably put it back in?

I wrote it, took it out and saved it elsewhere, and just now stuck it back in.

Indecision....a normal part of the process for me.
j_cheney: (Horse)
More about process....if this doesn't interest you, look away!

I'm working fast and furious on this, and working hard to stuff everything in I need. (which is why I'm planning on adding another 4K).

Early this morning, I woke with several ideas...which kept going on, and I thought, Oh dear, I'd better write this down. So yes, there is a little notebook by the bed, and I scribbled down 6 pages of notes in the dark.

You'll probably note that they're not.....easy to read. I crossed the pages to make them easier to read later. Did I mention it was dark? Pre-dawn dark? Writing without being able to see is an act of faith.
Notes cleaned up behind the cut )
j_cheney: (Horse)
I don't usually do these, because I don't know that anyone is really interested in my process, but I thought you might be interested in taking a look at what a weird-mobile I am...and the PB epic is providing a lovely chance...

So, how do I write a "Historical Fantasy-Romance"?

Well, you gotta start with the historical part.

Yep, that's most of my research (a couple of books already went back to the library). You can see that I did some work on-line, borrowed a horse-racing book, bought a book on Saratoga Springs (low on fact, high on pictures), got out my 'costume' folder (Imogen's going to be wearing that dress in the lower right hand corner on race day) and made copious notes.

And then I had to get my characters in my head... many more words after the cut )
Thought you might find this amusing. Do you do any of those things?
j_cheney: (Sword)
Yes, today I took out the russian sage. 9-years-old russian sage with happy root systems that didn't want to leave. I had a reason for this, but now I'm too tired and sore to remember what that reason was...

I actually found some of the info I needed about the race I'm co-opting, including a convenient way to get rid of the horse that really did win. The poor bloke suffered a split pastern a few weeks after winning the race, effectively removing him from the rest of his two-year-old season. So, I move it up a few weeks, blame the bad guy, and therefore have an open field. Worked out quite nicely.

Don't care about horse races that happened over a century ago? Too bad, there's someone out there who would scream bloody murder....

Oddly, I can't find the 1905 race results in the NYT. I can find 1904 and 1906.

This is rather like that missing day of Baxter Black on NPR....the one radio broadcast of his that I wanted to download. (The one that talks about the responsibility ranchers feel toward their livestock, and how the wretched cold snap of 2001? was so terrible.) For some reason, a tape of that day wasn't put on file.....

Received in the mail:
Inspector Lynley, Season 6 Supposedly, this is the end of the series, but I hope not.
A Coldwater Creek catalog with beautiful things in it.
j_cheney: (Horse)
That seemed like the perfect name in the middle of the night last night, but now it sounds a bit lame.

While I'm percolating over the 10K 11K short D2, I went back to the plot bunny's epic. I'm re-outlining it, prepping it to become a lengthy 25K first draft.

I've had some time to rethink the plot. I'm actually happy with it. Some tweaking on time elements, straightening out some things, but otherwise, it hangs together pretty well. And I'm enjoying reading some of the character interactions. (That's always nice). Have to get the fantasy elements lined up properly, but the re-outline should take care of that.

I e-mailed a racing historian for some help with race specifics, but he hasn't gotten back to me, more's the pity. I may have to fudge actual race details! OTOH, if I can't easily find that information myself, then only someone highly-specialized should be able to argue with my totally spurious dollar amounts and dates....allowing me some license.

We'll see if I survive the first rewrite and still like it then ;o)

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J. Kathleen Cheney

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