This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Monday, August 30, 2010

some thoughts from the query front

When crit is constructive, I love it.

Sure, like most writers I would love to be told that I nailed it first try, that it's genius and no one should ever change it.

This never happens.

Well, maybe in my mind.

So often though I am just howling away by myself and getting a response is like meeting another wolf willing to duet for awhile.

There's one message I'd like to get across, though, after seeing one of my fellows in the trenches rewrite her query ten times.

You do not have to take everyone's comments.

What you need to do, when someone is giving you crit, is shut your face and listen. Don't argue. Swallow your bad attitude. If you're like me or every other author I know, you have an inner misanthrope that might get very up in arms. Even if the person commenting on your work is your best friend, expect this misanthrope to argue that you never really liked that person, anyway. Oh, and you've always thought they dress like a bag lady and smell of ham. Also, bitch, what is with that blush color?

I advise you not to give in to the very real temptation to say these things.


No writer should be so bereft of belief in their own work that they roll over and make every single change. It's important to remember that people commenting on your stuff bring their own biases to the table, and it may or may not be a bias you agree with. (to be extreme: "I didn't really buy the main character being gay. No manly man would be gay!)

Some people will ding you for things you know to be false. ("this should be shorter/longer/more sex/less sex.") If you've done your homework you already know what genre you're writing in, how much sex is acceptable, and so on.

Learn to separate wheat from chaff. Absorb comments before you rewrite. Walk away for a couple of days.

You'll get there. We all will.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

so this is what that heart in one's throat cliche means


That's right. I posted it for feedback. I need to go pass out in a dark corner somewhere.

Friday, August 27, 2010

tales from the bus stop and a little procrastination pretending to be work

So before I get to today's breakdown, I am going to ramble at you about an encounter I had on the bus. Gripping, I know. Stick with me.

There are a lot of blind people where I live. Two of them got on the bus with me this morning. This situation always makes me oddly anxious. Are the people around us wondering if we know each other? Are they expecting some kind of secret handshake? (I always picture this as a high five where both parties miss) Still, I find that I do want to reach out. I have a certain amount of oh hey me too style enthusiasm.

I managed to work in to the conversation that I was blind.

"Us too!"

The female half of the pair crowed, clearly tickled by the whole thing.

"Just remember," she told me a little later, as I stood to get off at my stop, "we're not blind. We're outta sight!"

Preach it, sistah. Preach it.

Inspiration for this little list taken with permission from Cherie Priest

Local authors for the win. Cherie writes good stuff. Read it. Love it.

Project: Sacrificial Magic (it's only a working title. I swear I will think of something that does not involve the word magic)

New words written: 1,382 (and counting)

Present total word count: 108,361

Things accomplished in fiction: Cults are creepy, guys. Just saying.

Favorite thing of the day: "The undulating presence that longed to explode through the gate that held it back, that bored black tunnels through his mind, grew and stretched towards the surface a little more every hour. "

Apparently I have a thing for eldritch, nameless horror. Who knew?

Cherie has a things accomplished in real life tab, but in my case let's just not go there, shall we?

cartoons 1, real life 0

I hope I am not the only one old enough to remember when Ren and Stimpy was on television, free and easily accessed by the young and impressionable. (if you had my parents, anyway)

My favorite episode was and still is Space Madness. (closely followed by the House of Next Tuesday) This is the episode where we get Ren's infamous ode to a bar of soap.

The point of this post, however, is that in the same episode Ren is shown with a tube connected to his head, through which his thoughts pass in unwholesome, pulsating chunks in to a memory bank for safe keeping and later viewing.

Anyone who has ever drafted the perfect query letter in their mind while falling asleep can understand how much I want one of those things.

In case you have to ask, it's gone now. It was so good too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your daily lulz

This is what the end of my WIP is like for the main character.

from Hyperbole and a Half

Eat around the tentacles

a..."relenteless international campaign to coax and, if neccesary, humilate people who hold on to phony allergies, bogus intolerances, nutritional nonsense, and provincial preferences."

Jeffrey Steingarten, It Must Have Been Something I Ate

I hand my mother a bowl of squid picatta. The pasta is tangled up with tentacles and rings, where I have sliced the pallid squid bodies into sections. I can't really see the look on her face--expressions have always posed a challenge for me--but I can sense it. It is the look of a little girl living in the Midwest, presented with something that by all rights should remain in the damn ocean where it belongs, thank you.

"You can just eat around the tentacles," I offer half-heartedly.

"Eat around the tentacles," she snorts, "that would make a great title for your autobiography."

My relationship with my mother began to knit, like a broken bone, over a plate of linguine and clams. Maybe because of this, she gamely tries a piece of squid. And isn't that all I can ask for, that she try it?

The quote above resonates with me because more and more I am beginning to feel that food preferences based on fear and misinformation are a disease, a blight on the culinary landscape. They cut the poor misguided sufferer off from cultures, from experiences, from people. Fear of food and/or overly restrictive regimens in America especially seem to me to be an outgrowth of a disgusting amount of privelge and prosperity.

Well, my friends, we will not long have that same luxury. Now it is simply not economically viable to save only the thick cuts of steak from a cow but throw away the tail (delicious in stews, fantastic ragu) the liver (coated in seasoned flour, fried in beer), the heart (sliced and tossed with pasta, seasoned with dill) and so on.

In the spirit of connecting to cultural tradition and eating things that challenge us, I give you Maneki. This is one of the oldest--if not the oldest--restaurant in America. It is hidden away in the International District of my hometown, Seattle Washington.

The menu page on their website appeals to the American diner. Familiar items--at least to your average Seattleite--dot the list, promising sashimi and a variety of brightly colored rolls.

While delicious, fuck that.

What you want is the monkfish liver. With a texture and taste much like high end tuna, the oceanic smoothness of this treat will open your eyes. Fuck the word liver. Don't let that silly squeamishness get in your way. Or maybe you want the whole squid? (the answer: fuck yes you do) Or maybe, if you're feeling truly daring, get what I had: the squid intestines in fermented soybean sauce.

The bit about tradition I mentioned? I am told, by the bartender, that this dish is very popular amongst the elder Japanese. It is something your grandmother would order, if your grandmother were an aged Asian woman with fond memories of old school food.

The intestines themselves aren't much different than the rest of the squid. They share the same texture and taste. The challenging part is the sauce. My god, is this stuff fermented. They are not messing around. It is like everything in your face about vinegar, ramped up ten times. Luckily, I generally like that sort of thing, but it does mean the squid is just a vehicle for more Punch You in the Face Sauce. (I am sure the Japanese name for it translates just like that)

My mother, god bless her, hovered nearby the whole time, asking questions about what it was like, living vicariously through me and my willingness to try what she, to this day, can't try for herself. Are our childhoods so ingrained? I choose to be the master of my own destiny and continue to fight whatever food prejudices I may have. (other than the ones against packaged, processed foods. those are damn well justified. One could also argue that isn't technically food) I hope you do, too. Tell me about a moment where the food portion of your mind opened just a little bit wider.