davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

I finally wrote the blog on the Me Before You controversy I've been intending to write for several weeks.

'Finally' because I thought a lot about how I should do it, as the obvious approach to take as both disabled writer and disability activist collides head-on with the advice to us as baby writers to never do anything remotely controversial on the net (given agents and publishers will hunt your web-presence down as a form of due diligence). In the end I went with the obvious approach, because not taking apart how the writing and filming process systematically failed disabled people, and especially wheelchair users, seemed like a betrayal.

There's a lot of embedded links, so I'll link to it in place rather than reproduce it here: Rather You Than Me

CW for extended discussion of euthanasia and disablist fuckwittery

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Literary agent Beth Phelan's #DVpit twitter pitching event  is happening tomorrow, details here.

The idea is that if you have a submission ready manuscript with diverse characters and/or are yourself diverse, then this is your chance to pitch to a bunch of agents (over 50) looking for diverse authors/stories. You have a single tweet to sell your manuscript to watching agents, so it really hones your precis skills!  (You're actually allowed one tweet an hour over the 12 hours it runs).

I'll be taking part with my Pitchwars novel, and I also blogged about #DVpit, SF/F Disabled Voices and #DVpit on why it's so desperately needed for SF/F and disability. (TLDR: no one has a clue how to do a decent job of it, or to recognise when they don't/)

Sadly #DVpit has become somewhat controversial. While the initial rules made it clear you could be non-diverse, but submitting a diverse manuscript, some people have set out to police those people out of the running, and as a consequence, some people on the margins of diversity, e.g. those with invisible disabilities, and LGBT folks who aren't out, are being driven away. It's sadly ironic when the pro-diversity camp adopts the "you aren't genuinely disabled" tactics of the forces of oppression. ETA: Beth Phelan seems to have come out in favour of own voices only, but the tweet wasn't exactly clear, I read it the other way around, but seem to be in the minority.

And then there's the non-diverse writers with non-diverse manuscripts whining because they can't enter. Tough, enter the next #pitmad or #pitchwars, there's no shortage of pitching events

We had #Mockpit earlier today, a trial run for your tweets, which was valuable as it turns out people can't work out what "w/chair user" means, and some were even unhappy with 'wheelchair-user". I very politely explained why "wheelchair bound" is not an option (because I'm not writing 50 Wheels of Grey!)

Jami, my #Pitchwars mentor, came up with a couple of good tweets for me:
"#DVpit Adult UF #Own. When forensic sorcerer Laura's husband is shot and her daughter stolen, she'll face down demigods to get her back."

" When a necromancer with a grudge targets wheelchair-user Laura's family, he pisses off the wrong forensic sorcerer #DVpit Adult UF Own" - This is the one people had problems with, no one could parse "w/chair using forensic sorcerer", not ever after I expanded it to wheelchair-using. *Headdesk*, long way to go....

While mine are mostly variations on the theme of:
"Laura's many things:CSI, wheelchair user. witch, but mother first. God help the man, or demigod, who threatens her 3yo #DVpit Adult UF Own"

Now to go finalise my 12 tweets.

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I picked up on Ellen Oh's Dear White Writers a couple of days late, so missed most of the unpleasantness. I agree with what she's saying, we as white writers shouldn't be suddenly writing non-white protagonists just to jump on the diversity band-wagon. But as a diverse writer who happens to be white, being exhorted not to write diverse protagonists is a bit problematical.

The problem isn't her message per se, I get what she's trying to say and agree with it, it's that her point is applicable beyond ethnicity and her terminology wanders all over the place. Half the time she uses 'diversity' where she specifically means 'ethnicity', and that's a problem because a good two thirds of the stuff published about We Need Diverse Books makes the same mistake, and when that message is repeated often enough, it risks further excluding the non-ethnicity based diversities, and convincing people that if you are white you can't be a diverse author. Normally the core WNDB team have been pretty good about getting this right, this time Ellen Oh seems to have taken her eye off the ball, and other people are being misled by that, such as the literary agency that blogged under the title White Writers: Don't Write Diverse Books. Instead, Read Them. I challenged them on that on Twitter, they admitted it could do with clarification and they would get onto it, and did nothing (so I went to the blog and commented).

That there might be an issue with how Ellen Oh said stuff, is lost in all the sturm und drang of various white people being furious at what she said and unleashing a storm of hate at her for daring to suggest white writers might be trying to treat WNDB as a cash cow. I tried making my point on twitter, but 140 characters is a bit limiting for that kind of nuanced message, so I gave in and blogged about it tonight.

Dear Non-Diverse Writers

(I bit my tongue and refrained from addressing her "There’s a whole lot of angry people on twitter losing their collective minds")

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Storify of Foz Meadows tweeting what she called a rant, but which I call eminently good sense, and which I've been trying to put into practise this afternoon.

On Tragic Queerness in SFF

TLDR: Stop killing your gay characters
Slightly Longer TLDR: If you're writing queer characters while straight, for god's sake read some queer fanfic where being queer is normal.

So, given the backburner WIP has a lesbian couple as protagonists,  I went to Foz's tumblr, where she has a list of favourite fanfic, and I've started reading.

I 'm not sure it makes all the points Foz wanted, but I really enjoyed this MCU piece about all the Captain America films that got made before his reappearance, and what happens when Cap and Bucky find out about them:

Steve Rogers at 100: Celebrating Captain America on Film

And I also found this on Foz's blog: The Politics of Presence, which has some very wise things to say on the necessity of having diverse characters in your novel.

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[personal profile] lizcommotion asked in another thread whether I have any fiction up anywhere, which reminded me I do have one piece of fan fiction on an old blog, and if I'm pointing one person at it, I may as well put the link where everyone can see. I keep thinking I should move it over to A03, but I haven't gotten round to it as yet.

An Open Mind

It's set in Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull's Shadow Unit shared world, from when I was active in that fandom.

There's also a 'hidden extra', a standard part of the Shadow Unit stories, which is here if you miss the link in the main story. And some background on Shadow Unit here.

The impetus to writing it was that I and one or two others in the Shadow Unit fora with relevant experience weren't entire happy that ultra duty-driven SSA Esther Falkner was managing her back pain in a sensible manner. It was quite easy to imagine Es doing what she was doing, but there was another member of the team who would have a problem keeping her mouth shut in that situation.

I've just re-read it, and while I could make the writing a tad tighter nowadays, the story still does what I wanted it to. Ironically I gave myself backache in re-reading it, too much of a reminder of what my back is like when it's unhappy!

IIRC the story is set in mid-to-late Season 2, though I'd have to check that.

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So I completely failed at prepping in case of needing to talk with agents.

And then couldn't face looking at how the Agent Round was progressing (it ran 3rd through 5th, so is just about done as I write). OTOH several 'Are you okay, we knew it was a tough sell' tweets from lovely mentors made it pretty clear I wasn't getting the love (their other two mentees have had a couple of requests - and all four of them were talking up my submission on twitter, which was really nice).

I surfaced today to say hi to the other mentees, cheer on the ones getting the agent love (23 requests and 2 offers of representation!?! - damn, we knew that one was a real prospect, but still) and commiserate with the others stuck on the zero requests thread  - turns out I'm by no means the only one in a bit of a funk.

While I was doing that I decided to post about how neurodiversity and needing to deal with new people in pseudo-authority roles weren't a good mix, and said I'd be back later to answer anyone else finding that agent-stress and not-needing-to-talk-to-agents-because-no-requests-stress actually feed on each other rather than cancelling each other out.

Except when I did check in again there was lovely mentor KT saying "OMG you got a request!"

It's just a request, she may not get any further through than the synopsis, but damn, that makes me feel a lot less stressed about zero requests. OTOH that not prepping for talking to agents may be about to come home to roost....
davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
 Best spelling mistake ever!

Unfortunately it's mine, and the second last line of Graveyard Shift (bar the epilogues). Fortunately I have an irritatingly good line-editor.

I got the line-edits late Saturday, the house has been echoing to cries of "How did I miss that?" ever since.

The answer for the handful of spelling mistakes is probably I really do need bifocals. The answer for the logical problems isn't so simple, but it's an interesting exercise in how ingenious a fix can you dream up on short notice.

davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
I've been having one of those subtly unsatisfying weeks, and finally pinned it down to the whole week being essentially avoidance behaviour because there was a change I needed to make in the novel and I was avoiding facing up to it.

The intimidatory part of this was it's the opening scene, literally page 1, chapter 1, and it has some really vital set up in it, and dialogue I don't want to lose. But it used to be a much larger scene and now it's a couple of pages tagged onto the rest of a chapter that happens somewhere else and with a different aesthetic. KT flagged it up as something that might want looking at right at the start if this, but it wasn't an absolutely must be changed, and I couldn't think of a good way to do it. So I put it off, and didn't have time to deal with it before I had to throw the entire novel back to KT and Jami for line-editing.

But I've been sitting here for a fortnight waiting for them to get back to me*, and time is weighing heavily, and there's that one job outstanding....

So last night was the third all-nighter of the week, and the first where I managed to actually  set cursor to screen, because suddenly I figured out how to make the scene work. Reader, I physically moved it! I kept everything I needed, I just physically moved the whole scene from the stationhouse to the front of the warehouse where the rest of the chapter kicks off. Add in one order to the protagonist to go inside and figure out what the hell just happened, and it's no longer a semi-detached opening that has seen better days, it's an integral part of the chapter, and the novel, that throws our heroine at the problem and tells her to fix it.

Result! And now maybe I can get back to normal life?

* Initial feedback is good, KT: 'you kicked arse with those edits" (spot the Aussie) and Jami: "fantastic job, just a few minor..."
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I have actually written The End

Well, not quite, it was already there, but I have reached that line in the re-write.

All three protags now have a balanced input in that climactic chapter, and I've got a version of the last line that I like and that says what I want, at least for now.

And that torture scene still sends shivers down my spine.

I even got it down under 100,000 words, even if only briefly. (Current length 100,750 words, which considering I started with 121k means I've cut one word in six)

I've salvaged the fight with the undead St Bernard, because how can you have a climax in a pet cemetery on Halloween in a snowstorm and not have an undead St Bernard?

I've been rewriting for three weeks now, and I really, really need to take a break and sleeeeep for a week.

But for now I get to put it aside for a few hours and sleep.

And then I pick it up again and spend the rest of today and tomorrow idiot-checking it before sending it off to my mentors for line-editing.

Oh, and there was that one extra scene I was meant to be writing, that will be really difficult to get right.

And ...

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When I was still working, I got into the habit of writing late at night. As in post-midnight. I find it a really peaceful time to work. Even though I'm not working any more I tend to find I'm still at least as likely to end up writing late in the evening as during the day.

Add to that all the hesitation and prevarication I felt at the start of the #Pitchwars revision process and I ended up doing the post-midnight thing again, and because I'm somewhat obsessive, and enjoy the process of writing, starting writing after midnight has generally ended up with finishing writing after dawn, sometimes well after. (As a bonus it also works reasonably well for chatting with my American mentor).

Things went well over the weekend, worked through several more chapters, cut a couple of thousand words - though the cut on the last chapter's wordcount was only 3%, I must do another pass and figure out why, my average is closer to 20%

Then yesterday I needed to go to the bank, which of course meant being up during the day. So of course I worked right through Sunday night. That's okay, thinks I, I'll just nip out at 10AM, go to sleep after that. But of course getting my sleep-deprivation-addled brain working enough to get me out of the house was a bit more complicated and it was mid-afternoon by the time I'd sorted myself out, add an hour searching for the paperwork I needed and it was 4PM by the time I got into town.

In the rain. first time I've used the chair in the rain. Yuck!

The banks (two of, opposite ends of Chatham high street)  were actually straightforward, but, dammit, I'd forgotten (actually more a case of I'd never noticed pre-chair) that they've added cobbles to Chatham high street, plus lots of ornamental gutters that you can't avoid. Someone in Medway's engineering department hates wheelchair users. And apparently my hips still haven't forgiven me for Athens.

So I got home, changed, sat down in front at my desk and thought "at this point I may as well do some writing and see if I can get to sleep at a reasonable time".

Well, my brain thought that, all my body heard was "Sleeep!"

I woke up in the chair at god knows what time, coccyx screaming at me because it had been taking my weight for god knows how long, staggered through to the bedroom and went splat face first onto the bed.

I know I woke up at 2AM, because I looked at the clock and thought "Bugger! Oh well, maybe another twenty minutes snooze". Also at 3AM, 4AM, and finally 8AM.

I'm not quite sure exactly how much sleep I got, but a minimum of 12 hours, and probably significantly more.

Pacing, it turns out it's not just for books!
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 Got my feedback on rewritten chapters 1 and 2, and a deep line-edit taking out about a thousand words, mostly one or two at a time.

The good news is the rewrite was on target, the bad news, if you can call it bad news, is not being the author lets Katie be a ruthless editor, and she wants me to throw out my babies.

Oh, most of the times (75%-ish) I agree with her, and the rest of the time it's usually flagging that she isn't reading things the way I intended, which means it needs rewriting to be clearer. There were one or two points I disagreed with, mostly around some weird holes in her English (she's Australian, with an English mother, but living in America, so actually quite a handy halfway house to pick out pure English-isms), I sort of expected 'played merry hob' not to work, and easy enough to change it to 'merry hell', but she didn't know 'sea change', which I thought was in pretty universal use (and wiki confirms it is in US use). I'm sticking with that one.

But - wah! - she wants me to lose 'don't poke the evil demigod' which is one of my favourite lines. And, damnit, I can see it makes sense for the pacing of the paragraph as a whole. So it's going, but only as far as the start of chapter 2, where there's a 'next time, don't poke the evil demigod' shaped hole.

I'm about two thirds of the way through integrating these, so should be finished today, and back to applying the process to the rest of the novel, but I'm worried about pacing, she wants the draft rewrite by end of the month, which is less than a fortnight, and, while we've only been at this a week, I'm going to need to kick up the pace if I want to meet that deadline.

So back to the grindstone!

ETA: dammit, I just decided I have to lose the werewolf saying "I screwed the pooch" as well :(

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
So I settled down for a mammoth #Pitchwars editing session yesterday, and procrastinated.

For six hours.

It's just possible that I'm feeling some anxiety over this.

Not only did I make a meal, play two games, read a book, and spend a good chunk of time on the net, but I also completely changed my writing environment, so that rather than use the couch to lie on I'm using the spare bedroom in a sort of day bed arrangement (I can't sit comfortably enough to write, so do it lying on my back with laptop on chest).

Anyway I did eventually manage about four and a half hours worth of editing and made some solid progress, cutting about 600 words from Chapter 1 (i.e. a couple of pages worth), though that doesn't reflect the amount of change, which I'd say is probably about triple that - there's the text you cut, the text you rewrite, and the text you cut, and then replace with completely new text saying different things.

In embarrassing observations, I realised that I had never introduced my protagonist by rank and surname before people start using them, whoops. (Well, originally I did, but that chunk of text got cut about a year ago), so immediate scrabble to find a place I could put that in, and it actually let me say other stuff I probably should have said about what was going on.

And then I saved the file, and promptly fell asleep, with the laptop on my chest (it actually went, I think, save file, put laptop on floor, half nod off, think of further changes, pick laptop up, implement them, fall asleep).

Fortunately the laptop was still there when I woke up, unfortunately I'd also done what seems to be an increasingly common problem with my sleeping and drawn my legs up so I'm lying in this splayed, inverted frogs' legs sort of position, and moving my hips out of that damned well hurts. I'm trying to think of a solution that doesn't involve tying my legs together and not getting very far.

And now, back to the editing, Chapter 2 awaits.

Well, once I'm done procrastinating.
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I had my first chat session with KT Hanna, one of my two Pitchwar mentors today.

Apparently I have a voice.

Apparently it says things, interesting things, but says them repetitively.

Apparently I also have a problem with the passive voice and a tendency to overtag speech.

Interestingly the problems differ between which character's POV the chapter is written from (rotating first person POV), apparently one character does more telling than the other.

KT talked a lot of sense, and the problems were ones I was aware of, I just haven't been as successful in dealing with them as I thought I had, but she seems really enthused by the story and convinced we can turn it into something stronger.

The repetition problem is one you can probably see in my writing here. I'll say something, then wonder if I've made it entirely clear, so add another clause, and then I'll take another look, and add another clause still, and end up with an incredibly complex sentence saying the thing four times over.

I have wondered if it's neurodiverse in nature, a problem with being unsure about understanding the way other people will parse and understand the sentence and trying to belt and braces a solution. I mentioned that to KT and she noted a friend of hers, both an author and possessed of an AS diagnosis, does have similar issues.

So basically the plan is I use the next three weeks to do a complete redraft taking into account what KT says, killing passive voice and repetition, retagging speech and adding in physical description where needed, then KT will go in and do a line edit. But first I rework chapters 1 and 2 as a prototype by Monday (I suspect it'll be by Friday).

I also had feedback from Julie Sondra Decker, one of the mentors who turned me down, which I wasn't expecting. Mostly overlapping with what KT said, but with some really good structural advice on my query. I even agreed with her reasons for turning me down (she doesn't read detective stuff).

Slightly nervously contemplating the new draft....
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Yes, minus.

I just finished all the work I had planned for the current draft of Graveyard Shift, my novel in progress, which ended up taking 5600 words out of the manuscript (though the actual changed wordcount is probably more like 15kwords, a couple of major chapters had very substantial rewrites). The structural changes, mainly deletion of a major character, worked pretty well, unfortunately it's still overlong (128kwords, target length 120kwords), so I need to look at a different approach. I've got some ideas, but it's a tough ask. On the plus side I'm writing regularly again after this year's health stuff got in the way for much longer than anticipated.

The other thing I'm thinking of doing is submitting it to Pitchwars, which may interest the other writerly types around here. Pitchwars is a sort of contest for people with unpublished manuscripts, where you pitch a query letter and first chapter to 5 out of (this time) 100 mentors (assorted published and due to be published writers and editors) and if your submission catches their interest they'll mentor you through a new draft, with the possibility of picking up an agent at the end of the process if any of the ones who come to watch decide they like your newly polished pitch (hence Pitchwars).

You can only pitch to five mentors, though, and there are restrictions, each mentor specifies an age range (MG, YA, NA - new adult, or Adult) and will only consider manuscripts aimed at that age range, while individually they can specify as many additional personal wants or restrictions as they wish (romances only, no romances, no magic, no kids in peril, etc) so that they end up with pitches they're comfortable handling, so you have to research your market (every mentor has a link to an appropriate web page). Unfortunately for me, Adult tends to be the category with fewest mentors, I've been through 25 so far, and only 1 will even consider Graveyard Shift.

And the other problem I have is timing. Submissions have to be made in a 24 hour window on the 17th, which isn't an issue, but over the next couple of weeks the mentors may then request synopsis, additional chapters or the full manuscript, and generally email you to see if they think you and they will work together. Which wouldn't be an issue most of the time, but just happens to cover the week and a half I'm in Greece sailing/visiting Athens. Getting online shouldn't be too much on an issue in Athens, but in little fishing villages might be more of an issue! Hopefully people will be flexible enough to work with me to get around that if they're interested.

If anyone is interested enough to want to look it up for themselves: Twitter hashtag #Pitchwars and explanatory web page here, with list of mentors here.

Minor content warning if you follow up and start going through mentor pages, there seems to be an internal competition amongst the mentors for who can include the flashiest, gaudiest embedded gifs. If you're at all photosensitive you probably want to disable loading images!  I'm not and I still find some of the pages almost unreadable.

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Nearly three weeks since the last one of these? How did that happen?

Ashes of Honour, Toby Daye Book 6, Seanan McGuire

There's quite an odd opening to this episode in October's progress, the first chapter is essentially set-up for book 7, giving us an info-dump on Faerie's Goblin Fruit problem, goblin fruit being a nice legal high for purebloods, but lethally addictive for changelings like Toby. Toby is trying to shut down the trade, which isn't making her popular, and there are questions about what she's truly trying to achieve. And then it doesn't come up again. The real plot crops up after the weird opening, with perfect knight Etienne, the knight she always measures herself lacking against, desperate for Toby's help - he's just found out that 16 years ago he got a mortal pregnant, and that's double trouble because 1) it means a faery half-blood has been in the possession of her mortal parent for 15 years or so without the needed camouflage and 2) someone just snatched her. So Toby has to do her only private detective in Faery thing with the police watching and a human parent who's convinced that even if they get her back Faery will steal her child the first chance they get (she's right) and that's before the complications of a political cat-fight in Toby's boything Tybalt's court, escalating problems of the China Syndrome variety in the missing kid's magic, and Duchess Riordan, the opposition to Toby's liege Sylvester, is Up To Something.

It's a good read, but I was a little disappointed with it structurally. Duchess Riordan has been built up as an off-camera threat since the start of the series, we finally meet her here, and she's everything we might have hoped for, but then there's an unexpected plot twist which makes absolute sense for Riordan to follow, but means all that build up towards an expected confrontation falls flat. The role Riordan plays could have been handed to any reasonably powerful Faery noble, leaving Riordan's threat intact, and if there's one thing Faery has no shortage of it's annoying nobles. There's also a definite retcon feel to the introduction of the widow of Countess January O'Leary as a character, which even Toby notes is a little odd as no-one mentioned January being married when she was playing a major role in book 2.

Chimes at Midnight, Toby Daye Book 7, Seanan McGuire

Chimes picks up where the opening of Ashes left off, with Toby trying to shut down the Goblin Fruit trade. When she realises just how many changelings are dying she tries to appeal to the Queen of the Mists for help, which given their daggers-drawn relationship was never going to be easy, but she certainly wasn't expecting to be banished for it. Toby might have 3 days to get out of Dodge, but neither her lover Tybalt nor her squire Quentin can follow her, so if Toby can't go, then she'll just have to overthrow the monarchy, in three days, with the Queen's guards dogging her every move. It's another fun read, and we finally get confirmation of what every reader has to have suspected about Quentin, but I was left with a deep desire to scream 'Just how stupid are you people?' There's one overlooked fact with literally the whole kingdom hanging on it that can be explained away as people choosing political convenience when faced by a larger crisis, but then there's another one, that the queen has one thing going for her, something that makes it almost impossible to move against her, and the entire set of good-guys, renowned heroes and legendary warriors and all, forget about it.

Toby suffering for her quest isn't new, this is a woman able to use 'and then I was disembowelled' _in the plural_, but the plot pushes her to new limits this time, and sitting there in the background is the Luidaeg, noting she has plans for Toby and everything to date has really just been getting her warmed up. Somewhat intimidatingly there's a comment in the author's notes that this was the first of the Toby Daye stories to be plotted - which half-way implies the six novels preceding Chimes are just the backstory for the main event.

Other Media

Spinnerette is a webcomic about a female grad student who develops superpowers after the traditional exposure to radioactive spider DNA. In her case six arms and the ability to shoot web from, well let's just say she has aiming difficulties. It's semi-anime styled, with mostly good art and writing. I say mostly because a couple of the female supers have overly large, in one case ridiculously large, breasts - and Super-MILF? Seriously? But there's enough good here to make me overlook that as they aren't primary characters. And for all the juvenilia of Super-MILF, it actually handles the romance between the two female leads (Spinny and Mecha-Maid) pretty sensitively, and so far it's managed to handle Mecha-Maid being disabled by ALS without making me cringe. OTOH you have to mark it as NSFW because of the two breast-fixated characters, one of whom crops up pretty regularly. OTGH it's positively staid in comparison to an ad that kept popping up while I was reading, which manages to combine being pornographic with being simultaneously boring and distracting. I eventually blocked it because it was irritating the hell out of me, not because of the subject matter (animated cartoon masturbation - I presume it turns someone on). If you want to check Spinnerette out, and I think it's well worth reading if you're a webcomic fan, particularly a fan of superhero webcomics, then I'd block http://hlamedia.adk2x.com/* in advance.

Other Projects

Graveyard Shift, By Me

Health issues (both mine and my dad's) have kept me from my novel-in-progress for far too long, I was hoping to be able to pick it up again around March-ish, but having to wait until May for surgery has left me distinctly behind schedule in comparison to where I wanted to be by now, not helped by having a laptop with a semi-functional keyboard (I can't write on my desktop, sitting is too uncomfortable,  I write with the laptop sitting on my chest while I lie flat on the couch). But the replacement laptop should finally be arriving in a day or two so I sat down last night to reread Graveyard Shift, and read all 134,000 words in a single sitting. That's promising. I dropped it mid-second-draft when dad had his stroke, and I seem to have gotten further into that second draft than I remember. There's some fairly minor plot surgery needed, finishing the deletion of a character who turned out not to be going anywhere - and I've already handled the most difficult scenes for that, reversing who is framing who in a sub-plot,  and renaming a character because her name turns out to completely overlap with the protagonist of an existing fantasy series, who works for exactly the same police department as my character in Graveyard Shift, and I think even out of the same precinct house. There's coincidence, and there's bloody ridiculously annoying! But what's needed most of all is a really tight line edit to pull the wordcount much closer to the recommended 120,000 words, which I think is doable. Anyway, hopefully I'm now back at it.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Two interesting pieces by Kameron Hurley:

The first is on the economics of using Patreon as a creator and to fund your creative works, which I thought was a really interesting analysis. (Note that I think I got there from someone's post here, but I can't figure out whose, it's that kind of day).

The second is actually linked from the first, but it's almost a throwaway line and leads to quite a good article she wrote for the Atlantic that really lays out the anti-diversity agenda of the puppies.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
 Story idea strikes, so I'm sat there plotting away.

'You're totally constructing this to be as annoying as possible to the Sad Puppies, aren't you?' comments inner voice.

'Well, yeah' says inner muse, and smiles.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Malinda Lo, one of the major voices behind We Need Diverse Books, has produced an essay looking at how US trade reviews (i.e. meant for booksellers, librarians etc rather than the general book-buying public) react to diversity. The examples are YA, as that's her field, but I suspect things are probably even worse in other genres. Some of the examples will definitely make you wince, and the suggestion of a 'diversity ceiling' - that major parts of the industry don't believe a book dealing with more than one minority is viable - is particularly disturbing. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in diversity, intersectionality and/or publishing.

Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews 
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
The table of contents for Accessing the Future, the anthology of disability oriented SF is now up, see here.

And apparently being told they really liked your story (they kept it until a couple of weeks ago), but not quite enough to publish, sucks even more than a plain rejection :(

davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)

So I finally (Friday) sent off the short story I've been working on all month to the Accessing the Future anthology of disability-focused SF. That makes it my first submission in about five years (and ironically that one was an earlier, and very different, version of the same story). While I've written far more this year than in previous years, it's clear that I'm probably writing enough that I should be able to produce as a minimum a couple of stories most years (the ideas are there, the execution, not so much). I'm not quite sure why my submission rate is so low; or perhaps that should be I have suspicions why my submission rate is so low. Avoidance behavior. There has been a lot of avoidance behavior, an awful lot of avoidance behaviour; I have several gaming/military/alternate history projects that will happily swallow as much time as I can throw at them for the rest of my life. And I do know that I have definitely been using them that way until I was ready to write. But it took me a fortnight to polish layout on that story and get it sent, when realistically it was a couple of hours work. Okay putting the submission letter aside for a couple of days did result in an insight that completely changed the way I  view the entire story - and that handily provided a handle on which to sell its virtues to the anthology, but still.... Am I so scared of rejection letters it cripples my ability to write?

Not helping on the writing front was this week's sleeping pattern which went something like:
Monday - 4 hours?
Tuesday - Um, nope
Wednesday - 4 hours?
Thursday - 6 hours?
Friday - Um, nope
Saturday - 16 hours (yes, 16)
Clearly stress over family stuff has a part to play in that, I'm not sure if submission stress played a part, but in some ways that's not too atypical apart from only managing 4 hours so often. Mostly if I can get to sleep I can sleep for longer than that. 16 hours as a catchup was a little excessive, but clearly what I needed (especially given my left foot had decided to randomly start aching and my left knee came out in sympathy - both fine this morning).


davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

April 2017

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