stillsostrange: (Valkyrie Air)
Today I'm cooking for a friend's potluck wedding (my favorite couscous from Smitten Kitchen and a pear & bacon salad with blue cheese and candied walnuts) and poking at a novel proposal. My desire for a non-heteronormative, female-led, contemporary supernatural spy thriller has grown so strong I have to write one myself. Unless someone has some good recommendations. But I'll still probably write my own.

Day 1 - Ten random facts about yourself
Day 2 - Nine things you do every day
Day 3 - Eight things that annoy you
Day 4 - Seven fears/phobias
Day 5 - Six songs that you’re addicted to

Day 6 - Five things you can’t live without

Exercise. If you had told 16-year-old me that one serious workout a week would be insufficient and four would be ideal, she would have been so bewildered. I'm so bitter at the public school system for making me and many other chubby awkward kids believe that athleticism was a thing we could never possess.

Craft and creation. I spent most of 2013 in a terrible funk that left me barely writing and not making jewelry or other crafty things. It was so gross.

The internet. It's where 80% of my friends live.

Music, and by extension dancing. I survived 2013 by dancing as often as I could and discovering a ton of new music.

Parity. I went a while without that, and it was also gross.

Day 7 - Four memories you won’t forget
Day 8 - Three words you can’t go a day without
Day 9 - Two things you wish you could do
Day 10 - One person you can trust
stillsostrange: (Default)
It isn't just one of your holiday games.

I have an anthology story to finish by the end of the month, another due in March, and an Isyllt novelette sort of thing that glares at me reproachfully from time to time. In addition, I'm also trying to put together a proposal for the second Dreams book. The trouble is, it probably needs a title that isn't D2: Byakhee Boogaloo*. I'm reaching the stage of frustration where I start combining nouns until something sticks.

Door(s)/Tower(s)/Mask(s) of Night/Horn & Ivory/Shadow

Diane Duane took all the good Doors Into things. Murder mysteries have cornered the market on Eliot references. The Waking City would almost be a good play on Boston as "the walking city." Does anyone ever call it that?

* I maintain that all sequels are either Electric Boogaloos or Pigs in the City.
stillsostrange: (Medea)
The Poison Court

Words today: 781
Reason for stopping: quota, and end of scene
Darling: Like a spider’s web in the moonlight, tangled stands flashing, fading in and out of shadow. But this web was made of wire, ready to slice her at the slightest misstep.
Mean things: Being nineteen and heartbroken; political marriages; being engaged to a heartbroken nineteen-year-old.

Today I stopped to work out a few of the various layers of crossing and double-crossing going on around here. Why do I write political thrillers, again, and not simple books with punching and boyfriends? Or whatever simple books are made of.

I had promised myself a 25k present, but ended up getting a 20k present. The coffee shop where I write is next to a vintage store. I walked in today and found myself staring at a pair of oxblood Luccheses. They walked out with me. I will take them dancing on Wednesday, I think.
stillsostrange: (fatale)
The Poison Court

I won't even kid myself that this will be a short book. Four chapters in and it's already taking after Bone Palace. I would like a third POV character to round things out, but so far no one's volunteered. It's like they're afraid I'll crush their spirits and ruin their lives or something...

Mean things: blackmail, painful reminders of the past, the possibility of having to murder an old friend, hangovers
stillsostrange: (Rilke)
Remember when I posted metrics here? I'm not sure I do either.

The Poison Court
Words today: 528
Words total: 15,832
Reason for stopping: Out of steam, and need to move furniture around before I go to bed.
Darling: Yes, but it's a bit long.
Tyop: n/a
Mean things: A letter from your ex, unsettling surprises

I'm at that awkward stage of plotting where I need to figure out who's scheming about what, and who knows about it, and how much of what Our Heroes are being told is the truth. And I'm starting to worry that it's taking too long to get some of our antags onscreen. But that's a second draft problem.

Despite an oppressive case of mope that lasted several days, this week has been pretty damn good. I climbed like a badass on Monday, deadlifted my own bodyweight* on Tuesday, danced on Wednesday**, and today not only did I make progress on a steeply overhung V2, but I also got a real massage, which has turned my neck into something other than a twisted column of hate. And, even better, when I went in for a PT session this morning, my therapist was so pleased with my progress and with my interval running strategy that he turned me loose. So I am running again. For five minute intervals and no more than 1.8 miles at a stretch yet, but sweet fishes is that better than not running at all.

* My current, still swollen with Portland evil, bodyweight, even. This means when I shed the bloat, I'll be lifting more than bodyweight. Assuming I don't put on more muscle by then.

** Walking from my car to the club, I lost the sole to one of my boots. Faced with the option of either sitting down on the sidewalk and sobbing or ripping off the other sole and dancing anyway, I chose the latter. It wasn't even the least comfortable footwear I've danced in.
stillsostrange: (fatale)
Floodland, which is not its title at all, but the only working title I have

Words today: 1200
Words total: 1200
Reason for stopping: time to figure out what's going on
Darling: If Lucia could have slept on trains, she might have died peacefully.
Tyop: n/a

I have a ton of worldbuilding to do before I can even figure out my plot, but at least my MC is being talkative. She is everything I could want in an MC: worn down, damaged, ruthless, cynically hopeful, observant, and fashion-conscious.

Now I need that worldbuilding, so I can have dirigible battles and shadow monsters.
stillsostrange: (Dark City)
Today I started physical therapy for my treacherous left knee. The therapist thinks the trouble is less quads and more IT band. My future has become endless weighted stretches. But he didn't tell me to cancel Warrior Dash, so that's something. (I get the feeling that physical therapists are used to people doing stupid shit against medical advice.)

I suppose I should get back to the endless survey questions eventually, but today I'm going to dust off the first line meme (short story edition only) in celebration of finishing "Snakebit."

For those of you new to this meme, we post the first lines of various unfinished projects in hope of finding inspiration.


Nan doesn't mean to fall asleep--she never does. But Evie's soft breath and the steady creak of the ceiling fan lull her, till her eyes sag and the worn paperback slides from her fingers.


The sea left footprints.


All Souls Night and the gutters still brim with shed Hallows skin. Broken glass crunches under Jane's boots as she carries an amp to the van, glittering beside limp feathers and cracked sequins, tattered black and orange fliers. One hell of a party, she heard--Sixth Street is still subdued and sleepy. But even for the day after Halloween and a Monday to boot, the crowd is still better than last night's in Dallas.


"I got it from my girlfriend," the boy says. "Ex-girlfriend." Color rises in his light brown cheeks. "Wow, that makes it sound bad. Simpler too, I guess."

"Waiting For the Train"

When it's raining here you hear the trains. You hear them other times too, with the tracks so close, but the dusty heat of summer bakes the sound out of the air, till it gets buried under cars and trucks and TVs and voices and all the other small-town noises. But when the rain comes, and the trains come, the whistles carry all over, low and mournful and rumbling in my chest.

Eternally untitled queen in the tower story

She watches from her tower as the sky burns.

Ash rains from scabbed clouds, drifts in grey-silver sheets toward the broken ground. Razored black rock cracks again, leaking flames and the hot blood of the earth. Heat seeps through her windows, shimmering against etched glass, and no matter how much incense she burns her room still reeks of the end of the world.
stillsostrange: (Bone Palace UK)
A somewhat productive week. I made progress on "Snakebit," which has been languishing unfinished for a year since the last time I made progress on it, and even longer before that. When it's finished I need to turn my attention to either "Flood" or "Waiting For The Train," since novels love me not. I also need to find a market for the ghoul-smut sestina, which has been lying around for far too long.

I also have a referral for physical therapy now. We'll see what that does for my knee. Sadly, I think it's too late to hope for the half marathon in March. But I already have my Warrior Dash registration, by god, and dash it I shall.

And now, on to the inanity of the survey.

50. Have you ever saved someone's life or had your life saved?

In the intricate web of causality way, probably. In a dramatic direct intervention way, no.

51. Make up a definition for the following silly words...

No. I am too much on my dignity today, meme.

52. What was the last thing you made with your own hands?

I assume we're not counting books, no matter how they make my wrists hurt. I haven't made jewelry in a long time, sadly. I helped assemble the Gothtopus, and made the (tragically underfeathered) wings for my griffin costume. Or perhaps the cookies I baked to bribe a coworker.

53. What was your favorite toy as a child?

I can't remember a single favorite, but it was probably something She-Ra related.

54. How many TV’s are in your house?


55. What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Climbing, followed closely by hiking and swimming.

56. How do you feel when you see a rainbow?

Grateful that we've had any rain.

57. Have you ever dreamt a dream that came true?

In a symbolic sense, yes. And a few that were just that boring.

58. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?

I had a tarot reading on New Year's Day. It gave me good advice.

59. What is your idea of paradise?

A dancefloor.
stillsostrange: (Brigitte)
Thursday - 1 hour gym, mostly bodyweight exercises. Negs. Oh, the misery that is negs.
Friday - 4 hours dayjob, bouldering.
Saturday - Run/walking 5 miles, dancing.
Sunday - Dayjob, dancing.
Monday - Yoga, climbing.
Tuesday - 1 hour gym, weights. We started box squats, which are cool, but the bar bruised the back of my neck.
Wednesday - ~5k on the elliptical, since my knee is still out of commission.

Not much in the way of a rest day the past week. I may need to make sure one of those happens soon.

84 miles out of Hobbiton.

My trainer's diagnosis of my bad knee is over-tight quads. She took a foam roller to me, and... Well, I felt like I should be paying her more to hurt me that way. I'm going to be stretching daily and foam rolling at home, but if I can't reach a point of running without pain, my dreams of a half marathon may be on hold for a while. Do not want.

Project: GYTO worked fairly well last week. Wordcount wasn't great, but every day I sat down with a goal I met it. This week has been derailed by Agent J coming down with strep. Hopefully I will be back in the game next week.

The survey, cont'd...

7. What stage of life are you in right now?

A slightly frustrating one. But I'll endure and it will change.

8. Are you more child-like or childish?

Childlike. And I want my own Gmork.

9. What is the last thing you said out loud?

"I want my own Gmork." Because I talk to myself.

10. What song comes closest to how you feel about your life right now?

And every pop song on the radio is suddenly speaking to me... But no, "Superhero" is not my song right now. Thank god. I left my head and my heart on the dancefloor...?

11. Have you ever taken martial arts classes?


12. Does your life tend to get better or worse or does it just stay the same?

If your life stays the same, you may be doing something wrong. My life has improved steadily and markedly the older I get, with the occasional rough patch.

13. Does time really heal all wounds?

No. But it helps with some.
stillsostrange: (Bone Palace UK)
Still not much good a posting. I'm trying to keep the Valkyrie reports to once a week, but The Book isn't solid enough to start posting metrics on yet. My kingdom for a meme!

Random fitness stuff: I straightened my arms in Wheel pose tonight, after months of suffering. My yogini was delighted, as was I. In less delightful news, my left knee completely killed my run on Saturday. We went five miles, but I only managed to run 2 of those. The stiffness I sometimes get turned into serious pain at 1.5 miles, and continued to hurt any time I ran after that. The knee also bugged me while dancing Saturday night, but that's more common. (It bugged me in flat boots on Saturday, but in heels on Sunday it was fine.) I realized I'm overdue for new shoes, which I will remedy this week, and I'm going to talk to my trainer about strengthening and stretching it out tomorrow. I suspect I also need to get a foam roller, and try to roll out my IT band more often. I will be very cross if one recalcitrant joint screws up my half marathon plans.

I did manage to implement GYTO last week, for two good writing days. Coffee shop writing is actually becoming very productive for me. And I love my baristas' musical taste.
stillsostrange: (Baroness)
Valkyrie report:
Thursday - 1 hour gym, mostly bodyweight exercises.
Friday - 4 hours dayjob, a lot of housecleaning, dancing.
Saturday - Run/walking, 4.3 miles.
Sunday - Dancing, ~3 hours. The set start out a little iffy, but ended strong.
Monday - Rest day.
Tuesday - 1 hour gym, weights.
Wednesday - Running, 3.3 miles in 41:20. ETA: And 3 miles on the elliptical. I was grouchy and over-caloried and went to the gym.

76 miles out of Hobbiton.

My deadlifts and bench presses increased enough 5 pounds each. Baby steps, baby steps.

But even better than running 5k today, there were words. 1100 of them, in fact, while camped out at my favorite coffee shop. I am instituting Operation: Get Your Tits On And Write This Fucking Book Already. (GYTO for short.) I will work on this book for six weeks and not listen to any of that wibbley indecisive nonsense happening in my brain. At six weeks we pause to evaluate the quality of the book, but not before then.
stillsostrange: (Blood)
My lack of LJing is venturing from slothful to truly sad. A large part of it is the absence of regular writing happening in Amandaland, which both leads to fewer metrics to post and a moderate case of bookless depression on my part. I don't enjoy bookless depression, and it's especially frustrating because the cure is obvious, but sometimes elusive.

Does anyone have any good writing memes, or feel like entering into a mutually assured destruction blogging pact? I need motivation, and small achievable goals. Otherwise my main source of content is going to become fitness posts, and I'm not sure those interest more than three people. (But if they do, let me know. I'll take what I can get.)
stillsostrange: (Bowie)
Books read in 2012 )

A much better reading year than last year, if not as fabulous as one might like. The writing front was also not as fabulous as one might like, but not too shabby. Kingdoms came out, and Brave New Love. And maybe A Fantasy Medley 2--I got my author copies, at least. I finished an extremely thorough revision of Dreams, and my fabulous agent has sent it out into the world. I also tidied up a partial of Pinion, and started a few other projects. I did not finish any new short stories, but oh well.

I'm not as happy to be rid of 2012 as some of my f-list. I would like to be more productive in 2013, and slightly less crippled with indecision (well, laugh), but if nothing else the success of Project Valkyrie and my Run For Your Lives training has made this a pleasantly memorable year. We'll see how Warrior Dash turns out. Hopefully 2013 will be the year of the unassisted pull-up.

And of course, there was that whole adoption thing. Can't forget that.

Hopefully the boy will find his missing driver's license soon, so as not to thwart our plan to go for cocktails and Elysium tonight. My house has already thwarted my plans to repurpose last Halloween's griffin costume by eating my feathers and copper foil. I'll be less of a danger to myself and others without dozens of sharp copper feathers, I suppose.
stillsostrange: (Sif)
I have survived the holidays, mostly, despite letting them pass without an update. Now I just need to come up with a costume for Elysium's New Year's costume ball. I'm trying to figure out a way to reuse the copper feathers from my metal chicken griffin costume. Those should keep people from crowding me on the dance floor.

I've also committed to Warrior Dash in March, which will require much more training, particularly in the climbing ropes and jumping over fire departments. Between that and a 10k in April, I should manage to keep myself in reasonable valkyrie condition until the summer heat hits.

And after New Year's, I need to gird my loins and start marching on a new book. Any book will do, at this point.
stillsostrange: (Savedra)
What is the working title of your next book?

The Poison Court (Though I have also been working on Changeling Hearts recently, and plan to open up Pinion as soon as I have an S&3 on Poison.)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The original idea was Savedra and the Crime-fighting Demimonde. But then it grew too much plot for one book and split into two. This is Savedra and the Foreign Spies, and the next one will be Crime-fighting Demimonde.

What genre does your book fall under?


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Sadly, Jaye Davidson is too old to play Savedra anymore. Isis King is too skinny (and I have no clue if she can act), but might do in a pinch. Varis continues to be Richard O'Brien, and the Iskari mage Zureyya is RuPaul. Nikos and Ashlin are Kal Penn and Katee Sackhoff. I haven't cast the Iskari court yet.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Savedra must navigate foreign intrigue and treachery to protect her uncle, save the sister of a dead friend, and prevent an international incident that could lead to war.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Unless something catastrophic happens, it will be represented by [ profile] arcaedia

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I don't know yet! Prior experience tells me it will take about a year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Barbara Hambly is my constant inspiration, but in this case I'm drawing more from historical mysteries than fantasy novels.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My love of Savedra, and my pathological addiction to spies. Also, the @(&#$ fourth Isyllt book hasn't gelled yet.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Spies, intrigue, politics, and pretty dresses.

I'm not tagging anyone, but go forth and meme if it makes you happy.
stillsostrange: (Words)
Since I really need to take advantage of my deadlineless state to finish a short story or two, it's time for the first lines meme again.


Nan doesn't mean to fall asleep--she never does. But Evie's soft breath and the steady creak of the ceiling fan lull her, till her eyes sag and the worn paperback slides from her fingers.


The sea left footprints.

Elias kicked at the hard white ground, watched salt dust puff and settle on the toes of his boots. The salt flats stretched out around him, mountains floating like a mirage in the distance. He felt the phantom weight of the long-receded ocean pressing down. It would come back, eventually. Sometimes he wondered if he'd be around to see it. Mostly he hoped otherwise.


The horses were restless. The sound of snorts and hooves tangled through Lanie's nightmares, familiar dreams of smoke and screaming. She woke with a start, sweat sticky on her neck. Beside her, Merle stirred with a muffled curse as one of the horses whinnied.


"I got it from my girlfriend," the boy says. "Ex-girlfriend." Color rises in his light brown cheeks. "Wow, that makes it sound bad. Simpler too, I guess."

"Waiting For the Train"

When it's raining here, you hear the trains.

Changeling Hearts

The girl whose name was not Aletheia Rampion woke to thunder, and the lingering terror of a nightmare squeezing her chest.

Daughter of Jackals

The empress’s antechamber was dim and hushed, warm from two bodies and a single lamp. Voices drifted through both doors: from the interior, the soft tones of the physician and his attendants and the occasional cry and curse from the empress; from the exterior, the muttered talk of courtiers awaiting news. Indihar al Seth sat on a cushioned bench, breathing in the taste of lamp oil and nerves, and waited for her life to change.


The temple of Kimah was a place of bells. Solemn peals marked the hours; chimes called the priests to meals and to prayer; gongs clashed to warn of danger--thankfully rare, though pilgrims carried news of troubled roads and uneasy borders. And overlaying all was the jingle of charms hanging from eaves and doorframes, copper and bronze and polished stone dancing in the unceasing breeze off the mountains. Bells spoke more often than human voices in the halls of dust and clay.


Lilah runs and darkness follows.

The Poison Court

No one had died at a royal ball in over a year. Savedra Severos held that thought in her mind as she surveyed the Topaz Ballroom; it might reassure her eventually.

Prayers to Broken Stone

Rain washed Paris, speeding the Seine on its rush to the sea. The cruelest month had come and gone, but storms still lingered. In Saint-Germain-des-Prés it poured from the gutters and dripped from curling wrought iron balconies. Moisture darkened pale walls, new paint and plaster over centuries-old bones. On rue du Four, water drummed against the awnings outside Les Vieux Os and fell in ribbons to the flooded pavement.

The Winter Road

Isyllt Iskaldur knelt in mud and darkness, cursing the autumn rain and every impulse that had driven her to become a mercenary.
stillsostrange: (Conscious)
In a small publishing miracle, Orbit responded about the option novel within 45 days (and just after a hurricane, too!). They are passing on Dreams*, which means we're free of the option and [ profile] arcaedia will begin shopping the book around elsewhere. What this does not mean is that Orbit has passed on any subsequent Necromancer books, or the Savedra books: I haven't pitched them any yet. As soon as I have a solid S&3 for either Isyllt IV or Savedra I, I will happily throw them at Orbit.

I am presently poking around on several projects at once, including Changeling Hearts, The Poison Court, and two other Necromancer-world ideas that haven't yet accreted enough plot. (Nothing ever has enough plot.) Having two intrepid young heroines surrounded by danger and intrigue, I vaguely wonder if I shouldn't try to mash them together. But I'm not sure if that would work out. I also need to designate a Work on Some F*cking Short Stories Day, and see what that produces.

But first I have to clean my bathroom.

* A mild disappointment, but not really a surprise.
stillsostrange: (Words)
My commitment to writing every day lasted slightly longer than previous Nano attempts, but not by much. Luckily, small and attainable goals prevailed. The bulk of these words were on The Poison Court, some on The Ashen/Winter Throne/Road, and most recently some on Prayers to Broken Stone. I also got two chapters into the revision of Dreams based on my crack location expert's notes. (Add more rain!) Right now I'm trying wait for [ profile] arcaedia's notes so I can bring this in with just one more pass.

10590 / 10500
stillsostrange: (Default)
I've been wretchedly slack in posting my write-a-thon updates, but not quite as wretched at the actual writing. The nice thing about having to gut The Poison Court and start again from the beginning is that now every reclaimed word now counts toward my goal. I'm much happier with the new plot, but I still haven't figured out what my Cool Magic Stuff is going to be. Ghosts, djinn, vampires, vengeful undead sorcerers--what will the new hotness be?

6419 / 10500

Books read in 2012 )

12. Dead and Buried - Barbara Hambly

13. The Shirt On His Back - Barbara Hambly

14. Ran Away - Barbara Hambly

15. The Ninth Daughter - Barbara Hamilton

The boy bought me the new lighted Nook for an anniversary present, and I though I was skeptical, it's definitely earned it's keep. I've read these past four books on it, mainly while I'm sitting up with Agent J until she falls asleep. Being able to read in a dark room or car is a codsend, and it doesn't strain my eyes like laptop reading does. Also, ebooks give me a nice instant gratification for books I'd otherwise have to special order. Of course, I'll have to order them all anyway, because I have no illusions that this device will last a quarter the life of a paperback, but oh well.
stillsostrange: (Default)
Words were managed in spite of the Vicodin haze. Which means I won't know till I sober up if any of them are coherent, but for now I can pretend it's progress. If I can just figure out what's supposed to happen in this chapter, I might stay caught up on the write-a-thon a while longer.

1553 / 10500


stillsostrange: (Default)

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