Journal

So what a year, huh? 2016’s been a crazy one, and I can’t help but think 2017’s got plenty more surprises in store. Still, despite everything , I keep holding out a little hope. 2016 was not all bad either (life never is).

It was back to work full time post-baby and honestly, I needed it not just financially, but mentally too. It was getting stifling being stuck in the house with no one to talk to besides a baby who couldn’t answer back. I needed space to recharge, and I’m lucky enough that I enjoy my job and the people that I work with. It was nice getting back to being productive.

And it turns out, that the busier I am, the more I manage to get done. I wrote 3 short stories, and found homes for 2. I also wrote 2 novels this year (this is something that I’ve never managed before). I think it’s because writing has turned into an escape rather than feeling like work. I’ve also learned that I’m a fast drafter, but I spend more time editing.

What I’d like to do in 2017

Write one novel. I have a new novel brewing where it’s hunter vs hunter (kind of like spy vs spy). There’s a monster who escaped quarantine, in hopes of showing the world the humanity of her kind before they die out, vs a poor boy whose family’s hopes are riding on his monster hunting success. I’m excited about this one, and wow, I’m dying to get back to writing in 3rd person after writing two books in 1st person, but we’ll see how the voice goes.

Maybe short stories. Maybe I’ll edit that third short story I wrote in 2016 and send it off again. I won’t pass up a good idea if one comes to me, but it’s not really a priority.

And reading. I’ve been more conscious about what I’m consuming, and wow there’s a lot of good diverse books these days. I’m going to make sure to read more in 2017 (of everything), and talk about some of them here, and also make it a habit to leave a review somewhere every time I enjoy a book. I don’t know why I never did that before. It doesn’t actually take that long to leave a few words and you don’t need to buy a book from Amazon to leave a review.

Conventions and Such. I will be a presenter at the Creative Ink Festival this year. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it, but that’s why exactly the reason why I need practice public speaking. If I can afford another convention or workshop, I may go, but I don’t have firm plans at the moment.

What are your plans for this year? I’d love to hear.

Book Thoughts, Journal

Writing Days: 16
New Words:
34k

Books Read:

  • Updraft by Fran Wilde
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkniss
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
  • The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

December fell into two parts: a writing sprint, and then reading/recharging.

I started writing a second novel in 2016 while polishing up the first one I wrote. There were hearts in my eyes. I was in love, and off to a racing start when the US election happened. My heart didn’t want to work right for a while. I almost gave up, because suddenly this quiet, sweet, haunted town story I was working on, didn’t seem to fit the world anymore. Thanks to the urging of a few friends, I grit my teeth and finished it, because if I stopped, I know I’d never find the end of that story again. So it’s done, but I’m going to let it sit for a while to give it some breathing room. I think I will revisit it someday, but not just yet.

And then reading. The rest of this post is going to get rambly because, I do have some thoughts on the Harkniss novel.

So it turns out I don’t have much patience for the alphahole trope in romance. In a nutshell, an alpha-asshole is a possessive, stalker-like romantic interest, who isn’t very likable, does’t trust the main character to take care of herself, and orders everyone around. I get it though. Some folks get the thrills when someone else takes charge. It’s just not my thing.

Also a pet peeve, because I watch too many nature documentaries, is that if you’re comparing people/werewolves/vampires to wolves, the whole notion of the ‘alpha wolf’ has been debunked for quite a while already. The head wolves in a pack are typically the breeding pair or in other words: mom and dad. So what you really should have, if talking about wolves as a reference point at all, is family dynamics. There is no biological free pass for being an asshole.

Now, we get to the ‘huh wut?’ section of this not-a-book-review.

If an author is going with a forbidden marriage trope, because the pair in question are from two different species (and people are worried about what monster mixed children will result), you’d think most authors and readers would notice the metaphorical parallels to to segregation and racial mixing,1 right?

There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can cause really weird dissonance if practically all the characters and creatures in a story about segregation are white.2 It makes me wonder about the intent here, you know? I really don’t get what the author was trying to accomplish at a metal level.3

Maybe it was never intended to be a metaphor?  But I can’t imagine that no thought went into the possibility it might be read that way (either by agent/editor/or writer), because judging by the rest of the writing, the author is clearly intelligent and thoughtful. Was this passive oversight, because plenty of well meaning people say “I don’t see color”4 and no one (agent/editor/writer) noticed it?

I don’t know. I fell into a metaphorical hole and it wouldn’t let me out. This big pit looks pretty glaring to me.

Anyway, I still enjoyed the story enough that I may be tempted to pick up book two if I’m bored enough. It wasn’t the romance that captivated me, but the scientists, alchemy, and old manuscript love. I got my escapism in the parts where the main character got to sleep in, and fed well, because, as a busy mom, hah… yeah. It’s really kind of funny that it’s not the man or the magic I’m interested in.

OH and I LOVE Pacemaker.press guys. It’s so useful. I’ve been writing more now that I have charts and word count targets that I can adjust whenever I want. Daily, weekly, whatever. It would be awesome for Nano, or just tracking word counts over a month. Plus it’s free!

Did you have a good holiday? Making plans for the new year?

Notes:   [ + ]

1. FYI The last state to legalize interracial marriages was Alabama in the year 2000.
2. There was an Indian yoga instructor, but she wasn’t material to the plot in any way and only appeared twice with less than a handful of speaking lines.
3. I doubt this is a metaphor for LGBTQ marriage equality, because there is a lesbian couple presented positively, and biologically mixed children resulting from such a union wouldn’t be an issue.
4. Problematic in many ways. There are other articles out there. Just Google.
Writing Discussion

Sometimes terminology and identity intersect, so it’s important to get right. Here are a couple of resources that I’ve found helpful so far:

Introduction to Disability Terminology – Here’s a brief rundown of how to write about disability in your stories. It’s a fantastic website overall. There are likely some things you haven’t considered yet.

Writing Characters of Different Genders | Trans, Non-Binary, Cisgender, More – This is a link to a bunch of great resources here. Also, the Writing the Other classes have gotten good recommendations from people whose opinions I trust.

Now, I hope you all get back to enjoying the holiday silly season. I’ve got some presents to wrap 🙂

Do you have any links to share?

Book Thoughts

darkthings

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Who knew that vampires could feel fresh again? This novel follows Domingo, a teen aged garbage picker, who stumbles upon Atl, an inexperienced young vampire, fleeing enemies in Mexico City.

Mexico City itself feels like a character in the novel. I’ve never been there, but it felt rich and alive in a real way. You see the garbage and corruption.  Internet cafe’s, and crumbling architecture are juxtaposed. Old and new feels coexists in chaos.

If you keep an eye out, you might notice the classic noir aesthetic layered into a modern world: complete with a chain-smoking detective, stylish gangsters, and a doomed romance. There’s even a gramophone.

To me the end result was a bit cyberpunk: near future, close enough to recognize. A big city complete with grime, cigarettes, genetically modified pets, and Korean bars.

I also enjoyed how Aztec mythology was woven into the novel. The existence of Vampires would fit neatly into a world where blood sacrifices were offerings to the gods.

It’s nice to read a standalone once in a while, and though Silvia mentioned she has no plans for a sequel, I could see a lot more potential for this world and would enjoy seeing how Atl finds her way through it.