Thursday, August 28, 2008

A little blog-keeping

I was out for most of Monday with Sarah, and out again for most of Wednesday. Had to take the merchandise to the gallery store. Now that's settled, I suppose I ought to get working on some kind of stock for an esty store. Oh, so I should mention if you were interested in commissioning a custom piece... I am opening it up to help make some spending money for World Fantasy Con. Comment or email if you're interested!

No revision notes from Miriam yet. Not sure why I thought they were coming by the end of this week—she said nothing of the sort, so I likely concluded she has vacation coming up and have vacation coming up after that, so sooner rather than later would be best. Come September 1st, I will be writing the second manuscript for the YA series.

I would have been writing it sooner, but I realize I had started it in the wrong place. (It wasn't attention-grabbing enough, nor a good intro to the conflict/threat.) Progress notes will be under f-lock on livejournal, unless I stumble upon something that's interesting and muse about it here.

Oh, and youtube has proven to me that I am not the only one who feels Doctor Who and High School Musical have a common fanbase:



Which I understand, as they're both kids shows. But High School Musical and Torchwood? That's a "wot?!" right there... Except it's done so well...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Post #300

Post #300?

I am basking in the glow of yesterday's lingering warmth.

Despite the fact that my brain has been short-circuiting lately—I think it's a stress-related thing—and I mixed up the words "abortion" and "abstinence," the discussion with Miriam went well. Smashingly so, even if we did end up discussing mostly existing projects instead of potential ones. All the time in the world for new!shiny! ideas, and I think it's best to deal with the demanding little prince of a series I proposed already.

She is very fond of FRAGMENTS and asks all the right questions to pry out my "skerit planz" for the rest of the series and backstory and concept. I do, however, need to see if I can't brush-stroke in a wee bit more international relations to flesh out the geography and cultural differences. (I was too busy, er, having things come out of mirrors and kidnap teenagers.) There's also one plot point that needs resolving, as it's a wee "why didn't they just do this," but it should be easily resolved through a line or two of dialogue. Plus, she pointed out a place where I can slip in information to address aspects of the concepts that set-up larger plot things.

Relived. Grateful. Looking forward to getting back into the book to make the minor revisions we discussed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We aren't interested in "good"

Unsure if anything shall come of it, but I did contact the World Fantasy people about volunteering for panels. That's right—people volunteer. Who knew? I thought the committee made up the programming then thought of who'd do a bang-up job of the topic.

It's an unending learning curve. I love it. *g*

Speaking of learning curves, I was reading an entry on my livejournal f-list where Melissa Marr raises the issue of whether or not one feels one's writing is "good." The entry addresses the point validly, but I'm going to take a moment to come at the question in a different manner.

I think my writing is good. I rather have to, given all the uncertainty that accompanies being a professional writer. Does that mean that I don't wonder if no one else will think it's good? No, questioning your delusions is how you know they haven't replaced your ability to perceive reality.

However, publishing is about making a business of writing—not validation. When you run a business, you need to be doing the best job of it you can. Therefore, you should know your product is good. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else is going to, either.

Good isn't what I'm interested in. When something is "good," it's ready to be shown to my CPs and agent so that they can offer the objective, outside perspective that will make my writing better.

Worrying about whether or not your writing is good limits you. Good as a goal suggests there'll be a point when you can stop. Better, however, is a shifting benchmark. It changes as a writer evolves. One who wishes to become better, sets no limitation to how they can improve.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jewelry News

There's been questions about an etsy or an ebay store regarding the jewelry. The things I've been making have either been commissions or part of the batch for The Art We Are gallery store in Kamloops. Once I get some stock together, there will be an etsy store.

The store, however, likely won't be set-up until October sometime—after I've returned from Kyoto. Feel free to contact me if you wish commission something, as I will be working on pieces off and on until I leave on Sept 15th.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And the final pieces

Rounding out this batch of creations for The Art We Are, necklaces.



Pink glass teardrops, pearls, black diamond beads, metal heart beads, and black, pink and white glass beads. Heart charm has crystals embedded in its surface. Square clasp. No name... yet.




The sparkly safari choker—glass artisan oval bead, small sunstone beads, metal beads, brown and gold glass beads, and "battered" gold clasp. Below is a close up of the artisan bead.







Sea and Sun—diamond-shaped artisan bead, metal mesh beads, blue plastic beads, green and yellow glass beads, various glass beads in blue, green and yellow tones. Circle clasp.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend jewelry productions

I have been busy as of late discovering new beauties. Bookmarks were not enough of a variance from the traditional necklaces and bracelets, now my muse has found even more ways to wear baubles—baubles for your bag! Theoretically, they could be keychains if you clip them to existing key-rings. (The next batch may include a small key-ring, after I find the necessary supplies.)



This one is Sherbet and Candy Flowers—orange, red, pink and yellow glass beads. Orange lantern beads. Small square glass beads with flowers or stripes. Large iridescent white glass tube. Two artisan glass beads, one pink vintage flower bead. Leaf and flower shiny metal accents. (Will be available for sale at The Art We Are gallery.) Below is the clip on display in an action shot.






Antique Forest—green glass beads accented with faux smoky quartz, swarovski crystals, black diamond and facet beads, various smaller glass beads in dark iridescent colors, large pale green glass heart bead, vintage translucent flower bead, and antique-finished charm with large faux stone. (Also to be available at The Art We Are gallery.)




Star Candy and Playful Lotus bracelet—lotus clasp with orange and magenta lotus charm. Yellow glass star beads, bronze-colored spacers, large gold-silk bead, and multicolor glass beads. (Soon to be available at The Art We Are gallery.)




Summer Garden bookmark—gold-color flower charm, green glass beads, purple iridescent bead, pink flower glass bead. (Available soon at The Art We Are gallery.)




Awareness bookmark—blue swirl glass bead with wire finish accent, blue cathedral beads, various blue glass beads, and one blue artisan bead.




I purchased this beautiful citrine leaf-shaped pendant, but had no chain to hang it on. Out came the beads... all are yellow and gold glass beads of various shapes and colors, except for the two jade beads. Below is a close-up of the feature area of the necklace.

It occurred to me on Sunday that in less than a month I would be landing at the Kansai International Airport. This, of course, brought a smile to my lips—an aside, is it the licorice in Bert's Bee's Honey lip balm that is so fragrant? I smear my mouth and wonder who's wearing perfume when there appears to be no one else in the room.

Excited for Kyoto? Verily so. However, also aware that the planning of this trip has been falling by the wayside—along with the jewelry experiment—as of late. I have been losing a couple days a week to an office job, but still there are at least 5 others that should provide ample time to accomplish things. Important things, like blogging for example.

FRAGMENTS has taken its place in Agent M's to be read pile, and TALE is diligently hunting its perfect editor. (We all know there is not a Hunter better than our Shiro.) So... I'm not quite sure where the time is going. I fear there might be some kind of rift beneath Kamloops that is scattering my days across time and space. Awfully rude of it.

I have two ideas for stand-alone projects, and I suspect they're both at the YA level. While I should be examining these ideas from various angles, I found myself unable to so easily depart the world of FRAGMENTS. Instead of working on New!Shiny!New! I am outlining the following books in the series FRAGMENTS begins. All five of them. By hand. It goes well, thanks for asking, if by well I mean "at a ponderous pace." The longhand feels like dial-up after zoom!fast! cable, but it is making me breathe and approach the book with a "this then that" outlook that's keeping it from overwhelming me.

Of course, when I type up my "this then that" outline, I realize I'm at over 2100 words and I'm only 2/3 of the way through the plot...for a 70,000 word novel. The outline for FRAGMENTS, which I confess I didn't follow to the letter, is 1230 words long. The extra wordage that would have been in outline developed as I was writing and revising the novel.

The outline for BELOVED, the follow-up to TALE, is 809-ish words long. That's because I wrote it as more of a treatment—just a page to express the general plans of the novel. (The third book's concept was expressed in 90 words. It could have been much shorter: "they go to Japan. Hijinks ensue." )

Later today I'll have archival photos of the shiny baubles.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"The Rainy Season" reviewed by The Fix

The Fix, a British online review zine, apparently covers On Spec in its totality. They have a lovely review of "The Rainy Season." Thank you, Jessica E. Kaiser.

The review
also says wonderful things about Leah Bobet's "The Sorceress' Apprentice" and praises the amazing "Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood" by Marie Brennan.

It remains an honor to have been even on the same table of contents as these two incredibly talented story-tellers, and I thank On Spec once again for the opportunity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer memory

(Originally written as a writing exercise from the prompt "I'm from.." )

I'm from swing hard beneath me. Chain links naked and warm. Sunshine against closed lids that open on blue rushing to green. So much blue but a white cumulus bikini keeps it modest.

I'm from laughing over rocks in the shallow area. Ankle deep in water clear now, but weeks ago it flowed milky coffee over the brim and stained the picnic tables.

From campfire smoke and ash snowflakes. From KFC-greased fingers and yellow rope spiderweb climbing gym. From the water never seemed too cold then.

I am from salmon and magenta skies, and tree black shadows against a ghost sun. From space to see it, breathe in campfire, and carefully pull that gooey marshmallow from the stick.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hugos are in.

Well, I recognize Elizabeth Bear's name--oh hoooooooooooo... it appears Steven Moffat won his well-deserved Hugo for short dramatic form again. Yes, after watching Blink I declared to a few people that it had win.

Speaking of David Tennant... Neil Gaimain poses the question why we aren't using the Hamlet photos to make our DW episodes. Because, Sir, we are making ridiculous livejournal icons with them, of course! (Email me if you want some.)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Goggle Babble

I have plans for both of the short pieces I finished for the Summer Shorts Writing Challenge, so I'm reluctant to post them online. However, I have chunks of text from the first attempt to write the second story that I can share.

En viola, three dead darlings for you.

I

Sometimes he thinks globalization is just humans catching up with the rest of the world, or more honestly, human adults remembering what they’d forgotten from childhood. Differences have to be taught. Children aren’t born thinking to honor their emperor and expel the barbarians.

It’s a lesson harder to learn for some than others. Something he thought he understood, but couldn’t truly grasp until he came to this young country, with its patchwork quilt of cultures and its geography of displaced gods. Being expelled—becoming the barbarian with home scrubbed away—leaves his skin raw and waiting to be bandaged with labels of his choosing. It has been a long recovery, but he finally feels home at the edge of his perception, and finds himself more and more using the word to refer to this land and not the one of his birth.

This land, not that one, where monks from San Francisco claim they located the Center of the Universe.

II

Deadman’s Valley feels more like home to Shiro than his room in that rented bungalow in Rivers, because he knows the knoll for what it is—a temple in a land that has no official temples. Unlike his cousin’s shrine, so cleverly disguised as a coffeehouse, the Center of the Universe doesn’t discriminate. It pours blessings without knowing myobu is the name for the white foxes of Inari, or inquiring what indiscretion her favorite committed that would send him so far from Kyoto and the Fushimi clan.

Even if the valley did ask, Shiro knows it would accept his answer of “compassion” without judgment or comment, and its blessings would remain with him. He has searched for the guardian spirit who embodies its gracious heart, but he has yet to have the honor of an audience, so his gratitude remains unspoken.

All he knows is that guardian allows them to dance in her home once again—and tonight one of her people might finally join them.

III

As the story goes, it was a snowy November night that the first monk arrived in this valley—also dressed completely in white. If asked, Shiro won’t say that his current clothing choices are a nod to that man, an allusion to the journey for enlightenment and the willing servitude. Myobu are forbidden to lie to humans, even if the lie would make the myobu sound witty.

Besides, Shiro just likes white. It’s familiar, and it glows under the UV lights. There won't be any of those tonight, but the coat and the goggles are part of his Fey persona. They’ve become elements of his uniform. He’s still too Japanese to abandon the necessity of having one.

Shiro arrived in Rivers the same year the monks tried to acquire the Vidette Lake Resort and the knoll. He also can’t claim responsibility for their failure, but he’s almost certain the Fey can.

During the vernal equinox, as he felt his power waning, he wondered how things might have been different with the presence of monks in the area. Tibetan in their teachings, true, but maybe he would have earned a more scholarly disposition instead of falling in with humans and their alternative fashion quirks. Maybe he would feel ready to return to Kyoto and accept his sentence of marriage for the sake of the clans.

Maybe, but he hasn’t given up on the possibility of the impossible—that when he’s telling his mistress about Deadman’s Valley, he’ll look in her eyes and know he’s been in her heart all this time, too.

Summer Short Writing Challenge ENDED

Thank you to everyone who participated, and a reminder that if you want to be eligible for prizes, we need you to check in with your total on livejournal.

Friday, August 08, 2008

More lovelies



An anklet, by request— various pink, clear, silver seed beads plus pink glass diamond glass beads, clear glass beads with pink core, and pink glass flower accent. Clasp is metal "lotus" with leaf charm accent. (The final ended up looking slightly different to this, as there was a length issue that needed to be addressed.)



Dragon fly bracelet for Sarah. Made with various purple seed beads, iridescent black miyuki drop beads, metal mesh beads in "silver" finish, and amethyst beads. Clasp is metal "wrapped." Dragonfly charm accent.



Sora Blue bracelet. Various silver, white, grey seed beads. Blue circle beads, fire-finished blue & white glass beads, Artisan white & clear glass bead, and metal spacers. Clasp is faux pearl and rhinestone old-fashioned slot clasp.



Queen of All Night's Dreaming bracelet. Black diamond beads, pink and black glass beads, gold glass beads, fuchsia cathedral beads. Antiqued finish crown charm accent. Clasp is gold-colored star.



The Oak Queen. Orange and yellow glass seed beads, various glass beads, orange cathedral beads, green cathedral beads, wooden beads, leaf-shaped glass beads, two green and clear Artisan glass beads and gold leaf charm for accent. Clasp is flower and leaf hook. (For Karen.)



A Great and Terrible Beauty bookmark. Gold heart charm, faux smoked quartz beads, pink diamond-shaped beads, faux pearl beneath gold-colored mesh beads. (Note, for my mother, as I've not had a chance to read the book yet.)



Hematite from Jasper ring (bought in Japan.) Jade beads. Possible starstone bits (purple-black with silver fleck) and white stone bits. (Unsure of what they are, as they were reclaimed materials.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Loligoth as an Everyday Style?

I received a comment, then an email, from Jilly Dreadful over on wordpress. It was regarding a Loligoth post I'd done earlier this year that prompted her to do her own post pondering whether loligoth could ever transcend from costume to fashion.

This, of course, reminds me that I've not written a loligoth appreciation post in some time.

Perhaps, I thought, this is because I haven't been working on TALE. Incorrect! It's arguable that FRAGMENTS has more loligoth influence than TALE. Well, more noticeable, as no one is really certain what Shiro wears. (Besides a lot of white and those goggles.) My point being that I have another two fashionable characters in FRAGMENTS who enjoy or are influenced by the loligoth or various alternative fashions. Odd considering that I dress relatively not loligoth at all.

I'll borrow a point or two from Jilly's post, as I think she touches on exactly the reason why to me loligoth isn't an everyday style. I look at the clothing and it strikes me as something to dress-up in—not as a costume, but as obviously "event" clothing. Meaning that it's more formal by its delicacy and lace and elaborate details. In everyday clothing I need functionality. I need to be able to sit in it, I need it to be comfortable, and above all I need it to compliment my body type.

See, I'm petite. If you have a look at my blogger profile picture, I believe that's one of the "children's" kimono that I'm wearing. If it isn't, I can assure you that I was definitely shown the girl-sized ones by the wonderful dressers. I tend to be mistaken, even when not in Japan, for being younger than I am. (Which I love!) So add frills and lace and innocence-accentuating clothing like the loligoth style, and the illusion of youth is compounded. Not only that, most of the truly decadent dresses have so much detail that it overwhelms the smaller form and becomes too much visual interest. After all, as a good designer knows, if it all appears to be the focus—nothing will be the focus.

Beyond that, as I said over in Jilly's comments, we in North America do not worship The Cute. We aren't a kawaii culture, we're a culture of sex appeal. We want our children to grow up fast, and then complain when they do.

I'm not going to say that loligoth can't transcend the costume element or that it won't become a mainstream style, because ten years ago I argued with people that gee, it'd be great if it happened, but manga was never going to be mainstream in the US. That little niche market sure showed me, and quite frankly I'm happy to know that I don't have to pay $25 for a book of flipped art anymore and can now get a right-to-left all English edition for about $10-15. Thus, in 10 years, who knows...we may see loligoth as being on its way to mainstream—probably because now its has the English G&L Bible to bring it into the cultural marketplace. It'll take 5–10 years, I think, for the people who "grew up" with loligoth to get into positions of producing on a mass-market level. Right now, it's still very much a cottage industry/boutique presence via the internet.

I don't think, however, either manga or loligoth will grow based on only being imitation. We will need to eventually define it within our own cultural parameters, and so far we're resisting. (See the oddly disparagingly view a lot of US readers have for OEL manga.) You have to understand, this is what Japan does so well—take something, make it Japanese, and create this discourse that the original creators then want to recontribute to.

Loligoth is a cycling of fashion's cultural references. It can only grow and sustain if we keep adding to it. Otherwise it becomes stale, and mainstream fashion has a notoriously short shelf life.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The one good idea

At some point or another, I think we've all succumbed to the terror of The One Good Idea. It's the doubt that comes crawling in, gets real close behind you, and whispers so that you think it's your own voice what if this is the only decent idea I ever have? Its twin is, of course, what if I'm not good enough to write this yet?

The One Good Idea occasionally is a problem for me, because I don't tend to ration creativity. I give whatever I've got into whatever I'm doing, the exception being when the chariot was pulled in opposite directions by the two wild horses of The Tarot Cafe: The Novel and FRAGMENTS. Even then whatever I was working on at the time had my attention. Leading to this worry of giving it all now somehow meant that in the future, there wouldn't be anything left.

Crazy, I know.

I would tell myself "oh, there is no one good idea, there's just the best idea at the time." Ideas would always be there, they'd always come, but as I sent off FRAGMENTS to Miriam and poked at the short stories, I found myself wondering what to write next. Second book of the unsold adult series? Second book of the not-even-read-by-my-agent-yet YA series? Or *gasp* something else? Something new. Something different. Unexplored territory, which required an idea that I did not have.

Where do ideas come from? Oh, so many ways to answer the question. They come from Doctor Who and High School Musical and looking at old photos and talking to people and reading cbc.ca's regional headlines. They come from lore and stories and myths and religion. They come from people and places and memories. From movies and blogs and songs and comics and other books that get you thinking.

Mostly, they come quietly like twilight. You see the pinkening sky and grow conscious of the darkening edge of the opposite horizon. Shadows lengthen when you weren't paying attention. Suddenly, it's night. The stars are out, and that presence is there with his glimmering eyes. Flash of white teeth as he grins and says oh my lovely, have I got a tale for you....

He's a tease, that muse of mine—who I often deny the existence of—he likes to leave an image, a longing, a single gem to build a whole world around. Something old, something new, something a little borrowed, and... Paris.

Vivre le livre, he says.

I hear. I obey.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I was not at the RWA Slumber Party this weekend. Let's just leave it at that. The whole reason I bring up the RWA Slumber Party is to mention... Wicked Lovely won the RITA for the YA category!

The YA manuscript needs some work, I think, but it's at the stage where the input that comes from critique partners and Miriam will guide me by asking the questions so I can find the right way to answer them. I also feel that this is the time for Miriam to express her opinion as things aren't so clean-cut for this manuscript. It's not a dependency on Miriam to "write things for me," but a need for a professional with a better grasp of the current standards to read with a fresh pair of eyes.

That's why I wanted an agent. It's why I need an editor, and it's why I decided vanity press was not the correct path for me. I require the third-party feedback. I need someone to come in and pull me back when I'm getting my prose tangled in the abstract ether (thank you, Jenna) or being unnecessarily obtuse or not getting the right tone of voice for the character's stated age.

I remind myself time and again when the critiques come that the people I work with I choose to work with because I trust them to kick my ass when it needs kicking and I know they have my back. They want to make what I've written go from good to great to the best it can be at this point. Yes, we read the revisions notes and there's a struggle to put the ego down, but the difference between a good writer and a bad one is someone who can learn from constructive criticism.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hello, Alberta.

It has been a year, perhaps a centimeter or past.

I feel changed. You remain windy.