aamcnamara: (Default)
Kaleidoscope released today, and there is great excitement--rounded up at the Kaleidoscope website! They also have links to many places where it can be purchased: Indiebound, B&N, Amazon...you name it.

For my own part, I can say that I read through the anthology after I received my contributor's copy at Readercon, and enjoyed all the stories. It's a scattered anthology, not solidifying around theme or plot or a particular element, but that's what a kaleidoscope does best. Kaleidoscopes are toys, and I hope that Kaleidoscope does what the best toys do--helps people think about the world in new and different ways.
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I am excited to announce that my story "The Day the God Died" will be appearing in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories!

The full table of contents (and cover!) can be found here. It is stuffed chock-full of absolutely wonderful writers whose stories I am so looking forward to reading--if you haven't already, you should check it out.

("Day the God Died" is the first story I wrote after attending Viable Paradise in 2011. I don't think you can tell, mind, because one of the things I hoped to learn from VP was how to make plots and this story has very little in the way of plot. Let's just say it's a case of knowing the rules so you can break them.)

I am extremely happy for my story to be a part of this anthology and, even more than that, for this anthology to exist. It's going to be amazing.
aamcnamara: (Default)
I finally have a desk to work at. (Background: my desk does not fit through the doorway between the rooms of our in-dorm apartment. There is not room for a desk plus a chair in the bedroom. I found this slightly unhelpful.) It only took a month--and contacting Facilities Management twice--and contacting Res Life twice--and a few misunderstandings--for, finally, an email the other day saying, "Facilities says they can send some guys over tomorrow or Friday, but they want you to be around. When will you be in your room?"

...I told my boss I couldn't work this afternoon. If someone was actually going to show up and do something after an entire month of the runaround, by God I was going to be there. Waiting. Watching the door like a cat watches a mousehole. With bells on, if necessary.

And they did show up! Like always when you contact the professionals, they tried a bunch of things that my friends and I tried--take it through! tip it sideways and take it through! tilt the legs through the doorway first! They actually took the door off its hinges, which we had only thought about, but it didn't help much. They took the drawers out of the desk. They unscrewed the feet from the desk and tried tipping it sideways again, but no dice. Finally, what worked was tipping it up entirely on its end and tilting it juuust enough to get the (too-wide) desktop out the door so that the (just narrow enough) rest of the desk could follow.

(To the amusement and eventual amazement of me and my friend M, who were watching and talking about Criminal Minds and particle physics knock-knock jokes.)

So I have a desk now! It has my first-year plant and a nice lamp and my picture of Mount Holyoke before the big turn-of-the-20th-century fire; and I can sit at it on a real chair with my laptop on a flat thing and brainstorm ideas for my thesis and revise grad school essays and and I have a desk you guys.

Of course what I am using it for right now is writing blog posts but that's not the point okay?

All my academic things are done before fall break (which is going to be fun and hopefully I will also get things done, at least sort of) but aaa, extra things, I have so many of them. Preparing a presentation about my research for next week and the aforementioned grad school essays and also Hamlet rehearsal. Fortunately Rosencrantz and Guildenstern don't have very many lines. (In writing news, there is no writing news, but I am getting to the point where I feel like my head will explode if I don't write something fictional. We'll see what happens with that over break.)
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Revised "The Densities of Hearts" and sent it out. That makes six stories out to markets right now, which is a personal record.

Also a personal record: I have already made more submissions in 2012 than I have in any other year. (Just in short stories, not counting the 26 queries I've sent out on A Returning Power.) I guess...maybe I have actually done some things this year? Weird.

In other doing-things news, I have found housing in London and copied a bunch of pages out of the new edition of the Conway Letters and fought with a microfilm machine (the microfilm machine won) and attempted to read 17th-century invoices. The operative word in that last clause being "attempted". (The 17th-century invoices won, too.) My advisor thought I should practice reading seventeenth-century handwriting, and he was right.

This weekend is WisCon! I am on one panel:
Are Children People? Sun, 8:30–9:45 am Capitol A
Benjamin Billman (M), Tuppence, Alena McNamara, Jack Shoegazer, S. Brackett Robertson, Kate O'Brien Wooddell
Are children an oppressed group? Certainly our justifications for treating children as we do (deciding for them, speaking for them, requiring compliance) sound familiar: Their biological differences from us make them incapable of self-determination; we must coerce them for their own good. A few SF futures imagine children commonly emancipated (Triton); more often, groups of exceptional children rebel (Slan, Beggars in Spain); and of course the single exceptional child who escapes adult control is a trope—glorified (Matilda, Ender, Lyra)—or terrifying ("It's a Good Life"). SF has an uneasy relationship with children's liberation. Are we ready for children's liberation? And what would it look like?

At times when I am not on a panel, I will go to lots of other panels, hang around in the hallways chatting, go to the Tiptree Auction (but not actually bid on anything, based on previous evidence), try not to buy the whole dealer's room, dance at the Genderfloomp party, etc.

Two weeks from now, I'll be in England. What...is this life? (I don't know.)

LONDON

Apr. 2nd, 2012 04:51 pm
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I get to go to London this summer! For five weeks! And do research in the British Library and go to the theater and the Pride parade and try not to get trampled by the Olympics and and and everything.

Whiiiich is all to say, they emailed me today and told me I have funding.

This almost but not entirely makes up for the four-day farce that me trying refill my asthma medication has become. And I mean that will probably resolve in the next day or so, whereas I am GOING TO BE IN LONDON THIS SUMMER.

...despite all my capslocking and exclamation points I'm not sure it has sunk fully in yet. Um. But. London. A different continent. Adventures. Research. Amazingness. What. Cannot even.
aamcnamara: (Default)
...I am going to Viable Paradise XV in October!

Awesome instructors! Awesome classmates! Place I have not been before, which will probably be awesome too! (Aaand they will be critiquing the first two chapters of A Returning Power. I swear, that thing has come so far from Draft Zero or whatever I am currently calling the first time I wrote it. It is neat to see projects progress like that.)

As far as I can tell, that'll be my fall break plus a few days after it, which, well, no one does anything those days anyway, right? And I can let my professors know ahead of time.

Very excited, but-and tired from my week (I thought for a moment this afternoon that a random guy on the street was wearing cleanroom booties, but no, those were just sneakers, get your head out of the materials science lab, Alena), so I will celebrate later. But! Yay!
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cut for picture )

It's a good thing I don't have any classes assigning essays to be written or long readings to be printed out this semester; there's my printing quota gone...

...next time I'll probably do it eight-point font one-and-a-half spacing double-sided, in the name of Saving Paper. But I felt, mulishly, like I ought to print this one out full size; so I did. It's sitting on my bookshelf now, a physical object in this world. Even if I have no time to think about revising it--which I don't, right now, but we'll see about over fall break--it's comforting to have it there.

(Hey. Hey look. I made this.)
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345 / 345


It seems improbable, no less because I thought the novel would be slightly longer. Five pages off on my estimate from the beginning of the summer isn't too bad, although I keep feeling vaguely guilty for some reason that I didn't write those five other pages (which would be wholly unnecessary, and I don't even know what they would be).

At any rate... it feels unreal. Not like I actually just finished a novel. But I have a first draft, and I have officially Closed The Files until I get to school and can print a draft and start ignoring it in person.

So. Um. What'm I supposed to do now?
aamcnamara: (Default)
Via Gchat:
alena.mcnamara: *maybe just really wants a Big Climactic Magic Duel*
alena.mcnamara: ...is that so wrong?
alise.adae: naw.

I may have a plot for the novel from last summer, by way of discussing thematic elements partially with [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and partially by rambling on at myself (and [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae) about possible events. At least, it needs fleshing out in several directions, but I have a direction and a general outline and some events and why each of them happens.

I am, per last post, uncertain whether I intend to submit this as a YA-YA novel to Medallion. We'll see where I am in two weeks, I guess. It would be neat to be published, also to get money for something I had written, however I have little interest in being anyone's Token Teenager. So. (edit: Input would be welcome? I waver on this choice.)

(And I still need a more specific outline. And some work on the setting. And figuring out the precise details of this secondary character's backstory... but plot is progress.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Secret awesome thing about SF/F cons: sometimes they jar something just slightly loose in your head, and it clicks into something else, and then it basically does the mental equivalent of assembling a Jenga tower from disparate pieces.

Which is what happened in the "Fantasy and Progress" panel on Saturday. I had to go and lurk outside the hotel in the bushes for half the next panel, trying simultaneously to not choke on cigarette smoke and to scribble furious notes.

What I got: not a short story. Something better, in some ways: a much clearer sense of the end of this novel. How a lot of these pieces leap up and fit them together, or rather how I have been fitting them together, leaving them dangling in midair sometimes just waiting for another piece to be slid in underneath them.

Technically, I had a lot of the bits floating around in my head before that, but that was the point where it all cohered.

Also, I got the situation/setup for a sequel, should I wish to write one. Unfortunately, that would probably be the interesting one. I don't think I'll get lured away from this one--mostly because I'd need so very many things from the end of this novel to really properly set up said sequel.

From yesterday (to 222) and today (the rest):

230 / 350


My plan with the rest of this draft is to write as much as possible before the end of the month, and then finish it in July. My other plan for July is to start tearing apart the novel I wrote last summer, in hopes that I can defeat my fear of Big Scary Novel Revisions and actually start thinking about how to change/fix it.

(Edited, to mention: I achieved a longtime dream of decadence today. There's one piece in the Walker sculpture garden that looks like they chopped up a lovely bit of fairytale medieval-fantasy castle with oodles of windows and set it at angles to itself, and I've always thought it would be a fine idea to sit in one of these window-sills in the sunlight and eat lunch. And lo, today I did just that, mostly on accident--I was on the bus going past on my way home, and it was lunchtime, and I thought "oh!".

(Achieving such dreams of decadence, I think, isn't quite the same if you deliberately set out to do them.)
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173 / 350


This? Is halfway.

I might write more this evening, but for now: halfway.

(I had to take out a page or so that was The Wrong Page. All the deleted scenes go into a file--just in case--and every time I throw something out, scrolling through the file gives me a bunch of "yep, that's not the novel I'm writing" "yeah, not that either" moments.)

It feels good to know that instant when the novel turns--that's another thing that I don't think has happened before for me. I have this delicious sense that in a way it will feel like a ball rolling downhill from here on out. Which is nice, except for the part where I know that actually writing the other half of the novel will be much harder than that. So we'll see how that works out for me.

In any case, I have half a novel. That's worth something, I think.
aamcnamara: (alena)
I have been keeping daily lists like this recently. Somehow it has taken me quite a while to realize that I am allowed to post them on LJ. At any rate, just writing them down makes me happy, because I remember all the good things about right now. And the bad things, but that list always seems to be very short.

Things that make me happy right now:
- Today was one of those really excellent winter days--you know, the ones where it's clear and sunny and beautiful when you look outside, and you step out of the dorm and it's freezing, frigidly cold, and it makes you unutterably happy just to be alive and in this world.
- My dad sent me a care package of homemade cookies for finals. (My dad rocks.) He doesn't tell me when he's sending them, really; I just get an email from auxiliary services telling me I have a package to pick up, and I go over, and there's a package with my dad's handwriting on it. And then I open it up, and there are cookies.
- Finally having wishlists for all of my family members.
- Organizing hanging-out with various friends for over break.
- Other things about which I will remain quiet but pleased.

Things that do not make me happy right now:
- Actually having to study for finals.
- The cold air that keeps wandering through the window to say hi.
- The realization that my first-year plant will probably die over winter break, as it got pretty dried out just over Thanksgiving. (It is a papyrus plant, which wants a lot of water, and I don't have a very large bowl to stand it in.)

Now maybe I will make myself some tea, and see how this Hume guy looks from there.
aamcnamara: (alena)
So it turns out that sometimes it's good to take a couple of days off writing.

Last week I was all "okay, finished my novel, now I've gotta work on other stuff. Short stories. New novel." Which is good, to try to start other projects, but none of them were quite where I wanted them to be and none of them were quite working out. So my enthusiasm for that sort of trickled away. This weekend there were a couple of days where I didn't put any new fiction words on the page at all.

Instead, I wrote meta-writing posts. I taught myself the basics of Javascript, and tried to figure out how to do what I wanted to do with it. (Turns out it won't work, at least with my current skill level.) I lazed around. I read other people's fiction. I watched TV. I did nothing on the Internet. I checked my college's website dozens of times just to make sure they hadn't put up our room assignments yet. (They haven't.)

This morning I was thinking about a couple of story elements that had come up in my mind, how I could combine them, and remembered a story-nugget idea I'd had over Fourth of July weekend. I started to think through it again, but it seemed pretty straightforward. Without actually typing, I went through how the story would begin. I got to a certain point, and I had one of those "Oh." moments. Like, of course this is what the story's really about.

So I have a working title and 900 words of a short story, as well as a playlist for the story. (I do playlists for almost all my stories now. The making of it helps me figure out what kind of story it is, and playing it while I'm writing helps me stay on task.)

And now I think I am going to go out and ride my bike around for a while. Then maybe I will make myself useful and do some slush.
aamcnamara: (dance)
80484 / 80000


I believe the technical term is OH MAN DRAFT YAY YAY YAY.

(The last line is bad. But I can fix that. I can fix all of it! I can fix anything!)
aamcnamara: (Default)
65039 / 80000


I like this milestone better than 60k. For this reason: I started July with 50k and fully intend to finish the 80k first draft of the novel by the end of it.

As of today, and 65k, I am halfway done with my goal for the month. Two days early.

(Which is with skipping three days to go out of town over the 4th of July, plus not writing yesterday for a variety of reasons which seemed excellent at the time. Like the Last Ever Grad Party I have to go to--this year, anyway--and going to see a play, and mounds of blueberry pancakes.)

For today? I am going to eat some cookies, maybe read part of a book, and hang out with [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae.

(You know, when I come up with a title for this thing I will have to go back through all these entries and retroactively tag them with it. Because right now "everyone has a novel" is the catchall tag, but there will be other novels. Unfortunately, I am the sort of writer who can't come up with a title until there's at least a draft, sometimes several.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
This morning's goal was "write a draft of that play I keep talking about", which actually happened. Eleven pages in my not-a-script-format script style--if I put it into true script format, it'd probably reach eighteen or something, but I'm too lazy to do that right now. Especially for a rough draft.

It was good work, if only to get an idea of how the story goes. It was also good to just sit down with my computer and type out a story. I think the style change--fiction to play--helped me detach from my expectations of "this must be the best! story! ever!" and just do the work. Not that I want to start writing scripts all the time, now, but it was a useful exercise.

And then, of course, when I went online to post a happy little "I finished a draft!" note, I found out that Shadow Unit 2x01 had been uploaded. Since I have been waiting for that for months, I of course had to go and read it right away.

Which means that at about 12:30 I finished reading "Lucky Day" and fell over from catharsis/emotional identification overload. So I went and ate a languid lunch, read some headlines from The Onion, and now am typing a LJ post. If possible, I will not do any more reading or writing today, of any sort more creative than changing the format of the citations in my history paper.

But I have a draft of a play, which is one more draft than I had when I woke up today, and I got to read Shadow Unit, and today is a beautiful day.

As for the YA SF stuff--thanks, everyone, for the responses; I've already picked up a couple of books from those comments. Soon, though not today, I will read them, and keep trying to write that story I was talking about.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Breaking radio silence (because of Way Too Much To Do and Way Too Little To Talk About) to celebrate.

I entered the Writers of the Future contest this summer while at Odyssey, with a story written and, with the help of my classmates, revised there. It was the first time I'd entered.

And guess what? I got an honorable mention!

http://wotfblog.galaxypress.com/2008/09/final-honorable-mentions-for-3rd.html

Okay, so it's not finalist, and it's not semi-finalist, but there is time, there is time. For right now, I'm pretty pleased with my result.

Maybe this will give me the needed momentum to start revising, writing, and submitting stories. School provides a much-too-easy excuse to me--oh, I couldn't possibly do that, I've got homework! I've got extracurriculars, and college applications!

On the one hand, yes, those are still important. But I do want to keep writing.

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