Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Novels take a lot of organization!

I'm amazed (though I shouldn't be surprised) at how organized I have to be in order to write my novel.  I have a ton of word documents that I'm using to keep all the details straight.  One if for characters and EVERY time I throw in a new character, even somebody who gets one line in passing, gets their name and a brief description written down so I can remember who they were, if necessary.  Major characters, of course, get all sorts of details written about them.  There's also a list of the names of places, ships, buildings, etc.  I also have a Timeline document, complete with a mini calendar of the year this story takes place and notes of what days (and in some cases, at what time) each major event happens so I can find it again and don't contradict myself.  Then, of course, there's a large list of details that I still need to decide on.  For example, I haven't named the main spaceship yet because I want to put some major thought into what it will be, but I didn't want to avoid writing the story until I made that decision, so I simply write SHIP each time its name would appear.  SHIP appears in my master list of things I need to decide on, and I'll be able to do a global search and replace once I have a real name.  The list of items like this is quite long already.  I have another to-do list of small snippets, fractions of scenes, or other details that I've decided need to be inserted somewhere.  Each of these lists are in various stages of completion.  I also have a list of chapters with the POV character of each and the word count.  With stories, they're usually small enough that I don't have to worry about getting confused about what I previously wrote, so I've never needed to do all this before.  It's a new experience, but fortunately I'm capable of being extremely organized, so I'm able to keep up.  So long as I don't allow a new organizational project to distract me for actually writing something.

p.s.  Day 83 and counting of not taking a day off!

Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo ain't gonna happen

Nope, I'm nowhere near close enough to pull this off.  I'm just around 21,000 words now, and with only five days left, I'd need over 6,000 words per day in order to reach the coveted 50,000.  Not a chance.

But that's okay.  When I first heard of the program several years ago, my response was a resounding "why would I do that, when anything that rushed will come out as crap?"  Well, I decided I was going to do it back in May because in all my years of writing I haven't written a novel yet.  I figured this was a good way to give myself the necessary kick in the pants, plus there's the extensive support network online (though I'm not much into message boards.)  However, it turned out to be unnecessary since I've been working on my first novel since the end of July, and I've been writing daily since early September.  I didn't need the kick in the pants after all.

I have been writing daily all month, and I had a few really productive days.  2,200 words in a day is definitely my personal best--at least as far as I've kept track of (I never counted daily words while working on stories, or years ago when I was in school.)  I would venture to say that I am capable of writing that many words in a day, and that they aren't necessarily crap.  However, it's not a pace I can keep up regularly.  Like I frequently do, I hit a plateau where I only wrote 200-400 words each day, which lasted for more than 10 days.  I remained productive during this time, but only marginally so.

Mostly, NaNoWriMo has taught me about myself.  With a toddler, the exhaustion of pregnancy, and all the usual (and unusual) distractions that life throws at me, 1,700 words every day is just not realistic for me.  Most days I just can't spend that much time writing.  Some days I want to and get frustrated that there isn't enough time, and other days I just don't want to.  And that's okay too, because my best writing comes when I want to be doing it.  I also found that the pressure of trying to keep up a high word count detracted from my mood during the rest of the day as well.  I had some really frustrating days at the beginning of the month, and I decided that this wasn't worth the stress on me and my family life.

But as I said, the purpose it was supposed to serve became unnecessary before I even started.  My novel itself is now over 64,000 words, and I'd say I have at least another 20-30,000 more to go.  Possibly more, since the only "outline" is in my head.  I'm pleased with my progress, and with the book itself.  I don't need a competition to write it--just the desire to tell a good tale.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pandora's Time Sale!!!!

Almost exactly six months after my first sale, I have made another one!

Pandora's Time will appear in the anthology A Glitch in the Continuum!  This is from the Library of Science Fiction and Fantasy Press, which is the same press that is publishing Doomology, where I made my first sale.

I'm really happy with this one.  This was only the third market I sent it to!  I've never placed anything this quickly before (although I can't say much in that regard since this is only my second sale.)  But to boost my ego even further, when I looked around the forums over at Library of the Living Dead, I saw that the editor is still reading a few of the submissions.  However, he decided to send out some acceptances that were in his "yes, definitely" pile--so he wanted mine straight off, he didn't even have to wait in case something better came along!  Yes, it's true, I'm flying high right now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blame it on Pregnancy Brain

I have to blame it on Pregnancy Brain.  It's made me scatterbrained.  It's the only viable excuse that I have.  I've shared this story with my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and some friends, and everybody has laughed uproariously, so I hope that you, too, can get a kick out of my misfortune.

I've missed my son's 2-year doctor appointment.


The first was an early appointment on a Monday morning, and Mondays are days when I can typically sleep a little later.  In fact, I slept a lot later on this particular Monday, because my son slept late, affording me some extra zzz's.  In addition, I didn't think about--or prepare for--the appointment before going to bed on Sunday.  I woke up on Monday and had just enough time to smile at the fact that my son had led me sleep in before I realized that the appointment was in 20 minutes.  Neither of us was dressed, neither of us had eaten, not to mention that we still would have to get in the car and drive there.  I ran out to check the calendar in case I was wrong--I wasn't--and then called the pediatrician, apologizing and asking what we should do.  They set us up with a new appointment that Thursday in the early afternoon.

This particular Thursday was a beautiful day and we went to our swim lesson and then came home and played with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.  We had a very leisurely morning... and afternoon... enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and not worrying about any obligations.  Then we had lunch, after which we cleaned up the house and I started getting my son ready for bed.

The phone rang while I was getting him ready and I went over to check the caller ID.  It said "Pediatrician" and I just had a brief moment to wonder why they were giving me a second appointment reminder call when I realized that it had been due to start nearly two hours prior.

I threw my hands in the air and started cursing at myself for having missed it.  There was no good excuse this time, after all.  We'd been doing nothing but playing, and could've made it on time even if I'd only remembered 15 minutes beforehand.  I collapsed on the floor, still cursing at myself while my perplexed son watched.

At that point something else clicked in my head.  The phone had only rung 2 times.  It rings 4 times before the answering machine picks up, but it had stopped.  Had they hung up?  I got up and looked at the base and got another shock.  Apparently, when I'd thrown my hands in the air, I'd knocked over an empty bottle that had been sitting by the phone, which landed on, you guessed it, the speakerphone button.

Argh!  The employee from the pediatrician's office who called to tell us we'd missed an appointment got to hear me cuss at myself--in front of my son, though there was no way for them to know that.  I quickly said "Oh Sh**, I answered the phone.  Hello?" and got an answering click.

Well, I got my son to bed and waited for my husband to call home on his break before contacting them again, because I wanted somebody to vent to before having to admit my folly to those at the office.  When I spoke to them (they actually called again before I had a chance to call them) they set me up for a third appointment, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning.  Hopefully I won't miss this one.  It would be pretty hard to.  I'm remembering it as I type this, at any rate, and my mom said she'd call me tonight with a reminder.  I expect hubby will be helping me to remember as well.

I asked the woman who called the second time whether she was the person who had called earlier.  She said she wasn't, and I asked her to pass on my apologies, and told her what happened.  She sounded a little awkward, making me think she probably had called earlier but felt weird about it.  She asked whether I was okay and I told her I was fine, just apparently scatterbrained.

So that's my embarrassing, and apparently amusing, story.  I hope you get a few laughs out of it.  I'm still a bit irked at myself for my failure to remember, but this shall pass.

Friday, November 5, 2010

All Clear

Back on October 19, I went to the Tattered Cover for the release of Connie Willis' latest book, All Clear.
This is the second part of her novel Blackout, which was released back in February and which I blogged about here.

I've been very behind on reading this year, and so I only started reading Blackout last month, but I devoured it.  I was about 2/3 of the way through it when I went to Connie's signing, and I've since finished it and am about 1/3 of the way through All Clear.  As always, I love the way Connie phrases things, and she has an excellent way of weaving her stories together, making the reader want more.  I do recommend these books (we'll see if that remains the same after I finish this one!) but don't expect happiness.  They are about World War II, after all.

I had to compliment Connie when she signed my book because I don't think I've ever had anyone bring the Blitz to life for me before.  Academically, I knew what it was, but most history lessons I remember about WWII tended to focus on the holocaust or Pearl Harbor--movies too.  I'd never before internalized the hell that Londoners went through with bombs dropping on their heads every night--which just goes to show how much of an impact fiction can have on a person.

During her talk, Connie mostly concentrated on how frequently history balances on a knife's edge, and what little things can push it over.  For example (please bear in mind that I'm paraphrasing), Hitler's plan to invade England involved first an air war, where he was systematically taking out Royal Air Force (RAF) targets.  After taking out the RAF, he believed he would be able to march into London unopposed.  It had worked in other countries, after all.  He'd instructed his pilots to jettison their bombs in the English Channel if they were unable to find their targets.  Well, one night, two Luftwaffe pilots got lost in the London fog.  They couldn't find their targets, so they jettisoned their bombs over what they thought was the English Channel.  It wasn't the English Channel though--they hit a civilian target:  a church, and a few civilians died.  Well, Churchill had said that if Hitler ever attacked civilians, he would retailiate, so he attacked Berlin.  The attack so enraged Hitler that he called off attacking RAF targets and began the Blitz:  the regular bombing of London.  While this was horrific for Londoners, it probably worked in favor of England and the Allies.  Historians have estimated that the RAF had no more than two weeks left before they would have been completely wiped out had Hitler continued his original plan.  With Hitler changing his targets, they had time to regroup, rebuild, and keep fighting him off--and all because two pilots got lost in the fog.  So you never know when a decision--or a mistake--will change the course of history.  Kinda fun to look at from a time travel standpoint.

The release was fun from a social standpoint as well, as I met an old friend there.  Waiting in line to get our books signed was the perfect time to catch up.  It made for a nice evening.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Stat Check

During the month of October, I wrote on all 31 days!!!!!!!!!!  In fact, I'm at 56 straight days now!

I wrote 22,000 words (about 9 chapters) for my novel
I made 2 submissions
I received 3 rejections
I declared that one market either lost or never responded to my submission, after four months of waiting and 8 days after my query went unanswered
I have 7 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I took between 1 and 6 days to resubmit a story after a rejection
I made 9 blog posts
I took no days off
It felt good to write everyday, even though there were a few days that were hard to do (most notably right before my son's birthday.)  I haven't been very present online this month, but that just goes to show that I can't be everywhere at once.  Overall, I'm very happy with this month.  I like looking at my calendar and seeing little Ws in the corner of each day indicating that I produced something.  I don't really want to turn the page!

My goals for November are to attempt to reach 50,000 words by month's end.  I don't know whether I'll make it, though I do know it's possible.  I also have a goal to enforce my own bedtime.  I've been exhausted lately, no doubt due to the pregnancy, and even 8 hours don't seem to be enough.  On top of that, I often deprive myself of sleep, but I'm hoping to enact some small smidgen of self-control and get to bed on time, so as to have the energy to stay awake and write when I need to.  There are several things I'd like to catch up on as well, though I don't know whether any of that will happen.  We'll see how my time-management skills work for the next month.