Don’t leave me, summer!

One more week of freedom before my fall semester starts. My brain is finally emerging from its state of denial over that fact. But, to look on the shiny side of the crazy busyness that fall will bring, this will be my final year of grad school. Two more semesters and I’m done, baby!

This summer was strong with the shiny side of the Force, so I’m going to miss it. Two stories that I had lots of fun writing (“The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen” and “Memories of Mirrored Worlds”) were published. There was traveling awesomeness—France in July, several jaunts to the shore in August. When not gallivanting about on vacation, I took full advantage of my summer break from school and choir rehearsals to tackle lots of personal projects I had put off during the school year.

And there was writing time. Lots and lots of glorious writing time.

I went into this summer with a writing goal: there were several short stories I wanted to get revised and sent out, and once I did that, I could finally go back to the long-neglected novel revisions I’ve kept threatening to one day resume. It is with a proud wielding of the productivity stick that I declare that goal met. The short stories in question have all been prettied up and submitted, and last week, I blew the dust off the novel revisions.

And to add to the summer shininess, I can announce another sale! NewMyths.com (who previously published my story “The Cycle of the Sun”) has accepted “The Perfect Instrument” for their March 2014 issue. “The Perfect Instrument” had originally sold to an anthology, but the project fell through before publication, so I’m happy the story has managed to find a new home.

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The Semester That Ate My Blogging Time

So, um, you may not remember me, but I used to blog here. I know it’s hard to tell, what with the eerie silence and the dust and all. In fact, the dust bunnies have grown large enough to feast upon small mammals. And that huge one lurking over in the corner? He’s got that “Why, hello there, lunch” look in his eyes.

But seriously, I need to stop pretending that I’m going to have the time and mental reserves necessary to maintain any kind of blogging routine when grad school’s in full gear. So come fall, blog silence will probably resume. But in the meantime, summer break, baby! And only two more semesters left before I’m all masters-degree-ified!

So what’s been going on during the two-plus months I haven’t been blogging? Let me explain … no, there is too much. Let me sum up:

* School. Ridiculous workload. Fried brain.

* Awesomesauce story sale! Beneath Ceaseless Skies bought “The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen,” a story inspired by the Norwegian town Longyearbyen, where you’re not allowed to die. A story I absolutely adored writing + one of my favorite short fiction publications = squee!

* Lots of singing and piano. Even my clarinet got the dust blown off it a couple times.

* My writerly pal Krista Magrowski invited me to do a talk on “Turning Ideas Into Stories and Other Tales from Publishing” for the South Jersey Writers’ Group last month, which was a lot of fun and involved much discussion of bunny wrangling.

* Day job. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I’ve been doing a fellowship in an orchestra library, which has been (and continues to be) a great experience.

What hasn’t been going on these last couple months, unfortunately, is fiction writing. I cranked out a bunch of flash pieces right before the start of the semester, but so far I’ve only been able to get one of them cleaned up and flung out into the submission void. But now that I’m done with school until the fall, fiction shall be accomplished!

“Ghost Writer to the Dead” & Happy Shiny Writing Time

As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve kind of disappeared from the blogosphere again. My fall semester began last month, and it has been kicking my ass workload-wise. But on the bright side, two shiny writerly things:

1) First, pimpage: my story “Ghost Writer to the Dead” is now out in the October 2012 issue of Penumbra! It’s the first anniversary for Penumbra and its publisher, Musa Publishing, so what better way to wish them a happy one than to consider buying an issue or subscription.

2) Because I kind of sucked about balancing writing and school last year, I promised myself this year that my train ride to and from work would be dedicated to fiction writing, no matter what. One month into the semester, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve stuck to that. It’s not much writing time, but it’s something, which is far more than I managed before.

Hey, I have a blog! And time to post something on it!

*finally resurfaces from the Sea Of Too Much Else To Do*

I finished with my second semester of grad school about a week and a half ago (and totally rocked it, by the way), which means I get to be a writer again! And read things that aren’t for class! Wheeeee! And now that I’ve caught up on some other pesky real life things, it looks like I should actually have time for that whole blogging thing again too.

So, the state of writerly me: Before the semester started, I was pretty darn productive on the writing front–one novelette revised and sent out the door, one flash story written and sent out the door, and three flash/short story drafts written. Then the schoolwork tsunami struck, along with a new routine to get used to in February when I started a part-time fellowship in an orchestra library (which has been awesome), so there was a while there where I didn’t feel like much of a writer (an assessment my writerly success ratio seems to agree with lately). But now that I don’t have any grad school-related work to worry about until the fall, I get to reacquaint myself with the world of reading and writing fiction–something I look forward to with huge heaps of geekish joy.

Adventures of a Fiction-Writing MLIS Student: Semester 1

My first semester working toward my masters in library and information science is over, and I feel confident in saying that I totally rocked it. I was pleased to discover that, twelve years after finishing my undergraduate degree, I haven’t lost my Nerd-Fu.

On the downside, first semester craziness combined with Ye Olde Day Job seriously cut into my fiction writing time. I did, however, find my fiction writing life creeping into my grad school life in fun little ways.

How do I love Scrivener? Let me count the ways . . .

I bought Scrivener several years ago for novel writing. When putting together a lecture for TNEO one summer, I discovered that Scrivener was also great for collecting and organizing research for that. So when it came time this semester to turns lots of research into a presentation for a group project in my Human Information Behavior class, Scrivener once again became a handy tool. And then came my final paper for that same class. In addition to using Scrivener for organizing my research and turning it into a paper, I discovered that Scrivener had an APA style template. From my undergrad days, I was used to writing papers in MLA format, but the MLIS program requires APA format, which was new to me. Scrivener saved me huge amounts of “how exactly am I supposed to format this again?” time on the APA learning curve.

It’s just like a short story, only it’s mostly plot with very little setting and character development . . .

At first, I was a little apprehensive when faced with the prospect of writing a 15-page research paper for the first time in over a decade. But then I thought, “Hmm, 15 double-spaced pages in 12 point Times New Roman font with an inch margin all around–that’s roughly the equivalent of a 4,600 word short story for which I’ve done lots of background research. Piece of cake!” On the downside, years of focusing on the style and rhythm of my prose made the paper revision process go a little slower than it might have otherwise. Without the fiction writing experience, I probably wouldn’t give a damn about using the same sentence construction twice in a row in a research paper.

This one time, at writing camp . . .

Human Information Behavior, where we studied how people search for and process information in a broad number of contexts, was a fascinating course. Several times I found myself drawing on writing-related experiences as an example of information-seeking behaviors and how library and information science professionals interact with users in their search process. One example was the judgmental you-frighten-me look I got while checking out a book called On Killing for research purposes and how that kind of attitude can dissuade people from using the library. And as an example of the Principle of Least Effort, where someone consults a known resource instead of investing the small bit of extra effort needed to get what they know would be a better quality answer, I mentioned the weird phenomena I sometimes saw of individuals asking very specific research questions in a writing forum where it was unlikely anyone had expertise in the area in question, and then balking at suggestions to consult resources more likely to actually provide an answer to their question.

The geek is strong with this one . . .

My other class this semester was Information Technologies, where we got to learn some basics about web design, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MySQL, and other fun stuff. The class seemed like it was a struggle at times for several folks, but I was safely in my geek comfort zone. I already knew how to create a website with HTML going into the class, and I picked up the rest of it pretty easily. Two of our projects involved creating an “information resource” on any topic of our choosing, so I created a site called So You Want to Write Speculative Fiction? And for our final project, we had to create a site using WordPress, so I tested out a redesign of my writing website.

And there you have it. Now to check off more items on my winter break to-do list, which includes paying attention to this blog again and rediscovering the fact that I’m a writer.

The State of the Barb

I know I keep threatening to return to a regular blogging routine, but life seems intent on not letting that happen. Nevertheless, here’s the state of me:

* School is keeping me busy, but I’m enjoying it a lot more than I ever did grant writing. This whole getting my MLIS thing? Good damn decision, I think.

* Speaking of life keeping me busy, there will be a distinct lack of con attendance on my part for the rest of the year. I had been hoping to attend Sirens and Capclave this month, but there’s just too much else going on for me to swing either one. And I’d normally do Philcon in November since it’s practically right in my backyard, but I’ll be off in Austin that weekend.

* Writing progress! Well, at least there was progress until a damn cold sidelined me yesterday (it’s hard to focus or stare at a computer screen for too long when it feels like you have a head full of gauze-wrapped bricks). But before then, I got my short story “The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen” revised and sent out the door, and now I’m working on revisions for “Demon Dreams.” And when that’s done, I think I’ll dive back into the never-ending My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel revisions.

* And last but certainly not least: I can haz zombie art? The awesome-looking title spread (with art by Dave Senecal) for my story in issue 25 of Black Static, which should be coming out this month:

Signals and study and stories, oh my!

It seems I went AWOL on the blog posting front. Again. But now that I’m here, many things…

SIGNALS: First, a signal boost: Say Yes to Gay YA, where authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith talk about an unfortunate instance of being asked to either make a gay character in their novel straight or remove the character’s POV altogether. EDITED TO ADD: Some follow up. And this is where I bow out without further comment other than to say: must so many people resort to needing to cast a villain with a dastardly agenda in the matter instead of considering that it’s more likely not so clearcut?

STUDY: Busy grad school is busy! But despite some initial moments of panic (because that’s what I do), I’m settling into the school routine just fine and have started to find a balance between class and everything else I need to squeeze into my days. You know, like writing. Speaking of…

STORIES: Appropriately enough for a writer, there are sevveral things going on in the story department:

* Now available for purchase is the 2011 Untied Shoelaces of the Mind Anthology, which includes my twisted little flash piece “Mr. Fluffy.” The story should also be online soon in issue 5 of Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.

* My story “The Cycle of the Sun” was accepted for publication in the March 2012 issue of NewMyths.com! My Odyssey classmates will quite possibly remember this piece as “the orgy story.”

* My steampunk lemurs on a dirigible story, “A Red One Cannot See” (originally published in Shimmer’s Clockwork Jungle Book issue), has been added to my stories available at AnthologyBuilder

* And I’ve finally gotten to work on the revisions for my story “The Girl Who Welcomed Death to Svalgearyen,” which I got some great feedback on back in July at TNEO. Much like my daily schedule right now, these revisions are proving to be quite the balancing act. There are some changes to make that I think are going to really strengthen the story, but I feel like it would be easy to do too much and totally edit all the life and magic out the story.