Monday, June 27, 2011

Apparently I'm Versatile

The Flash Queen (that's flash fiction...get your minds out of the gutter for a second) and my fellow OWG Rebel, Danielle LaPaglia, has apparently decided I'm versatile. Crazy as it sounds, that is one of the best compliments she could have given me. As someone who writes all manner of speculative fiction, if I'm not versatile, it means some of what I write I'm just not very good at. Plus she complimented my critiques, which always makes me smile.

So anyway, the crazy woman has bestowed upon me the Versatile Blogger Award. The award rules state that recipients must name 7 interesting facts about his or herself and then pass the award along to other bloggers. To make my life infinitely more interesting, Danielle gave the award to both halves of my split personality. That means I need fourteen interesting things. O.O In my attempts to be interesting on both blogs, this will (naturally) be my more "adult-oriented" seven. If you want the (more) innocent seven, check out on Thursday.

Okay, here we go...

1) (Not really adult-oriented, but apparently a point of interest...) The choice of Seleste as my pen name was an easy one. I've been known as Selestial online since my Everquest days, and Seleste is my pagan name as well.

2) I have an arrangement with my friend Heather that if one of us dies suddenly (and our spouse dies with us or is too grief-stricken to take care of it), the other is to raid their house and remove all items from the "toy box" before Mom descends to "help" clean out our stuff.

3) My first foray into buying adult novelty items was for my friend Diana's sweet 16 party. Her mother promptly confiscated said gift and never did return it (interestingly enough, that same mother paid for a stripper to come to her home for Diana's bachelorette party five years later).

4) I was date-raped in college. The first time I was ever told I should submit something for publication, it was by my English Comp professor regarding a paper I wrote about the aftermath.

5) I'm more than willing to call my erotica porn if it convinces men to try my books.

6) My first piece of sexy lingerie was a gift from two ex-boyfriends for Christmas. One I had broken up with two months earlier, the other I would start dating that New Year's Eve. Oddly enough, I'm still friends with the one who never got to see me in said lingerie, but not the one who did. (Or maybe that isn't odd, but I'd like to think it is. :P)

7) I have never been convicted of a crime. (Which either means I never committed any or I was never caught. You decide.)

Now the fun part, bestowing this madness on some deserving bloggers.

Deanna Wadsworth: The woman who introduced me to M/M romance, pitch-slut, and the best roomie ever. (Plus she has all kinds of yummy men on her blog).

Kelly DemonLover Oakes: Kindred spirit, lover of the male form, & fantabulous reviewer (though one of these days she's going to finally review me and tell me I suck and then I'll have to remove that particular descriptor :P).

Ken McDaniel (aka BulletWisdom): Fellow OWG Rebel, instructor in all things weapon-related, and all-around bad-ass.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Putting in the Work

So, a few weeks ago, I was getting a story ready to submit. I told my editor that she'd have it as soon as I'd finished with revisions. At that moment, it was out with my wonderful betas for a read-through so I could fix any glaring issues before I sent it in. She said (paraphrased), "You don't revise until after I edit it."

Then, at a totally separate time, I was talking to a fellow author (who shall remain unnamed) about one of her shorter works. She basically said that she didn't put as much time into it since it was just supposed to be a quickie--a break from her novels.

Needless to say, I was...confused.

You see, I have a process I go through before I send anything in for publication. I write. I revise. Maybe twice. For longer pieces, I might post part in my online writing group and wait for critiques (to revise again). I send to my betas. I wait for their comments. I revise. Then, if the revisions were big, I send it back to them to make sure it's solid. If not, I revise again. Then...sometime after that, I send it in.

I do this for my novel-length stories. I do this for my novellas. I do this for my short stories. Hell, if I'm worried about it, I do something similar for my flash fiction before I post it on the blog. I cannot imagine sending my rough drafts to my editors. Even thinking about it has me breaking out in a cold sweat right now. You see, as much as I love my editors and think they're awesome, I want as many eyes as I can reasonably get on my manuscript before it goes out. And I feel that way about all my stories; I don't differentiate by length (though, I will say that just because they are longer and therefore have more room for "issues", novel-length stories tend to go through more revisions than shorts).

Based on similar comments from both an editor and another author, however, I'm starting to think I might be in the minority with regard to these habits. I know in digital publishing, output is important. If you can't churn out stories fast enough, you can be forgotten as new authors pop up. But the idea of putting anything out there that is less than the best I can make it bothers me...a lot. This isn't to say that other people don't write crazy-good first drafts with no inconsistencies or weak spots or grammar issues because I'm sure some people do, but I'm not at the point yet where I can delude myself into thinking I'm one of them.

So, if you've been waiting on Badlands 2 or the next Blood Kissed story, consider this my apology for the delay. I want to get those stories to you. I just don't want to cut corners to do it, and for me it would be cutting corners (believe me, my betas are phenomenal and not at all afraid to tell me when I suck). Please forgive the delay, and hopefully I can work on that whole prolific thing in the meantime.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's the Little Things

Writers get asked about inspiration all the time. Where did the idea for the story come from? What inspires you? I think the questions bother some authors, but usually those are the easiest ones for me to answer since I tend to be able to pinpoint the birth of all of my stories.

Every once in a while though, the inspiration is such a small thing that it's hard to explain. For instance, my trip to Scotland and London last week. In part, the trip was research-based. I want to write a story set somewhere else, and when the opportunity came to head to Britain, I jumped at it. The thing is instead of some sweeping a-ha moment of brilliance, I got little bits and pieces of inspiration from a lot of different places.

There is the barred over window in the secret room at Glamis Castle...

...and the haunted squatters' tunnels under Edinburgh...

...and the caged graves in the cemetery around Greyfriar's Kirk...

...and the ruins of Dunnottar Castle...

...and the mists that float like living things through the valleys...

...and then there's the dragon ;-)

I'm not sure which of these things will stick to make a story or if somehow I'll be able to work them all into something really epic. One way or another though, there's a story here and it will be written. Because there's a thing about Scotland. Even with the rain and the dreariness, it sinks under your skin and touches your soul. It's a magical place and, if you're lucky, when you leave you get to take a little piece of the magic with you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Trips, Summer Movies

As many of you know, I'm in Scotland with a couple girlfriends this week. But I hate when I don't leave a blog post, so in case you're looking for something to do, may I suggest the following movie? I'm missing the opening, but I plan to see it when I get home! Plus, I might be working on a superhero story soon, so I've got men in tights and capes on the brain ;-)

Just curious. How is your favorite superhero? And what super-power would you want if you could have one?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Budget? I Don't Need No Stinking Budget.

Yeah, turns out I actually needed a better one.

For those of you who don't already know, I had to back out of Authors After Dark for this year. This was a very hard decision, and I tried to find a way to make it work, but the point came where I had to let people know so they could fill my slots. I'm very upset about this both because I feel like i let people down and because, damn it, there were a lot of people going that I really wanted to meet or see again.

The problem is, when you have a travel budget and you stretch it, that doesn't leave a lot of room for contingencies. Since my writing is not making me huge bank yet, I had to rely on my wonderful, supportive husband to front all of my travel costs. He gave me a dollar figure and said "Do what you want." (Because he's awesome like that.)

And there should have been plenty there for everything. I knew RT would be a pricey trip (and LA is a pricey town), so I actually budgeted in a little extra for that, hoping I'd have some left over. Sadly, it did all get used up. No worries though, because I still had enough for the other two trips on my agenda. I booked my flight to Scotland (which ended up about the same price as my flight to LA when all was said and done) and--Yay!--staying with a friend there, so really the flight is the only major expense for that trip. I'd already paid my fees for AAD, and it looked like we would have frequent flyer miles for the flight so it was basically paid for too. In budget with a little spending money too!

And wasn't. We didn't have enough miles for the flight, and then other rocks came tumbling down where it was going to be more money (and not a little more...a lot more). I could have wiggled the flight into the budget, but not the rest (the flight was less than half of the unexpected cost). When it all came down to it, what I'd budgeted as the least expensive trip only needed one more thing to go wrong and it would be the most expensive. All of the creative math in the world couldn't make up the difference.

So last week, I sent letters to the people most affected to let them know I wouldn't be there. I want to be very clear that this decision is not a negative about Authors After Dark. I've heard nothing but great things about it as a con and had really been looking forward to attending. It's entirely my own fault for not planning for all the contingencies that I could foresee. I didn't, and several of them bit me in the ass.

To the people I was supposed to work with: I'm sorry for leaving you one woman down.

To those I was supposed to meet and hang out with: I suck, I know :( Hopefully the next con.

To Stella: Thanks for your understanding, and I hope I didn't screw up panels and such too much.

To everyone else (hell, to everyone): A piece of advice...plan for things to go wrong when you're budgeting. Lots of things. That way  you don't run into this mess, and if everything goes right, you have extra spending money (which is always handy).



Love the cat, and to be honest, I don't hate it as a slang term either.

A couple places I frequent on the interwebs have been discussing cougars of late. Why the sudden surge of interest? I'm not sure. Maybe it's cyclical and I've just missed the cycles until now LOL. Really though, it's led me to do a lot of thinking. The first time it popped on my radar was with regard to romance books, and specifically erotic romance. Are cougars hot or overdone? How much of an age difference until it moves from sexy to squicky? Etc. etc. etc. And then, the terminology came into question. If you're not in your 40s, you aren't a cougar. (In your 30s, you're apparently a puma. Not sure what this means for women in their 50s or older.) Then someone said that if you weren't a woman who actively hunted for younger men, you weren't a cougar either. (Okay, so in a way, this makes sense, but then is there a different term for women who just happen to sometimes date or end up falling for a younger guy?)

All of this led me to a couple questions of my own.

First, there's a name for women who do this, but what about men? I mean, sure some of them get the dirty old man title, but in general do they have a name? Because if they do, I can't think of it.

Which leads me to wonder why women have one, and why we're always such sticklers for fitting people into niches. Because it isn't just the cougar thing and different people's ideas about that. Here are some other things you'll regularly hear from women about other women (and from men too, but...)

- "You're not curvy, you're fat."

- "She's too pretty to be smart."

- "That chick is too old to wear that."

- "Someone give that girl a cookie, she must be anorexic."

I will admit, I'm guilty of this as well, but when we talk about feminism and women supporting women, we need to start being realistic. Women are hard on each other to a crazy degree.

A few weeks ago, a woman started bitching about #BoobieWed on Twitter. Now, this is a campaign where people switch their avatars (if they choose) to a picture of boobs or cleavage and remind people to do their self-exams. It is for breast cancer awareness. Does it raise money? No. But it does get the message out that self-checks are important. My sister found her cancer through a self-exam and has been a survivor for ten years now. But this woman was adamant that it was about sex.






If some jerk wants to look at my boobs on Wednesdays because he or she likes boobs--whatever. That doesn't matter to me. What does is the one chick who says seeing my cleavage reminded her to do a self-exam. Flashing my cleavage (which I do a lot anyway) is a price I'm totally willing to pay if it might save a life.

And who is that chick to judge me for it?

So, here's my question to all the cougars, pumas, kitties, whatever furry animal you associate yourself with (or even if you don't)--why do we do this to each other? Why all the judgments and rudeness?