alanajoli: (writing)
My day often goes like this:

Whew, Bug is asleep. Time to get something accomplished. Do I:

Shower? Or write?
Do my assignments that are due this week? Or write?*
Fold laundry? Or write?
Make dinner? Or write?
Blog? Or write?
Sleep? Or write?
Clean up the glass that the editorial assistants shattered all over the floor? Or write?**
Spend time with Twostripe? Or write?
Have a social life? Or write?***

It is hard to find time for writing.([livejournal.com profile] sartorias did a great blog entry over at Book View Cafe about writing with kids.) On the other hand, it is important to find time for writing.

After not writing fiction pretty much at all during my pregnancy, I've finished two short stories and am halfway through a third since Bug arrived. I wrote the first issue and treatment for the first arc of a comic.**** I've written several chapters of a co-written (with [livejournal.com profile] lyster) serial novel (which, to be fair, I think I did write chunks of while Bug was still cooking). I've plotted out a new novel. And I still don't feel like I'm finding time to write. I'm very, very lucky that Twostripe is supportive of my finding time to do fiction writing as well as the work that brings home the guaranteed check. I don't know how I'd manage otherwise!

--

* Sometimes the work is also the Work. It's lovely when that happens, but it is infrequent.
** Editorial assistant Jack missed a jump up onto our freestanding kitchen drawers yesterday and knocked down a jar of peanuts and the coffee maker, shattering both the jar and the coffee pot. I guess he wanted to provide better incentive for cleaning the kitchen floor -- or he was mad at us for always brewing decaf.
*** I admit, I still like to spend time with friends now that I'm a parent, and even prioritize it sometimes. Running role playing games certainly fits into this category, and I haven't given that up yet. Hopefully, I won't have to. :)
**** One of the instances in which the work was also the Work.
alanajoli: (Default)
Did you all like my disappearing act? Next, I'll saw my assistant in half! But really, what have I been up to in the past month?


  • Copyediting. A lot.

  • Watching Leverage. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lyster and [livejournal.com profile] publius513 for the recommendation!)

  • Watching Eureka, on which my friend Margaret Dunlap is a writing assistant.

  • Realizing that catching up on back episodes of cool TV shows takes a bite out of my reading time.

  • Spending time with Bug, who is awesome and amazing to watch as she learns all about the world.

  • Going to kempo with Twostripe.

  • Reading books to review. I'm all caught up on my PW reading, but I have a review to write, and a pile of SLJ books, and some Flames Rising books and comics still piled up.

  • Writing fake romance novel back cover blurbs as a game for a friend. I may post some here at some point, with the names changed to protect the innocent (or not so innocent, as the case may be).

  • Reading books for fun. I just finished Ally Carter's Only the Good Spy Young and am reading Breaking Waves on my nook. (Breaking Waves is an anthology edited by [livejournal.com profile] tltrent to raise funds for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. Great writing and a worthy cause? It's totally worth checking out.)

  • Keeping up on industry news. The NYTimes published an article about color e-ink displays. Remember how I was asking about this earlier this year? Yay news!

  • Sending the Viking Saga team through Europe. This weekend: Italy! Next weekend: Crossover game with the Mythic Greece group! I can hardly wait.

  • Finishing up at the library. I've decided I can spend my time more the way I'd like to spend my time -- on both writing/editing and on being a mom -- without those library hours. As much as I love my coworkers and my library, it's a good move. And we'll still be storytime regulars.

  • Traveling for cool events. Last night I went to see Abundance with [livejournal.com profile] niliphim. Friends of the blog Mark Vecchio and Richard Vaden are involved in the production (Mark is the director; Rich is performing). If you're in Pioneer Valley over the next two days, go see it! And check out this article about the production, and a sense of the mythic in the Old West.


And finally, I've been writing. Not as much as I'd like, but I am doing it. I'm back to owing [livejournal.com profile] lyster a chapter of Blood and Tumult, but I'm also working on the sooper sekrit project -- which I can now say is a comic, and as soon as I tell my editor I'm going to start talking about it, I'll start writing about it here! The portion I'm working on is actually due sooner rather than later, so if I want to talk about the process, it'll have to be coming up soon!

In honor of my return, and to help with my going-digital initiative, I'm giving away my mass market copy of Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry. Answer the following question by Friday the 24th, and I'll pick a random winner!

If you were stranded on a deserted island (with comfortable amenities and the knowledge that you'd be rescued within a week), what five books would you want to have in your luggage?
alanajoli: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] jimhines talks a lot about martial arts and writing on his blog. An experience at kempo tonight lent itself to this kind of comparison as well, so I thought I'd try an analogy over here.

I'm allergic to citrus-scented cleaning solutions. While this gets me out of certain housework tasks (Twostripe is incredibly accommodating about mopping the kitchen floor while I'm out of the house), it also comes with the inconvenience of not being able to breathe around that artificial smell. So tonight at the dojo, when trying to clear out the smell in the waiting room, one of our instructors sprayed some air freshener containing whatever ingredient it is that makes me choke. When he came back into the dojo, I could feel my lungs tighten.

There's a saying: "Can't see, can't fight. Can't walk, can't fight. Can't breathe, can't fight." It's meant to list targets on an opponent that will end fights fast (which is one of the things kempo is about). I suppose it's also a list of the targets you need to carefully defend: eyes, knees, and throat. Suddenly not able to fully breathe, I bowed out and hung out in the parking lot for a few minutes before my sensei came out to find out what happened. I explained; he apologized profusely; I accepted and said I'd just wait ten minutes or so to see if I could come back in. It didn't end up clearing up, but one of the other instructors came out to work with me on the lawn in front of the dojo, so maybe we were good street-side advertising as a bonus.

Breathing is really important -- and not just when you can't do it. You can't forget to breathe when you're working out, or you'll drop. You can't forget to breathe while you're, say, in labor, either. That's the literal. But, metaphorically, if you can't breathe -- if you can't just take a bit of time to live, to enjoy life, to just *be* -- you can't write. For me, the more anxiety and stress I cause myself by worrying about whether or not I'm writing enough sometimes keeps me from remembering to breathe.

I finally turned in some chapters of Blood and Tumult to [livejournal.com profile] lyster last night, and I wrote a review this morning. There's other work to be done, but for most of today, I just took a little time to breathe. And I feel recharged.
alanajoli: (Default)
It's one of the wonders of the age that I have never met most of my coworkers in person. I realized when reading one of the science fiction stories about people living in an online reality that actually, that's not too far different from what my life as a writer is like. I contract with, network with, and hang around virtual water coolers with other freelancers who work in bubbles like I do, or editors with whom I'll never share a real world cup of coffee. The really amazing part about this, however, is that you actually do get a feeling for these people you may never meet, and you get to know them about as well as you know coworkers the next cubicle over. Some you know better than others.

It's been my tremendous privilege to get to know Daniel Tyler Gooden in this way. He's a wonderfully talented writer (he's the author of the BT novel The Unmade Man and cowriter of the main storyline web comic, The Torn God), a great editor, and an ace with keeping continuity in his head. As the Baeg Tobar content editor, he worked pretty closely with [livejournal.com profile] lyster and me when we first started fleshing out Blood and Tumult, and once our draft is done, I imagine we'll be chatting more frequently again. I'm also hoping we'll start talking parenting: his son sounds just a bit older than Bug, and it's always exciting to watch kids just a bit older than her do momentous things -- like take their first steps -- when I know that's in Bug's near future.

Without further ado, here's a musing from Daniel on my favorite subject: mythology in fiction.

--


I had been mulling around the importance of mythology in fiction when Alana asked me if I would like to guest blog. Knowing she is a fan of the topic, it seemed destined to be the subject of the day.

Two works recently had me thinking about mythology’s importance in fiction, specifically for world building. I read Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. In the same week, I ran across an article in Analog, September ’09, by Richard A. Lovett, "From Atlantis to Canoe-Eating Trees: Geomythology Comes of Age."

Rothfuss has a well-developed world, much of it due to his main character, Kvothe, being born into a traveling group of entertainers. Stories spill out in every direction, as Kvothe performs with his family and learns of the legends and lore that are the core of the troupes’ trade. Rothfuss takes it one step further with Kvothe’s father's quest to writing an accurate song around the world’s greatest boogieman, the Chandrian. What I liked best about the Chandrian is that they are so feared that the only place you hear their name not whispered is in the play songs of children. Needless to say, the Chandrian take a big part in the storyline as it develops.

The use of bards, minstrels and storytellers to flesh out a world certainly is not new. For me, though, Rothfuss used it so well that the importance of mythology for building solid back-story really drove home. I felt I had a solid sense of not just the history of Rothfuss’s world, but why its people were who they were.

Lovett’s article further shored up the great value of mythology with a number of excellent examples of our own legends explained through the study of Geology and science. The story that stuck with me is from the Indian legends of the Pacific Northwest.

Twin sons of the Great Spirit, Wyeast and Pahto, spent their time feuding from opposite sides of the Columbia River. The cause of their spat was the beautiful woman Tah-one-lat-clah. Tired of the sons throwing fire and rock at each other, the Great Spirit intervened. To honor the brother’s truce, the Great Spirit built a stone bridge over the Columbia, near present day Bonneville Dam. Long story short, the brothers couldn’t keep the peace, accidently set the woman on fire, and all three retired to be later known as Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and, as Tah-one-lat-clah, Mt. St. Helens.

It is a good myth -- just a good story -- until you look at Louis and Clark’s journals. They found tall trees submerged in a slow section of the Columbia. It was figured that a large landslide had blocked the river. Geological studies of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood show evidence of eruptions several hundred years ago, and Mt. St. Helens somewhere in the late 1400s. Dating on the tree trunks in the Columbia put the landslide early to mid 1400s, right in line with the legend. Lovett produces many more such examples, and if you like this kind of detective work, hunt down this article.

For myself, I have used mythology a handful of times in a world-building project, Baeg Tobar, Alana and I are involved with. Needing a legend surrounding a tall natural stone tower, I wrote of a curious boy who wished to see all the world. Climbing for days, he reached the top but found his curiosity unabated. Following the gods' advice (everyone knows you can hear godly voices better from high altitudes) he casts himself off the tower. The boy hits the ground, shattering into hundreds of crows who spread their race around the globe, ever watchful and curious. The best part of writing this as fiction is it might be a story wrapped around a more plausible event, or maybe it is just true.

Thanks for lending me your time, even though, if you are a writer as well, you know you should be writing.
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
Between the hyphens is a bit that I'm copying over from my Kaz's Summer Camp check-in comment this week, because it'd feel too sad to type it twice.

--

I wrote a book review. Plus column!

Minus column? I realized, in looking at my saved fiction files, that aside from my ongoing role playing games, I've created nothing of my own since last June. A whole year has gone by without any unique creative input from me. (I'm cowriting that novel, which I'm behind on, as seems to be my wont these days, but it's a collaborative effort in someone else's world, not my own. It's a great project and I'm glad I'm doing it, but it's not -mine- in the way that other fiction has been mine...)

I'm hoping this is my hump, that this realization is the one that motivates me forward. I'm hoping.

--

I'm proud to be working on BT, don't get me wrong. I love cowriting with [livejournal.com profile] lyster. But I need to do *something* to get back on the writing horse, to write things that are uniquely mine.

In the meantime, copyediting is piling up and a couple of reference book essays and a slew of obituaries are waiting for me. Here we are, back again to the learning-to-balance side of life. If I get back to blogging this week, I want to talk about priorities, so maybe bouncing ideas off of all of you will help me figure out how to manage my work and writing time better.
alanajoli: (Default)


Yesterday was the two week check in for Kaz's Summer Camp, but it's been busy at the Abbott household, with family visiting and writing actually getting done! Here's where I stand so far:

Reasonable goal:
* With my cowriter, finish the draft of our serial novel. (We're at chapter 10 of 20 -- halfway there!)
[livejournal.com profile] lyster has submitted chapter 11, so we're moving right along. It's my turn, and I hope to have that back to him before the next goal check in.

* Complete typesetting on four essays written by other authors (this is contracted, so it's kinda cheating to count it).
Done! All of the typeset essays got turned in to my editor last Friday. There are a couple of paperwork issues to finish up, but otherwise, it's all taken care of.

* Write one short story.
No progress yet on this one.

* Write multiple book reviews (not contracted, but already arranged with the venues in which they'll appear).
One SLJ review got turned in, and I'm working on the mythsoc reading list before diving back into some other reviews.

The only extended goal worth mentioning is:
* Blog at least three times a week.
I obviously haven't gotten on track with this! I'm counting each week as a new week, though, so this will be a weekly goal rather than a summer-long goal.

I'm also adding a new goal:
* Write a joint interview article for Flames Rising.
My questions have already been sent out to various awesome writers, and I'm getting some great responses back (many of them hilarious). Once the article goes over to Flames Rising, I'll talk a little bit more about it here.
alanajoli: (writing)
Yesterday [livejournal.com profile] sartorias posted about her recent collaboration with [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija, and I thought I'd talk a little bit about my own experiences with collaborating. In some ways, I feel like I'm almost always collaborating on my storytelling. As a kid, I played a lot of let's pretend with my surrogate big sister and my actual little sister, saving the world as a space hero (using a swingset as our space ship -- I remember one time we got medals from the president), traveling across the prairie as pioneers (a boulder in the back yard was our wagon), and running bad guys (I don't remember what kind) in the winter by sliding down a big neighborhood snow pile.

And when I started writing, I played in other people's worlds. The first fiction I remember writing was based on an old comic of my mom's from when she was a child. I wrote a play featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse when I was in upper elementary school, using the style I saw on the shorts on the New Mickey Mouse Club. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a script for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. In middle school, I worked on a long Star Wars novel that, naively, I expected to submit to Lucasfilm; I was devastated to learn you had to be invited to write for the franchise.

It was while writing the Star Wars piece that I started writing an original story. I'd read about a contest in Disney Adventures magazine for a new super hero; I designed one that I got so attached to, I redesigned her (rights to the entries were owned by Disney after submitting, so she had to be revamped) and wrote my first novel. I discovered as a high school freshman just how many publishers didn't want to look at stories with anthropomorphic animals, and since one of her main powers was talking to animals, well, that was a stumbling block. There's still some good material in the young writing, though I'd rewrite the entire story now in a different setting if I ever got back to it.

In high school, I started writing short stories about children with dragon powers; I shared them with a friend and he wrote some short stories back. It was my world -- I'd made the rules -- but he played in it. I shortly thereafter joined his D&D group (after being, at the time, the youngest invited), and I started group storytelling in D&D, which is a fabulously collaborative format.

I collaborated once on a short story in college, which I still think is quite a good piece, and wonder if I shouldn't contact my cowriter and see if we should send it around. We only ever submitted it to the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future" contest, and now I wonder if, as a co-written piece, it was even eligible. In that effort, we took turns writing sections, but since we were local (just across campus), I remember talking out quite a bit of it as well, and editing each other's sections. I don't know that it would have worked long term as a collaborative relationship, but for the duration of the assignment, it was fun.

Though I've done plenty of other non-collaborative writing, it didn't surprise me to end up first published with shared-world fiction. Into the Reach and Departure (and the still sitting in my drawer conclusion, Regaining Home) take place in someone else's world -- albeit one I helped flesh out quite a bit. My ownership rights are dubious (hence the drawer) because I didn't create the world. The writing experience, however, was great -- I liked the whole goal of the novels not only being a good story, but also being designed to make the world more appealing, to tie in aspects and characters from the setting as wink and a nod to the roleplaying audience.

And now I'm writing Blood and Tumult back and forth with [livejournal.com profile] lyster, both of us playing in a world we didn't create. I've really enjoyed writing in the world of Baeg Tobar; I feel like it's a strong setting with really great elements, and I hope that our serial novel both embraces and enhances the work that's gone before. It's a huge privilege to work with [livejournal.com profile] lyster, who I really believe is destined for stardom (his manuscript that's making the rounds right now was easily in the top five books I read last year, and probably in the top two -- and that without the benefit of an editor). He's not only a motivating factor (I keep his message that he's sent me a new chapter as an "unread" message in my inbox, so my e-mail reminds me that I need to send him a chapter back every time I open it). He's also keeping the story fresh for me -- we were required to work from an outline, which always takes some of the excitement out of the actual writing process for me, because I know what's going to happen next. So having his take on things every two chapters makes it a lot more fun to see the twists and turns. I think stylistically he has a better sense of prose than I do, and so I'm striving to make my prose live up to his. Of course, I'm sure my own style comes through as well, and I hope that by the time it's finished, we'll both have mimicked each other's styles so successfully that the whole thing will blend into a complete piece.

So, yes, collaboration. I enjoy it. :)

Goals

Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:03 pm
alanajoli: (Default)
I've written here about using a few different goals strategies, and about how I particularly liked [livejournal.com profile] devonmonk's reasonable goals combined with above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty goals, as it's encouraging to land somewhere in the middle. I decided to set some for the summer, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kaz_mahoney's Summer Camp. She's doing a writing goals thing (not a challenge, as that sounds too competitive) for the summer months, with a Tuesday check in, starting next week.



To share with you all, here are my summer writing goals:

Reasonable goal:
* With my cowriter, finish the draft of our serial novel. (We're at chapter 10 of 20 -- halfway there!)
* Complete typesetting on four essays written by other authors (this is contracted, so it's kinda cheating to count it).
* Write one short story.
* Write multiple book reviews (not contracted, but already arranged with the venues in which they'll appear).

Extended goal:
All of the above, plus:
* Write three chapters of the YA novel I'm working on.
* Write three short stories (including the one above).
* Restart the adult novel I haltingly began last year now that it's percolated and I have an idea of where it's going.
* Blog at least three times a week.

If you're looking for motivation, do check out Kaz's Summer Camp and join us!
alanajoli: (Default)
Most of what I've been reading in the past two months are books on the Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Awards longlists. We can't talk about the selections, and from the conversations via e-mail with the other judges, I think I may place more value on fun novels (or, novels that are both worthwhile and enjoyable, rather than worthwhile but wearing to read, or enjoyable but fluffy) than some of the rest of the committee. But, as Twostripe says, diversity in judges is important, and if I shift us slightly away from valuing style above many other qualities, I'm all right with that. I've remembered that I really enjoy reading what I think Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s) calls a transparent writing style -- writing that you don't notice for itself, because you're so into the story being told.

At any rate, I've just turned in my votes for the final five in the children's category. I turned in my adult votes on Friday. I am very eager to see what comes out on the finalist list! I'll probably talk a bit about them here when the list is announced.

In the meantime, I need to get some writing done. Twostripe has promised me an hour or three tomorrow to focus on writing while he watches Bug; this should allow me to get caught up with Blood and Tumult and possibly get some work done on the autobio project, making the final corrections before I start the typesetting process. But outside of that time, we're planning to spend most of the day at the beach! We had a cookout with the Mythic Greece gamers, [livejournal.com profile] niliphim, and the [livejournal.com profile] bananapants/[livejournal.com profile] bananaplants family. Gaming and a cookout at the beach? Can't be beat!
alanajoli: (Default)
It has been far too long since I posted here. Unsurprisingly, I also owe [livejournal.com profile] lyster a chapter of Blood and Tumult. When it comes down to it, writing is hard. :(

I write in a very immersive way -- I like to set time aside and completely delve into what I'm writing. If I have a block of a few hours, I can bang out a chapter and be on my way. But finding a block of time is difficult, and it's hard to prioritize that over holding my sleeping baby some days. It's all about finding balance, I know (it's my libra motto), but right now the scales are definitely tilted over into my daughter's court.

That said, I don't mind reading while holding a sleeping baby, so I've gotten a lot of books read recently. I've been plowing through the long lists for the Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Awards, both the children's list and the adult list. (I'll happily talk about the short list when it's revealed; the long list is secret.) I've also been reading review books. And I've noticed a trend in the past two years -- there are a lot of Arthur retellings out there. There are some coming out right now that were originally published in the 1980s, but are being released in new editions. There are new versions based on a historical Arthur, retellings based on Welsh myths, and modern stories with Arthur tie-ins. There's obviously been a market for Arthur stories since, well, Arthur became a legend, really, but there seems to be a glut of them lately, many of them quite good. (The ones I like best are, of course, the ones with good portrayals of Glastonbury.)

So here's my question: Is this new? Or am I just noticing it because I went on a rant to one of my editors about a particularly bad use of Arthurian legend, during which she realized I was an Arthur nerd, so she now sends me scads of Arthur related novels?

On a complete tangent, I'm getting ready to send my 4e Viking Saga team to the Continent from the Isles. Early on, we decided we'd just make Europe awash with tiny kingdoms, most of them feuding with each other, which our historian player said wasn't actually too far wrong around 800 AD. So the idea is that the Continent is going to feel like a fairy tale sort of place until the players get to the Scandinavian nations. I have yet to figure out good fairy tale rulers to make use of, however. Anyone have a favorite fairy tale king, queen, or other ruler I should use with Vikings and Celts?
alanajoli: (Default)
I've had several thoughts for blog entries lately, but it's not always easy to find the time to sit down and write. Luckily, I have a netbook, which makes it possible for me to type this right now with a sleeping Bug on my arm. Another reason I've been putting off blogging, as I mentioned earlier, is that I don't like to post when I owe [livejournal.com profile] lyster a chapter of Blood and Tumult. If I can sit down to write a blog entry, I think, shouldn't I be writing 1500 to 3000 words of a chapter instead?

Cowriting Blood and Tumult has been a lot of fun thus far. I love playing in Baeg Tobar, as the setting has so much potential. And the way that Max and I are writing -- trading off chapters -- makes the fact that we have an outline less of a detriment to my creative process. Usually, knowing what's coming next doesn't work well for me. Once I write it down, it's no longer the surprise that keeps me excited about the story. But since I'm only writing half of the chapters, the excitement becomes wondering how Max will tell that next part of the story, how he'll flesh out the details, because I probably would have chosen a different way if left to my own devices. That then feeds into what I'll write next, since his interpretation of the outline naturally impacts how I'll see the next part of the story.

(Speaking of Baeg Tobar, did I mention that my second short story, "She's Never Hard to Find," is up? The first story featuring the same characters is "No Matter How You Hide Her.")

It's not quite the same as working on a comic script, but it does share similar qualities. The best part, for me, of working in comics is seeing how the artist interprets the words I've put down on the page. Even when I give a panel by panel script, which is how I tend to write comics, there's a lot of room to interpret every detail. Seeing how the art turns out is a huge adventure!

Speaking of which, Steampunk Musha -- for which I was the co-writer on the original RPG, the editor for the d20 version (which never came out on its own; it's currently being converted to the Pathfinder system, but it will be released eventually!), and the writer for a couple of comic scripts that have yet to become full comics -- is now a Kickstarter project! I'm tremendously excited, as funding will enable creator Rick Hershey to develop a lot of projects that have been sadly languishing in the pipeline, waiting for funds to make them possible. The goal is quite modest ($5000), but will go a long way toward making fiction, games, and comics in the setting a reality. He's also offering up art, products, and even becoming a character in the setting as donation incentives.



If you're interested in seeing more Musha (or you're just interested in seeing me back in comics, which I'd love), please consider a small donation. Or just spread the word! We appreciate it.
alanajoli: (Default)
I haven't been giving myself permission to spend time blogging while I have a chapter of Blood and Tumult due back to [livejournal.com profile] lyster, but I didn't want a whole week to go by without an entry. Luckily for me, Twostripe has been reading aloud to Bug and me while Bug is eating, and we just finished Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, which had an excerpt I thought was wonderfully appropriate for the blog. So, starting from a question by Glenda, a cook, to Ponder Stibbons, a wizard at Unseen University, here is some Discworld philosophy.

--

"Can't you wizards do something?"

"Yes," said Ponder. "We can do practically anything, but we can't change people's minds. We can't magic them sensible. Believe me, if it were possible to do that, we would have done it a long time ago. We can stop people fighting by magic and then what do we do? We have to go on using magic to stop them fighting. We have to go on using magic to stop them being stupid. And where does all that end? So we make certain that it doesn't begin. That's why the university is here. That's what we do. We have to sit around not doing things because of the hundreds of times in the past it's been proved that once you get beyond the abracadabra, hey presto, changing-the-pigeons-into-ping-pong-balls style of magic you start getting more problems than you've solved. It was bad enough finding ping-pong balls nesting in the attics."

"Ping-pong balls nestin'?" said Trev.

"I don't want to talk about it," said Ponder glumly.
alanajoli: (Default)
Hello readers!

I'm sorry for the long hiatus. Since I last wrote, the saying my mother always used to offer has come true:

Spring haz sprung, the grass iz riz; tell me where the flowers iz.

(She did not, of course, say it with the z's in place, but that's how I always heard it. My mother's grammar was always correct, except when she was quoting something silly.)

February and March were very busy months for me preparing for Bug to arrive, and then having Bug here with us! She's healthy and happy and a month old.



(Pictured here are Bug and the editorial staff outside with me. This is from week two -- all the more recent photos are still on the camera or are on a different computer.)

At any rate, the weather is lovely here in Shoreline Connecticut, the family is happy, and we've had a lot of company and family time. Next week, Bug and I are on our own again while Twostripe is at work, and after all the excitement, some quiet time will be good for us, too.

Along with learning about how to be a mother, I've done some creative work as well. I've mentioned before that Max Gladstone ([livejournal.com profile] lyster) and I are working on the novel Blood and Tumult for Baeg Tobar together, and we've finally managed to make some progress. (This means that I've finally managed to sit down and write chapters back to Max -- he was waiting on me to contribute for quite some time.) We're writing chapters back and forth to each other; it's back to my turn again, so I need to send him about 3000 words before the weekend is over. Collaboration is exciting, though, and it's fun to see how characters change or appear differently when they're built in tandem with someone else. (Also, it's brilliant motivation, now that we're in progress, to know that someone else is waiting -- perhaps even with baited breath! -- to see what happens next. *g*)

As far as blogging, I'm hoping to be back to my regular blogging schedule of at least several times a week, with guest blogs or excerpts lined up on Fridays. YA novelist and fellow Mythopoeic Society member Alma Alexander has agreed to talk about differentiating fairy tales and myths sometime in the near future; she and I corresponded recently on what being "mythopoeic" is all about, and I thought her notes were so interesting that I wanted her to share them here. (I haven't yet read her novels, though I have no idea how I missed them -- they look wonderfully mythopoeic and right up my alley!)

And finally, thanks to everyone who, while I was on hiatus, contacted me outside of livejournal. It was lovely to hear from you! And now, it's good to be back. :)
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
I don't know how I do this. When I start out with a new calendar, it's blank and clean and pretty! (My 2009 calendar is a lovely print calendar by Lindsay Archer (the 2010 version is available here if you're interested.) And yet, somehow, those dates get filled with black ink to mark my day job hours, blue for appointments, purple for classes, and green for social engagements. (I switch colors on pretty much everything except the red deadlines and the black day job hours -- I'm not as organized as I'd like to think.)

Usually, I'm a few steps ahead on the autobio project -- though, granted, the first half of the year deadline is always much easier than the one late in the year (because I get the contract for both in the late summer/early fall, which means the first deadline is a crunch and the second deadline is languid and serene). This time around, I had to hand off more than usual to fellow copyeditor and Substrater Michelle while I organized the administrative details. (It's a good thing she's a copyeditor I really enjoy working with! I love working on the essays myself, so it's hard to hand over the work to someone else. It has to be someone I trust -- and Michelle certainly fits that bill.) I've got a great batch of writers this time around, and I'm very much excited to see them all in print.

But in the meantime, there's a 4e adventure that needs to be finished over the weekend, not to mention the rest of my first chapter installment in my joint Baeg Tobar project with [livejournal.com profile] lyster. (Have I mentioned Blood and Tumult by name yet? No? It's in progress! I'm 1500 words in on my first segment -- unfortunately not the full 3000 that would let me pass it back to Max. *sigh*) I have School Library Journal reviews that need to be written, not to mention the overdue reviews for Flames Rising.com and the overdue article edit for Journey to the Sea. (Alas, the free work always ends up falling behind those paid assignments.)

I was raised to keep myself busy as a kid, and I think I've taken that lesson to heart. My mother was the kind of teacher who always had several projects going outside of the classroom -- the biggest one was building a life-sized rainforest in an empty mall store. So I'm sure I get some of this impulse to take on so many projects from her.

One of these days, though, I think I'd like a vacation. It's a good thing I've forbidden myself from taking any work that's due in March! (I'll be busy with another little thing around then, but she's sure to be a handful.)

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Alana Joli Abbott

July 2017

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