alanajoli: (writing)
(My apologies to the person from whom I stole this link. I can't find your entry to link back. If you comment here, I'll be happy to link back to you!)

Someone on lj posted this link to Jonathan Carroll's blog entry about writing, comparing Writing (roughly the way other people talk about Muses) to a wild creature that will panic if you force it to stay indoors. He writes about allowing writing to go the way it wants, about being inspired and not working when you're not. I really like the points he makes.


The problem with me and writing isn't that I'm blocked. It's that I feel obligated to do other things first. I have copyediting assignments or articles to write. I'm sorry, my muse-y friend, but I don't have time for coffee with you today. I'm too busy.

This is the beauty, for me, of the Butt in Chair technique. Introduced to me by [ profile] jenlyn_b, the BIC technique is basically where I invite Writing over for a long stretch of catching up. It's where I set aside hours of time just to hang out with this friend I've been neglecting. BIC isn't about cracking the whip on Writing--it's about cracking the whip on my scheduling, making sure I actually spend time doing what's important to me, that creative work I so often neglect.

And now that I've started thinking about Writing as a poor neglected friend, I feel I really ought to call her up and see if she can do a lunch date tomorrow.
alanajoli: (Default)
We're a week into the New Year, and I haven't really put together a list of resolutions. I'm not sure that I will. I do have a goal of forming an actual spiritual practice (rather than a haphazard spiritual observance). The same is true of my writing. I think I lost track of my apprenticeship somewhere along the way and need to get back on the right path.

But 2009 is looking pretty exciting for a number of reasons. Here's some of what's coming up:

1) Substrate. This is my new, semi-local writing group! Since we're based out of New Haven, it's very local to me, but some of the writers will be coming from Boston and D.C., so it'll be a trek. Luckily, New Haven is an old stomping ground for everyone but me (as the person who has spent the least amount of time living here on Connecticut's shoreline, or so I believe), so the writing group meetings can be combined with other events as well. Like, say, D&D games.

2) Baeg Tobar. I've gotten involved with BT again, and am very excited to be working with Scott and Jeremy and Daniel and the BT crew. There are some amazing things in store for the site this year, including serial fiction, short stories, and a regularly updating web comic.

3) England. I've been invited to be the TA/driver/chaperon for the Simon's Rock England Trip in May of this year. The last time I was in England was 2003, when my sister and I went on our (now infamous, I'm sure) Isle of Man trip, where we were attacked by gulls and almost fell into the Chasms. (I exaggerate only slightly.) We'd begun the trip in England, and we stayed in Glastonbury for a good chunk of it. I am very excited to return, and hope to become reacquainted with Geoffrey and Pat Ashe. I've fallen out of touch with the Arthurian scholar and his wife in recent years, and am looking forward to seeing them again.

4) Getting past 1st level. My Mythic Greece players, with the exception of the one who is currently nannying in England (and so hasn't made the past few sessions) are all second level. Also, I got a GM medal at Worlds Apart for running sessions there. (They were shocked with how excited I was with a little virtual medal, but I am constantly in awe of how well we're treated there. They are good people, and if you're near Pioneer Valley and in need of a game store, they should be your go-to point.)

5) Since it's up on the site, I think it's fair to announce that my LFR module, "Head above Water," is premiering at DDXP this year. I won't be going to Fort Wayne to usher it into the world, but I'm really excited to have it given such an excellent spot to begin play!

6) Dogs in the Vineyard. The old Dogs game is coming to a close, and the new Dogs game is ramping up. There are fun times waiting to happen.

7) Another Shoreline summer. There will be sailing, there will be beach cook outs, there will probably be grill outs in our new back yard. (We moved in December.) I may be dreaming in advance about sunshine, but man am I looking forward to beach weather!

8) A million things to read. Moving made me consolidate my TBR pile--the ones I've actually *purchased* and not just added to the list in my head. I'd take a picture, but it's a bit embarrassing. Add to that the number of awesome authors with books coming out this year (or just released): [ profile] frost_light, [ profile] melissa_writing, [ profile] ilona_andrews, [ profile] sartorias, [ profile] jimhines, Carrie Vaughn, [ profile] rkvincent, [ profile] blue_succubus, [ profile] antonstrout, [ profile] amanda_marrone, [ profile] jenlyn_b, [ profile] m_stiefvater, [ profile] mdhenry, [ profile] nalini_singh... all of them on my Must Be Read list. (And that's just with what I know from livejournals or can back up with Amazon research. Heck, that's mostly for the first six months of this year.)

So, yes, 2009 is looking up. I know, I'm probably one of the few people in the world who is sad to see 2008 go, but it was a good year for me, as far as my short stories getting published, and I'm pretty pleased with it on retrospect. But, as they say, onward and upward!
alanajoli: (fan)
Thanks for all the well wishes for safe journeys! We did have a wonderful time abroad, and of the novels I brought with me, I finished almost all of them. If you knew the reading load for the course itself, you would realize that this is either an astonishing feat of speed reading or a realization that I wasn't, in fact, getting graded. (I did read quite a bit of the course material--but when on an airplane, boat, the beach, it's hard to read about sacred geography and Greek religion while also enjoying the journey or the sunshine. Balance is key.)

And so, without further ado, I present world traveling novels.

Read more... )

And with that, our tour is complete. Some pictures remain, of course--there are bookstores in Greece, and in the airport in London, and I followed [ profile] blue_succubus's example and took some photos. But given the number of photos already here, that will have to wait for another day.
alanajoli: (nap)
Today is probably the busiest Monday I've had in awhile: from work to a lunch date to picking up the clothes I'll need for the Greece and Turkey trip (I've lost two or three blouses since then, and having something lightweight with sleeves makes visiting Turkish mosques easier). This means I've not yet gotten any work done, but I may yet accomplish something toward those deadlines I mentioned by the end of the day.

In the meantime, here's a photo of my lunch date. I had a fabulous time with [ profile] jenlyn_b and [ profile] amanda_marrone, being regaled with tales of everything from puppy raising (not a good idea while writing a novel under deadline) and being chased by monkeys (not a good idea in general).

Here's us! I started out standing in the middle, but I looked *incredibly* short that way, so we shuffled around a bit.

After lunch, I went to Wal-Mart to get some supplies for traveling and also to do a little bit of reconnaissance--[ profile] jenlyn_b said she'd heard rumors of the Squad appearing on Wal-Mart shelves. Alas, I didn't see them (sorry Jen!), but I did find two other lj-ers:

Look! It's [ profile] rkvincent's Rogue and One Foot in the Grave by [ profile] frost_light! I have now happily joined the ranks of writers who take pictures of their blog-buddies' books in stores.

And now... to start making headway against those projects...
alanajoli: (orb)
My main character is now twelfth level. Huzzah! We had a great fun weekend, with an official RPGA mod, a tailor-made DM's Mark, and outdoor cooking on the grill. We even started one of our games out in the back yard. How can that not be fun? (We didn't even lose any dice outside, which is the real challenge to backyard D&D.)

In other news, I got the trip itinerary for Greece and Turkey today, so the countdown can officially start. Here's what I have outstanding before I leave:

1) I have the rough of "Don't Let Go" out with Dylan ([ profile] eyezofwolf). I don't know if edits will actually happen on that before I go or not.
2) I have an edited version of "The Best Things Get Better with Age," my contribution to Serenity Adventures, out with Jamie Chambers. I don't know if I'll be getting any more edits back on *that* or not, either.
3) I have three essays and eight obituaries to write.
4) I have a scanning project that I had fully intended to get done before I left.
5) I was hoping to actually do some comic writing before I left, in case C&AII possibly comes off hiatus while I'm gone.
6) I've been asked to finish two more reviews for [ profile] flamesrising and two for School Library Journal.

There are some other incidentals (like following up on contracts, etc.). But really? That's a lot to get done by the 20th. Along with plans to get together with friends (including lunch/coffee with [ profile] jenlyn_b and [ profile] amanda_marrone tomorrow--so excited!) and attending graduation at Simon's Rock on Saturday to see some friends get their shiny new pieces of paper that kick them out of being undergrads, I'll be cutting it close. Eight days left. Wish me luck!
alanajoli: (Default)
It's five minutes to midnight, but I've finished my edits from the playtest in the adventure I wrote and turned it in to my fabulous editor. What's this? I beat my deadline? Yes indeed!

I am far too tired to say much more than that tonight, but I had a great time with my playtest group and actually had as much fun playtesting this adventure as I usually do running them (which says quite a bit--playtests are normally incredibly helpful, but are not normally so much fun for the writer, in my experience).

Tomorrow, I'll talk a little bit about getting to meet [ profile] jenlyn_b at her signing, but that deserves a whole entry. ;)
alanajoli: (Default)
First, business. Tomorrow is the last guest entry I have stashed away. I've been able to secure quite a number in advance up until this point, but at last, I'll be running out. If you read this blog and are interested in writing a short piece about either the importance of mythology in your writing, how mythology impacts your writing, how you go about creating a mythology or cosmology in your fiction, or how you adapt myths and folklore to make them work in your story, please let me know. You can contact me via this post, or through alanajoli at virgilandbeatrice dot com. (And if any of you [ profile] fangs_fur_fey members would be willing to post about this over there, I'd be mighty grateful!)

In other news, I officially created my first new d20 creature today, just months before d20 is no longer relevant. It's not even a true monster--just an adjusted creature based on stats and templates that already exist. Despite this, I'm excited about the new creatures, particularly since my editor has given me the go ahead on it in advance. We'll see how my playtesters react on Saturday!

Speaking of Saturday, I have officially been asked to pick up books by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ([ profile] jenlyn_b) for the youth services department of our library at her local signing. She'll be at the Borders in Milford, CT (for those of you who are also local) from 2 to 4. I usually work until 3:30, so I thought I'd miss it, but my manager agreed to let me shift my schedule earlier in order to make the event. Hurrah! Perhaps if I am clever enough, I will take photographs and post them here, like [ profile] blue_succubus and [ profile] mdhenry are wont to do.

Last random thought for the day: (who is not the friend of small presses right now, so I'm a little torn about advertising for them) is holding a contest for a trip for two to London to "visit" The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J. K. Rowling's hand-written book. There are three essay-type questions that must be answered in 100 words or less. Finalists in the two age categories get $1000 in amazon gift cards. Not bad for 100 words or less.
alanajoli: (Nara)
First off, there are just a ton of great author interviews out there this week. Tiffany Trent is all over the blogosphere this week (she'll be here on Friday), and has the listing of her events here, along with information about a contest that none of you are allowed to enter, as I want the prize. So there. (Just kidding. Definitely go visit her blog and read the interviews.)

Ilona Andrews ([ profile] ilona_andrews) has an interview up on Nalini Singh's blogspot page. There, you will learn the secret of her duplicitous identity! (It is also readily available on her website, but I hadn't visited before today, so I didn't know!)

But now, for something completely different. Browncoat Jessica posted a fun meme over on her blog that I am going to completely change to suit my own purposes. (You are, of course, quite welcome to take my version and spread it around, or go use her original.)

If I were to invite ten fictional characters over to dinner, they would be*:

1) The unnamed bard from Jane Yolen's "Liavek" short stories, because rarely have I had the pleasure of hearing tales from such an endearing voice.
2) Schmendrick the Magician from The Last Unicorn, because I suspect he is as good a listener as he is a contributor, and I also would wager that he likes his food. (But he probably does not like *good* food as much as Vlad Taltos from Steven Brust's series, whom I would be afraid of offending by not offering appropriate courses.)
3) Ilona from the "Hallowmere" books (thus far by Tiffany Trent, though she'll be written by another writer shortly as well), because though I suspect she'd be a shy guest, anything she had to add to the conversation would be worth hearing.
4) Lissy James from Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, because I wouldn't want Ilona to be the only teen at the table, and I imagine that Lissy's power could do wonders for making sure all the guests got along.
5) Warbeak from Redwall by Brian Jacques, although I'd get her her own bird feeder or berries a little to one side, as the Sparra are not known for eating politely.
6 & 7) Shevraeth and Meliara from Crown Duel (and other titles) by Sherwood Smith. Though I doubt my ability to serve up a meal fit for royals, I'm so very fond of both of them that I hope they'd excuse my rather humble provisions.
8) Princess Cimmorene from Dealing with Dragons (and others) by Patricia C. Wrede, because as long as I'm inviting my favorite royalty, why stop?
9) Alanna of Tortall (from a variety of Tamora Pierce's novels), because she has always been first among lady knights in my mind, and because Ilona from "Hallowmere" would, I suspect, enjoy her company.
10) Shepherd Book from Firefly, because someone really ought to say the grace.

I would consider inviting Bilbo Baggins, but everyone knows how hard it is to keep hobbits well fed....

Others who didn't get invited to dinner this time around but are worth mentioning:

I would love to see Eowyn (Lord of the Rings), Cat Crawfield (Halfway to the Grave), and Kate Daniels (Magic Bites) spar.


*Disclaimer: If I were given this exercise tomorrow, it might change as I thought of other characters I'd love to have over to dinner. In fact, at 3 a.m., I'll probably wake up, feeling bad that I didn't "invite" someone. But in this moment, that list is absolutely accurate. ;)
alanajoli: (Default)
Okay, not for me. I'm still writing book three. But here are the books that come out today that I desperately need:

Damsel under Stress, by Shanna Swendson ([ profile] shanna_s)
Senrid, by Sherwood Smith ([ profile] sartorias)
Titan's Curse, by Rick Riordan

[ profile] jenlyn_b has a list up today of other fabulous authors whose books are releasing.

Happy May Day!
alanajoli: (Default)
I got tagged! [ profile] jenlyn_b posted this one on both her blog and on [ profile] memegirls, and, having been tagged, I too must complete it. :)

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? If you're as name obsessed as we are, fill out this Meme Girls original meme and share your name- and your favorites- with the blogging world. Then tag five friends to do the same.

1. First Name: Alana

2. Middle Name: Joli

3. Name you go by: Mostly Alana now, but my college friends still call me Joli, as does everyone at karate

4. Name(s) your parents call(ed) you: Lani and Alana, depending on age

5. Other nicknames (past and present): Lani-chan, Jo, Ferrett (as a petting zoo show animal shared my name, much to the dismay of the keepers who called me on stage), Al (though that didn't last), Lana, Nala, Foster (my maiden name), and Boss (my favorite)

6. What did you call yourself when you were little?
I called myself Lani until kindergarten, then went to Alana. By fifth grade or so I had decided that not going by a nickname was boring and tried to invent them for myself, but would then forget what I wanted people to call me (which made for some very confusing church camp experiences). You'd think I would have learned my lesson from this, but I decided to go by my middle name in college, which has confused legions--legions I tell you!--of people over the years.

7. Were your parents considering any other names (that you know of) before they settled on yours?
I remember finding a slip of paper in a dictionary when I was a kid with a list of three girls' names and three boys' names on it: among the girls' names was Alana, so I assume that was the list of possibilities from early on. The only other name I remember from the list was Alexander.

8. What does your name mean?
From the Celtic, it means either beloved or charming (it's derived from a term of affection, but Alan means beautiful or fair, so it could go either way). It could also mean noble, harmony, or fair, depending on the babynames site you use. In Hebrew (Alona), it means from the oak tree. In Hawaiian, it means awakening.

9. Do any famous people share your name?
Alanis Morisette is pretty close. Lord Google tells me that there's an Alana Curry (she was in Terminator 3), singer-songwriter Alana Davis (who, now that I've discovered her, I'm rating her on launchcast), "Quake" record setter Alana Reid from girl 0f destruction, and TV actress Alana De La Garza (Law and Order and CSI Miami).

10. Can you pronounce your name backwards?
Ttobba Iloj Anala. Well, the original surname is tricky, but my vowel dominated given name is pretty easy.

11. Favorite girls' names: For characters (rather than my future children): Aisha, Naimh (pronounced Neve), Noor, Naveen, and Noemi. Apparently I have a thing for Ns.

12. Favorite boys' names: Again for characters: Gaelen, Willum, Saif, Suleimain (which has way too much baggage to ever use in a story, but I love the sound)

13. Favorite name you've ever read in a book: Door, actually, from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, if only because it works so well in context

14. Favorite name from a TV show: At the moment, I'd have to go with Hiro, again as just a really fitting name for the character. Independent of context, I think the name Inara is lovely.

15. Favorite name for a dog/cat: I once had a plan to name four cats as references to the members of the Inklings, so I'd have Owen, Tollers, Chas, and Jack. But as I'm not likely to ever own four cats at once, this is probably best relegated to the realms of fiction.

16. Favorite character name from one of your own books: It has to be Taru. I think because that name came from a more personal place than the others (though all of the names of the main characters--and plenty of the secondary characters--are inspired from someone rather than just the baby-name searches I've done for some of the others). When the Steampunk Musha Comic finally comes out, it'll be a tough call between Taru and Amura Hiroko, which is a name that was stuck in my head for weeks while I tried to figure out where I'd heard it--but a Google search was fruitless and I decided I must be meant to use it.

I tag:
[ profile] slwhitman, [ profile] mistborn, [ profile] frost_light, [ profile] egg_fu (either by cover identity or secret identity, as Mr. Fu chooses), and [ profile] amieroserotruck, plus anyone else who hasn't been tagged yet and would like to be tagged! (I am assuming that, despite this coming from Meme Girls, the gentlemen are invited to play as well.)
alanajoli: (Default)
It amused me today that with so many posts lately about Writer's Block ([ profile] jenlyn_b had a great comments conversation about it in her blog this week) on the blogs I read, it was pertinent that today's Dork Tower also mentioned it.


I don't know if I've mentioned it here yet or not, but Departure is sort of available on Amazon. It was available earlier this week with a four-to-six week shipping (which I thought was odd), and today when I checked, there was one copy available with the note that they were reordering. So either they got through the first shipment from my publisher extremely quickly (exiting!) or they've mucked something up in the process (sad).

At any rate, if you've been looking for it, it is appearing sporadically, if you search under Alana Abbott. Into the Reach shows up there as well and periodically has copies available.

It sounds like the most reliable thing to do is go to your local game store and buy there. Not only does it support gaming (hurrah!), but it means Alliance (the distributor) thinks I'm important. Sort of.


As a note, I'm procrastinating instead of writing my novel. Does anyone have particular motivation strategies to help get excited about a writing project that just seems to be dragging along? I've seen plenty of really good suggestions for writer's block (I used [ profile] jenlyn_b's "BIC" method earlier today), but none for pep talking.

Off to try to write another ten pages before e-mailing my editor.
alanajoli: (Default)
Pandemonium Books, an amazing game and bookstore in Cambridge, MA, is in serious danger of going out of business--but they have a plan! It involves t-shirts, people buying t-shirts, and needing 1000 people to care. These are folks who support local authors, allow gamers space in their basement, host regular author events, and are expanding their teen fiction section (which already features Holly Black, and, if they followed up on the recommendation I gave them last month, will also be carrying Jennifer Lynn Barnes very shortly).

I don't beg for people to support indie bookstores just because they're indies. (People who know my love for Barnes and Noble can attest to that, and I always figure folks should shop where they're the most comfortable and content shopping.) I only make a call out for support when the store is truly special. Pandemonium is that. The full post is at [ profile] pandemonium_bks--today's entry.

I just found out from [ profile] mistborn that Peter S. Beagle, writer of The Last Unicorn, didn't make nearly the money he was supposed to on the movie of the same title. His publisher is selling autographed copies of the new DVD here; these are the only sold DVDs that Beagle will get any money from. It's worth reading the site to get an idea of the whole situation.

Amie Rose Rotruck writes the most wonderful haiku reviews, and since I wanted to talk about Peter Beagle's Last Unicorn, I thought I'd link to it here.
alanajoli: (Default)
On recommendation from [ profile] jenlyn_b, I picked up I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. This is like the teen-spy-girl-school version of Harry Potter, if that makes any sense. At its core, it's a prep school book, which I figure is about as close as we can get in America to a British school book. It's also a teen love story, a story about relationships with parents and friends, and a book with so many gadgets it puts Batman to shame. (Who'd have thought that Nicotine Patches could inspire sticky tranquilizers called Napotine Patches? Brilliant!)

But here's the thing I noticed most in this book, and to some degree in [ profile] jenlyn_b's work as well: many of us young writers in our twenties have had our language shaped by Joss Whedon and his writing staff. I knew [ profile] jenlyn_b was a Buffy fan before I read her first novel, so the quirky whedonesque language use didn't surprise me. It was pretty clear early on that Carter was a fan, too, but I didn't actually stop in my tracks and notice the language until the narrator is agonizing over what candies/snacks are safe to eat at a movie on her first date.

"Junior Mints--of course! Minty chocolate fun with none of the dangerous side effects."

This makes me wonder if those of us who are devotees of Whedon's works purposefully emulate the writing style on his shows (I know I did in one of the manners of speaking I use in Into the Reach). Or has the quirky language has become so ingrained in our minds that we use it without even realizing it? We loved the way it sounded when it wasn't ours, and love it just as much when it is.

At any rate, kudos to Carter for a great, fun novel, and kudos to Whedon and his writers for shaping American dialogue. :)
alanajoli: (Default)
I have several friends who enjoy writing, several friends who have self-published, and fewer friends who have been published through the traditional publishing system. In most cases, I met these folks before I read their fiction, which is always a little nerve wracking to me. If I like a person, I very much want to like their books. The anxiety begins as soon as I pick up a copy in the bookstore or the library. What if I don't like it? What will I say? Do I have to break all ties? Shanna Swendson was the first author who really made me confront my fear issues, because she impressed me so much when we met that I desperately wanted to be able to be part of her viral marketing team. :) Luckily for me, she's a great writer with books that are easy to recommend, so after about the first chapter of Enchanted, Inc., my fears were dispelled.

Lately, I've been meeting people who I know are writers through my space, live journal, and etc., which gives me an idea of whether or not I'm going to like their writing style before I actually read their books. I recently read Jennifer Lynn Barnes ([ profile] jenlyn_b)'s Golden, and had the very odd experience of noticing how much one of her characters wrote like she blogs. In one scene, the protagonist goes into a rant about Central Standard Time for television shows. Whether or not Ms. Barnes feels the same way, I don't know, but it was very much the same style of rant that I love when she writes them in her blog (most usually about celebrity bangs and the tragedy thereof).

The book was excellent, and I've already told the librarian in the youth services department at my library that we really should own a copy, because I'm going to start recommending it to our patrons. From what Barnes has posted about the reviews of her newest book (Tattoo) on her own livejournal, it sounds like the critics think she's grown since her first novel, so I'm expecting Tattoo to be even better. If I actually make it out to the local Barnes and Noble, as is vaguley my plan for the day (as I want to find out if they have Into the Reach in their system yet and meet the new Community Relations Manager), I'll be picking up a copy to see for myself.


Quick news: I got my comp copies for Departure. Hurray! They look very pretty, and I'm looking forward to seeing them displayed on bookstore shelves!


alanajoli: (Default)
Alana Joli Abbott

March 2019

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