Sunday, October 28, 2012

If it's Samhain, it must be Frankenstorming.

Yeah, yeah, we all knew this would happen.  I've caved to the peer pressure and have committed to doing NaNoWriMo again this year.  Look me up there if you want to be my writing buddy -- my name is aliantha.  (Bonus points for non-Watchers who get the reference.)

And also, if you're doing NaNo, I did the aforementioned podcast interview with the nice ladies at on Thursday, as scheduled.  We talked about how to write 50,000 words in a month without losing your mind.  There's a link on the Radio Appearances page already, but I'll put it below, too.

In preparation for being swamped for the month of November, I've been doing a little prep work ahead of the publication of Tapped.  There's a new book trailer on the Book Trailers tab.  Also, if you scroll waaaaay down to the bottom of the page, you'll see a little graphic that reminds us all that the end of the Mayan calendar -- and, more importantly, the time frame for the events in Seized -- are fast approaching.

Speaking of being swamped, we here at La Casa de Cantwell are beginning to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which is supposed to come ashore north of DC sometime tomorrow.  The hurricane is setting up a little ménage à trois with a nor'easter and a high pressure front, which together are forcing Sandy inland at a somewhat unusual place.  The rain started here around 4:00 this afternoon, and we're expecting it to continue, with the added delight of 70 m.p.h. wind gusts and sustained winds of 30-40 m.p.h., for much of tomorrow and Tuesday.  I fully expect my power to go out once the wind kicks up, so I'll be collecting flashlights and candles from their hiding places presently.  (One nice thing about being Pagan -- I'm usually fully stocked with candles....)

But that's not my biggest worry.  No, my biggest worry is driving up to Toronto on Thursday for the World Fantasy Convention.  This storm is supposed to cause snow in the Appalachians through western Maryland and western Pennsylvania; naturally, I was planning to drive through there.  My hope is that if the storm dumps on them Tuesday, by Thursday at least the main roads will be cleared.  We'll see how it goes.

And as a friend claims I used to say, "If you're not in crisis, you're dead."  (I don't remember ever saying it, but it's a good line, so I don't mind taking credit for it.)

I'm sure there's other stuff I wanted to talk about tonight, but the storm's kind of muddled my head....  Oh, here's the link for the NaNo tips podcast.  Just click on the icon and away you go.  The whole thing is about ten minutes long.

That's all I got tonight.  Gonna go dig out the candle lantern now.  Stay safe and dry, and happy Samhain/Halloween!

These moments of bloggy anxiety have been brought to you, as a public service, by .

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NaNo or No?

So it has come to this, my annual dilemma:  Should I participate in National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo, which I often shorten further to NaNo) this year or not?

The pros:  As alert readers of this blog know, this would be my fourth NaNo.  My earlier NaNos were in 2008, 2009, and 2011.  Each time, I won -- that is, I reached the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days.  And each time, I got a publishable book out of it (The Maidens' War in '08, SwanSong in '09, and Seized last year.)  I have an idea teed up, too -- book four of "The Pipe Woman Chronicles" -- and I've even got an outline-ish thing written for it already.  I've got to write the book anyway, and November is as good a time as any.  So why not just commit?

Of course, there are also the usual and customary, all-purpose pros: NaNo is a great experience for anyone who has ever said to him- or herself, "I've got this great idea for a book."  It's also perfect for anyone who gets bogged down in revising while writing the first draft, because there just isn't enough time in 30 days for those kinds of shenanigans.  It's a first draft!  It's supposed to stink!  Just keep writing!

If you think writing is too solitary, NaNo volunteers have organized a bunch of events throughout the month, at which you can sit in a room and tap away at your keyboard with a bunch of other people who are tapping away at their keyboards.  (I mean, I don't get the attraction, personally.  But a lot of other people do.)  For instant socializing gratification, there are message boards on the NaNo site and Facebook groups galore.  If you'd rather work alone, that's okay, too -- you never have to see another human, and you really only have to go to the website twice: once to sign up, and once to dump your manuscript into NaNo's official word counting device so you can collect your swag.

The cons:  No rule exists that says I have to do NaNo every year; you will note that I sat out 2010, and the world did not end thereby.  Also, I'm going to lose four days at the very beginning of the month for World Fantasy Convention; I might get to squeeze in a little writing in Toronto, but it certainly won't amount to 6,668 words.  I've begun NaNo with a deficit before and it's not a lot of fun.  Besides, I've already won three times -- what else have I got to prove?  And to be honest, I'm still kind of in recovery mode after powering through the first draft of Tapped in about three weeks in late August and early September.  And if Tapped is going to be published in early December, I'm going to have to spend some time in November getting it ready to go.

The hedge:  But I don't have to win, do I?  I can write as much of the fourth book as possible during November, and if I don't get to 50,000 words by the 30th, oh well, at least I'll be farther along on it than I would have been otherwise.  And I've proven with Tapped that I can write 50,000 words in less than 30 days, so it's entirely possible that I could win NaNo this year, even with all the other distractions.  Plus I don't have to drive anywhere for Thanksgiving this year, so I'll have most of that four-day weekend to catch up.

I don't have to win.  Do I?  Or do I?

News:  Speaking of NaNo, the BookGoodies podcast interview was postponed to this week, due to the host coming down with strep throat.  I had strep back in my radio days, so I was totally sympathetic.  The new date is this Thursday, October 25th.  I'll post the particulars on my Facebook page.

I thought it was time to do a little housekeeping around here.  I moved all the book trailers to their own tab.  You will also note, if you scroll waaaaaaay down to the bottom of the page, I've added a link to Preditors & Editors -- a great website for checking out whether the agent, editing service, etc., you're about to do business with is legit.

And I've now got my very own Pinterest page.  My boards ain't works of art, but feel free to use the link to the left and check them out.

These moments of bloggy indecision have been brought to you, as a public service, by .

Sunday, October 14, 2012

All praise to the Google!
My desktop computer is in the shop, so I'm writing this post on my netbook computer with the teeny-tiny 10-inch screen.  At least I was able to plug my desktop's keyboard and mouse into the netbook, so it's not as alien a setup as it might be otherwise.  But still, I'm getting a crick in my neck from the unaccustomed screen position. And I can't watch videos on this underpowered machine.  Not that I watch a lot of videos anyway, but it's the idea that I can't that's bothering me.

Why am I whining about all of this?  (Kudos to you if you've stuck around thus far.  Your whining threshold must be pretty high!)  It's because this inconvenience has reminded me again of how much teh intarwebz have invaded my life.

I have a desktop computer at work; at home, I have my own desktop computer, as well as a netbook, a Nook Tablet, and an iPhone.  An information search about any question, no matter how low-priority the answer, is at my fingertips for 98 percent of my waking hours (it would be 100 percent, but sometimes I can't get a signal on my phone) and even for a portion of my sleeping hours.  (I've been awakened more than once by a chime from my phone, telling me somebody just mentioned me on Twitter.)

Before we went to Europe, though, my friend Kim and I checked into the cost of an international data roaming plan, and quickly concluded it would be more fiscally responsible just to turn data reception off for the duration of the trip.  It was a good idea in theory -- but in practice, oh, was it painful.  At least once a day, one of us would come up with some question in the course of conversation that the other couldn't answer.  The "I don't know" response was always accompanied by a disgusted, "But if we had data, we could look it up!"

Mark my words:  Someday the pre-intarwebz days will be known as the New Dark Ages.  It was a time when we lived in ignorance and fear.  A time when a search for answers involved delving into actual books made of actual paper (the horror!) and perusing digests, indices, tables of contents, and other arcane documents, in hopes one of them would point you to a book that actually contained the information you sought.  A time when librarians held vast power.  A time when we posed questions, such as, "Who won the Oscar for best cinematography in 1963?" and almost invariably got this response: "Huh.  I dunno."

You kids don't know how good you have it.  All praise to the Google!

Now that that's out of my system, I have some actual news.

1.  This Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, I'll be doing a podcast for BookGoodies on winning at NaNoWriMo.  You do know about NaNoWriMo, don't you?  If you've ever said to yourself, "I oughta write a book," you really should consider participating.  Anyway, I don't have particulars yet about when the podcast will be available. (It's probably on my other computer....)  I'll post the info to my Facebook page when I find out.
2.  As of this past week, I am now a weekly contributor to Indies Unlimited.  The Evil Mastermind has promised me a gruel upgrade as compensation for my extra duties. I'll let you know how it goes.
3.  The program for World Fantasy Convention 2012 is out, and I'm in it!  I'll be doing a reading on Friday morning, Nov. 2.  I also plan to participate in the mass autographing session that night.  If by some happenstance, you'll be in Toronto for the convention, please look for me.
4.  Oh, and by the way, the first draft of Tapped: Book Three of the Pipe Woman Chronicles is complete.  We're moving up the publication schedule to take advantage of the Christmas shopping season, so look for the book at your favorite online retailer starting in early December.

I'm , and I approve this blog post. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Indie Unlimited Oasis.

It was sometime in April. I was parched and past sweating, crossing the vast indie publishing desert on my virtual hands and knees, when a message appeared before me. Maybe it was on Twitter; maybe it was on Facebook. In any case, it didn’t look like a mirage – although who can say, really, with mirages? What criteria can you use, except your own senses? And I knew from experience that sensory input is not to be trusted in such a situation; until you get on top of a mirage, it looks solid enough. 

My heat-addled brain drifted back to the summer days of my childhood, driving with my parents along an endless ribbon of highway. With a child’s naivete, I believed in the puddles of water on the road before us, perfectly reflecting the sky above. Alas, as we reached them, they shimmered into nothingness. Baffled, I turned to my parents. “Where did the puddle go?” I asked, and they told me it had been a mirage.

So you never know, I told myself now. This message could be another of those mirages so common to the indie desert: a come-on for a contest with a steep entrance fee in the fine print*; or a guest post that disappears into the ether with the blog’s makeover; or any one of a number of other opportunities that appear marvelous on the surface, but that evaporate when you get too close.

I dithered. The merciless sun climbed higher in the sky. At length, I decided it was either pursue or perish. With my last bit of strength, I clicked the link – and discovered the oasis that is Indies Unlimited. 

It was not a mirage! It was real, and solid, and packed with useful information and advice. I wandered through the posts in amazement. Whole new worlds opened before me – like-fests and book promos and Animoto. 

And the people seemed to appreciate my input, even when I admitted I had no interest in Pinterest. And they were funny. 

So when the Evil Mastermind offered me free gruel if I’d stay, well, my answer was easy. Head back out into that trackless desert – that barren waste – alone? I think not.

*Fine print: This might be a slight over-dramatization of my experience. Your mileage may vary. Offer good only on the planet Earth. Do not operate motor vehicle with windshield shade in place. Happy birthday, Indies Unlimited!

A version of this article first appeared on Indies Unlimited on October 2, 2012.

I'm , and I approve this blog post.