Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two True Things and Nine Years Later

First: It's the last day to vote on my story, Eau de Public Transit, and have your vote counted in August's tally. The top story for the month gets highlighted the next month, so if you liked what I wrote, I'd appreciate a quick vote. Not going to lie: I can use all the publicity I can get.

Second: In a fit of self-doubt, I applied for a job last night. When I told Jer, he said, "Why?" So I laughed and said, "I can't even tell you how much I appreciate your supporting me to stay home and write." He said, "Try."

Dude is funny.

I'm juggling too many invisible projects again and not much tangible is getting done, however I did finish a new draft of a children's story I've been working on for nine years, and will be getting feedback on that soon. It's the only story I've written that's based on a true story and isn't fantastical or horror. After I wrote the first draft years ago, I set it aside because it wasn't quite right. Then I rewrote it last November, got some feedback, learned some more about story structure, changed the tense, the title, and the POV character, added a new (happier) ending, and here we are.

Two fun facts: My story is as old as the main character. And it took me nine years to come up with 1,920 words. Told you I was slow. And freakishly stubborn.

I think it took so long primarily because it was based on truth and I had an awful time distancing myself. It wasn't until I let go of it being true that I found the story. I made the main character a boy, I changed the main conflict to something fictional, and then I merged two other true things to make the story flow. So now I guess it's not exactly true anymore. It's a Frankenstein of truth.

You know. For kids.

Monday, August 29, 2011

An August Summary

Seeing as it's the end of August, let's recap bullet-point-style.

  • Attended William Gibson's reading at UW
  • Attended Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Conference and moderated a session for urban fantasy author, Yasemine Galenorn
  • Sold my first story to Every Day Fiction and saw it published on August 23rd (Eau de Public Transit)
  • Hosted my first guest post (Martin King's Plants)
  • Attended three days of Penny Arcade Expo (PAX)
  • Received 3 rejections
  • Submitted 2 stories for a total of 5 active submissions
  • Had a birthday
  • Registered to attend Foolscap in September and Steamcon in October
  • Took my car in for emissions testing and passed. w00t.

When I list it all out like that I don't feel so lazy -- though two submissions isn't that many. For September, I'll work on increasing that number.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Photos from Day 3 of PAX

A Bloody Mary is a perfect breakfast food.

On day three of PAX, I tried something new: Being Social. I joined a friend and went to a PAX Girls' Meetup for Sunday brunch at the Diller Room in downtown Seattle. It was a nice opportunity to meet some like-minded ladies.

Expo Hall Crowds

When I got to the Expo Hall, I remembered I do not like crowds so much. Bloody Marys help with that, by the way, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

SSX Booth, YAY

SSX Tricky was one of those games Jer and I could play together for hours. We still quote it sometimes, and I was sad to have to set it aside. The new SSX game should be out around January.

Just Dance 3 - Audience Participation

Really fun to watch people in costume doing the dance moves.

The game, Firefall, had a neat promo activity, where you'd go on a scavenger hunt and take photos and video of yourself in front of statues or with unsuspecting staff holding up the Firefall logo. At first it was fun, and I earned a cool knit hat.

After about 10 of these--as you can see by my face in this last picture--it got a little tedious.

Jer also took a video of me saying, "I love Firefall!" on the street outside the convention center. I look deranged. That video will probably not see the light of day. However, we did earn him a very nice sweatshirt which he will be wearing the crap out of.

Thus ends my account of Penny Arcade Expo 2011.

Thanks for playing the home game.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PAX: Photos from Day 2

At our second day of Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) we went to a lot of Dungeons and Dragons-themed stuff. Now I can say 'yes' if anyone ever asks: By chance, have you ever seen Wil Wheaton play D&D live?

Also: Ate some food. And now I'm tired.

Here are three more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Expo Hall. Lots of people and strange hovering larger-than-life statues with glowing eyes.

The Console freeplay room. Jer and I played Alice: Madness Returns on the XBox.

Me in the women's bathroom, in front of the strange mirror applique. Someone tell me why this was necessary. Hey, ladies, let me just pose with this unrealistic body armor while I'm washing my hands; I'm feeling busty!

Guest post by Martin King - Plants

Today I'm turning my blog over to Martin King, fellow writer/blogger. He's challenged himself to write 100 posts on 100 different blogs during the month of August under the topic, childhood memories. So without further ado, here's Martin's post "Plants."

When I was younger – which is pretty obvious seeing as these stories are all about childhood memories – I ended up with a bedroom full of flowers. But not just any flowers mind you. No these were Geranium dissectum. Apparently there are 422 species, which I only know because I had to look up how to spell its name. More commonly known to you and me as Geranium.

My story starts a little before then. There was this old lady I used to call in on my way home from school. It just sort of happened and I would see if she needed anything. More often than not, it was just the company. But she was so grateful for my company she always wanted to give me something. She didn’t have much and I didn’t like taking anything, but she had this special aversion for Geraniums.

So every time I would call, she would give me a Geranium cutting. That meant that I could pot the stem and it would grow into a new plant all by itself. Within a short time, I had a bedroom full of plant pots which in turn were full of new Geraniums.

Now for those who don’t know much about them let me tell you...they stink! Yes my bedroom reeked with this awful weird smell. Ever since then I have never owned a single one since. I hate them with a passion. Sorry to all you Geranium lovers.

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a '#100blogfest' blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Greetings from Penny Arcade Expo (PAX)

It's that time of year again. And by that I mean time for PAX. A wonderful annual event in Seattle packed full of enthusiastic nerds and gaming aficionados. It features a multitude of panels, an expo hall, concerts, opportunities for game play, and free stuff. I love the free stuff.

Here's me in front of the massive Firefall installation.

Escalators inside the Convention Center, filled with PAX-goers. Filled, I say.

Random painting in the Halo hall.

The painting probably has some significance; I don't know what though. There was a note next to it that said it had been donated to Child's Play.

PAX runs through Sunday so maybe I will manage to take a halfway decent picture with the iPhone between now and then. Or maybe not.

I make no promises. Anyway, if you're wondering why I'm so quiet all of a sudden, PAX is why.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So blank page, we meet again

My debut story at Every Day Fiction (read it here) was received really well.

I just want to thank everyone who took the time to read it yesterday, and if you haven't yet, it's not too late, though I do plan to stop bringing up the subject. One published story is all well and good, but it means I should be working even harder to get to two published stories.

Right now, I have five stories out for submission: three anthologies and two flash. The two short stories I sent out both came back rejected this month. One I'm reworking for another purpose and the other I'm going to revise and look for another market.

I'm trying to decide what I should start next. I have an idea for a science-fiction story, but I'm not sure how much research it'll require, which is a crummy excuse.

Okay, self: agree to start something new today and I'll let your excuse slide. Otherwise, to the moon, Alice!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first story has been posted!

My first story sale is now up at Every Day Fiction:

It's free to read and comment over there, and I sure would appreciate any comments you have. Just to warn you, it's on the horror end of the genre spectrum.

I'm so excited to finally share this with you all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Should've, Could've, Coffee!

Today is my last day home-alone. I haven't used the time all that efficiently, but you couldn't beat the company. (Har, har). I watched some movies, saw the live stream of the Hugo Awards, posted that list of book recommendations (finally) and had one of my stories critiqued.

I plan to submit my story today or tomorrow to an anthology. I should also be writing a ten-minute play, but I haven't started it yet. My productivity seems to have gone down lately -- don't think I haven't noticed, brain. Though I do have to remember that last month's surge of productivity was a buildup of two months' worth of work realized.

Rationalization, yay.

I've had two rejections this month, and have written around 8,000 new words, but that seems low. Like, I can do better. So, as you can see, I'm going through one of those beat-myself-up phases.

So let's be positive! Tomorrow my first story sale will appear over at It'll be my first fiction on the internet, ever... if you don't count that time I submitted an ending for Twin Peaks to a contest held by Bravo, years and years ago, and my piece was a winner.

I don't count that.

Tomorrow you'll get to read a tale of dark doings on the metro, when a mysterious and smelly man turns the morning commute upside-down.

Maybe I should've just called it Mwahahahaha! But no. It's "Eau de Public Transit."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The one where priorities are skewed

The husband is out-of-town so here is some of what I've done today: watched the live-action version of Death Note (Watashi wa Folly desu), drained most of a bottle of Prosecco (mmm bubbles), ate freezer pizza followed by a Fiber One brownie (delicious dietary fiber is delicious), and saw "Midnight in Paris" at the theatre (like a boss).

Here is what I haven't done today: Written. Anything.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Recommendations Posted!

I took all the book recommendations I received for my birthday and added them to this Amazon list:

Folly Blaine's Book Emporium

If I left anything out, I apologize. Let me know and I'll fix it.

At 108 books, it is a beautiful monster. Thank you, friends and readers, for making this list so comprehensive. I hope you can find something entertaining on this list.

I know I will.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Silly silly cha cha cha

Golly gee. Where were we?

I've been on a kick to spread my silly rhymes like manure. Today I told Twitter:

For the other side of morning, I have one simple dream, my washing machine will work again, and spin my brassieres clean. -@follyblaine

Happily the repairman came and went, and lo, agitation returned to our stinky hamlet. Clean clothes, ahoy.

Why is my brain so full of holes? I wrote for a few hours this morning and then I critiqued a couple stories. The room is hot. I vacuumed. Coffee makes me sleepy.

This is the sum of my excuses.

I also learned our dryer was made in the 1970's, which means it is probably original to the house. The wood panelling should have been a clue. I also learned it is a workhouse and will probably never die.

Unless I hit it with an axe, you know, hypothetically.

Not that I would EVER hit a machine with an axe, future-robot-overlords-who-have-archived-the-entire-internet-forever-and-are-using-this-against-me-in-some-perverted-court-of-future-robot-justice.

I swear it slipped. Now can I see my family?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My first Steamcon

I registered for Steamcon III, which is a three-day convention for steampunk fans in Bellevue, WA, October 14-16. This may be the best idea I've ever had or the worst, because it is going to take me right out of my comfort zone.

Like, forcibly, and by steam-powered submarine.

I'm drawn to the steampunk aesthetic, but I'm very new to the genre.

Any book or art suggestions I should know about? I'm looking for personal favorites. (I just got Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.)

Or, if you've been to an earlier Steamcon, do you have any tips for a first-timer?

I see they offer an "intro to steampunk" workshop that conflicts with PAX (Penny Arcade Expo), so I have to be bold and just wing it. I'm told I should acquire goggles and a corset. Beyond that I'll just be bringing loads of enthusiasm and my undivided attention.

Stay tuned for another fish-out-of-water adventure.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dreams and rewrites

I set my notebook next to the bed and woke in the grip of two very strange dreams. Dreams I could force into stories, if I wanted. Not sure I want to though. One of them still has me in its thrall, and it is not a pleasant place to be.

It's been awhile since I remembered my dreams. Remembering two is pretty wild. I guess I'll have to try the notebook trick more often.

I finished a draft of a short story yesterday -- the one I mentioned in the last entry as being tough. I started seriously thinking about the anthology's theme a month ago. I wrote thousands of words trying to nail down a story. After two different approaches, pages of internet research, and a whole lot of wordy nothing, I felt lost. Then I said to myself, what are the parts you know for sure to be true?

I listed those out.

Okay, self. Can you make a story out of that? Forgetting everything else?

And I did. I boiled all the great ideas for character development and setting and plot down into one idea. (That hurt.) I gave both main characters strong motivations. I used the setting I originally wanted to use. And there it was. Finally. Once I got over how clever I was, I saw what was possible.

There's probably 1 or 2 more rewrites I can get out of the story, but I'll wait until I get the first round of reader feedback. Just to be clear, the story isn't done. I'm taking this moment to celebrate finishing a viable draft.

Sometimes it's the little things

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trying to find story when the subject doesn't inspire

I've been choosing anthologies to submit to -- ones that feature a single theme and accept unsolicited submissions -- and treating their guidelines as writing exercises. This approach has worked well for my last two short submissions, but this third one I've chosen is giving me a hard time.

The argument for this approach is that it narrows my subject choice significantly. The limitations may force more creativity and I might end up with a story I never would have written otherwise.

The argument against this approach is that sometimes I'm stuck with a theme that doesn't inspire me. I know it's usually recommended to want to write a voluntary submission, but I'm forcing myself because this is a challenge.

Can I make myself care (and ultimately a discerning reader) about something that's never interested me?

The prevailing wisdom for writers is that you can't wait to do your job until inspiration hits. You just have to do it everyday, no matter what. So the real question becomes: Can I produce a good story without waiting for inspiration?

The theme I'm working with is a big one. I figure it's my own damn fault if I can't see anything interesting lurking at the edges.

In the future I'm sure I'll choose my projects more carefully, but right now this is a great exercise. After a month of false starts I've finally found a story I can write. Now I just have to figure out how to tell it.

You know, the easy part.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Sacrifice: The First Book of the Fey (The Fey Series)

Years ago, a friend recommended a series to me called the Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I fell in love with the books and recommended them to everyone, until I realized a couple of the titles were out of print. I couldn't stand watching excitement turn to disappointment when my friends realized Book 4 suddenly cost $200 on eBay. And Book 4 was kind of important.

But o happy news! I see now the first two books are available for Kindle, and this makes me very happy. I hope to see the rest of the titles available soon, so I can recommend this series once again.

I stumbled across Rusch's web site today and discovered an incredible resource of articles dealing with the business of writing. It's hard to pick just one link to share with you, but here it is:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: [Writing] Deal Breaks Continued.

I look forward to becoming reacquainted with one of my favorite authors. Thank goodness for internet serendipity.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A request for book suggestions

My unoriginal take on birthdays is that they're a good time for self-reflection and goal setting -- my own personal New Year's. So when I tell you my birthday is tomorrow, you might jump to some conclusions about how I'm spending my time this week.

Yep, tangible goal setting.

And as part of this, I have a question for you. What are one or more books that have taken you out of the moment? A book that swept you up so strongly by its language, you forgot who you were?

I'm looking for all genres, recent or classic, from Sookie to Ender to Proust. I want to know what combination of words worked for you.

What novel or short story would you be afraid to read on a bus because you might miss your stop?

Please tell me the story's author and title in the comments. And thanks.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

My first PNWA conference

Hello! If you're here because we met at the Pacific Northwest Writers Assocation Conference, thank you for taking time to check me out. Let me know about your site in the comments and I'll return the favor.

I write short stories under the pen name Folly Blaine, with an emphasis in fantasy/magical realism/horror. In short, I like "weird," with strong characters and humor.

On August 23, I have a dark fantasy, flash fiction story called "Eau de Public Transit" coming out on the Every Day Ficton web site. (If the site is down it's because they're moving servers. It should be restored in a couple of days.)

For your convenience, I am also available in a bite-sized Twitter version @follyblaine.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

This and That

Jer and I attended William Gibson's reading at UW Kane Hall last night. He read chapter two of Zero History, answered audience questions, and signed books. Very enjoyable.

The University of Washington bookstore has done a great job hosting authors this summer. (They may have always done, but recently I've paid attention.) In the last two months, I've had the opportunity to hear the following authors read: Paul Park, Nancy Kress, L. Timmel Duchamp, Margo Lanagan, Minister Faust, Charles Stross, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and William Gibson. About a month earlier I also saw/heard John Scalzi read.

And I've reserved tickets to see Neal Stephenson on September 20. This is pretty much the best summer ever.

Most of the events were free or only cost $5. The free events I attended were part of Clarion West's Summer Reading Series.

Next week will be the first Tuesday in a long time I won't have a reading to attend. Lucky for me, it looks like Dungeons and Dragons might be starting up again.

Tomorrow I'm going to the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Conference in Bellevue, WA. I've printed out a schedule from the web site and some business cards. I bought some mints, granola bars, and black tights, just in case. (You never know when you'll have a tights emergency.) Charged my phone... My goal is to have a good time, meet some people, and learn some stuff. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Recent social activities and PNWA

Our recent spate of sunny days coincided with an urge to be social, which is good. Saturday was a party at a friend's, Sunday was bowling with friends, Monday meant meeting Jer at the driving range, tonight we're going to hear William Gibson speak.

Later this week I will be attending the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Conference. And on Saturday, August 6th, I will be a moderator for author Yasmine Galenorn's presentation on urban fantasy. I'm looking forward to that.

Also, yesterday the heating and air conditioning guys finished their work. Our ducts are sealed, the return vent has been moved, and we have a fresh air connection to the outside world. I'm pleased.

The plan for today is to write, eat leftovers, and drink coffee. I only hope I am up to the challenge.

Wish me luck.

Monday, August 01, 2011

My first story sale to Every Day Fiction

Yesterday I submitted a 3,600-word story (contemporary fantasy) into the wild. This one was written quickly, but the rewriting -- the fine-tuning -- took weeks that turned into months following many generous reader comments.

Now let's see if I can find it a good home.

I mentioned on Twitter (@follyblaine) my first story sale, a flash fiction piece called Eau de Public Transit under pen name Folly Blaine, is coming out August 23 at Every Day Fiction.

EDF is a wonderful, free service that sends a story under 1000 words to your inbox every day. You can either wait for me to remind you of my Internet debut, or sign up now and experience the magic on your own terms.

No one has read this story except Jer and the editors at EDF. A couple of beta readers saw an earlier version, but I've made a few major changes in the interim. Back then its title was The Metro because the story is based on an experience I had riding the Metro in Prague last year.

I loved Prague, by the way. Everyone should go if they're able.

It's also worth calling out: This is my first fiction on the Internet in 15 years of posting. I am excited to have the opportunity to share my work and hope you find it entertaining.