There’s a meme going around about publishing, and which manuscripts make the cut and which ones don’t. Ordinarily I don’t participate in these things, not because I’m too good for them or anything, but because I’m too lazy — but I’ve had about half a dozen people ask me to throw my answers up, so here you go:
Reign of the Desert Snow. Cheesy enough title for you? Well, in my defense I was in seventh grade when I wrote this one. It was about 200 pages long, and it was about me and my cousins helping a mafia don’s daughter escape from the clutches of a drug dealer inside the Great Pyramid at Giza. Then one day the disc upon which this MASTERPIECE was saved … died. I lost the whole thing. At the time, I was inconsolable. In retrospect, I am overjoyed.
Heirloom. This one got started when I was about fourteen. It actually began with a pretty cool scene (which I won’t repeat here, since I sort of plan to revisit it someday), but basically it was a Mary Sue romp about a psychic girl who talked to animals and traveled through time for reasons which now elude me. I’m sure that those reasons seemed reasonable at the time.
Who Buried the Gravedigger? My first full-length ghost story, about 120 pages written when I was 15-16. This one was about a guy who was accused of killing his whole family (thus earning the nickname “The Gravedigger”) … but then he disappeared the night before his trial — having been a victim of the very same murderer who offed his relatives. Somehow this ghost story also turned into a time traveling thing. It was deeply stupid, I assure you.
The Pentagonal. My attempt at epic fantasy, undertaken when I was about 18. It has some strong story elements, all of which were executed with high-level idiocy. It was basically a five-part quest fable about the search for a criminal who escapes from a magical prison called “the Pentagonal.” My college roommate (hi, Lennie!) seemed to really like this one; I used to read it to her as a bedtime story. The whole thing topped out around 170 pages.
Whilom. Written maybe a year later, it was an attempt to invent a new monster. It was not a very good attempt, really. the whole thing was finished at 100 pages, and it was too literal to be a fable, but too mythic to be good urban fantasy.
Piper. My re-tread of the Pied Piper myth, tarted up as a modern fable my junior year of college. The pipe itself was made from a piece of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It ended up being an oddball travelogue that was frankly bad, though the core of the story was an idea I liked. I later turned it into the short story “Following Piper,” which was published by Subterranean #6. Let it not be said that I’m the kind of woman who wastes a good idea.
Fathom: the First Attempt. I wrote my first draft of Fathom while I was still in college, late in my senior year. It was based on a dream fragment that was basically finished at 90 pages; but everyone who ever read those 90 pages loved them, and wanted more. I tried to comply. My efforts mostly sucked.
Fathom: Attempts Two through Four. Graduate school. Attempts to re-work the original story into something that would work, all of them whole-heartedly terrible. I did not succeed until Liz helped me give it a fresh pair of eyes last year, and now this novel will be appearing — in a much improved form — this coming winter.
Awake Into Darkness: First Attempt. Wrote this one between Fathom and sort of while I was working on 4&20bb’s first edition. Trashy vampire stuff. Good fun, but not a good book. I threw it all out and have started rewriting it with a new vision and a much better protagonist.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds: Take One. The first edition of this book was instigated when I was about 23, while I was still in graduate school and working three jobs. I was the assistant to the head of the rhetoric department, adjunct faculty, and an assistant director for the school aged child care program at a school in East Ridge, Tennessee. And oh yeah. I was a full time student, too. Anytime I find myself whining about not having any time to write, I remind myself of this fact and then I shut the fuck up. This first edition was picked up by a micro-press which will remain nameless, for I would prefer to forget the whole experience. Then I heard from Tor. And the rest was history.
There. I’ve participated.
And now for today’s progress on the west coast steampunk Victoriana book with zombies, air ships, toxic gas clouds, mad scientists, dead folk heroes, secret criminal societies, and Bonus! extended deleted scenes from the Civil War:
Project: The Boneshaker
New Words: 4366 (EVEN BETTER THAN YESTERDAY)
Present Total Word Count: 83,401 words
Goal: 100,000 words by July 1
Things Accomplished in Fiction: Assaulted by a mad scientist; reunited with lost children; treated like hell; ran like crazy; shot up some more zombies; learned that strange things have been going on — well, even stranger things.
Other Observations: Nearly derailed myself today, trying to merge (a). Briar’s narrative with (b). Zeke’s narrative, which I haven’t actually written yet. This is trickier than it looks. I know basically what Zeke’s been up to, and who he’s been running around with … but actually bringing all this together has snared me several times. I strongly considered abandoning this to go back and write Zeke’s sections, but I wanted to move forward with this Nearing The End momentum while I had it. If I need to, I can always rewrite or revise later.
Things Accomplished in Real Life: Basically nothing. Dyed hair. Let the cat and the laptop duel for my lap space. Cleaned up a little. Went to the drug store to get a few last-minute things before leaving town. That’s about it.
Reason for Stopping: I’m hungry. Also, I am tired of staring at the screen, and my boobs are falling asleep from sitting here for 2 hours, wearing the cat like a very fat scarf.
Total Fiction Words Composed in 2008: 151,976
- Current Location:home -- on the couch
- Current Mood:busy