Links: What’s Steampunk, Sleepy Hollow preview, and more

I didn’t get all of my freelance work done before the weekend, so I’m having to work today. It’s mostly my own fault for not managing my time as well as I could have, but then again this was a pretty hectic week that involved more errands and more reasons to leave the house than usual (including a second trip to Bixby to pick up Pete’s meds from the vet because she didn’t have them stocked when we were there on Wednesday. Let me tell you, that is quite a long way to drive for such a simple errand), so I’ll go ahead and cut myself some slack.

The plan is to get this last article written before lunch, then I’ll be free the rest of the weekend. Except I also have a couple of short things I need to write for a Fiverr client by Monday evening. I’m still dithering on whether to buckle down and get those done today so I can take Labor Day off, or just wait and do them Monday so I can enjoy most of my Saturday. Considering that “enjoying” my Saturday involves laundry and vacuuming the house, I’ll probably hold off on the extra work until Monday.

Also on today’s agenda: trimming my unruly hair (still debating whether to give myself straight bangs or keep them longish and side swept, even though I usually regret straight bangs because they never lay down like I want them to, and yet I never seem to learn), fiddling with the outline for the new novel, and pulling my horror short story collection together for beta readers.

And now I’ll leave you with some links that are open in my browser that might be of interest to you:

NaNoWriMo Prep and a Cover Reveal

shiny_web_copyI managed to accomplished two (TWO!) writing/publishing-related things last weekend: I broke through my block and figured out the main plot arc of the next book in the Damned series (and also what book three is about, and that it’s up to four books now instead of being a trilogy); and I came up with a cover for Shiny, my steampunk cyborg fairy story (previewed here), that I’m (mostly) happy with. This is probably not the final final version (I’m not 100% sold on the main font, thanks to the “y” looking too much like a “g”), but it’s close. At any rate, I’m aiming to have it ready for release in December, after Nano is out of the way.

Speaking of Nanowrimo, I had originally planned to do a series of posts throughout this month covering the whys and hows and wherefores of participation in the month-long writing marathon, but I’ve been too preoccupied and overwhelmed with getting my web design and marketing business back off the ground and, frankly, I just don’t have a lot of steam left. What little steam I do have, I should probably save for writing my novel.

The short version is, for those who still question the sanity of Nanowrimo and whether or not they should give it a try, is that I recommend doing it at least once, if you have any book-length writing ambition whatsoever. The primary reason I recommend it is because it’s basically boot camp for learning how to keep a deadline. It forces you to learn how to make yourself write when you just have a few free minutes here and there. If you’re someone who thinks you can’t possibly write unless you have a big, solid block of uninterrupted time to “get your head in the zone” and “find your inspiration,” much like I used to be, this is a valuable and necessary lesson to learn.

2013-Participant-Vertical-BannerAs for me, I still need to relearn that lesson from time to time, which is why this is going to be my seventh year (it would have been my 8th, but I took last year off). After so many attempts–some of which were successful, some of which gave me books that were eventually good enough to publish, some of which produced manuscripts that are best left forgotten at the back of my hard drive–I’ve also figured out that the way Nano works best for me is to use it to write a discovery draft, a “draft zero” that’s somewhere between an expanded outline and a full-blown manuscript. That’s why I’m not going in with a detailed outline. As mentioned above, I do have the main arc worked out, so I’ll know what direction I need to move in, but I’ll basically be pantsing it and figuring out the details as I go.

I am a little doubtful of my chances for success this year, because as I said, I’m not running on a full tank of gas and my day job is still pretty busy. But being that it’s a sequel, I already know the characters, so I don’t have to spend time figuring them out and trying to find their voices. That should help things flow more smoothly. At any rate, I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to “win.” As long as I get a good start on my next novel, regardless of whether I reach 50,000 words, I’m going to consider it time and effort well spent. And I’ll probably be working on this manuscript for the next six to 12 months, regardless of how far I get in November.

At any rate, it’s only two days away! Which means that Halloween is tomorrow! Which means that my big Halloween book sale is about to draw to a close! Which means you should totally go snag all of my books for 99 cents each before the price goes back up at the close of October 31st (or when I remember to go raise the prices back up on Friday)! So go now!

Sneak Peek – Untitled Steampunk Cyborg Pixie Story

steampunk-fairy--large-msg-129989045703Happy prelude to a long weekend! Here’s a brief (and rough) excerpt of the short story I’m currently working on for submission to yet another anthology.

***

He was shiny.

That’s what first drew her notice. Other men were bland and monochrome and hardly worthy of attention. But this one, he gleamed. He tried to hide it under a hat and dark glasses and gloves and other human trappings, keeping his head down and avoiding other human eyes, but she saw. That first glimmer of light drew her to him as the sunlight glinted off his cheek, and as she watched him, his sleeve rode up and exposed shiny brass skin. He was a curiosity, and the elders had always said that she was a dangerously curious thing. So of course she followed him.

He lived in a small cottage at the edge of the wood, well outside of town. The house had a lovely garden, but it was the things inside that held her interest. Through the window she spied even more curiosities and wonders: birds and butterflies and mice and other small, delicate creatures made of the same shiny stuff that the man was made of — at least partly.

For once inside, he stopped hiding, and she could see him truly. He removed his hat and glasses and revealed a head and half a face covered in plates of polished brass. Where his left eye should have been, there was a socket filled with cogs and gears and other parts she had seen on the machines of men. He removed his coat and gloves and rolled up his sleeves, revealing an arm made of polished wood and brass, and a hand with coppery joints that could flex and grasp as well as his pale, fleshy hand.

He went to the table where his brass menagerie lay dormant, picked up something that looked like a spy glass and affixed it to the empty eye socket. Then he took a key from his vest pocket and began winding each small creature, one by one, bringing them to life.

She hovered at the window and watched, delighted and mesmerized by this clever man and his creations, as copper butterfly wings fluttered and brass birds sang and flew and mock mice raced around the surface of the table. The butterfly came near the window, and the wings were a sight to behold, covered with intricate scroll work, gleaming and delicate. A pang of envy shot through her as she glanced back at her own wings, wishing they were even half as splendid.

The butterfly shot away from the window and she found herself pressed up against the glass, gazing after it with longing, wanting only to go inside and have a closer look.

She never saw the cat.

***

Friday Five – Get Your Steam(Punk) On

Steampunk Nerf Weaponry : The Girl, The Guns : 5I’ve been poking around the corners of the web lately, trying to become more familiar with the steampunk genre in preparation for writing my next novel, Radium Town. Of course, being a nerd who lives on the Internet, I’m fairly well acquainted with steampunk already–and you probably are, too, you just don’t realize that the genre itself is fairly old. It’s the rise in popularity and cosplay and what have you that are relatively new.

At any rate, I’ve stumbled across a few steampunk-related links that I want to remember, so I thought I’d share them with you this week.

Keys On the Typewriter: Steampunk 101 is a good overview of the genre, its history and evolution, its tropes and conventions, and it’s growing appeal. If you think you’re clueless about steampunk, this is a good place to start cluing yourself in.

American Cultural History 1890-1899 (and also 1900-1909) is an excellent reference resource for the time period my story will be set in. It includes sections for each decade on things like Art & Architecture, Fads & Fashion, Historic Events and People & Personalities. This should come in really handy for world-building and grounding my alternate-reality setting in history and realism.

Steam Circus doesn’t really have anything to do with my novel–I just find I’m digging the whole steampunk aesthetic, and since I haven’t been to a con in over 8 years and even if I did attend them regularly, I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to participate in full-on cosplay, I figure the best way to integrate a little steam into my wardrobe is with steampunk-inspired jewelry. This site has some such jewelry that is downright gorgeous, as well as other accessories that would work either as part of a costume or for a more subtle approach.

And speaking of real-world steampunk fashion, Minnie Zephie’s Steampunk Treasure Trunk chronicles her pursuit of same — attempting to integrate a subtle steampunk aesthetic into her every day wardrobe without crossing the line into costume-wearing. I really like this idea, and I think it’s something I could pull off. I feel like as I look ahead in my author career to potentially attending cons, signings and other writer events, I need to start paying a little more attention to my style and image and elevate it a few (dozen) steps above “yoga/pajama/workout pants and a tee-shirt most days and put on jeans on the rare occasions that I leave the house.” Anyway, I’ve always liked the neo-Victorian classical look, and I really like the edge that the steampunk elements give it.

And if I want to go a little less subtle, I can always whip up one of the AMAZING steampunk-inspired knit patterns from The Ladies of Mischief. This site is giving me SUCH a hankering to run to my local yarn shop and plunk down about a hundred dollars on some quality yarn so I can make these projects. LOVE the bloomers! And the corset! And… and… all of it! Love! Except, sadly, I don’t have a hundred dollars to spend on good yarn and I barely have time to knit these days. But it is bookmarked, and some day, my pretties, just you wait.