The Hugo Nominees Have Landed!

There’s a lot to be excited about this April, my recent wedding, my honeymoon, my first short story being published, the fact that we got a new couch (seriously, I am so happy about this new couch. I might even make a post about how happy this couch makes me feel), etc. But another thing that has me excited this month is the fact that the Hugo Nominees have been announced! The reason? 2014 will be the first year that I’m voting!

As a result, I thought I’d post my initial thoughts on the nominees. Of course, I do plan on reading as many of them as possible, so I’ll be making more posts as I make my way through them all. I also won’t be talking about all of the nominees, so if you’re looking for a full list, then I’d suggest going To the Hugo Award Website.

Best Novel
-Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
-Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
-Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
-Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)
- The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)

Color me shocked not to see Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane up here. I’ve heard some rumors that he’s asked not to be nominated this year. Is there any truth behind that? Anyway, this leave the number of nominees that I’ve read at a whopping ONE (Ancillary Justice, which I liked and admire for its daring, even if I didn’t fall in love with it as easily as some other readers). Interesting, I suspect that one is going to be the only book that might pose a threat to the behemoth that is Wheel of Time. I will make an honest effort to read the nominees (although the Correia and Stross ones might be tricky, as I haven’t read the previous books in the respective series), but I don’t think that I’m going to get to Wheel of Time. Thirteen books in four months is pretty steep for anyone, and those are FAT books. Very nice to see Parasite up here. I’ve been meaning to read that one, and now I have the perfect excuse.

Best Novella
-The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
-“The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
-“Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
-Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
-“Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

Speaking of finally having excuses to read certain books I’ve had Six-Gun Snow White in my wish list for ages. Valente writes such beautiful things, and I feel she really excels in the novella format. This is a category where I haven’t read any of the nominees, but I’m excited about getting into them. I also noticed that this is two of tor.com’s many nominations this year. Apparently, they pick some really good stuff.

Best Novelette
-“Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
-“The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
-“The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
-“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
-“The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)

And now we get to the big controversy of the awards, Vox Day’s nomination! I will do my best to read it, and judge it based on it’s merit’s alone, but that’s going to be really tricky for me, given that he’s said some mean things about writers I very much admire. Still, very happy to dig into Mary Robinette Kowal’s story.

Best Graphic Story (552 nominating ballots)
-Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
-“The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who”, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
-The Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
-Saga, Volume 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics )
-“Time”, Randall Munroe (XKCD)

This one had me scratching my head a bit. Really, where is Greg Rucka’s Lazarus? And does the Hugos have something against superheroes? Not even a critically acclaimed hit like Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye? I’m also a bit puzzled at how few nominating ballots show up here (552). That’s like a third of the ones for best novel. It makes me wonder, how many Hugo voters are regular comic book readers? Or do they only read works connected to existing writers or fandoms they’re interested in already (hence the Martin, and Doctor Who nominees)? Anyway, it gives me a lot to think about when I read the nominees. It will be nice to finally get to read Girl Genius, and Saga is always fabulous.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 
-Frozen, screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
-Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
-Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
-Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)

Hey! I’ve seen all of these! I’ll make a bigger post about it later but given that so many of these categories leave me feeling woefully unprepared, it’s nice to see one where I’m completely on the ball. Oh, and I liked all of these movies but Iron Man 3. But that one made shit tons to money, so it’s not that surprising to see it here. Clearly, a lot of other people liked it.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
-An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
-Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
-Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)
-The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
-Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
-Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)

And welcome to the Doctor Who category! Don’t get me wrong, I really like Doctor Who, but I always feel that it crowds out other great TV shows and other short form video. Part of me feels that they should limit the category to one episode per show, but the other part of me feels like that would pretty much guarantee that Doctor Who would win every year. This way at least splits the votes a bit, allowing shows like Game of Thrones to snag a win (speaking of which, I need to watch Season 3!).

So there are some of my thoughts on some of the categories. Looking over them again makes me realize how much reading I need to do! I need to get started soon.

So when do we get our packets?

MAWIDGE!

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little absent from the blog lately. The reason behind that? Tanner and I finally got hitched last Saturday!

WeddingCelebrateKimK

I say finally, because we’ve been together for over ten years, and engaged for about half that time. It’s funny, but I only mentioned the wedding planning process a few times on this blog. Part of that’s because the focus of this blog is more on writing, but it’s also because I didn’t want to think about white dresses and ribbon colors any more than I had to. Planning events just isn’t my thing, and even a small wedding are still very much events. I remember tweeting several times that I wish I had just eloped.

But now… I’m really glad I didn’t, because the wedding was as close to perfect as it could have been.

At a time of year when the Mother Nature is known to be particularly unpredictable, we were blessed with warm and sunny weather, which I appreciated in my strapless dress. My hair, which pretty much only does what it wants to do (usually lie flat, and slightly tangled), was wonderfully arranged, and all of my bridesmaids looked fabulous and happy with themselves. Everyone that was supposed to come was able to, and despite a couple problems with music, the ceremony was mostly fault free. I only had one moment where I got nervous, and it was right before I walked down that isle. Anyone who’s been through it will understand. Everyone is STARRING at you!

The reception afterwards, like most of the day, was pretty low key. During the planning process, we had a few areas where we were okay spending money, and then cut out other areas all together. So, as neither of us are big on dancing, we didn’t have a DJ or band. We didn’t have too far to go from the church, so we just drove ourselves instead of getting a limo. On the other hand, we made sure to get a professional photographer (and yes, I will share pictures when they’re available! The one above is from a friend’s cellphone), and didn’t skimp on the food. We also cut costs by keeping the guest list small (which suited us anyway), and keeping other aspects of the wedding similarly low key. So we didn’t cover the church or reception hall in flowers, but we had flowers for the wedding party, and my mom did a great job putting together some centerpieces with fake blooms.

Both Tanner and I had a great time, and all of our guests seemed very happy. After the wedding, we had to head home to take care of a few things (laundry!), and pack for the honeymoon, but we were able to set off on Monday to this really nice beach house that my parents own in York. Granted, going to the beach in April in May is pretty much like playing Russian roulette. It can be beautiful one day, and then snow a couple days later, which is exactly what happened to us. Still, we were still happy to be able to spend together and just relax. Before this, I hadn’t taken a real week-long vacation in about two and a half years. Combine that with all of the wedding planning, and it was really needed.

Here’s a picture I took of York on the nice day.

photo (4)

And a picture Tanner took of the snow two days later…

AprilSnow

“The Fox” Will Be Appearing in the July Issue of The Lorelei Signal

I’m happy to announce that my short story “The Fox” has been accepted for publication by The Lorelei Signal. The Lorelei Signal, for those unaware, is a great little magazine with a fantastic purpose: telling fantasy stories with strong/complex female characters. “The Fox” will be appearing in the July issue of the magazine, and then the print version (called Mystic Signals) in August.

“The Fox” is my attempt to write a more traditional fantasy stories with urban fantasy sensibilities. The main character serves as an avatar to The Fox god, which grants her with certain abilities. Unfortunately, these abilities come at a cost.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that I wrote this story BEFORE that crazy/catchy viral video came out. See, I even wrote about it in a blog post here  months before the video was posted on youtube. Yet after I watched the video, whenever I would go back to tweak  the story or even see the file siting in my computer, that crazy song would play in my head. So not fair!

Recommended Resource: Characterization, Opinions, and Surprises According to Writing Excuses

I’ve talked about the podcast Writing Excuses a few times before, but I wanted to highlight a few recent episodes that I felt were particularly interesting.

The first one is on Three Pronged Character Development, which is a useful little tool that it likely to get helpful if you get stuck on a tricky character.

The second contains all around good advice for preparing to become a writer (or really, any type of public figure), as it covers expressing potentially controversial opinions online, and the consequences that can result in that.

The third (just from today), is a worthwhile podcast about some of the surprises found in life as a professional writer, whether that be lack of time for leisure writing, or the unexpected physical demands.

To me, Writing Excuses is always worth checking out, but I found these episodes in particular to be must listens.

Writing in 2014, by the numbers (so far)

So we’re closing in on 100 days into 2014, and because I keep these detailed spreadsheets, I thought I’d spend a little time blogging about how much time I’ve actually spent on writing this year. Why? Reasons. Important reasons, I tell you! There’s more to this than my weird obsession with random statistics.

So according to my spreadsheet in the past 96 days, I spent time writing on 80 of them. This isn’t perfect, but considering what a bad month March was for writing, it could be a lot worse.

As far as projects go, seventy-one days was spent working on Hero of Darkwood, my current big project. On four days, I spent time submitting Lady of Darkwood to agents. On eight days, I spent time on short fiction. If you are confused as to why these numbers do not add up to 80, it’s because there were a few days where I worked on more than one project.

As far as time goes, I’ve spent ninety-eight hours on Hero of Darkwood, six and half on submitting Lady of Darkwood to agents, and eight hours and forty-five minutes on short fiction.

So what do we learn from this? One, I’ve been putting a lot of time into the first revised draft of Hero. Two, I’ve been spending almost all of my time this year on revisions. Looking back to last year’s spreadsheet (don’t judge me! I like making spreadsheets), I had already finished the first draft of Leader of Darkwood (last year’s big project) and had moved on to other projects by the beginning of April. This is likely a reflection of the fact that Hero is about 20k longer than Leader, as well as last month’s poor writing time.

So what I learned from this is that my next project needs to be writing-based, and not revision based. Sure, I could get Hero done a lot faster if I started on draft two immediately, but that would be really pushing it. I’ll be able to handle Hero a lot better (and probably be able to revise a lot faster) if I take a month off of it.

Hope everyone’s had a productive writing (or revising) year so far.

March: A bad time for Writing (+ April Goals)

Ugh, I don’t even want to look at these right now because March was not a good writing month. Anyway, here were my goals for the month.

1. Get 25,000 words further into the revised first draft of Hero of Darkwood
2. Spend a week (7 hours of writing) on short fiction

Yeah, I didn’t manage to hit either of those milestones, which has left me pretty grumpy. Part of it was lack of time, my wedding is coming up soon, and I ended up working a bunch of extra hours in the latter half of the the month. For a while, the issue was also lack of motivation. Often, I really look forward to writing. At the least, it’s usually not something I mind doing. There were times this month when that was clearly not the case.

Fortunately, April looks to take care of two of those issues. My motivation is coming back, and I’m not working any extra hours. Yes, the wedding still has me busy, but most of the planning is done by now, so besides the days of the wedding rehearsal and wedding reception, finding some time to write shouldn’t be as problematic. As a result, I am setting myself one big goal for April.

1. Finish first draft of Hero of Darkwood

I have about 20k left to revise. I think I can get through that this month. Then I’ll figure out if I want to take a little break, or spend time on other projects. Then, I’ll make polishing the novel up to something worthy of my first readers over the summer. I have a feeling that because I had such a hard time with last month, that the chapters I revised will still need a lot of work, but that’s a problem for later!

Hopefully, someone had a better writing month then I did this March! Anyone doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month?

Everything I Read in March 2014

Quite a busy month, so I didn’t get quite as much reading done as usual. I also found myself drawn to short fiction, as they were quick reads I could pick up and put down easily. Here’s the full list. Links lead to goodreads reviews, but I’m open to discussing anything here as well.

Books
Honolulu by Alan Brennert- BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Audiobooks
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan- BEST AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH

Short Fiction Magazines
Lightspeed: February 2014- BEST MAGAZINE OF THE MONTH
Lightspeed: March 2014

Graphic Novels
Alias, Vol 4: The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones by Brian Michael Bendis- BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE MONTH
Batwoman, Vol 3: World’s Finest by JH Williams III and Hayden Blackman
Wonder Woman, Vol 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello

Comics
All New X-men #24
Black Widow #4
Buffy: Season 10: #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #13
Lazarus #7
Mighty Avengers #8
Ms. Marvel #2
Rocket Girl #4
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #3
Trillium #7
Veil #1- BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH
Velvet #4
The Wake #7
Wolverine #3