Sunday 7 April 2013

Weekend bullets

The biggest news of the week for me was Sunita retiring her Vacuous Minx blog. Sunita has been one of the voices in the general romance/m/m blogoverse I respected the most. Our takes on books and the genre overall runs pretty much along the same lines--and I was following that blog religiously, much more so that larger or more specialised sites. Sunita could always be trusted to speak sense and find an interesting angle on a story, so I'll miss the blog terribly. At the same time, I understand the need to interact more with "MeatSpace", or the outside reality. I've had bouts of online fatigue and have wanted to chuck it all and take up extreme horseback knitting or competitive rose-breeding. Less neuroses that way, I'd assume. So, farewell, Sunita. Hope to see you in MeatSpace indeed.

I'm pretty proud of myself for not reading reviews for two weeks now. It's a small step for a review-oholic, but I'm already feeling the relaxation kicking in. Staying away from all manner of Goodreads-and genre-related drama has overall reduced adrenaline levels in my system. I don't constantly battle the "fight-or-flight" response and thus wrote almost 30k words in the time I'd have spent fretting. I did "like" a couple reviews, but those popped up randomly on my update stream and were all positive reviews of books that I know are good (such as Skybound). Nothing anybody can say about Skybound is news to me, I've fretted and laboured over that story, and it's the best I can do. Period. A friend called it "your moment of brilliance", and I take it, because I agree. I don't even care how much it sells; it's the highest I've reached. It's like climbing the K2--you really only need to stand up there and look at the other, smaller mountains, and that's it. It's a solitary pleasure, and the dangers and suffering and pain are part of your flesh at that point. Nobody can take it away. It's 150% solipsistic--nothing outside really matters. People reading it and enjoying it is great; the primary battle was between me and that story.

Abigail Roux made the final round of DABWAHA. That event has pretty much seen me "vote-whoring" (oh, I also did it when Goodreads was looking for reader favourites, just remembered that), which is a practice I normally detest (and have gone on record saying so). In this case, I think it's a valid battle, however--m/m has too often been treated as the red-haired step-child of romance, but what it lacks in volumes, sales rank and money (a different blog post for another day), it has in passionate, savvy readership. Cut and Run is the gold standard in m/m, and no book would deserve more to go all the way. (For the record, Josh Lanyon would have been great, too--he's one of the best, longest-established authors we have, and I respect him enormously.) So I'll keep supporting S&S to the final round. If we can get another 2k votes, it's a no-brainer. Even BIG romance authors struggle to mobilise their fan base to the same extent as our genre can kick ass when it's a worthy battle. It's the power of online and network, yo. In addition, it couldn't be a more deserving, lovelier author.

Other writing. Two days ago, LA Witt and I finished our undercover cop story, which currently runs to 100k. I've stayed away from cops because I know nothing about US-based law enforcement. Right now it's "curing"--it's awaiting a couple decisions (exact background of one of the leads), an polish and an overall naming of some minor characters. (Yes, we have a character who is just called "[brother]"--mostly because I want a "speaking/meaningful" name and inspiration hasn't struck yet). I think we'll be able to wrap this this month.

To relax, we co-played Gears of War 4, which is visually beautiful. The plot is kind of thin, but every level and battle is beautifully designed, so it just never got old. It really rewards team-play, so LA and I just busted ass keeping each other alive. Playing this with somebody on co-op made all the difference, too (Apparently, EVERYBODY on Amazon disagrees - but I had fun). Essentially, now I want to write post-apocalyptic hard guys, and hopefully the dialogue will be snappier, too. (Considering this is Baird's game, many of his one-liners were kind of lame, but then he didn't have straight-laced, serious Markus as a foil). And Cole almost had no lines at all, which is a damn shame. (Since I got to play Cole, I was kinda hoping my character would have better dialogue). Biggest triumph: I FINALLY KILLED A BERSERKER. (Berserkers are kind of traumatic for me, as they kept messing me up in all the other games up to now. THIS TIME I KILLED ONE!) I kinda liked Paduk, who's your typical deadpan Russian (and the big scar in his face/arm worked for me too. What's not to love about a guy who goes: "This is not a weapon, it's a comrade!")

So that's evenings/nights spent doing Something Else. Very relaxing. (And inspiring. I'm still working on how to plunge the earth into a nuclear winter and take it from there.)

For writing, I have more ideas and bunnies than I know what to do with. I really want to quit my day job so I can let them all out. Right now, I have no chance of keeping up with my brain, which is a damn shame. I'll be losing a great many stories that way, but it's just physically impossible for me to write 10k a day every day.

And still, it's the people who make it all worthwhile, from readers and reviewers to co-writers and cover artists. I've had amazing conversations in the last week which keep my brain active--there are so many aspects to what we're doing, and I'm still chewing on all the things that Remittance Girl said to me over coffee and panini in Foyles' Cafe last Sunday. (If you haven't visited her site, do. You're missing out on courageous, honest, beautiful and edgy writing. She's the queen of writing a hot edgy hetero scene--I'm studying her writing so I can learn how to write hetero sex, too, but she's the Best at it. Nothing like watching a truly accomplished worksmith cutting to the blood.)

Speaking of which, I'm back to writing the birds book. I have tea and cookies and painkillers, so I should be nice and productive.

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