Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 5 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: An Army of Janes
Current Pitch: The opening act of Resident Evil: Afterlife . . . but with less zombies.

Number of Darlings Killed: 2
Number of Thematically Relevant Conversations in the Dark: 2
Author’s Relief to Finally Be Finished With the Second Draft: Extreme

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” – A Perfect Circle

Goal Met: Yes

Apologies for my general absence from the blog of late. My RL dance card has been a bit full, so to speak, and that may be the case for a little while. On the upside, I successfully finished a draft of my clone story!

Is the draft any good? Not sure yet. I’m happy with some of it, although I think I might still have a little work to do with exposition, specifically which pieces I need to add and which I can just chuck. I’ve actually chucked quite a bit, although there’s definitely some parts that are heavy with the info dump . . . but in a way that I think feels natural with the story. It’s interesting. The more I work on Army of Janes, the more it feels like a small personal story in a much larger world. (Which is kind of funny, because you don’t really think about small personal stories including a lot of covert attacks on government facilities.) I don’t have any immediate plans to revisit that world, but I like to keep my options open. At any rate, I suspect I’m quickly approaching the point where I just can’t look at it anymore and have to send it to my crit buddies before I can do much else.

The thing about this story: I wrote the first draft of it years ago after watching Resident Evil: Afterlife because I was so disappointed by all that movie’s wasted potential, and I wanted to write my own clone story, something that really spent a lot of time talking about identity–because if a clone story is inherently about anything, it’s definitely about identity. There are some explosions and some face-melting and hopefully that’s as fun for (potential) readers as it is for me, but this is mostly a story, I think, about trying to figure out who the hell you are, and whether you have a moral obligation to stay true to yourself at all costs, or if you should try to be the kind of person others need you to be. I feel like these are some decently solid YA themes in that, despite it not actually being a YA story.

In conclusion, your random line of the week:

She’s disconnected again and in no particular hurry to reconnect, sitting in the sub-level with a dead parallel reality at her side and smoke drifting far above her.

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Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 4 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: An Army of Janes
Current Pitch: The opening act of Resident Evil: Afterlife . . . but with less zombies.

Number of Notable Fashion Accessories: 2
Number of Robert Frost Mentions: 1
Number of Melted Faces: 1 . . . so far

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Smack My Bitch Up” – The Prodigy

Goal Met: Yes

Progress has been a little slower than I’d like this week–I know, what a shocking turn of events–but it’s still being made. The story begins in medias res, with a dead body and a Big Choice at hand, and then flashes back to see how our protagonist has gotten to that point. It’s an overused TV setup, I know, but I’m fond of it when stories take it somewhere interesting, instead of using it as a way to raise cheap stakes where all danger is immediately averted the second the story catches back up to itself. Hopefully, my execution won’t be guilty of the latter, especially since I’ve just hit that point where flashback meets flash-forward. It’s all revelations and violence from here, my friends.

I’m hoping–though am far from certain–that I can complete a draft of this story by next Friday. If so, I’ll probably let it sit for a week or two before I do a third pass, adding in or tweaking any details that I forgot about and/or skipped (we’ll call this the “Carlie Totally Cares About Mech and Tech in the Future” edit), and also cutting unnecessary words to keep the word count at something manageable for once. And then I can send it to my crit buddies who will helpfully point out all its flaws, and then after I edit it again, I can finally send it somewhere for multiple rejections!

It’s probably for the best I have a job-job, because this whole writer Rich Quick Scheme doesn’t seem to have fully caught up to the “quick” part yet, much less “rich.”

In conclusion, your random Line of the Week:

In her sleep, Impossible Jane always knew how the story would end: it would be cold, and it would be bloody, and she would be alone.

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“Phenomenal Cosmic Powers! Itty Bitty Living Space!”

Time to get back on track with our Disney Princess Movies. Next up:


This is the first time I’ve seen Aladdin in at least twenty years, and I’m relieved to find that I still enjoy it. You know, except for some of that racist shit that I didn’t quite understand when I was seven.

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“My Daughters Are Trained For Battle, Sir, Not The Kitchen.”

So, I’ve read and watched multiple versions of Pride and Prejudice, but–presumably to the horror of Jane Austen enthusiasts everywhere–I have done so in a completely backwards fashion. First, I watched the 2005 film with Keira Knightley, which I liked. Then I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, written by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen, sort of), which I also liked. Then I watched BBC’s Pride and Prejudice from 1995, which, to be honest, I was only so-so on. Then I finally read the original Pride and Prejudice, which was quite enjoyable.

And now I have seen the 2015 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

ppz cover1

It may surprise you–being the blasphemous wench that I obviously am–but ultimately, I didn’t care for it.

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Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 3 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: An Army of Janes
Current Pitch: The opening act of Resident Evil: Afterlife . . . but with less zombies.

Number of Clones: 6
Number of Existential Crises: 3
Use of Profanity: Liberal

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Bodies” – Drowning Pool

Goal Met: Yes.

I’m about 1/3 of the way through re-writing an incredibly soft military SF story, which I’m pretty happy with so far. If I can keep up this pace–which, admittedly, is never a certainty with me–I should be able to finish a workable draft by the end of the Write-a-Thon. But I’ve jinxed myself before, so. We’ll see.

I wrote the first draft of this story back in 2012 while I was at a Clarion West, and it seemed to be the favorite of  the greater majority of my classmates, which was nice because I was deeply anxious about it at the time. It took me forever to write (I had to skip Connie Willis’s reading just to finish it, although at least I’d seen her a few weeks earlier at the Locus Awards) and had an awful tendency to just break down into whole solid pages of exposition. Not to mention that, depending on your point of view, the story is either a charming throwback to retro SF or a worthless sham of science fiction with a complete and utter disregard for how cloning technologies actually work. I figure it’s maybe a little bit of both?

I’ve always had a fondness for this story, but I’ve avoided going back to it for years, probably because I didn’t want to deal with all those mountains of exposition. But lately I’ve felt good about returning to it. I’ve been working on a lot of stories with multiple narrators lately, and while–thank Christ–this story only has one, I feel weirdly like I’m more prepared now to deal with it and its half dozen characters who all have enormously complicated relationships with one another. Maybe I’ve just grown as a writer, or something. One can hope, anyway.

In conclusion, your Random Line Of The Week:

Every Jane would become a dead Jane, in the end.

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The 2015-2016 TV Superlatives!

The time has come, my friends. The moment that maybe one person ALL OF YOU have been waiting for: the 2015-2016 TV Superlatives.

Rules are basically the same as last year, with a few little tweaks. To be eligible for these super duper prestigious awards, a show must have begun its season sometime between June 1st, 2015 and May 25th, 2016. This means that the first seasons of shows like Killjoys and Dark Matter (which came out last summer) are actually eligible for this year’s awards, as is the most recent season of Game of Thrones. Shows like Preacher, meanwhile, didn’t begun until after May 25th, so they won’t be eligible until next year. The only other shows outside this timeline that will be considered are shows that were completely unavailable to me prior to June 1st, 2015: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, for example.

I’m gonna be honest with you, guys: I could have done a better job of keeping track of these things over the course of the last year. There’s been a lot of frantic scrambling over the past few weeks to try and remember things like, “Shit, who had good season premieres again? SEPTEMBER WAS SO LONG AGO.” I am dedicated to creating a better system for myself next year. (But I’m pretty sure I said the exact same thing last year, so. We’ll see.)

For those of you who–like me–primarily watch genre shows that never get nominated for shit: well, my friends, these are for you.

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2016 Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 2 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Operation Hail Mary
Current Pitch:What happens when Fairy Tale and Slasher Horror get married and have a YA Meta Magic Realism baby

Number of iPhone Conversations: 5
Number of Plot-Relevant Planets (Including Earth): 2
Number of Mysterious Old Woman Who Show Up At The Door in the Middle of a Rainstorm at Midnight: 1

Song From Current Project Playlist: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – Music Box Version – Cinderella

Goal Met: Um. In a roundabout way, yes.

So, remember last week when I said I’d probably complete the draft of my story by this Friday? Yes, well, that’s . . . not entirely what happened.

This is basically what happened:

Saturday: Jesus, is there another structural problem? Shit. Shit shit SHIT. This is depressing me too much. I’m going back to my Season 1 Person of Interest rewatch. I’ll work on the story tomorrow.

Sunday: Great. I have no idea how to fix this without rewriting half the story, which I absolutely don’t have time for. I might still be able to finish a draft, but it definitely won’t be ready to submit, and right now I’m so pissed at it I’m having trouble getting anywhere at all. Maybe I should set this story aside until I can look at it again without wanting to stab it. I’ll just admit defeat for this part of the Write-a-Thon and dedicate myself to completing the next project.

Monday: So, Liminal really wants submissions 3,000 words and under, huh? The Project of Doom is already twice that . . . but there’s that story prompt Cory and I were talking about, kind of as a joke, but . . . shit, I might be able to make a flash story with that by Thursday.

Tuesday Morning: Okay, this isn’t going too badly. Eventual flash victory!

Tuesday Afternoon: Okay, so we’re past 1,000 words, which means flash is out. But that’s all right. 2,000 words will do just fine.

Tuesday Night: Goddamn it. 2,000 words and counting.

Wednesday Day: Work, baby, work. WRITE LIKE THE MOTHERFUCKING WIND.

Wednesday Night: Victory! Or, okay, a 3,000 word first draft is done . . . which isn’t exactly a victory because I still have less than 24 hours to turn it from an iffy first draft into a publishable story. I should probably sleep before I try that.


Thursday Evening: Okay, that’s better. That’s much better. Probably not better enough. I really shouldn’t submit it. I should just sit on it for a few weeks and then re-approach because at this point, I’m so close to the story that it’s hard to tell if it’s any good or not. I’ll be too late for Liminal, obviously, but it will mean I’ll likely have a better chance with this story the next time they re-open. If it’s not ready, then I can never submit it to them again. But . . . damn it, I worked hard, and I really wanted to submit something to this open call, and while I don’t want to waste the editors’ time, I feel like I’m going to regret it if I don’t at least try. Besides, pre-rejecting is bad, right? Hell with it.  Let’s twist this. SUBMIT.

So, yes. That was my week, in which I did write and submit a story . . . just not the one I was expecting.

Random Line of the Week:

Nutmeg aces every Bio test. She doesn’t come to the impossible naturally.

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