Tag Archives: Writing & publishing

Mission impossible

Sammy is not still

Originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey

November begins Thursday, and thousands of people will begin intensive efforts to do incredible stuff in 30 days. Write 50,000 word novels, draw 30 drawings, write 30 blog posts…. It’s a striking expression of creativity and desire to explore what’s possible.

Last year’s DrawMo was a success for me. I averaged one drawing per day, which was my goal. but I also discovered how interesting it is to capture the visual, to explore being uncomfortable, and to see how others approach drawing. I look forward to create 30 new things this month. I’ll post them here and at the official DrawMo site.

I didn’t fare as well with NaNoWriMo last year, writing only a few thousand words and never quite getting off the ground. I could pile up reasons for my failure, but as NaNoWriMo Participant, 2007Coach Tomlin says, “That would be an excuse and we don’t make them.” The important thing is that I’ve signed up again this year, and I’m going to write my 50,000 words, by gum.

My Fat Plum partners Julie Long and Judy Schneider are also prepping for NaNoWriMo this year, so we’ll make it a team effort. We’re starting Thursday with a writing kickoff at Panera in Allison Park. I have no ideas for what to write my NaNo novel about, so I plan to people-watch and find inspiration in a suburban strip mall.

Spoiler-free notes on “HP and the Deathly Hallows”

Not that it was a race, but I finished the Potter book yesterday in about 12 hours, taking a couple of breaks to eat and run errands. I usually plan to spread such books over at least a couple of days, but this time I decided from the start that I would read it straight through.

I don’t feel a need to mourn the series or the characters. I enjoyed the book, and at the same time I’m glad it’s done. Other books have affected me more — I wanted “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” never to end, and “Infinite Jest” as well, to name two other doorstop-type recent novels.

But I like the world J.K. Rowling created, her invention and puns, and the choices she made in sticking to and deviating from the classic hero’s journey storyline. I find her writing in the last book to be better than any of the others along the way.

It’s not a series one can pop into at any time; you have to start at the beginning to appreciate the end. There’s little I can say about the end without spoiling it for others, but I think I’m safe in revealing that the end fits the series as well as I might have hoped.

My various geeky obsessions will do battle in the coming weeks

Upcoming dates of importance to me:

June 26 (today!): New Beastie Boys album released. Supposed to be as good as Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head! Must download before heading out of office.

July 10: New They Might Be Giants album released. Sounds dark, discordant. Excellent.

July 11: New Harry Potter movie opens. More Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman? Yes please!

July 21: New Harry Potter book released. There goes the weekend.

July 24: New Tuesday Next novel released. Another two days lost. Maybe one if I read quickly.

McSweeney’s update

Happy news from McSweeney’s: Previously I’d noted that they were having a sale of very good things. I didn’t mention it, but the occasion of the sale was that they had had a distributor declare bankruptcy, which suddenly took from McSweeney’s about $130,000 dollars in revenue and put the independent publisher at risk.

UPDATE: If you’re interested in the details of the distributor’s backruptcy, which other publishers were affected, and who will survive, Salon has this article, The Struggle for Independents.

After a groundswell of support from everywhere, things are much brighter now. This is from a mass email they sent to subscribers and customers:

All the support has been inspiring, and also humbling; working as we do on this remote western coast, running the internet equivalent of a highway produce stand, it’s a big deal to see so many people swooping in. And we don’t want to let you down — we’re very aware that we survive because of your trust in us and pretty much nothing else. Even beyond distributor bankruptcies, independent publishing is always a dicey business; just this week the great magazine Punk Planet announced that their latest issue would be their last. (That it lived for eighty issues is a testament to the dedication of Dan Sinker and everyone else involved.) No one’s getting rich in this business, but your support can allow these labors of love to labor onwards.

The sale continues — get in on the fun at the McSweeney’s store.

Prices so low, they’re practically giving them away!

There’s a big sale at McSweeney’s, including some items I highly recommend:

Baby, Be of Use Bundle: Four small picture-style books, Baby Mix Me A Drink, Baby Make Me Breakfast, Baby Do My Banking, and Baby Fix My Car. I have given these as gifts at baby showers, and they are always a big hit. So much more interesting than yet another fuzzy blanket or packet of onesies, now on sale for $16.80.

How to Dress for Every Occasion by the Pope: A guide to snappy dressing. Probably not by the Pope, but it’s hard to know for sure. This also makes a great gift, and it’s on sale for $6.

The Future Dictionary of America: I have read excerpts of this in various places. It includes definitions by various famous and not-famous writers; most likely your favorite writer is among the contributors. Also included is a CD of music by “R.E.M., Tom Waits, David Byrne, Death Cab for Cutie, Elliott Smith, and many others.” A steal at $9.

Happy shopping!

My name in print

The Red Anthology of Hitherto Unknown WritersMay is nearly over, which means Short Story Month is almost over. And so it’s high time that I tell you that a short story of mine has been published in a brand new book.

The book is The Red Anthology of Hitherto Unknown Writers, published by No Record Press.

I am pleased and proud to have my work included in this collection. My story is “Love By the Numbers,” and it starts like this:

“The reason we’re not dating anyone is that we haven’t properly segmented our market.”

“I didn’t know we had a market,” I said.

“Of course we do. There’s always a market. The question is: do we know who the market is? And the answer is we don’t. So we can’t appeal to it.”

“We’re not appealing?”

“Don’t be so literal, Natalie. We’re appealing in the general sense. But our message isn’t aimed at our market.”

I probably shouldn’t quote the whole thing, so if you’d like to read my story you must buy a copy of the book. You can purchase it online from No Record for the surprisingly reasonable price of $9 plus tax and shipping.

For that price, in addition to my story you get an introduction plus 13 other stories, plus many reproductions of uncommonly interesting photographs. It is quite a bargain. Please enjoy.

Write vs. draw

Nearly a third of the way through November. How am I doing on the various NaSiUFToMuMo* projects?

I’m just over 6,000 words into the NaNoWriMo novel. This being the 9th day of the month I “should” have 15,000 by the end of today, so that 6K isn’t as awesome as it might seem at first glance. Worse, I haven’t written a single word since Sunday. Work has me totally swamped. (OK, I did take a break to see “The Departed” … which was excellent and well worth the lost time.) Today I have a big chunk of unplanned time in the middle of the day, and I plan to spend it writing. Under ideal circumstances I can write 1000 words in an hour. My goal for today is 4000 words.

DrawMo, on the other hand, is going astonishingly well. It doesn’t take as long to make a drawing — at least, not at the quality level that I can manage — and a notebook and pencils are easier to port around and use than even my lovely PowerBook. My drawing ability isn’t necessarily improving, but I’m loosening up and being a little freer with what I do. Most importantly, I’m slowly getting over my fear of drawing — of doing something quite badly. I’m not subject to that kind of fear in other areas of life, and I don’t know why drawing and painting would be different. But at this rate, by the end of the month drawing and painting will be my friends.

You can follow my NaNoWriMo progress here, and see my DrawMo results here.

Oh, and you already know how NaDruWriNi went: awesomely well. But perhaps that was to be expected.

* NaSiUFToMuMo = National Sign Up For Too Much Month

Tiny bubbles

This is My Brilliant Mistakes post for NaDruWriNi. In direct violation of blog protocol, most recent updates are at the bottom — because it’s easier to read things top to bottom. But I’ll summarize the most recent update here at the top, so you know whether to bother scrolling down.

Recently: Done

8:01pm: We begin
Drink: Death in the Afternoon
Status: Nimble-fingered
I have already violated the rules several times, just in the course of writing the intro to this post. That is, I have corrected several typos. But the thing is: Were they drunken typos or just standard-issue, ordinary typos? I make mistakes all the time while I type. Who’s to say these were due to the two glasses of red wine I had with dinner? I considered them a base for the evening — as noted earlier I don’t expect or want to be sloshy drunk, but then again what fun is this even if one is all steady handed and even keel? So two glasses of wine before the real festivities begin ensures at least a little bit of the unexpected.

Incidentally, this is what a Death in the Afternoon looks like:
Not as scary as a bullfight

The recipe suggests a champagne flute, but I’m using one of my grandparents’ champagne glasses. I believe that the bowl styloe of (NOTE: I left in a typo!) champagne glass is American, while the flute is European. Given the provenance of the drink, a flute is more appropriate. But the flutes I have are downstairs in a box, while these glasses are in the kitchen. Also, note that the stem of the glass is hollow, so the champagne gets to bubble up the narrow channel to the big bowl above. It looked really cool when I first poured in the champange. (It is really hard to type “champagne.”) I will try to get a pic of that for the next drink.

In the meantime, I need to get writing. Wrote 2000 words for NaNoWriMo earlier today. Weekends are so super for making up for lost progress. I plan to write 1000 more words, and then I’ll check in again.

What I’m noticing already is that I become much, much more verbose in my writing when I’m drinking. This bodes well for NaNoWriMo. But in the time that it toolk to write this post I drank my drink and now I have to make another. That does not bode well.

9:07pm: We are distinctly drunk
Drink: Death in the Afternoon #3
Status: Slurred, not stumbling
I finshed about 1000 more words for NaNoWriMo. The story is moving glacially. This is typical in the early stages, until panic or inspiration hit.

ABout the drink: If you don’t like licorice, ploease avoid anything that incldues Pernod, Galliano, or Absente. (I am finding it really hard to not go back and correct those typos. Honectly I think I would make any of them other than “Honectly” whether drinking or not. Also, I’m aware that the lady doth protest too much.) Does the champagne add anything to the Pernod other than a little extra kick? No and yes. The fizz is nice. The winey taste of champagne plays counter to the astingent licorice of the Pernod. The first one wasn’t great, the rest have tasted fine. Draw your own conclusion.

After the first writing segment of the evening, the second bit is drawing for DrawMo!. I have chosen to sketch in color a famous absinthe poster I have, fitting the current beverage and the current plot of the book. I love it when a plan comes togetehr.

9:57pm: Still drunk, glad there’s no one on hand
Drink: Pernod on ice
Status: Muddling through

Today at the coffeshop — every Saturday morning at the local coffeeshop, a bunch of people meet informally. It is quite bit more complicated than that, but it can’t be xplained easily and explaining would frankly ruin it. But so. This morning at the coffeeshop I told the cabal that I’d recently remebered Joe Jackson, the pianist/musician, on account of having heard “Look Smart” at Mr. Small’s while waiting to see Frank Black.

This started of a sries of jokes abut “are you dating [such and such person].” All talking about this same guy. There is apparently some fellow in Butler who’s famous for liking Joe Jackson.

Small towns are very, very small.

But back to tnight. In addition to writing, I’m drawing. Hopefullyt in a connected way. Here’s tonight’s effort:

The Green Fairy

This is an absenthe poster I’ve blogged previously. Please search for more info on Leonetto Cappiello, the father of the modern advertising poster and my great hero. Also now Somehow Involved in a Manner That Will Be Revealed in my current novel.

I couldn’t help but correct tfour typos in this post. :)

10:45pm: Stumbling level, fortunate not to have to get into a cab or car
Drink: Knob Creek on the rocks
Status: Bitterly determined to get another 1000 words

Hi there, fellow NaDruWriNi-ers! All five of us. There may be more who are having trouble posting their exploits. i confess that is has taken at least a minute to type this paragraph.

I just made and ate a bowl of angel hair pasta with EVOO — by the way, I am not a fan of Rachel Ray but EVOO is an excellent abbreviation — and Parmesan cheese, by way of laying in an unstable second foudation for the rest of the evening. Good heavens, it’s not even 11pm.

It occurs to me that potential clients will come across this entry and wonder whether they should trust their website projects with me. To there people I say: You should. I have references. This here is all hype to show how I’m in tune with the social media. I would put a smiley face here if it weren’t so goofy looking.

11:25pm: Done
Drink: Knob Creek on the rocks (same drink as above)
Status: Boringly introspective
My last two attempts at a post were eaten by the Internet gods, and I view this as a blessing. I am toasted on both sidees. I wish the best to anyone still standing. Also, I promise to make up the missing 1000 words tomorrow.



It’s the third day of NaNoWriMo: I wrote 1,037 words the first day (well under the 1,667 words/day target), and none yesterday. So that project is well behind.

It’s also the third day of DrawMo! I sketched a red onion the first day. It came out much more squished-looking than the round and firm original. Yesterday started sketching a salt shaker but my fajita arrived before I could finish. Later at night I sketched my cellphone, which is recognizable as a cellphone but not necessarily mine.

So these do-an-impossible-amount-of-work-in-a-month projects are not off to the best starts. On Saturday I will get to make up for it…and not just because i’ll have more time to get in several thousand words of novelling and to try erasing as part of the sketching process (innovation!).

Saturday night is NaDruWriNi — National Drunken Writing Night.

Hemingway would be so proud

If you are unfamiliar with the rules, here are the top two:

  1. The goal is to drink while you write and write while you