klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)


This photo appeared on my FB feed, taken by a good friend from my first year in the SCA, in Jararvellir, Middle Kingdom. I'm wearing my first suit of armor, and it's shiny enough that I may not have authorized as a fighter yet. I love this picture.

jury duty )

writing )

I think that's a nice photograph to find for this past week. I'm trying to keep the energy going. Tonight we're actually going to see a movie.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've mentioned before that Mac sings to us in the morning. When he first moved here he would warble happily for a minute or so, then go about his business. It was easy to smile and go back to sleep. Over time, as he has started adopting me -- sitting on my desk while I work, curling up on my lap for scritches -- his warblings changed in tone to more of the kind of song that cats sing when they bring you a treasure. He brings catnip mousies.

About a year or so ago I started putting him on a harness and letting him walk around in the back yard for about fifteen minutes at a time, maybe once a week or so. Mac of course would like to do this much more often for much longer periods, but he takes what he can get since he has no other choice. What I hadn't realized is that for the last few months he's started singing whenever I go out the back door. With accompanying mousie.

I ride my bike every afternoon for about fifteen to twenty minutes, so I'm not gone for long, but he can see me leave and come back. He waits for me at the door. Lately I've taken to heading out to the clubhouse to write, since the tables out there are at a better height for typing on my laptop. Mac sees me head out the door, and can see me go in the clubhouse. Apparently that's also his cue to start a full-on opera. It was so bad yesterday that Chaz gave up trying to work (his study is right next to the back door) and went off to do errands.

I'm very touched.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
One of my favorite dictionaries is Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, and for Christmas one year I bought myself a page-a-day calendar that contains one word each day from Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary. January 17 for that year the word for the day was jumentous, "pertaining to the smell of horse urine."

When I was in college I read Hamlet for an English class, and I had great difficulty getting through the soliloquys because so many of the phrases in them had been used as titles of other works, and I kept being thrown out of the flow of the work. So I started thinking. So many phrases had been used as titles that almost an entire soliloquy had been used up. Could that work in reverse? Could you open the complete works of Shakespeare, pick a phrase at random, and use that as your title for a story?

I couldn't resist this challenge, so I did just that, and the phrase I came up with was..."I do smell all horse-piss."

(The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

TRINCULO Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at
which my nose is in great indignation.)

I still haven't written the story, though I intend to at some point or other. I wonder if January 17 was a hint to get started?
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
A friend of mine a while back told me about a new poetic form she had encountered, the Jacobean Sonnet. Some of you may have heard of the Iron Poet competition, of which one form is to take a well-known sonnet or other poem, such as "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, snip off everything but the last word in each line, and have the competitors write a sonnet using the last words on a new topic.

A Jacobean Sonnet is to write an original sonnet, using any of the classic sonnet rhyme schemes, except each line is only one word long. The word can be any length, but if the word is more than one syllable long it should be iambic. The result should be a complete poem.

One of our mutual friends read me a Jacobean sonnet he had written, and I wish it was online so I could point people at it, as it is in a nutshell every single poem any bard has ever written in the SCA. If I get inspired soon I'll write one of my own.

Ah, you say, but there is already such a thing as a Jacobean sonnet. Where did this new one come from? It came from Jacob, the leader of the Surenos at my friend's high school, who was one of her students and who invented the form quite by accident.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
J. Michael Straczynski says that one day he called up Harlan Ellison for advice on how to write better, and Harlan said, "Stop writing crap." JMS also says that what matters is what William Faulkner called "The human heart in conflict with itself". I think that pretty much sums up why I'm a crappy writer.

I had dinner at the Nebula awards a couple of years back with some very good writers, many of whom had won Nebulas before, and three of whom were currently up for the award. (I get invited to things like this primarily because of my husband, I suspect.) As the dinner progressed, and some alcohol was imbibed, some at the dinner started talking about their childhoods. They talked about being insecure and feeling cut off from the people around them, and how that had affected them deeply. I realized something then, that even though I'd had the normal teenager feelings of disconnection from the people around me, I have a very strong sense of self and didn't really care much what other people thought about me, beyond my friends. I've been depressed for a large portion of my entire life, but that was so normal (the rest of my entire extended family was also depressed) it didn't really make that much of a difference. I solved my emotional problems by applying logic to them. I've also been very good at figuring out what other people are up to, including knowing who is sleeping with whom (usually I'm the first to figure out secret relationships, long before anyone else does, but that's another story), again using logic. Hence, my stories tend to be fairly cerebral. I don't think I handle relationships well. Something to work on, I think. I feel. One of those things.

My writing for this year:

Published:

"The Ice Weasels of Trebizond", by Mr. and Mrs. Brenchley, available in Daughters of Frankenstein, edited by Steve Berman.

In the works:

I conceived the concept, wrote a story, and submitted it, all in about two months. The story would have benefited from a little more rewrite, but I suspect it will be rejected by the end of this month so I'll have a chance at it again. "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass" is a story about were-nematodes, and I submitted it to the WERE- anthology, so cross your fingers for me.

Another thing I started is monthly write-a-thons in my backyard (and clubhouse, when it's cooler). I invite all the writers I know who are local to come spend the day writing. So far quite a few have come, and have reported useful results from the sessions. I intend to keep these up in the new year. Maybe I'll have more complete stories to report (and possibly even a sale) by the end of the year.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Chaz and I sold a story a couple of years ago to Gears and Levers 2: A Steampunk Anthology, namely "The Airship Towers of Trebizond" by Mr. and Mrs. Brenchley. I'm pleased to announce that those two are back in the upcoming anthology "Daughters of Frankenstein", with "The Ice Weasels of Trebizond".

I'm very excited by this anthology, as its made up of stories about lesbian mad scientists. It looks like it's going to be a blast, and I'm delighted we're going to be included in the fun. It comes out next summer.

Introduction by Steve Berman
"Infusion of Waking Dreams" by Aynjel Kaye
"Doubt the Sun" by Faith Mudge
"Meddling Kids" by Tracy Canfield
"Eldritch Brown Houses" by Claire Humphrey
"The Moorehead Maze Experiment" by Tim Lieder
"The Eggshell Curtain" by Romie Stott
“Poor Girl” by Traci Castleberry
“Bank Job Blues” by Melissa Scott
“The Long Trip Home” by A.J. Fitzwater
“Imaginary Beauties: A Lurid Melodrama” by Gemma Files
“The Riveter” by Sean Eads
“A Shallow Grave of Orange Peel and Eggshells” by Thoraiya Dyer
“Alraune” by Orrin Grey
“Preserving the Integrity of the Feminine Mystique” by Christine Morgan
“Hypatia and Her Sisters” by Amy Griswold
“The Lady of the House of Mirrors” by Rafaela F. Ferraz
“The Ice Weasels of Trebizond” by Mr and Mrs Brenchley
“Love in the Time of Markov Processes” by Megan Arkenberg
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Chaz has a collection of gay-themed ghost stories coming out, Bitter Waters. It's a fabulous collection; I know, because I chose all the stories for it, and I have an editor credit. (My first.) What's even more exciting? Publisher's Weekly reviewed "Bitter Waters", and gave it a starred review. Which is a huge big deal, because it means Publisher's Weekly thinks this book stands out and should be read. By a lot of people. If you don't want to read the whole review, here's a hint:

Brenchley charts the treacheries of the sea and the human heart in this haunting collection ... Deceptively light, allusive titles (“Junk Male,” “ ’Tis Pity He’s Ashore,” “Villainelle”) give away little of their stories’ knotty emotional depth. The discursive, sharply detailed style permits a remarkable control of tone ... This clever and subtle collection...
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I met a man who gave his name as Alcatraz Eventide, the place and time of his conception. He didn't look older than I am, and Alcatraz closed on the day I was born. I would love to know the tale of how and why his parents fought to reach the closed island, thus how he eventually came about.

Or he was lying. But I'd love to know that story.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Welcome to this week’s step on the blog hop. There really should be music to accompany this, but suddenly the only tunes running through my head are the loathsome tinny ones sung by fake cheerful voices encouraging children to “send that chicken fat back to the chicken”, so, no. Anyway, you may have come to this by way of Mad Robins’ blog, and she was brought into this via Jennifer Stevenson, and before that Jennifer Stevenson, and before that Katherine Eliska Kimbriel and Laura Anne Gilman. One thing you may notice about these women, even if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading their novels (I have, and you should), is that they all have much more interesting names than I do.

Now, Karen Williams is a great name to grow up with. For one thing, it’s very hard to make fun of. It’s also very, very common, and a vanity Google search doesn’t find me until pages and pages down the line. I married Chaz Brenchley a couple of years ago, and have conveniently tagged him for next week’s hop. He’s an excellent writer, from Newcastle upon Tyne in England, and has written crime novels, fantasy novels, children’s books, even a play. His blog post should be interesting. And since I’m his wife, I’ve decided to write as Karen Brenchley. I even moved my web page to http://www.karenbrenchley.com, so visit it and visit it often in the coming weeks, as I update it and make it interesting.

Now, on to the blog post.

What are you working on now?

Chaz and I wrote a story together for Gears and Levers 2: A Steampunk Anthology called “The Airship Towers of Trebizond.” We’re currently working on another story in that milieu, “The Ice Weasels of Trebizond”, which so far has been a lot of fun.

Other than that, I’m working on a novel about Robin Hood. When I was ten years old, I walked upstairs at midnight to my mother’s bedroom, tears pouring out of my eyes, to tell her about the ending of “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle. I had fallen in love with Robin Hood, and, sorry for the spoiler, but he died at the end. Beautifully, romantically, tragically. Mom wasn’t impressed, even though she was still awake grading papers. Still, my love of Robin Hood stuck with me to this day. I hope people fall in love with my Robin Hood.

How does your work differ from others writing in your genre?

“My work” is still somewhat eclectic. I’ve sold a fantasy (with Dracula playing a minor role), two science fiction stories, a horror story, and the steampunk story with my husband. There are others in the pipeline that I’ve sold but aren’t out yet, that are also not really in one particular genre. Still, each of my stories is very much “me”, in that my main characters have bits of my personality woven in. Even the villains.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m a computer scientist by day, and I’m fascinated by logic and its application (or misapplication) in the world. I also really like the Middle Ages (possibly because of Robin Hood), and belonged to the SCA for many years. I’ve traveled, though not as much as I’d like to, but I’ve been to four continents, and some of the countries I’ve been to have been very different from the U.S. I grew up in Idaho, though I’m quite happy to be living in California now. All of these things tend to bubble in my mind, until a character slows down long enough for me to grab her.

How does your writing process work?

I always know how the story ends. To start writing, though, I need to have my first sentence, and an idea about the character. After that, the story grows from start to finish. I don’t jump around. I can’t. I write fiction the same way I write software. Each piece needs to build upon the pieces before, so that as it goes along it creates a logical whole. The story may not end the way I though it would, and the characters certainly change along the way. I remember one day when I discovered that my main character, who I thought was a very nice, comfortable middle aged woman, told me she was actually a terrorist bomber. I was very upset by this, almost like a friend had betrayed me. It took me several days to get back to that story. I like finding out the story as I write it, and I hope readers like the story, too.

Next week’s step along the blog hop will be at Chaz Brenchley’s blog, http://desperance.livejournal.com. See you there.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Today, I procrastinated, played WoW, drank a g&t, ate a pack of butter rum LifeSavers, and wrote 1200 words on a story. All at the same time, more or less. My displacement activity earlier in the day involved looking for work, so there's that, too.

I may finish the thing tomorrow. It will be the worst story ever written. It certainly sucks right now.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I realize I'm falling short in providing a new photo of a cat, but instead I have something a little meatier (and no, I don't mean a photo of Barry). BayCon is held every year on Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend of May), and I'll be on the following panels. Come see me (and the other cool people on the panels). I'll be moderating the Self-Promotion and Publicity panel, and I'm interested in seeing what the panelists will say in answer to my questions.

Fairy Tales and Mythology on Saturday at 2:00 PM in Winchester
(with Juliette Wade, Jenna M. Pitman (M), Irene Radford, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Beth Barany)

What are we teaching our children about the fairy tales and mythology in today's media, or even as bedtime stories? Are we staying true, or drifting?


Self-Promotion and Publicity for Writers on Saturday at 4:00 PM in Lafayette
(with Lex Parisi, Tony N. Todaro, Bob Brown, Beth Barany, Karen Williams(M))

So you've figured out this whole writing thing and your work is finally out there. Wouldn't it be great if people actually bought it? Just because the publisher bought your book doesn't mean they're going to publicize it. Learn the whys and hows of self-promotion from the experts.


Evolution of Female Characters on Sunday at 4:00 PM in Lafayette
(with Jenna M. Pitman (M), Karen Sandler, Ingrid Paulson, Lynn Ward)

From damsels in distress to sword-wielding, gun-toting, and military masterminds, have women found their place, or are they 'feminized' men? Do the women truly reflect changing attitudes about the roles of women?
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I'm going to be at FOGcon, aka Friends Of Genre convention, from March 8-10 at the Walnut Creek (California) Marriott. This year's theme is Law, Order, & Crime, and the panels I'm on relate to science fiction/fantasy and, well, crime. My day job involves all aspects of managing, searching, and reviewing the large document sets collected when big companies sue each other (think Oracle v Google, Apple v Samsung, just about any time there's a big headline about a product problem), and between that and living with a cop I'm interested in how all of these kinds of things will look in the future. I'll post my schedule once it's finalized.

One of the honored guests is Terry Bisson, who is brilliant and witty and very funny. He and I founded the SF in SF reading series (though I'm just an occasional audience member these days), and there will be a special SF in SF reading in SF (duh) on Saturday, and some of the FOGcon attendees will be reading, so come to that, too.

One of the other honored guests is Susan R. Matthews, who writes a series of novels set in the Jurisdiction. One of her main characters is a doctor who is forced to torture political prisoners, and is horrified to discover he likes it. These are very, very good. (Teresa loved these, and turned me on to them.) I'm on a panel with Susan R. Matthews, and I hope I don't come across too much like a drooling fangirl.

This is the third FOGcon, and I've been to the first two as well. It's a lot of fun and worth going to.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Since the World Science Fiction Convention has opened nominations for Hugo awards, my real writer friends have been posting lists of what they wrote last year that's eligible for a Hugo. And it occurred to me that *I* have a story published in 2012 that's science fiction (arguably hard science fiction, if you take climatology (based on the original global warming report from over a decade ago, that oddly enough has been coming true just as reported) as a hard science). So here it is, for those as wanting to nominate (and you could buy the book and read the story, too -- I like it):

Short Story
"Songs of Innocence", by Karen Williams in Tales From the House Band, Volume 2 edited by Deb Grabien


Thanks!
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Many on my f-list are posting their 2012 lists of what they've had published this past year, and it occurred to me that I've had something published this year, too! I have a short story, "Songs of Innocence," in the anthology "Tales From the House Band vol. 2". (Yes, I had a story in Vol. 1 last year.) My story takes place in Pocatello, ID, after climate change has destroyed much of the U.S. A young woman escaped there with her family but is rebelling against the status quo using music and the servers in the various neighborhoods to fight for better things for her people. Chaz has a story in it, too. Check it out:
Tales From the House Band, Volume 2
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I have submitted my story, to a zombie anthology. I hope it makes the cut.
klwilliams: (Default)
For those of you coming to BayCon and who would like to see me, here's my schedule:

How to Live With a Creative Person [This one doesn't surprise me]
--> Scheduled in Alameda from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM on Saturday

Getting Girls Hooked on Science and Engineering
--> Scheduled in San Tomas from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM on Saturday

Chicks Dig Comics
--> Scheduled in Lafayette from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM on Sunday

Themed Reading: Science Fiction [I'm going to read my hard sf short from "Tales from the House Band Vol. 1".]
--> Scheduled in Central from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM on Sunday
klwilliams: (Default)

 

3329 / 80000 words. 4.2% done!




This isn't all new this weekend. I've just saved some sections of the first draft and put them in this draft. But there is some new wordage, too.
klwilliams: (Default)

 

219 / 50000 words. 0.4% done!



Not quite as exciting a metric as Chaz's (yet), but the number of words is not 0.
klwilliams: (Default)
I've been tired and jetlagged for the last couple of weeks, and this morning I came to a realization. I can either sit around and wait until I'm no longer tired (which may happen very rarely, given my health issues), or I can just go ahead and get stuff done anyway. So this morning on the train I finished a story, one that I had critted last year at Milford, then by my local writing group. This morning, I finished telling the story, which oddly enough is now a Christmas story. And has an even sadder ending that it did before. Merry Christmas.
klwilliams: (Default)
Chaz wakes up before me, so this morning when I woke up I stayed in bed and finished fine-tuning a story on my iPad. When I was up and about we went to Hobee's, my favorite coffee shop and breakfast place and purveyor of coffee cake, for, well, breakfast and coffee cake. After that, we did something we haven't done before. We ran away for the day and went to Monterey.

The day had started off dark and gray, but by the time we got to Cannery Row the day had turned sunny and warm. We walked along the old buildings turned into shops and down onto the bit of beach. I managed to catch my foot in the sand and fall, which wasn't fun, but I recovered and we wandered down past the old warehouses that are now filled with tourist shops and wine bars, until we came to the aquarium.

We arrived a little before the otters were served their tea. (It was 3:30, so I can't imagine what other meal it could be.) The fun part was watching the otters play, and get more and more excited as feeding time approached. They had several toys, such as a ball and some plastic grip toys, plus a barrel that one of the otters kept swimming in and out of. The cute level was off the scale.

We also wandered through the jellyfish exhibit. The different jellyfish had their names listed in Spanish as well as English, and it was cool to see that "Medusa moon" (Medusa Luna) is the name for jellyfish.

Dinner was fried calamari and shrimp at Bubba Gump's, which was surprisingly good for a tourist chain. Or maybe I was just hungry. We drove home next to an odd but beautiful sunset, where dark clouds seemed to reach for the sunlight. Chaz and I drank red wine while he read to me from his latest novel, and now it's time for bed.

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