I’m afraid to check the last time I updated my blog, but I’m here now. That’s the important part. It’s been a busy few months, that’s for sure. I tend to disappear into a cave–metaphorically, if not literally–when I’m deep into writing. It’s not the easiest place to be, as my tendency would be to focus entirely on my writing if only my son and husband didn’t want attention. Instead, their voices just become whistles and clicks and it takes a while for them to get my attention. I even avoid my usual social-media wastes of time. So my blog got short shrift. It’s as if I can only write so much, and if I’m deep into a novel, I write nothing else. So I apologize to my fans, both of you.
Anyway, I finished writing First Impressions, a new novel, after Turkey Day and then farmed it out to my beloved and trusty beta readers, all of whom returned me edits before Christmas. After a brief hiatus while I recovered from influenza (you can always tell when someone’s had genuine influenza because he calls it influenza to distinguish it from whatever generic virus has received a promotion…trust me, they’re different), I got to work on edits and submitted it for publication a few weeks ago. What makes this different from my usual experience with submission (not that, you perv) is that not only did I hear back in a relative hurry, but Dreamspinner offered me the chance to bring First Impressions to print in a definite hurry. The publisher told me that another writing had “indefinitely postponed” his/her book and there was now a hole in her publication schedule. I hate to think what brought this on for one of my colleagues, but is it too terrible of me to say that I’m willing to take advantage of it if it meant the difference between publication in April vs August?
First Impressions isn’t related to the world of the CalPac Crew, even thought it, too, is set in a somewhat fictionalized version of Sacramento, and I hope you’ll forgive me for that. I needed a break from CalPac books, and this provided the perfect one as I’m now in the research and outlining stages of not one but two CalPac novels. More on them later. So, First Impressions. It’s a gay riff on Pride and Prejudice. I don’t even remember when I started First Impressions, sometime last summer, I suppose. Actually, I first started working on this story more than a decade ago, when I realized that my social milieu bore a marked resemblance to Jane Austen’s. In Sacramento’s gay community and Regency England both, life was a series of parties and balls all designed to find a husband, we all knew far too much about each other’s business (and mating habits), and one wrong move or poorly chosen outfit could lead to social ruination. The story didn’t work very well then, but I’ve learned a lot about story telling in the mean time.
With that in mind, meet Henry and Cameron:
On the cusp of thirty, Cameron is struggling to find his way in life. He’s realized his insistence on doing it his way has only led to frustration, and his goals seem further away than ever. How can Cameron share his life with someone else when he doesn’t even know what his life’s about?
A man of varied business interests, Henry is desperate to escape his past. His last boyfriend used him for his money, and he doubts the love was ever really there. Burdened by his secrets and burned out on relationships, can Henry find last happiness in a relationship if he’s lying to himself about being happy in the first place?
When the two meet, fur—not sparks—flies, but as circumstances and coincidence throw them together, can each man admit he was wrong and move past his disastrous first impression to realize that sometimes, love bears no resemblance to what’s expected?
(note on pictures: these are pictures I found on the internet that captured how I envisioned each character. I do not own the rights to these photos, and for all I know there are “real” people who might not appreciate starring in my novel. If either of these men is you, or if you own the rights, please email me using the contact form at the top of the page, and I’ll remove them.)
So there we are. I’ll post updates on publication dates as I get them, as well as cover art when it’s appropriate. In addition, there’ll be excerpts here from time to time. But the next post will be about the CalPac novels, I swear.
Last Sunday I received the first edits for Tipping the Balance. I don’t want to say I’d forgotten about it, because let’s be real. It’s my second novel and I’m shallow that way. But the email I received when it entered the editorial queue said something about 8-12 weeks, which would’ve put it during my in-laws’ upcoming visit.
I’ve been working on it ever since, essentially dropping both A2HP (My WIP), but also a short story I’m working on in response to a challenge posted on Z. A. Maxfield’s Cyber Cafe a few week backs to make mud sexy. Both are on hold for now, since the edits are due this coming Monday, July 25.
Mostly I’ve let the editor have his/her way. I figure that since Dreamspinner Press bought it, I need to pick my battles carefully. That said, parts of DSP’s house style irritate me no end, but with each manuscript I seem to pick some minor and admittedly ridiculous point about which to take a stand. I should probably grow up a little.
All of this said, I’m trying something different this go around. I forget where I first encountered this idea–DSP’s author’s group? Anyway, I read somewhere that a high effective way to edit a manuscript is to read it backwards. So I started with the last sentence, read it normally, and then moved on to the second-to-last sentence, read it, etc. I’m amazed and appalled at how many typos, dropped words, missed words, and near-miss words (forbidden instead of forbidding, for example), and repeated words and expressions I’ve found. I’m only about 50 pages into it, too. The thing is, I edited the manuscript before sending it to my betas as well as submitting, my two betas edited, and at least one person at DSP has been over it.
This works precisely because it interrupts a key component of a novel’s structure, and that’s the flow of the plot. As a writer, I want people to be caught up in the characters and situations I’ve depicted, and to that end, each sentence should flow into the next. The problem with that as I edit my work is that my brain supplies whatever’s missing or wrong to create a coherent picture. By reading each sentence in isolation, I subvert this and can see the words for what they are.
Unfortunately, it’s very time consuming. I won’t be able to finish before I have to send the edits back. Fortunately, there’ll be another round of edits before I get the galley, or at least there’s supposed to be. I’ll make note of how far I got and start up from there. I’m editing this way from now on, only I’ll do it before I submit, or maybe even before I send it to my betas.
Still no word on when exactly it’ll be published or any proofs for the cover art. I find myself far more patient than I was last time. I know what to expect now. That’s my MO. Early in grad school I’m sure I came across as a needy insecure pest to my professors, but by the time I was writing my dissertation, my advisor actually emailed me to see if I was still alive since she hadn’t heard from me in so long. I was fine, I just didn’t need anything from her and didn’t see the point in bothering her. So it is with writing novels.
So check back from time to time. Who knows, there might be an update.
People ask me why I row. This video, shot my by one of my teammates, describes it very well. It really is that magical out on the water.
The Port is sometimes not much to look at, and I’m convinced that the tugboat operators are the minions of Satan, but the water is usually fantastic.
But it’s more than that.
At it’s best, rowing reminds me to stay focused on the moment, not the past, not the future. It’s the stroke right now that matters. The last stroke is history. I can’t change it. I can’t do anything about it. If it sucked, I can do this stroke differently. If it was good, I can try to duplicate it. The next stroke hasn’t happened yet. If I worry about it, I’m not focused on the present stroke.
Pain is temporary, but the pride of accomplishment lasts a long time. There’s also a difference between pain (your body’s way of telling you, Knock it off, fool!) and discomfort, which can and should be tolerated on the road to growth. No one every promised us an entirely comfortable life, and learning to tolerate discomfort comes with maturity.
So I signed up for Twitter the other day. Everyone keeps telling me how useful it is, but no one really seems to be able to tell me how, in fact, it will prove its utility. No matter. I signed up anyway. Maybe it will strike me as more relevant once Rocking the Boat’s published. You can follow me and my 140 characters of nada or dada @christopherink.
I’ve already discovered one use for it, and that’s sending out mass communiqués. In particular, something about the federal appeals court punting the prop h8 case to the state supreme court and whether or not some of the parties suing to preserve that despicable measure have standing to do so. I know it’s an important, if not crucial, point, but given that the state supreme court allowed the damned thing to stand, I don’t really trust its hierophants to rule justly or wisely.
Anyway, getting back to our sheep, or in this case, birds. So much of what shows up in my feed strikes me as irrelevant trivia. For one thing, Slate apparently must tweet each and everything that’s ever published there. Then, too, The Economist manages to fill up a great deal of space. I guess I don’t mind that much. At least things like that point me in the right direction, or would if I had the time to keep up. I don’t always.
I just find the whole bird metaphor perilous. Twitter has reduced us to little chirping birds, tweet tweet tweet. I’ve taken enough behavioral ecology to know more or less what birds chirp about, and it can pretty much be reduced to “That’s my tree! That’s my tree! That’s my tree!” and “Fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me!” Is this really where we, as a people, as a society, as thinking beings, want to go?
And then there are the misuses of language, which only make the presence of Grammar Girl ironic at best and a tragic capitulation at worst. Tweet has become a verb, as in, “I tweeted a bunch of random crap to people who probably don’t care.” That might be workable, but one can also “retweet” other people’s tweets (read: shamelessly rip off), and is that a noun, a verb, or some barbarous neologism that exists for no other reason to give people like me vile headaches?
Then, too, I find the fact that one has followers, and is a follower of others, reminiscent of the language of cults and gurus. This does not prevent, however, the feverish clicking of the “follow” button or the anguished checking of the number of one’s followers. Frankly, the whole thing’s a hot epistemological mess.
I usually maintain a good relationship with technology. While I don’t tend to be among the earliest of early adopters, I usually manage to catch the back end of that first wave, at least for things that interest me. Not this time. Where Twitter’s concerned, despite now being a Twit with my own little nest, I’m no nearer to making sense of this. I still don’t “get” Twitter. It’s the first time I’ve felt “old” when confronted by a new technology or innovation, and I don’t much care for that. People are chirp chirp chirping their little nuggets throughout the aether, and I’m loitering back near the looms with a handful of other suspicious characters, an axe in my hands and a nasty gleam in my eyes.
Or am I overthinking this?