clhollandwriter: (Marvin)
So there's a new review of Writers of the Future XXV out, and it's annoyed the heck out of me.*

To get things clear at the start, it's not because the reviewer doesn't like "The Reflection of Memory". Plenty of people out there don't, and they're entitled not to. "Traditional" fantasy doesn't get much of a showing in the WotF anthologies anyway so it makes sense that the books would attract readers who prefer sci fi, or dark or urban fantasy. It's a shame he clearly hasn't read it properly, and makes a fairly major mistake about the relationship of one of the characters to the others, but presumably it's because he found the story slow and plodding.

No, what's irritated me is the unnecessary character assassination of two of the authors based on nothing more than a poor-quality viewing of the Awards ceremony. He claims it's no such thing, but it's hard to see it as anything else when he essentially accuses one author of arrogance and admits small-but-real desire to see him fail. Having spent a week with the other winners, I know that his assumptions about their character are laughably inaccurate, and also unfair. But then you know what they say about if you assume things....

I haven't named the review or reviewer because I don't want to make it personal. Those of you who've read it will know the one I mean - it's fairly hard to miss.
clhollandwriter: (Inigo)
I got up this morning and realised I'd forgotten to get the bread out for sandwiches. Never mind, I thought, I'll defrost some in the microwave! I defrosted some for the bf and made his lunch, then defrosted some for myself and managed to cook it solid. Never mind, I thought, I'll buy sandwiches in the coffee shop at work, and since I don't have time for breakfast now I'll get that as well! So of course, my bus was late and I ended up rushing breakfast, necking coffee, and getting to the office five minutes late. But at least I have sandwiches.

It occurred to me this morning that it's been six months since I flew out to Writers of the Future. It was an amazingly hectic, information-filled week, and coming back while still reeling from the shock to an ordinary life was a bit of an anti-climax. Six month's on, very little has changed. I'm still in contact with most of the other winners, but other than that I'm still full of the same doubts and hang-ups as before. KD Wentworth told us not to fall into  "Impostor Syndrome", but it's hard not to.
clhollandwriter: (moon)
Scribbled out a handful of words today, hampered by the fact that I slept so badly last night I've been running on caffeine and little else, and opted for a nap at lunchtime instead of writing. I'm just glad no one else wanted to use the canteen. I haven't felt this bad since WotF jetlag.

It hit me yesterday just how much I've let my submissions slide. I'm down to two things out - one of which needs querying - and have nothing forthcoming except the reprint of "The Marsh Lights" in the Hong Kong textbook, since that hit a few bumps. The main problem is that this requires me to find somewhere with wi-fi, my home computer now being so painfully slow I'd need a whole day to get caught up. One day I'll get around to sorting it out - after I've done everything else on the list!

In other news, [ profile] ecbatan, otherwise known as Richard Horton of Locus, has reviewed Writers of the Future XXV, and singles out "The Reflection of Memory" along with Gary Kloster's "The Farthest Born" as his two favourites. At the risk of sounding unprofessionally squeeish, yay!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I've just found out that "The Reflection of Memory" is available in the StarShipSofa podcast Aural Delights no 105.

So now, those who don't have the Writers of the Future anthology can listen to my story as a taster.

Cat stuff )
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I've been asked where people can see Oleksandra Barysheva's (Sasha's) illustration for my WotF story, so here it is up at DeviantArt. Check out some of her other stuff too - I had a look at her portfolio while we were there, and she's really good.

In other news, I've made another sale to Every Day Fiction, "Beauty Sleeping" will be published there probably next month. I'll pimp it again when I have a date. ;)

I discovered on Friday that I write more out than I do at home - less distractions. So now the hunt is on for a cheap cafe that won't be too busy during the day, so I can save my pennies and go there to write once a week. I might as well make the most of this unemployed malarky while I am.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
Found another review on Writers of the Future XXV over at [personal profile] dr_phil_physics, who was a published finalist from Volume XXIV. He liked all of the stories, and here's what he said about mine

"The Reflection of Memory" by C.L. Holland
illustrated by Oleksandra Barysheva (Gold Prize Winner)
A fantasy world where names and the naming of things is terribly important. Sure we've seen this trope before, but there's a nice mystery tied into a fast-paced travel quest -- this could be beautifully expanded into a much longer tale. Probably my favorite straight fantasy story of the bunch. Exceptionally well done.
This was the illustration which, on the night of the WOTF XXV Event, I wanted to know how it related to the story. I'm here to tell you that Oleksandra Barysheva's splitting illustration works perfectly.

In other news, I got a little more of the Opium Time-Travel Story done today, not much, but enough to get the wheels turning again.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
This part's just me moping. )

Even after the kick-in-the-pants that was WotF, keeping the momentum going is hard.

So, in the spirit of promoting the shiny, here's the book trailer for Writers of the Future Vol. 25.

Someone's posted a review of the book on the forum at Asimov's. (Beware spoilers if you read this thread.) I can live with my story being described as "read[ing] a bit like Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott as rewritten by Patricia McKillip, with the tiniest of nods to China Mieville." :-D

*This isn't me seeking validation for Reunion, by the way, just noting that it does have some major flaws (one of the central characters being largely unlikeable, and a distinct lack of female characters until about halfway through, for a start), and wondering if I can fix them.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Sofanauts 23, a podcast interview with me, fellow Writers of the Future winner Mike Wood, and past winner and New York Times bestslling author Sean Williams, is now available at StarShipSofa.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I got home yesterday to discover one cat has gained weight, the other has lost weight, and one of them has taken to peeing on the bathroom floor. Hopefully they'll settle down once their routine is back to normal.

Here are the obligatory Writers of the Future posts:


clhollandwriter: (Default)
So I'm back on UK soil after an amazing week at WotF. Too tired to blog though. Maybe tomorrow.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Up early to pack, and then hung around in the lobby for a while before having breakfast with Jordan. There was a bus leaving an hour earlier than I was supposed to go, to take Dave Wolverton to the airport, so Mike, his wife Sarah, and I caught that so we had plenty of time to get through security etc at the airport. As it turned out, the timing was perfect. There were no hiccups in security (although I had to go through the metal detector twice), we had time for coffee, and the plane started boarding as soon as we got to the gate.

Then it was movies, bad food, and listening to the language CD in an effort to get some sleep.

It was September when we landed.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Waking up and realising it was the last day was a sad moment. I had breakfast with Steve and Grá, plus Heather and her husband Rabbit, and then we piled onto the coach for our book signing in Pasadena. On the way everyone took pictures of the post-apocalyptic smoke clouds from the fires.

The signing was quite busy, but I managed to do some shopping for books that aren't out in the UK. We were supposed to go for lunch then, but somehow we lost the bus and ended up crammed into a little coffee shop instead. When the bus turned up we piled on to the next place, which wasn't as busy to start with but soon had enough people to keep us occupied. We left in dribs and drabs as the last people worked their way down the line, and then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the last part of the event.

In the evening we had food over at the Author Services building: including fruit, which led to several private strawberry moments ala Firefly. After that we had the first couple of rows reserved for us in a theatrical reading of one of L. Ron Hubbard's works. It was odd--I'd never been to a reading before and wasn't sure what to expect--but the actors were talented enough that it didn't matter that they weren't moving around. Plus we had music by jazz musician Chick Corea, which was great.

We partied for a little while, but some of us had early flights and all of us were tired so we headed back to the hotel. Tim Powers regaled those of us who stayed up with his final advice and Phillip K. Dick stories, but only a final few diehards were still up at 2am when the last of us decided to go. So sad to think that I'll never see most of these people again.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

Our time was mostly our own this morning, except for me and Mike who had to join Sean for an interview with Starship Sofa. I was nervous, but it was very informal and Sean made it very easy as the voice of experience.

After that I briefly checked my emails, and had a very surreal moment as Kevin J. Anderson cmae up to me, Jordan and Grá and asked if he could sit with us. You could almost hear the mental adjustments being made. Then I met Fiona and the other girls for our soundcheck and speech rehearsals--although I refused to go up as I was worried about freaking out again. Still, we managed to corner Tim Powers and ask some questions we'd missed in the workshop, and Fiona and I got an accidental sneak-peak of the cover before it was officially released.

As people started to disburse to get their hair and makeup done I released I hadn't had anything to eat, so Sasha arranged for me to go with her and her parents. But while I was waiting for her, Gary pointed out he hadn't actually sorted out the quarters he'd brought for my mum so we went to do that. We crossed with Sasha on the way, and I told her to go on without me rather than wait, but I'm not sure I explained what was going on very well!

Then it was hair and make-up, and dressing up. My dress was scrunched from being in my case, but there was a steamer to sort that out. We had dinner, and then it was the awards. To be honest I don't remember much of it, except that people seemed to laugh in all the right places. After that was my first book signing experience--and thanks to Nina Kiriki Hoffman for her tips on how to do one properly. Being asked for my autograph by famous authors (especially ones who I'd previously asked to sign things) was downright weird, but before I knew it the hall was mostly empty and everyone was off to the hospitality suite for food. I was sick of my ballgown by that point though, so I gave up and went to bed.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
Got up early to do the rest of the reading as I only got through one of the stories last night. Then it was back to the workshop to do the critiques in front of the authors. I was very glad my story wasn't picked, especially having seen the quality of the three stories we looked at, but the rest of us have agreed to put our first drafts up on our group mailing list, so we all get to suffer.

After the crits we had guest speakers, during which Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta had arranged pizza so we could keep going through lunch. They also handed out goody bags of posters, bookmarks, sticky pads and gummy Dune sand worms. I was so busy making notes that I didn't even notice that the people on the table next to us had gone, until they came up and told me and Gary we had to go for a radio interview. This was during Dave Wolverton so I was a bit miffed, but Krista and I agreed to swap notes as she'd missed the speakers before.

The interview was terrifying (and no I'm not telling you when it's aired :p ), and then it was back to finish listening to the speakers. When they were finished we were sent into the corridor to wait while the artists set up their illustrations, and we went back in to see them for the first time. There were a load of really good pictures there, but I was blown away by the illustration for my story. I'd been worried that the illustrator would do one of my characters and it wouldn't match what I had in my head, but Sasha (Oleksandra Barysheva) managed to absolutely nail it. She also showed me the same drawing in colour, and let me keep a copy.

The rehearsal for the awards came next, and I didn't enjoy that one little bit. I'd been dreading the whole thing--I hate public speaking, and knowing we were going to be live on the web the next day didn't help my nerves. I'd also hardly eaten since Sunday, so the end result was me inches from a panic attack. Somehow I got through without freaking out, and went up to the party in Sean Williams' suite.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Today was mostly writing. I got up and went to the coffee shop to write and check my emails at 7am. I'd expected to see at least one of the others but they must have had really late nights as I didn't see anyone. I didn't get much done for the first hour, but at 8 it started to get busy and I told myself that I had to write a thousand words before I could leave.

Creativity by torture worked and I got my thousand words. However, at some point a bloke in blue denim wandered through yelling about terrorists. Twenty minutes later he came back through again, although I hadn't seen him enter. Twenty minutes later he was back, and at that point I was freaked out enough to go back to the hotel.

Fiona was already at the desk, so I tried to write on my bed, then on the floor using a chair as a table. She seemed to breeze through her first draft, and then took a copy out to the pool, and I was still struggling. I finished my first draft at about 4.30, and we rushed down to the lobby to print our stories out. Unfortunately both of the computers crashed, so we went back to the workshop to see if we could get it printed there. After our stories were handed in the lads were whisked off for a tux fitting, and the rest of us departed to get ready for the barbeque to welcome the judges and guest speakers.

The barbeque was very strange. The writers and illustrators hadn't been introduced at this point, so there were a lot of people wandering around trying to work out who the others were. We also met some of the judges and visiting writers: Kevin J. Anderson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jerry Pournelle, Rebecca Moesta, Sean Williams, Robert Sawyer. I was looking forward to the food, but once again the jetlag kicked in and I ended up mostly snacking on brownies. I hung around until the three 24-hour stories for us to crit were handed out, and then I gave up to try and do some reading.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

Up early again, which is a strange habit to keep when you have jetlag. I went for internet and coffee again, then deposited my laptop in the room and went over to the workshop.

When I got there Schon asked me if I had the quarter with Mississippi on it (my mum asked me to collect the ones with the states on them), and when I went to check I realised I didn't have my wallet.

I let Tim know I'd be a bit late, and dashed back to the hotel. Fortunately I'd left the wallet in my room, rather than the coffee shop. I expected everyone to have started without me when I got back, but they hadn't, and apparently I earned cool points for not having freaked out over having lost my wallet on the wrong side of the Atlantic. But as I pointed out, it wasn't actually lost until I confirmed it wasn't where I could find it.

We had a trip up the Hollywood Library then, on foot. If I'd known I'd have worn my sneakers! We got to see a load of things to take pictures of on the way--the Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign, Ray Bradbury's star on the pavement. K.D. was at the back to manage the stragglers, to make sure we didn't get lost, because I wasn't the only one doing it!

The library looked huge on the outside, but there weren't as many books inside as you might expect. We ended up in the kids' section, where I followed the workshop advice and looked there for information (the reason being that there's a better chance that you'll understand what you're researching). I ended up with a history of calendars, an encyclopaedia, and a How Things Work book. By this time I was thinking "clocks are cool, let's see how they work!" and I had the germ of a story.

We'd been told to get lunch and go back to the workshop once we were finished, so some of us decided to get Mexican on the way back. This proved to be a mistake, since it took ages for the food to arrive, and ages to sort the bill out. We ended up sending two of the guys on ahead to let the workshop tutors know we were delayed.

When we finally got back to the workshop we were given the pep-talk for the interview task: don't talk to anyone creepy, don't get in a van (even if they have a puppy!) and be careful. And then we were thrown out into the heat of the afternoon to talk to strangers.

The first guy I spoke to was a jerk and wouldn't talk to me. I could feel myself turning crispy by then so I popped back to the hotel to top up my sunscreen. After that I tried again and spoke to a pirate selling balloon cutlasses, who attacked me with one when I refused to buy it. I have to say, I was hating every minute of the task at this point, so I bought some essentials (water and fruit) and headed back to the workshop.

We swapped stories until 5pm (and it seemed that everyone had a better time than I did, except Jordan who was chased), and then we were sent away to spend 24 hours writing a story and everyone scattered.

Fiona had the desk in the room, so I went down to the lobby. It proved to be a mistake as it was very dark and the laptop screen hurt my eyes. After a while Grá and Heather came down to write too, so we pushed the tables together.

Or at least Heather and Grá carried on. I sat there while they typed and struggled to think of anything. I had a first line, but not much more, and by the time Gary came down and mentioned food I was starting to despair of writing anything at all.

We went to dinner in the restaurant attached to the hotel, where I had a hotdog and fries, and actually managed to eat most of it. Afterwards we went back to writing, but my brain was jelly so I gave up and went to bed. Once again: jetlag sucks!

clhollandwriter: (Default)
Up early, despite the late night, so Fiona and I decided to look for somewhere that did free wifi as the hotel charged $10 a day for it. The guy on the desk tried to send us about 12 blocks and then around the corner, so we ignored him and asked the coffee shop next door. Their wifi was free, so we had a drink and checked our emails before heading off to the ASI building for the first day of the workshop.

The workshop room was set up with six tables, and a podium with a table on it for the tutors--Tim Powers and K.D.Wentworth. I also met the other winners (other than Fiona) for the first time--Emery, Heather, Jordan, Schon, Gary, Matt, Grá, Don, Mike, and Krista. Then we had to pick a seat, so I picked the lefthand spot on a table at the back, since I'm a lefty, and was joined by Gary.

The hardest part of the first day was learning to ignore the photographer, who wandered around snapping pictures and moving drinks and things that ruined her shot.

About midday we stopped for lunch. Some of the guys went off for pizza, but Tim was going for a hamburger and I decided to go too--since how many times do you get to go out to lunch with Tim Powers? It ended up with Steve Savile, plus Gary and Heather (other winners) going too, and so we had lunch in a little place called Shelley's.

The jetlag really hit at that point, so I didn't eat much. But it was fun, sitting around and talking with everyone. After that it was back to the workshop. I found it difficult to stay awake because I was just so tired, so I raided the snack table for Pepsi. K.D gave us all a little plastic bag with our trigger object in it for the 24-hour story we were to write the next day, and mine was a golden wing taking from something indeterminate. Nothing that wasn't obvious or trite suggested itself, so I hoped for inspiration to strike later.

After the workshop it was suggested that we go out for dinner, so Steve took us all to an Italian place. I'd forgotten to take my camera, so I didn't get to take pictures of the Chinese Theatre, or Spiderman standing on a bin. The restaurant was lovely, with a piano player and a singer, but I was feeling really ill and so couldn't eat more than a salad (although Grá had the olives and the chilli). Jetlag sucks!

Once everyone was finished we headed back to the hotel, and I had a chat with Steve about the "inteview" task we had the next day, the one where we have to go and talk to strangers. He gave me some tips on how to make it less scary, which was cool. The others decided to stay up for a while, but I was really tired and had a boringly early night.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
2 ½ hour coach trip to Heathrow airport. I found myself dozing off, but tried to stay awake and make the most of the trees - I got the feeling there wouldn't be many of them in Hollywood! Heathrow T5 was big, but surprisingly easy to navigate. Depositing my luggage and getting through security was painless, despite what you hear about underwired bras and jeans buttons setting off the metal detector.

Once in departures I looked around for something to eat, but most of the shops seemed to sell nothing but booze and perfume! It was a bit frustrating because I was starving, but eventually I found somewhere to buy a sandwich and fruit salad. Of course, as soon as I had them I wasn't hungry any more. Sod's law.

The gate opened really early, so I made my way over. There's a little train to take you there, but it only takes 30 seconds so there wasn't much point in sitting down. More waiting, and then onto the plane in cattle class.

It wasn't that bad in economy. I'm not tall, so there was almost enough leg room even with my bag under the seat. Plus I was by the window so I got to watch all the bits of the wing shifting ready for take-off. I also got to watch the line of planes we were in as they took it in turns to go. And then we were off.

It's been a while since I flew, and I'd forgotten the odd feeling as the plane climbs that it's running really really fast to keep from falling. I watched London fall away and it suddenly hit me--I'm going to America!

The cabin crew brought around drinks and dinner (chicken pasta, salad, a bread roll, chocolate mousse cake, water and tea/coffee). And of course afterwards everyone decided they needed the loo, and of course that was the point we hit turbulence over Greenland and got sent back to our seats. Shortly afterwards they closed all the blinds and turned the lights out. And I wasn't the least bit sleepy.

I tried to amuse myself by watching movies, but I couldn't settle to them or reading, or anything else, so it was a loooong flight. I cracked the blind open every so often to have a look outside, since it was daylight for the whole trip. Greenland was covered in snow and ice, as you'd except. There were giant cracks, and huge patches of visible rock that looked like giants' footsteps. Eventually we crossed to Canada, and I was amazed by the size of the spaces where there were no people at all-- in the UK we're kind of packed in.

After that we crossed the border to the States, and again I was amazed at the sheer amount of space and all the straight roads. UK cities are generally not built on grids. Finally we shifted to travel south into LA, and the night caught up.

I passed through immigration and everyone was very polite and helpful. I got my luggage and waited outside on the kerb to be collected, and after a few minutes the van turned up. We were still waiting for one of the guests to turn up though, a past winner called Steve Savile, so we circled LAX while we tried to work out where he (and later his luggage) was.

Finally we located Steve and went to the hotel. Joni checked me into my room and showed me how the lift worked, and while we were doing that the first surreal moment of the week happened. In got Tim Powers and his wife Serena. I'd been worried about turning into a fangirl when I met him, but I was so tired that when he introduced himself it didn't really register and I just said hi. I think the jetlag showed though, since Serena stayed with me to make sure I got off on the right floor (Joni having gone somewhere else by this point).

I found my room, where roommate Fiona Lehn was already in bed. My stumbling around woke her up, but she was very polite about it! She went back to sleep while I unpacked, and I discovered she'd left a box of Canadian maple syrup chocolates on the bed for me. Thanks Fiona!

It was about 11pm by the time I got to bed--I'd been on the go since what would have been midnight US time. Despite that I was too tired and homesick to sleep well, especially when the air conditioning sounded like a jet engine. I managed to snatch a couple of hours though, ready for the start of the workshop on Tuesday.
clhollandwriter: (Marvin)
Productive weekend, for everything but writing. We bought some fruit and veg from a local grocer, including lots of beetroot, and spent Sunday making pickled beetroot and beetroot chutney, plus veggie shepherd's pie and chilli to go in the freezer.

Job interview )
I'm off to my Mum's today, for a visit prior to trekking off to Writers of the Future, and leaving the bf and cats to fend for themselves. Hence the reason for making all the frozen dinners at the weekend. He won't eat otherwise.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I've been hit with the depression stick again, which is really annoying. I know why I'm depressed (hormones and a string of small but really irritating things going wrong) but that doesn't seem to make me feel any better. If anything it makes me feel worse, because I know it's stupid to feel this way but I can't help it. Damn you, female reproductive system! *shakes fist*

If you don't want to hear me whinging, look away now. )

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