New rules.

It's time to set some new rules for a while.  Starting off:  the end of this month, March 30; The Friday before the last week of classes this semester, May 3; Readercon 24, July 11.  The rules will be decreasingly heavy as they get farther out -- I'll layer in more if I think I can handle it, but I'm leaving myself enough slack to adjust.  There will also be a couple short-term deadlines. These are cumulative -- they all go into effect today, they just end when those deadlines hit.


  • Get my Critters score back up over 75%
  • Put a story in the Critters queue
  • Submit a story for publication

Until March 30

  • Pixar drill every day

Until May 3

  • Short story every week
  • Second-drafts of all the short stories I like

Until July 11

  • Keep my Critters score over 75%
  • Always have a story in the Critters queue
  • Read one short story from an SFWA qualifying venue every day

I'm also starting a new workflow:  Every week, I write the full version of one of the Pixar drill stories.  (Unless I have a better idea, in which case I can write that.)  Every one of the stories I like enough, I will write the second draft.  Everything that gets a second draft goes to the Critters queue.  Everything that goes through Critters gets a third draft and gets submitted for publication.  A story has to be rejected 10 times before I can do a fourth draft.

I got my Clarion email

I didn't get in.  I've never done a particularly good job of coping with rejection, so I'm not sure whether the pain I'm feeling right now is going to ebb soon or keep flowing.  But getting over it now should be good practice -- I intend to do a lot of practice with exposing myself to rejection this year.  (First of all, I intend to submit at least one of my Clarion application stories to a venue by the end of today, and probably start new edits on the other.) So, this means I'll be able to go to Readercon this year, which, then, means I need to get together money for registration and a hotel room.  It also means I really need to buckle down on my writing over the next eight months, the time frame I have to write 2 new application stories for next year's Clarion.  (And also I need to find out whether you can simultaneously apply to Clarion and Clarion West.)

I really wanted to go this year.  I was really, particularly hoping for the opportunity to learn from Cory Doctorow and Kelly Link.  (I only found out after I'd applied to Clarion that Neil Gaiman would be teaching at Clarion West.  I'd love to learn under him, too.)

With a heavy heart, I've just turned off my Clarion IFTTT email alert.  I'll turn it on again next year, after I've applied.

Oh, and to any other pattern-seekers waiting for their clarion emails:  my rejection came within the same hour in 2013 as it did in 2010, on the third Monday of the month.  Last time, it was a waitlist email, so my new guess is that the third Monday of March is when they send all the not-accepted-s.  So that will be the date I set my anxiety to next year.


While I'm on the subject, now's a good time to brainstorm some potential writing rules for the rest of the year (I'll come back and look at them more carefully later):

  • One short story first draft a week
  • Pixar drill every day[1. See this post, rule #4.  I've been writing synopses every night based on that format for a week or so now, and I think it's really helping.]
  • Never let my Critters score drop below 75%.
  • One story in the Critters queue at all times
  • One short story second draft a week
  • Every story gets at least three drafts
  • Stories that have had three drafts have to be rejected 10 times before being revised again
  • Read one short story from an SFWA qualifying venue every day
  • Read at least two books a month

I'm not sure how many of those I can actually do, I'm going to have to pick more carefully to figure out what I can balance in with my school life, and, this summer, my job.  And working for the school paper.  And writing a research paper for prize money.

I will return tomorrow with a more carefully considered list of commitments, and a timescale on which they will last.  For now, I'm going to spend a little bit of time feeling bad for myself, then get back to work doing all the crap I have to get done today.

Wish me luck.

Making up words

Today between noon and 1pm, the free chunk of my school day, I went to the newsroom, and, rather than doing anything productive, I decided to make up some words.

I've been thinking lately about the way that a lot of fantasy/sci fi works come up with alien or fantastic names by just inserting a lot of Qs and Ys into things or using different languages and fudging letters, and I wanted to try to make up some words that didn't work that way.

So I looked back (metaphorically, I didn't actually have a tape of this or anything) to one time when I played a game of Bananagrams using entirely made-up words, then the person I'd played with and I came up with definitions for all the best ones.  Still, we'd come out with words like Qeboz, which sound good, but pretty much the same as the usual fantasy language.

To avoid that, I went through my Bananagrams tiles and sorted the tiles.  Then I pulled out all the ones that only came with 2, and a bunch of the E's, so (a.) I wouldn't be able to use any of the letters that are already really rare in English, and (b.) I wouldn't be using too much of the most common vowel.

Here's what I came up with:

fake words 2So, that's step one.  Step two, which ones are good, and which ones are actually fake.

Here are the words, alphabetically, with the ones I like in bold:

bame, brug, cagg, clind, cloat, dars, doir, drand, dutt, fostoat, frelger, frist, itue, larn, lendet, lodow, pholne, pomweer, prut, scut, snib, sonag, temmed, terowig, thent, trusil, wast, whid

Mostly I just went with what sounded good to me, but I can explain why I picked some of the ones I did, and why I left off some of the others: bame sounds too much like bane or blame, cagg sounds too much like crag, clind and dars don't sound like words, doir looks too much like Dior, itue is too hard to subvocalize, pholne looks like phone, pomweer is too weird, and scut sounds too much like a real word -- I suspect people would try to look it up.

Now, I've googled through the remainders:  Cloat, Drand, and Frist are surnames.

Larn is the name of a video game. Lodow means ice cream in Polish, according to Google Translate.  Snib is a part of a type of lock.  Trusil appears to be a brand of some sort.  Whid means to move quickly.  (I'll be saving that one -- it sounds like fun to use, even if it does have a definition.)

Google didn't even recognize fostoat, frelger, lendet, or terowig, so they're clear.

A few of these also turned up unpleasant definitions on UrbanDictionary, but it's hard to say how widespread those connotations may be.  I would want to explore more deeply if I had intended to use any of them.

Step three, making up definitions:

Fostoat sounds like a type of plant, if I wanted to go relatively simple with it I could say it means, pretty much, "Frost-oat."  A grain that grows in frozen wastelands.  (Making them not so much wastelands in the setting I'm inventing, I guess.)

Frelger sounds like a job, though felg is Norwegian for wheel rim.  (As it turns out, felger is the indefinite plural of felg in Norwegian, too.)  I suppose if I still wanted to use it, which I might, I might as well link it to fostoat, to build up a more specific setting, and say it's the kind of alcohol you get when you ferment it, and a felger is like a brewer.  The process (which I might invent later) would have to be a lot different than regular brewing, though, because there's not much of a point to write a book that has strange words for things that already exist.

Lendet sounds like an object to me, probably some kind of jewelry.  I imagine you could wear a lendet as a number of things -- a necklace, a broach, on a bracelet, although I think they'd be too heavy to wear as earrings or on rings.  I imagine them having a lot of cultural significance and would be a good point of reference in fleshing out the setting.

Terowig brings to mind both owls (probably because of Hedwig) and reindeer (I have no idea why) so I think they'd be some kind of wild animal native to the frozen not-wasteland.  They'd probably live in some kind of frozen woods,  I imagine them having bluish-white fur (or feathers) and antlers, and I don't know if they'd be feared, respected, or domesticated, but I am confident they are not hunted.

That's more or less how I go about making up words.  I lay no claim over any of these words or the definitions I've made up, so to avoid any weirdness or ambiguity about what's fair to use, I'm linking to a document that I've released into the public domain:

20130311 made-up words and their definitions