Dec 23, 2005

digital camera joy

Yay! My parents very nicely bought me a Nikon S4 for Hanukkah. Now I can show you the pretty view from the balcony of my condo, which I just moved to. Check it out:

I mean, it's no big deal to most people, but in So Cal (Southern California), the houses are spaced so close together than most windows look upon other people's houses. This is the first place I've lived in since college where I can look out my window and see mostly sky. It's sunny and pretty. Directly below me is a courtyard-like park where dogs and kids sometimes play.

Now I'll set about making a photo section for my website!

Nov 27, 2005

new start

I've started a new life today.

Sort of. About two months ago, I had a break-up with my boyfriend of five years. We both still care deeply for each other, but our relationship wasn't working. Ever since the "divorce" (that's what it feels like), I've oscillated between depression and joy, nostalgia and optimism for the future. It's been a rough end-of-year. Anyway, he's dating someone else now, and I've moved into a different condo. Today is my first day of being settled in. I'm mostly unpacked, my internet access is set up, and I can sit around and enjoy the view from my balcony. It looks like home at last! I would show you the pretty view, but I need to buy a digital camera. It's on my lengthening shopping list. The last time I was single, I was a mere teenager of 22, fresh out of college, and I didn't own much furniture or things. I'm at a stage in life where I want to own more things. Like a house. It's strange, because I remember being 22 and not wanting to settle down. I'd retained a notion that I would travel a lot, become wildly successful by the age of 27, and build a fabulous mansion when I was good and ready. Do all 22-year-olds have grandiose dreams? I think they're a good thing. We all need goals to strive for. The biggest symptom of my late 20s, I think, is that my dreams are fading. I still hope that I'll be wildly successful and build the awesome mansion, but I can no longer tell myself that it will happen by the age of 27. I'm 27 now. So I'll postpone that goal for age 30 . . . but somewhere along the course of life, I've learned how to postpone good things and procrastinate on others, and I can no longer believe these promises I make to myself without at least some doubts. I have a sad feeling that I will end up postponing that goal till age 35, then 40, and while I continue to struggle towards the stars, so to speak, I'll remain single and grow more bitter and ugly with every passing year. What will I have when I'm 60? I used to believe in my wonderful future with blind faith. I think that's what held me together through the trials of childhood, high school, and college. Now that personal faith is shaken. Worries and doubts are creeping in. I don't know what my future holds, and I don't like not knowing.

So there's my depressing sermon for the day. Kids, don't grow up! Priestess Abby signing off.

Oh, I may as well give an update on the rest of my life while I'm here. Work is going well. I'm doing 3D animation for a Nintendo DS game, and enjoying it. Being single, I've seen more of my friends, and will have more time to write screenplays and novels. I did have a fun Thanksgiving holiday at a friend's house. For the Christmas week, I'm going on a ski trip to Mammoth Mountain, which I'm really looking forward to. Skiing is the only sport I'm capable of, since I grew up in a non-athetic family living in New Hampshire. I'm only an intermediate skier, but I like the speed of going downhill.

Writing: On hold for the last two months. I will get back to it as of today. Of course, I've managed to distract myself with George RR Martin's series. If you like to read, do yourself a favor and buy A Game of Thrones. That is some good crack.

Art: I just modeled a few Gothic buildings in 3ds Max, but my latest ambition is to paint my own book covers. I went to the Gnomon Workshop, where world-famous digital painters give amazing tutorials, and I left feeling inspired.

Sep 1, 2005

Long Time, No Update

It's been a while. I planned to update this blog every week, but I think I'd have to write a novel to catch up now. August was a busy month. Well, it was a vacation month, which means I got to go to a lot of theme parks, concerts, parties, and generally wallow in my free time. I count that as REAL life. Most of my life isn't that exciting.

Anyway, my artwork will be featured in an upcoming gallery show. The reception is this Saturday evening, in Alhambra (between Pasadena and Los Angeles), at Gallery Nucleus. If you're in the L.A. area, it's worth going to! There will be free drinks, a live band, and women get 10% off all the store merchandise, since it's an all-woman show. My artwork will be for sale at the gallery and on their online store throughout September.

I never told you about Comic Con, did I? Well ... to those of you who are "Wheel of Time" fans ... I went to a dinner with Robert Jordan and his wife, Harriet. That was a really cool, interesting experience! I'll attempt to go into more detail at a later date.

In the last week of July, I spent ten days in New Hampshire at TNEO (the Odyssey writing workshop alumni program thingy). It's basically a high-end critique group. Some of the Odyssey graduates are published novelists, and many have experience in the publishing industry, so I judged it worth going to. It was. I'll probably go again next year. Not only did we critique each other's work (and receive critiques on up to three stories of our own), but we practiced pitching our novels, we did a reading at Barnes & Noble, and we had panels covering everything from Young Adult markets to writing good query letters. Ask about my reading at B&N and watch me blush ...

So, I could tell you about the Doctor Steel and STG concerts I went to, but I think Larry has covered everything I'd have to say about that. If you've never heard of those bands (and you probably haven't), then it is your duty as a music-lover to check them out. By the way, Doctor Steel went to CalArts in the same Character Animation program I went through. You just wait, someday I'll have a Flash website that looks as cool as his ...

I've been out of work since Tak 3 wrapped up. I believe it will be showing up in stores across the world pretty soon. Remember, kids, I wrote some of the dialogue in that game (the Gameboy Advance version, anyway). I got to write the mind reader boss's dialogue! Oh yeah, and I animated him, too. Actually, I'm only responsible for about 1/3 of the in-game dialogue, and the publisher smoothed it all over and made sure there weren't any in-jokes left. Or maybe they just replaced our in-jokes with their in-jokes.

So, I'm doing some freelance, designing T-shirts and logos for an advertising company. Also continuing to teach myself Flash MX. I've overcome the learning hump and enjoying it now. I want to design a whole bunch of Flash websites for fun. But I try to keep my priorities in the right order, so I'm focusing on my writing instead. (Yes, that is a priority with me; I'm just weird.) I'm currently working on a short story about demonic Vikings. Rejections are trickling in ... maybe I'm self-deluded, but I keep thinking it's only a matter of time before I reach my goal of breaking into a pro market. I'll tell you as soon as it happens.

My novels and my screenplays are on hold. But not for long! I'm going to go insane and rip somebody's head off if I don't get back to long format writing soon.

Abby, signing off.

May 15, 2005


What a difference spam makes . . . I just closed my last spam-compromised email account, so I no longer receive unwanted emails. Words can't describe how joyful I felt when I checked my email today and it said "no new messages"! Ah, bliss! I checked it several hours later, just to make sure, and there are still no new messages! This is like a trip to Disneyland.

So, Larry and I went to a Goth/Industrial club on Friday the 13th. The band we saw is STG, and Larry took photos of them. I had a good time. The Derby has a really cool, retro atmosphere; it used to be the major Swing club in L.A. I'm considering going to The Labyrinth Masquerade, an annual masquerade in L.A. based on the movie. Isn't everything based on a movie around here?

May 8, 2005

I'm not as crazy as I sound

After I received a number of concerned responses to my latest Abby Update, I realized that I sound like a crazed, overworked, 10-cups-a-day freak. Rest assured, this is NOT the case. My job is fun. I enjoy all of my writing projects. Yes, I have a lot going on, but most of it is self-imposed, because I love doing it. And I do take breaks and have fun! I have a social life, I live in a pretty neighborhood where I can go for walks or swimming, and I live with a really great guy. I'm not locked up in some room slaving away. But thank you for your concern! :-)

May 7, 2005

One day, one of my projects will pay off . . .

Hello Friends and Neighbors!

My latest story is at Aoife's Kiss. I've been writing at a faster pace, but my publications are growing fewer. I don't think this is because I'm losing my touch. Nope. I've begun to submit to high profile markets first (like Asimov's), and these places take much longer to respond than smaller zines. It's not unusual to wait three months for a reply. In my case, it's often a rejection. Then I send the story to another market and wait another for another season to pass. I currently have six stories subbed to various markets: Borderlands anthology,,,, Conduit contest, and two closed anthologies.

You may be wondering what happened to my novels. Well, The Illusionist is shelved. It needs major revising, and I've been distracted with other projects (see below).

As for the Yeresunsa saga . . . if you read my blog, then you know that's the frustration of my life. I believe that Yeresunsa is publishable and good. But the first part of the adventure is 530,000 words, and no publisher will consider that length from a new author. So I chopped the story into three novels. The first of these three books was rejected from Baen Books a few months ago. The reader at Baen said that she'd love to see my novel in print, but the current ending doesn't work at all (which is natural, since that book was the first segment of a longer work). Anyway, when all is said and done, the Baen reader had a very good point. Based on her advice--and on feedback from test readers--I want to combine the first two books, thereby giving it a more conclusive ending. That will make for a long novel, even after I reduce it . . . but 250,000 words long, not 530,000 words. I'll still have a hellish time trying to get any editor to read it, but at least the possibility will exist. I hear tantalizing stories of authors who've gotten their 250,000 word first novels published. I hope to become one of them.

The Yeresunsa saga is not sitting idly. A literary agent requested an exclusive read on the first book, and has had it since December. I've queried her a couple of times, and as far as I know, she still plans to read it. I'm not in a hurry. I want time to combine/reduce the first two books into a fat novel with a solid ending, if the agent passes on it. And after that, at long last (and with great joy), I will write the next book in the series. I'm pleased that a few people have been asking for it.

I've planned other novels, but they're on hold in favor of a screenwriting project. I figured, I live in Los Angeles, I have film industry connections, and I write stories for fun . . . why not try to earn money for it? Yup. So I'm finishing a feature-length SciFi Thriller in between my short stories and work. To stay motivated, and to meet other screenwriters, I've founded an informal screenwriting group. We meet once a month in the L.A. area. If you'd like to join our mailing list, here it is.

Of course, that's the not the end of the projects I'm working on. My life is not complete without ten million things I can't handle. If you looked up the phrase "bit off more than she could chew" in, you'd see my photo next to it. I plan to finish animating my little Flash film. I want to animate a series of webisodes. I want to revise major portions of my website. The Wheel of Time section needs work, my art gallery needs an overhaul, I'd like to expend the review sections, and start a column in response to Group Hug. Oh yes, and I participate in a critique group that requires one critique per week. Finally--last but certainly not least--I'm going to TNEO (The NeverEnding Odyssey) this July. This involves something like 50 critiques that I need to complete by July, and I need to write two short stories within the next two months. I don't know what animal I'll need to sacrifice to generate enough free time, but it will have to be a big one. Maybe a cthulhu.

So you can understand why I'm not responding to my email very quickly.

Now it's time for BOOK and MOVIE REVIEWS!

I just finished listening to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Maybe it was because I was listening to an all-star British cast recording while animating weird monsters, but I greatly enjoyed it. I'm not too keen about the ending--it sort of fell apart in mayhem and abstraction, as many epics tend to do--but it worked. The premise (original), characters (entertaining), and settings (nicely rendered) made the trilogy very worthwhile. I can't wait to see how New Line Cinema adapts it to film.

And I listened to Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Maybe I'd better not comment on this classic, for fear of critical repercussions. Nah. Here's my opinion: Beautiful language, lovely voice, extremely engaging character and situation. BUT the ending just sucked. I mean, I hated Jane Eyre towards the end. All of my built-up sympathy for her character just evaporated. I can't say more without giving spoilers, but I had to say that much.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold was entertaining. Much more so than the book cover indicates. The more of Bujold I read, the more I like her, and the more I resent her marketing people for choosing terrible cover designs.

I give Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas a thumbs-down. Before you shoot me for saying that, please remember that I don't enjoy reading humor (not for prolonged periods, anyway). You might like Odd Thomas just fine. In fact, you probably will, especially if you liked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Terry Pratchett. Odd Thomas was halfway between serious and funny, as some of Koontz's books tend to be, and I dislike those, although I think they're among his best-selling. The character of Odd Thomas was cool, nice to listen to, but the plot just didn't do anything for me.

Now, on to movies. I saw Hitchhiker's Guide and my reaction was "bleh." Again, you might not want to trust my opinion, but I have a few valid reasons on this one. The film-makers played up the romance way too much. This film is supposed to be a comedy. The sudden soberness of the romance slowed down the pacing. It became cheesy in a few scenes. Also, the character design of the manic-depressive robot was awful. He looked cute and superdeformed, with sad eyes, which gives away everything about him without a hint of contrast. As any film student knows, contrast makes a character interesting; it emphasizes the main traits. If you want your audience to be impressed by a legendery 900-year-old warrior, you make him look frail and puny. This emphasizes the fact that the warrior can kick anyone's ass. If you want your audience to fear a genius serial-killer, you make him look and behave like an ordinary person when he's in public. Etc. Anyway, the robot just looked stupid and fake.

What else have I seen recently? Honestly, not much, because there isn't much out that interests me. I saw Sin City and probably won't see it again. And Robots, which was well-made from an animator's perspective. Oh yes. A Boy and His Dog is a 1970s film based on a novella by Harlan Ellison; the ending makes the film worth sitting through, perhaps.

I'll be at to E3, the game expo in Los Angeles., in a couple of weeks.
I plan to attend ComicCon in San Diego in mid-July. I'll try to say hello to Robert Jordan.
And I'll be in New Hampshire during the last week of July. TNEO is being held at St. Anselm's College, near Manchester.
I'll also be at WorldCon (the world's biggest science fiction convention) in Anaheim next summer, 2006.

Thank you for reading, listening, or what have you. Best wishes!

Apr 5, 2005


I've overdue for sending out an update, and my unanswered email piles up. I feel terrible about the emails that have been sitting in my inbox since November. But I can explain. I'm putting in long hours at work, animating characters in the upcoming Tak game for Gameboy Advance, meeting tight deadlines. I've also started a screenwriting group, Reel Writers, Los Angeles. If you live in Los Angeles and you're interested in screenwriting, you're welcome to join. We recently had our first meeting. I thought it went well, with useful feedback on our individual projects, and good discussion about plot ideas.

It may not sound like a lot, but I've barely had time to sleep. My fiction writing has fallen by the wayside. That's making me a little depressed; I hope I'll have some time to write this week. More to come! By the way, I've just got to say, I'm glad to work at a company where everyone can spontaneously leave in the middle of the day to see a matinee of Sin City. It just meant we had to work later than usual.

Mar 29, 2005

Some weird fun with Photoshop

I like using my Wacom tablet. The furniture photos, by the way, are from my parents' house.

I plan to have a real update here soon. The short of it is this: My story Leveling Mountains is featured in this month's issue of Aoife's Kiss. I'd appreciate a vote!