Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I hate computers

I won't go into details, but let me just say it had to do with two system restores and software re-installation, and the original problem still isn't fixed.


I love computers, really. I would not want to write my book out by hand umpteen times. It might make me chose my words more carefully, however.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could do our own personal system restore? I think about three years would do it. May 2007 would be a great time to start over.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Writing for the Brain Dead

There is a quote from an anonymous editor on Flogging the Quill that goes like this:

When I read submission after submission after submission -- which, let's face it, is every day -- my mind starts to dull. My eyes begin to glaze from all the black on white. My butt begins to hurt from sitting. I'm pretty hungry (because I'm always pretty hungry), and this is making me cranky. As the day wears on, I get irritable...

Assume whoever is reading your submission is going to be in a terrible mood when they look at page 1.

You just don't have until page 2.

While I am sure that this is a true description of the acquisition part of the publishing process, I find it somewhat upsetting nonetheless. Is it not the acquisition editor's job to be as fair and objective as possible when evaluating submissions? How much good writing is going to get published if all we are worrying about is keeping editors awake with a flashy hook?

After a while, even saving the world is boring.

What I want an editor to say is, "Give me some interesting characters and a setting I want to stay in for a while. Give me lovely writing that is easy on the soul. Author, take me away!"

Because that is how I like to read. Don't challenge me with blood and guts and Hell-knows-what-else on the first page. I know that I have crafted a first page like that for my WIP, but that's because I'm catering to the genre fiction crowd. I really don't like it that much. It's not who I am. And I hate the idea that I have to be something I'm not just to try and get published.

That's probably why my writing is stalled now. I'm trying to live up to all these expectations and rules. The joy is completely gone.

MY eyes are glazing over from all the black on white. MY butt hurts. AND my neck, shoulders and back. I'M getting cranky and irritable.

I know that I need to just go back to writing the way I used to, with passion and imagination, but I have spent so much time teaching myself how to write for "the market", that I can't figure out how to un-learn it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.
~Jules Renard

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
- Thomas Edison

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

‘When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one which has opened for us.’

- Alexander Graham Bell

(Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Live Each Season as it Passes

"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."

- Henry David Thoreau 

"Despair, or folly? It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognise necessity, when all other courses have been weighed."

- J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I am banging my head this morning. Proverbially, of course. I would never do any damage to my precious, shiny laptop named Silver. I just don't feel like writing.  I'm so fed up and frustrated!


But I did make a cool brownie cake for my son's birthday party today.  I talked him into a cookie-sheet sized brownie instead of cupcakes. This is the third birthday party we've had for him in three consecutive weeks so I'm desperate for something different. Why so many parties?  Well, the actual day of his birthday we had other commitments, so I just invited his aunt and cousin over for dinner but we still did cake, presents and such.  Then we had another party last weekend with my family who were visiting from out of town, and this weekend is the children's party.  I reserved a picnic shelter at the park because there are so many kids.  Anyway, I decorated the brownie with white icing so that it looks like stars against the blackness of space and I added a Death Star and a little plastic Milennium Falcon.  He just woke up and I showed it to him and he loved it!

I'm a cool mom. Really, I am.  How many moms know the difference between an AT-ST, an AT-AT, and an AT-TE?  Okay, I don't exactly know the difference between all of those but I know they are different and that the AT-TE is from The Clone Wars.  It can climb cliff faces and the Lego version is about $80.  And takes all of Christmas day to assemble. I definitely know the difference between R2-D2 and R4-D4.  (R2-D2 is blue and flies with Anakin and Luke, R4-D4 is red and flies with Obi-Wan.  Now you know.)

Yes, I am very much digressing.

I envy George Lucas his legacy and his brilliant marketing skills.  One day, I hope to have a bunch of unknown actors become stars in the movie version of my book.

But first I must write it. And the truth is, I'm sick to death of it!  I wish I'd never started!  I think it's a hopeless jumble of once cool ideas that are now way past salvation!

There, I said it.  You may banish me to Hoth if you like.  I don't care.  I've always wanted to ride a tauntaun anyway.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking the Rules Blogfest (Updated)

Today is the Breaking the Rules Blogfest hosted by Elizabeth Mueller.  I don't have an entry, but it looks like an interesting one so please visit her website to check it out!

Update:  Okay, I realized I do have an entry.  The rule I broke is "Don't Start Your Book With Exposition."  But I really, really like this exposition. So, here it is.

In the cold crack of winter, the lions came down from the mountains. Nightstalkers, the farmers called them: sleek, black prowlers that hunted at night. They carried off sheep, chickens, and, very occasionally, children. Before the war they had been a rare nuisance, a useful source of tales to frighten youngsters into good behavior. But the King’s brother Synedd, in his ceaseless grasping for the throne, had seen their potential in warfare and taught them to hunt for sport. He used them to supplement his army of traitors, making up in beasts what he lacked in soldiers. In the years following the war, the ones that hadn’t been killed in battle returned to their lone ways. The Rangers who patrolled the border studied their habits and became experts at tracking them down, even to their own lairs.

Faldur Relaszen, Captain of the Ranger pack assigned to the Silverbark Valley, was particularly renowned for his prowess. So when the message came that a nightstalker was plaguing the farms around Glenhym Castle, it was his duty to go and find it. This was not a duty he cherished, however, especially on Midwinter’s Eve. It was a hard thing to pass up the all-night celebration and go out in the snow in search of a wretched creature that would just as soon eat him as whatever livestock it was after. 

He only hoped it didn’t take all night.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

He Has a Right to Criticize Who Has a Heart to Help

I am breaking my blogging silence this week to speak up on behalf of authors everywhere who suffer from needlessly harsh critiques.  I'm disturbed by some that I've encountered on certain websites lately.  It seems that some of my fellow wanna-be-pubbed's are getting a case of "Author Fail."

The above quote is by Abraham Lincoln, who also said "If you look for the bad in people, expecting to find it, you surely will."  It seems that some critics are always looking for the bad, and always finding it.

I have to include myself in this, because there are times that I have been harsh without intending to.  The Internet is a difficult mode of communication because it allows for no tone of voice or inflection.  The words - and ideas - are laid bare on the screen, and are thus usually read in the worst possible light.  This is one case in which I think softening phrases are not just allowable, but absolutely necessary for polite communication.  "Very"  "perhaps"  "a little" "sort of."  I advise you to sprinkle these phrases liberally throughout your critiques.

Remember that for every sample of writing, whether good or bad, there is a person behind it who has put their heart and soul into it.  Some are inexperienced and desperately need encouragement.  Others may be so shy that it has taken great courage to submit even in an anonymous forum such as the Internet.  Every critique is subjective, and styles vary greatly. 

It is not surprising that the worst critics are those who are the least likely to put their own samples up!  Perhaps this is not that they are raving hypocrites, but because they are such perfectionists that they can't bear the scrutiny they expect to receive.  I'm always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

All I ask is that benefit in return.

"He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Which I Acquire Some Balls

(First I'll have to get them away from the beagle.)

Eric Trant had a post yesterday about how to remain unpublished.  I said that my bane was perfectionism: constantly second-guessing my work and starting over from the beginning.

In light of reading Aubrie's book - and others by braver writers than I am - it seems undeniable that I need to acquire some (ahem) balls about my writing.  I need to just commit myself to the first chapter, the plot, the characters, the voice - even though they may not be perfect.  Even though the book may not be publishable.  I need to FINISH it once and for all.

P.S. Friday morning: I got this great article from Guide to Literary Agents: If It Hurts, You're Doing Something Right.  So, maybe I shouldn't rush it after all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The Voices of Ire" book review

Aubrie Dionne gave me a copy of her first novel, The Voices of Ire, in her recent giveaway.  I spent a very enjoyable weekend with my nose buried in it, even battling carsickness to keep reading while we drove to the air show on Saturday.

Aubrie warned me that since it is her first novel, it's not as polished as it could be.  Which is true.  But... I still couldn't put it down.

Aubrie has created a vivid world focused around the Wishcasters - women with elemental powers who protect the kingdom from the mysterious inhabitants of Murk, a land on their border.  Murk is a swampy wasteland infected with a noxious poison called "ire," into which a colony of settlers disappeared long ago.  Or... did they?

The plot keeps moving quickly, twisting and turning, with an array of distinctly drawn characters whose lives are all interwoven.  It's fascinating to watch the story unfold.

I have to admit, these feminine and yet powerful Wishcasters are very appealing to my girl side.  The Wishcaster maidens compete in arduous trials for the title of Sorceress Queen, and the prince has to marry whichever one is victorious.  How's that for a reversal of gender roles?

The cover is absolutely beautiful.  I was drawn to it the first time I saw it on her website. Kudos to and who did the design and illustrations.

I think that, in a way, the lack of "polish" on the writing made it more enjoyable for me. It seemed to flow more naturally from the imagination to the page.  I thought, "Yes, that is how I used to write.  With fearless passion."  Aubrie has done something I would never have the courage to do... put her first book out there for the world to see.

It occurred to me that we writers are all Wishcasters in a way, using our powers -whether feeble or great - in the hopes of helping and inspiring others.  Thanks for reminding me of that, Aubrie. I can't wait to read more of your books!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Beach Scene Blogfest

Another blogfest! Rachel Bateman is hosting this one. I decided to put up a scene from my abandoned romance novel.  This is first draft stuff, so just, er, keep that in mind as you read.

            Instead of walking to the beach near the boardwalk, Ginger loaded her things into the car and drove to the far end of the island, away from the tourists.  She set up a chair and umbrella, covered herself well with sunblock, and strolled down along the water, soaking in the sunshine and picking up small stones and shells.  She didn’t think much about anything.  She was in one of those rare moments of just “being.”

            As she made the return trip to her belongings, she saw an Italian family that had set up camp on the beach.  They had erected a large sun tent, a volleyball net with boundary lines drawn in the sand, a sprawling collection of beach chairs and coolers, and the beginnings of an enormous sandcastle.  The adult men were in the process of planning the construction and directing the older children in digging the moat. The women were keeping the little children from being washed out to sea as they played in the waves, and the grandparents were comfortably settled in their chairs under the tent, watching all the proceedings with detached interest.

            One of the men looked like Ray, but she couldn’t be sure.  He was shaping a tower for the castle with a small, plastic trash can.  She watched him for a minute, admiring his suntanned back, wondering if she should come closer and see if it was really him or not.  They had spent so much time together the night before, she was inclined to be alone today, but she didn’t want to appear to be rude if it was him.  As she watched, one of the little children started crying, having been knocked down by a wave.  He was scooped up by a skinny young mother in a bikini and carried to the tent.  To her surprise, the child didn’t seem to want to be with the woman, but reached out for the man who looked like Ray.  As he turned to receive the child, she realized that it was him after all.  

“Dad-deeeee!” was the wail that wafted over the other voices.

Having deposited her charge, the woman in the bikini went to talk to another man, who put his arm possessively around her waist and shared his soda with her.  The she started scolding one of the older children for something.  Ginger realized that the woman was not the child’s mother or Ray’s wife, but obviously some close friend or relative.

She watched, fascinated, as Ray comforted the toddler.  The child was adorable.  Compact, sun-browned body with just a hint of chubbiness, looking very boyish in his butch haircut and red swim trunks.  He had a sweet, round face and big, dark eyes.  Ray carried him to the tent, dried him off with a towel, and provided him with a sippy cup of juice.  He produced some kind of snack in a little plastic bag, and gave it to the child, then got himself a soda from a cooler.  The child then demanded the soda and was refused.  He crumpled his face to cry but thought better of it and contented himself with his juice.

Ray was as competent as any mother.  Ginger shook her head in amazement.  I’m not the only one with a secret, she thought. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dream Sequence Blogfest

Update:  My first scene is up at *Fiction Groupie* today for the Beta Club, so if you haven't had a chance to shred it yet, feel free to pop over there.  And, I just got back from seeing Robin Hood. I couldn't believe that they made another movie about the Robin Hood legend, but this one was very good. I thought it was a nice balance of action and character development, even though not entirely consistent (plotwise) with the other movies.  The score was really great, as was the acting. A "two thumbs up" from  me.
I'm posting a little early for this one, hosted by Amalia at Good to Begin Well, since there is another blogfest happening in a few days.  I love a good, juicy dream sequence. So, here goes:

Marenya tossed restlessly on her bed. The right side of her face flamed so that she couldn’t bear to lay it on the pillow, and every joint in her body hurt so that she had to shift herself every few minutes. It occurred to her that she might have been poisoned. She was too weak to get up, or to call out. She wondered if she would die. After a long while, she lost all sense of the physical world and wandered deep in a terrible dream.

She was walking in a burning forest, one that was on fire from the inside. She saw no flames, but somehow she knew the trees were burning. She picked off a piece of bark. The underside was blackened like charcoal and the exposed trunk glowed red. She began to walk faster, looking for a way out of the forest, but everywhere she went more trees marched endlessly before her.

A hot wind blew, and the bark started to fall off the trunks here and there, so that the red cores were exposed to the air. Flames flickered up the trunks. The air grew warmer. Here and there a branch broke off and fell to the ground. Marenya began to run, tripping over roots and getting up again, desperate to escape. A large branch fell right in front of her and burst into flame, causing the hem of her skirt to catch fire. She beat the flames out with her hands, shaking with fear and weeping. Branches were crashing all around her now and the fire was leaping from tree to tree.

She knew in some corner of her mind that she was dreaming, and yet it was so real that when she held out her hands, she could see the fluid forming in the blisters on her palms. She looked wildly around for an escape: there was none. Then she sensed a menacing presence above her. Not one, but many. She looked up and could just make out the bat-like shapes circling above the smokey haze. The haggiths were gathering. They were coming.

A clear, strong voice called to her, one she didn’t recognize. She turned, looking for its source, and spied a tall, broad-shouldered hanor through the haze. She hurried towards him, but before she could reach him he turned and strode confidently through the trees as if he knew the way out. She followed him, and he glanced back over his shoulder now and then to see that she was still there. Branches crashed and burned behind them, but none blocked their way as he led her to a wide, open place where stars sprinkled the sky and the air was fresh.

He called her again, but he called her by the wrong name. At least, she thought it was. He was looking for Pelwyn. Was that her name?  She couldn’t remember. She looked over her shoulder at the flames that leapt up from the forest and the dark shapes circling above it, and then back at him. He held out his hand and she took it. His grip was firm and cool. He pulled her up and they began to float into the sky as if rising from deep water.

Marenya opened her eyes. The stranger from her dream was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding her hand. It was day, or rather afternoon, judging by the rich, slanting light that spilled between the yellow curtains. She pulled her hand away, turned it over, and saw that there were no blisters on it.