Saturday, July 31, 2010

Link Of The Day

This is my favorite Link Of The Day. Given that it is only 1:20, I'm betting pretty heavily that I won't find something better in tonight's round of surfing.

It is the rules for the ebook/real book drinking game. If I drank, this game would be awesome. As it is, I'm thinking about printing out the rules and pasting them to my wall, so I can keep a good laugh and some perspective in these stories.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Question of the Day

Here's my question of the day. Given the whole Wylie/Random House thing, how many new authors are going to be looking at Wylie as a possible agent?

(That link is just the latest in the series. There have been lots.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Am Sick (And Twisted)

I have a sick and twisted sense of humor, which is probably why I love this song.

OMG I Pass the Bechdel Test!

Here's the Bechdel Test. The work (book, film, play) has:
1. Two or more female characters
2. That speak to each other
3. About something other than a man

(I've heard of this test before, but Scalzi's blog Whatever just reminded me to apply it to my work.)

I panicked for a minute before I remembered that my villain and my hero are both female and talk to each other about all sorts of things (mostly how terrible humans are or aren't).

Whew! I pass!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gratitude Post

When I was 18, I spent 6 weeks traveling through England and Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands) on my bicycle. On the way home, my flight from the Netherlands was late, but I tried not to stress because I figured if I missed my flight from New York to Los Angeles, I'd just get a later flight.

When I finally arrived in New York and made it through customs, I had two dollars in my pocket and I was exhausted. I'd been awake for more than 24 hours. I had my luggage to contend with (not much, since I'd been traveling by bike) and a huge box for my bicycle. When your bike is in a box, it no longer rolls, it drags. I made it to the counter with 15 minutes to spare, only to be told that I was at the wrong counter. My flight was leaving from a different terminal, and I had better hurry because it was the last flight.

As I dragged my box behind me, trying to find the right terminal, I started to cry. I was never much of a crier, but this seemed like a great time to start. Some man said, "What's the matter?" I explained my problem while doggedly dragging my box. He "tsked" me and picked up my bike and carried it to the next terminal for me, all the while lecturing me on the importance of asking for help. I didn't mention that it never occurred to me to ask for help in New York. New York, after all, Has A Reputation. His accent placed him firmly in the New York area.

I made my flight without further problems, and got home safe. Even now, 28 years later, I remember that stranger that helped me make my flight. I said thank you at the time, but I want to say it again. Thank you for helping that crying girl make it home again. Today's gratitude post is to all Good Samaritans.

I Am Not Sick

I Am Not Sick. I'm spending my second day in bed, huddled under the blankets. Last night, my husband bought me Jack in the Box stuffed jalapenos (which is my food of choice when I'm sick) and today he went to the store and bought me Lindor dark chocolate truffles (which is my food of choice when chocolate is involved). If I were sick, these two foods would help me feel better. In other news, I have the best husband in the world.

In other Not Sick news, I finally broke down and read Patricia Briggs' blog. Because Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite authors, I've been afraid to read her blog. What if it turned into another Orson Scott Card moment? Fortunately, I liked what I read (most of which is written by her husband), and she completely won me over when I looked the items she has for sale. One of the items is a silver bullet, based on the bullets they developed while testing to see if silver bullets could be cast and made to function. You know my fondness for research!

There was also a link to Closed Circle Gateway which I haven't had the energy to go through yet. (Even though I Am Not Sick.) I want to link to it, so I can go back and look at it later. (It's a website by CJ Cherryh, Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher to buy stuff direct from author.)

Book Recommendation Sites

This week, Lifehacker recommended the top five book recommendation sites.


In the past, I've signed up for Shelfari and LibraryThing, but just found them too tedious to use. I use Amazon almost exclusively and find that the recommendations are usually pretty good. I think published writers (and agents, and editors) should at least belong to all five, just to help get the word out about their books. They're all free, so cost isn't an issue! :)

Update: GoodReads is getting the most votes right now at Lifehacker, so I'm trying it out. It's got a widget for the blog, so I'm trying that out, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I like my Troll Wife hook, but...

I really like my Troll Wife hook, but I've been getting a lot of comments that basically say, "We already know she got the job, why are you spending so much time on becoming a tooth fairy!"

I don't want to cut out that part of the story. I think it's necessary. (Trim ok, but not cut out.) I don't want to give up my hook, because I think it's really good. I'm worried that my hook doesn't give the most accurate view of the story. So I came up with a couple of new hooks.

If you have a few minutes, please let me know which version you like better, 1, 2 or 3. (Number 1 is the original hook.)

1. I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a tooth fairy shouldn't be this hard.

2. A troll's life isn't easy in this economy. Matchmaking jobs have been hard to come by. Sure, living rent free in a library means lower living expenses. But a job, any job that would take me would be helpful. Even if it means being a tooth fairy.

3. I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a tooth fairy shouldn't be this hard. If only I had known the real job was monster fighter!

Rebecca's Lucky Day

For the possible WiP that has the hook "On the day she got kidnapped, Rebecca was wearing her lucky jeans." I think I have something more. I think Rebecca is either a stage magician or a professional tarot card reader.

Fortunately, I've done both, so the research isn't an issue.
It's definitely modern era. Either an adventure or a murder mystery. I love mysteries, so that might be fun.

Speaking of which, Editor Devil had a link to 20 Rules for Writing Detective Stories. I can't help but note that Agatha Christie broke every single one of those rules, and except for two (Murder On the Orient Express and 10 Little Indians) I don't think it worked for her. Just goes to show that no matter how big you are, sometimes you should still follow the rules.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Schedule -update

For my Friday To Do list, I got Michael out the door and on the way to work easily enough. (He has to get up at 5 and be out the door by 5:30. He and my husband take the train in to work together.)

I did not color my hair.

I did see my doctor.

My husband and I went to SouPlantation for dinner. We watched "Losers" on pay per view, while my husband pointed out the errors they'd made by splitting from the source material. (We all do this in my family. You should have heard my son while we were watching Percy Jackson.)

Eventually I headed off to bed, only to discover my book sitting by the bed. Just sitting there. As though I were going to be doing something... what was it? Oh yeah! Ten pages sorted out. At this point, it's after 10 and I figured I'd just cop to the fact I couldn't do the ten pages. Then I thought, "what the heck, at least try".

I figured that chapters one, two and three were fine (as far as having the correct scenes in them). I couldn't find chapter four, but I figured that was fine too. Chapter five though has a problem. She's supposed to meet the Hunters in chapter five. I found the scene that I'd written about the Hunters somewhere past chapter seven and moved it to chapter five. Exactly ten pages! Go me!

So, I'll try to do my hair tomorrow. And another ten pages. I  have to admit, getting those ten pages done has lifted a weight off me. I've been afraid that I couldn't do this. I know I have lots more to do, but it's a start. Maybe it's like eating an elephant. One bite at a time.

Friday Schedule

Today is my Friday off. (We get every other Friday off. Working for Hot Topic rocks.)

I still had to get up at 5 to help my son get ready for work. (This entails giving him his allergy and ADHD meds, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats, reminding him to take a shower, reminding him to stop showering, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats, reminding him to get dressed, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats, reminding him to brush his teeth, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats. You know, the little things.)

My carpal tunnel has flared up again. No surprise, I've been doing major data entry at work. At work we have a chiropractor that comes into the office twice a week.

Let me just enjoy that that sentence again. At work, we have a chiropractor that comes into our office. Twice a week. And you don't have to clock out to go see him! Did I mention working for Hot Topic totally rocks?

Anyway, he did some work and it's much better, but I'll have to see him again this coming week. In the meantime, in the interests of health preservation, I should limit my computer time today. (Yeah, like that's going to happen.)

I need to color my hair. Actually, I've needed to color my hair for the last four months, but I haven't gotten around to it.

Oops! I have a doctor's appointment today.

But most important! I need to fix at least 10 pages of my messed up middle of Troll Wife! (I'm posting this to keep myself accountable. I'll post an update on my success or failure.)

Plague Research for Fun and Profit (ok maybe not so much profit)

In my Troll Wife story, I mention "The Plague Wars". This was a war between the faeish and the humans, and was the first historical example of biological warfare on a massive scale.

I don't go into much detail about the Plague Wars in the story. If I took all the bits about the wars that are spread throughout the book and put them all together, it would be about  3 pages worth of stuff. That includes dialogue.

I did study the plague, (online articles and Discovery Channel documentaries) and also read "Return of the Black Death, The World's Greatest Serial Killer". Fully 3/4 of that book was about the symptoms of the disease.

Just as a side note, after reading Return of the Black Death, I agree with the authors that it wasn't the bubonic plague. There are similar symptoms, of course, but the incubation period doesn't match at all. And some of the worst hemorrhagic symptoms don't match. Plus the disease vector for the bubonic plague didn't even exist in some of the worst hit areas.

Anyway, other than the mention of the CCR5 gene and the death toll, none of that plague research ends up in the book. But I still needed to do it, so that I would know that what I did include was authentic and verifiable. I think it makes the stuff I made up seem more believable. I could be wrong :)

But lets face it, it was fun. If it weren't fun, I wouldn't have done nearly as much research. And as an added bonus, if anyone around me starts exhibiting symptoms of the Black Death, I'll know it right away!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Books on Writing

Steven King's "On Writing" is my favorite book on writing. It's mostly autobiographical, but even that shows information about writing. My favorite quote is, "Once you've had a 200 pound babysitter hold you down and fart in your face, a New York Times critic holds no fear."

I wish Joss Whedon would write a book about writing. Except for the way he handles love stories, I love the way he sets up story arcs. I've tried studying it, but all I can remember is the double reverse. (That's where the Big Bad at the start isn't the same person as the Big Bad at the end. And yes, you can guarantee that I'll be using the double reverse in just about everything I write.)

I'd also love Dean Koontz to write a book about writing. I love the way he mixes horror, hope, and humor. My favorite of his books also cause you to feel pity for the Big Bad. (I'm trying for that, too.)

So guys, get going and write those books!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Danger of Silence

You know how when the kids are quiet, that is when they're getting into the most trouble? Or (for those of you that are kidless, or have kids that never get into trouble) you know how in movies they say, "It's quiet." "Yeah, too quiet." and that's when the attack begins?

What they all mean is that there is danger in silence. Lately, my internal critic has been silent. Too silent.

Of course, I haven't done any real writing in weeks, either. I tell myself I'm doing research for my next WiP, or that the minor editing I'm doing before sharing the next chunk of work with my crit group is writing. But today I realized that my internal critic has just found a new way to distract me from writing. And since writing is my Patented Pending All Time Magical Cure for Depression and Other Troubles, not writing for weeks is Very Bad.

So, I printed out my 400+ page book, and I've scheduled this weekend (a three day weekend for me) for editing. I'm setting up a schedule and goals, which is very different from the kind of floating with no time table that I've been doing.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Conversations with Family

You remember my son Michael, right? Extremely intelligent 16 year old, that has a summer intern job working with electron microscopes? Yes, that's the one.

So, my husband wanted to wash the car. We went to one of those drive through places and he took his radio antenna off and put it in the back seat. Michael picks up the antenna and "knights" me with it. Plays around a little more, and then we hear:

Michael: Ow! Ow! The antenna is stuck in my hair!
Us: You put the antenna in your hair?
Michael: Yes! Ow, ow!
Us: (laughing)

Michael gets the antenna out of his hair (at the cost of a few strands) and all is quiet. For about 30 seconds. Then I hear:

Michael (thoughtfully): I wonder what would happen if I stuck this end in here...

And that my friends, is the difference between intelligence and wisdom :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Faeish idioms

For my Troll Wife story, I dug through old and lesser known Grimm's tales for some hints of expressions that faeish might use. In my world building, I've already established that many fairy tales are faeish in origin, and usually have references to the war between humans and faeish. This made it a natural to go back to those old tales for Oubliette's expressions. I have some requirements:
1. It must be understandable, even if you don't know where the expression comes from. I don't want to have to explain them to someone, so that the reader will know what they mean. That kind of exposition bugs the heck out of me.
2. I may create a lot of them, but I can't use too many in the book, or it will come off badly.
3. Oubliette is a very angry monster. She probably won't be using funny and lighthearted expressions, only the depressing ones.

So, here's the list I've gotten so far (will be expanded):
1. "When the dry twig sprouts green", as in "You can have that when the dry twig sprouts green" It means "never" or "highly unlikely".
2. "The mercy of a mill stone", as in "Oubliette has the mercy of a mill stone". It means "none". Mill stones were a human invention, and are seen as a metaphor for the way humans grind everything beneath them.
3. "The rabbit that cries for the moon", as in "No, you can't have that. Don't be the rabbit that cries for the moon." "Rabbit" is a term that faeish use for their children, and the expression means someone wanting something they can't have, either a child, or someone that is acting like a child.
4. "A hedgehog bride", as in "That couple is well matched, she is a hedgehog bride". It means not to love/marry someone that is much prettier or uglier, dumber/smarter, etc., than you are. "Box your weight" is a human expression for the same kind of thing. (This one may be too obscure. I may not use it.)
5. "His name is carved in stone", as in "I will not rest until his name is carved in stone". It means dead, of course, and refers to the custom of carving names in a gravestone. It sounds like something I might read in a Western, so I think this one needs work.

Now I need to think of more situations that call for these. Like I said, even if I don't use them in the book, they're awfully fun to create :)


Thursday, July 15, 2010

32 Rules of Writing

I found this link to 32 Rules of Writing. You may not agree with everything on this list, but I think there's something for everyone :)


Cat Waxing

Here are a few exercises I ganked from Paperback Writer a while back.

1. Write a classified ad selling your novel.

Urban fantasy with a twist:
Heroic trolls, elvish bad guys, scent driven insights.
Theme of wanting to belong, mixed with horror and humor.
100,000 words or best offer.

2. Make up a motto based on your novel theme.

Keep your scent.

3. Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

A troll with a nose for magic finds trouble when she becomes...a tooth fairy. (Wow! 15 exactly!)

4. Write a personal ad for your hero or heroine.

SCTW(Single Cafe Troll Wife) Seeks companionship leading to something more.
Likes: libraries, ancient mysteries and knot language.
Dislikes: stalker monsters, elves, marshmallow scented faeish.
Compatible scent a must. Name not required.

Kind of fun, but they need more work.

Author or Book trading cards

I had a (possibly) brilliant marketing idea. Instead of the traditional bookmarks or postcards that authors create to market their books, how about author trading cards? Or book trading cards? Or character trading cards?

The character trading cards could reveal little things about a character that were part of world building, but never show up in the book. (Downside, argh! The character art!)
Book trading cards could use the cover art from the book.
Author trading cards could list the biography of the author, as well as publication history. This would (hopefully) change over time, so your first publication would be your "rookie" card. They could either use a picture of the author, or (for the camera shy) cover art from the latest book.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

10 Things you may not know about me

10. I have prosopagnosia (face blindness).
9. I'm 6'3". On occasion I have accidentally scared people with my height.
8. I'm incredibly shy. "Painfully shy" isn't just an expression. I have no trouble speaking in front of large groups.
7. I cry at Flintstone's vitamin commercials.
6. My purse is purple. My phone is purple. Most of my shirts are purple. My favorite color is-green.
5. I can only start reading a new book when I don't have work the next day.
4. I read "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in one day (see number 5).
3. I've been a professional tarot card reader.
2. I started writing about Troll Wife because of the perfume "Byzance by Rochas".
1. I was almost (and accidentally) a bigamist.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today was a good day

I got an award from Piedmont Writer for having less than 50 followers. (Just kidding!) Thank you! It's a beautiful award. It's actually for being new. (But if it were for having less than 50 followers, I think I'll qualify for a long time.)

I also won a random drawing for a five page critique from Jodi Meadows She's got a book deal! She wrote a book, found an agent and got a book deal in about nine months. That's got to be some sort of speed record, right?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday Conversations with Family

We'd just finished buying pet supplies and I closed the trunk, while my husband and son got in the car. The trunk popped open again, and I closed it. It happened again. And again. Finally it stopped popping open and I got in the car.

My husband said, "I'm sorry, the release button got stuck and it just kept popping the trunk."
Me: "I thought you were messing with me."
Him: "No, I value my testicles too much."
Son (finally noticing one word in the conversation): "What are you saying about testicles?"

Later, after teasing my husband about various things:

Him: "You know what? I was messing with you. Retroactively."
Me: "I hope you enjoyed your testicles while you had them."
Him: "I'm sleeping in chain mail speedos."
Son: "That would chafe."

Yes, we have conversations like this all the time. (Ok, maybe not about testicles.)

My son loves his new job, even if he is working near Uranium 238 (which he assures me is the bad kind, to which I think, "There's a good kind?"). He says his big problem is that one of the guys he's working with isn't psychic. Evidently having conversations with me has spoiled my son for having conversations in the real world :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fan Girl

I am a total fan girl of Seanan McGuire. (Click here to read her periodic introduction post.) Even in the years when I stopped blogging/LJing and wasn't doing much on the internet (I was depressed, but didn't know it), I still had her LJ as my start up page.

I own her three CD's and will pre-order the fourth as soon is she puts it up for pre-order (which should be soon). She's recently become a published author and has come out with three books this year. (Let me just stop for a minute an reflect on that. Three books. This year.) Two of them (the October Daye novels) are under her name, and the third (the first of the Feed novels) is under the name Mira Grant. (I'm assuming it's because they're different genres, and to avoid giving people zombie stories when they really wanted urban fantasy.) She's under contract for three more October Daye novels and two more Feed novels.

So, yeah, I'm as impressed as all heck by her talent and productivity, but what I really love, and fell in love with back before she'd made any cds or published any books, is her voice. She's funny and she cares about everything. Plus, anyone that loves a good plague has got to be great, right?

And I don't hold it against her, not one little bit, that she's writing a book about cryptozoologists that is going to be really amazing. Nope, don't hold it against her at all. (Kicks my unnamed cryptozoology piece into the corner and whistles quietly.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Optimise Your Opener

Editor Devil has a deal right now. Post the first two paragraphs of your first chapter, and she'll give you her feedback.

I love the advice on her website. After my revision is done, I've given a lot of thought to hiring a freelance editor to go over my book before I submit to an agent. I haven't decided yet (it will really depend on cost), but if I can afford it, I'd like her to be the one. I really loved her post about question marks, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".


A couple of weeks ago, we had an earthquake. My son didn't feel it because he was eating cheetos and according to him, "You can't feel an earthquake when you're eating cheetos." Fortunately tonight he was not eating cheetos, so he felt this one. (In fairness, this one was a lot closer, so it was easier to feel.)

He also got the internship he wanted. He's now part of a very select group: people that have used an electron microscope. He's also part of an even smaller group: people that have used and adjusted an electron microscope. He's very happy.

genre: Please Don't Be Paranormal Romance

I have a new WiP on my "works in progress" list on my blog. The tentative title is "The Selkie Lover". (I hate that title, so it will undoubtedly change.) The genre is "Please Don't Be Paranormal Romance".

Now, I have nothing against Paranormal Romance. In fact, some of my current favorite books are PR or could fall into that genre, even though they're being marketed as Urban Fantasy or Steampunk or whatever. The reason I'm don't want this story to be paranormal romance is that I don't know how to write love stories.

The love story aspect to "The Selkie Lover" is paramount. (And, since it doesn't have a Happily Ever After, I guess it can't be classed as a romance.) That being said, I have avoided writing this story for years, because it's a love story written from the point of view of the man (selkie), and I don't have the skills to write this. Yet.

But, since the story won't go away, I've decided to add it to the list. The bottom of the list :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wonky comments

There's something wonky going on with my comments right now. People are commenting on my posts (I know, because I get a copy of the comment emailed to me), but the comment isn't showing up on my blog.

If you've made a comment, and it's not showing up, please don't think I removed it! It's just being swallowed by Blogger. I will try to find out what's going on and get the comments back.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I look at some of the posts about conferences, and they sound fun and interesting. (They're probably more fun for people that aren't introverts, which would leave me out, but they still sound fun.)

I'm trying to decide if I should go to one or not. I probably can't afford it this year, but there's one called Southern California Writers Conference that sounds interesting.

So, have you been to a conference? Would you like to go? If money were no object, what conference would you go to?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How to make your one freebie work for you

Yesterday, I posted about the idea of "one freebie". Once you figure out what your one freebie is, how can you make it work for you?

For example, my one freebie is world building. Why am I good at it? I like the research, I like the brain storming, I like making fantastical things seem realistic.

Now, I'm afraid that character voice is one of my weaker areas. So, how can I use the things that work for me in world building in creating character voice?

Research my characters. What kind of backgrounds do they have? Educational level? Personal traumas or quirks? Myers Briggs type?

Brainstorm about my characters. Fast talkers, slow talkers, use of slang, etc. Oubliette, for example, comes from a different era and has a background from a faeish culture that doesn't exist any more. She's incredibly angry at humans. She feels alone in her outrage about what humans have done to faeish and wants to win faeish (specifically Troll Wife) over to her side of the fight. So, she would sound archaic. She would use faeish (rather than human) idioms. She would speak compellingly.

Make the fantastical sound realistic. Who was someone that is famous for speaking compellingly? Winston Churchill. How did he do it? He wrote his speeches, and then in his final edits he rewrote them into blank verse. So, maybe Oubliette would speak in blank verse.

Oh. My. Gosh. Now I need to research blank verse. But at least I have a handle on how to take my strengths and use them to deal with my weaknesses.

Dylan's tale

Dylan and his brother were just about two weeks old when they were found in a lawn mower. Dylan was named after the little boy that found the kittens and turned them over to Lily at Cats At The Studios.

He came to our house on Friday (my day off), and our two cats were Not Pleased to have small kitten with belled collar running around the house. Now we knew Pooka, our 11 year old cat, wouldn't like this, but I was pretty sure that Morgan, our 1 year old cat, would come to love the new kitten. I assured my husband that in two weeks everything would be fine and the two of them would be playing together.

Both cats hissed and growled at Dylan, and he received at least one thump from each of them on Friday. He didn't cry, so we knew no claws were used. He seemed fine, though his puzzled expression seemed to say, "What is this hissing thing you speak of?" (Since he was a bottle fed baby, he's not as aware of cat rules and language as a mother raised kitten would be.)

On Saturday, we took his belled collar off, and the cats seemed to instantly accept him. (Well, Pooka would still rather he stay off her couch.) Now he and Morgan are playing together, climbing the cat tree together, sleeping together (sometimes) and even grooming each other.

The cat tree has a story, but that's for another day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

One Freebie

Years ago, when I was kind-of-but-not-really studying yoga, I first heard of the concept of "one freebie". The idea is that every newbie has one pose in yoga that they can do as though they had been studying that pose for years. You just have a natural gift for that pose.

Recently, I'd heard the concept applied to writing skills as well. Every writer has one thing that they can do effortlessly. The trick is to know what the one thing is. For me, I think it's world building.

I love world building, so even if I weren't any good at it, I would still end up doing it well because I love it and spend a lot of time on it. I'm all about being internally self consistent, so that when my stories have something strange in them, the reader can have a sense of how it all fits together.

What's you're one freebie?