Sunday, July 31, 2011

In Which I Have A Possible Story Idea

omeday, I'd like to write a story of the Four Jacks. Jack o' the Green, Jack Frost, Jack o'Lantern and John Barleycorn. Other than they are seasonal fellows, and linked by name, I have no clue (yet) what the story will be about. Heroes, probably. Sacrifice, for sure. Death and what happens both before and after. What if the story opens with Jack's death, flashes back to his life, then in midstory has his death again and moves forward to what happens after death?

Could I work the tarot in there? Sort of like they did in Promethia?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In Which I Muse About Bios

uthor bios have been described as "Insert quirky personal trait, mention where you live, include marital status, progeny (if any), and list pets." When trying to create a bio for my website, I wanted to include something that could be used as an author bio on a book, but (and this is the important part) I didn't want it to be the standard author bio formula.

What I came up with was: Suzi McGowen has been telling and writing stories for more years than she can count. (Math was never her strong point.) She lives in Southern California with her husband, her genius son (math is his strong point), and their not-yet-too-many cats.


Ok, so theoretically, I'm a creative person. So why not be creative in a bio?

Suzi McGowen took up writing after an on the job injury ended her career in international espionage. Her house is perfectly chosen to be defensible in case of zombie attack, and a pride of miniaturized lions guard the house when she is gone on one of her frequent trips to an undisclosed European country whose name rhymes with "love". She is also a professional liar.

Maybe not.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Which I Am Sad

Googled my own name, and Google thinks I've misspelled it. "Did you mean...?" is a terrible thing to read when you're doing a vanity search. Or should I call it a "make sure you never have vanity" search?

In Which I Ramble About Google+

retty sure I started this post with a P, just because the raven holding the P is my favorite. I don't know why, don't ask me. Ok, If I had to guess, I would say it's because I like the curve of the P in this font.

Now I've forgotten what I was going to post about. Distracted by the shiny "P". Oh, yeah, it's in the title of this post. (Thank goodness for keywords. I use them all the time with my ADHD son.)

Google+ is probably going to be my main social site. Once I used Twitter I liked that, but Tweetdeck hasn't been working for me for days now, and Twitter is too hard for me to deal with if I can't use Tweetdeck. Is it perfect? No. Is it bug free? Again, no. It's in beta, and it shows. They're making mistakes, fixing them, making more mistakes, trying new things, and listening to what people are asking for. Which is exactly why I like it.

One thing I'd really love is if I could post to Blogger and Google+ at the same time. There are some kludgy work arounds (I just deleted one), but nothing that works the way I want it to yet. I imagine it will be coming Real Soon Now, because integration is one thing that Google is really good at. (That sounds scary, doesn't it? Well, I for one, welcome our alien overlords!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Which There Is A Contest

veryone loves a good contest. There is another pitch contest with Victoria Marini as the judge. This time, the contest is being held by Chanelle over at Beyond Words. It's limited to the first 150, and it closes tomorrow night, so brush up your two sentence pitch and get over there fast!

Update: The contest ends today, July 29!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In Which I Discuss Ravens

few fun facts about ravens. Ravens are tool users, and will use sticks, string, and cars to help them get food. They've been seen pulling up fishing line to get the fish on the end of the line, and then dropping the hook back in the water. They will drop "hard" food in front of cars. When the car runs over the nut (or clam, or whatever) and cracks it open, they will fly down and eat it.

In various myths they are frequently portrayed as smart and clever. In myths where they are not gods themselves, they are companions to gods. Odin had two raven companions, Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory) to advise him. Ravens have been viewed as both a bringer of fire and a harbinger of war and death. In scientific (and not so scientific) tests, they have proven themselves to be extremely smart, with an intelligence equal to chimpanzees.

A group of ravens can be called:
A murder of ravens (most commonly used with crows)
An unkindness of ravens
A flock of ravens (though that's boring)
A parliament of rooks (also used with owls)

But my favorite is...A storytelling of ravens. Which pretty much explains why they are the totem animal of my blog :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In Which I Change My Blog

did it! Yes, I changed my blog and my theme! Not just the theme that you see, but the theme of my posts, and what I post, and how I post, etc. In blogging (and many other parts of my life) I feel like a raven, pecking at the shiny things I come across.

Before, I felt like anything I posted had to be related to either writing, or my family. I can't write about writing, day in and day out, for weeks/months/years. And my family? They are entertaining as heck, but I can't count on them to be entertaining on demand in time for a blog post.

But now, I can post about any shiny thing I find and still feel like I'm being true to the theme of my blog! Yay! (Will I end up posting more often? I doubt it.)

I do have one question for anyone that reads my blog on Google Reader. Did the first letter of this post show up as a picture? Or did it just start with the word "did"?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Conversations With Family

onight we went out to dinner. While we were standing in line, my son portioned out which family members would be the expert on  any given subject.

"Randy is the expert on religion, philosophy, and guitars," he said, "I am the expert on math and physics, and you..." he looked at me for a moment, and I thought he was going to say, "writing" or "being a mom" or something. "You," he said, "Get everything else."

No, he's not Irish or Texan, he just flatters like he is :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Which I Share My Mistake

YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday is What's the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you've made?

The one that embarrasses me the most is one that I made years ago. I sent a letter to an agent. This was an agent with a Reputation! For Snark! Because I wanted this email to be perfect, I did a spell check before hitting send. Did I mention it was a new and unfamiliar email program?

I thought I did it correctly, and hit send. When my BCC copy showed up (yes, I am like that), it showed every single spelling error and possible correction or variation for the email at the bottom of the email. Like three pages worth.

My only hope was that the agent tossed it without reading it, or that it got caught in a spam filter, but no, the agent replied. She was nice and polite, and never mentioned the three pages of spelling variations at the end of the email.

I think one thing we'll all learn on this road trip is that agents, editors and publishers are more understanding and forgiving than we think they are.

In Which There Is A Contest

love contests, and I know you love them too! Win, lose or draw, they are educational and fun. And I love, love, love, reading the hints of stories that other people have inside them.

Today YAtopia is having a contest, judged by the fabulous Vickie Motter. It's limited to 50 entries, so hop over quickly! Or, if it's too late, just read everyone else's three line pitch.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Which I Am Not Sure What Happened

'm not exactly sure what happened yesterday. I mean, know what happened, I'm just not sure how it happened. What happened is that we adopted another cat.  But how it happened?

We always joke about crazy cat lady status. Not just for me, but for all of us, because my husband and son love cats as much as I do. (Maybe more.) But we were clear. We'd hit the limit of cats in our house (three). No more cats. I was personally clear, no more cats. No more male cats. No more long hair cats. From now on, only short hair female cats. (Hopefully, apple headed Siamese cats.)

We went to PetSmart to pick up food and cat sand. PetSmart doesn't sell cats, but they do have cats from rescue and animal shelters. We look, but never too long. We went in and looked, and I just fell in love. He is a Maine Coon. (Male, long hair, and Maine Coons are known for not getting along well with other cats.) Not the cat I would have chosen, for sure. But we could see he got along well with the other cats at the adoption center. He was mellow, and something about the way he looked at me...

But we were clear, no more cats. My husband came up, saw that I had fallen in love, and said, "Well, if you want another cat, I can't say no."

So we sat with him a while, and he was friendly and gentle, and got along with the other cats. We brought him home, and he hid for about six hours and now he's trying to make friends with the other cats.

Long Hair.
Maine Coon.

Just goes to show you, never say never :) As in "I'll never be a published author". Male. Long Hair. Maine Coon.

What the new cat would look like if he were feeling more confident and not hiding behind the CDs.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In Which I Am Writing Again!

'm writing again! Yay! (I can't tell you how good this feels.) No, I wasn't having writer's block (does anyone every admit to having that?), I was suffering from depression and finding it hard to do anything. This is doubly bad, because writing is a huge help for me in dealing with depression. For many reasons, I'm glad to be writing again!

Sadly, I'm not working on my middle-grade-boy POV-urban fantasy, "The Monster of Dewsberry Drink". Instead, I got distracted by a shiny new story, "Penny's Luck". And get this, it's a YA mystery/suspense with No Paranormal/Fantasy In It At All! But she is studying to become a (stage) magician, so there is magic in this story. Lots of it. Will I make reader's eyes glaze over with terms like "French Drop" and "Click Pass"? I don't care! Will readers hate me because I don't reveal enough about how magic tricks are done? I don't care! Will readers (and/or magicians) hate me because I reveal too much about how magic tricks are done? I don't care! (All that will be worked out in the second draft, right?)

Right now, I'm writing the story I want to tell. And in the tradition of writing the query/hook before the story, here's my intro to "Penny's Luck".

Penny was wearing her lucky jeans when she got kidnapped. Lucky for her, that is. Not so much for the kidnappers. After years of studying to be a stage magician, escape and misdirection are skills that come as naturally as breathing.

Penny's problem is more immediate. She was kidnapped by the mafia. It's unlikely they'll just give up after their first botched attempt. She has to find out why they are trying to kidnap her, a 15 year old girl with no money and fewer connections, and stop them from coming  back again and again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In Which Natalie Whipple Has An Announcement

can't post on anyone's blogs, so here's the comment I want to make on Natalie Whipple's blog announcement :)

"I'm so thrilled for you! I know this has been a long time coming and I know you totally deserve to have that contract in your hands! Thank you for never giving up!"

Monday, July 4, 2011

In Which I Discuss The "Crazy Cat Lady" Formula

In my bio, I currently describe myself as "one cat short of 'crazy cat lady'". Exactly how many cats does it take to make a crazy cat lady? I'm glad you asked!

It's actually a very complicated math formula. It's based on income*, available space for litter boxes**, the number of people (hands for petting) available in the house, and how many cat you currently have. (Notice I don't say "own", since cats own you, not the other way around.)

In my case, I have not reached crazy cat lady status, because I have one less cat than crazy cat lady status requires. The really nice thing about this formula is that I will *always* have one less cat than crazy cat lady status, no matter how many cats I have.

*Income: if you have more cats than you can afford to care for, use the variable X. If you make more than 100,000 a year, use the variable Y. If you make more than 100,000 a year, and you have more cats than you can afford, use the variable "Certified Crazy Cat Lady".

**Crazy Cat Ladies tend to have their cats be indoor cats. Indoor cats live 12+ years, while indoor/outdoor cats tend to live less than four.