Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back to the Grind

Yeah, the fun vacationing part of my holidays are over. Now it's back to the new job and trying to get back on track with my writing. I've been less than stellar with that for the past few weeks. I want to get back to writing everyday and I have GOT to get back into editing some of my work that's piling up. That's what's on tap for later today.

Yesterday I was having problems coming up with the right background for a chick in a paranormal romance novella-sized work I'd like to tackle. It's been simmering in my head for a month or two now and I've gotten to the point that it's really starting to gel. I decided to try to actually write out her background from her grandfather's viewpoint. If it turns out decently, I'll post it in its entirety (prob as a short story) here on the website or if I can come up with a worthy ending, I might even enter it in a contest. The initial intent is simply to lay the groundwork for her relationship with her Poppy and make sure I can portray it and his effect on her life correctly when I go to write the work concerning her later years. There might not be a stupendous ending to it. We'll see.

Anyways, here's the start of what I wrote yesterday. Tell me what you think. Would you want to read more?

No one had bothered tracking Rory Slade down when his son Madison died in the skiing accident. They hadn’t thought he’d care – that was how active he’d been in his son’s life. It wasn’t something he was proud of, being a deadbeat dad, but he didn’t know if he really could have done anything differently either. Amplifiers usually didn’t do well amongst families. If he’d stayed, he’d probably have done more harm than his absence had.

So when Madison and his wife, Clara, died while on vacation and his granddaughter, Gale, was left parentless, it was weeks before he heard. When he found out, he finished out his current contract, refused all the waiting ones, told his contacts to remove him from their call lists, and had all his belongings shipped home.

He missed the funeral by a good month and a half. It took him another two days to track down the aunt and uncle who’d taken Gale in. Sadly, it had taken no time at all to convince them that she should live with him. They just didn’t know what to do with a child like her. He knew it would only get worse as she got older. The poor little sprite was an amplifier just like her Poppy. He couldn’t leave her to the world’s tender mercies. He might be completely unsuited to raising her, but he was all she had. And before long, she was going to need him.

A more frail, sad-eyed four-year old he’d never seen. Not that he’d been around many young kids, but he knew this wasn’t normal. The last time he’d seen her, some four months previously, she’d been a typically happy, if quiet, child. Now she was more of a breeze than a gale. She hardly spoke, she was sickly, and she wore the trauma of her parents’ death almost visibly. Had she seen them die? Felt them pass from this life? Did she have that post-traumatic stress syndrome or whatever the shrinks called it? He’d have to find out. God only knew what that would do to a budding amplifier.

The aunt and uncle - Mort and Maggie or something like that – packed up a couple of woefully small bags for the chit. Surely that was wrong. Didn’t little girls have lots of frilly things and gew-gaws and stuff? Where was all the shi- er, stuff, from Madison’s home? The M’s sent her off with stilted hugs and more vigorous waves. She didn’t even look back.

“Are you keeping me now?” Her voice was barely a breath of sound in the loud beat-up car. At least it hadn’t taken her long to decide to talk to him.

“Yep. It’s gonna be you and me, kiddo.” Then he added under his breath. “God help us both.”

He had no idea what to do with kids in general, let alone a little girl. He’d look up parenting crap on the internet. McDonald's. Kids liked that place, right? They went there for lunch on the six hour drive to his place out in the weeds of Kentucky. She seemed to like it okay. She ate the nugget things anyways, and clutched the little pink toy whatsit when they got back in the car. Other than that first question, she didn’t speak, and that was fine with him. But if they were going to live together, they had to talk sometimes. He figured it was up to him to get things started.

“You wanna talk about your parents?” he asked after a gruff attempt at clearing his throat.

“No.”

Right. Big surprise. “How about the aunt and uncle you stayed with for a bit? Were they nice?”

“They were okay. One of their kids bit me.”

“Bit you?” Kids did that to each other? How dare one of those little twits do that to this poor child? He was of half a mind to go back and beat that kid’s ass. Butt. Bottom. Or, hell, whatever you called it that wasn’t a cuss word. Heck. Dam- darnit! This not cursing thing was going to be… heck.

Huh. That urge to go defend the kid had hit him out of nowhere. It was the first protective urge he’d felt in… ages. And his amplifier’s abilities had had nothing to do with it. They were still lying complacent in his mind like a fat cat on a sunny window-seat. “Did you tell his parents?”

“Her parents. No.”

“Why not? She shouldn’t be picking on you.”

“She’s only a year old. Her teeth are coming in.”

“Oh. Was she the little one in the yellow jumper-thing with drool all over her chin?”

“Yeah. Babies drool and bite things a lot when they’re teething, Aunt Margie says.”

Margie! That was it. Not Maggie.

She was quiet for a moment, then added, “I don’t like drool.”

“Me neither.” Did this count as bonding?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Free e-books

Just thought I'd post real quick, to link you all to the Barnes & Noble website where they're offering some e-books for free. Yes, you can read these if you have a nook (mmm, nook), but you can also download their free e-reader app to your PC/Mac or even iPhone device (among others). Anyways, there's a decent selection of classics (can anyone say Dracula, Wuthering Heights, or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes?) as well as some category romances (think Harlequin), a Star Wars novel, some teen fiction, and a bunch of others. It might be worth a look for some of you.

Btw, if you download these to your e-library (linked to your bn.com account) and then get a nook later, you'll already have them in your account. Just so you know...

Here's the link:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So, I Got a Free Cookie!

It was a giant cookie - like 6 inches across, and a soft, sugary mass of chocolate goodness. Did I mention that it was free? My nook gave it to me. I heart my nook.

My in-laws got the Barnes & Noble nook for me for my birthday last month, and I love it. Everything that everyone else loves about it... I do too. And today it gave me a cookie. A free cookie. Barnes & Noble has the in-store content working for nookaphiles. I was in our local B&N and checked out my nook to see what special stuff I could do in-store, and there was my coupon for a free cookie! How cool is that!?!? All I had to do was show the screen to D at the cafe, and I walked away with a cookie and a (slightly) maniacal giggle. I have since told at least half a dozen friends and my dental receptionist about this, and now I'm telling YOU. You think I'm joking about the dental receptionist, but I'm not.

Anyways, my husband has been mocking my giddiness ever since. I don't think it's fair for him to mock me and then eat the majority of the cookie, do you? No. It's not right.

What is right is a free cookie. Only 258 more dollars worth of coupons and my nook will have paid for itself! Or it would have if I'd actually paid for it in the first place...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Catch-Up

I've hardly blogged at all lately, I know. The sad thing is that I've hardly written anything either. I'm averaging a whopping 1000 words per week for the last two weeks. Yikes! This full-time job gig has put even more of a cramp in my writing progress than I had hoped. After the holidays though, I plan to devote some time each morning to my writing. For now I'm just trying to get by.

Oddly enough, I'm getting no sympathy about this from my full-time-job/writing-on-the-side friends. Go figure.

And now, brought to you yet again by our dinner table...

E3.8 climbed into her chair for dinner the other day and immediately said, "Ow! My peanuts hurt!"

My husband and I exchanged confused looks. She didn't sound hurt and she didn't have peanuts of any sort, either food or toy related. "Eh?" I said, seeking clarification.

E3.8 laughed and shouted again, "Ow! My peanuts hurt!"

By this time, I knew what she meant. And I could tell by the way that my husband was incredibly interested in the sheet of scrap paper our kids had plastered with stickers, that he had clued into the situation also. I sighed. It was up to me. "Who did you hear saying that?"

"Darius! Darius says it all the time!"

So apparently, Darius at the daycare manages to injure his manly parts on a frequent basis while climbing into chairs. But how do I address this? Avoidance seemed like the best option to me, I mean, she's only 3. Then J6.5 decided to wade into the battle.

Being a first grader, J6.5 is much more worldly than her sheltered and delicate younger sister (cough, cough). J6.5 rolled her eyes, heaved out a put-upon sigh at this evidence of her sister's ignorance, and says with all the superiority an older sister can muster (and I am very familiar with this), "E3.8." Another sigh. "Girls don't have peanuts. Boys do. Darius has peanuts because he's a boy. You're a girl, so you don't have them. And they're right here," she says, pointing helpfully.

Gah! Why me!?!?!? My husband is now hiding behind the Christmas tree. Thanks, dear. We all know that kids can be mean to each other. I couldn't let J6.5 continue with her erroneous naming of the male physiology, because what if she gets mocked for not knowing what the right term is... On the other hand, J6.5 is allergic to peanuts, and is extremely afraid of coming into contact with any. This could be a good way to get an early handle on keeping the boys and their nefarious parts away from my little girl. If only we could be assured that she wouldn't figure out our misdirection before she hits those tricksy teen years. Yeah, probably not much chance of that.

Needless to say, I corrected Julia's mistake, even spelling it for her, at which point my husband decided it was time for dinner and came to the table. End story.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Round-up

With all the preparation for the upcoming holidays, it dawned on me that my fictional worlds needed some holidays too. Obviously they'd have some. Even the most primitive cultures would probably celebrate the changing of the seasons or astrological events or such. Then you've got independence revels, fetes to pay homage to a sovereign, maybe something to honor a particularly critical export or resource that sustains life on a remote planet, heck, even simple market days.

My cultures need some, er, culture. Yeah. :)

Are you guys way ahead of me? Have you already incorporated this kind of stuff in your novels? Have you come up with a holiday that you're particularly proud of?

Good luck in your own personal holiday prep, and best wishes to your fictional characters. I hope they have some fun holidays to stress over enjoy also! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SciFi Snippet

Hiya folks! I didn't really have anything else to say, so I'm just posting a snippet from my SciFi story, The Sunlands. The following piece falls in place at chapter 9.

Lora entered the Anyaver with something akin to relief. She tugged the head covering closer around her face and hoped that the temporary brown tint to her eyes held until she made it to a room. The gold rims of her irises burned through the dye at an alarming rate. Her clothing was of good quality, but nothing that proclaimed her true rank. After all, why would the heir to the throne of Andiri need to frequent a hotel a short glide trip from her own quarters in the Courts?

To escape. Just for a while.

She approached the front desk, knowing that she would have to talk to a live person rather than simply key her request into a machine. Today’s attendant was a young lady with light brown skin, just hinting at the laska color common to the higher ranked Andiri. Lora’s own skin was pure laska, the light orange-pink of the morning sky on Andiri. One of the new Personal Appearance Modifiers (PAMs) had managed to dull the color to that of an aristocrat for this trip.

Lora inserted a credit chip linked to her alternate identity into a slot on the counter. “One room, two nights,” she stated to the employee.

The young woman’s eyes widened slightly at whatever her screen told her. Then her professional mask returned and a friendly, if curious, smile slid into place. She handed Lora a room key chip and pointed off to the side. “The private lift over there will take you directly to your room.”

Lora raised her eyebrows. That wasn’t common at all but she wasn’t in the mood to argue. “Where do you need my print?” The transaction was keyed to her account via her credit chip, but it needed her fingerprint to authorize it.

“No need. This room is always available to you. You don’t even need to check in or out. Just take the lift on up.”

Before Lora’s tired mind could argue that none of this made any sense, Jorand stepped off the private lift and moved towards them. His strides ate up the distance between them. Somehow he seemed to note everything at once. He directed a passing hotel employee to something that needed attention at the front of the lobby. As he passed by a large potted tree, he plucked off some dead leaves, dropping them in the base. And yet he remained focused on Lora.

When she’d needed to get away from the Courts but still be accessible, this was the first place she thought of. Even if Jorand found out she’d taken refuge here, he would keep her secret. Now she was getting the idea that he was several steps ahead of her.

“I’ll show the lady up, Tennya. Thank you.” He motioned Lora to precede him to the lift, taking her small bag as she passed him. Lora was used to these small courtesies from him. Once the lift doors had swished closed, she turned to him, still peering out from the depths of her head cover. “I have a permanent room here?”

“A suite actually.”

“An entire suite that will hardly ever be used?”

“With a garden.”

“Surely that’s a waste of money and space, Jorand. You’re a keen businessman. Why would you do that?”

He shrugged. “What wouldn’t I do for my Coravi and the guardian of my family?”

She scoffed. “It was an accident that I aided your family a few times. Coincidence.”

“No. It is who you are. You are the Coravi in deed as well as in name. We recognize this and are grateful for it.”

“You don’t owe me anything, Jorand. You or your family. Regardless of my actions, you are the ones who capitalized on it to make your lots better. You might not be at this same place today if I hadn’t played a small part in your history. But I have no doubt that you would have done equally well on your own.”

“Your words are that of a true Coravi, bolstering her subject’s morale.”

She narrowed her eyes at his obtuseness and stalked from the lift when it opened. These people insisted on believing that she was something more than she was. Didn’t they realize what a farce having her as Coravi was?

She didn’t notice his small smile as she strode away.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Head Cold + Writing = Not Much Progress

Yeah, so I didn't quite make my November goal, as you can see from the sidebar. I got bogged down towards the end by holiday prep and illness. But it was a super experience anyways. I'm honestly amazed that I did as well as I did.

End result? I've almost finished my SF novel! I wrote about a quarter of it in one month, and that's super-speedy for me! If I'd met my writing goals, I probably would have finished it. I'm on "The Throwdown" as I like to call it, right now - the big event to end the story. I've also already written some of the wrap-up to happen after The Throwdown, so really, all I have to do is finish what I'm writing and do a little more wrap-up as appropriate. And then I can put "End." on it!!! Yippee!!

Of course, then I'll need to edit it. Just like I need to edit my UF novel before shopping it around some more. After I finish this SF novel I think I'll be devoting most of my time to editing as opposed to writing new stuff. Otherwise, I'll have all this stuff written and sitting on a shelf because it still won't be in shape to send to an agent.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving if you're in the States.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why me?

Ravioli was on the menu the other night. J6.4 had helped me set the table. Partway through dinner, this is what happens:

J6.4: (clears throat) "Dad, guess what?" (very smooth, nothing happening kind of voice)
Husband: (in between bites of ravioli) "What?"
J6.4: "I rubbed your fork on my butt when I set the table." (bursts into laughter)

Now, J6.4 has a contagious laugh. It comes from deep in her belly, and completely takes over her body. When she starts laughing like that, you can't help but laugh too. So we all started laughing uproariously, even my husband who's sitting there with a mouthful of ravioli and a sick look on his face.

I thought this was a story worth sharing, so I grabbed the cell phone and called my bro-in-law, UncleR. He'd appreciate the trauma his younger brother was being put through by the offspring. Then we had to discuss Thanksgiving plans, and their new house, and eventually I got up from the table and went in the other room so I could hear. I finished the phone call and came back to finish eating with everyone else.

Husband: (After a few bites) "So how's the ravioli?"
Me: (Thinking through this because this was a new brand of ravioli, but ya know, frozen ravs are frozen ravs. So I finally decided on an eloquent: ) "Eh."
Husband: "Good. Because you have the butt fork now."

More uproarious laughter. I kid you not. This is my life.

So then yesterday, we were playing a marathon game of Uno. Poor J6.4 kept getting hit with the Draw 2's and 4's. After her 3rd Draw Four in about 8 minutes, she mutters under her breath, "Someone's gonna get their fork rubbed."

Friday, November 20, 2009

You've Got to be Kidding Me...

I was working at B&N earlier this week, and I came across a few books whose titles were disturbingly ironic. Let's evaluate, shall we?
  1. Teaching for Dummies - Now, do we really want dummies teaching anyone, er... anything? Seriously. It should have one page in it that says "Please don't." Then the whole rest of the book could be pages reading "This page intentionally left blank."
  2. Evolution for Dummies - Isn't one of the whole points of evolution to put paid to dummy propagation? So is the entirety of the book and attempt to explain to said dummy why we want him/her out of the gene pool?
  3. Birthing from Within - Um, duh? Where else would it be coming from? It's not like any woman is interested in reversing that process...
So what do you think? Should we have a competition to see who can come up with the worst/funniest book title?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Amelie: The Good, The Bad, and the Pitiful

Okay, so I said I'd talk about the writing things I'm good at and the things I suck greatly at doing. So here goes:

Good
  • Dialog: Me, I like my dialog. Oftentimes the dialog is the first thing that pops into my head when coming up with a new scene. Now, someone who's read my dialog needs to weigh in here and tell me if I'm way off-base with my evaluation of my own dialog brilliance. :)
  • Plot: I think I do a fair job with plotting and making sure things flow logically. Bus-sized plot holes still occur, but they're usually infrequent and my critique partners point them out with glowy pens and markers for me. ;)
Bad
  • Scene Description: I wish I could describe scenes better. I'm worse at that than my kids are at listening (and that's pretty stinking bad, just ask my husband). In an effort to improve that - the description, not the listening because that's a hopeless cause - setting is something that I'm concentrating on for the dark fantasy that I've started plotting out. I've browsed the net for pics that show my world (concentrating mostly on just a city right now because most everything is happening there) in the hopes that when I'm doing a scene, I can do a better job of describing it if I have something to look at that resembles it somewhat. I've also spent time coming up with particular places so my folks won't be in a random tavern, but a place with a name, history, a particular clientele, ambiance and structure. What helps you guys with your settings?
  • Not So Likable Characters - I love reading characters who are not all "good" or "bad" but I'm not so good at writing them. I tend to give my chars small flaws that are too easily overcome or overlooked, and that's just not how real life is. So that's something I need to work on.
  • Full Book Plan: This is the biggie that I'm working to resolve. I want to be able to tell where I'm going from page one so I have a road map to get there. It's fine if I take an unplanned turn along the way and get the Garmin's testy voice in my head saying, "Recalculating..." because I will still have a destination to drive towards. I want to get away from just having a starting point and letting the story meander and frolic along on the way to somewhere. It's worked so far but....
Hit and Miss
  • Emotions: Sometimes they're on the money and sometimes they seem too overwrought. I think this is something that I'll get better at with time and practice. I hope. Oh, I soooo desperately pray this is so! See what I mean?
There we go. I'm sure there are more that I'll think up later. But for now, back to our regularly scheduled life. Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Makes Mommy Proud

Every so often, J6.4 sees me jotting down notes or doing research or scavenging the net for pictures to help me with my writing. She asks questions, I answer them (I mean like 15 straight minutes of questions...). I've explained what I'm doing and shown her the notebooks I've got going for various stories. I've read character descriptions to her and broken down imaginary religions for my people, and we've looked for pictures of potential gods/goddesses together. She's even named several goddesses for me although she's gone heavy on the 'S' names.

  • Point to note: We've found a ton of fantasy-type pictures of scantily clad women who could easily be the physical manifestations of my goddesses, and ironically we've found very very few scantily clad male pics. Wonder why that is... NOT!
The other day, she sat down to write a story to go with a treasure map that she'd doodled at school. After a while she came to me with the start of her story and another sheet of paper where she'd done verbal character sketches so she could "get to know her characters". No joke, I about burst into tears of pride! :) So here is Julia's first character sheet, age 6, complete with cute kid spellings. Click picture to enlarge

On a side note, I'm doing okay with my November writing goal. Thursday was a sucky day (ahem, 280 words *cringe*), but I've been doing well since then, even getting 1000 words in between working 2 jobs yesterday and playing Dragon Age: Origins. Dishes got put off until today. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Plotting or Pantsing?

First of all, I completely slacked on my writing goal on Tuesday. If you're unaware of what goal I'm referring to, check out my November Writing Plan blog post. That explains it. 300 of my 1000 words - that was all I did, and I almost gave in and did the same yesterday but I pushed through and actually managed 1025. Luckily I was a good bit ahead overall, but Tuesday used up most of my lead. Now I can't get sloppy again. Honestly though, I'm simply happy that I've persevered this long, even in the face of many distractions. Yay me!

Now onto the topic that I've been considering while writing today: pantsing or plotting when writing. I've mentioned that I'm a pantser right now. I plot maybe a day ahead of where I'm writing for the most part. I might have ideas for the end of the story or certain events later, but the meat of the story just comes to life in my head a few hours prior to its arrival on the keyboard. This has worked for me so far, but I want a system to make the math/science/logic/engineer part of my brain happy.

Today while writing, I moved past what I'd plotted out in my head the night before and just started writing on the fly, and I was amazed at how much that bothered me. I felt like I was typing around pits of quicksand, and any moment I was going to take a misstep. It really messed with me. And it made me start analyzing what I do and don't like about pantsing and plotting respectively.

Where do you guys stand? What are your writing habits and what do you like about what you do? What do you wish you could do differently or more consistently?

I'll evaluate my own techniques some more in the next couple of days after you guys get a chance to tell your story here. Maybe we can help each other out by letting others know what works for us.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Harsh Writer Earnings Reality

Earlier this year, Lynn Viehl posted about an actual royalty statement she received for one of her bestsellers (paperback). On Friday, she posted a follow-up covering the 2nd royalty statement she received later for the same book. This might discourage some writers, but I'm still determined and I appreciate her telling us the truth. If you want to see the real kind of money a bestselling author might be wallowing in, go check these out.

As for my November writing progress, I'm off to a good start. By Sunday night, my goal was 6500 words. As you can see from the sidebar progress meter, I'm up by almost 1100 words. This is good because I start my new full-time job today and I suspect that my writing stats will drop off drastically.

Yes, that's right folks, I'm no longer unemployed and living the good life, sponging off my husband's efforts. Weeping, weeping. It was good while it lasted, but there's that whole need for monies to feed the offspring and keep the roof over our heads. Wish me luck, in both the new job and maintaining my writing efforts in the face of it. I think I'll need it.


Friday, November 6, 2009

This Writing Gig? It's Tough. Bonus Family Funny.

Five days I've kept to my goals now, and it's killing me. I'm completely in awe of full-time writers. The amount that I'm writing per day isn't even close to their output, yet from the amount of mental whining I'm engaging in, you'd think I was single-handedly creating the Holy Grail.

I thought I had decent discipline before and good, consistent writing habits. Yeah, not so much. The writing almost everyday thing was an important mental step in my quest for publishing when I decided to do it. And I'm getting the feeling that this is another. It's a different mindset when you have a deadline, even just one set on a whim, which this completely is for me.

And I think that reporting to you all on my progress is helping me to toe the line. So thanks to those of you who are following my efforts. It makes a difference, knowing that you're there, even when you don't comment. Again, thanks.

Now, for a quick family funny. The setting: Dinner table. The feast: Mac & Cheese (shells). The lead actor: E3.almost7.

E3.almost7: "More mac & cheese, mommy."
Me: "Excuse me?"
E3.almost7: "I said, More mac & cheese, mommy."
Me: "Yeah, I heard that. What do you say?" (I'm angling for 'please' here, in case you're not catching on)
E3.almost7: "Put it in the bowl." *husband coughs to cover his grin*
Me: *just staring at her*
E3.almost7: "Right here." *helpfully, she points at the bowl she's shoved under my nose already* *husband starts choking, and not on food*
Me: *trying for one eyebrow raise, but can't really, so probably one up, one at half-mast and looking goofy.* "What. Do. You. Say?"
E3.almost7: *big grin* "Thank you." *husband has to leave the table*
Me: "Gah! What about please!?!?!?!"
E3.almost7: *nods and gives a sweet smile* "Please. Now."
*head-table-head-table*






Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mid-Week Update

Eek! I've posted every day this week so far! Note that I'm also keeping up with my writing goal. Wonder if they're connected... I'd have to say that's an affirmative. I'm sure that once I drop behind I won't be posting here and bragging about it. :)

So, I did get another 500+ words written last night, and I've done 825 so far today. Even if I don't write any more today, I'm still ahead of schedule. Yay me! I do plan to get on the PC and write more after the kiddos conk out for the night though.

Also, please note the writing meter on the sidebar. I slaved over that for like two minutes, copying and pasting, so worship it.

Hope you all are having a great week. Good luck with your own personal endeavors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oops - Wrong Character

Before I get into my word count status, let me just say that I am an idiot. This isn't a shock to many of you. I sat down at the keyboard this morning determined to hammer outs lots o' words. So I sat there. And I stared. I finally started typing. The words came on with the speed of erosion, and were just about as productive to my story growth.

I was writing from the POV of an assassin who just missed his target and had to retreat. He was beyond pissed. He was looking for a fight and wanted to tear someone limb from limb, beat them with said limbs and then kick them while they were down. The passage seethed with emotion and barely restrained violence. I mean, he was this primo assassin and he'd missed! Because of some freak accident! It all makes sense, right?

WRONG!

I'd previously described him as a cold, remote man who saw her death as just another job - a tick-mark on his To-Do List. He doesn't want to kill her - has no need to maim or cause pain. But he doesn't care that someone wants to end her life prematurely either. Even if he'd liked her he'd kill her because it's his job and he said he would. That's who this guy is, not some boiling cauldron of emotion.

Grrr. Highlight passage - delete. Words gone. Word count back to zero. :( And I liked that passage too. Oh well. I did save it in case I do come across a just-failed emotional assassin later...

As for word-count, yesterday was just as difficult as I expected it to be. I was so blasted tired, that if I hadn't come up with this plan for November, I would have bailed on writing yesterday. (I think that by writing at all yesterday, I'm pursuing the spirit of my intent) As it was, I got just under 500 words written, not quite half of my goal. Although technically I'm still on track since I went over by 500 words on Sunday, I'm going to try to over-write today also. So far I'm at 800 words, and I'll write some more this evening after the kids go to bed. I need to spend some more time today plotting before I'm ready to write again. This is where plotting out the story ahead of time would be helpful. Pantsing is not so good for a consistently high word count.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Writing Plan

Okay, although I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, I did decide to try to increase my productivity for the month, mostly just to see if I can. :)

I mentioned last week that usually I get about 700 words per day written, weekdays only. Here's the plan for November:
  • 1000 words/day during the week
  • 500 words/day on weekend days.
I figure I should make it through oh, Tuesday. Kidding. Hopefully I'll do better than that. Ironically, today should be a very telling day. It's going to be tough to get the word count in, so I might not even make it through Monday. Luckily, I got off to a good start yesterday, weighing in at 1000 words even though my goal was only 500. *fist pump* So I guess I have a little leeway, although I'm going to try not to use it up on the second day.

I'll find some kind of word count widget to put up on the blog here to keep track of my progress. Feel free to heckle or cheer me on, depending on your mood. Just be aware that when I get stressed and frustrated, I might write you into a story and abuse your character... or I might use your name for the planet that I take my characters to be killed off on - oops, already did that, huh, Mike? Hahaha!

Have a great week, everyone and happy November!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Discouraging lack of progress...

Currently, I'm at about 72.5K words on my SciFi novel. That's great. Only about 25K-30K more to go. Yippee. Sorry. I need more enthusiasm there. I really am excited about this, so YIPPEE!!!

But all this talk about Nanowrimo got me thinking about my own rate of writing. Currently I've only been managing about 700 words per day, weekdays only. That means that over the month of November, when all the contest goers will pound out 50K words, I'll only squeeze out... 14K. :( Yuck. I won't be finishing my novel until the end of December, and that's if the holidays and the still-hoped-for job don't slow things up. That was depressing to realize.

So although I won't be Nanowrimo'ing in November, I think I will make my own effort to ramp up my word count. Even if that just means extending my writing to the weekends or getting an extra 100 words per day in, obviously that's something I need to move towards. I eventually want to be a for-real published writer, and not just of a single novel.

Do you guys care to follow along and watch my progress? I could post a word count meter and update it daily. It would allow you to point fingers and laugh, I'm sure, so there's even something in it for you!

What do you guys do to discipline and keep yourselves on track for your job, diet, exercise regimen, or whatever?

And btw, have a safe and fun Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SciFi Snippet

Because I have nothing to really talk about today, here's a snippet from Sunlands, my SciFi novel. Enjoy!

Then they let Sergeant Ortelli in. He stepped into the room and almost missed a step when he saw Lora, but came to attention despite the burning questions in his eyes.

“Sergeant, I don’t suppose you have any credits I could borrow?” she asked sweetly.

He broke attention immediately. “My Coravi, aren’t you carrying around your own credits yet?” but he was reaching into his trouser pockets nonetheless.

She laughed delightedly. “Not to worry, Sergeant. Save your credits. I learned my lesson and have my own. I was actually hoping you would help me put another arrogant man in his place.” The first time Ortelli had come to her attention, he was in her honor guard on an excursion into the city. Yet another of her attempts to right a wrong had almost failed thanks to his then commanding officer. With Ortelli’s help, and his credits, things had worked out. Ever since, she’d had a special fondness for the kind-hearted rascal.

He rubbed his hands together. “You know that old dog Warski did something to jack up his career? He has patrol duty now. In the north. Far north.” They shared a laugh at his old commander’s fate. The man had not been well-liked. “I’d be delighted to help. Things have been sorely dull since you left.”

She explained her need to obtain the records from the herbalist. “You’ll be acting on my authority. While I would like the operation to go smoothly and without offending too many people, if you start getting push-back, feel free to throw my weight around.”

“How many is too many people to offend?” He smirked.

“You’ll know you’ve jacked things up once you’re on patrol duty up north reporting to Warski again.”



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nalini Singh Blaze of Memory Giveaway


If you are a Nalini Singh fan, you're probably aware that her next book in the Psy/Changeling series, Blaze of Memory, is coming out a week from today - Nov. 3. Lurve A La Mode has posted a review and Nalini is giving away 2 signed copies of the book there. But you must comment by tomorrow morning at 6:00 am. So be quick!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Unintentional Discipline?

I guess I have J6.3's being sick to thank for my recent spate of housecleaning and dedication to writing. Today makes day #8 that she's been home. Since she's been home with me, I haven't been able to go into B&N to pick up any hours, so I've been doing lots of stuff around the house - going through boxes, cleaning out closets, etc. I've also had lots of snuggle time to be sitting around and working on my novel plots in my head. Six out of the last seven days I've worked on my writing - even the rare weekend writing that I usually never do. I've also been editing and researching.

This is cool and all, but I'm feeling guilty about being productive. My poor kid is miserable. She's tired of being sick and stuck at home, and she's exhausted all the time. But we're heading to the doc's today so hopefully we'll figure out what this is. I thought flu, but since it's lingered so long without any improvement, now I'm not so sure. Hopefully it's something easily taken care of.

Have a great week!

Edit: Good news/Bad news. Good news is that they know what's wrong with J6.3 and she's on antibiotics. The bad news is that the kiddo has pneumonia. :( And if it's the wrong kind of pneumonia, the antibiotics won't really help. Joy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Any Nanowrimo'ers out there?

November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, hence the term, NANOWRIMO, that you might see popping up around the web lately. Basically it's an effort to encourage aspiring writers to put aside their worries, their disbelief, the excess of advice out there for writing, and to simply WRITE! 50,000 words in one month is the goal (that's about 1,667 words per day)- quantity over quality - no editing, just writing. They acknowledge that you'll write lots of crap, but you'll be writing and writing a lot. That's the only way to get better with your writing.

I know of one friend who plans (or planned) to enter. Anyone else out there?

To answer the unasked question, No, I will not be entering. I think it's a very worthy endeavor, but hopefully I'll be in the midst of starting a new job then. I'll be back to patting myself on the back for just getting 500 words down per day. I am in awe of anyone who can crank out the words necessary to accomplish Nanowrimo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writer Growing Pains

Now it's J6.3 home with a fever & vomiting. My life is a joy. We're hoping (yet again) that it's not the flu.

As for writing, it's been frustratingly slow-going lately. I'm moving along on the SciFi novel but it all seems kind of blah.

I've been working out the world for a fantasy novel or series (preliminary naming is Nightingale) in my head for about a month now and that's finally starting to gel a bit, but I'm trying to do the plotting thing for this one as opposed to pantsing it like I usually do. Plus, I'm not ready to start yet another project when I already have a few in the works. I want to plot the entire thing out this time, do the synopsis ahead of time, the whole bit. Even being an unpublished writer, I feel that I've grown as a writer over the last year, and I'm trying to keep stretching myself. I'd feel better about tackling a career as a writer if I knew I could accomplish my writing using a process and not just winging it every time. My logical math/science mind prefers that although the crafty side likes creating as I go. But from what I've read from other plot-happy writers, there's still room for writing off the beaten path and spur-of-the-moment plot developments even if you're writing according to your plan. The story always changes your plans, kind of like the first engagement in a battle it seems. Hmm, writing is the same as waging war? I can see that. :)

The other thing I'm going to try to improve: Giving my good characters more faults. Oh, they're not all perfect goody-goodies anymore, but I think I still do tend to make them "all people I'd want to be friends with" as one of my critique partners put it. Now, I'm not going to take it to the extremes that he suggested because I don't think that would be true to their inner characters, but I can certainly make them more "real" and believable. Now I just have to execute that somehow. Sigh.

What is something you think you could improve in your writing, your work habits or just life in general?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Keeping on... keeping on

Hi guys. Not much to say lately. Been working at my SciFi novel and debating over what to do about the UF novel I have been sending around to agents. I'm still undecided about what to do about it.

As for the kids, J6.3 had an ear infection in both ears, and E3.6 had a fever, coughs and sniffles for 2 days and then improved, so no flu for us... yet.

What else? The in-laws are back from their 2 week cursed cruise (apparently hardly a day went by that they weren't off-schedule because of having to turn around and meet up with the Coast Guard to off-load various passengers due to illness, broken bones, etc.), and it's nice knowing they're back safe on US soil. We will of course be invading their home in the next couple of days to make up for lost time. :)

Other than that, things have been pleasantly average around here. Nothing really doing.

To you writers out there, here's an excerpt from Donald Maass' (lit agent) book, The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great. I had this book recommended to me by a published author, and I've just recently started reading it. Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One Sick, Two Sick, Ear Sick, Flu Sick?

Yes, I'm home with not one, but two sick kids today. J6.3 has a potential ear infection and E3.(almost)6 is running a fever (please don't be the flu... please don't be the flu). Yay me. They are currently snuggled on the couch watching a cartoon and I'm posting real quick before I call the doc. Then I plan to scavenge the web for Halloween crafts with which to keep them occupied.

Quick story to brag on my kid: The other day, I made coffee cake when my folks came to visit. This little message was left for me on the front door later in the day: "Dear Mommy, thank you for the cofy cake it was dolishis. Love J." Wasn't that the sweetest? :) She's darling. I'm keeping the note here next to my computer to remind myself that I'm appreciated.

Anyways, have a good week and think healthy thoughts at my kids, pls.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blogging Slackers R Us

Sorry, sorry! I know I've been super-slack on the blogging lately. I have tons of excuses and some of them are even pretty good. The most relevant is probably that I just haven't had much to say. I'm slogging along on my SciFi book, while also trying to figure out what to do to Jayna's book (Historian's Calling) to get some representation, working at B&N and just dealing with life in general.

In random news, J6.(almost)3 managed to break my flat-screen monitor enough that it had to be sent back for repairs. I'm back to using a CRT monitor for 7 to 14 business days and it is... painful.

E3.(almost)6 told me this morning that she didn't want to go to daycare today. She'd rather go to the school in our playroom (the girls play school in there a lot). Cuteness abounded.

I'm counting down the hours until I can go pick up the books on my list getting released tomorrow. Did you miss the blog post about upcoming releases? Naughty, naughty. Last week I again went to B&N to pick up my books and stumbled on books I hadn't even known were on the way. The first books for two new series by a couple of fave authors were released last Tuesday: J.R. Ward's Covet, and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Born of the Night. Both look to be paranormal romances. And this, folks, is why I like going to a brick and mortar store to do my book browsing. I love surprise reading treasures.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Upcoming Releases

Yippee!! It's the end of the month!! You know what that means? Huh? Do ya? Do ya? NEW RELEASES!!!!! Woohoo!!! Okay. Breathe.

Right. So, lots of books are released either on the last Tuesday of the month or the first Tuesday of the month. So the last week of the month brings us two straight weeks of new books coming out. Let's take a look at what I'm waiting for, shall we?

This Week:
  • On the Edge by Ilona Andrews - Rustic Fantasy? (Cross between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but some of the characters are country. Way country) - The first in their (her and her husband Gordon) new series. Another odd magic sandwich world where a mundane world (ours) co-exists next to a magic world (the Weird) and causes, well, weirdness. To give you an idea of how this works, here's my favorite part from one of the snippets I read: "Go brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on dry clothes, and get the guns. We’re going to Wal-Mart." Also, if you want some chances at free On the Edge books (and a Sony e-reader), follow these contest links: The Book Pushers and Bitten by Books.
  • Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens - Regency Romance in her much-loved Cynster series.
  • Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre - Science Fiction - Book #3 of Sirantha Jax.
Next Week:
What are you guys looking forward to? Someone needs to chime in with some other genres here, because I've been woefully single-minded of late.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preview - Shadowlight - Lynn Viehl

A few weeks ago, Lynn Viehl offered a free e-ARC of her upcoming paranormal romance release Shadowlight, due to release on Oct. 6. This will be the first in her Kyndred series, a spin-off from her Darkyn books. They'll feature mostly the kids who were genetically altered by the Brethren and then thrown into the adoption system. They're all grown up now, of course.

Knowing how I feel about Lynn Viehl's writing and free books (hello!), I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you all that my keyboard has skid marks on it from how quickly I jumped at the chance. The only catch was that I had to blog about the book (she didn't care if the review was good or bad) and I couldn't redistribute or sell it. No problemo.

I was hoping to finish it in time to get this posted on yesterday's blog, but my lack of an e-reading device scuttled my plans. I was bound to my computer for the reading the novel, which meant no reading it in doctor's office waiting rooms or getting a chapter in while I killed a few minutes waiting for school bus arrival time. Grrrr. Want e-reader. Anyhoo. I finally finished it this morning and here are my thoughts (while still trying not to spoiler it).
  1. Like the Darkyn. Still getting Darkyn fix with Kyndred novels. Me likey.
  2. Viehl's bad guys are scary-cold-unfeeling-BAD. Not like kill your mom and dad and cat and then kill you in your deepest fear kind of way. They don't care enough about you to find out what your deepest fear is. If you're in their way, they'd run you down with their car and then take the shirt off your broken body to use it to clean the human-barrier gunk from their car. Makes for chilling reading and it fits well with the Roman roots of the story.
  3. I'm amazed that she's able to keep coming up with new and interesting abilities for her people to get. You'd think that she'd have to start duplicating somewhere, but each one is fresh and new. This novel introduced about a half dozen more er, novel abilities.
  4. This novel really highlights how well Lynn Viehl utilizes character motivation. All her characters have a history that makes them into the people they are now. Rowan isn't just an angry, mouthy chick because she's young and headstrong. There's a valid, compelling why to it. The main character, Jessa, had been young and carefree (sort-of) once. And then she had that ripped away. Her life now is necessarily bleak and focused. She's repenting for her earlier blindness, trying to atone for her guilt. And the fact that she feels that guilt in the first place for something that hadn't really been her fault, makes her a noble (if hard-headed) character.
  5. As usual, I was impressed by the characters, the plotting and the emotions involved.
  6. My only real dislike was Jessa's disbelief. She's got weird abilities herself and knows of others who have them, but she refuses to believe a word about the Darkyn or vampires for the majority of the novel. I just don't get that. Why wouldn't she at least consider the idea?
  7. Overall, another well-written novel by Lynn and a good start to the new series. I'm happy that we got cameos of Sam, Lucan and Alex and that the Darkyn will be playing more roles to come.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thrrree Days of Writing! Hahaha!

I hope you all read the title with your Sesame Street's Count voice turned on. For the first time in about three weeks, I actually had a few consecutive days off from B&N and landscaping. So I got some writing done! Yippee. I've always heard of authors who say that they "have to write." Until recently, I would have said that no, that's not me. I have to read, I have to eat Carrabbas & Papa John's Pizza at least once a month (not at the same time), I have to have some "me-time" or peace and quiet every so often, and I have to have hugs from my family. But I don't have to write. I daydream, and those daydreams end up being the basis for my stories.

Then I got laid-off and I actually started devoting some time to my writing. Now I might actually be turning into one of those people who has to write. These last few weeks have felt really off to me. The past two days of writing again have made me feel balanced though.

So what is it that you have to do to keep yourself centered? What makes you bearable to live with?

BTW, whining to you guys was yet again just the thing I needed yesterday. After complaining about my progress on the blog here, I went back to writing yesterday and hammered out another 1100 words, and they were good. It was refreshing.Thanks, guys and gals.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gah! Writing gods, why do you hate me so?

I've been working on my writing for about a half an hour now so far this morning, and it's like this:
  1. I write a little bit
  2. It sucks and I delete most of it
  3. I sit there and spin my wheels in place
  4. Go back to 1. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I can't seem to write a paragraph without deleting half of it! I've written probably about 500 words so far today and I only have 240 to show for it. And even those 240 words are blah. Just blah. :(

Book Review - Trick of the Light - Rob Thurman


I've already mentioned on this blog that I really enjoy Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros books. I thought her latest, Deathwish, was in a category all on its own for her treatment of the relationship between Cal and his brother Niko - heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. This book, Trick of the Light, which released on September 1, kicks off a new urban fantasy series set in the same world and has a similar relationship of mutual dependence (but in the same healthyish way) for two of the secondary characters. If you're thinking that she's re-using a plot mechanism, you're welcome to your opinion, but don't complain about it to me, because I think she does a super job with it, and I love these characters. DON'T rain on my parade, got it?

Like many other authors who want to actually eat something more costly than Ramen noodles, she's started a second series. Most publishers don't want to publish more than one book in the same series per year, so if an author wants to actually make enough money to rise above the poverty level, they're having to branch out to other works.

The Trickster novels feature Trixa Iktomi, an information merchant and cheap bar owner. As I said, it's placed in the same world as Cal's books (ours but with lots of scary-assed things that go bump in the night), but it's set in Vegas as opposed to NYC. We don't get any mention of the brothers, but Robin Goodfellow gets a cameo and we find out more about the peris (like Ishiah who runs the bar that Cal "works" at). This was a great urban fantasy and I devoured it.

Here's me as it's getting to the end of the book:
  • Okay, I got this. I'm onto what she's doing with that little trail of breadcrumbs throughout the book.
  • This other thing though, I think I know where it's going. But it can't really be, right? I mean, nah.
  • And what's up with that thing? It's got to tie in somehow, but I haven't got a clue as to how.
  • Oh, man. This main chick character is just waaaaay too cocky. Things are clearly getting ready to go FUBAR
  • (Closing my eyes) I just can't watch whatever is about to happen. It can't be good for the home team.
  • And wha- WTF just happened?
  • NO. Nuh. Uh. Damn. It really happened... But not quite like I thought. I like her way better than what I pictured. Good on ya, Robyn.
  • And holy hell! Where did that come from? Not a clue! I had not a freaking clue that that was in store for us.
  • Wow. Just wow.
And I sat there in shock for a while. Now, since I've been bragging on it, I'm sure that your experience won't be quite so intense. I've pumped it up too much maybe. Nah. It really is a great book and I hope that some of you all pick it up and read it. For me, it was time extremely well-spent, both as a reader and a writer. I wanna be like her when I grow up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whatcha reading?

I've got a great book review for you guys, but it deserves more time than I have to give it right now, so I'm putting that off until later this week.

Instead, let's talk about what everyone's reading right now. There are a ton of super books on my TBR stack, but I've got so much stuff to do right now that I've been avoiding new books for fear of getting sucked in. Instead I've been reading some oldie but goodies that make me happy but that I can put down when I need to. For me, Nalini Singh books are always awesome comfort reads, so I went through and read bits and pieces of three of those, and then picked up a few Linda Howard books. I love getting lost in her characters and their interactions.

So what are you guys reading?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Writing Progress

Perhaps that title should actually read "Weakly Writing Progress" for this week. Between the holiday, working, kids, and whining about my lack of time, I haven't done much writing this week. Maybe 200 or 300 words each of Tuesday and Wednesday - gak. But yesterday I was a good little writer bee and did about 800 words on my SciFi novel. Then, out of shame when I confessed to my writing critique partners that I hadn't worked on Quint's novel in almost 2 weeks, I went and forced out about 225 words on his book. I feel much less guilty now. Really. I'm sure those 200 words on his story made up completely for 2 weeks of abandonment. Is anyone buying that? Yeah, me neither.

Anyhow, I hope you all have a great weekend, and that you're putting the time in to do the things you want/need to do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Berkley & Ace/ROC Contest Link

Woohoo! Dear Author is doing it again. You have until 9PM CS tomorrow (Friday) to enter to win free books that are coming out in the next couple of months. Here's the link for the Berkley part of the contest. And here's the Ace/Roc contest link. There are lots of good books up for grabs here - Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Rob Thurman, Shannon K. Butcher, and the list just goes on.

Go win something cool for yourself or your lady.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

E3.5AllOrNothing & J6.2InteractiveGamer

Two stories from the family warfront today. E3.5's occurred first, so we'll start there.

We were at a local family-run breakfast place for dinner on Friday, and E3.5 was playing with the little container of sugar/sweetener packets. J6.2 asked if she could have one yellow packet and one pink one to play with. And she really did ask - nicely and all - instead of snatching them out of her sister's hands. It was remarkable. And in the face of this sisterly consideration, E3.5 immediately says, very calmly, "No. Mine." Now, I couldn't let J6.2's efforts at politeness go unrewarded. Here's how it went down:

Me: "E3.5, J6.2 asked nicely and you must have at least 25 of those little packets over there. Why don't you let her play with two of them?"
E3.5: "No. Mine."
Me: "If you're not going to share, then maybe you don't deserve to have any to play with either. Wouldn't it be better if you could both play with them? J6.2 usually shares her stuff with you (after having her arm twisted and a contract filled out in triplicate stating what is being shared, for how long, how it may be played with, the condition it will be returned under and what is being used as collateral)."
E3.5: *silence*
Me: "You don't need all of those and you can't play with all of them at once anyways. She only wants two. Either give two of those packets to J6.2 to play with or I'm taking all of them away from you. It's your choice."
With no change in expression whatsoever, she packed them all back up and handed the container to me. J6.2 got all of them to play with, but E3.5 didn't care. She was perfectly happy just knowing that she hadn't given in to the Man, and had left the field under her own terms.

Now for J6.2's story. Just before school started back recently, she was at home with me for the day and wanted to watch my computer game for a bit and have me explain what was happening to her. I had decided to pull Heroes of Might and Magic V off the dusty shelf and play it a bit, and I was currently working on the Undead portion of the campaign. I was about 3 scenarios in and getting a bit tired of these particular troops. But I put it on and proceeded to educate her about the differences between wights, wraiths and banshees on the upgrade tree. Then we went to meet her dad for lunch with some of his work pals. She completely ratted me out. "Mom and I had fun this morning, but we're really tired of the undead units, and our banshees aren't kicking as much butt as we'd hoped they would." Or something to that effect was what she said. Thanks kid. Now, in my defense, she read all the game messages, and I quizzed her on the numbers that came up, like "Victory is yours! Defeated units: 436 peasants, 116 crossbowmen, 32 paladins, etc" I'm sure it was a very educational experience for her.

So anyways, yesterday she was watching a multi-player game of Heroes V that my husband and I were playing and it was my turn. Yellow was nearby and I clicked on their army to see what I'd be fighting. J6.2 took one look, shook her head and muttered, "Oh, holy hell." I kid you not. Now, it's entirely possible that she learned that from me except that I've been super-careful with the cursing around them. I was about 95% sure it wasn't me. I found out later, it was the other big kids at the daycare. We explained to her why she shouldn't say it and blah blah blah. She went on her merry way, and the hubby turns to me and says, "Where in the hell did she pick up holy hell?" That's one of the best things about him. He makes me laugh and has a good grasp on the absurd.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lisa Shearin Contest - Not much time left!

For those of you who took my recommendation to pick up Lisa Shearin's books, here's your chance to impress her with how much you loooooooove them (and win a t-shirt or 11x17 print in the process)!!!! She uses pics of actors to model some of her characters after (at least visually), and she's missing one of Talon, that young, smokey spellsinger. The contest is for you to scavenge the web for a pic of the perfect "Talon" and email it to her, but you only have until tomorrow, Friday (Sept. 4). Deets for the Talon contest are here at her website. Sorry this is such late notice, but I've been rather disconnected from the intarwebs lately.

Now, for a description of Talon so you don't have to weed through your books to find it (taken from The Trouble With Demons):
He was slender and sleekly muscled with waist-length black hair. His silvery gray skin was lighter than normal for a pure-blooded goblin, which Talon most definitely was not. His aquamarine eyes were from his mother, an elf.
Talon is a nineteen-year-old half goblin/half elf. FYI, in Lisa's books, goblin doesn't mean short warty green creature with big ears. They're more like the smexy vampire persona making the rounds today, complete with fangs. Talon is quite the hawt young ladies' man, and knows that he's about the most dangerous threat to a woman's panties since his daddy, Tam, first hit the sheets oh these many years ago. He's cocky but charming, a powerful young spellsinger and a bit of a daredevil. There. Go forth and scavenge the webs for a young hottie with er, silvery gray skin. Yeah. Prob won't find that, but really, that's just a small detail. :)


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy September 1st!

That means happy b-day to my mom-in-law! J, if you're reading this, we were going to have the grandkids call you at 6:15 this morning to wish you well, but managed to restrain ourselves. It was tough going for a little while there though. You were very close to getting the wake-up call. :)

In other news, I've been working on the SF novel this week. 750 words yesterday and 530 today, bringing the grand total to just under 56,000 words, a bit over halfway. Quint's novel is at about 28,000 words right now, so it's about 1/4 of the way through. Ugh.

I've also decided to rework the beginning of my UF fantasy novel that's currently making the rounds of agents in the querying process. Oh joy. Because, you know, I sooooo want to muck with that one some more. Maybe I can suck some more life out of the beginning of it. Every time I touch it now I feel like it's dying just a little bit more. I keep telling myself that this time - this time is the time I'll get it right. Surrrrrrre. But clearly it needs more work and I'm not giving up on it. So wish me luck.

Anyways, hope you all have started out the week well. What are you reading right now? Anything interesting? I just finished Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre. Her first two novels were part of a SF series and this one seems to be the start of an UF series. It was good. I liked the heroine. Interesting story. Nice plot twists. I recommend it.

And now I'm off to work, fondling er, unpacking the books at our local B&N. Come to mama, Must Love Hellhounds!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where is the time going?

Another week pretty much gone. What happened to August?

Here are my writing totals for the week. It's been a roller-coaster.

  1. Monday: 450 words SF novel
  2. Tuesday: 80 words UF novel (gak)
  3. Wednesday: 1285 words UF novel (Chase came through for me :) )
  4. Thursday: 730 words SF novel (I had to grind these out - discipline, discipline)
Overall the week was okay as far as writing goes. It about averaged out. Nothing great, but it didn't suck either.

Did you guys accomplish anything cool this week? I hope some of you did.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How could I have missed it?!?!?!? Obsidian Prey


Another book by a fave author was released yesterday - Obsidian Prey by Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick)! My mom & I are first in line to pick up her books, and I didn't even have any idea that this one was coming out until I almost stepped on it at our local B&N. I apologize, OP, for not being aware of your upcoming arrival. I am shamed.

I think her JAK books are my faves (contemporary romances), followed closely by these futuristic Jayne Castle ones - love the predatory dust bunnies. The AQ books are always good regency romance reads, but let's face it, her regency heroines are very similar, and there's a plotting convention that she frequently uses that I'm frankly getting a bit tired of. But you can be assured that if you pick one up, it will be a well-thought out story, with likable characters, a good ending, and it will be an enjoyable read overall. That's nothing to sneeze at.

Go forth and read... whatever it is you all like to read!!! What books are you all looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Lied (Shocker) and Kids Update

Yeah, so I lied about being productive this week. Not going to be a good writing week, I don't believe. Another busy week is starting up, but I did get about 450 words written yesterday on the SF novel. Something is better than nothing I suppose.

As for the kiddos (since Beci asked in comments), J6.1 starts 1st grade today. I just don't get that kid sometimes. We ran to the school yesterday to drop off meds for her allergies, along with the six reams of paperwork it takes to get them to treat her at school in an emergency. We made brownies in the morning and took them with us to butter up the front office staff and get a start on 'extra credit' with her teacher. Really, we made the brownies and immediately started getting flack from my husband because we're 'trying to make him fat' - as if. So we took them with us on errands to get rid of some of them.

The teachers were all in staff meetings, but we found a school employee who has the keys to the city and was able to let us into J's classroom so we could leave the goodies. J6.1 knows the lady who helped us out, Ms. N, and saw her everyday last year in the cafeteria where Ms. N apparently assists with keeping kids in line, opening food packages, cleaning up messes, etc. Ms. N knew J by name on sight. J knows her. Would J talk to her? No. Answer her questions? No. Even look at her? No.

This worried me. So when we got out to the car, I asked J if there's some reason she doesn't like that lady. Is she mean? Does she do stuff that seems wrong? Does she say mean things to the kids? Does she do things that make the kids feel weird? You guys know what I'm getting at. J gives me this 'Mom, you are so bizarre' look and says, "No. I just feel shy today." WTF? You feel shy, so you give this poor woman the 1,000 yard cold hairy eyeball of death? Go figure.

As for E3.4, she's been entertaining us with singing songs, and "reading" books to herself that she's pretty much memorized the words to. It's pretty cute. She also does a super impersonation of Mort from the Madagascar penguins. We sit down to dinner and get, "I liiiiiiike rolls!" Once I had even commented that I hadn't realized she knew about such and such (can't remember what we were talking about) and she said, "I don't have to know, to liiiiiiiike!" which was a quote from one particular episode. She's a trip. Yesterday, I had been working on playing a PC game for J6.1 and accidentally exited without saving!!!! You guys know my pain. All that effort and progress playing a game that I find frustrating in the first place, and it was wasted. I was writhing on the carpet like a salted slug, bemoaning my idiocy, and I felt this little hand patting my cheek. I opened my eyes and E is sagely nodding her head at me. "It's okay mommy. I kiss you. You feel better." I did feel better after that. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Release Week!!

This week and next week are release-Christmas for me! Let's see what's in the stocking!

This week (8/25/09):
  • Patricia Briggs - Hunting Ground (next in the Alpha & Omega series)
  • Patricia Briggs - Mercy Thompson: Homecoming (graphic novel)
  • L.L. Foster - Servant: The Kindred (Gaby book #3)
Next week (9/1/09):
  • Christine Feehan - Dark Slayer (Carpathian book #umpteen)
  • Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook (holy incredible author lineup, Batman!!! Shazaam!)- Must Love Hellhounds
  • Rob Thurman - Trick of the Light (1st of a new series)
Yes, I will be stalking B&N this week and early next week. :) Can't wait!!!!

As for writing, last week was pretty much a bust. I worked 2.5 days, went hiking/swimming 1 day, and did company picnic/school open house stuff for another half a day. That left one day for serious writing. I did get a little done on those off-days, but it wasn't much. So I wrote a total of maybe 1500 words last week. Blah. I got some history for my SF society figured out, so that's cool. Hopefully this week will work out better.

Happy reading.

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    Writing Withdrawal

    It's been 4, count 'em 4!!!! days since I've written anything. Thurs and Fri were landscaping days that wiped me out and I never write on the weekends (because, hello, kids). Given that, I actually attempted to write both Sat and Sun nights just to get something on the page, but was too mentally fried to get more than 13 words written. That's an actual count, folks. Thirteen entire words. It was... epic.

    So, not really a post today because I need to get a move on with the word count. I was pretty rockin' early last week: 1150 words on Monday, 1100 words on Tuesday and 1150 words on Wednesday, but that was where the word train stalled out. :( It might have been one of my best writing weeks eva if I had just managed to keep it going.

    You might have noticed a lot of slang in the written word this morning on my part. Unfortunately, none of my characters really talks like that, so it's about to get cut off. Except Chase. Chase talks like this . Maybe he has something to say. We'll see.

    Later, everyone! Have a great week!

    Update: What do ya know! It was Chase, but I had a prior commitment to writing something involving Quint that I had worked out over my unanticipated 4-day break. After all the trouble I've had with Quint, I wasn't letting this scene escape unwritten (complete now at 885 words). Chase allowed me to simply take notes about his scene, complete with his voice narrating things. So I'll work on that tomorrow. Now to get a little bit of work done on the SF novel before getting back to (gag) housework and job hunting. I really need to win the lottery.

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Quint Book 2 Snippet

    Okay, finally, here is something from book 2, Quint's book. Some of you (Penny) have been nagging me to throw something involving Quint up here. I had a hard time finding something that didn't include spoilers from book 1. The following piece is something that not even my critique group has seen yet, so don't be surprised if it could be seriously re-vamped and improved. Thanks to my father-in-law and T at Barnes & Noble for proofing some of this for me since I know NOTHING about surviving out in the wilderness (except for the research I've been doing recently). Enjoy.

    The snuffling of a nearby creature pushed through the pain and pulled Quint to consciousness. His breathing stayed slow and steady and his eyes didn’t so much as flicker. He had no idea what had happened or where he was, but he clearly wasn’t where he should be. It was safer to pretend unconsciousness to any surrounding enemies.

    From the leaves, dirt and twigs poking his limbs and dusting his face, he knew he wasn’t safe with the Guard. Actually, that could be perfectly normal if the Third or Jason were pulling practical jokes again. It was the various aches and pains in conjunction with his surroundings that were the clincher. He hurt all over, in ways that he hadn’t been hurt in decades. His left arm and hand in particular were a mass of agony and the searing pain in his right thigh screamed bullet wound.

    His jaw was sore, as were both cheekbones, but a quick inspection with his tongue assured that all his teeth were still solidly in place. That was good – it was tough enough keeping centuries old teeth healthy without having people knock them loose.

    He laid there for what seemed like hours, but was probably about twenty minutes, just listening to the sounds around him - animals, bugs, but didn’t seem like any people. The wildlife was just doing its thing while he laid there and decided that he wasn’t dying, nor was he bleeding out - plus and plus. Now to figure out what in Hades had happened to him.

    The last thing he remembered was setting down in a clearing near his mission target – a potential slave trafficking holding area.

    No, no, there was another memory, but it was fuzzy, just a snapshot really of a rank room with about a dozen thin, grimy people crammed inside. Then nothing. Just this. He struggled into a sitting position and started cataloging his injuries.

    Gunshot wound in and out through the outer thigh. Check. Two swollen, probably black, eyes and a banged up chin. Check. Knot on the head. Check times two. Cracked rib. Check. That hurt like a mother, and not the nice kind who makes cookies for the whole class either. Masses of bruising on the left arm and hand where it looked like someone went after him with a maul. Check. What the devil were they trying to do? It probably would have been simpler to steamroll the stupid thing. Two-inch long strip of flesh missing. Check. What the fuck was up with that? Finally, he had a broken pinky finger. Wonderful.

    His watch with its GPS tracker had fallen victim to the arm battering. The face was crushed, the clasp mangled and the entire thing crusted in blood from where his scalp bled all over pretty much everything.

    Even more concerning was that he didn’t have a single defensive wound. So what? He’d been unconscious and someone had simply shot and then beaten the hell out of him? Then what? How did he end up here, half buried under tree debris?

    He splinted his pinky and strapped it to the finger next to it. A strip of his shirt got torn in two and folded into pads, one for either side of the bullet wound. Then he tore another strip and wrapped it around the pads and his thigh to hold the makeshift bandage in place and keep dirt out. His cracked rib complained the whole time.

    Finally, he gained his feet, hand on a tree to steady himself. A few tentative steps made it clear that walking was doable but painful. He looked around, view narrowed from eyes almost swollen shut, but still had no idea of where he was. The sky was overcast, but he judged the time to be mid-morning, somewhere kind of forested. He guessed that he was not near his mission destination. The local flora was different, and the climate just a bit off. Of course, it could simply be a change in the weather from whenever he’d set out. He had no idea how much time had passed either.

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    Book Review - What Happens in London


    Guys, stop reading. There's no point in your continuing with today's blog post.

    I'm a BIG Julia Quinn (Regency Romances) fan, so I have no idea why I let What Happens In London sit on my TBR stack for so long. I wish I hadn't. I don't think I've ever been so happy while/after reading a book. It was the strangest thing. I smiled, laughed, grinned, chuckled, chortled gleefully, and any combination thereof that you all can think of. I even snorted out a laugh once. I've read books with humor, subtle or otherwise, and this one had lots of humor, without even really trying. The scene where four society bachelors, one butler and three under-maids are all in the parlor watching one of the bachelors read and act out scenes from a lurid gothic novel that has absolutely horrible prose and plotting, is too funny (mainly because they're all completely enthralled by the hideous thing - I mean, one of its plot mechanics is that a character's mother gets pecked to death by pigeons - no joke). Plus, I've never read a book where the main characters made each other so freaking happy, like this one did. They bubbled over with joy and so did I. Like I said, it was very bizarre.

    What made it so great besides the humor? Well, there was Quinn's usual delightful dialog. It makes sense, it's witty, it flows. Then there are the secondary characters - Olivia's brother Winston, and Harry's cousin Sebastian are uber-entertaining. The real kicker though, and the thing that tickled me every time it happened was that the majority of their romance is carried on via window - they talk to each other through their windows, as they live in neighboring houses. So they go about their day, do their thing and then come home and meet up at their windows to touch base, talk about their day, and read the hideous gothic novel to each other so they can mock it. You get the real idea of their friendship this way. It was cute. And it made me happy.

    If you click the above link to B&N.com, you can read the prologue and first two chapters (just click the "See Inside" graphic over the book cover).

    Anyways, off to grocery shop. Did anyone else enjoy this book like I did?

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    Writing Research

    I'm amazed that I actually got a decent word count in yesterday and the day before despite lots of time spent in research. How to survive under freezing conditions and the types of animals in various cold spots around the world were the majority of my research. The National Geographic Animals site was most helpful, as was How Stuff Works. I think Quint needs to have a run-in with a wild predator. What do you guys think?

    As for word count, here's how I rounded out the week:
    Monday: Gladiator - 200, SciFi - 200 (boo)
    Tuesday: Gladiator - 775, SciFi - 450 (yay)
    Wednesday: Gladiator - 450, SciFi - zippo (meh)
    Thursday: Gladiator - 450, SciFi - 800 (yay)

    At this rate, I might actually finish Gladiator sometime in the next couple of years. :( Sigh. On the other hand, I just hit the halfway point on the SciFi novel (which is currently titled The Sunlands, btw).

    Have a great weekend, everyone!