Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For Real - At least my writing isn't that bad... (I hope)

While browsing through Miss Snark's archives in search of the synopsis info, I found a post of hers that was hilarious. If you enjoy mocking other people's use of grammar or turn of phrase, this one is for you. Yes, sis #3, I'm talking to you. And to you, mom-in-law. And to you, critique-partner M. And... man, I should just dedicate this to all my friends I guess. We all seem to have that love in common. ;)

I think we need to vote on our favorites, although there are so many horribly good ones. I was going to list some of my favorites, but once I got to 7 that made me laugh out loud, I just stopped. You might not make it through all of them, but save the link and come back when you need a laugh (although you too may find yourself "supressing the urge to smile out loud").


Monday, June 29, 2009

Synopsis - Not What I Thought

Yeah, after doing more research, the synopsis isn't quite what I originally thought. Now, I remember looking into this a few years ago, and I distinctly remember coming away thinking that it was a really long (like 12 pages) dry breakdown of the story. All character names were supposed to be in ALL CAPS, certain conventions needed to be followed when mentioning something for the first time, blah blah blah. Either things have changed or that was all just a dream for me.

There are two different kinds of synopses. There's a short one and a detailed one. I guess my previous data is closer to a description of the detailed one, but it still shouldn't be dry. Most of what the agents I'm looking at are expecting is the short one (like 2-3 pages max), so that's good news. Anyways, after my research from Friday, I've added another set of links to the sidebar noting some helpful synopsis how-to pages I found from literary agents and their assistants. The Miss Snark ones will be most useful if you bring up the condensed results, note which entry you want to read based on the comments of what people got out of it, and then bring up the full list of entries to find the one you want. If you don't take my advice, but instead want to cherry-pick through 99 entries all on your own, be my guest.

Okay, off to work now. I've got sanding, priming and painting on tap for today, along with my writing, maybe a little sewing, cleaning, laundry, printer/keyboard ailment diagnosis, and about a dozen other things. Wish me luck. And best wishes on your work/home/play week.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Yikes! A whole work-week of blogging for me... Don't expect this to happen again anytime soon. There aren't enough people who want to read my babbles yet to make me do this very often. I'm not fishing for compliments. But if you have any, I will wallow in them.

I've done a mix of writing this week, although I haven't gotten back to Quint's book since Tuesday. Yesterday was Sci-fi and Historian day for me, and today I'll be working more on Historian, trying to get those scenes of Colfax (da bad guy) in. And I've got one more critique partner's review to implement suggestions from. After that I'll do one more complete read-through and then start getting a synopsis written up to send out with query letters. I am a bit afeart at the thought of a synopsis. It's a detailed account of the whole story, minus the dialog, description or pretty prose. It's basically a cut-and-dried version of the story with none of the usual stuff to liven it up. And right now, it seems like a lot of work. I know, like writing the novel itself wasn't. It's probably fear of the unknown more than anything else, but I'm not looking forward to it.

Anyways, off to paint and write! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

SciFi Novel Info & a Wee Bit of Free Fiction

I finally decided that yes, I am going to combine the SciFi short stories I'd been working on into one novel-length work. It concerns the woman I introduced in the Little Piece of Home short story I posted a couple of weeks ago. You can read that story by clicking the link on the sidebar. Yesterday I combined the two short stories I'd written and the huge chunk that I'd started after those and found that I have about twice as much done on this SciFi novel (working title of The Sunlands) as I do on Quint's book, Gladiator. Sorry Quint. It's just under 40,000 words in length right now, so about 2/5ths of the way through.

Edited to add: The first portion of this novel was originally a short story titled Simki and won an Honorable Mention from L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest. I have since found out that only between 3 and 10% of the entrants get to the Honorable Mention point, so I'm pretty excited about this!

To celebrate my decision, I thought I'd post the first 1,000 or so words for you all to read. Hope you enjoy it! Let's hope none of you are having a problem like Loranya wakes up to. I really don't think you could, but...

Loranya Vershtul Quandirr became aware of the soft beeps and hisses from the surrounding machines. Like a lumbering creature wading through mud, her mind emerged from the lethargy that stasis invoked. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t smooth.

As always, her thoughts settled on how much she hated stasis. The term stasis sounded so tame. So innocuous. As if the body were just locked in place like a piece of luggage for transfer. It wasn’t like that at all.

No. Organic bodies were too delicate to make it through the warp jumps intact. So they had to do… things… to them. Things that changed their density, their ability to withstand pressure. The procedure was conducted all the time, in every corner of the universe, from the All-Being’s united worlds to the Scarl’s martial colonies. Even the worthless Antagors used it. It was perfectly safe - administered by experts and highly specialized machines.

But it was her body. The only one she had. What if they jacked it up? What if they couldn’t return her body to its pre-stasis condition?

Despite the temporary paralysis, her mind was awake and floating from one thought to another as identity, personality and memory slowly reformed.

Her thoughts skipped to something about a man - her brother - and a woman with pale, pale sea green skin. A… what were they? Ah, yes – a Corline. But that made no sense. Her brother would never take up with such a tenuous ally as a Corline. She forced her mind back to the issue. What had the issue been again?

She caught a snippet of memory. This jump had been the only time she’d actually looked forward to the stasis procedure. The trip across sectors to Isiris-Five, home system of Andiri took six day-cycles. Six days of numbness. Of not thinking. Of not mourning. The respite had sounded like an undeserved blessing. But what had she been mourning? Who had died? Did she really want to remember? Could she get them to halt the stasis right here, before life descended on her again?

But it was too late. Memory stretched before her and snapped into place. She’d wanted to forget her lover and the terrified, revolted look on his face when she’d told him he’d somehow gotten her pregnant despite their anti-conception patches. And the fact that he’d found a jump ship and was two sectors away by the next morning.

As tradition dictated for her race, she’d connected mentally with the baby. She, who’d run from most everything else in her life under the belief that she was unsuited and unworthy, had decided to stand firm and be there for her child. She might still be a completely unsuitable mother, but by the All-Being’s mercy, she was going to try. She’d made plans, done her best to ensure that they’d both have a future to be proud of.

And then her little one had died. She’d woken one morning and known the baby hadn’t survived. Technically, she had still been pregnant. Her body hadn’t flushed the baby from her system yet. But the baby was gone. She had been alone again.

Her superiors had granted her an indefinite leave from NatLife. She’d planned to go home for a time, back to the Sunlands. Back to the brother she’d left behind and the responsibilities she had felt so unsuited for.

So here she was, wanting to run again – from the pain, the frustration, the self-hatred, the confusion.

Simki? The voice whispered into her mind.

Her thoughts stuttered to a halt.

What? The thought escaped before she could control it.

I help. Help Simki. No sadness.

Her rational mind pursued the mental connection, like blind fingers following a rope. It was close. It was… her whole body jerked towards her womb, but didn’t get far, thanks to the stasis.

That voice. It was coming from within her, where her baby had been.

But that wasn’t her baby.

The sound, the feel, everything was different. Her baby was dead. This baby, if baby it was, was older than her child. Hers had not yet mastered mind-speech, and wouldn’t have for another term and a half. Chills swept her.

What was this in her belly?

Scorch this bedamned stasis! She couldn’t even scream for help, couldn’t shout for someone to come explain to her how she’d gotten through three terms of pregnancy in only six day-cycles. What in the Sunlands had happened while she’d been unconscious? Her heartbeat accelerated as much as it could under the effects of stasis and she felt chilled. Maybe it really wasn’t six day-cycles later. Had her ship been hijacked for some bizarre breeding program? Was that even possible?

Then another thought struck her and she paled. Where was her own baby? She needed it, needed his remains to burn to ashes for his brick in their stirizna, their family wall. How could she put him to rest with his ancestors if she didn’t have his organic matter? His soul would never rest, never have peace or know his own kind. He’d wander for all eternity!

No sadness, Simki.

If she could have shied away from the voice in her head, she would have. Bittersweet nostalgia flooded her. Was it a betrayal of her own child to relish the return of this connection? But what was she talking to? How had it gotten inside her? Could talking to the fetus help clarify things? And why was it calling her Simki? Only one way to find out.

What’s a Simki? She asked.

You. Second mother.

Wha- What?

Second mother. Simki.

Second mother! She was expected to actually raise this thing as her own young? Her fingers twitched, and then flexed. There was something in her hand. She glanced down and then struggled to raise her hand and lift her eyelids. There. Just enough to see it. A data chip. Not hers. The effort exhausted her and she collapsed back to the pad.

Did this chip explain what was going on? Once she’d greeted her brother, this chip would be her first order of business.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Doing well this week - got 1100 words written on Quint's book, Gladiator (curent title), on Monday and another 500 yesterday. I've also been watching episodes of Survivorman and doing some web research to figure out how to write the parts with Quint in the wild. So that should help with the word count later. I'll be so on top of the complications that the words will rush in a torrent from my fingers to the keyboard and I'll finish the story in a week, right? Right? I am now at about 20,000 words into Gladiator, so about 1/5th of the way through. I really need to increase the pace though. It's been slowed down immensely due to the times that I got maybe a couple hundred words a week written on it. Yikes!

I've also been editing Jayna's book, Historian, and have figured out what I want to add in to make the reader take my bad guy, Colfax, more seriously. He does have a plan. I swear it. In the rough drafts, all the reader saw of his plan was him trying to find out who got the Historian's powers and get his dastardly hands on her. In the background though, he's been making use of the Historian powers that he did manage to get access to. I finally figured out what he would have been doing with them, so now I just have to go back and pepper those episodes in throughout the book. Yay.

Later this week I'll need some help with the weaponry for my SciFi novel, so start thinking about what you do/don't like for futuristic weapons. I'm still defining what I need, so once I have it clear in my head, I'll be bouncing the ideas off you guys and requesting your input. No death-rays or things like that. This should be stuff that normal military and private security would have access to, so nothing too massively destructive. I'm also not staging any spaceship battles at this point, so while it would be good for the sake of thoroughness, that stuff is not my priority right now.

Oh, and I hate painting & priming. The only thing making it bearable right now is that my mom gave me the first few J.D. Robb In Death audiobooks and I'm listening to those as I slave away. Yes, I've read each about a half dozen times already, but it's cool listening to them. They're great stories, even if you know what's happening, and I'm amazed at the details that I'm picking up when I'm forced to listen to someone else read. I've got a clearer picture of the characters in my head now. It's pretty neat.

So happy middle of the week to you all!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Free ARC Contest

Meljean Brook is giving away an ARC of Must Love Hellhounds over at her website. For those of you who have no clue about this book, it's an anthology of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance being released on Sept. 1, that features hellhounds in each story. The coolest thing about this book is the lineup of authors: Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook. Yowzers. I get all tingly just thinking about it. Mmmm, stories.... Anyways, it looks like the contest is running until July 31, so you've got some time, but don't forget to enter if you're interested.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bad Parenting and Slack Homeowners Update

So, E3.2 is now learning the words to the Zombie Song. Her favorite verse is "I like your tricycle. There's butter on my head. I'm gonna eat your brains. We are the uuuuundead!", and she even sings it with a gravely zombie voice. It's hilarious! Oh, and she screams "NOOO!" when the zombies get into the house and eat our brains.

I'm sure you're all anxiously awaiting word on how the Neverending Landscaping Project is going. Yeah. We've started working on a new project instead. The Front Porch railing was rotting away and needed some serious lovin'. So my husband and father-in-law are focusing on that and pretending that having the unfinished project lurking behind the house isn't similar to having toothpicks shoved under their fingernails. Or at least, that's how I think it equates for my father-in-law. I'm pretty sure that when he has to walk into our backyard, he closes his eyes so as not to see the failure that is the Neverending Landscaping Project. I swear we'll get back to it and finish it. Someday.

I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day, and good luck on the upcoming week!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Lies of Locke Lamora - Review

Okay, so I finally finished this wee beastie of a novel. Wow. Just wow. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. The world, plot and characters were all intricate and involving. The most frustrating things were the flashbacks & commercial breaks to drop in history and backstory. Don't get me wrong. All the backstory served a purpose, even the ones that in the beginning I thought were totally pointless. Could the same info have been conveyed in a different, simpler manner? Sure. Coulda. But then you wouldn't have this thoroughly actualized epic.

I would imagine that there are masses of unpublished writers out there engaging in tons of sour grapes after reading this tome. Let much gnashing of teeth ensue. How come he gets to load the story down with all that backstory? Why'd they let him use cliches? His novel was waaaaay more than 120,000 words, and everyone knows that first time writers shouldn't do that. I'll tell you why. Because his story, and the style, and the tone are all the exception to the rule. This story is what you get when it's done well. Most of the time, that doesn't happen. Someone writes a hideously boring 160,000 words that's all a dream sequence or something else equally appalling. No agent or editor wants to wade through that, so they give us these rules to help them weed the incompetant ones out. But if you're good enough, and the story is good enough, you can get away with all kinds of stuff that the rest of us can't.

If you're looking for an intricate, detailed epic fantasy (that doesn't involve elves or dragons) complete with the complex world's entire history, pick this book up and prepare to be enthralled. You'll be transported.

If however, you like simple and light (and for, aghem, none of the good guys to die), don't frustrate yourself here. This book won't be for everyone (not like any book is), but those who like this kind of thing will delight in its reading.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bad Parenting? You Decide...

So, E3.2 can pick out the song "Poker Face" by Lady GaGa on the radio within the first 7 seconds of the song. And she likes the song. At least once or twice a week, she gets in the car and says, "Pay Poka Pace, mommy. Pay Poka Pace." (that's "Play Poker Face") We're still working on making her understand that the radio isn't on-demand.

J5.11 now plays "Zombies" everyday after school. Or more accurately, she waters all the plants in our Zen Gardens and then dictates the mini-games and puzzles I'll play to earn cash, more plants and chocolate for her. Upon seeing a monstrous zucchini from my in-laws garden (we're talking almost 18 inches long and 5 inches in diameter here), her first comment was along the lines of, "Wow. We could take out some serious zombies with that." If you missed the original blog post about this game, you can check it out here.

And yesterday, E3.2 finished dinner and requested that daddy put on "The Zombie Song" so she could watch it. This is the music video to accompany Plants vs. Zombies.

Somehow, I don't think that Mister Rogers would approve of our current child-rearing curriculum.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pre-Review - The Lies of Locke Lamora

So, I noticed that the last several books I reviewed have been chick books. I've been on the lookout for something that would appeal to the guys, and settled on a book that an agent I've got my eye on for submitting my novel to has been raving over. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch has the kind of world-building that she's looking for in new projects.

Enter disappointment for me.

I will never be able to build this kind of world in my writing. I mean, the guy named the winds on his world. Every aspect of these people's lives is detailed to the nth degree. The culture, the food, the clothing, the traditions, the holidays, the seasons, the transportation, the magic, everything has been created from the ground up. It's absolutely awe-inspiring. It's also difficult to read. Think about it. That's a LOT of stuff to keep track of. So, although it's amazing what he's done here, and part of me regrets that I can never do the same (frankly, I don't even want to try - I'd rather get my characters fleshed out to that degree instead of the world they're in), I'm content to concentrate on what I can accomplish in my own writing. The literary world needs the kind of thing I can write too. If all books were like this, we'd lose a lot of readers. But to have a book like this available is a prize in itself. It's an experience and it will feed the souls of many readers who usually search vainly for just this type of book.

It's made such an impression on me that I wanted to let you guys know what I was currently caught up in. It might be quite a while before I get through it and can post an actual review. I'm getting ready to start Chapter 4. I know what you're thinking. Amelie, you're hardly into it! I'll have you know that ch 4 starts on page 203. That's right. 203. Two hundred pages to cover the prologue and three chapters. Yikes. To make it even more confusing, he's constantly jumping back in time. For those of you who hate flashbacks, this book will make you start looking for a knife to slit your wrists. The prologue was broken up into numbered sections and went like this (Locke was not in many of these scenes, but I kept track of them according to his age, or at least what I think his age was):
  • Locke age 7
  • Locke age 5
  • Locke age 7
  • Locke age 5
  • Locke age 7
  • Locke age 6
  • Locke age 7
  • Locke age 7
Chapter 1 starts out with Locke at age 24ish and flip-flops with Locke age 7ish. Can you see how confusing this is? You need to pay attention and concentrate while reading this book. It's not the one you toss in the car to read in the school pick-up line while you're waiting.

Anyhoo, that's what I'm currently reading. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Contest!!! Contest!!!!

Free ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) are being given away over at Dear Author today. Go. Enter. Win. These are books being released in June, July and August by Berkley/Jove and Ace/Roc.

To tease you, some of the books up for grabs are (in no particular order) by Nalini Singh *jumping up and down*, Marjorie M. Liu, Kat Richardson *squeeeeee*, Mark Del Franco *more jumping*, Jayne Castle *hyperventalating*, Faith Hunter, Lora Leigh, Emma Holly, Christine Feehan, and Mary Janice Davidson.

And this is two posts for me in one day. Weird.

David Eddings Has Passed Away

Sad news for fantasy lovers. David Eddings, author of The Belgariad, Mallorean, Elenium, Tamuli and Dreamers series, along with some stand-alone novels has passed away at the age of 77. This is a huge loss for the world.

Tolkein didn't get me into reading fantasy. Eddings and Feist did. Back when I was getting started, Tolkein was too tedious. Eddings seemed to be able to write for all ages. I got him when I was a teen-ager and even when I re-read his books today I find new things to appreciate about them. My older sister just asked for a set of his books for Christmas last year, and I was thinking back on some of his books earlier this week.

How tragic that he's no longer in the world, penning wonderful epics for our imaginations to romp in.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Goal Reached.... Sort of

So, yesterday was a weird writing day for me. I spent all weekend planning what I was going to tackle first thing Monday morning when I sat down to write. I woke up and decided that nope, none of it was the right thing to... errr, write. So there I was, with time to write, but nothing ready to be written. Very frustrating. So I frittered away a little bit of time on my UF novel (Quint's story), but quickly came to a stall. Ever since he stole away to vent on this blog, Quint has been a bear to work with.

After getting nowhere on any other work in progress (WIP), I went outside and weeded our front flower garden. I use the term "garden" loosely. I've seen real gardens. My mom and my in-laws have gorgeous gardens. Ours, not so much. It's mainly a sloping area of mulch with bushes in it and some bulbs sprinkled here and there. None of the flowers are currently blooming, but we've got a couple of hosta that my mom planted there in the hopes of making us want to take care of them. The "garden" does look better, and I spent my weeding time re-working the issues I had with my WIPs. Back inside again, showered and ready to write, I wrote on two other WIPs. 

All told, I think I met my writing quota of 750-1000 words, but it was with 200-300 word stints on several different works. None of them really moved forward. I basically just set stuff up and hopefully during the rest of the week I'll actually develop the plots I primed. Keep your fingers crossed for me (and Quint, Loranya and Elizabeth - all the main characters).