Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And it rained forty days and forty nights. . .

It's not quite a flood of biblical proportions, but it has been pouring for the past four days, which is a big freaking deal for Southern California.  I have to admit that I'm enjoying it; rain is such a novelty here.  And it gives me a chance to actually use an umbrella.  All I need are galoshes and I can go stomping through puddles.

Anyway, I'm doing my best to keep my nose to the grindstone, but so many distractions--the music, the lights, the shinies. . . 

Stay warm, stay dry, stay safe on the roads, and if you have a pair of galoshes, go out and stomp in some puddles.  :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who's in Charge?

I don’t know if I’ve written about this before (don't feel like looking back through my blog), but sometimes you have an idea about a particular character, whether they’re good, bad, silly and you start to write them that way only to have them say “uh-uh, that’s not me.” Uusally it’s a villain (or at least someone who’s not working in the hero’s best interest), though occasionally it’s one of the good guys, like Kveta in Shadows Past. I thought of her at first as a senior statesman (wolf?), gray-muzzled, dignified, and with a gentle yet sly sense of humor. But as I got into her character I realized that wasn’t her at all. And I have to admit that I found her “real” persona much more interesting—the dashing captain with a hidden agenda versus the elderly (and rather dull) Ambassador spouting wisdom and bon mots. Give me a good villain (or villainess) anytime over some stuffy goody-two shoes. A good villain will drive the story; a stuffy character will bog it down—or speed it up as readers fast forward through the parts he or she appear.

Anyway, it has happened again, though not as dramatic as Kveta’s role reversal. Someone I thought as bad, but rather silly—and minor in the general scheme of things—has suddenly grown teeth and is occupying a bigger part of the story than I originally planned. On one hand, it’s rather frustrating as it messes with the story arc, but on the other it’s fascinating. The story is changing as characters interact and I’m interested in seeing where it goes with him.

In other news, it’s raining here and will be for the next several days—hey, it’s Southern California; that’s very big news. I’m enjoying the weather—there’s something about cold, rainy weekends where the only place you have to be is at home. Music on the radio, hot pot of tea at my elbow. I’m set.

Oh, by the way, only six shopping days until Christmas. J

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lost Month

November was a singularly unproductive month.

I became sick at the beginning of the month. Really sick. At first I thought I had a cold—it started with the usual suspects: sore throat, runny nose, congestion, etc. I figured, no biggie. It was a hassle, but I should be over it in a few days. But it went on and on, with all the unpleasantness of a body fighting a serious infection (I took so much vitamin C that I was in danger of turning into a orange tree), and I realized that it wasn’t a piddling cold I had caught, but the flu. I had over two weeks of misery and feeling sorry for myself.

Then, just as the last fever chill left, it was time to travel to my stepmom and dad’s place in Texas for Thanksgiving. The house was full of family, which was fun, but it meant that there were plenty of distractions and very little quiet time to spend with Rabbit and the crew.

I wrote about a half chapter for the entire month.

Now, I can and do resent getting sick (and the fact that I don’t bounce back as fast as I used to), but I don’t resent the time spent with family, especially my dad. See, Dad has Alzheimers and while he’s physically doing pretty well for someone in his 80s, mentally he’s sliding away. Sometimes it’s hard to see him so reduced, but my stepmom for one enjoys the quirks and twists that have arisen (or maybe have been set free) in his mind; one morning when they awoke he told her “let’s get married!” (they’ve been married 32 years) and I’ve seen him ambush her with hugs as she’s working in the kitchen (she’s a fabulous, fabulous cook—and yeah, I’ve carried extra poundage back with me from Texas).

Of course, it’s not all sweetness and light. He’s easily confused, has great difficulty separating fact from fantasy, and many of the things he once enjoyed, he no longer does. Can no longer do. I guess I’m grieving the man that my father was, while enjoying who he now is. It’s bittersweet, but he still knows who everyone is, including me, so all in all, it’s good.

In any event, I’m back in California and on track with writing. Not quite up to speed yet, but I’m getting there and I’m hoping that December will be a more productive month than the prior one. It certainly couldn’t be worse. Even with Christmas around the corner. . .

Hmm, well, yeah. Maybe January will be a cranking month.

Anyway, a very belated Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to everyone. May you all have joy in the season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Books, Part III

Georgette Heyer is taking a back seat as I've just got C.J. Cherryh's latest in her Foreigner series.

I am happy.

Now not to gobble it up in one gulp.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Books, Part II

I’ve just realized that I haven’t changed the book under “What I’m Reading” for a few weeks. That doesn’t mean that I’m not reading, however. Reading is a constant in my life, something I do when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, and if the book’s really good (or a first-time read), at times during the day. As I wrote in a previous blog, I love books and I love reading them.

So what I have I been reading the past few weeks? Well, uhm. . . romance books. Yeah, I know. I can’t even claim that I’m reading the queen of Regency romance, Georgette Heyer—though she’s next on the list. I’ve been delving into my stock of Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and some late Jayne Ann Krentz. I also have Diana Gabaldon’s latest Outlander book, but I have to take a running leap to read her work because it’s so involving and I don’t have the mental energy for it at the present.

Which is why I’m reading romance.

I discovered romance in high school—yes, my first serious boyfriend (we dated two years), but also Barbara Cartland Regencies and Harlequin. All of them cotton candy bits of fluff that never saw any sort of character or plot development. They usually ran about 150 pages and had the same story line: beautiful damsel in some sort of distress, handsome hero representing salvation from the mess that others or circumstances have made of her life, some emotional conflict either in the form of misunderstandings or femme fatale rival (or both), and then resolution and happy ever after. Not exactly deathless prose. And they were produced so fast (Barbara Cartland would publish two a month) that proofing was almost nonexistent. I remember reading one of Ms. Cartland’s books where the rival for the hero’s affection (or at least his title and fortune) went from being a scheming brunette with brown eyes to red-haired, green eyed hussy in the middle of the book. But despite their limitations and shortcomings, they were fun reads. And I especially liked the cover art. (Fabio!)

Which is what they are today—fun reads. Now that doesn’t mean that they’re near as shallow as they used to be. Some of the best character development I’ve seen has been in romances, and the plots have certainly grown from alpha-males rescuing hapless (and sometimes terminally stupid-acting) females. But they don’t make any mental or emotional demands. Even with first-reads, I know what’s going to happen at the end. The only question is how the protagonists are going to get there and their character growth along the way, which makes them perfect bedtime reading when I’m pushing to finish The Reckoning Flames.

I don’t read Harlequins (or any of the other romance series) anymore and I don’t know if Ms. Cartland’s work is even obtainable, but I continue to enjoy the work of Ms. Roberts and her cohorts. (If I sound a little defensive about it, it’s because I was teased when I was younger for reading them. A lot.) And when I retire for the night, I plan on opening up Ms. Heyer’s Frederica.

And give serious consideration to giving Rabbit a coming out ball sometime down the road.

Hmm. . .

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Decisions

Ack! It’s been over two weeks since I posted. Sorry!

I’ve been spending much of that time dithering. I had an idea for one of the main secondary (nothing like an oxymoron) characters in the book, but as the storyline progressed, it changed. Instead of being upright citizen of the world, they would be devious, sneaky, and advancing their own devious and sneaky agendas. However, the character is refusing to be anything of the sort, and so I have three choices: follow the flow and see where it goes, make the character be sneaky and devious whether they want to be or not, or bring in another character who’ll have no qualms on the sneaky and devious part.

Decisions, decisions.

I’ll probably go with the first choice. I’m curious to see how it’ll pan out with them being upright citizen and all, but that means that I don’t know what’ll happen next (or know even less than I know now), so it might lead to a dead end. If that happens, I’ll have to backtrack and rewrite, which is a big pain the keister. And that’s why I’ve been dithering.

Did that even make sense?

Ah well. Back to work. Time to make a decision and act on it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Is it fall yet?

It’s been a lazy past couple of days. I can’t blame the weather—much. It’s 102 degrees F at the moment. Supposed to get to 106 on Monday.

Sigh.

I grew up in the 70s, the time of giant afros, bell-bottoms and Disco Duck, sure, but also the time of ecology, oil embargos, and burgeoning awareness of energy conservation, so I feel guilty turning on my A/C and often make do with cold showers, colder drinks, and fans. But today, I bit the bullet and turned it on, not only because it’s so freaking hot, but I don’t want any distractions. I want to finish The Reckoning Flames. I really, really want to finish it, and me flopping about, miserable and kvetching about the temperature won’t help. (I don’t understand this “suffering for your art” hornswaggle. If I lived broiling—or freezing—in a garrette, I wouldn’t get a word written. Get a job to pay the bills and instead of watching TV in the evening, write. Problem solved.)

Anyway, so the air is on, my tea is iced, and I’m diving right back into Rabbit’s trials and tribuations after this blog break. And while there have been no geese flying south for the winter yet, I can tell through my powers of observation (and reading the calendar) that cooler weather is just around the corner.

I can’t wait.

Monday, September 20, 2010

¿Quién Sabe?

Who knows what and how much do they tell? I’ve been picking through a scene where the characters are summarizing what they’ve observed and the conclusions they’ve drawn from it, and it’s been difficult. The conversation has to be natural—no one says (at least, no one normal), “I observed the geese flying southward in a “V” formation and therefore concluded that the fall equinox has passed and autumn has arrived.” Instead, they say, “Time to buy Halloween candy.”

So here I have a bunch of observant guys who’ve known each other for a while. What do they say to each other? How much do they say and how do they say it? Do they hold anything back? If so, why? Do they veer off on tangents? If so, how do I bring them back? Do I want to bring them back? Or do I let them go chasing down rabbit (hah!) trails?

It’s also been kind of frustrating because while they do know each other, their relationships are changing. So the rhythm, the dynamics of their conversation has changed, which means that tones, attitudes, and word choices that might’ve been appropriate for Covenants are out of whack here and I have to dig to discover what is appropriate. I love it when my characters make me work. Ah well, characters changing and maturing is good for a series, I suppose. No one stays the same forever. Unless you’re Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe.

By the way, only 96 shopping days until Christmas.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Creative Process: More on Borrowing

Looking back on my last post, I realized that I gave the impression that ethical authors never “borrow” ideas from other authors, which is not true. They do it all the time. In fact, all artists cop ideas from their fellow artists. In music, J.S. Bach took from Vivaldi, Mozart from C.P.E. Bach, and Stravinsky from anyone he could get his hands on. As Stravinsky put it, “A good composer does not imitate; he steals.”

That’s why we have styles, trends, periods, eras. Bach didn’t suddenly show up out of the blue devising contrapuntal fugues. Nor did Shakespeare write without the influence of Kit Marlow, or Kerouac without Ginsberg and the rest of his Beat cronies. Tolkien had C.S. Lewis, and C.S. Lewis had Tolkien—and Charles Williams.  Everyone of us follow those who went before. Everyone of us have contemporaries that provide grist for our creative mills. Everyone of us are looking over each other’s shoulders saying, “Well, looky there. Huh. I wonder how that would work if I were to take it and. . . hmm. . .”

There was a time when, except for Chelsea Yarbro’s Saint-Germain and possibly Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula, vampires were for the most part considered bad guys. Then P.N. Elrod’s Vampire Files were published and suddenly not only did we get the vampire as a leading romantic interest, but also modern urban fantasy was born. And from that came Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Christine Feehan’s Carpathians and a host of other paranormal romance and urban fantasy fiction involving mean streets and/or bloodsucking heroes.

Just as when Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander was published, there appeared all sorts of books with time-travel in them, involving all kinds of methods. I remember one where the heroine took a hotel elevator to the ground floor and, boom, there she was, in another century, with a dashing hero waiting to whisk her away.

Now, of course, it’s one thing to take an idea and adapt it for your own, and another to take someone’s work and claim it as yours. Plagiarism is bad. Very bad. It’s worse than faulty research and sloppy writing, worse than spicing up your memoirs with fiction, worse than anything. Nora Roberts called it mind-rape when she discovered that fellow romance author Janet Daily had heavily plagiarized three of her novels. And Megan McCafferty said that she was devastated and felt “like something fundamental was taken” when she found out that fledgling author Kaavya Viswanathan’s first book contained large chunks, some verbatim, of her young adult series.

And there’s the damage done to those who plagiarize. There’s no question that Ms. Daily is a gifted and successful writer, yet she’ll be forever associated with having passed Nora Roberts’ work off as her own, and who knows if Ms. Viswanathan will ever sell another book—or be able to do anything that calls attention to herself because of the notoriety that will follow her throughout her life.

So, borrow yes. Plagiarize, a resounding no. And always know what your cronies are up to.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Creative Process: "Borrowing"

There was a review of The King’s Own where the reviewer claimed that I’d “borrowed” the name Chadde (the Keeper of the King’s Peace) and Laurel’s vile tea from another author’s book. However, the problem with his claim was that I’ve never read any of this author’s works, let alone that particular book. Chadde was just a name I came up with (coincidences do happen) and the vile tea was first used in Covenants—and that came from my father’s stories of growing up during the time when cod liver oil was considered good for what ailed you. Apparently it is so nasty that whenever he became sick, he would hide it as long as possible to avoid getting a dose. Nothing like the bubblegum, cherry, and grape flavored stuff they gave us when I was a kid. Then, I did get penicillin shots (there were times when my backside felt like a pin cushion), so I guess it all evened out in the (hah!) end.

Anyway—

So Rabbit’s torment by tea is all my doing. Not that I don’t borrow from other authors. Or, maybe a better word for it is study. When I read, I’m following the storyline, sure. But I’m also looking to see what works and what doesn’t (and why), and what’s particularly effective. Not just plot line and character development, but also structure: Does the scene flow? How much backstory does the author provide? Is it enough? Is it too much? Is it in the right place or does it impede the current story? (A big concern in a series.)  And there are the plot devices—techniques used to advance the story. Again, do they work? Or are they clumsy? Or, worse, clichéd? A posse heading bank robbers off at the pass would be a hard sell to any reader. Unless it’s a spoof, and even then it’s been done so many times that the writer would have to be careful.

This is why writers should always read books similar to what they’re writing—fiction and non-fiction: biographies/memoirs, textbooks, cookbooks, self-help, what-have-you. Through them, we get a broad range of solutions to whatever creative issues we might have, and learn what to embrace and what to avoid like a dose of cod liver oil.  Or Laurel's vile tea.

So, no, I don’t lift names and ways to torment right out of other books. But I just might boost that transition sentence.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yes, but what does it really mean, Part 2

I’m a gamer; there, I admit it. I play MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games), single player RPGs, and RTS (real time strategy) games. More about that later. Maybe. Anway, one day, I was lurking on the customer service forum of an MMO I play when I saw a post by someone complaining that the game masters had forced him to change his character’s name from Fubar to something less offensive. Well, the customer service regulars (players who post in that particular forum all the time) chimed in, stating that masked profanity wasn’t allowed. Which is true. This particular MMO is very strict about their naming policy, and do their best to insure that the players’ online experience match the ESRB teen rating on the game box. Anyway— so this goes on for several posts, until someone else points out that while fubar is indeed against policy, snafu isn’t, even though the “f” in both means exactly the same thing. At which point another player posted, highly upset. Apparently she was very conscientious about not using profanity, yet she just discovered that she’d been using a word that was really an acronym that contained the most basic of all Anglo-Saxon cuss words.

(By the way, I’m not making light of those who don't use profanity—I also try not to swear, and am mostly successful. I figure there are more intelligent and creative ways of getting a point across. However, if I get up in the middle of the night and stub my toe, all bets are off.)

Which reinforces the need to understand the idioms we're using. For the longest time I thought the Wazoo was a river in China—and why not? My mom told me that and I believed her. Then for some odd reason I looked up the phrase "up the wazoo" and discovered that my mom had a wicked sense of humor. And that’s not the only phrase I didn’t quite know the origins of, especially those I’ve come across while playing online. The internet is a dark and dangerous place, full of apocryphal and outright false information, but sometimes—just sometimes—it’s a lifesaver. Or at least a face-saver. I know that it’s saved mine when I use it look up a meaning of a phrase. (Oh, golly. That means that?)

Say what you mean and mean what you say, and always know the true meaning of the words you use. That way you’ll never get in an argument on the internet that the “f” in snafu really means “fudge.”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yes, but what does it really mean?

I just finished writing a section where I had a character flit about, and as I did so, I realized that I’d never seen anyone in real life do that. I’ve seen birds, yes, as they fly from branch to branch. But people? No. Nor have I’ve seen anyone flounce. I know what it evokes—someone turning and swiftly leaving a room (especially if there are doors to slam) usually in a high dudgeon (whatever that means), and mostly likely involving crinolines, gloves, fluttering fans and fights where the blows are verbal and delivered over tea with lethal accuracy by tongues sharp enough to shred lettuce.

Which is why I guess writers use words and phrases that don't really have anything to do with the way people really act. It’s a sort of shorthand, a way to get across in the minimum amount of words an action or reaction. But sometimes that shorthand breaks down and the reader is wondering, okay, what the heck is that? Like when a writer describes someone unclothed as “buck naked.” Uhm, what? Who is Buck and why is his nakedness more absolute than anyone else's? Or my favorite, when a character has a “wild hare”—though to be fair, that’s more a mix up on homonyms than a phrase gone, hah, wild.

Well, back to the flitting character. Maybe I can work a flounce or two in there somewhere. But no bucks or hares. The only animals involved are the two-legged kind—and, yes, that includes Laurel.



*No wildlife was harmed in the making of this post.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Writing is like a baking bread. . .

So, I’m banging my head against the wall because a scene that I figured would take me about an hour to write has taken three days, and it still won’t gel. One of the most frustrating experiences a writer can face, I think. When all the ingredients are there but the damn bread just won’t rise. Bah.

Mostly it’s because I can’t get into one of the character’s heads. I can’t quite figure out how he’d react given the circumstances. I know he’s seriously angry—close on being enraged—but how does that play out? Does he explain in precise detail what he’s going to do and why, all the while catching certain people in all sorts of lies and equivocations? Or does he just cut them off at the knees and stalk out, leaving a quivering, bloody mass of flesh behind? And if so, how? Another problem is that there’s a lot of moving parts in the scene and so how do they also react and interact? Actually, I have them down for the most part, it’s only the central character in the scene who’s being a pain in the keister.

Bah again.

Maybe I should go slap him around a bit, then he’ll punch me back and I’ll have his reaction.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Creative Process, Part 3

When I first started writing, I had this image of me like F. Scott Fitzgerald, bottle of bourbon in the bottom desk drawer, pounding away on an old Underwood typewriter at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. Come to find out that I write much better sober on a computer after a full night’s rest. Oh, and a cuppa ready for the sipping.

Rituals. We all have them. Things we do to make whatever else we’re doing go that much better, to take the edge off any anxiety or nervousness we might feel. And I think artists—and writers in particular—have rituals up the wazoo. Some are as simple as having a cup of coffee (or tea) or as elaborate as wearing the write (ha!) clothes, listening to a particular kind of music, having the desk just so. I’ve a friend who has to play a game of Free Cell before he’ll start his writing day. Me? Well, let’s just say I’m familiar with all the games that come with Windows. And some that don’t.

But mostly mine are about four of my five senses. Yeah, I do have writing clothes—comfortable ones that’ll allow me to sit at my computer for long stretches. I have my desk facing the window so I can look out and see a bit of sky, trees, greenery. There’s the ubiquitous tea (either herbal or decaf—no caffeine buzz for me, darn it), and, also yeah, I have to have music. Usually it’s classical, but sometimes it’s jazz or world music. Something I can tune out or tune into as the writing ebbs and flows. Not really background music; more like musical support.

Taste, sight, touch, hearing. No smelling, though. I find smells, even the good kind, too evocative and distracting.

All this to put pen to paper, so to speak. Well, whatever makes the creative process work. And to perdition all that doesn’t.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Creative Process, Part 2

Hah! Second post in less than a week. Told you I’d do better.

Anyway, I was thinking more on the creative process. There are many ways to write a book. Some, like one of my favorite authors, C.J. Cherryh, do an outline first. They then follow the outline as they write, amplifying the “points.” I think this is probably the most efficient way—you know your starting point, you know where you’re going, and you know how you’re going to get there. And if the story changes on you half way there (as it sometimes does), just do another outline incorporating the changes.

Another favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, does not use outlines. What she does is write as the ideas hit, developing scenes in no particular order. When she feels she has enough, she strings what she’s written together in chronological order and then fills in the gaps. This, I think, would be the most fun, writing what you feel like writing until you have a book. Of course, it takes truly knowing your characters and story, and also discipline—to know when (and where) to begin and where (and when) to stop.

Two very successful authors with two wildly different writing techniques.

Me, I do neither. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two. I know the starting point and generally know the ending. The in between, though—the getting from prologue to epilogue—I have no clue until I actually write it. Sometimes it’s logical. If A happens, then B must follow and C is close behind. (One of the reasons I have problems with prequels—do not start me in the middle of the story. Please.) But sometimes it’s not; there was a scene in Covenants where there were three logical outcomes, and I had a hard time deciding which one to choose. So I chose all three, threw them in the pot, and watched the fun bubble up.

And there are times when character will insist on doing things his way. Or hers. Or theirs. They just totally Bogart my story and start telling what they want to tell. Like the way Guardsman Jeffen has just managed to muscle his way past Suiden, Laurel, Wyln and even Rabbit to take center stage. I don’t know how long this will last, but I’ll watch to see what bubbles up next.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Creative Process

Ouch.  Four months since I last posted.  I apologize and will do better from now on. Promise.

But just because I’ve been slack on my blog doesn’t mean I’ve not been working on Rabbit’s continuing adventures. The Reckoning Flames is chugging along and it’s been fun seeing all the mischief he and his friends are getting into. Which is always good—and a relief. Sometimes writing can be a chore, such as when the ideas are there but you can’t get them on paper. Or the ideas won’t mesh and you end up with a hodgepodge of stuff that doesn’t make much sense. Or when the words just won’t come at all.

Like when my mother my mother died.

Mom had been ailing for years, progressively getting worse, until there was nothing left of the once vibrant woman she’d been. Nothing left at all. When my sister, brother and I finally agreed that it was time to take her off of life support, I thought I had prepared myself and was ready to let her go. Yet, not only did grief hit me like a tsunami when she died, it flooded into surprising areas, like my writing. It gave me such a massive writer’s block that even simple emails and jotted notes on postits became hard to write.

That was the reason why Shadows Past was so late being published. In fact, if it weren’t for the support and encouragement of my editor, Anne Sowards, I don’t think it would’ve been published at all, let alone finished.

Mom’s been gone four years now and the shock of her passing has lessened. I still miss her and grieve some that she’s not here, but I’m not second-guessing myself anymore on what to write—or wondering if I can write at all. As I said, it’s fun again and, even better, it’s satisfying.

And that’s very, very good.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's April. . .

I'm still here (obviously), and am still writing, trying to catch myself up from the great computer melt down.  Will post something a little more substantial soon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ALWAYS get the extended warranty!

So, about a month or so ago, I'm on my computer and the screen freezes.  No biggie, right?  It happens and usually a hard boot will clear the problem.  Except, it didn't.  No matter how many times I turned it off and on, my computer would not boot up. I didn't even get the dreaded blue screen of death.  Just a black void of nothingness floating on my monitor.  Come to find out that my motherboard decided to crash and burn. 

But still, though inconvenient, I again thought no biggie.  One of the members of my writing group (thank you, David!) convinced me to get the extended warranty, so all sorts of calamities were covered.  I contacted Dell and was told that they would send out a tech to replace the motherboard as soon as he gets the part, which should ship in 24 hours.  So I wait, figuring that I'd be up and running in two days max.  However, three days go by and no call from techies bearing replacement parts.  So once more I contact Dell and discover that, since my computer was 2.5 years old, they don't make motherboards for that model any longer.

My computer had just become a very expensive (and heavy) paperweight.

But, but but!  I did spring for the extended warranty (thank you, thank you, thank you, David!). So instead of suggesting that I go to the nearest craft store to get colored stones and glitter to glue on my paperweight of a computer, Dell informed me that they would do an exchange instead.  And since they not only stopped making the motherboards but the model also, I would get a totally new computer, with the parts either equivalent to what I had or better.

Sweet!

The only problem was that because they had to match parts, it took a long time for them to build it.  I spent a month discovering just how much I did/had on my computer.  No emails, no online bill pay (I had to buy stamps!), no access to my address book, the internet, blog, Facebook, taxes, or my book.  I did work on book 4, but I had to do it long hand in spiral-bound notebooks.  My brother teased me (in the family tradition) about quills and inkpots.  And it truly felt like I'd gone back to the dark ages.  It was not a fun time--though I did do some rearranging in my kitchen and started knitting an afghan with all the free time I had.

But, finally, the new tower shipped, arriving yesterday evening, and I'm once more conntected in all the ways that matter, saving my sanity.  I'm so happy.

So, the moral of the story is to ALWAYS get the extended warranty.  Always.

Thank you, David.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Back to Normal

Having a book released is sort of like Christmas. There’s the long, build up, and when finally the day arrives, you rush to see if Santa left good responses or a lump of coal. You’re able to maybe coast for a while on the excitement of it all, but then comes the day when the decorations come down and everything returns to normal.

And so it’s back to normal here. The only thing noteworthy that has happen recently was my brother’s birthday, where I got to razz him on always being older than me. Then, of course, my sisters can do the same to me, brats that they are. In my family we’re equal opportunity razzers.

The Reckoning Flames is coming along—Rabbit has found himself in a predicament and it’ll be interesting to see how it resolves. While I generally know a story’s beginning and end, the middle is a wild, uncharted terrority with the plots taking twists and turns that surprise even me. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the best part of writing—having your characters come alive and shock the heck out of you.

At my last post, I had fully intended to start A Game of Thrones, but I’d come across some books by Mark del Franco, his Connor Grey series. They’re urban fantasy but instead of the usual vampires and werewolves, it’s chock full of druids, elves, fairies, dwarfs and other fae. I’ve plowed through three of them and am going to get the fourth. The Abigail Adams murder mystery also arrived—though I discovered that it wasn’t written by Barbara Hambly, but by Barbara Hamilton. Ah, well. It received very good reviews, so I expect to enjoy it anyway while I wait for Ms. Hambly’s new Benjamin January book to be released. I’ve also picked up Diana Gabaldon’s latest in the Jaime and Claire saga. In all, my reading calendar has beome rather full, so Mr. Martin has been placed back on the shelf until another time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Finally!

Shadows Past has been released!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time Flies

Already a month into 2010.  It seems like a only few months ago it was 2000.  Time flies.  And the older I get, the faster it goes.  I remember as a child the eons it took to get to my birthday, Christmas, that promised day at Disneyland.  Now my birthdays come upon me with the suddeness of someone rapidly flipping through calendar pages and Christmas is only 338 shopping days away.  Haven't been to Disneyland in a good while, though.

Hmm, maybe I should schedule some E-ticket ride time this year.
 
Still working on The Reckoning Flames and it's interesting to see a character mature and change.  Rabbit is growing up; he's no longer the somewhat naive boy he was when he was just a horse soldier fresh from the Freston garrison--and there are times when he reminds me of that fact in responses and reactions that turn the plot in directions I didn't expect it to go.  Makes me feel at times as though I'm only along for the ride (E-ticket :)).

I've finished the World of Time series up through The Gathering Storm and have resigned myself to waiting for the last two books (one instance where I wish time would hurry up).  I've also worked through my collection of Barbara Hambly books, finishing up with her last fantasy one, Circle of the Moon.  I'm a little sorry that she has put aside her Science Fiction/Fantasy writing; she is one of my favorite authors, especially in those genres.  However, I greatly enjoyed her Benjamin January series and am happy to see a new one will be released this spring.  I've also ordered her Abigail Adams historical murder mystery.  In the meantime, I will start on George Martin's A Game of Thrones.  It'll be my first time through the series (yeah, I know, but I wasn't ready to read it until now), so I anticipate some good reading times.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Tyranny of the Blank Page

As I thought, I'm now paying for the distractions of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Ah, well. 

The book is coming along, just not as fast as I'd like it too.  There's something daunting about a blank page and a deadline.  More often than not I find myself in the kitchen making tea instead of sitting at my computer.  Or standing in front of a bookcase.  Or fiddling with my CDs (music is necessary for writing).  Or "researching" on the web.  Anything to avoid staring at that blank page.

I was probably traumatized by a high school term paper.

Anyways, a very belated Happy New Year to everyone.  May all your tyrants be overthrown.