Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I hate everything I'm writing. Every friggin' word. I'd burn it all, but it's on my hard drive and it seems like such a pain to print it all just to burn it. (And I'd have to get permission from the city to burn anything anyway.)

I'm trying to work. Damn it. I'm trying to put the words in my head onto paper. But it's all coming out crap. That's why I had Flaubert's quote posted. "I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." I figure if Flaubert went through it, it's not fatal.

It feels like it, though.

I've sat down numerous times over the past few days (weeks, months) to try and make the words come out. I've tried it here at the keyboard. I've tried it sitting on the couch with my trusty notepad. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Zip.


Every time I think I have it in my head, it disappears like so much dandelion fluff caught on a stiff breeze. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the words in my head.

It's fucking pissing me off. Seriously.

I thought if I took my meters down, and stopped thinking about how badly I needed to get x-number of words done, the words would come back. I thought maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself, so if I laid off, it'd come back. Ummm....


I thought maybe I was pushing too hard to write for the market. (I even theorized as much in an earlier post.) I went back to a weird ass book I was trying to write a couple years ago. It's weird-ass, but I still think the story deserves to be told. So I thought if I went back to the 'book of my heart', the words would flow like they used to. Again....


I even tried just sitting down with one of my unedited pieces and through reworking one of those, it would get the juices flowing again. I hate to repeat myself, but that was also a big fat No.

I'm really starting to tear my hair out here. I want to write. I need to write. I'm fucking jones'n to write. This may even qualify as the DTs soon.

Last time this happened, it was 9 months before I could write again. NINE MONTHS!!!??? Not going to happen. Someone or something will have to die before I make it through three-quarters of a year without writing again.

So I keep trying.

Stephen King is quoted as saying: "Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position." Yeah. Right. I tried that. The shit just kept getting deeper, and I can't hold my breath that long.

And it's not even that I don't feel like writing. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing right now that churning out some fiction. I want to write, that's not the problem. The problem is I feel like everything I write is pure crap, and I hate that I can't put together a coherent sentence to save my ass. Every character is BORING. Every scene feels trite. I want it to flow out like RTL or Spectacle or Caldera or Manhunter or Blink. I don't want it to drag out of me like Justice did.

Maybe I'm just not feeling it. But I can't figure out why. I love the ideas I'm working on. I love the characters and the scenes and the premises. I want to finish Nano, but I'm terrified that if I work on it again, I'll just screw it up. (And I really like what I've written so far.)

Perhaps it's a lack of self confidence. Yeah.... That's a definite possibility.

Not that I don't have justification for it. I mean it's not like it was four years ago when I finished Spectacle and I was so certain it would be published immediately. (Like three years ago, at least.) When it didn't draw interest, I thought maybe it was because the premise was a little out there for the world at large. I set it aside and went after the world with Caldera. (After I got over that nine months stretch of writer's block, that is.) I thought for sure it would get published...

Are you seeing a theme here?

After the absolute certainty that I would get published, and the years since those early days without even getting an agent, it's no wonder my self confidence sucks. I mean, christ-almighty-whitey. It's been four damn years. :POUNDS HEAD REPEATEDLY ON DESK:

You know that irritating little voice in the back of your head? It's the same one that told you you'd never get that cute boy to ask you out, and you'd never get that job, and you'd never amount to anything. That's the one that's been whispering into my ear that the reason I haven't gotten published is because I suck. I suck, my writing sucks, my submission materials suck.

"Don't quit your dayjob."

Little too late for that. This IS my dayjob. And my nightjob.

Remember how it's okay to suck? Remember how I've been a big proponent of giving yourself permission to suck? Well, I did that tonight. I gave myself permission to write crap, and that's exactly what I got. Crap. Sometimes that's okay. Sometimes writing crap leads to a break in the log jam, and good stuff comes out. Not this time. Crap crap crap crappity crap.

I just keep telling myself: "This too shall pass."

I just wonder how sane I'll be when it does.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Something's in the Air

I'm not going to put up new progress meters. I'm not even really going to talk about it much. But I think I might just be onto something.

Shhhh... Don't want to scare the muse away. She's a touchy little bitch (at least she has been lately).

Feels like months since I worked. I know it hasn't been, but it feels that way. I got some words out tonight, and outlined a general plan for how to proceed. We'll see if it works.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Other Blogs

If any of you are interested, I just finished putting up a new post at Home Ed Musings and I put another story up at Tabula Rasa on Monday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Visceral Response

Pick any quality work of fiction and what does it have in common with all the rest? Visceral response. Sometimes it's an unknown quality that sucks you into the story and makes you feel what the characters are feeling. Sometimes it's a quality within yourself that responds to the images being portrayed on the screen.

Tonight's episode of Criminal Minds was one of the latter for me. It was a story of an outcast teenager who turned his anger toward the people who'd hurt him and his girlfriend as a means to extoll some kind of misguided justice. One of the main characters of the show identified with the boy, and since the very beginning of Criminal Minds, I identified with that character.

Another example is the movie 50 First Dates. It's a comedy, but I alternately laugh and cry throughout it. I feel for Lucy (Drew Barrymore's character). I was her, just not as bad. When the scene comes where she learns about her accident, I bawl like a baby. Of course, the head injury jokes crack me up - maybe more than most because I know how true some of it can be.

Don't even get me started on the end of the movie Turner and Hooch. Or the lyrics to Dan Fogelberg's song Leader of the Band. Hell, the entirety of the movie Big Fish is one emotional roller coaster for me - especially since my dad hadn't been gone that long when I first watched it. Oh, and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird? And Eddie Willers from Atlas Shrugged - his last scene on the stalled train in the middle of nowhere? I'm getting weepy just thinking about it.

The point is, those pieces of fiction have a greater emotional impact on me because of who I am and my own life experiences. True, I probably would still have had a visceral response to them even if I didn't have those experiences, but I do and my own emotions are stronger for it.

Back when I wrote Spectacle and Caldera - and even Blink and RTL - I poured my own emotion into the writing. When Myke remembers her childhood betrayal, she's reliving my own. Alex's and Rachel's fear. Mary's frustration. In one way or another, it's all me. Not that I've had exactly the same experiences, but I was able to use my own emotions to create theirs.

Maybe that's been my problem lately. I've been trying so hard to write for the market that I lost sight of what makes my writing mine. *shrug* It's a theory. I'm still trying to work this all out so I can get back to writing again. (And believe me, I want to write again like a dieter wants a thick fudgy brownie covered in ice cream and hot fudge... which is another thing I want lately.)

Anyway, I'll put it to you. Are their any fictional works that you have a visceral response to? What about them gets you going? And if you write, do you think you have that quality in your own work?


Monday, August 25, 2008

Lost in The Woods

Tonight I've been thinking about something my husband says - something his own father taught him on one of their frequent camping excursions. "If you're lost in the woods, just stop. Get your bearings. Don't just wander and get yourself more lost." (I'm going from memory here and dear hubby is sleeping, so it's not an exact quote - but you get the gist.)

Basically where I'm at with my work is lost in the woods. I don't know how I got to this point, and I don't quite know how to get out. All I know is the more I try to find my way, the worse it gets.

So, I've made the decision to take a sabbatical. I need to stop writing so I can find my way again.

Don't worry. I don't envision it will be a long stoppage. I just need to get my bearings again. In order to do that, I think I need to set all of the books aside for a while. I need to let my focus shift to teaching my daughter during the day, and letting my brain free to wander at night.

During the past couple years, I took the stance that whenever I had a writing problem, I just needed to push through. Up until now, it's worked for me. Otherwise I couldn't have written RTL or Blink as quickly as I did. Those were easy books to write. Not quite sure why, but they were. Even when I had to completely rewrite the middle of Blink, it came so much easier than anything has come these past couple of months.

I think pushing through has exascerbated the problem this time. I had problems with Nano, so I pushed through until I got stuck. I switched back to Justice - which I knew already had problems - and in pushing through that manuscript, I think I've only made them worse.

So, I'm stopping in the woods.

Maybe I'll take this time to try submitting Blink. Maybe I'll use this to get Manhunter ready for submission. Or maybe I'll just chill.

I know... I made a vow to do something writerly every day. But this vow is going to have to be put on hold or I'll just keep churning out crap and making myself feel worse about this career I've chosen. In a contest between keeping a vow and or protecting my writing, the writing has to come first.

I'll still be here - blogging and visiting blogs. I'll still be keeping up with the industry and making sure I don't fall behind on the latest news. I'm just not going to be writing or editing anything until this passes. (Or until the time comes when I know I can make it pass without doing irreparable damage.)

Maybe I'll write a short story... That worked the last time. (And that is when Fire was born.) We'll see how things go.

Until then I just have to keep my stick on the ice.


Oh, To Be a Cat

I want to be this happy.

*Image deleted to prevent any potential copyright issues*

more animals

I think an alternate label for this should be: "Cat Epitaphe: He Died Happy"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Still Here

Hi. Yes, I admit I've been lax. I didn't even realize until today that I hadn't blogged since Wednesday. I wish I could say I've been busy. I have been busier than usual with the start of school and personal matters, but that really isn't an excuse. I could claim that reading The Pillars of Earth is taking up my time (it is a huge book, btw), but that's just lame.

What have I been doing? Ummm.... reading. playing poker. watching the Olympics. feeling bleh. doing school. editing this damn book that feels like I'll never get it right. stressing over the writing biz. You know the drill.

Anyway, the only things I've thought were blog worthy would've ended up in a rant, and after a while reading nothing but rants gets old. (So does writing them.)

I did get a post out over at my homeschool blog. If you're looking for scholarship opportunities, head on over to Home Ed Musings. Even if your kids are in public school. Every penny helps when it comes to paying for college.

In other news (specifically pertaining to RTL), I got a rejection from a query I sent in April. They apologized quite nicely for the delay, and they thought my premise was interesting. But it was still a NO. I also got another request for partial, but she asked that I not send it until mid-September. So, I've got that going for me. (Yes, that last statement was said with Bill Murray and Caddyshack in mind.) I still have a full and a partial out, but they both said they'd probably get back to me in September. Next month should be busy, at least.

Manhunter is still waiting on feedback from my beta readers and CP. Nano is in limbo. Justice is plugging along, but has problems I'm not sure I can fix at this time. Oh, and I still have one submission for Spectacle sitting in a publisher's slushpile.

What's up in your world? I noticed I'm not the only blogger who's been absent lately, so I assume everyone is either like me, or actually busy.

Oh, and a piece of news in case you hadn't heard. The Fog City Divas aren't going to be blogging any more. That's right, Dishing With The Divas will soon join the ranks of Miss Snark and The Literary Chicks and Squawk Radio. I'm sad to see them go. Fortunately, you can still catch Alison Brennan and Karin Tabke over at Murder She Writes - plus both of them have their own personal blogs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Okay, I'm dieting. Have been for the past few weeks or so. I didn't use to have to worry about this. I used to have a high enough metabolism that I could eat anything and maintain the same weight. I was 136 pounds for years (which at 5'8 seems to make me look good). Then I hit 30.

I swear the moment I hit 30 my metabolism said "been at this for 3 decades now... I'm done" and skipped town. My 136 lbs went with it. Within a year, I was 155... then 165. At 165, my abused bones held a revolt. My bum leg started to rebel, my squonky hips staged a protest, the other broken things decided they were joining in the fun because they really had nothing better to do.

At the time, I thought I was finally having problems with everything because the Michigan weather was too much. So I moved to Florida. In no time at all, I was feeling better, the bones were happy, and I was almost normal again. Of course, I also had a job where I worked from 8-4 straight with no lunch break, was on my feet all day, and was so stressed out that by the time I got home, I didn't want to eat. Needless to say, I lost weight. A lot of weight. In less than a year, I learned that 110 lbs does not look good on my frame. (Not that it wasn't nice to get into a size 6, and a C cup, but you could've played my ribs like a xylophone.)

One thing led to another and it all led me to colder climes. Still my bones were playing nice. Winter in Utah? Feh. It was nothing, and I still felt great. I gained a little weight back, stopped looking like a walking skeleton, and still nothing. I was back to my old standby weight again. Yay.

So, here I am in Colorado. Four years have gone by, and I've gained back most of the weight I lost since Michigan. And guess what? My body's back to its old tricks again. And it's friggin' summer, so the winter weather can't be the cause.

Process of elimination tells me it was the weight all along.

Yes, yes. I know 162 pounds is not overweight for someone my age and height. I've also known for a long time that added weight on my stupid legs would cause them to give out sooner rather than later. Add it all together and it means that I have about twenty pounds to lose and keep off if I want to dance with my husband at our tenth wedding anniversary. It all comes down to the simple choice: Eat less or get ready for another round in the wheelchair - and this round would be for good.

With that in mind, I'm not trying any of the fad diets, and I'm not starving myself. Neither way works in the long run. What I'm doing is sticking to 1300 calories or less a day. According to a couple dieting sites, that's a safe calorie count and should get me about one calorie thinner a week, and at my goal by the end of the year.

I'm playing this smart. (I think.) I recognize that every once in a while, I'm going to fall down. One day I may eat 1400 calories, another I may eat only 1200. It's all good. I figure if I average 1300 a day over the course of a week, the results will be the same. I also recognize that it's worse to cut out treats entirely. I know refusing yourself anything yummy can lead to a big fall off the diet wagon. So I allow myself something sweet, as long as it falls within the calorie count and I don't sacrifice healthy foods to eat it. (Did you know a fudgicle only has 70 calories? Yay fudgicles!)

And another thing. I trade myself calories. If I know I'm making something a little more calorific for dinner, I eat less for breakfast and lunch. Like the other day, when I knew I was making hamburgers. Oof, those things'll add on more than their fair share of calories. It was a granola bar for breakfast and a salad for lunch day.

Being the nerd I am, I made a spread sheet to keep track of everything I eat during the day, and it sums and averages. I use the internet to look up the calorie counts for each food that doesn't already have one. (Little Debbie Spice Cake? 170 calories) For the most part, I use this site - http://www.thecaloriecounter.com/ - for the basic stuff, and surf for other stuff. (Wendy's Baconator? 830! It wasn't mine. I had a Junior Hamburger at 260 calories, but damn that Baconator looked good.)

Anyway, that's the gist of it. I'll be happy if I get back to 140. Maybe then I can fit into a size ten again, and find a... support garment... that fits. Smaller clothing will only be icing on the cake, though, if I can get my bones to shut up for a few more years.

Are you trying to lose weight? Trying to get healthier? Either way, feel free to join in. Eat lighter, eat smarter... live longer.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Little Insane

Okee Dokee. All this time, the real problem was Dennis wasn't talking to me. Dirty rotten bugger. Well, now I have him on the ropes. We have an understanding. He's my character and he'll damn well talk to me, or I'll delete him. I can replace him with a dozen different men, and still have one hell of a story. Take that you obstinate hero. =op

Yes, sometimes writing can be a little insane. Or as I like to say: Have the voices in your head call the voices in mine, and we'll do lunch.

How are things in your little corner of insanity?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sophomore Year - Day One

Since this was the first day of school*, I've been a little busy to think of a good blog topic today. At least for this blog. I posted something over at HomeEd Musings to celebrate a great first day.

Have you started school yet? If not, when will the little nippers be off?

*Not for me, silly. I'm a homeschooling mom.

As an aside, I've read other writers' blogs where they talk about the writing time they'll have once their kids go back to school. That's about the only thing I miss about my daughter going to public school - free time during the day once summer is over. As it is now, the majority of my free time comes during the summer, and once school starts, I'm confined to early morning or after dinner. (Unless she's studying on her own, and then I might be able to get some editing in. I'm going to try that tomorrow and see how it goes. Wish me luck. :wink:)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Character Problems

Rewriting this sucker has been like pulling teeth. I don't think I've had this hard a time yet with anything I've edited.

On the bright side, I think I hit on what was killing me on this. I hadn't found what was making my MC tick. His voice wasn't ringing true for me. Well, I think I hit it tonight. Might have to go back over the first couple bits again to make sure everything is consistent, but it shouldn't be a problem.

Heh. Thought you could get away from me, eh Dennis? Well, I'll show you. Bwa ha ha. Another character falls under the writer's spell.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gumption is Absent

Ideally summertime is the best time for writing. School's out, the days are longer, it's too hot to do much of anything outside. But this summer was a wash. Looking back over the weeks past, I wonder what the hell happened, and why I didn't get more done.

Somewhere along the way I lost my gumption.

Part of it has to do with the personal crap we've been dealing with. Nothing derails the train of thought like personal crap. Sit down to work on writing, and all I can think about it what's going on in my own life - which means I can't think about what's going on in my characters' lives. Real life is a real distraction sometimes, and frankly, it pisses me off when that happens. But there's nothing to be done about it. This too shall pass.

Part of it can be blamed directly on letting myself off the hook. "Things went bad today so I can take a night off." Wah. "I'm too tired to work today. I'll work tomorrow." Feh. If this was a normal job with a tangible boss (outside my own head) than I would've been fired months ago. Hell, if I had an employee who acted like that, I would fire them myself. Except the employee in this case is myself, and even if I fired me, I'd still be here.

Regardless of the excuses, it all comes down to choices. Outside influences aside, I choose whether I write or whether I lay on the couch wallowing in my own misery, laziness, self-doubt... ("Hey look! I haven't seen this episode of NCIS in months!") ...whatever. Unfortunately, knowing this is true does little to spur my gumption into action.

I only have three chapters of a 26 chapter novel red-inked and all of then to revise on the computer. I have a synopsis to write and a book to start querying. I have a book stuck partway through writing that I need to finish. (And a house that needs to be cleaned, several dozen cookies to make for gift baskets, yardwork to do, school to prepare for... Arrgghh.) Thinking about it all is making the couch and a nice book look very attractive again.

I really need to work today. Forget the Olympics, forget football and baseball, forget the Iris Johansen I started last night. Just work. Damn it.

We'll see if I can find my gumption somewhere along the way, and give it a jumpstart somehow. If not, I'll have the Johansen book finished by lunch, and I'll be able to talk sports with anyone who wants to.

What do you do when your gumption has walked out on you?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


After throwing the names into a hat, Monday's winner was Janime. Congrats, Janime. When you get a chance go over to Tuesday's post to pick your prize and as a special bonus, you'll also receive an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of T.A. Barron's "The Great Tree of Avalon". As for the best goofy title, I pick Alex's "That Burnin' Don't Mean I need Penicillin". Pick a book, too. Whoever contacts me first gets first pick, and if the second contacter picks the same book, I'll ask them to choose another.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

As for the title I've decided to go with, it was none of the above. A title I loved came to me as I was trying to fall asleep the other night. The title of choice is...


Dying Embers

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program. ;o)


Why I Love the Internet

Or at least part of the reason why I love the internet...

There is so much information available. On any given day, I can find out the weight of an unloaded semi or the specifications for a tunnel digging machine large enough to dig the Chunnel or... Well information on any number of topics. Not only that, but I can find it in more than one place to verify the validity of that information. (Like if Wikipedia says one thing, but four other sites say something different, I'll still be able to ferret out the truth.)

Additionally, I can read the thoughts of other people - whether I agree with said thoughts or not - and thereby increase my own knowledge of human nature and the world itself.

Pre-internet research was so much harder. Connecting with people outside your general geographic area was a pain in the ass at least, and impossible at worst. I remember the old days when the computers began to be networked together across wider areas than just company headquarters or college campuses. Back then it was called the bitnet, and my experience with it was limited to a few news groups. But even then, it was a way to connect and share information.

I never would've dreamed it would grow to this.

Now, my primary contact with other human beings is via this internet thing. I have more people I would consider friends out of people I've never seen than out of the people I see every day. People a thousand miles away who get me. Whereas the majority of people here in BFC aren't even close. *shrug*

Of course, some of these very reasons for loving the net are also reasons for hating it. Connecting humans together in a place where anonymity abounds, and consequences are next to non-existent means the loons and nimrods can run rampant without fear of reprisal. But that's the price we pay sometimes for freedom. I'd rather put up with morons spouting crap than live in a world without freedom. (But that's a story for another time.)

So, to all my blog-buddies and internet friends, thanks for being tech-savvy and being out there to connect with. Thanks also to all the people who share their knowledge with the world via the net.

Have a great day everyone.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Crazies Are Out

Apparently Janet Reid voiced her opinion on a blog she contributes to (the link is in her post) - big shock, I know - and now she's weathering a shitstorm from the crazies of the world.

No, I don't agree with her opinion, but I sure as hell agree with her right to voice it without every loon on the net jumping in to beat her up with, at best, ad hominem attacks and, at worst, complete and utter idiocy. *shrug* Up the dosage of valium, take a ridalin... whatever gets you to your calm place. If you want to spout venom and nastiness, do it in your own house. Then the rest of us will only have to see it if we actively seek you out. (Fat chance of that, but thems the breaks.)

And to anyone who followed the lunacy here to make an attack on me. Don't bother. This, for all intents and purposes, is my house. The standing rule here is: I will delete any and all nasty comments. My blog; my rules. Neener neener neener. =op

Childish and sophomoric? Of course. But that is my perogative.

As someone commented on one or both of the posts, must be a full moon. Would you buy something in the air? Possibly the forthcoming election? Or could it be that our culture has degraded to the point where we no longer know how to be civil to people of differing opinions?


Whatever your thoughts are on this or any other issue--whatever your opinions are--I'll be the better man (even if I am a woman) and just tell you one thing:

Have a lovely day. =o)


Monday, August 11, 2008

Editing This n That

As I said in Saturday's post, I'm back into the red-inking phase of editing for my... third, I think... book. (Or was Blink #3? If so, then Justice was #4.) Anyway, so far the process is going well, but going slow. Yesterday I got two chapters done - three if you count the fact that I decided I'm going to toss what used to be the first chapter and begin the book with the next chapter. I'll be posting that now-defunct chapter over at Tabula Rasa later. It's pretty good, but it's also all backstory and with the new direction I'm taking Justice in, it's no longer even necessary backstory.

The first other two chapters are now bleeding red-ink, and several pages of my notebook are covered in stuff that probably should've been in the book in the first place. I can't wait to type it all in, but I'm trying to wait until I have the whole thing done. (We'll see if my patience holds out that long.)

One thing I forgot about red-inking... It's HARD. Much harder than editing directly on the computer. It's forcing me to rethink the wording, the plot points, the very structure of how this book is laid out. My new beginning scene didn't take that long, because I really have edited it to death already, but the second scene - eleven measly pages - took me nearly two hours to mark up last night. I wanted to quit halfway through. My eyes were beginning to cross. But I promised myself I'd finish the chapter before I went to bed, and that's what I did. This morning, I'm tired but very satisfied with the progress.

I think once I type in all the edits, I'll be pleased with the results. (Which is why my statement about waiting until all the hardcopy edits are finished might not be correct.)

That's my weekend in a nutshell. How are things going with you?


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sixteen? Yeah, Right

I don't know if any of you are watching the Olympics (frankly, I was torn between wanting to cheer on our athletes and wanting to boycott China), but tonight I caught parts of the Chinese 'womens' gymnastics. Now, the commentators pointed out several times that the rules state the athletes must be 16 (or turn sixteen during the same calendar year as the Olympics) to compete.

If any of those Chinese gymnasts are sixteen, I'll eat the manuscript I just printed out. One girl looked like she was maybe ten, at the most. The oldest looking girl might be fourteen, but that's pushing it. But all of their passports say they're sixteen, so they have to be sixteen right?

Yeah. That's what I was thinking.

And another thing. They were talking about one of the Chinese female divers. They made it sound cute when they told the story about her learning to dive. Supposedly, she was terrified of diving (so, yeah, diving was her choice... right), so her coach threw her off the diving board.

Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever heard??? :GAG: Sure, we've all heard stories about fathers who threw their sons into the water to teach them to swim. Barbaric, yes, but usually it works and knowing how to swim is one of those things that could save your kid's life someday. I don't advocate the method, but I see the reasoning there. And besides, it's the PARENT doing it. Not some coach/dictator tossing your baby out into space from a diving board so they can learn to dive and maybe someday be an Olympic athlete. Diving is not a skill one needs to stay alive in the real world.

Pretty warped, if you ask me. The American journalist who did the story and tried to make it sound like a Norman Rockwell painting should have her head examined. Seriously.

Don't get me wrong. The Chinese athletes are pretty amazing. You would be, too, if you were picked to be an athlete at the age of three, whether you wanted to or not, and then made to practive most of your waking hours. Our athletes may not necessarily be better athletically, but I think it's more amazing that they accomplish the same things and still possess a little thing we like to call 'free will'.

Is it just me or is this reminscent of the USSR's Olympic athletes back in the 70s and 80s? Funny how China keeps trying to seem like the new capitalist paradise over there, but they keep looking like the communist country they are. (I even heard China referred to as the Peoples Republic of Capitalism, which just made me want to gag.) Want to emulate America? Let people think for themselves for a change. If the little girl doesn't want to jump off the diving board, let her find something else to do with her life. If the other children want to be athletes, let them be athletes for themselves - because it truly makes them happy, not because it will make their country seem more important in the eyes of the world. Feh.

I'm just sayin'.

(Oh, and for a perfect example of the American Olympic athlete, look at Michael Phelps. The man is awesome. Poetry in water. He's a great athlete, a nice guy, and easy on the eyes to boot. Plus, he's drug-free - and he proves it several times a week. If I was a kid, he would be my idol.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Writer Hokie-Pokie

Two steps forward, one step back. Turn yourself around. It's called the Writer Hokie-Pokie. (I know, I know... the other thing is called the hokey-pokey. But this isn't that, so I spelled it different.)

Anyway, I don't know about any of you, but sometimes I have to go back to move forward. Manhunter is waiting on editorial suggestions from my CP and my beta readers. Nano is currently stalled. But I have to work. So what did I do?

I revisited one of my older manuscripts. The much-ignored, but still viable... AWJ. Or as I like to call it 'Justice'. (In case you haven't noticed, I like one word names for my early editions. It makes life easier.) Of course, I was working on it last night, and still skimming over the same old problems.

:::Short attention span moment... Phelps just took gold! Yay! He didn't even look like he was working at it either. Now, back to the actual post:::

Anyway, I think I figured out what my problem was. Sometimes when I'm editing on the computer, I have a tendency to skim. My eyes glaze over and I catch myself just reading the manuscript instead of looking for ways to improve it. The best way to solve the problem is to do what some people dread. I print the whole thing out and then over the course of the next few days (or weeks as the case may be), I red-ink the whole damn thing. Not only that, but I keep a notebook beside me for when my edits won't fit on the page. I have a whole boring system, which I'll spare you from reading about.

Starting tomorrow, I'll be sitting on the couch with my printed manuscript, my handy-dandy notepad, and a red pen - trying to figure out what needs to be adding, what needs to be deleted and whether the story I told is the story I wanted to tell. (And of course, whether I told it in the best way possible.)

I did this in the past with both Spectacle and Caldera. I must've printed out Spectacle a dozen times (which is saying something considering it was 147K words at one point). I even did it with Blink, but after that I went to the cheaper computer-based editing. Personally, I'd rather do it all on the monitor, but that isn't always the best way. Unfortunately, editing on the computer put me in the position I'm in, and the only way out is to go back to the old ways.

Back to the old manuscript. Back to the old methods. Here's hoping that by going back, I can move forward again.

That's it for me tonight, folks. I'm bushed. What do you think about the whole idea of Writer Hokie-Pokie? Ever had to go back to move forward?

Or am I the only nut in the cookie jar?


Friday, August 8, 2008

Blog Makeover

You know the old saying about changing the things you can, right? Well, since there's very little I can change about what's been happening in my life, I can at least change my blog. ;o) Soooo, I'm trying out a new blog look. Maybe the fresh new look will give me a fresh new attitude.

Can't hurt, eh?

Seriously. Last night, I started writing a big huge post about how looking at the positive things in life can help when things are starting to get negative around you. Then something negative happened (don't worry, no one died or anything - what happened is depressing and discouraging, but not fatal). Needless to say, blogging about being Cheery Mary-Sunshine flew right down the crapper

Also needless to say, as a result, my attitude flew down with it.

Maybe the happy post will be posted after I retrieve my attitude.

Oh, and the contests that weren't? I'm almost inclined to say that since only three people bothered, no one wins, but that would be a shitty thing to do to those three people, so instead, I'll just extend the contest. (And to make it up to the three commenters, their names will go into the hat twice so they get better odds.) Now, you have until Wednesday the 13th to enter.

So, if you're inclined please go to Monday's and Tuesday's posts to enter. Just for fun, I'll up the ante, too. Whoever wins Monday's contest will get a book of their choice, PLUS an ARC I picked up yesterday. (I'm not telling which. It's a surprise.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Job Titles

In keeping with this week's 'title' theme (See: Title Contest and Goofy Title Contest), I got to thinking about some of the job titles I've held over the years. True, I don't have a title any more (since I don't have a paying job any more), but between the ages of 11 and 34, I worked a lot of jobs.

Not every job has an official title. During my stints on different farms - I guess I was a farm worker - I did all sorts of stuff without a title to go with it. I could've been called a stall mucker, a fruit and/or vegetable picker, a tractor driver, a foal gentler (fun job, btw - I was the person who got the foals used to human contact), and if I stretched it, a equine exercise specialist - which is to say, I took a lead and the horses in a little circle with me at the center (better known as lunging, if I remember correctly). When I worked at a dog kennel, I was both a kennel cleaner and a dog washer/walker.

Sometimes, we have fun with job titles. For instance, when my sisters worked as housekeepers at a hospital, they referred to themselves as Environmental Engineers. Or when I worked for a company where I was basically the catch-all for anything that needed to be done in the office, I could've called myself Chief Cook and Bottle-washer.

Of all the real titles I've had, the longest was Executive Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Operations. Try fitting that on a business card. Heh. And the shortest, I think, was Auditor. (One letter shorter than my short stint as 'Waitress'.) I think the one I liked the best was Executive Secretary to the President. Made me feel sort of "Hail to the Chief, he's your buddy and neighbor". The hardest title to explain to folks - even now - was Manufacturers' Representative. Try telling people you rep manufacturers of electronic components, and they start asking you about equalizers and speakers. (I lived with a guy for two years who never did quite get what I did for a living.)

And now, I am a writer. Not really a job title. More like a lifestyle. What I'd really like to see next to my name, maybe on a business card of the future: "Bestselling Novelist". ;o)

What's your current job title? What would you like it to be? And tell me what are some job titles you've had?

PS. Don't forget to enter the two contests this week. Enter early, enter often - win great prizes.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Goofy Title Contest

In keeping with yesterday's hunt for a new title to give Manhunter, I thought we'd have a little fun today and come up with some goofy titles. (Besides, I'm feeling generous.)

Feel free to add as many as you like in the comments. The best one will win a prize (also to be drawn Friday) and if I can't decide which one I like best, I'll do the good ol' hat thing.

Here's a few to get you started...

I Burned For You, So You'll Burn For Me
Flamin' Hot Mama
Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love
Trophy Wife Seeks Fireman
The Pyrophobic's Cookbook

Come on guys, you can do better than that. If I think of anything else, I'll add it to the list along with any of your suggestions.

Now, as for prizes... Still stumped, but I have some idea of things you might like. The winners can each chose one from the following for either contest:

Allison Brennan: The Kill, Killing Fear, Tempting Evil
Allison Brennan, Karin Tabke and Roxanne St. Claire: What You Can't See
Karin Tabke: Master of Surrender
Lynn Viehl: Evermore, Twilight Fall
Edward Willett: Marseguro (hardcover)
Isaac Asimov: I, Robot

Or you could just say 'grab bag' and get three old paperbacks of my choosing.

I'll add to the list if I find any more good books laying around. (BTW, I've read all of the above in the past two years, so if you're not sure what they are check out my lists of books read over on the right. Those posts have links.)

Oh, and you can enter both contests. If the same person wins both, they're lucky as hell and they get two prizes.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Title Contest

Yes, folks, you heard it right. I'm having another contest, and it has to do with titles. Now, I know most title contests you read about on the blogosphere are held when the book is already in the publisher's hands and close to being a real book. (That statement makes me think of Pinocchio.)

In my case, I'm just not jazzed about my working title on Manhunter. Sure, it fits the work, but it just isn't zippy enough. And if I don't think it's zippy, no agent worth his/her salt is going to get grabbed by it either. So...

I'm giving you all the chance to pick a title, or to suggest your own. And since I'm not getting reams of blog traffic lately, the chances of winning should be pretty good - unless you're all peaches and point some people in my direction. The more the merrier on this one.

First, the book... Here's the blurb (subject to change):

***Blurb deleted because it sucked eggs.

12:30pm - Trying again...

Jace Douglas is afraid of fire, but as an agent with the Serial Crimes Unit, she doesn’t get to pick her cases. When a series of seemingly disconnected men turn up dead, but the method of their deaths is very connected, she has no choice but to follow this string of fiery murders. With the help of the best back-up crew a woman could ask for, as well as one pushy but altogether too attractive local cop, she sets off on a cross-country journey to catch a killer before another man dies.

Emma Sweet looks more like a trophy wife than a murderer, but as she watches her husband burn alive in his Mercedes, she knows her trophy life is over. So many more men deserve to share the same fate, and although the specifics may be different, the pain they caused remains the same. As she meanders from state to state, crossing the names off her list while she ends their lives, she knows she’s only one step ahead of Agent Douglas. She doesn’t care if she gets caught really, as long as the last name on her list—the first one to break her heart—gets the justice he’s earned before justice catches up with her.

Here's the logline and hook instead:

After infidelity drives a trophy wife to take ‘carrying a torch’ one step too far, Agent JD must follow a string of fiery murders across country to catch a killer before the past engulfs them both.

Dwelling on the past can be murder.

(Not the best blurb in the world, I know. I'm working on it. Did I mention how much I hate blurbing?)

Now the possible titles:

Serving Justice
Sweet Revenge
Sweet Fire
Revenge is Sweet; Justice is Sweeter
Fiery Vengeance
Vehicular Man Slaughter
Jace’s Justice
Fire In Her Eyes
Deadly Revenge
A Woman Scorned
Predator and Prey
The Fairer Sex
Gender Bias
Past Mistakes
Sweet Killer
The Weaker Sex
Old Flames

As for the contest, pick a title you think works for you, or offer one of your own. If I use the title you pick, you win. (Or if more than one person picks the best title, I'll just throw all the names in and draw from a hat.)

What do you win? Well, I don't rightly know at this point. I have a boatload of books I could give away. (In fact, I have a store's worth.) So, by the time I announce the winner on Friday 8/8/08, I'll have a list of potential bookish prizes for the winner to choose from. And if you know what you might like from my store, put it in the comments along with your title choice.

Let the games begin.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Look at The Writing Life

If you haven't read Virtual Workshop #7 over at Paperback Writer - "The Writing Life"- you really need to take the time to do it. It starts out harsh (and believe me, I almost quit reading) but persevere. Read the whole thing. I was glad I stuck it out, and I think you will be, too.

In other news, I've been quiet because I spent most of Friday and yesterday reading. Today, I'm hoping to get more writing done. (Which will be hard since I'm right in the middle of Crichton's The Lost World. Maybe if I finish it quick I can spend the rest of the day writing. Heh. Yeah right.)

Okay, enough about me. What are you up to these days? Read any good books? And how's that writing life treating you?

PS. Stay tuned for tomorrow's contest announcement. Tell your friends. Let's see if we can't rock the contest out tomorrow. =o)